After 76 years (and 13 reincarnations) the Dalai Lama still draws a crowd ...

... and he reserved a blessing for our own Jonathan Brown at the start of his British visit

It might be a year since he announced his retirement as the temporal leader of the Tibetan people but the appeal of the Dalai Lama showed little sign of dimming yesterday as he arrived in Manchester for a 10-day visit to Britain.

Despite his growing frailty and failing eyesight, the 76-year-old, who is considered by followers to be in his 14th incarnation, continues to command international admiration for his life-long promotion of peace and personal responsibility.

During his visit to Britain he will address arena crowds of young people, share a stage with the comedian Russell Brand and appear at a sold-out Royal Albert Hall.

He spoke with optimism of his faith in the power of youth to put right the mistakes of the 20th century.

The Nobel peace laureate continues to unnerve Chinese officials wherever he goes. This week Leeds City Council distanced itself from a speech he was scheduled to give last night to business leaders in the city.

Beijing had threatened to withdraw its athletes from pre-Olympic training camps in Leeds should there be any sign of official sanction to his visit. But the exiled spiritual leader shrugged off the threat. "That is always happening, that is almost routine," he said.

The Dalai Lama shook hands and administered blessings to journalists before criticising China's "immoral" censorship policies.

Flanked by an impressive array of bodyguards – a legacy perhaps of recent attempts, he claims, to poison him by devotees trained by China – he painstakingly answered questions on everything from the plight of the eurozone to reports that he knew the CIA was funding armed resistance to the Chinese occupation of Tibet in the 1950s.

He urged the media to use their "snouts like dogs" and to have "trunks like elephants" to expose wrongdoing.

"In a democratic country I think the people should know what is the reality, what is happening and what is really going on," he said, although aides insisted that this was not a reference to the Leveson Inquiry in Britain.

On the travails of the global economy he said it was a "foolish question" to ask his advice and that he was largely ignorant on the subject. But he urged Europeans to recall how they had re-built their continent "from ashes" in 1945.

"You have experience of the First World War and the Second World War of devastation and rebuilding. Looking at Germany, they rebuilt their economy or their country from ashes from the destruction of the war, as did Japan, so why not?" he said. "Work hard with self-confidence," he added.

Asked if Western leaders were reluctant to raise issues of human rights in Tibet with the Chinese government because of fears of jeopardising trading links, he was conciliatory.

In a world which saw a new crisis emerge "nearly every month", he said there remained "genuine" support for the plight of Tibet and that politicians' reservations in dealing with Beijing were "understandable".

He also spoke of the ecological importance of the vast Tibetan plateau, which he described as the "third pole", providing water for one billion people in India, Pakistan and China. It was, he said, being affected by global warming more severely than other sensitive parts of the world.

During his stay in Britain the Dalai Lama will meet Buddhist communities as well as parliamentary leaders in London and Edinburgh.

His meeting with David Cameron in May prompted anger in Beijing, but more attention is focused this time on his decision to align himself with the controversial comedian Russell Brand at the Manchester Arena. Brand is a long-term supporter of the Free Tibet Movement.

"His holiness has devoted not just this life, but all his 14 lives to pursuing spirituality. Spirituality is not the same as religion," Brand said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine