In the lead-up to the 10th anniversary of the handover, we profile people for whom the date has special significance Showing each other love and compassion is the only way for Hongkongers to fight suffering if economic downturn and social trouble returns to the city, says a Tibetan lama. The Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche, a respected teacher of the faith and a prominent tulku - reincarnated lama - of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, also said that despite the improved economy, the city's people had become more religious in the 10 years since the handover. In an interview during an annual visit to Hong Kong to lead a retreat ahead of today's Buddha's Birthday festival, Thrangu Rinpoche said he was happy to see the people emerging from the difficult times brought about by the economic downturn and the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome. 'Generally it seems right now, in terms of the economy, it's actually a pretty good time in Hong Kong,' he said through an interpreter. A Tibetan native who left for India after Beijing took control of Tibet in 1959, Thrangu Rinpoche has a special relationship with Hong Kong. In 1985, he founded the Thrangu Vajrayana Buddhist Centre in Hung Hom, and was among the pioneers preaching Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism in a city which is more familiar with Mahayana Buddhism. Since then, he has witnessed the religious and economic development the city has gone through during his annual visits to preach and meet the faithful. Among the estimated 1 million Buddhists in Hong Kong, tens of thousands are followers of Tibetan Buddhism. Thrangu Rinpoche said that although a time of economic and political strife had passed, the only way for the people to win the perpetual war against human suffering, in light of the widening rich and poor gap, was to treat each other with love. 'In order to overcome our sufferings, if we always act out of love and compassion in terms of our behaviour, it is something that will happen,' he said. He said that although Hong Kong was a capitalist city where some people consider making money more important than seeking faith, it was actually very religious, as many of its people understood that spiritual wellbeing was at the core of achieving a harmonious society. 'The number of people in Hong Kong who have faith in the Dharma [Buddhist precepts] is increasing. The faith is growing stronger and stronger. 'Dharma is not something that depends upon some sort of bad economy or low standard of living. Rather, Dharma is something that arises naturally in an individual who wishes for happiness and to avoid suffering.' While saying he was happy to see the faith thrive in Hong Kong, Thrangu Rinpoche was also optimistic about an improvement of religious freedom in Tibet. Thrangu Rinpoche will be giving a series of lectures and taking part in activities to celebrate Buddha's Birthday today.