IT'S a long way from Brassall State School to the home of the Dalai Lama, but it's just part of the inspiring physical and spiritual journey of Glen Svensson.
Mr Svensson, 49, had a pretty typical Ipswich upbringing. He grew up on the family farm overlooking the Blacksoil interchange and went to Brassall State School and Ipswich High.
After school he went to the University of Queensland in Brisbane and did a Bachelor of Science majoring in computer science.
From there he got a job with Mt Isa Mines (MIM) at head office in Brisbane in the IT section and worked there for four years while living in Taringa.
Then the urge to travel struck and he decided to do "the Australian overseas thing".
"My idea was to go off for a year or two, but it's just kept going," Mr Svensson said.
"I left with a friend and went through Nepal and India, across the Middle East and into Europe.
"We both ended up getting a job in Germany with the English computer company ICL. So I worked in Germany for a year based in Nuremberg."
After that he got a job in Switzerland for the same company, and it seemed life couldn't get much better. On the surface it couldn't, but underneath, questions were rising up.
"When I was working in Switzerland I was earning buckets of money, driving a BMW, going skiing in the mountains on the weekend," Mr Svennson said.
"And sure, for a year or so I was happy, but eventually I thought: Is that it? Is that what life's about? It was very shallow and I actually became very depressed.
"I was actually very fortunate to be able to get what most people struggle all their lives for.
"That helped me move in another direction."
The first move in that new direction was an overland truck trip through Africa and Asia that ended up in Kathmandu.
"In a lot of the countries I went through religion was a dominant factor in the lives of the people, so to understand how people think I'd read a book about the religion of the country. So I read about Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism.
"But then I picked up a book on Buddhism and a lot of the ideas in there are completely commonsense. That sparked my interest in Buddhism. That was about 1992."
However, he didn't follow his new interest straight away, instead coming back to Australia and joining his sister in Cairns, where he became a dive instructor for a couple of years.
Then he started thinking that Buddhism could be something useful for him in his daily life, so he left Cairns and ended up back in Dharamsala in India, where the Dalai Lama lives.
"I've been in small groups with the Dalai Lama and he's completely amazing. You sense he is someone very special. He has an amazing presence," Mr Svensson said. …