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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Dalai Lama begins Indiana visit under tight security

October 25, 2007

The Indianapolis Star

BLOOMINGTON, October 24: For Tibetan Buddhists, rain is a great blessing.

So when the Dalai Lama returned to Indiana on Tuesday under a steady
downpour, it was deemed an auspicious start to his six-day visit.

The Dalai Lama, leader of Tibetan Buddhists worldwide, charmed an
audience of 1,000 people at an interfaith prayer service, where he
decried wars in the name of God and urged unity among people of
different faiths.

Then he stepped out into a drizzle to offer blessings of scattered
rice and flower petals under a colorful new Tibetan archway entrance
to the 108-acre Tibetan Cultural Center his brother founded here in

Security provided by the FBI, the State Department and local police
was tight. Guests at the prayer service were scanned with metal
detectors. A Mongolian journalist was escorted out of the room for
moving up to a better seat. The cultural center, normally open dawn to
dusk, was locked down.

Dalai Lama visits always prompt tight security, said Tibetan Cultural
Center spokeswoman Lisa Morrison. But she said it would be tighter
this week because of the controversy about China's strong objections
to his state visit.

Concerns about safety were an ironic counterpoint to the message the
Dalai Lama brought at the prayer service.

In his sometimes broken English, the Dalai Lama questioned the role of
violence in society: "When you look from space at this small planet,
there is hardly a justification to fight."

Economic problems, environmental issues and overpopulation may plague
the world, but they can be overcome, he said, when people think of the
"whole group" as one entity.

"In that new reality, the concept of 'we' or 'they' is no longer there."

The Dalai Lama, 72, is scheduled to deliver 12 hours of teachings and
two public speeches this week. His 15-minute chat Tuesday was a teaser
he used to talk about the world's religious diversity.

It was an appropriate topic for an interfaith service that featured a
procession of Buddhist monks and Dominican friars, recitations from
Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Sikh scriptures and a prayer from a
pipe-smoking Shoshone sun dance chief.

"There are differences. But these differences have the same purpose —
to strengthen and educate us on the importance of compassion," he
said. "All religions use different methods and different ways of
approach. But they have the same end."

The concept of war in the name of faith, he said, brings sadness to
God. "True followers of God must express compassion.

"The concept of war is out of date," he said. "Killing your neighbor
is not your victory but your mutual self destruction."

Kathleen Hannah, 15, was one of 20 students from Brebeuf Jesuit
Preparatory School in Indianapolis who made the trip. She was amazed
by the diversity of faiths on display and inspired by the Dalai Lama's

"In the midst of everything that is happening in the world, we really
do need to remember that compassion and peace should be in the center
of our hearts," she said.

Ben Ellerin, a 23-year-old music student at Indiana University,
offered up a Jewish prayer for peace in Hebrew to the audience. The
Dalai Lama gave him a bow of appreciation for his work.

"As a leader himself, I was impressed by the incredible reverence for
the other faith presenters," he said.

The Dalai Lama's arrival came just a week after he met with President
Bush and received the Congressional Gold Medal, America's highest
civilian award.

That America's leaders recognized Tibet's exiled leader and its
struggle for religious and cultural freedom meant a great deal to
Richen Gelek, a 43-year-old Tibetan immigrant who traveled from
California for the Dalai Lama's teachings this week.

"It is important for the entire world, especially Tibetans and the
Chinese people, that they get his message of peace."

For Julie Crow DeMao, an Indianapolis native now living in Florida,
the sight of the Dalai Lama back in Bloomington brought tears. She's
serving as a volunteer helper during the visit.

"It's like seeing our favorite, dearest, most beloved relative," she
said as the Dalai Lama chanted Tibetan prayers as he blessed the new
archway. "It was just a perfect moment."

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