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Dalai Lama Dedicates Entrance at Center His Brother Founded

October 25, 2007

Bloomington, October 23 (AP) — With light rain falling, the Dalai Lama
rubbed buttery ghee on his forehead, tossed flower petals and snipped
six colorful ribbons to mark Tuesday's dedication of the new entrance
to a Tibetan center founded by his brother.

Scores of Buddhists dressed in brilliantly colored Mongolian dance
garb and other traditional costumes lined the entrance of the 108-acre
center to greet the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists as he
began five days of public events in Indiana.

The 72-year-old monk, wearing maroon and gold robes, made no public
remarks at the ribbon-cutting for the red, blue, green and gold arched
entrance.

Burning juniper leaves sweetened the air as the Dalai Lama rubbed his
forehead with ghee, a clarified butter that was among the rice, cotton
and other gifts he accepted at the entrance.

"It's a truly rare and unforgettable experience just to be in the
presence of his Holiness," said 17-year-old Jeremy Gotwals, a senior
at Bloomington North High School dressed in a traditional Tibetan
dance costume and carrying a ceremonial wooden dagger.

Rather than discouragement, the rain that muddied the center's grounds
and left a chill in the air offered hope to those assembled to see the
Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who's making his fifth visit to
Bloomington in 20 years.

"The rain in Tibetan culture, in Buddhist culture, is very auspicious.
It means good luck," said Lisa Morrison, a spokeswoman for the Tibetan
Cultural Center.

The center, a hub for Tibetan educational and religious activity, was
founded 1979 by Thubten J. Norbu, the Dalai Lama's eldest brother and
the former abbot of a Buddhist monastery who fled Tibet in 1950. Norbu
taught Tibetan culture and language at IU from 1965 to 1987.

The center, on the brink of foreclosure as recently as 2½ years ago,
announced in August that five donors had helped erase its $1.7 million
debt.

The Dalai Lama, who became Tibet's leader at 15, was proclaimed the
14th Dalai Lama at age 5. He fled the Himalayan region in 1959 during
a failed uprising against communist Chinese rule.

Although he remains highly popular among Tibetans and is lauded in
much of the world as a figure of moral authority, China's government
reviles him as a Tibetan separatist.

Chinese officials lashed out angrily at the U.S. after President Bush
presented him with the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal, Congress'
highest civilian honor, on Oct. 17. The Dalai Lama brushed aside the
furor, saying he supports "genuine autonomy," not independence, for
Tibet.

His efforts to preserve Tibetan culture and promote Tibet's liberation
earned him the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize.

Morrison said security was heightened Tuesday, with a strong presence
by the FBI and State Department officers that kept the Dalai Lama's
public appearance very brief.

"When his Holiness visits, there's always controversy with the
Chinese," Morrison said.

Earlier, the Dalai Lama took part in an interfaith religious service
at a Catholic Church in Bloomington, speaking about the similar
message of compassion in the Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Native
American faiths represented at the ceremony.

"I think if they emphasize the practice of compassion, they're all the
same," he said in halting English.

Afterward, at the Tibetan center Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan
welcomed the Dalai Lama's arrival in his community, calling him "an
icon of peace."

The Dalai Lama was expected to attend a welcoming dinner Tuesday
evening with his entourage and officials of the cultural center. On
Wednesday, he begins three days of teachings at the Indiana University
Auditorium. He's scheduled to give public talks Friday at Purdue
University in West Lafayette and Saturday at IU's Assembly Hall.

CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
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