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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Dalai Lama Speaks to Fashionistas

December 12, 2007

December 11, 2007

What does exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama have to say to the
Gucci, Pucci and Fiorucci crowd? Plenty.

On the first day of a three-day talk in Milan, His Holiness dropped
timely knowledge on how religions can work together. After stating that
he's not in Europe looking for converts, ("Everyone should stay with
their own traditions") he touched on keystones of all major religions
(love, compassion and forgiveness) and said these should be starting
points for working together.

For a first-timer brought up in the solemn Catholic tradition, the
biggest surprise was the Dalai Lama's personality.

He is happy and you know it. He laughs a lot -- if you've never heard
him speak, his online archives are worth a listen just for that -- well,
because while he is serious, the religious leader is not above a chuckle.

One example: an audience member wanted to know why Tibetans consider
being reincarnated as a woman as the highest honor.

The answer: "more attractive" and a throaty laugh.

The Dalai Lama spoke in Tibetan (much to the delight of a small enclave
of fellow nationals who got the jokes firsthand, many in traditional
striped aprons and long skirts), and brought an interesting look to
Italy's most fashionable city with a maroon-colored visor ("this hat, it
doesn't mean anything religious, it was a gift") to keep the glare out
of his eyes as he read and commented verses from a loose rectangular
sheath of papers.

Alas, it wasn't all smiles. The text chosen for the teachings --
Nagarjuna's "Bohidchitta Vivarana" -- wasn't exactly for those who don't
chew concepts like sunyata over breakfast, but over 8,000 people gave up
a holiday weekend (feting the Immaculate Conception and Milan patron St.
Ambrose) to spend it in a drafty concert hall in one of the ugliest
parts of the city.

Unfortunately, neither Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi nor Pope
Benedict were willing to make any effort to meet with him during his
10-day Bel Paese sojourn. While avoiding criticism, the Dalai Lama
expressed disappointment -- especially about the Pope -- and fondly
remembered conversations with John Paul II.

Despite the diplomatic snubs, His Holiness did not escape the
razzle-dazzle media treatment Italians usually reserve for famous runway
models: much ink was spent on his "rider" (fresh flowers and fruit, all
mirrors and leather removed from his room) at the mastodonic Hotel
Principe di Savoia. He also made the cover of the Italian edition of
Vanity Fair, nudging Charlize Theron into small type.

He probably got a laugh out of it.

Posted by Nicole Martinelli
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