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"For a happier, more stable and civilized future, each of us must develop a sincere, warm-hearted feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood."

A Palace visit 70 years later

May 19, 2009

May 16, 2009

I had not expected to see the Dalai Lama in
Albany last week. But a few hours before his
appearance at the Palace Theatre, my son called
to say he wanted to give me a ticket as a
Mother's Day gift. I headed downtown to the box
office and, ticket in hand, wias soon in a queue
that snaked up Clinton Avenue, around Ten Broeck
Street and past the long-empty but still
beautiful St. Joseph's Church. Tight security for
the event kept the line from moving along, but
the weather was mild and friendly exchanges and
familiar faces helped to make the wait a pleasant one.

Once inside the grandeur of the refurbished
theater, I remembered how as a little girl I sat
in the balcony watching the movie "Snow White and
the Seven Dwarfs" in innocent joy.

The saffron-robed Dalai Lama, without
introduction, walked across the stage, sat down
in a leather armchair, removed his shoes, settled
himself on crossed legs and silently faced a
group of musicians to his right. He exchanged
greetings with each person who had preceded him
on stage as he unrolled what looked like white
silk scarves placing one over each of their
heads, bowing with hands pressed together in
prayerful respect. (I learned later that these scarves are called khatas.)

The Tibetan leader adjusted the red,
Velcro-strapped visor to his head. In a gentle
voice, he cautioned the audience that he was not
a healer but a simple monk. His unlined, smiling
face projected a serenity that floated out over
the crowd. He spoke in softly broken English
about the importance of each person's inner
ethics and values. It is what is in our hearts
and minds, he said, that matters and gives us happiness.

He also stressed the importance of compassion and
truth and referred to each of the major world
religions by name, finding fundamental goodness
in them all. For me, compassion is the mystical
and living stream that binds man with the
infinite God, and truth has always been the most
sacred invention of creation even though lately
I've even wondered if honesty is not going out of
style, trampled upon in our blind stampede for meaning in life.

The Dalai Lama chuckled as he recalled seeing a
family with two restless, young children on a
trans-Atlantic flight. At some point the father
slept soundly, but "the mother never shut an eye
throughout." He said a mother's nurturing is
essential for her children's emotional, spiritual and mental health.

And as a member of the Grannies for Peace, his
message of non-violence was dear to my heart. I
believe mothers and grandmothers must demand that
the world abolish war as a means to settle our
problems or our children, along with the planet, are doomed.

My future meditation will be enhanced the
profound contentment I felt in the Dalai Lama's
presence. It brought back the awe and wonder I
experienced 70 years ago when my mother, in the
depths of the Great Depression, sacrificed to
bring her 7-year-old daughter to the Palace. My
Mother's Day gift was priceless, especially since
my husband died recently and the love and support
of my seven children made this loss bearable.

Dorothy Richards is a member of the Albany
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). She can
be reached at
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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