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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Dalai Lama captivates Calgary; thousands hear spiritual leader

October 5, 2009

By Jamie Komarnicki, Calgary Herald
October 1, 2009

CALGARY - Thousands filled the Saddledome on Wednesday to hear a message of
compassion and peace from one of the world's most revered spiritual leaders.

Many among the Calgary audience said they were struck most by the simple
truth of the Dalai Lama's words in his first visit to the city in three

"The whole thing was just overwhelming, to see somebody like the Dalai Lama.
It was wonderful. It was almost peaceful. It was like he was talking to me,
person-to-person," said Henrietta MacGregor, 80.

"I just feel happy. He's awesome," added her granddaughter, Jasmine
MacGregor, 12.

The Dalai Lama enthralled the audience of nearly 15,000 for more than an
hour as he described the attitude needed to find both inner and outer peace.

"We are the same human beings. I want a happy life, you want a happy life.
On that level we can work together...make a common effort for a better
world," the exiled Buddhist leader said.

The Tibetan spiritual leader is in Calgary for the two-day NOW conference
hosted by the University of Calgary.

Draped in his monk's robes, he received a warm greeting as he was ushered to
the stage following a series of cultural performances and a traditional
welcome from native leaders.

The Dalai Lama often drew laughter as he threaded jokes through an otherwise
urgent message of peace. He also offered several personal tidbits in a
question-and-answer session with the audience, sharing his meditation
routine and noting his only pair of trousers are pyjamas.

Facing the clear adoration of many in the crowd, the Dalai Lama made a great
effort to describe himself as predominantly a simple monk. He underlined the
common humanity shared by all--including himself.

He also called for the end of violence and urged peace and compassion among

"Each country heavily interconnected. That is today's reality," he said.
"The centuries-old concept of 'we' and 'they' according to this reality are
no longer there. We must consider the entire world as a part of 'we.'

"The destruction of your neighbour is destruction of yourself. The concept
of war is out of date."

The Tibetan leader has met his share of confrontation since he fled Tibet
after the Chinese invasion in 1959, with many arguing his political
leadership is controversial. When he travels the world, the Dalai Lama said
he focuses on a spiritual message of peace prompted by compassion, not fear.

Conflict is inevitable among humankind, he said. But the use of violence and
force is outdated and ineffective.

The Dalai Lama pointed to former U. S. president George W. Bush, a man he
said he loved and called a "straightforward" and "nice" person. But he said
the "violent methods" to address problems in Iraq and Afghanistan only give
way to "violent consequences."

Earlier Wednesday, the Dalai Lama arrived from Vancouver and was greeted at
the airport by a host of local leaders and Tibetan-Calgarians.

Mayor Dave Bronconnier and U of C president Harvey Weingarten presented the
Dalai Lama with a Tibetan ceremonial white scarf and a white cowboy hat.

In introducing the Tibetan leader, Weingarten noted the Dalai Lama views
himself as a simple monk.

"That he sees himself that way, says everything about the man who is one of
the most influential and inspirational voices for peace and inspiration in
the world today," Weingarten said.

He called the Dalai Lama an "extraordinary authority" on the international
dialogue of peace, harmony and social justice and said his "serene
influence" touches the hearts and minds of both influential leaders and
everyday people around the world.

The Tibetan leader was also awarded an honorary doctorate of laws Wednesday.
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