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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Dalai Lama inspires Reverent Ssilence, Cheers at stadium

May 4, 2009

The Dalai Lama's address was about the path to
peace and happiness. In the morning, he gave a
lesson about the teachings of Buddha and The Four
Noble Truths. The Patriots cap was a big hit. The
Dalai Lama's address was about the path to peace
and happiness. In the morning, he gave a lesson
about the teachings of Buddha and The Four Noble
Truths. The Patriots cap was a big hit. (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
By Eric Moskowitz, Globe Staff
The Boston Globe Staff
May 3, 2009

FOXBOROUGH - After a drizzly and overcast
morning, the sun broke through the clouds over
Gillette Stadium yesterday moments before the
Dalai Lama stepped onto the turf, as if on cue.

People rose from their seats, greeting the
73-year-old spiritual and political leader with a
mix of reverent silence and cheers. "You rock,
Lama!" someone shouted, the call rising from a corner of the stands.

Waving cheerfully, the Dalai Lama mounted a stage
and settled into an armchair facing a troupe of
young dancers. With a flourish, he produced
something cherry red - a Patriots hat, projected
onto the end-zone video scoreboards - and waved
it in the air. Thousands cheered as he tugged the
cap onto his famously shaved head.

"Good afternoon, dear brothers and sisters," the
Tibetan Buddhist leader said, as adulation gave
way to hushed attention. Legs crossed, hands
clasped, he spoke of shared dreams and desires.
"Emotionally, mentally, physically, we are same .
. . Everyone have the same right to achieve happy life."

The Dalai Lama's afternoon address was about the
path to peace and happiness; in the morning, he
gave a lesson about the teachings of Buddha and
The Four Noble Truths. To each lesson, the
reaction from the crowd was the same: sustained silence. Serenity, even.

"You know what the strange thing is? You've been
to Gillette Stadium before? It's quiet in there,"
said Kim Hubert, 42, a nurse from Marshfield, as
she made her way through the crowded concourse,
where people waited in long but patient queues
for concessions and restrooms. "It's surreal.
Even the kids in there are quiet."

The crowd of 15,935 ticket-holders was diverse -
Buddhist and non-Buddhist, young and old, clad in
hemp and Oxford cloth, sweaters and sandals,
flowing robes and fleece. But many cited the same
reason for coming: the chance to be close to, and
learn from, a singular figure.

"It's an honor and a privilege to be at the same
place as the Dalai Lama," said Steve Walters, 53,
a service engineer from Marlborough who
identified himself as a "novice" Buddhist, after
12 years of study and practice.

His wife, Dayna, said she came to learn more
about something her husband finds meaningful.
Plus, "I don't know when I'd ever have a chance
to do it again," she said. "I can't imagine he comes to Foxborough very often."

This was, in fact, the Dalai Lama's first trip to
the stadium but sixth to the Boston area. Robert
Kraft, who sat near the front, allowed the use of
Gillette rent-free for the event, which raised an
estimated $440,000 for construction of a Tibetan heritage center in Boston.

The Dalai Lama, who has led an exiled government
in India for 50 years, spoke earlier in the week
at Harvard and at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, which dedicated a new ethics center named for him.

Displaying his trademark mix of gravity and
whimsy, the Dalai Lama punctuated his talk on
religion with self-deprecating humor. "When I
previously come here my body as a human body
complete," he said, chuckling as he noted the
creakiness of age. "Last year gall bladder create
some problems so finally is removed."

In the morning, he spoke from an elaborate throne
- crafted by members of Boston's Tibetan
community - on a stage that held seated
dignitaries on one side and kneeling monks on the
other. He alternated between English and Tibetan
for the religious lesson, speaking through his
regular translator, Thupten Jinpa.

In the afternoon, the Dalai Lama stuck with
English for his secular address and an ensuing
session in which he answered previously submitted questions.

He was playful and animated across the hours,
drawing circles in the air with his hands. When a
cold wind whipped through the stadium bowl in the
morning, he pulled his saffron and maroon robes
tight over his exposed right arm and head and
encouraged the crowd to bundle up as well. In the
afternoon, he wore sunglasses but mostly declined
offers of an umbrella to protect him from the sun.

In far-ranging remarks, he touched on the
environmental benefits of small cars, the
campaign to win freedom from China - calling
supporters not "pro-Tibetan" but "pro-justice" -
and the importance of valuing all faiths in the "supermarket of religion."

"For example I am Buddhist. I studied Buddhism, I
practiced Buddhism, and through practice I got
some sort of little experience . . . Very low but
still better than zero," he said. "Buddhism is
best for my case. That doesn't mean Buddhism is
best religion to everyone, certainly not."

During the extended intermission, a pair of Rhode
Island retirees with field tickets said that
comment spoke to them in particular.

"It's a wonderful thing to say. So many other
religions say, 'I'm the one,' " said Ada
Mogayzel, a former librarian from Providence,
calling the Dalai Lama "an inspiration."

Up on the concourse, with clouds still cloaking
the stadium, Tibet native Ngawang Norbu of Malden
called it a "very auspicious day."

Norbu said he has seen the Dalai Lama speak
numerous times - nearly always in sunshine, he said.

"Just the presence of his holiness is a
blessing," said Norbu, 58, wearing a wool cloak
his grandmother knit before the family left Tibet
50 years ago. "Even when it's bad weather, it just clears up."

By the end of halftime, it had.
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