Dalai Lama's followers rejoice as he visits city in New York
May 8, 2009
By PAUL GRONDAHL
ALBANY TIMES UNION
ALBANY, N.Y. -- The Dalai Lama entered the Crowne Plaza after visiting
the Capitol this morning, pausing to touch the people who came to see him.
He arrived at the hotel at about 11:35 a.m. EDT and greeted a small
group of Tibetans and local Buddhists. They bowed and held white silk
shawls in their hands in a show of reverence. He paused to touch the
head of the burgundy-robed monks and to shake the hands of other
Vicki Schacter of Guilderland gave him a copy of her book, "Lessons from
My Father and the Dalai Lama" and he paused to look at a few of the
pictures from 1959 when she visited India as a volunteer nurse and the
Dalai Lama and his family also were there.
"It was nice that he looked at the pictures and acknowledged me," the
76-year-old woman said.
They were both in their mid-20s the last time they met. Shortly after,
the Chinese occupied Tibet and the Dalai Lama went into exile.
On meeting him again almost exactly 50 years later, Schacter said: "That
was a wonderful moment. It made it all worthwhile."
The Dalai Lama's lunch was made at Sushi Thai restaurant in Clifton Park
and delivered to the Crowne Plaza in a cardboard box by Angel Smith.
"I think it's great. I totally stand for his belief in nonviolence,"
Smith said. His meal included spring rolls and a hot-and-spicy bean-curd
Clare Bronfman, one of the organizers of the Dalai Lama's visit, said:
"I think it's a wonderful occasion and the whole city is abuzz."
The Dalai Lama's appearance is sponsored by the Ethical Humanitarian
Foundation (the World Ethical Foundations Consortium is an EHF initiative).
The EHF's and WEFC's co-founders, Sara and Clare Bronfman, the Seagram
liquor heiresses, are affiliated with NXIVM, a Colonie-based company
that conducts personal-growth training courses. Keith Raniere, the EHF's
and WEFC's "conceptual founder," is the founder of NXIVM. Raniere is at
the Crowne Plaza.
Critics say NXIVM (pronounced NEX-ee-um) is a cultlike organization that
employs psychologically damaging mind-control techniques. Raniere's
supporters say those accusations are unfounded. Numerous media accounts
in recent years have pointed to the controversy surrounding Raniere and
Sara Bronfman also is at the Crowne Plaza.
"It's amazing," she said of the Dalai Lama's appearance before
addressing the controversy.
"It hasn't been difficult but it calls upon me to dig deeper and have
more inner strength and resolve," she said. "I know what I am doing is
good and the truth will come out in the end. And I believe that is his
Holiness' message as well."
As the Dalai Lama's motorcade headed up to the Capitol earlier this
morning and he opened the Senate session, followers - some from as far
away as Alaska and Washington - prepared to meet him.
"I'm honored to be able to see his holiness. This is a blessing. His
message is a beautiful one, 'Love each other, be kind to each other and
be happy,'" said Pema Yanki, a Tibetan who now lives in Niskayuna.
A documentary film crew was on hand to capture the Dalai Lama's visit to
"I'm very excited. It's an honor and a pleasure," said Scott Altomare,
who along with the rest of the crew is from New York City.Kunga Tashi,
the Chinese liaison officer in the office of Tibet in New York City,
said the Dalai Lama recently met with Chinese scholars to discuss the
long-standing political conflict between the Chinese occupation of Tibet.
"It was a very wonderful meeting. Afterwards I spoke to the Chinese
people and they had good reactions but they are afraid to mention their
names and this was the first time they met face-to-face with his
Holiness," he said.
Security officers, members of the U.S. State Department and supporters
were all crowding into the Crowne Plaza where the Dalai Lama is expected
to speak with reporters before his 2 p.m. address at the Palace Theatre.