His Holiness The Dalai Lama 

Dalai Lama shares his warmth  

Dalai Lama shares his warmth

Chicago Sun Times(CST)
August 29, 1999

The Dalai Lama entered the cavernous hall at the Field Museum on Saturday with a smile and a simple, "Good morning, brothers and sisters."

By the time the Buddhist monk concluded his talk nearly an hour later with a blessing ceremony, his sunny demeanor had spread through more than 3,000 people in Stanley Field Hall.

"It's so pleasant to see him. It's kind of like cozying up to a warm stove on a winter's night," said Patrick Wooldridge, 47, a Chicago market researcher and Buddhist who traveled with his wife to Tibet last spring.

Other admirers in the crowd included Goldie Hawn and Oprah Winfrey.

After thanking those who have shown compassion for his country--represented by the banned Tibetan national flag nearby--he said slyly, "So besides that, I have nothing to say to you." He paused, then referred to his latest book, Ethics for the New Millennium, and continued with a slight smile, "Read the book and let me have more rest."

The quip caused many of the people sitting in the main hall to laugh heartily, the sound echoing off walls decorated with colorful Tibetan prayer flags. And even when the sound system muddled his words, his familiar themes were clear.

"We all have the same potential for good things," he said. "The potential to bring inner peace and the potential to help other people."

But that similarity extends to the potential for evil, he warned. Even after decades of meditation, the Dalai Lama said he knew the possibility of wrongdoing. His words resonated with many in the sold-out room.

For the 250-member Chicago Tibetan community, in particular, the brief visit by the 64-year-old exiled political and spiritual leader of Tibet was a chance to burnish their cultural tradition.

"I'm very fortunate. This is my dream come true," said Pempa Bhuti, 24, who has lived in Chicago for two years since leaving her homeland.

Even after the Dalai Lama left the stage, scores flowed past an altar holding rice, bowls of barley beer called "chang" and an elaborate butter sculpture.

The ceremonial reasons for the visit--his third to Chicago since 1993--were significant because he sanctified Tibetan artifacts in the museum's collection. But the bigger draw was the rare chance to listen in person to the man who has grown steadily in international stature since fleeing his homeland for India in 1959 after Tibet's occupation by the Chinese communist government.

"His humanity shows in his great humor. He is a great teacher," said Mayor Daley's wife, Maggie. She and Hawn were among a handful given ceremonial white scarves, or khatas, by the Dalai Lama.

Having just completed an 11-day blessing ceremony Friday in Bloomington, Ind., the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner brought a more condensed version of community-boosting to Chicago.

Citing his own epic experience, including his selection as the 14th Dalai Lama at age 2 and the sudden adjustment of leading his nation 14 years later, he noted that the key was in caring for others. He advised listeners to expect trouble in life, but to be ready to analyze the causes of it.

"Promote the culture of nonviolence. That does not mean you remain passive. You fully engage the problem," he said. "Mental attitude is one of the key factors to finding peace."

That focus, he said, would help build up the world community and break down borders between religions and nations. He repeated his desire for a middle-ground solution with China that could end Tibet's occupation, grant autonomy for Tibetans and preserve the mountain nation's threatened traditions.

His Chicago stop, which included a panel discussion in the afternoon, reinforced local pride. Chicagoan Lobsang Dolma, 12, who practiced three months to learn a folk dance with a children's troupe, performed flawlessly before the Dalai Lama took the stage.

"I feel so happy to see him," she said.

WTN-L World Tibet Network News 

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