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Holding for His Holiness in Aspen

Charles Agar
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad/The Aspen TimesThe Dalai Lama shields his eyes after taking the stage at the Aspen Insitute on Friday.
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ASPEN ” Anticipation mounted as wind from an approaching storm slapped the tent where hundreds waited to see the Dalai Lama at the Aspen Institute on Friday.

His Holiness, however, was around the corner in a West End home on Lake Avenue, glad-handing with U.S. Sen. John McCain (see related story).

The Dalai Lama addressed donors and participants Friday as part of the three-day Tibetan seminar. He will speak to the public Saturday at the Benedict Music Tent at 11 a.m.



When he took the stage at the Greenwald Pavilion, the Dalai Lama projected a wide smile, laughed and shaded his eyes from the light as he waved to the audience (he later donned a visor).

“More comfortable,” he said, smiling as he plopped cross-legged onto an easy chair to discuss everything from Buddhism and science to global politics, marriage, his exile and the U.S. election.



His Holiness speaks in fragmented English with periodic help from a translator.

Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson and Time journalist Pico Iyer moderated. Isaacson launched right into science, asking the Dalai Lama why he was so interested in neuroscience.

“That is a good beginning,” His Holiness said, laughing.

Science and Buddhism go hand in hand, he said.

“There is no contradiction,” the Dalai Lama said. “Reason is more important than faith.”

Buddhists are learning from scientists, and vice-versa, as neurosurgeons get a stronger grasp on the relationship between neurons and emotions, and doctors appreciate the importance of mental health and inner peace.

“Inner tranquility is very important,” the Dalai Lama said, and it is something that cannot be bought or made by machines.

Calm and “inner beauty” make for good marriages, and carry humans through inevitable hardships in life, he said.

The Dalai Lama said people can find that inner peace through worship of a god, through a non-theistic approach such as Buddhism, or by secular common sense and experience.

Even Hitler, the Dalai Lama said, was born of a mother and had a compassionate nature.

“Everybody. We have the same potential. Great potential,” he said.

And leaders, such as the next U.S. president, must be “real movers,” with good policy, motivation, compassion, leadership and honesty.

Tibetans in exile have already elected a leader ” though the Chinese still point to the Dalai Lama as a scapegoat for the troubled relations between Beijing and the exiles, he said ” and His Holiness said that he would dissolve the institution of the Dalai Lama if the people of Tibet wanted it.

He said he believes in a secular Tibet and remaining under Chinese sovereignty, though with freedom for Tibetans to speak their language and practice their religion and culture.

And leadership, he said, might be best left to women.

“Females by nature [are] more sensitive to others’ pain,” the Dalai Lama said. “[The] time has come that the female should take a more important role in society to promote warm-heartedness.”

The audience broke into applause.

Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright was in the audience. She raised her hand to ask a question, and the Dalai Lama pulled her on stage.

The old friends locked eyes and gently bumped foreheads as a sign of affection.

“What can we do to be more helpful to you?” Albright asked him.

He begged for a realistic solution to Tibet’s troubles and requested looking at any solution from all angles, adding that freeing the Chinese media is vital.

“It is extremely important China should know what is going on,” the Dalai Lama said. “Heavy censorship in the Chinese media only makes ignorant Chinese people.”

The Dalai Lama called it immoral that a people’s government should put its own people in ignorance.

And it is the Chinese who are doing the pushing and taking of lives, he said ” not the Tibetans.

Despite that, and despite recent violent protests in Tibet, His Holiness said he supports the upcoming Summer Olympics in Beijing, saying that the Chinese deserve to host the event as the world’s most populous nation.

The Dalai Lama said change in Tibet ultimately would come from a popular peaceful movement.

And despite the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Dalai Lama said he is optimistic that the worldwide desire for peace and nonviolence is growing.

Aspen Institute officials awarded the Dalai Lama an Aspen Global Leadership Award, and His Holiness gave ceremonial silk scarves to Albright and the moderators.

His talk Saturday at the Benedict Music Tent can be heard live on Aspen Public Radio at 11 a.m. and can be seen live on Aspen’s GrassRoots TV 12 or on the Aspen Institute website.

cagar@aspentimes.com


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