Dalai Lama Calls for Religious Tolerance During Panel at US University

October 21st 2007

Atlanta, GA, USA, 22 October 2007 (AP) - The Dalai Lama and other spiritual leaders called for followers of the world's religions to work toward understanding rather than bicker over differences.

The panel which included Rajmohan Gandhi, the grandson of Mohandas Gandhi - stressed affection for others, even if they have differing views on faith.

'Today, the world is getting smaller,' the exiled Tibetan leader said in English. 'We really need closer understanding of each other. It's essential.'

The discussion on Sunday was part of a weekend of events at Emory University with the Dalai Lama, who has a distinguished professorship there. Before the panel discussion, the Dalai Lama was presented with the Gandhi Foundation USA's 'peace pilgrim' award by several members of the Gandhi family. He said he has always considered himself a follower of Gandhi, who led a nonviolent uprising that eventually resulted in India's independence.
Earlier in the day, the Dalai Lama delivered a lesson on the basics of Buddhism from atop a wide, golden chair, flanked by Tibetan monks and followers of other types of Buddhism. He described being tutored starting at age 6 on Buddhist practices and philosophies.

'At that time, (I had) no interest,' the Dalai Lama said, laughing. 'When my tutor came, I used to feel like the sun was setting and it was getting dark. As a young student, I always preferred play.'

Later Sunday, he was to meet with leaders from other religions to talk about strategies to resolve conflicts peacefully.

The 72-year-old monk and Nobel Peace Prize laureate fled the Himalayan region for India in 1959 amid a failed uprising against Chinese rule. He remains highly popular among Tibetans and is praised in much of the world as a figure of moral authority, but China reviles him as a Tibetan separatist.

Chinese officials lashed out at the United States after the Dalai Lama received Congress' highest civilian honor in an elaborate ceremony last week. The Dalai Lama brushed the furious reaction aside, saying he supports 'genuine autonomy,' not independence for Tibet.

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