Bloomington, IN, USA, 24 October 2007 (By Robert King, The Indianapolis Star) - For Tibetan Buddhists, rain is a great blessing. So when the Dalai Lama returned to Indiana on Tuesday under a steady downpour, it was deemed an auspicious start to his six-day visit.
The Dalai Lama, leader of Tibetan Buddhists worldwide, charmed an audience of 1,000 people at an interfaith prayer service, where he decried wars in the name of God and urged unity among people of different faiths.
Security provided by the FBI, the State Department and local police was tight. Guests at the prayer service were scanned with metal detectors. A Mongolian journalist was escorted out of the room for moving up to a better seat. The cultural center, normally open dawn to dusk, was locked down.
Dalai Lama visits always prompt tight security, said Tibetan Cultural Center spokeswoman Lisa Morrison. But she said it would be tighter this week because of the controversy about China’s strong objections to his state visit.
Concerns about safety were an ironic counterpoint to the message the Dalai Lama brought at the prayer service.
In his sometimes broken English, the Dalai Lama questioned the role of violence in society: “When you look from space at this small planet, there is hardly a justification to fight.”
Economic problems, environmental issues and overpopulation may plague the world, but they can be overcome, he said, when people think of the “whole group” as one entity.
“In that new reality, the concept of ‘we’ or ‘they’ is no longer there.”