Atlanta, GA, USA, 22 October 2007 (By Salvador Rizzo, The Emory Wheel) - Thick, looming fog and the threat of rain couldn't keep thousands of people from attending the Dalai Lama's free public address ar Centennial Olympic Park on Monday.
The Dalai Lama, shown here next to U.S. Rep. John Lewis, addressed thousands at Centennial Olympic Park on Monday.
They crowded the park's wet lawns with blankets - some sitting cross-legged in the lotus position -” and they purchased Tibetan memorabilia from robe-clad monks who set up shop at a makeshift bookstore. They traded stories about how far the drive had been to Atlanta, and they looked expectantly at the sky, ironically hoping for no rain during a dangerous statewide drought.
And when the 14th Dalai Lama took the podium, they gave him a standing ovation and their full attention. Hands pressed above his head, the Tibetan spiritual leader bowed his head as the audience cheered and showered him with camera flashes. Then he abruptly motioned for them to sit.
"It's a great pleasure for me to be able to meet with you," he
said through a translator. After about a minute, he became more at ease
with what he called his 'broken English' and delivered the rest of
his address on his own.
"When I hear his name, [I hear] something very deep in my heart," he said.
The Dalai Lama's message addressed the importance of inner peace and self-contentment as a path to lasting world peace.
"Last century, millions of people killed - not much benefit," he
said. "The concept of war is outdated, it's very clear. This
century, 21st century, should be century of dialogue."
He posited that humans, unlike some other species such as turtles, naturally tend toward compassion, and he encouraged the audience to nurture their children and take to heart the lessons gleaned from family life.
"The seed of compassion, from birth, we already have. Very nature, we come from our mother - our entire life depends on others' care," he said, adding that his affection for all people comes not from Buddhism, but from his own mother.
Peter Wang, a Taiwan native now living in Atlanta, heard the speech on
the grass, sitting over a blue baseball cap next to his young daughter.
Later, in response to a previously submitted question about reconciling
his Buddhist teachings with Christianity, he described the similarities
between many of the world's religions and his affinity for other
Arti Batta contributed reporting to this article.