Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 30 September 2009 (CBC News) - The Dalai Lama has returned to Calgary for the first time in nearly 30 years, accepting an honorary degree from the city's largest university and a white cowboy hat from the mayor.
The Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader also brought his message of peace to a crowd at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Wednesday afternoon, giving a public address as part of a two-day visit to the city for a University of Calgary conference called NOW.
He spoke to the audience of peace not only on a global, national and family level, but on a personal one.
"We can say violence is generally speaking out of anger, hatred. Peace is out of compassion. So therefore, genuine peace [comes] through compassion. In other words, external, long-lasting genuine peace mostly comes through internal peace."
He also joked with the audience that he has no healing power, as demonstrated by his need to have gall bladder surgery last year, but later spoke of his quick recovery.
"Not because of my healing power, but because of my peace of mind," he said.
University of Calgary president Harvey Weingarten presented an honorary law degree to the Dalai Lama during the Saddledome event.
"He has touched the hearts and minds of leaders in politics, religion and business, as well as those of everyday people who search only to find happiness," said Weingarten.
The Dalai Lama thanked the university and with a giggle admitted he had been a "lazy student."
Earlier in the day, Mayor Dave Bronconnier plopped the city's iconic white cowboy hat on the Dalai Lama's head during a welcoming at the airport.
The Dalai Lama was last in Calgary in 1980, when the city fathers declined to present him with a white hat, saying he wasn't an official dignitary. Calgary's Tibetan community was further annoyed when former mayor Al Duerr presented then-president Jiang Zemin of China with a white hat in 1997.
"Presentation of gifts on behalf of the citizens of Calgary are not intended to be political symbols at all. This is a welcoming gesture ... recognizing an international spiritual leader, one who advances education, philanthropy and works towards world peace," Bronconnier said Tuesday.
The mayor also presented a white hat later Wednesday to a former president of South Africa, F.W. de Klerk, who is also in Calgary for the conference.