A Simple Message Of Hope And Peace

The Dalai Lama laughs after being presented with a hat and robe from others from the Himalayas. In his speech at MCI Center, he exhibited much of the charm and humor that have endeared him to people worldwide.
The Dalai Lama laughs after being presented with a hat and robe from others from the Himalayas. In his speech at MCI Center, he exhibited much of the charm and humor that have endeared him to people worldwide. (By Katherine Frey -- The Washington Post)

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By Mary Beth Sheridan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 14, 2005

Gripping Cokes and cups of french fries, the three teenage girls seemed just the kind of fans who might flock to MCI Center any night for a Wizards game or a concert.

But yesterday, the Jumbotron was flashing pictures of Tibetan monks in saffron robes. And the main attraction was the exiled Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama.

"He's had such influence in the world. It's not like he's a rock star. It's something different," said Sara Rothleitner, 16, of Ellicott City.

When the three teenagers learned that the Dalai Lama would be in Washington, "we jumped on it," said Constance Ferber, 16, of Towson, Md.

In a city normally obsessed with more temporal forms of power, the 70-year-old spiritual leader received a fan-club greeting yesterday.

About 16,000 people filled much of MCI Center to hear his talk, "Global Peace Through Compassion." Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House minority leader, introduced him and gushed over the chance "to breathe the same air, in the same room, as His Holiness, the Dalai Lama."

As for His Holiness, he showed much of the charm that has endeared him to audiences around the world, joking, relaxing into a cross-legged position on a chair, and mixing topics both sacred and worldly.

He talked of love and hate, of religion and ethics, of global peace and nuclear weapons.

He talked of malls.

"I like shopping centers," the monk, in gold and crimson robes, confessed in his stilted English, smiling as his audience roared. "Beautiful. When I go [to] these areas, I want this, I want that, I want that," he said, jabbing a finger in the air as though on a spree at Tysons Corner.

"Then, [I] ask myself, you really need that? The answer is no."

His main points, though, were more profound: the need for religious tolerance, the importance of carrying out faith in daily actions and the goal of "internal disarmament" -- combating one's own hatred and anger.


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© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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