But for smatterings of applause at such suggestions that war is obsolete and some New Yorkers are greedy, more than 40,000 people listened in rapt silence today as the Dalai Lama brought his message of peace and tolerance to Central Park.
Seated on a stage flanked with greenery and yellow flowers, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader delivered a spiritual lecture on compassion, tolerance and nonviolence.
"My life, when I look back, has not been easy," the 64-year-old Dalai Lama said after reviewing his 40-year life in exile from Tibet. "But one thing I learned--the compassion, the sense of caring about others' welfare--brings to me inner strength. It has defined the purpose of my life."
He said that every person has "the same potential for inner tranquillity," but "negative forces," such as "fear, suspicion, selfishness and self-hatred, can destroy inner peace."
Repeatedly stressing the idea of a single human race, the Dalai Lama noted that, when seen from outer space, "our beautiful blue planet" has no national boundaries, and drew applause upon declaring that "the concept of war is now irrelevant, the concept of violence is out of date."
Spectators clapped again when he chided New York as a place where the gap between rich and poor has helped to fan "a lot of trouble, a lot of fear, killings. . . . The huge gap is very unfortunate."