VOL. 124 | NO. 188 | Thursday, September 24, 2009
Dalai Lama Calls For "Inner Peace" In Accepting NCRM Award
By Bill Dries
The Dalai Lama blesses the Mississippi River during a Tuesday visit with local leaders at Tom Lee Park. -- PHOTO BY LANCE MURPHEY
The Dalai Lama toured the National Civil Rights Museum Wednesday and stood and prayed on the balcony where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
But the Tibetan spiritual leader declined to compare himself to King or other advocates of non violence as he talked with reporters later in the museum.
“I investigate myself. My motivations should be honest, truthful,” he said. “If I were to put my name with others who are famous, it is wrong.”
The Dalai Lama was in Memphis to accept the NCRM’s International Freedom Award before a crowd of 500 at The Peabody.
He spoke with an interpreter who didn’t so much translate his words into English as provide the religious leader with the correct word in English for what he wanted to say.
His Memphis stop was part of an international tour with stops in the U.S. as well as a controversial visit to Taiwan at the end of August that angered the Chinese government.
The Buddhist holy figure fled Tibet at a young age 50 years ago following the Chinese’s government’s invasion of Tibet and an uprising crushed by the Chinese army. The Tibet government that was overthrown in the invasion exists as a government in exile in India and a growing community of 150,000 people with democratically elected officials. The Chinese government does not recognize the government in exile and portrayed the Dalai Lama’s visit to Taiwan as an attempt to promote independence of the island nation which the Communist government also considers to be part of China. The Lama said his visit was not political but a visit to pray for victims of a recent typhoon.
In Memphis, he said totalitarian regimes are out of step.
“Totaliarian regimes themselves are always changing. The free world has a moral responsibility to remind them that totalitarian is not a practical way – is outdated,” he said.
The spiritual leader has also criticized the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that began during the administration of President George W. Bush.
“It is no secret, I love President Bush. He is very straightforward. But some of his policies I had great reservations about,” the Dalai Lama said. “I told him friendly the U.S. motivation is good to spread democracy. But its methods are wrong.”
The Dalai Lama said nothing about the fist bump he got Wednesday in Tom Lee Park from Memphis Mayor Pro Tempore Myron Lowery. No one asked during a press conference although the greeting made national news. But he displayed a sense of humor about other things. At one point, he told the crowd at The Peabody that he recently had surgery to remove his gall bladder. “It scientifically proved that I had no healing powers,” he joked.
“We all have the same potential to create inner peace,” he said after accepting the award from philanthropist and award sponsor J.R. “Pitt” Hyde and civil rights veteran Rev. Benjamin Hooks. The award comes with an honorarium from the Hyde Foundation. But he donated the money back to the museum.
He called for “more effort for the promotion of human compassion.” And the Dalai Lama called for women to take a more active role citing the feminist movement.
“Women have more potential to alter the biological pattern,” he said.