Dalai Lama draws protesters at National Cathedral

5:53 PM, Mar 7, 2014   |    comments
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Hundreds stand outside the National Cathedral in Washington DC in protest of the Dalai Lama's visit. chanting: "Give religious freedom, Dalai Lama." (Photo: Brandon Carte, USA TODAY)



(USA TODAY) As the Dalai Lama spoke about living ethically inside the National Cathedral in Washington on Friday, hundreds protested outside on behalf of the International Shugden Community of Buddhists.

The community accuses the Buddhist holy leader of discriminating against the religious practice of the Buddha Dorje Shugden.

"A mother goes out to buy food for her children and are turned away from the store because she practices Dorje Shugden. People are thrown out of hospitals," protester Rebecca Foley told WUSA9.

One man was escorted out of the cathedral for shouting and interrupting the Dalai Lama's speech, which focused on compassion.

"Sometimes a smile extends further than words," the Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, said. "Practice compassion and eliminate anger, hate and fear. It is a strong force, compassion, just like love. It is a hard practice, but it is not impossible."

The Dalai Lama also stressed the importance of helping others, which he said can change lives.

"Help individuals and you can have happiness, if you do harm to them you will harm yourself and your mind," he said.

That message resonated most with Steve Stilwell and Laura Sharon, who have been married for four years and went to see the Dalai Lama.

"When you show compassion not only are you helping another, but yourself," said Stilwell, a Reston, Va., resident. "I know I am a happier person when I am helpful."

The visit marks the Dalai Lama's third time in Washington since President Obama took office. It was his fourth visit to the National Cathedral.

Mariann Edgar Budde, Episcopal bishop of Washington, took questions from the audience and those submitted on the National Cathedral's website.

Kate Smart, 17, a student at National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C., asked a question that left the Dalai Lama speechless.

"Last week you met with President Barack Obama and infuriated the Chinese government in the process, why do you think the government is so upset by that meeting?" she asked.

His holiness' response?

"Ask them!" he said, leading the audience to erupt in laughter.

He concluded his visit with a prayer in Tibet, which translates as follows:

"May the world see prosperity and prepare the coming of graceful teacher and we can live in harmony and mutual respect. May the grace remain alive for all," he said.

By Brandon Carte, USA TODAY


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