By Greg Hugh, Staff Writer

The 14th Dalai Lama arrived in Minneapolis on May 7, 2011.  The much anticipated visit, "One Heart, One Mind, One Universe" was co-hosted by the University of Minnesota's Center for Spirituality & Healing and the Tibetan American Foundation (TAFM).  

 By Greg Hugh, Staff Writer

The 14th Dalai Lama arrived in Minneapolis on May 7, 2011.  The much anticipated visit, "One Heart, One Mind, One Universe" was co-hosted by the University of Minnesota's Center for Spirituality & Healing and the Tibetan American Foundation (TAFM).  

According to the TAFM, prior to 1992, just two Tibetans called Minnesota home.  There are now approximately 3,000 Tibetans living in the state— the second largest Tibetan community in the United States.              

Since a few of the events were closed to the public and media, coverage of the Dalai Lama's visit is limited to what was gleaned from multiple sources including the Dalai Lama's official Web site and this article intends only to provide some of the highlights of the visit.

The Dalai Lama left Rochester, Minn., May 6, after a visit to the Mayo Clinic where he received a routine medical physical that resulted in a clean bill of health.

Upon his arrival in Minneapolis, an official welcome was held for the Dalai Lama at Eastcliff, home of University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks.  This event was closed to the public. Members of the Tibetan community welcomed him with cultural dancing, outdoor entertainment and offered Droso Chema, a special gift that Tibetans use to celebrate their New Year and special occasions.


Members of the Tibetan community welcome the Dalai Lama with Droso Chema

According to the official Web site of the Dalai Lama, among those who came to greet His Holiness at the reception were members of the Board of regents of the University, Mayor Chris Coleman of St. Paul and Congresswoman Betty McCollum, who conveyed to His Holiness greetings from former Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  It is also reported that Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton paid a courtesy call on May 7.

The Dalai Lama began his next day of activity by greeting Minnesota media at his hotel.  

The Dalai Lama's soft-spoken manner forced listeners to pay attention to what he was saying as he began talking about his life's commitments to further human values, religious harmony and resolving the issue of Tibet.

On the issue of the Tibetan struggle, His Holiness said in March this year he made clear his decision to discontinue the nearly-400-year tradition of the Dalai Lama shouldering political authority.  His Holiness explained that he saw it a bit hypocritical for him to continue the dual responsibility over spiritual and temporal authority when he was advising others to separate religion from politics.  He said the Tibetan refugee community had matured in democratic process and the time was ripe to hand over the political responsibility to the elected Tibetan leadership.

He also suggested that the media had a role in promoting public awareness about the issues of human values and religious harmony.  "The media must educate people, help clean up society and must be truthful" he stated.      


The Dalai Lama addresses the media

The Dalai Lama then offered to take questions which included one about his interaction with the Jewish community and lessons from this interaction.  

Another question came from a 12 year student who had been given a news assignment by his school seeking His Holiness' advice to the younger generation.  The Dalai Lama noted that the boy is part of the 21st century while he was from the 20th century which is one of bloodshed and that there was need to make the 21st century one without bloodshed.  He said that there would still be problems but people need to find realistic ways to resolve them through dialogue and reconciliation.

One reporter asked for his thoughts on terrorism after the killing of Osama Bin Laden. His Holiness said he considers himself as a messenger of the Indian tradition of Ahimsa. Therefore, he always stresses the importance of non-violence, adding that dialogue is the only way. His Holiness explained that even though one may have good motivation and a justified goal, violence can have unexpected consequences.

The Dalai Lama concluded his remarks with discussions about 9/11, the death penalty, the Nuremberg Trials and the execution of Saddam Hussein.  He stressed the need for a wider perspective on the death sentence as the consequences may be wider.

As for the young people, he spoke about responsibilities of students about to graduate from college saying they need to be self-confident, adhere to moral principles and be optimistic.

Prior to leaving for a meeting with the Tibetan community at St. Thomas University in St. Paul, to which the media meeting was being broadcast, the Dalai Lama disclosed that he was planning to meet with students from China later in the day.

At the University of St. Thomas there were over 2,000 Tibetans from Minnesota as well as neighboring states. The Dalai Lama was welcomed with traditional Tibetan dances as he entered the arena.

After a brief introductory program, members of the Tibetan community presented two cultural performances, including one especially composed in honor of His Holiness.
In his address, His Holiness reminded the Tibetans gathered there that the objective of Tibetans being in exile was to do something on the Tibetan issue.  He asked them to have pride in their identity and commended the fact that as the Tibetan community is going through a generational shift the sense of identity continued to be strong.

His Holiness also talked about his reason for his Middle Way Approach, which he said was being supported by the international community.  He also said that China would have to change.

Following the Tibetan audience, the Dalai Lama returned to his hotel to participate in a panel discussion on the "State of Buddhism Today." Panelists included Dr. Ann Waltner, Dr. Mark Umbreit and Dr. Christine Marran from the University of Minnesota; writer Li Jianglin; Zhen Wang, a PhD candidate; and Dr. Roger Jackson of Carleton College.

A majority of the nearly two hundred attendees at the panel discussion were Chinese students and scholars.

Issues raised included: increasing interest in Tibetan Buddhism in China; interest in Buddhism among the younger generation; the personal perception of a panelist on the differences between Tibetan Buddhist temples and Chinese Buddhist temples; the personal feeling of another panelist that Buddhist teaching had changed his life and work. As for the future of Buddhism, there were issues raised about teacher-student relationship and the decline of monasticism that needed to be addressed.

In his address, His Holiness spoke about the historical development relating to human values. He said from dependence on religion to provide solution to all problems, people turned to scientific and technological development for solutions. He then talked about the change in perception from science and spiritualism being different to one where scientists were actively paying interest in Buddhist science. 

During the Question & Answer session, the Dalai Lama stated that he generally divided the modern Chinese period into four eras: Mao Zedong era during which time ideology was given importance; Deng Xiaoping era during which time making money was given importance; Jiang Zemin era during which time the Party changed from representing the working class to including the middle class and others; and Hu Jintao era when a harmonious society is the slogan.

His Holiness said the developments during these four eras indicate that even though it is the same Communist Party, new thinking developed according to the new reality. His Holiness talked about the new leadership in China that was coming about next year saying he knew father of Xi Jinping's father very well.

All the questions were from Chinese attendees. In conclusion His Holiness appreciated that quite many Chinese students and scholars had come to attend this discussion. He urged them to study hard not to forget their motherland.

On the final day of the Dalai Lama's visit, he led a Medicine Buddha Empowerment and give a public address on Peace Through Inner Peace.  He began by first talking about the roles of the different religions in today's society. He outlined the commonality of purpose of all religions saying they all have the same potential for unbiased compassion. He talked of the outreach Tibetan Buddhists have done with other religions.


University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks and the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama then gave an overview of Buddhism emphasizing on the need to study and practice the philosophy. His Holiness said the root of all problems could be traced to extreme self-centeredness. He suggested that serious Buddhist practitioner should meditate on the four foundations of mindfulness: mindfulness of body; mindfulness of feelings; mindfulness of mind; and mindfulness of Dharmas.

Bestowing the Medicine Buddha Empowerment, His Holiness, as per Tibetan Buddhist tradition, informed the audience that he had received this empowerment from both his tutors Taktra Rinpoche as well as Trijang Rinpoche.  He ended by reminding the gathering that mere recitation of prayers was not enough. He said that peace would not come through prayer; peace will come through action.

In the afternoon the next event began at the same venue with welcome remarks by Ms. Mary Jo Keitzer, director of the Center for Spirituality and Healing of the University of Minnesota, and Dr. Tsewang Ngodup, President of the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota.

Thereafter, University President Robert H. Bruininks made welcome remarks and talked about a variety of events, including exhibitions and conference that were being organized on Tibet in conjunction with the visit of His Holiness.  President Bruininks and a Regent conferred the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama then gave his public talk. He first thanked the University for the Honorary Degree.  He said in this second visit after ten years people still showed genuine kindness to him. 

He said the 20th century has been the most important century in human history. It saw innovations in science and technology. At the same time it also saw lot of bloodshed and the use of nuclear bombs and the subsequent impact of these. He said people need to promote those ideals that will generate compassion, warm heartedness, strengthen inner values, and build trust and friendship.

The Dalai Lama explained three main reasons for developing inner values, namely common experience, common sense and thorough scientific evidence.
His Holiness said extreme self-centered attitude and narrow vision not only did not enable the development of inner peace but also could be harming people physically.

The Dalai Lama said compassion was the key factor for good physical health as well as for a positive community. He suggested that there is a need for a project to research on how to tackle these values and outlined three ways in which the promotion of fundamental human values could be done. These were theistic, non-theistic, and secular ethics way.

He concluded by saying that he appreciated the University of Minnesota's effort in incorporating the study of spirituality.

His visit coincided with the official launch of the Tibetan Healing Initiative (THI) at the University's Center for Spirituality & Healing. The new THI initiatives will include research on the benefits of blending Tibetan healing with conventional health practices and integrating Tibetan practices into regional clinic and hospital settings.

In conjunction with the Dalai Lama's visit, TigerLion Arts also presented the World Premiere of KIPO! This production was a unique collaboration of Western theatrical styles of creation and production with the ancient traditions of Tibetan performing arts.

For more on these events, visit the official Web site of the Dalai Lama at

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