Gere leads peace march at Dalai Lama meet

by Abdul Qadir, TNN, 7 January 2010

GAYA, India -- Hollywood actor Richard Gere braved the morning chill on Wednesday listen to the special sermon of the Tibetan temporal and spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama at the Kalchakra Maidan here.

The Pretty Women star joined hundreds of devotees like him at the historic venue, about 200 metres South of Bodh Gaya where Buddha attained enlightenment. The session was organised on the occasion of the seven-day Geluk Monlam Puja at Mahabodhi Mahavihara here.

Gere, who flew down to the town especially to hear the Dalai Lama, led a candle light procession of several hundred Tibetans inside the temple in the evening. Gere said he was with the people of Tibet and wanted peace everywhere in the world. Gere and his companions made two rounds of the shrine praying for peace and harmony.

An ardent Dalai follower, Gere first got initiated into the Tibetan cause in 1978. He has been in Bodh Gaya on several other occasions in the past to listen to Dalai. The 60-year-old actor sat on the floor in a special enclosure for four hours, listening to the sermon with rapt attention. Gere was immersed in his thoughts, his eyes shut most of the time. The actor has put up at the Root Institute, a preferred address for Americans visiting Bodh Gaya.

Buddha’s madhyam marg or middle path philosophy, that was the crux of the discourse here, was inspired by a folk song. Buddhist scholar P C Roy said Buddha was a young, wandering prince in search of the ultimate truth when he heard village women singing the song in Dhungeshwari village near Bodh Gaya. He was moved. The words meant, do not stretch the strings of the veena too much, lest it breaks and do not loosen the strings so much that no music flows!

Interacting with a group of foreigners, including Chinese, at the Tibetan monastery around noon on Wednesday, the Dalai Lama exhorted the Chinese establishment to acknowledge its Buddhist heritage because Buddhism reached China before it reached Tibet. "Unlike conventional religions, Buddhism is not prayer centric and it believes in cleansing the mind of its impurities and is in perfect sync with science," said the Buddhist spiritual leader.

A photo exhibition in Bodh Gaya, organized by Tibetans, highlighting Chinese claims on Tibet, attracted a big crowd.