Dalai Lama Brings Divine Touch to the Faithful in Pasadena

By Louis Sahagun, LAT, September 12, 2006

Southland Tibetans and Mongolians meet in Pasadena to hear exiled religious leader's message of compassion.

Los Angeles, USA -- The gifts of greeting were simple but heartfelt and traditional — white scarves, a bowl of milk and a handful of barley. Children offered up songs and dances.

<< WARM GREETING: The Dalai Lama arrives at the Westin Pasadena on Monday. In speeches, he tells adherents that kindness and compassion are the fundamental tools for building happiness and peace. It was the Tibetan Buddhist leader’s 12th visit to the L.A. area. (Stephen Osman / LAT)

Nearly all of Southern California's estimated 250 Tibetans and many of its Mongolians gathered at the Westin Pasadena hotel Monday to welcome His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama as he arrived for four days of teaching.

The gifts — and the songs and dances performed in a hotel banquet room — showed Tibet's exiled Buddhist leader that they were keeping the traditions of his homeland alive.

In return, the man with burgundy and saffron robes draped over his bony shoulders honored each of them with a special gift unavailable anywhere else, even in Asia, where tens of thousands of Tibetans travel great distances each year just to listen to his teachings.

He blessed them, in some cases with his touch.

"We hold him to be a divine being, and his touch is a blessing," said Tseten Phanucharas, a spokeswoman for the Dalai Lama. "For security reasons, however, access to His Holiness is extremely limited."

"His blessing is very important," added Buddhi Gurung, co-owner of a Gardena gas station. "For example, you may end up in a terrible accident, but if you've received his blessing, you'll be purified in heaven."

Gurung added, "Even being in his presence is enough."

DISTANT TRAVELERS: Although many in the audience live in Southern California, some, like members of this family, planned a trip from Nepal to coincide with the Dalai Lama’s visit. (Stephen Osman / LAT)   >>

In the Dalai Lama's 12th visit to the Los Angeles area, his scheduled public appearances include teachings on Buddhism at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and a talk Wednesday at the Gibson Amphitheater in Universal City on "Compassion: The Source of Happiness."

He will return Sept. 26 to address 11,000 women expected to attend the California Governor and First Lady's Conference on Women at the Long Beach Civic Center.

The Southern Californians were among 400 Tibetans and Mongolians in colorful traditional dress who traveled from as far as St. Louis and Nepal for the Dalai Lama's visit. For more than a hour, they sat in the ballroom and listened as he taught from a baronial chair with his legs folded beneath him.

Occasionally, he sipped warm water from a cup specially cleaned by Thepo Tulku, a founder of the Friends of Tibet group.

"A clean cup and warm water — nothing fancy about it," Tulku said. "But it's from our hearts, and it makes His Holiness happy. The more simple the gift, the happier he is."

The buzz surrounding his visits in September has the giddy intrigue of a superstar photo op.

Tickets for the Pasadena teachings and the 6,500-seat Gibson Amphitheater are sold out.

Yet the 71-year-old Tibetan leader's core message hasn't changed since he was installed as the 14th Dalai Lama in 1940 and exiled to India 19 years later.

Kindness and compassion, he likes to say in speeches punctuated with jokes and giggles, are the fundamental tools for building meaningful happiness and peace.

"I thought he would be an interesting speaker, and he's never spoken to a group of just women before," said Maria Shriver, who traveled to northern India in August on a personal trip to meet with him and extend a formal invitation.

During that meeting, the Dalai Lama asked, "What do women want to know?" she recalled. "I said, 'How to be compassionate while raising kids and tied to a BlackBerry, a computer, telephones and two jobs.' "

He agreed, she said, and suggested the themes of his speech would include encouraging women to practice compassion with confidence and courage, and to balance their fast-paced lives through inner reflection.

A week ago, the Dalai Lama dedicated Vancouver's international Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education, an institute run by a board of leaders including former U.S. President Carter and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

On Monday, the Dalai Lama seemed especially pleased when the audience rose to its feet and sang the Tibetan national anthem.

That was followed by an energetic traditional dance performed by a dozen children with drums dangling from straps off their left shoulders.

At the close of the 90-minute gathering, the Dalai Lama rose from his chair and handed everyone in the room a red "blessing string" to be worn around the neck.

"Everything he touches is blessed," Phanucharas said. "I'm wearing mine until it breaks."

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv