Subject: [CASonline] Dalai Lama:: honoured
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
His Holiness the Dalai Lama with
100,000
Central Park, New York.
 
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United States Congress Awards Dalai Lama

Congressional Gold Medal

 

Washington, DC C The House of Representatives approved legislation last night to award the Congressional Gold Medal to His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, in recognition of his advocacy of peace, tolerance, human rights, non-violence, and compassion throughout the world.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who introduced the legislation in the Senate with Senator Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.), today welcomed the passage of the bill. The Senate approved the legislation on May 26.

?The Dalai Lama is a worthy recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal. He is one of the world?s greatest religious leaders and has used human compassion, courage and conviction as his tools in carving a path for peace. For half a century, he has struggled to better the lives of the Tibetan people. In doing so, he has been a shining light to all those fighting for freedom around the world,? Senator Feinstein said.

The ?Fourteenth Dalai Lama Congressional Gold Medal Act? was introduced in the House by Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Tom Lantos (D-Calif.). It passed yesterday evening with a voice vote. The bill now moves to the President?s desk for his signature.

Congressional Gold Medals require approval from at least two-thirds of the Members of both the Senate and House of Representatives.

For more than two centuries, Congress has expressed public gratitude on behalf of the nation for distinguished contributions through the occasional commissioning of individual struck gold medals in its name. This award, which initially was bestowed on military leaders, has also been given to such diverse individuals as Sir Winston Churchill and Bob Hope, George Washington and Robert Frost, Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa, and other Nobel Peace Laureates, such as Elie Wiesel and Nelson Mandela.

 

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Bush, US Congress, honour the Dalai Lama

By FOSTER KLUG, Associated Press Writer Wed Oct 17, 6:01 PM ET

WASHINGTON - President Bush, raising Beijing's ire, presented the Dalai Lama on Wednesday with the U.S. Congress' highest civilian honor and urged Chinese leaders to welcome the monk to Beijing.

The exiled spiritual head of Tibet's Buddhists by his side, Bush praised a man he called a "universal symbol of peace and tolerance, a shepherd of the faithful and a keeper of the flame for his people."

"Americans cannot look to the plight of the religiously oppressed and close our eyes or turn away," Bush said at the U.S. Capitol building, where he personally handed the Dalai Lama the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal.

The Dalai Lama, chuckling as he stumbled over his remarks in English, said the award will bring "tremendous joy and encouragement to the Tibetan people" and he thanked Bush for his "firm stand on religious freedom and democracy."

He said he supports the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the hopes China would become a more open and tolerant country. He also addressed Chinese suspicions of his advocacy for Tibet, saying, "I have no hidden agenda."

China reviles the 72-year-old monk as a Tibetan separatist and vehemently protested the elaborate public ceremony. But at a news conference earlier in the day, Bush said he did not think his attendance at the ceremony would damage U.S. relations with China.

"I support religious freedom; he supports religious freedom. ... I want to honor this man," Bush told reporters at the White House. "I have consistently told the Chinese that religious freedom is in their nation's interest."

Bush and the Dalai Lama listened as top U.S. lawmakers lined up to laud the Buddhist leader and criticize China.

Democratic Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, advised China that inviting the Dalai Lama for talks over Tibet's future will help make the 2008 Olympics a success.

"Let this man of peace visit Beijing," Lantos said as the crowd and Bush applauded. "He is not a splittist. He merely wants the religious and cultural autonomy for his own people that they so richly deserve."

The Dalai Lama smiled and nodded at people in the crowd throughout the ceremony in the majestic Capitol Rotunda; huge murals of important U.S. events loomed behind him. The domed room was packed with people, with a riser of news photographers that ran four rows deep.

On Tuesday, however, the Bush administration took pains to keep a private meeting with the president and the Dalai Lama from further infuriating China: no media access, not even a handout photo.

It was a delicate bit of diplomatic balancing. Bush wants to ease anger in China, a growing economic and military powerhouse that the United States needs to manage nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea. He also wants to be seen as a champion of religious freedom and human rights.

The Dalai Lama is lauded in much of the world as a figure of moral authority, but Beijing demonizes the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and claims he seeks to destroy China's sovereignty by pushing for independence for Tibet.

The Dalai Lama says he wants "real autonomy" for Tibet, not independence. He is immensely popular in the Himalayan region, which China has ruled with a heavy hand since its communist-led forces invaded in 1951. He has lived with followers in exile in India since fleeing Chinese soldiers in Tibet in 1959.

China had demanded that the United States cancel this week's celebrations. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Beijing said the events "seriously wounded the feelings of the Chinese people and interfered with China's internal affairs."

U.S. lawmakers regularly criticize Beijing for human rights abuses and a massive military buildup and claim that China ignores abuse by unsavory foreign governments in Sudan and Myanmar in its pursuit of energy and business deals.

The Bush administration also faults China but is usually more measured as it seeks to manage a booming trade relationship and a desire to enlist Chinese cooperation in world affairs.

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Associated Press writer Ben Feller contributed to this report.

 

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Dalai Lama: Icon 
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Sunday, October 7, 2007
 
By EVELYN SHIH, STAFF WRITER
 
 
He has published a steady stream of books on his life and thoughts
beginning in the late 1990s. He has photo ops with Richard Gere. He's
drawn a crowd of up to 36,000 at the Rutgers University football
stadium. Friday through next Sunday, he takes over Radio City Music
Hall for five appearances.
 
He is His Holiness the Dalai Lama, born Lhamo Thondup, the exiled
religious and political leader of Tibet and face of Buddhism in the
West. The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner has become one of the world's
most recognizable icons, with his red and yellow robes, shaved head
and wizened eyes twinkling behind a pair of glasses.
 
Not only is he known as an inspirational figure and a leader in
behalf of world peace, but, in recent years, he has also become
credibly -- or incredibly -- cool. The Dalai Lama's famous face is
encroaching on space normally reserved for the iconic likes of Che
Guevara and Albert Einstein - and popping up on everything from tote
bags to notebooks to boxer shorts.
 
"I feel like it's a tribute to him as a person," said Kevin McCormick
of Princeton, who has designed a Dalai Lama T-shirt available on the
Internet. His design riffs off the black and white sharp relief style
of the ubiquitous Che shirts by having His Holiness holding two
fingers up in the peace sign. "Instead of showing a leader of revolt,
I wanted to show someone who I see as a leader of peace. ... With a
Che shirt, you can offend a lot of people."
 
In the media spotlight
 
McCormick, who is not a Buddhist, created the T-shirt after reading
"The Universe in a Single Atom," a book by the Dalai Lama. The 30-
year-old may seem an unlikely fanboy for the 72-year-old Tibetan
leader, but he's not alone. The 14th Dalai Lama dominated the New
York Times bestseller list for several weeks with "The Art of
Happiness" (1998), which ended up selling 730,000 copies. The success
of books like 2006's "How to See Yourself as You Really Are"
continues to prove his popularity, and DVDs like "Ten Questions for
the Dalai Lama," coming out Oct. 23, also keep him in the media
spotlight.
 
Although the Dalai Lama is a religious and spiritual beacon, his
image seems to cut across the lines of faith and nationality. Where
figures like mega-church pastor Joel Osteen might divide the public
into believers and non-believers, the Dalai Lama's message is
inclusive, said Mara Einstein, author of the new book "The Branding
of Faith," which examines the marketing of different religions.
 
"He is a consistent face of peace in the world," she said. The New
Age movement of the '60s and '70s championed Buddhism and Hinduism as
alternative world views, and though that movement may have become
outdated, said Einstein, the Dalai Lama still carries on his mission
of spreading tolerance and non-violence. His reach extends far beyond
Tibet, just as the influence of popular Pope John Paul II (an icon
who graced T-shirts himself) traveled far beyond the Vatican.
 
She said that when people wear the Dalai Lama's face across their
chests, it's an act of identity creation. "Whether you're wearing a
Yankees baseball cap or a Dalai Lama T-shirt, you are communicating
to people, 'This is who I am,' " she said.
 
Inspired individuals like McCormick, who is a freelance Web and T-
shirt designer, create their own Dalai Lama merchandise, as do Web
sites like "The Zen Shop" at e-sangha.com. The proceeds may not go
directly to the Tibetan cause, but the spontaneous proliferation of
His Holiness' image indicates its currency.
 
"Talk about branding," said Einstein. "He's probably got the best
brand of any faith. It would be across-the-board positive" to have
his image associated with products, people and events, she added.
 
While there are many people who have done good things in the world
and received Nobel Peace Prizes, they "may be less appropriate to put
on a T-shirt because they haven't achieved that iconic status that
people can relate to just by seeing an image of them," McCormick said.
 
A further plus: Identifying with the Dalai Lama is something almost
completely non-controversial. How could anyone disagree with peace?
And unlike most religions, Buddhism has a reputation for being non-
proselytizing and open to other faiths, said Einstein. There is less
pressure than there may be in other faiths to convert and commit to a
whole set of beliefs.
 
'Ah ha!' moment
 
But perhaps the real reason the Dalai Lama has such reach in the West
is his charisma.
 
Diane Hatz, a follower of His Holiness for almost 10 years, felt his
"unconditional love" from the nosebleed seats of an auditorium where
she heard him speak for the first time. It was 1998, and she was on a
trip to Washington, D.C. She decided on a whim to see him speak
because he is a "historical figure, like Gandhi or Nelson Mandela."
 
At first she was irritated because she couldn't understand his words
through his accent. But her "Ah ha!" moment came when he prostrated
himself at the end of the talk in a ceremonial bow.
 
"He touched his forehead to the floor, and when it hit the floor, it
was like this light pierced me in the heart," she said. As soon as
she got back home to New York, she began looking for a Tibetan
Buddhist spiritual teacher. She eventually ended up with Lama Pema
Wangdak at the Palden Sakya Center in New York, where North Jersey
Tibetan Buddhists like executive secretary Michele Sakow also practice.
 
And she will most definitely be at Radio City Music Hall, hanging on
his words. Like die-hard sports fans and rock band groupies, Hatz
travels to as many of the Dalai Lama's events as she can. She will be
going to Indiana and India this year, and Bethlehem, Pa., next July.
 
"This is what I do," said Hatz. Buddhism informs every part of her life.
 
Never underestimate the power of an image, she added. "I know people
who have only seen his photo and become totally interested in
Buddhism," she said.
 
While most merchandise carrying his image is all in good fun, who
knows: Maybe sporting "Dalai Lama Is My Om Boy" on a spaghetti-strap
tank top will inspire some epiphanies -- or even enlightenment.

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