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
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.
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,?¡À
Senator Feinstein said.
The ?¡ãFourteenth Dalai
Lama Congressional Gold Medal Act?¡À 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.
Bush, US Congress,
honour the Dalai Lama
By FOSTER KLUG, Associated
Press Writer Wed Oct 17, 6:01 PM
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.
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
Peace Prize laureate and claims he seeks to destroy
China's sovereignty by pushing for independence for
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.
Associated Press writer Ben Feller contributed
to this report.
Dalai Lama: Icon
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
"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."
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
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
"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
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.
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.