Exiled Leader To Lead Several Buddhist Teachings
MADISON, Wisconsin - The Dalai Lama returned to Madison on Wednesday bringing a message of peace, healing and love and drawing a crowd of thousands waiting to catch a glimpse of the Buddhist leader during his three-day visit.
The Nobel Prize winner and exiled Tibetan holy man was greeted at the Dane County Regional Airport on Wednesday morning by Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. The Dalai Lama will visit several sites and lead a few teachings while in the Madison area, WISC-TV reported.
The Dalai Lama isn't his name, but rather a title. His real name is Tenzin Gyatso, and he is both the spiritual and political leader of Tibet. He was chosen the Dalai Lama at the age of 2 when he was selected to lead his people by a group of Buddhist monks. His country is now part of the People's Republic of China and the Dalai Lama has lived abroad for decades.
He has long preached "do no harm" even though his country was occupied by the Chinese military since the 1950s, and he says the struggle to liberate Tibet must remain non-violent and free of hatred. In an era where headlines are often dominated by war, terrorism, and gunfire, the Dalai Lama came to talk about compassion, ethics and responsibility.
The Dalai Lama enjoys millions of followers around the world, including many in the Madison area.
Part of his schedule on Wednesday included a visit to one of the Midwest's most important Buddhist sites, which is located in Dane County. If not for the fact that it's on a straight and flat Wisconsin country road, one might easily mistake the Deer Park Buddhist Center in Oregon for a Buddhist pilgrimage to a high Himalayan shrine.
At the center, there were long lines as many wanted to welcome or see the Dalai Lama. Many wore colorful traditional dress and drums and dancers played as he arrived, WISC-TV reported.
As part of his trip, the Dalai Lama will hold several public events. The U.S. Department of State's Diplomat Security Division has been preparing for his trip for nearly a year and all local police agencies, especially the Dane County Sheriff's Department, Wisconsin State Patrol and University of Wisconsin-Madison police, are collaborating with the State Department on the visit.
While security will be tight, few of those who flocked to see him on Wednesday said that they minded the wait.
"This is maybe the most important day of my life. I will meet the Dalai Lama for the first time," said one follower named Anna.
"I'm just really excited. Just talking with the individuals, meeting some with some people from all over the world here," said another follower named Christopher. "I just kind of feel carried here. I suppose I didn't really plan on coming out. Just found my way here."
To many, the Dalai Lama is seen as a man of hope. He was born a peasant in a country that is now occupied by China. In his country, flying the Tibetan state flag will get one jailed. But in Madison, the flag is flying over city hall as a sign of respect, and perhaps hope for what this world peace leader brings, WISC-TV reported.
There are many events being held in conjunction with the Dalai Lama's visit. Most are open to the public. He was scheduled to teach at the Dane County Coliseum on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Tickets are still available at Ticketmaster or the Alliant Energy Center.
On Friday afternoon, the Dalai Lama is holding a public talk at the Kohl Center at 2:30 p.m., which is sold out. It is expected to draw 12,000 people.
The Dalai Lama's latest visit is his sixth trip to Madison.