By Sandy Cullen
When the Dalai Lama returns to Madison this summer to share his message of kindness, compassion and peace with his followers and admirers, the revered spiritual leader will be the recipient of a rare prayer offering.
A "long life" ceremony, or tenshug -- a long-established Tibetan Buddhist tradition -- will be performed for Tenzin Gyatso, 72, the 14th Dalai Lama, during his seventh visit to Madison July 19-24.
The tenshug ceremony is said to not only strengthen the bond between teacher and disciple but also to motivate the teacher to live longer, according to the Deer Park Buddhist Center 's Web site.
The Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan Buddhists, is seen as the lifeline of Tibetans ' struggle for freedom and justice, and his long life is considered to be directly related to the survival of Tibetan civilization. He will turn 73 on July 6.
To Tibetans, the tenshug is a rare opportunity to express gratitude to the Dalai Lama and to rededicate themselves to the Tibetan cause under his guidance.
Tibetan Buddhists believe Gyatso is the reincarnation of his predecessor, the 13th Dalai Lama, and an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion, according the center 's Web site. Gyatso escaped Tibet in 1959 when the Communist Chinese invaded and settled with other Tibetans in Dharamsala in northern India.
While in Madison, the Dalai Lama also will present four days of teachings, July 20-23, at the Coliseum of the Alliant Center. Tickets go on sale Feb. 1 for the series of teachings on two texts important to Buddhist practice, Shantideva 's "A Guide to the Bodhisattva 's Way of Life " and Kamalashila 's "Middle Stages of Meditation " at the request of Geshe Lhundup Sopa of Deer Park Buddhist Center in the town of Dunn, where the Dalai Lama will offer blessings dedicating the center 's new $6.1 million temple.
Tickets are on sale for a public talk scheduled for 3 p.m. July 19 in the Coliseum.
A sold-out audience of 12,000 people attended a talk by the Dalai Lama on "Compassion: The Source of Happiness " last May at the Kohl Center. The Dalai Lama 's three-day visit last year raised $503,000 for the Deer Park Buddhist Center to benefit charities around the world.