By David O’Reilly and Sam Wood
INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS
The Dalai Lama delivered a message of tradition, philosophy and unity to the waiting crowd. (MIKE LEVIN / Inquirer)
The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhists worldwide and the self-exiled head of Tibet, began his day-long visit to Philadelphia this morning with a visit to the Kalmyk Buddhist Temple in the Feltonville section of the city.
A crowd of about 300 greeted him on the grounds of the small temple shortly after 9 a.m.
His Holiness waved to the throng and accepted several traditional gifts. After circling the perimeter of the crowd, he entered the small stucco structure where he was welcomed by 25 monks in traditional maroon and gold robes.
He prostrated himself before images of the Buddha and other religious icons. He sat on the temple floor where he led the monks in prayers in Tibetan. Then he moved to a seat at the front of the temple where he greeted each of the monks and joked with them for an additional 10 minutes.
The Dalai Lama stopped at a small Kalmyk Buddhist Temple in Feltonville this morning as part of his day-long visit to Philadelphia. (MIKE LEVIN / Inquirer)
At the nearby community center, he spoke in English to a crowd of about 100 people, mostly of Mongolian descent, telling them how much the Tibetan and Mongolian communities shared. He urged them to study Buddhist philosophy, saying it was not enough just to practice its rituals.
Outside the center, he stood under a yellow canopy, addressed another large group and was then whisked away in a Cadillac to his Center City hotel.
The Dalai Lama, who last visited Philadelphia in 1990, will deliver a lecture this afternoon at the Kimmel Center where he is expected to introduce listeners to some of the basic tenets of Buddhism. Tickets to that event are sold out.
His appearance here follows a five-day lecture series at Lehigh University in Bethlehem. He leaves tomorrow for New York, and then to festival in Colorado where his admirers will conduct a traditional Buddhist ceremony wishing him a long life. He is 73.
From left to right, Migmar Gokey, Nyima Lhamo and Yang Chen wait among the large crowd to get a glimpse of the Dalai Lama and to hear his message. (MIKE LEVIN / Inquirer)
He fled Tibet as a teenager in 1959, eight years after Chinese Communist troops invaded the mountainous country and claimed it as a historic part of China. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and is regarded as the symbolic leader of most of the world's Buddhists. Contact staff writer David O'Reilly at 215-854-5723 or email@example.com.