BY AMY O'BRIAN
Reverend Mpho Tutu and the Dalai Lama sit at the Chan Center at UBC Sunday morning at the beginning of the 2009 Vancouver Peace Summit.
(Photograph by: Stuart Davis, Vancouver Sun)
VANCOUVER - The Dalai Lama closed the opening session of the 2009 Vancouver Peace Summit with a call for a global promotion of compassion, and an increased emphasis on the promotion of women to positions of influence.
"Some people may call me a feminist," the Dalai Lama said quietly.
"But females have more sensitivity about others' pain and suffering."
The hour-long discussion between the five speakers focused on achieving world peace through personal peace. Topics of education, self-awareness, and compassion were the focus of the conversation.
"Real change must start with individuals, then family, then community," the Dalai Lama said as the session began.
"We really need to embrace the concept of the whole world as 'we'."
More than a thousand people attended the Sunday morning event, World Peace Through Personal Peace. Canada's Governor General Michaelle Jean appeared via video.
Jean described the gathering of global spiritual leaders in Vancouver as "a dazzling constellation of global change agents."
She called on the guest speakers and the crowd to use the Peace Summit as a catalyst for change.
"You have a unique opportunity to dream big," she said.
"Please be inspired. The world is counting on you. Peace is within our grasp."
Victor Chan, friend of the Dalai Lama and founding director of the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education, confirmed from the stage that Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu will not be attending the Peace Summit due to an injured back.
Chan joked that the injury may have been indirectly caused by Tutu's love of loud music and dancing. Tutu is 78 years old.
Earlier this morning, Hoshen Chi stood patiently outside the doors to the Chan Centre, waiting to enter the building.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Chi, who has wanted to see the Dalai Lama since he was 15 years old.
"I want to see what he's like," said the 26-year-old college student. "I'd like to hear what he says about personal peace, because my life is in a bit of turmoil right now."
Tom St. Clair and his wife, Marra, came from California to celebrate their one-year anniversary at the Peace Summit.
St. Clair has seen the Dalai Lama once before, but he said he wanted his wife to experience it.
"It's about him, but it's also about the collective energy of the people," he said.
"The people who go to see the Dalai Lama all bring a sense of peace and compassion, so all that energy is a really special experience."
On Tuesday the Dalai Lama will speak at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Vancouver, which includes a conversation with Maria Shriver.
In advance of the Peace Summit, the Dalai Lama Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, the in advance of Sunday's Peace Summit, the Dalai Lama was guest editor of weekend edition of The Vancouver Sun.
The Vancouver Sun will be donating 10 cents for every special edition sold over the weekend to the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education, a non-political, non-religious, Vancouver-based charitable organization focused on fostering personal and global peace.