Dalai Lama Brings Message of Compassion to Southern California

The Inglewood visit follows a meeting with President Obama and talks in the Bay Area

The Dalai Lama's California speaking tour continues Tuesday when he visits The Forum for a mid-day talk on social integrity that is expected to draw protests from hundreds of Buddhist monks and nuns who accuse him of religious persecution.

The spiritual leader, awarded the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for the liberation of Tibet, is scheduled to speak Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. The theme for the event organized by the Lourdes Foundation will be Non-Violence and the Effects of Compassion in the 21st Century.

Tickets for the event start at $38 and cost up to $224 for floor seating.

Compassion was the subject of his talk Monday at Santa Clara University, where he wore a visor featuring the school's name and posed for at least one selfie with a member of the audience.

"Through kindergarten up to the university we must include teaching of compassion or teaching of warmheartedness," he said.

The talk was projected on a screen at the school cafeteria.

"I think it would be really shortsighted to focus on getting homework done or not getting homework done fast enough, and not have that experience to listen to his wisdom," said Katie O'Keefe, a Santa Clara University senior.

Protesters from the International Shugden Community have followed the Dalai Lama throughout his California visit, which began Friday and included speeches in Richmond and Berkeley. About 30 demonstrators gathered outside the sold-out event in Santa Clara.

They are upset about the banning of Tibetan-exiles who make prayers to the Buddhist deity Dorje Shugden, protesters said. A group of demonstrators, some carrying signs that read, "Dalai Lama Stop Lying," gathered behind a fenced off parking lot area far from The Forum.

"All they're asking the Dalai Lama to do is lift this religious ban," said Rebecca Foley, of the International Shugden Community. "This is religious discrimination at its worst."

A frequent visitor to the U.S., the Dalai Lama has lived in exile in northern India since fleeing China in 1959. He met last week with President Barack Obama over the strong objections from China that the U.S. was meddling it its affairs.

Beijing decries the Dalai Lama as an anti-Chinese separatist because of his quest for greater Tibetan autonomy. The White House calls him a respected cultural and religious figure who is committed to peace.

Beijing frequently protests meetings with the Dalai Lama, and the dust-ups have become something of a diplomatic ritual for Obama, who faced Beijing's ire when he met with the Tibetan leader in 2010 and again in 2011. In his first year in office, Obama put off a meeting with the monk in what was seen as a move to placate China.

"I have severe doubts that the Chinese would proceed to do anything in response or retaliation that would undermine much larger Chinese interests" with the U.S., Jonathan Pollack, a China scholar at the private Brookings Institution, told The Associated Press.

The Dalai Lama told Obama he's not seeking Tibetan independence. Both leaders said they hoped talks would resume between Beijing and the Dalai Lama's representatives.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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