March 9, 2004

Tibet: Dalai Lama delivers annual sermon in Dharamsala

The Dalai Lama says he will return home one day even though efforts to begin a dialogue with Chinese officials have stalled
Dharamsala, March 8 - Thousands of Buddhist devotees assembled in Dharamshala on Sunday to take part in a traditional prayer meeting addressed by Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama delivered sermons at a special function to mark the first full moon after the Buddhist festival Losar which marks the beginning of the Tibetan New Year.

Devotees throng for the teachings from 7 to 22 March on Zapaltrul Ogyen Jigme Choekyi Wangpo's (1808-1887) Kunzang Lamai Zhallung (The Words of my Perfect Lama)

The prayer meeting in the Himalayan town was attended by Buddhist monks from across the world, members of the Tibetan community-in-exile and a large number of foreign tourists.

The Dalai Lama delivered discourses from the Jataka, the Buddhist religious book of fables and tales relating to Lord Buddha and his teachings.

The preachings of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibetans -- who revere him as the reincarnation of a long line of Buddhist kings, are considered as divine by the devotees.

"For us his presence, physical, and his speech are teachings which turns into spiritual teachings of Buddha. This inspires all the human beings to be better human beings and better understanding and how to lead a better life everyday," Thubten Wangchen, a Tibetan monk, said.

Since fleeing Tibet in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule, the shaven-headed Dalai Lama has spent most of his time in Dharmasala in the Himalayan foothills.

The Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his non- violent campaign to gain autonomy from Chinese rule in Tibet. But China claims that Tibet has been an integral part of the country for ages.

The Dalai Lama says he will return home one day even though efforts to begin a dialogue with Chinese officials have stalled. Of late, the Dalai Lama has dropped the demand for complete independence for Tibet and is now campaigning for genuine autonomy from the Chinese.

But the Chinese government has kept up attacks on the Buddhist leader, calling him an insincere propagandist and accusing him of avoiding proper channels of communication.

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