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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Dalai Lama: Preserve religious traditions, respect others

April 20, 2008


ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The Dalai Lama on Saturday encouraged people
gathered at the University of Michigan to preserve their own religious
traditions while respecting others with differing beliefs.

"As you know, I always believed since all different traditions have the
same potential to bring inner peace, inner value ... it is important to
keep one's own tradition," he told about 8,000 people at Crisler Arena.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said he learned about Islam,
Christianity and Judaism through personal contact and that he has a
"genuine admiration and respect and appreciation for those traditions."

Sharon Drews, a Catholic and a lawyer, drove from Elkhart, Ind., with
her mother to attend the Saturday morning teaching session, and said
afterward that she appreciated the Dalai Lama's message.

"The most valuable thing for me was that he said there are so many
(religious) traditions leading to the same self-improvement, but we need
to allow people to follow the tradition that's most effective for them,"
said Drews, 42.

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India after a failed uprising in 1959 in
Tibet, arrived in the U.S. last week, a day after the Olympic torch run
in San Francisco was changed to avoid a potential demonstration in
protest of China's treatment of his people.

Protests have sprung up in Tibetan areas of western China since
demonstrations in Lhasa turned violent on March 14.

About 100 pro-Chinese demonstrators rallied outside the basketball arena
where Dalai Lama spoke. They waved Chinese and U.S. flags, and held
posters showing support for the upcoming summer Olympics in Beijing.

"When the riots started (in China), our concern was how to tell the
truth to the American people," said Jinhui Chen, a 34-year-old
University of Michigan graduate student. He added: "We have a peaceful
protest. We don't want to incite riots."

Saturday morning's appearance was the first of the Dalai Lama's four
scheduled weekend talks at the university.

Three additional teaching sessions at the arena were planned for
Saturday and Sunday under the sponsorship of the Jewel Heart Tibetan
Buddhist learning center, The Tibet Fund and the Garrison Institute.

The Dalai Lama also plans a lecture on sustainability on Sunday
sponsored the university's School of Natural Resources and Environment.
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