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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Dalai Lama to visit Calgary in 2009

August 30, 2007

One of the world's most revered spiritual leaders will share his message of non-violence with Canadians during a three-day tour of Calgary.

Although His Holiness the Dalai Lama won't be here until September 2009, his followers say his visit will be a blessing.

"His message for humans and for peace resonates with people," said Nima Dorjee, a founder of the Canada-Tibet Committee.

"In a way, he symbolizes what we would like to be."

The Dalai Lama was born in Tibet in 1935, and at the age of two was recognized as the 13th reincarnation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion -- an enlightened being devoted to helping humanity.

The Dalai Lama fled Chinese control of Tibet as a teenager and has lived in exile in India ever since.

"He embodies the hope, the hope in humanity," said Dorjee.

"I don't think, as a Tibetan, we have any more exclusive ownership of the Dalai Lama."

He last visited Calgary in 1980 and spoke to small groups, Dorjee said.

His next visit will be much bigger. During recent Canadian tours, the Dalai Lama has spoken to groups of thousands in Toronto and Vancouver.

Tashi Phuntsok, president of the Tibetan Community of Alberta, heard the Dalai Lama speak when he was a young Tibetan refugee living in India.

"It's a blessing for the Tibetan people in Calgary," he said.

Although there are only about 200 Tibetan-Canadians in the city, Phuntsok predicted that Tibetans from Vancouver, Seattle and Toronto will come to Calgary to hear him speak.

His visit will also have special meaning for Buddhists from countries across Asia, he said.

In the past, Chinese officials have criticized Canada for inviting the Dalai Lama because he is seen as a threat to their control of Tibet.

"This (criticism) will be there in Calgary also, but we always have the local grassroots people, as well as Canada as a free country," Phuntsok said.

"Canada so far has shown a courage in inviting His Holiness the Dalai Lama."

The Dalai Lama was invited by the University of Calgary.

"He will meet with a broad range of the community -- the Buddhist and Tibetan community, university students, and there will be an opportunity for corporate leaders to meet with the Dalai Lama," said Harvey Weingarten, president of the university.

A large public lecture will give thousands of people the chance to hear him speak on spirituality and peace, Weingarten added.

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