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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Former MCC minister shares friendship with Tibetan spiritual leader

December 10, 2007
Saturday, December 08, 2007
By Clayton Hardimanc

Here are a few things you may not know about the 14th and current Dalai

His Holiness likes chocolate cookies. He has a keen sense of humor. He
loves dogs, and the feeling appears to be mutual. And he pursues wisdom
and teaching where he finds it -- even when it flows through a newfound
friendship with a Dominican friar.

These factual tidbits are brought to you by Brother Benedict Baer.

When history came calling in Bloomington, Ind., in the person of Tenzin
Gyatso, the world's most famous Buddhist monk, the encounter had a
distinct Muskegon flavor about it.

The Dalai Lama's weeklong visit in October began with an interfaith
prayer service, with the Dalai Lama himself presiding. Baer, now retired
but once the campus minister at Muskegon Catholic Central High School
and the chair of the religion department for Greater Muskegon Catholic
Schools, was asked to host the service.

Baer said he enjoyed several private moments and conversations with the
Dalai Lama during his weeklong visit, which left him profoundly moved.

 From the very beginning, the Dalai Lama's personality unfurled as that
of a man of charisma, radiance and compassion. Trailed wherever he went
by State Department security officials, he seemed a walking, talking
tangle of security rues and protocols.

But given a choice between security and intimacy, the Dalai Lama seemed
to prefer intimacy, Baer said.

On the morning of Oct. 23, when a motorcade brought the Dalai Lama to
St. Paul Catholic Center for an interfaith prayer service, Baer stood
where he was told to stand and waited for the Dalai Lama's approach.
Baer had already been instructed not to touch him.

But the first thing the Dalai Lama did, Baer said, was break that
invisible barrier. "He grabbed me and gave me a hug and held on for dear
life," Baer said. "Then he grabbed my hand and held it all the way into
the building."
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