Washington DC, USA, 6 July 2011 – His Holiness the Dalai Lama left the hotel for the Verizon Center, venue of the Kalachakra teachings, early in the morning to begin the preparatory prayers. The Board of the Capital Area Tibetan Association received him on his arrival at the Center. After the ceremonial Mandala offering, His Holiness began his prayers.
Following a break, the program to celebrate the 76th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, which fell today, began. Organized by the Office of Tibet in New York, this program was moderated by Mrs. Tencho Gyatso (of the International Campaign for Tibet). She said that Mathatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were two illustrious personalities whose lives continue to inspire His Holiness the Dalai Lama. She then invited everyone to join her in welcoming Mr. Martin Luther King III,the son of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mr. Arun Gandhi, the grand son of Mahatma Gandhi, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the stage. At the end, Kasur Alak Jigme Lhundup presented the first copy of a book titled “Jigten Migpe” featuring a comprehensive collection of photos from His Holiness’ life. He released the book, published by Dhomey Tsengol Dhengyab Nadel, and offered a copy each to Mr. King and Mr. Gandhi.
Mr. Martin Luther King III began by referring to His Holiness as a spiritual leader who is revered by the people of his beloved homeland, Tibet and by people all over the world as the very embodiment of compassion. He recalled his mother, Coretta Scott King, writing in 1989 after hearing the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize to His Holiness that “The Dalai Lama has been a clarion voice for nonviolence andfreedom…one of the planet’s great spiritual leaders, and the breadthand depth of his concerns embrace the future of all human kind.”
Mr. King said, “If we embrace the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Dalai Lama, we can tap the power of the telecommunications revolution to build a global network of mutually-supportive people dedicated to nonviolent action for peace and social justice.” He added, “Today we celebrate the luminous example of courage and dedication to peace and goodwill you have provided, and we draw hope and inspiration from your continued visionary leadership.”
His Holiness said that he had never met Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. but that he admired their direct concern for their respective communities and indirectly to humanity. His Holiness added that he not only admired but also worked to carry on their spirit to promote nonviolence. His Holiness said in the presence of the two distinguished guests he wanted to place on record his commitment to the promotion of human values and the promotion of religious harmony. He said that today the fact that Mr. Arun Gandhi, a Hindu, and Mr. Martin Luther King III, a Christian, coming together to celebrate the birthday of a Buddhist was a strong message of religious harmony.
Kasur Lobsang Nyandak Zayul, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for the Americas, gave the concluding remarks and said, “20th century is generally perceived as a century of war and violence, when tens of millions of people had died a violent death. The same century, however, also witnessed outstanding apostles of peace and non-violence, who brought freedom and justice to millions of subjugated peoples the world around.”
He added, “Amongst those apostles of peace is Mahatma Gandhi, the father of great Indian nation, who is represented here by none other than his grandson Arun Gandhi. Your presence here has made this occasion a memorable day. On behalf of the organizers of this event, people who are gathered here, and also on behalf of Tibetans inside Tibet who have no freedom to celebrate the birthday of HH, I extend our heartfelt gratitude to you. Another historical apostle of peace is Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. whose name is in the hearts of all those who care about peace, non-violence and who care about freedom and social justice. We are immenselygrateful to Martin Luther King, III, the second child of Dr. MartinLuther King, Jr. for joining us today on this special celebration and making this occasion.”
The following day, His Holiness will continue his preparatory prayers in the morning and in the afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner will host a bipartisan meeting with His Holiness at the Capitol.