Dalai Lama gives surprise message in Rochesterby Sea Stachura, Minnesota Public Radio,
Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
The Dalai Lama met with some members of Minnesota's Tibetan community in Rochester on Wednesday and urged them to be patient with China's domination of their country. The Dalai Lama was in Rochester for a medical checkup and to give a talk at the Mayo Clinic. His visit prompted pro-China demonstrators to picket the event.
Rochester, Minn. — The Dalai Lama's meeting with the Tibetan community was unexpected. The Tibetans had gathered at a Rochester hotel to watch a video feed of their spiritual leaders presentation at the Mayo Clinic. Thinley Woser, a leader in the Tibetan community in the Twin Cities, says when the Dalai Lama learned that 300 Tibetans were nearby, he decided to greet them in person. The exiled spiritual leader, who spoke in Tibetan, told people to have patience and calm with the China's occupation of Tibet, Woser says.
"Despite a lot of problems in Tibet, he hoped the Chinese leaders will realize the importance of Tibet and to reduce the violence, reduce the suppression and understand the Tibetan problem."
The Dalai Lama also reminded his followers that they had no problem with the Chinese people, Woser says. Their dispute is with the government of China.
On the street outside the Mayo Clinic, about 50 pro-China demonstrators expressed their support for the Chinese government and its policies toward Tibet. They said the Dalai Lama should do more to stop the unrest in Tibet.
Some said the Tibet question should not be mixed up with the summer Olympics. Others said the western media are biased against China.
A few of the Tibetans confronted the Chinese demonstrators. Emotions were high, but the Tibetans appeared to have taken to heart at least part of their spiritual leader's message.
"I'm happy to say we're not against the Chinese people, but the truth is the Han Chinese and also Tibetan Chinese, ordinary persons, they got killed," said one Tibetan man.
The conflict between the Chinese government and the exiled Tibetans were clearly on the Dalai Lama's mind when he took the stage at the Mayo Clinic. During his talk on compassion in medicine he said it was hard to offer advice on how to develop compassion when his own thoughts have been so distracted events in Tibet.
"Since the end of March, the last month, my mind and my soul disturbed. My mind scattered, preoccupied, a lot of worry and also feeling of helplessness," he said.
In March, Tibetan Buddhists protested in Tibet's capitol of Lhasa. The protests turned violent and Chinese authorities arrested more than 800 people. The Dalai Lama's message of compassion for the Chinese was echoed in his talk at the Mayo Clinic. He told doctors they could maintain compassion for patients and others during angry times if they remembered the other person's humanity.
"Usually when someone take negative action or harmful action toward you, then forget about human being. We only concentrate on the person's action. We really need the effort to promote compassion," he said.
The moderator asked the Dalai Lama how he copes with the worries. He responded through his interpreter.
"If the problem is such that there is a solution then what need to be worried, and if the problem is such that there is no solution, then what is the point of being so worried?"
The Dalai Lama described compassion as the immune system of the mind, something that is strengthened over time.
- All Things Considered, 04/16/2008, 5:50 p.m.
Sea Stachura has reported from Minnesota Public Radio's Rochester bureau since 2005.