More than 4,000 people attended the lectures at Rice University to hear the words of a man revered as the leader of Tibetan Buddhism. The Dalai Lama focused his remarks on the need for compassion between individuals and nations. He met with city leaders before his lecture, including a closed meeting with Houston Mayor Bill White. He says the mayor and others told him about Houston and the compassion already being practiced here.
"Muslim, Christian, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus -- all different sort of faith live as one community. So this is practice of expression of compassion."
The Dalai Lama referred to Houston as a successful example of a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious city. He compared this city to places like Baghdad and Dublin, where the population is divided by religion and cautioned Houstonians not to follow that example.
"I think time is come. This city, Houston, as I mentioned earlier, already have this kind of spirit. Lot of differences, diversity, at the same time live as one community -- peacefully, happily."
The Dalai Lama is considered the head of state of Tibet. However, Tibet is occupied by China and the Dalai Lama and his government are in exile in India. He is the first Dalai Lama to visit western countries and travels extensively throughout the world. He told those in attendance he very much appreciates and praises the spirit he found here in Houston.
"I really feel wonderful. Now please, in whatever way, please take some active role to promote or to bring this spirit in more other areas and particularly those troubled areas. So I'm leaving tomorrow, so the responsibility is on your shoulders. So from distance, I will watch."
This was the third appearance by the Dalai Lama at Rice University. He spoke there in 1991 and again in 1995. He was scheduled to speak in 2005 and his appearance had to be cancelled because of the threat of Hurricane Rita. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.