Dalai Lama opens Senate session with prayer

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama meets with House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama meets with House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Dalai Lama prayed in the U.S. Senate on Thursday.

With dozen of lawmakers listening raptly, the Nobel laureate from Tibet opened the session with his favorite prayer and words of advice. He delivered his brief remarks in both a foreign tongue as well as self-described “broken English.”

“With our thoughts, we make our world,” said the Dalai Lama, dressed in gold and red robes. “Our mind is central and precedes our deeds. Speak or act with a pure mind and happiness will follow you like a shadow that never leaves.”

He hoped for joy in the world and good fortune.

Offering his favorite prayer, he said that “as long as space remains and as long as beings serve humanity, until then may I, too, remain and help dispel the misery of the world.”

Senators bowed their heads as the Dalai Lama prayed. Staff filled the back rows of the chamber and visitors observed from the gallery above. The opening session drew more people than a typical start to the Senate day.

Before his prayer, Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, a Buddhist, had greeted the Dalai Lama, and the two clasped hands. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and the Dalai Lama bowed heads and touched briefly.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., thanked the Dalai Lama for his prayers and words of encouragement.

“The Dalai Lama is well-known throughout the world as a spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and for spreading the gospel of peace and compassion and love of our fellow human beings,” Reid said.

The Senate often has guest chaplains offer the opening prayer.

The Dalai Lama gave up his political role as the leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile in 2011.

On Feb. 21, President Barack Obama granted an audience to the Dalai Lama over the strong objections from China that the U.S. was meddling it its affairs.

Beijing considers the Dalai Lama an anti-Chinese separatist because of his quest for greater Tibetan autonomy.

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