Dalai Lama turns 76 as he kicks off D.C. peace festival

July 6, 2011

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Dalai Lama celebrated his 76th birthday in
Washington on Wednesday (July 6) by speaking before throngs of
well-wishers and kicking off an 11-day peace event in the U.S. capital.

Sporting traditional Tibetan Buddhist robes and a red visor, the
exiled leader of Tibetan Buddhism addressed the large crowd assembled at
a downtown arena. His speech, which was delivered partially in English
and partially in the Tibetan language, covered a range of topics and
referenced other peace-seeking leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr.

The Dalai Lama touched on a number of topics, including the role of
morality in the home. He praised the virtues of providing for family but
cautioned against "destructive" and "very bad" habits like gambling.

The Dalai Lama also discussed his recent decision to step down as
the political leader of Tibet's government-in-exile, noting discomfort
with his dual role as both spiritual leader and head of state.

"Religious and political institutions should be separate. I believe
that," he said. "I myself combine these two. This is hypocrisy!"

The Dalai Lama's speech was the first of several planned appearances
in Washington over the next week. The spiritual leader is overseeing the
July 6-16 "Kalachakra for World Peace," a series of talks and lectures
that will also include several Buddhist ceremonies.