Farinella: Hats Off To The Dalai Lama

May 3rd 2009

Foxborough, MA, USA, 2 May 2009 (By Mark Farinella, The Sun Chronicle) - Ponderous thoughts I was pondering while looking down upon the Dalai Lama, of all people, from the press box at Gillette Stadium:

Seriously, this isn't "sports" in the traditional sense. But I just have to say, lapsing into the vernacular for a moment, that it was pretty cool that Gillette Stadium played host to the Dalai Lama on Saturday.

I got a chance to listen to a little bit of the message delivered by this very serene and spiritual individual, the winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize. It was fascinating to hear him speak of the need for a renewal of a sense of community on not just a global scale, but also in individual neighborhoods, as a means of bettering the human condition.

Here's an individual who has, since becoming Tibet's spiritual and political leader-in-exile in 1959, has received over 84 awards, honorary doctorates and prizes in recognition of his message of peace, non-violence, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility and compassion - yet he still considers himself a humble Buddhist monk. And he was here, talking to New Englanders in an edifice that was built as another sort of temple, one built to honor football.


The Dalai Lama adjusts his new Patriots' lid. (Staff photo by MARTIN GAVIN)


While that may sound a little facetious and even a little disrespectful, keep in mind that the Dalai Lama is a man who is keenly aware of his surroundings - and he proved that Saturday by delivering his afternoon address wearing a red baseball cap adorned with the Patriots' "Flying Elvis" logo. I kid you not. He loved the hat. Somewhere in the stadium, Bob Kraft must have been smiling from ear to ear.

I've spent a lifetime in this career surrounded by celebrities. I've interviewed hundreds, possibly thousands, of sports "heroes." I've talked to actors and actresses, posed questions to presidential candidates and stood next to supermodels - and yet, on Saturday, I couldn't help but be impressed by the fact that our local 68,000-seat coliseum was used for something a little more ethereal than football or rock-'n-'roll.

It was a thought-provoking break from the usual celebrity culture, and I hope there will be more of it in Gillette Stadium's future.



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