Dalai Lama Challenges Parliament Attendees to Action

December 10th 2009

Melbourne, Australia, 9 December 2009 (By D. Andrew Kille, San Jose Interfaith Examiner) - In a bit of unmistakable irony, the first sign that the Dalai Lama would soon be present at the Parliament of the World's Religions was the presence of metal detectors at the entrances to the Melbourne Convention Center. That this man, who probably more than any other embodies a spirit of peacemaking and global unity, might provoke someone to violence says much about the brokenness of our world, and the distance we have yet to travel.

Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama speaks to the audience at the closing ceremony for the Parliament of the World's Religions in Melbourne December 9, 2009. (Reuters)
The Parliament drew to a close today after six days of plenary sessions, workshops, celebrations, music, and dance. The closing session included greetings from world religious leaders, music from a hip-hop Hare Krishna group, the Australian Girls Choir, and stirring solos on Oud and cello by Joseph Tawardos and Michael Fitzpatrick. The haunting sound of the didgeridu provided a background for Tenzin Choegyal's Tibetan flute, and Australian Music Ambassador Dya Singh was joined by an ensemble of musiciand for a grand finale of world music.

Indigenous people at the Parliament presented a statement of concerns to the assembly, followed by comments by Uncle Bob Randall, a Yankunytjatjara Elder and Traditional Owner of Uluru (once known as Ayer's Rock). Other speakers included Robert Doyle, Lord Mayor of Melbourne and the Hon. James Merlino, Minister Assisting the Premier on Multicultural Affairs.

The Dalai Lama challenged those who had attended the Parliament to work to ensure that the gathering had not simply been a social occasion. He urged them to draw closer together to make love and compassion real and to implement the dreams and possibilities that had been discussed there. He spoke of the need for a strong secularism- not a secularism that denies the importance of religion, but one which respects the practitioners of all religions and of none. Beliefs may differ, he said, but the core practices of love and compassion are common in all traditions.

Outgoing Chair of the Parliament Rev. Dr. William Lesher introduced his successor, Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid of Chicago, a radio producer and former Chairperson of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago. Mujahid invited all to take the next step in implementing their goals by joining Peace Next, a social networking site developed by the Parliament.

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