Dalai Lama Thrills Crowd At WestConn In Danbury

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His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama gives a sold-out public talk at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury on Thursday. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch
Actor and humanitarian Richard Gere on a video screen at Western Connecticut State University on Thursday introducing the Dalai Lama. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch
Journalists and their equipment wait to be screened at a security check Thursday at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury before a public talk by the Dalai Lama. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch
The sold-out audience at Western Connecticut State University waits Thursday to hear the Dalai Lama. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch

DANBURY, Conn. – Actions are more important than prayers, according to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. During an hourlong public talk Thursday in Danbury titled The Art of Compassion, the Dalai Lama spoke about how most of the problems that trouble the world “are our own creation,” and that jealousy breeds distrust that destroys relationships.

Overcoming such difficulties requires a continued search for inner peace, he said.

“Inner peace does not come only through prayer but from utilizing our intelligence fully,” said the Dalai Lama.

He added, “Any action that brings benefit to someone, you, too get a benefit.”

David Weinberg traveled from Manhattan to the Westside campus of Western Connecticut State University to hear the Dalai Lama, marking the second time he has heard the spiritual of leader Tibet.

“I feel very fortunate to be here, very fortunate to have gotten tickets,” Weinberg said. He first saw the Dalai Lama several years ago at a gathering in Central Park in New York City. “I’m not a strict follower of the Dalai Lama, but being in his presence is an honor and a treat.”

The audience of more than 3,500 in the Feldman Arena at the William A. O’Neill Athletic & Convention Center at WCSU hung on the Dalai Lama's every word, occasionally punctuating his sentences with laughter and applause.

Ticket prices for the event – the first time the Dalai Lama visited the university – ranged from $20 for bleacher seats to $250 for premium locations. Throughout his public talk, the first of two he plans to give at the university, the Dalai Lama wore a blue and yellow WCSU visor.

Actor, humanitarian and Tibetan authority Richard Gere introduced the Dalai Lama, calling him a great teacher and leader. Gere said he has known the Dalai Lama for more than 30 years and learns new things from him with each visit.

“To be in the presence of a completely reliable spiritual teacher is extraordinary,” Gere said.

The Dalai Lama’s second public talk, titled Advice for Daily Life, is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, and it is sold out like the Thursday discussion. The talk can be viewed online at a specially created website for his visit, in addition to a free live video feed at the Ives Concert Hall in White Hall at the WCSU Midtown campus at 181 White St. in downtown Danbury.

WestConn senior David Rogers said attending the event was extremely important to him. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” he said. “This is an individual who has created great change in the world, and who has the potential to create much more.”

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