The Dalai Lama, who first visited the U.S. Congress 17 years ago, offered his first opening prayer for the U.S. Senate on March 6. He shared his “most favorite prayer”, which he said he prays daily: “For as long as space remains, and for as long as the sentient beings remain, until then, may I, too, remain to help dispel the miseries of the world.”
Thanking for the prayer and blessings, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Dalai Lama’s messages are lessons for everyone in the world, and “certainly within this chamber.” He reminded those in his chamber that the Dalai Lama advises everyone to sit down and talk in order to resolve the problems.
Senate Patrick Leahy, the President Pro Temore of the U.S. Senate, also praised the Dalai Lama, whom he called “old and dear friend,” as someone “who touches everybody’s conscience”. “He touches this Catholic every time I see him,” he said, calling the Dalai Lama the “gift to the world.”
The Senate opening-prayer is usually conducted by the Senate Chaplain, but in 2007 a Hindu clergyman named Rajan Zed was invited to offer the U.S. Senate’s opening prayer. He was interrupted by Christian protesters, calling it “abomination,” according to CBS news.
The morning-prayer in the Senate was one of many activities the Tibetan spiritual leader has engaged while visiting the U.S. Capitol, which included a talk to about 400 Congressional staffers, according to the Dalai Lama’s representative, Kardor Aukatsang.
The Dalai Lama also met with U.S. President Barack Obama in the White House on February 21 for one hour. The White House said that President Obama reiterated U.S. position on Tibet being part of China, but he expressed his “strong support” for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religion, culture, linguistic traditions, and the protection of human rights for Tibetans. He also expressed his supports for the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” approach.
Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama engaging in activities to separate Tibet from China by using his “cloak of religion”. However, the Dalai Lama says he only seeks for a “genuine” autonomy for the Tibetan people under which they can preserve their culture, religion, language, identity, and protect their environment.