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Dalai Lama Speaks At UIC

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The Dalai Lama spoke to a crowd of thousands at the University of Illinois at Chicago on July 17, 2011. He spoke about bridging the divide between faiths. (Credit: CBS)

The Dalai Lama spoke to a crowd of thousands at the University of Illinois at Chicago on July 17, 2011. He spoke about bridging the divide between faiths. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – “Be kind whenever possible and it is always possible.” That’s a quote from The Dalai Lama, a man whose philosophy of tolerance earned him The Nobel Peace Prize.

As CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, it’s a philosophy that had roughly 7,000 people visiting the University of Illinois at Chicago on Sunday to witness his teachings in person.

“Create inner peace, tolerance, forgiveness and patience,” he said, hallmarks of the teachings of the Dalai Lama – that world peace must develop from inner peace.

Thousands passed through metal detectors at the UIC Pavilion on Sunday, to snap a picture beside his name, purchase a copy of his writings, and share how Tibet’s spiritual leader in exile for 50 years has impacted their lives.

“Learning more about him has led me to a more spiritual path of enlightenment, peacefulness, happiness,” said Samantha Castello of Naperville.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Lisa Fielding reports

Jake Kochanski of Chicago said he’s learned from the Dalai Lama that, “If you have an optimistic outlook on life constantly, you are closing the doors on negativity.”

The Buddhist spiritual leader’s visit to Chicago came a day after his 45-minute meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House, a move the Chinese government said may harm China-US relations.

“Conflict in the name of religion is difficult to understand,” the Dalai Lama said Sunday.

Though he does not advocate Tibet’s independence from China, Beijing has labeled the Dalai Lama as a separatist. Sponsors of Sunday’s event said they don’t see him that way.

“He is a man of peace. He didn’t win the Nobel Peace Prize just by accident,” said Tim Boyd, with the Theosophical Society in America

The Dalai Lama presented Gov. Pat Quinn with a blessing scarf.

Mongolian immigrant Holly Nergui also felt blessed by the Dalai Lamai’s visit.

She said he makes her “feel better, feel happy.”

She said she prays to him to help bring her son to the United States, calling the Dalai Lama a man whose teachings help her endure the wait.

During his two hour speech on Sunday, The Dalai Lama shied away from sensitive political issues. He did praise Quinn for the state’s abolishment of the death penalty this year.

The Dalai Lama is in Chicago for two days of programs dedicated to bridging the divide between various faiths.

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