Dalai Lama discusses religious tolerance in Chicago

July 18, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Once again, he offered a message of compassion and understanding at a panel discussion in downtown Chicago.

"My number one commitment is to promote inner peace," he said. "No more violence, no more cheating, no more hypocrisy."

The spiritual leader of Tibet shared his wisdom Monday morning with hundreds in attendance for a discussion about the need for religious tolerance. The inter-faith panel featured Christian, Muslim and Jewish scholars.

"Our families in our religious communities should also prepare us for dealing better with the rest of the world," said Dr. Ingrid Mattsen, panelist

The visit by His Holiness, who is the 14th Dalai Lama, was presented by Wheaton's Theosophical Society in America.

"Our times are marked by religious violence and religious-based turmoil, and I think it's importance to realize it's possible to get beyond that," said Tim Boyd, Theosophical Society in America.

With 12 icons representing the religions of the world decorating the stage, the 76-year-old mesmerized the packed theater with his humor and stories while supporting his belief that fulfillment comes through the pursuit of kindness and honesty and not money and power.

"Anybody who believes that is really a religious person whether or not they believe in a God," said Rabbi Michael Lerner, panelist.

The Dalai Lama's message, along with his idea that faith and reason can co-exist, hit home with Mary Gordon.

"We are all part of humanity and at the core of the faiths there is goodness," she said.

Others see the Dalai Lama as a bridge between religions.

"It just reaffirms the beliefs I already had," said Quentin Milroe, audience member.

While the Dalai Lama said that the purpose of different religions is to create tolerance, forgiveness and patience, it is individual and group action that will eventually cause the manifestation of peace.

"I carry my life honestly, compassionately and the world order is becoming much more spiritual, isn't it? That's my view," he told the audience.

The appearance marks the Dalai Lama's fifth visit to Chicago. The last was in 2007. Prior to coming here, the spiritual leader was in Washington D.C. for a world peace celebration.

Reverend Jesse Jackson was in attendance and was among the lucky few who had lunch with the Dalai Lama.

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