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Dalai Lama event: Spirituality in D.C.

The Dalai Lama speaks during a panel discussion at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York, May 23, 2010 .UPI/Jason DeCrow/Pool
The Dalai Lama speaks during a panel discussion at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York, May 23, 2010 .UPI/Jason DeCrow/Pool | License Photo

WASHINGTON, July 5 (UPI) -- The 100,000 people joining the Dalai Lama in Washington for a mystical initiation can instill spiritual values on a city often called soulless, organizers said.

Those values -- stemming from an awareness of life's cycles and the connection of all things so differences don't have to create divisions and contrasts don't have to produce conflicts -- can spread far beyond the White House and Capitol Hill because decisions made in Washington often affect the world, they said.

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"The most significant thing about this is the time and place, 10 years after (the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks), and in a place where big decisions are being made about the planet," Clark Strand, former editor of Buddhist magazine Tricycle, told The Washington Post as the Dalai Lama was to arrive in Washington for a 10-day Tibetan Buddhist teaching called a Kalachakra.

Kalachakra means "time-wheel" or "time-cycles" in Sanskrit.

"If there is a seed of spirituality in this very city, that seed when it grows is bound to have an effect," the event-organizing Capital Area Tibetan Association said in a statement.

Some supporters said the Kalachakra's promising message that difference does not mean division could literally spread through the meditators to lawmakers, administration officials and others dealing with the national debt, wars and conflicts, environmental disasters and terrorism.

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U.S. Justice Department prosecutor Mary Aubry, 57, who meditates 1 to 2 hours a day, told the Post she will participate in the Kalachakra, which is dedicated to world peace.

"If there's anything I can do to clean up my own act and spread some goodness, I want to do what I can," she said.

Western traditions have similar messages about how life's natural rhythms affect all things. The biblical Book of Ecclesiastes, for instance, proclaims, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven."

The Dalai Lama will publicly celebrate his 76th birthday on the Kalachakra's first day, Wednesday. Participants are expected to include Mahatma Gandhi's grandson Arun Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.'s son Martin Luther King III.

The initiation event itself, at Washington's Verizon Center, is first to include three days of ritualistic prayers and chanting, meant to symbolically purify the sports and entertainment arena from material or ethereal obstacles, the event's Web site says. The ritual will also include the creation of the sand mandala.

The Dalai Lama will then give three days of basic teachings about Buddhist thought. The first day of these teachings will follow a free public "Talk for World Peace" the Nobel Peace laureate will give on the U.S. Capitol's giant West Lawn Saturday morning.

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The rest of the event will include Kalachakra ritual dance performed by Namgyal Monastery monks and the Dalai Lama's actual conferment of Kalachakra initiations. The conferment is to include a visualization of a massive palace of light, home to 722 deities, the Web site said.

The Dalai Lama then goes to Chicago to give a public talk on "Bridging the Faith Divide" at the University of Illinois at Chicago July 17, followed by a "Building Bridges" conversation with religious leaders at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance July 18.

Other participants are to include Tikkun magazine editor Rabbi Michael Lerner, Hartford (Conn.) Seminary Christian-Muslim relations Professor Ingrid Mattson and the Rev. Peg Chemberlin, president of the National Council of Churches.

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