NEW YORK, July 11 (UPI) -- The Dalai Lama celebrated his final nights of his United States birthday celebration by meditating alongside House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett on Friday.
The Tibetan leader, who celebrated his 80th birthday July 6, shared a meditation for long life surrounded by throngs of followers at New York City's Javits Convention Center. The spiritual leader conferred a White Tara long-life empowerment followed by a long-life prayer. Actor and Tibet activist Richard Gere was also in attendance.
Earlier in the week, Pelosi honored the Dalai Lama as a "compassionate religious leader, an astute diplomat and an undaunted believer in the power of nonviolence."
"American presidents and the American people have been inspired by his Holiness, who describes himself as a 'simple monk, no more, no less,'" she said. "To Tibetan Buddhists, His Holiness is the earthly manifestation of the living Buddha. To them and the international community, he is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. To millions of believers and admirers, he is a source of wisdom and compassion. To young people, His Holiness is a positive example of how to make the world a better place."
Outside the event, protesters from the International Shugden Community challenged the Dalai Lama as a person "exploiting his celebrity status to further his own personal and political ambitions." The group said he forced them to abandon their beliefs and follow his or face exile.
"While the world fetes the Dalai Lama as a great Buddhist leader, the truth is that through his lies and deception he is destroying the spiritual heart of the Buddhist religion and transforming it into a vehicle for naked personal ambition and political gain," the organization said.