Dalai Lama visits West Tenn. to accept Freedom Award; pays respect to Dr. King

Thursday, September 24, 2009
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama (left) says a prayer after placing a white scarf over the wreath at the Lorraine Motel. The wreath is where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed by an assassin's bullet on April 4, 1968. The Rev. Samuel 'Billy' Kyles (center) described to his Holiness the moment Dr. King was shot. Kyles was just a few feet from Dr. King on that night. The Rev. Dr. Benjamin Hooks (right), a noted civil rights leader, also bows his head during a moment of silence. His Holiness and Dr. King are both recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was in Memphis on Wednesday to accept the National Civil Rights Museum's 2009 Freedom Award.

The exiled head of state and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people started the day by taking a tour of the National Civil Rights Museum, where the Lorraine Motel sits.

The Dalai Lama stood on the very spot where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and placed a white scarf over the wreath on the balcony of the second floor.

The Dalai Lama said his visit to the National Civil Rights Museum and Lorraine Motel was sad, but gives a conviction to fight for human rights. He also spoke on the importance of inner beauty and religious harmony. He later accepted the National Civil Rights Museum's 2009 Freedom Award and gave a public talk on developing peace and harmony at The Cannon Center in Memphis.

The Rev. Dr. Benjamin Hooks and The Rev. Samuel "Billy" Kyles were also with His Holiness as Kyles described the moment of King's assassination where they stood. Kyles was merely a few steps away from King on that fateful night.

"Yes, you can kill the dreamer. No, you can't kill the dream," said Kyles and Hooks in unison.

The group then entered the room where King was taken after the shooting.

The Dalai Lama and King share one significant bond other than being humanitarians; they are both recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.

He said the tour of the museum and motel was very moving for him, but at the same time it gives inspiration to fight for human rights.

"One way, sad. One way, more conviction," said His Holiness.

He noted King was an example of a freedom fighter of true non-violence like Mahatma Gandhi.

"We should follow these great people's method," said His Holiness.

He went on to say Gandhi and King may not be living, but their spirit will continue for many years like Buddha, Jesus Christ and Muhammad.

His Holiness also added that totalitarian regimes are outdated and the free world has the moral obligation to remind them they are not practical.

He said freedom of information was essential and told of an example where Tibetans did not even know of the Cultural Revolution taking place inside their own country.

To assist in the exchange of information the Dalai Lama said the media need to help in spreading the truth to the people.

"The media people should have long nose like elephant nose," said His Holiness. "You should be very honest, objective, unbiased, truthful. Investigate what is going on. Good, bad, everything. Then inform people."

He said one human right was to know the truth; and that censorship and distorted information were outdated.

At one point, he said he and former President George W. Bush were good friends, but he had some reservations about some of his policies.

He pointed out his main commitment consisted of two things, one being the promotion of human value and the other the harmony between religions.

"Your individual future depends on the rest of the community," said His Holiness.

He went on to say trust was the antidote for frustration and internal beauty was more important than external beauty.

"Internal beauty really brings inner peace and good health," said His Holiness.

He closed by saying King's inner strength came from his faith. He may have had a different philosophy than Mother Teresa or Gandhi, but it didn't matter because it brought inner strength.

"It is not only just some people's social responsibility, but six billion people's responsibility," said His Holiness. "Big, happier, human society and more religious harmony."

During a luncheon at the Peabody Hotel, His Holiness received the Freedom Award. Later in the day, he gave a public talk at The Cannon Center on developing peace and harmony.

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  • Nice guy, I'm sure, but how does living like royalty in the US while Tibet citizens are oppressed by China's equivalent of the democratic party qualify him for a Freedom Award? This is just another publicity stunt to draw attention to the organization giving the award. The most deserving recipients of a "Freedom Award" are the soldiers getting shot at in Iraq and Afghanistan in a poorly supported effort to keep terrorist organizations from attacking our country.

    -- Posted by A Citizen on Thu, Sep 24, 2009, at 5:16 AM
  • You are so on the hightest precent of telling like it really is , i admire that in every one!

    -- Posted by chief_ty20 on Fri, Sep 25, 2009, at 10:42 AM
  • why does this person take up so much room on the front page of our local paper? we have a few pages that would me more appropriate--oh yes, we just have about 4 pages now that the page has been reduced to about a half page.

    -- Posted by closerlook on Tue, Sep 29, 2009, at 7:33 AM
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