Bethlehem (Pennsylvania), July 15, 2008
The Dalai Lama said that "it's totally wrong, unfair" to call Islam a violent religion.
The Tibetan spiritual leader, appearing on Sunday at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, offered a defence of Islam in response to a question about the rise of violent religious fundamentalism. He added that he has made a point of reaching out to Muslims since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The Dalai Lama arrived at Lehigh on Thursday for a series of talks on a 600-year-old Buddhist text. He took a break yesterday to lecture on "Generating a Good Heart," and afterward took questions from Lehigh President Alice P Gast that had been submitted in advance by the public.
Asked why so many Americans are depressed and anxious, he joked: "I'm the wrong person to ask. You should ask Americans." Then he answered that U.S. Society is too competitive and that people always want "something more, something more, something more."
The Dalai Lama, who attracted a capacity crowd of about 5,000, did not mention next month's Beijing Olympics. The Chinese government has demanded that the Dalai Lama express support for the Olympics and repudiate efforts to disrupt them as a condition for continued talks.
The Dalai Lama, who turned 73 on July 6, said Sunday that he's looking forward to "complete retirement." He joked that he's now considered a "senior most respected adviser" to Tibet's government in exile.
He is scheduled to speak at the Kimmel Centre in Philadelphia on Wednesday.