Richard Gere May Have Looks, But the Dalai Lama Has Substance

By Andrew Dubbins, The Hoya, October 23, 2007

Washington, DC (USA) -- There is a man who is known round the world, who has become a common household name, and whose face has graced countless TV screens and newspapers. I’m talking, of course, about Richard Gere, star of “Pretty Woman” and People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive in 1999.

You can imagine my excitement when I learned that Richard Gere, a staunch supporter of Tibetan culture and autonomy, would be speaking at the Dalai Lama’s Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony on Oct. 17. Despite my impending midterms, I decided to take the subway to the Capitol to see this legendary actor in the flesh. When I reached my destination, I discovered that the thousands of people gathered outside the Capitol steps were there, not for Richard Gere, but for His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

It all seemed so odd. In my hometown of Los Angeles, we award actors, set designers, makeup artists and Paris Hilton. Yet the Buddhist monks, college students, and Tibetan exiles who had gathered outside the Capitol that day were not there to see a movie star. They were there to see a man who has practiced a lifetime of nonviolence despite being unjustly exiled from his homeland in 1959; a man who advocates for his people with the virtues of kindness and compassion.

From Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif), to Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, you could not have found a more diverse group of speakers. Though bipartisanship is rare these days, all of these speakers had one thing in common — a deep respect for the Dalai Lama. Even President Bush courageously pledged his unwavering support for religious freedom, becoming the first U.S. president to publicly meet with the Dalai Lama.

This unwavering support for the Dalai Lama is by no means the most popular policy in this country, since China, which opposes Tibetan independence, is one of the United States’ major trading partners. The Dalai Lama has agreed to find a compromise with the PRC by settling for religious and cultural autonomy rather than complete independence, yet China’s communist government refuses even to meet with the Dalai Lama.

In fact, I was given a small cardboard handout which states, “On Sept. 1, 2007, China passed a new law: Order No. 5 states that all Tibetan Buddhist teachers, including the Dalai Lama, cannot be reincarnated without the permission of the Chinese government.” The handout also features a photo of the Dalai Lama with a caption that reads, “Tibetans caught in possession of [The Dalai Lama’s] image face arrest, imprisonment, and torture.” Our Congressmen and Senators may shy away from controversial decisions from time to time, but, by honoring the Dalai Lama with the Congressional Gold Medal, they showed that standing on the side of justice is often more important than cheap labor and the bottom line.

After the medal had been awarded, the politicians began filing out of the Capitol. Then, the moment I’d been waiting for — Richard Gere took the microphone. I gave the star of “Pretty Woman” his due respect, but I found my attention wandering — my eyes were fixed on the center doors as I waited excitedly for my new hero to show his face.

Eventually, a cheer broke out followed by a respectful silence. The Dalai Lama had left the building. He walked down that long flight of Capitol stairs to a jarring sound of Tibetan horns and drums that seemed to echo his strife-filled life of exile. His Holiness did not have the look of a depressed and exiled man. Instead, he exuded a gentle innocence, with a candy-striped umbrella and red visor that kept him cool, and an ever-present giggle and smile that kept everyone else warm.

In his speech he spoke of nonviolence, compassion, and love — words that are not commonly uttered on those Capitol steps in these days of violence, hostility and war. It didn’t matter that he spoke in Tibetan, because some messages, like those of kindness and love, transcend the borders of language (with the help of a translator).

On my subway ride home, I felt satisfied that I would one day have the privilege of telling my grandkids, “I saw the Dalai Lama — the spiritual leader of the Buddhist religion, a hero to the Tibetan people, a beacon of love around the world and a friend of Richard Gere.”

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: