Honolulu, Hawaii -- The Dalai Lama is planning to make his first visit to Maui next April, members of the Buddhist community in Maui said. "It's very good (news)," said Lama Dhondup Gyaltsen of the Dharma Center of Maui.
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It's the third time the Nobel Peace Prize winner and spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists worldwide has visited Hawai'i. He came to O'ahu and the Big Island in 1980, and again in 1994. But the Dalai Lama has never been to Maui, and this may have helped persuade him to visit, as he is known to enjoy visiting new places.
The upcoming visit will be April 23 to April 26. The Dalai Lama will then visit San Francisco.
Plans are under way for private meetings and at least two public speaking appearances.
Planners are working on identifying an adequate venue, possibly the Maui Cultural Center, Dhondup Gyaltsen said.
Preparations include building a stupa, or a prayer tower, which is built for "Buddha coming from the heavens," Dhondup Gyaltsen said.
The Lha Bab Stupa will be at least two stories tall, and will have a prayer wheel and an inner area for prayer items, including shrines and other relics. The Dharma Center of Maui began building the stupa more than six months ago using paid workers and volunteers.
The Dalai Lama will be arriving from Japan.
His visit in 1994 drew thousands to the Blaisdell Concert Hall, where he talked about compassion. He also spoke at a joint session of the Legislature. He also appeared during that visit for a dedication of the Wood Valley Temple in Ka'u on the Big Island.