Dalai Lama visits Boulder for first time in 19 years

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BOULDER, Colo. -- For the first time in 19 years, the Dalai Lama made a public appearance in Boulder. In front of a packed house at the University of Colorado's Coors Event Center, the spiritual leader spoke about bringing compassion, ethics, love and peace into daily life.

“We want to make sure he's well protected,” said Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones as she handed the Dalai Lama what is a common sight in Colorado, a bicycle helmet. “A token so he can remember Boulder also, always, when he travels around the world."

Addressing the crowd first in Tibetan with a translator, the 81-year-old pointed to the helmet and spoke in his native language.

"These days I'm too old to bike,” he said, using the gift as his first teaching. “Can be taken as a symbolism as a spiritual journey and while you are on that path you need kind of a protection and armor as well against these afflictions."

Turning then to English, the Dalai Lama told the crowd we are all one as human beings.

“Brothers and sisters, I always consider we are the same human being, mentally, emotionally, physically,” he said.

As one of the world’s major spiritual leaders, the Dalai Lama brings people from all religion and walks together.

“I practice Buddhism,” said Tendin Tashi, spokesman for Tibetan Association of Colorado.

“I’m Catholic, but I love the principals behind Buddhism,” said Darin Valdez of Denver.

“I’m not really any religion,” said Nikki Petiar of Broomfield.

For many, being in the presence of the Daila Lama is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I feel kind of an overwhelming presence of peace,” Tashi said.

But it is the Dalai Lama’s message of peace and harmony that stirs everyone’s passions.

“He says that liberation, true liberation is attained only when karma and afflictions are brought to an end,” the Dalai Lama’s translator said on stage.

“What I heard the most was you have to get rid of self. You have to dispatch yourself from self,” Valdez said.

“To lead a life that’s happy and meaningful towards others,” Tashi said.

"Even when my father passed, I could like cry, but today is just, very special day so I was very happy,” said Konchok Tenzin, a Tibetan living in Broomfield.

Boulder has one of the largest Buddhist communities in America but many said Thursday’s event was for people of all religions and nationalities to come together and share common human values.

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