WASHINGTON — The leader of Tibetan Buddhism has been invited to appear at this year’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, an annual event that is meant to bring lawmakers together for the purpose of acknowledging the importance of prayer and faith in America.
“He was invited by the organizers of the event,” John Rizzo, communications director for Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, who co-chairs the breakfast, told reporters. “He has accepted, and my understanding is he plans to be there.”
Barack Obama has also been invited to the event, but has not yet confirmed his appearance. White House spokesman Patrick Ventrell told Reuters that Obama has a favorable view of the Buddhist leader.
“They have met three times, including just last February,”he said. “The president is a strong supporter of the Dalai Lama’s teachings and preserving Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions.”
As previously reported, last March, the Dalai Lama led the U.S. Senate in “prayer” for the first time, wishing for world peace and “good fortune” for America’s lawmakers.
“So pray to Buddha and all other gods,” he said, before speaking in Tibetan and then repeating his “prayer” in English.
“With our thoughts, we make our world,” the Dalai Lama stated, robed in gold and red. “Our mind is central and precedes our deeds. Speak or act with a pure mind and happiness will follow you like a shadow that never leaves.”
Senators bowed their heads and visitors watched from the balcony.
“May there be joy in the world, with bountiful harvest and spiritual wealth,” the Dalai Lama continued. “May every good fortune come to be. And may all our wishes be fulfilled.”
He then referenced what he called his “favorite prayer,” which he said he offered daily.
“As long as space remains, and as long as sentient beings remain, until then may I too remain, and help dispel the misery of the world,” it read.
The Dalai Lama has made previous visits to the states, receiving the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007 during a ceremony attended by then-President George W. Bush. He also met with Bush in Dallas in 2011, and spoke at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, where he referred to the former president as “my dear friend.”
The National Prayer Breakfast has taken place since 1953 when members of Congress invited then-President Dwight Eisenhower to meet with them “in the spirit of Jesus.” But although the event continues to be hosted each year by members of Congress, The Fellowship Foundation also assists with the organizational aspects of the event.
The group says that its purpose “is to encourage one another and people throughout the world to carry out the first and Great Commandment ‘to love God first’ and ‘to love your neighbor as yourself,” but notes that the breakfast is not exclusively Christian.
“The breakfast typically is attended by more than 3000 people of all races, cultures and faith traditions,” it states.
Photo: Nicolo Carrante