His Holiness Concludes French Visit with Blessings on Temple
Saturday, 23 August 2008, 12:13 p.m.
spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama (R) arrives with France’s
first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy to inaugurate the Buddhist Lerab Ling
temple in Roqueredonde, southern France, 22 August 2008.
REUTERS/Philippe Laurenson (FRANCE)
Dharamshala: His Holiness the
Dalai Lama successfully wrapped up a twelve-day visit to France on
Friday by inaugurating a temple at Sogyal Rinpoche’s Buddhist center in
Lerab-Ling, in the southern town of Roqueredonde.
France’s Foreign Minister, Bernhard Kouchner, first lady, Carla
Bruni-Sarkozy, French human rights minister, Rama Yade, were also at
the consecration ceremony, which was attended by about 2,000 people.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama led a procession of monks in orange
and red, chanting and playing long trumpets, around the temple,
accompanied by Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy.
His Holiness presented the pair with long white scarves, a
Tibetan gesture of hospitality and respect, which they wore as they
watched their host prostrate himself before a statue of the Buddha.
Holiness the Dalai Lama (2nd R), with French Foreign Affairs Minister
Bernard Kouchner (3rd R), France’s first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (1st
R) and French Human Rights minister Rama Yade during the inauguration
of the Buddhist Lerab Ling temple in Roqueredonde, southern France, 22
August 2008. Photo: AFP
The red and gold Lerab Ling is one of the biggest Tibetan Buddhist
temples in the West. It houses a 23-foot (7 metre) high golden statue
of the Buddha and many holy relics and scriptures. Another golden
Buddha sits in the middle of a lake just outside.
Hundreds of students of Buddhism braved heavy rain to visit the
site, which was decorated with multi-coloured Tibetan prayer flags.
They sheltered under orange umbrellas on the grass.
In his address, His Holiness called for harmony between different religious traditions and for respect for the environment.
“We have the responsibility to take care of this planet,” His
Holiness said. “We must extend love to all creatures, trees and
Ms. Sarkozy and Mr. Kouchner talked privately with His Holiness
the Dalai Lama, and his interpreter later briefed reporters on some of
his comments, The New York Times reported.
The only way China can “regain its respectability in the
international community” is to “march towards democracy,” His Holiness
the Dalai Lama said, according to Ricard, who attended the meeting.
His Holiness said that China had increased repression of
Tibetans during the Olympic Games in Beijing, and he urged China to
“march toward democracy.”
Kouchner, who made no public comment except to say His Holiness the Dalai Lama was “always welcome in France.”
His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s French visit was devoted to
religious engagements including a six-day teaching series and
consecration of Buddhist temples.
His Holiness will return to Dharamshala on Sunday.
Holiness the Dalai Lama (L), France’s first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy
(C) and Sogyal Rinpoche (R), director of the Buddhist temple Lerab
Ling, attend the inauguration of the temple in Roqueredonde, southern
France on 22 August 2008.
Holiness the Dalai Lama (R), talks with French Foreign Affairs Minister
Bernard Kouchner (C) during the inauguration of the Buddhist Lerab Ling
temple in Roqueredonde, southern France, 22 August 2008. Director of
the temple Sogyal Rinpoche (L) and French Human Rights minister Rama
Yade (2nd L) also attended the meeting.