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3september20096Taipei; 8 am yesterday morning, the 520 seats arranged for the occasions were full. The crowded hall of Tibetans entered, and sat on the floor to bear witness to His Holiness the Dalai Lama's return to Taiwan. His visit is in response to the Typhoon that caused widespread damage and loss of life in Taiwan last month. He also spoke about his absence of eight years from Taiwan, and expressed the sadness he feels from been away from Taiwanese people for so long. More than anything else though, the holy man came to offer prayers and initiate a healing process for those effected, and to address the younger generation and inquired about their education.

2001 was the last time His Holiness met with Taiwanese Buddhists, but because of the freezing of Titan-Sino relationships, His Holiness deemed that it was better not to visit the island. On a visit to Dharamshala, Taiwan's Buddhist followers asked him, "have you forgotten the Taiwan's Buddhist followers?" His Holiness replied, "I never forgot them, and I miss everyone so much."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama received an invitation to visit Taiwan after the typhoon. His sacred vow to the Nagajuna Bodhisattva's teaching binds him to sentient beings and also to land, wind, fire, and water. Tibetans, he advised, must have compassion for nature, and for natural disasters.

Facing the destruction that the typhoon caused, His Holiness the Dalai Lama focused on the future and asked the crowd, "how many of you are in college? He then responded to his own question by encouraging the young Tibetans to study hard since knowledge is human-power; "Tibetans should not live by just courage and strength, but this must be backed by education and preserving Tibetan culture and heritage."

October second is Taiwan's traditional festival - Hungry Ghost Festival. Each household makes an offering to the gods and prays to God's blessed peace for everyone. On this traditional day of praising the gods and working for peace, the Tibetan spiritual leader commended the freedoms that the Taiwanese people have secured for themselves; "Taiwan's people are enjoying democracy and freedom of speech, please also let China enjoy freedom of speech. They are eager to have freedom of speech so much. Chinese President Hu Jintao has the idea of social harmony, it is important, but the harmonious society must be based on democracy, equality and freedoms."

Edited by S. Hart, The Tibet Post International

Edited by S. Hart, The Tibet Post International