Long Beach, California: 25 September – Buddhist monks from the United States, Vietnam, India, China, and Tibet sat on stage with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Facing him were approximately 10,000 Buddhists and non-Buddhist - believers and non-believers, men woman and children, from all over the world. Making his opening remarks for the two-day teaching, His Holiness pointed out that those in attendance would be able to follow along in four languages. His Holiness spoke in English about various religious beliefs and how the purpose of these traditions is to promote conviction, love, and compassion.
A Vietnamese-American woman sat on the upper balcony of the Long Beach Convention Center with her parents. This was her first audience with His Holiness. She booked her tickets at the end of May, and would attend the two days of teachings before driving six hours back to Arizona. "My parents saw him once before, ten years ago, but I was in school then. I am excited to see him now." The three listened to the teachings in Vietnamese through FM radios.
His Holiness said, "Now especially is the time for mutual understanding and respect, so some knowledge is useful. 21st century Buddhists must be full of knowledge." The crowd included a large number of Vietnamese Buddhists.
Vietnam has been a communist state for 79 years, and the government banned religion. Still, there are six million practicing Buddhists in Vietnam. His Holiness said "Although Vietnam is outwardly Communist, I know that, inwardly, it is Buddhist. Even China is like that now - military personnel outwardly are genuine communists, but deep down they have mobile phones, and some high officials have my picture there."
Inside Tibet, even a simple photo of His Holiness is considered contraband, under Chinese rule. A reporter for The Tibet Post asked His Holiness, "What will your next course of action be, since you have said that your faith in the Chinese government has gotten thinner and thinner." His Holiness said, "I don't know." He also said that he has never lost faith in the Chinese people.
In the 21st century Buddhism is transmitted over the airwaves, throughout convention center halls, websites, and sometimes mobile phones but, in His Holiness' own country, prayer is the only means. He said, "There are many sincere Buddhists, and it is my responsibility to serve them as much as I can, but the political situation for the time being is difficult - almost impossible - so the only thing is to pray."
The teachings were held at the Long Beach Convention Center on September 25th and 26th. On Friday, there were two sessions, each lasting two hours. The morning session considered The Four Noble Truths and the afternoon teaching was about the Amitabha Permission Initiation. Saturday's teaching was on Medicine Buddha. All the tickets were sold by the 17th of July. The Geden Shoeling Center organized and staffed the event.