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01october20096Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, speaks to the audience at the conference at the Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, September 30, 2009. He was speaking at the two-day conference which draws on compassion, connectedness and collaboration to explore the potential of campus-community partnerships. His Holiness the Dalai Lama attended the event as part of his visit to Canada.

As Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed optimism over China's progress in recent years, a group of protesters in Calgary said a more forceful message is needed to prompt change in the Communist country. He said he had "nothing much to say "about the 60th anniversary of Communist China.

His Holiness noted the country has left behind its socialist past in favour of capitalism. He also told reporters that meetings with influential Chinese have left him optimistic about progress in China's attitude toward him and Tibet. "Judging from a wider perspective, things are moving," he said.

Thousands filled the Saddledome on Wednesday to hear a message of compassion and peace from one of the world's most revered spiritual leaders, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

Many among the Calgary audience said they were encouraged most by the simple truth of His Holiness' words in his first visit to the city in three decades. "The whole thing was just overwhelming, to see somebody like the Dalai Lama. It was wonderful. It was almost peaceful. It was like he was talking to me, person-to-person," Henrietta MacGregor, 80 told Calgary Herald.

02october20091"I just feel happy. He's awesome," added her granddaughter, Jasmine MacGregor, 12. His Holiness the Dalai Lama enthralled the audience of nearly 15,000 for more than an hour as he described the attitude needed to find both inner and outer peace.

"We are the same human beings. I want a happy life, you want a happy life. On that level we can work together...make a common effort for a better world," the exiled Buddhist leader said.

His Holiness also called for the end of violence and urged peace and compassion among humankind. "Each country heavily interconnected. That is today's reality," he said. "The centuries-old concept of 'we' and 'they' according to this reality are no longer there. We must consider the entire world as a part of 'we.'

The Tibetan leader has met his share of confrontation since he fled Tibet after the Chinese invasion in 1959, with many arguing his political leadership is controversial. When he travels the world, His Holiness said he focuses on a spiritual message of peace prompted by compassion, not fear.

"The destruction of your neighbour is destruction of yourself. The concept of war is out of date." Conflict is inevitable among humankind, he said. But the use of violence and force is outdated and ineffective.

Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama received an Honorary doctor of Laws degree from the University of Calgary during the conference at the Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, September 30, 2009.

His Holiness also weared traditional white cowboy hat, native leather mitts and a traditional native eagle feather he received as welcoming gifts at the Calgary airport. The White Hat ceremony is a Calgary tradition reserved for dignitaries and is a symbol of Calgary's hospitality, and the eagle feather is a gift by the natives to only the highest dignitaries.

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