Cowboy Hat to welcome His Holiness the Dalai Lama

[CBC NEWS]

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, wears a traditional white cowboy hat, native leather mitts and a traditional native eagle feather he received as welcoming gifts at the Calgary airport in Calgary, Alberta, 30 September 2009. 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. REUTERS/Pool (CANADA RELIGION IMAGES OF THE DAY)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, wears a traditional white cowboy hat, native leather mitts and a traditional native eagle feather he received as welcoming gifts at the Calgary airport in Calgary, Alberta, 30 September 2009. 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. REUTERS/Pool (CANADA RELIGION IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Calgary: His Holiness the Dalai Lama has returned to Calgary for the first time in nearly 30 years, accepting an honorary degree from the city’s largest university and a white cowboy hat from the mayor.

His Holiness also brought his message of peace to a crowd of more than 15,000 at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Wednesday afternoon, giving a public address as part of a two-day visit to the city for a University of Calgary conference called NOW.

His Holiness spoke to the audience of peace not only on a global, national and family level, but on a personal one.

“We can say violence is generally speaking out of anger, hatred. Peace is out of compassion. So therefore, genuine peace [comes] through compassion. In other words, external, long-lasting genuine peace mostly comes through internal peace.”

His Holiness also joked with the audience that he has no healing power, as demonstrated by his need to have gall bladder surgery last year, but later spoke of his quick recovery.

“Not because of my healing power, but because of my peace of mind,” His Holiness said.

 His Holiness the Dalai Lama is greeted by members of the Tibetan community in Calgary.  (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is greeted by members of the Tibetan community in Calgary. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Provide maximum affection

His Holiness the Dalai Lama took questions from the audience, including one by an expectant father on what one principle the leader believes a child should learn above all.

“Difficult question. I don’t know,” His Holiness said to laughter. “But as soon as your child born, please provide maximum affection.”

A high school student asked the world figure how he saw himself, to which he answered: “A simple Buddhist monk…. I’m just another human being. We are same physical, same mind, same emotion. We are same.”

University of Calgary president Harvey Weingarten presented an honorary law degree to the Dalai Lama during the Saddledome event.

“He has touched the hearts and minds of leaders in politics, religion and business, as well as those of everyday people who search only to find happiness,” said Weingarten.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama thanked the university and with a giggle admitted he had been a “lazy student.”

Canadian Olympic gold-medal swimmer Mark Tewksbury, actress Sandra Oh and local Tibetan dancers were also part of the event.

Natives from Alberta give His Holiness the Dalai Lama (R), a traditional eagle feather upon his arrival at the Calgary International Airport in Calgary, Alberta, 30 September 2009/REUTERS/Pool (CANADA RELIGION POLITICS)
Natives from Alberta give His Holiness the Dalai Lama (R), a traditional eagle feather upon his arrival at the Calgary International Airport in Calgary, Alberta, 30 September 2009/REUTERS/Pool (CANADA RELIGION POLITICS)

Welcomed with a cowboy hat

Earlier in the day, Mayor Dave Bronconnier plopped the city’s iconic white cowboy hat on His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s head during a welcoming at the airport.

“Presentation of gifts on behalf of the citizens of Calgary are not intended to be political symbols at all. This is a welcoming gesture … recognizing an international spiritual leader, one who advances education, philanthropy and works towards world peace,” Bronconnier said Tuesday.

The mayor also presented a white hat later Wednesday to a former president of South Africa, F.W. de Klerk, who is also in Calgary for the conference.