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The Dalai Lama Will Visit Raleigh This Fall and This Is a Very Big Deal 

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The October visit to Raleigh by the Dalai Lama is a big deal indeed, and as such will require lots of work by lots of people.

The visit by the spiritual leader of Tibet, who will turn eighty-two on July 6, has been announced as a virtual certainty by the Kadampa Center of Raleigh. But knotty details remain, notably including securing a date and venue.

It's not easy to find an appropriate site for a public appearance of a Nobel Peace Prize winner who routinely draws twenty thousand people. The October timing means the event will compete for space with attractions such as an N.C. State football game, a Bruno Mars concert at the PNC, and the State Fair.

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane personally invited His Holiness during a recent (self-funded) trip to India. Also taking part in extending the invitation were Raleigh Denim founders Sarah Yarborough and Victor Lytvinenko and Bida Manda co-owner Vansana Nolintha. An interfaith organizing committee will include Kadampa Center director Robbie Watkins, founder Don Brown, and resident teachers Geshe Gelek and Geshe Sangpo, as well as other representatives from across the spiritual spectrum.

The event will be historic for Raleigh in any case. But it has additional resonance because it's possible that the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso—only the fourteenth person to occupy the position since the fifteenth century—may also the last. The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after Chinese troops put down a rebellion; while he selected a young boy as his successor in 1995, the Chinese government rejected that selection.

In recent years, the Dalai Lama has turned over his political responsibilities to the Tibetan government-in-exile and said it would be better to have no Dalai Lama that one used as a pawn of the Chinese government.

This article appeared in print with the headline "+ALSO A BFD."

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