A world-renowned spiritual and political leader will present his message of world peace in Ithaca today and Wednesday.

An Oneonta college professor has been informing the public about the visit, and at least a couple of area residents will be attending one of the talks.

The Dalai Lama will be speaking at a series titled "Bridging Worlds" to be held at three sold-out events at different venues.

The Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies in Ithaca is operated under the guidance of the Dalai Lama and in collaboration with the main Namgyal Monastery in India.

The Dalai Lama is the title for the person believed to be the 14th reincarnation of the spiritual leader to Tibetan Buddhists, according to Hartwick College Associate Professor of Religion Sandy Huntington. The current spiritual leader was recognized as such at about age 4 and formally installed at age 15.

The 72-year-old, whose name is Tenzin Gyatso, also guides the Tibetan people as a political leader through the tumultuous times that started with the Communist invasion of 1949 and the occupation that resulted in mass exiles from the country, Huntington said. The Dalai Lama left Tibet in 1959.

At a talk Huntington gave in Ithaca last month to explain to the general public and students the significance of the visit, Huntington discussed the leader's achievements, which include being named in 1989 as a Nobel Peace Prize winner and serving as political leader of the Tibetan government in exile.

"The Dalai Lama has been under enormous pressure to violently resist the Chinese occupation of Tibet," Huntington said.

But he has consistently said that "violence will not solve anything," according to Huntington.

While the talks should be engaging, Huntington said, family and work commitments make it impossible for him to attend. He met the leader over bagels and coffee, when he visited the University of Michigan in the early 1990s. Huntington was teaching there at the time.

Those attending today at Cornell University include Morris Central School librarian Emily Kirsch. The event is titled "A Human Approach to World Peace."

"I feel he is the embodiment of peace," she said. "He transcends labels."

Kirsch also teaches interfaith meditation.

"One doesn't have to be Buddhist to experience his message of peace and harmony," she said.

She will be attending with Otselic Valley elementary science teacher Jude Smith.

Smith has been studying Buddhism for 10 years but considers herself "a beginner." She saw the Dalai Lama when he spoke at the University of Buffalo last year, she said.

"There are just a few people in the world who have this message (of peace)," she said. It was important to make the trip with her two daughters, both in their 20s, "just to be in his presence in a world gone crazy," she said.

According to the Namgyal website, the talk will elaborate his views on practical measures by which ordinary individuals can contribute to creating a peaceful, compassionate society through awareness of the increasing interdependence of the globalized worlds.

Wednesday events are:

ä 10 a.m. to noon, State Theatre, Ithaca, "Prayers for World Peace." An interfaith session will include local representatives from many faiths.

ä 2 to 4 p.m., Ben Light Gymnasium, Ithaca College, "Eight Verses on Training the Mind." It will provide concise instructions on how to engage the world in a more compassionate and idealist way, organizers said.

Events will be available on live video online. Visit www.namgyal.org/bridging/schedule.cfm for details.

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