Memphis might not come first to mind as a destination for the Dalai Lama, but thanks in part to Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader spoke there late last month.
Outliers: Memphis feels the love with visit from Dalai Lama
Ruth Ann Hale, director of media and community relations for the hospital system, says one of her friends is involved in the Dalai Lama Foundation, and the friend mentioned the Tibetan's interest in Martin Luther King Jr. Hale then connected her friend with a contact at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, and, eventually, the Dalai Lama was chosen to receive the museum's International Freedom Award. As part of the trip, the Dalai Lama gave a public talk sponsored by Methodist's Center of Excellence in Faith and Health.
“You had to be moved, I think, just by being in his presence,” says the Rev. Steve Montgomery, pastor of Idlewild Presbyterian Church in Memphis, who attended the talk. The Dalai Lama, whose given name is Tenzin Gyatso, spoke about inner peace and how obstacles can be the catalyst for great things, such as the way his exile has spurred him to be an international leader of faith, Montgomery says. “There's a real yearning in Memphis—with all the problems we have and this being where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated—to move beyond all that and get to a place where we respect each other,” Montgomery says.
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