Although hundreds in the audience craned their necks as they eagerly awaited his entrance, the Dalai Lama would not be rushed.
Momentarily stepping down from the stage which had been adorned with flowers and tapestries, he bent down to address a woman in a wheelchair and offered his cheek for a kiss.
"Only here," he said, giggling as he pointed to his cheek. "No lips!"
Thursday's meeting in Jerusalem with organizations working for social change was the first of three public appearances the Dalai Lama is scheduled to make during his five-day visit. Hundreds of people gathered outside to try and catch a glimpse, as the event, like all of those on his itinerary, had been sold out for weeks.
"Over 300 people watched from an Internet link outside," said Rachel Liel, director of the New Israel Fund's Shatil program.
"There are so many that are eager to see him, and so little time for that to happen," said one of the organizers of his visit. "Everything sold out right away."
The fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, fled Tibet in 1959 following the collapse of the Tibetan resistance movement. In his traditional crimson and gold robes, the Buddhist cleric has become an international icon for the nonviolent resistance movement. In 1989, he received the Nobel Peace Prize.
On his third visit to Israel, the Dalai Lama sheepishly told the audience that he was still not used to the cacophony of Israeli streets.
"It seems to me that Jewish people are very noisy, but very hard-working. I appreciate that," he said. He told the audience that on his El Al flight he wanted to crouch down and cover his ears when the mostly Israeli passengers came on board.
The story brought a hearty laugh from the nearly one hundred guests that did manage to squeeze into the Khan Theater to hear the Dalai Lama gave his views on using social change to effect peace.
"Your organizations, NGOs, is very important in modern times," he told the crowd. "Your work, regardless of who are or what believe, can be more effective, more free than government. [The] government, due to own policy and reason, their hands are tied."
Sitting lotus style, with both legs folded beneath him and his trademark brown shoes slipped underneath the sofa, the Dalai Lama appeared completely at ease as he answered questions posed by the audience.
"Between action and motivation, action is more important," he said, explaining that when judging action it was important to examine the motivation behind the behavior. He told the audience that although they wanted to take action to push forward the peace process, they had to examine their motivations and have patience.
Many members of the audience asked the Dalai Lama's advice on spiritual clarity. One woman asked how Israelis should vote in the upcoming elections.
"I will say please, vote for me," joked the Dalai Lama. "Use proper judgment... stand everywhere to see the sides. Then you know."
Although his assistants gestured that he was late for his next appointment, the Dalai Lama insisted that he stay until he had answered all of the questions. The final woman to approach, questioned him on how, as a Palestinian, she could advocate peaceful resistance when the process of going through the checkpoints alone made her want to give up.
"Violence only brings more publicity, in reality violence only causes more hatred," said the Dalai Lama. "Develop the conviction that violence is wrong." The Dalai Lama reminded the woman that he suffered for the millions of Tibetans who had perished, yet he never lost hope in nonviolent resistance.
As he left, the Dalai Lama stopped to bow with those who lined his path.
Seeking out the woman he had greeted as he entered, he asked how he had done.
"I feel so lucky to have talked with you," she answered.
Those who had gathered outside and the thousands more who were still trying to finagle tickets to his remaining public events, would have agreed.
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