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By Geoff Larcom and Jo Mathis
Religion News Service

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (RNS) He takes showers rather than baths, and he turns out the lights when he leaves the room.
Those are small examples of how each of us can contribute to preserving the Earth’s environment, the Dalai Lama said Sunday (April 20) during a lecture on the environment at the University of Michigan.
As he delivered the annual Peter M. Wege Lecture on Sustainability, the Dalai Lama admitted he never uses the world “sustainability,” but likened taking care of the planet to taking care of your own home.
“We have a responsibility to take care of the environment,” he said. “It is our only home.”
The lecture ended a remarkable weekend of pageantry and talks by the Dalai Lama. Earlier Sunday, he conducted his final lecture on “Engaging Wisdom and Compassion,” after giving two other teaching sessions on that topic Saturday. Crowds of about 8,000 attended each of the weekend sessions.
Outside the area during the talks, as many as 700 protesters — mostly Chinese college students — continued a second day of peaceful demonstrations. In introducing the Dalai Lama for the lecture on the environment, U-M President Mary Sue Coleman noted the founding of Earth Day at the university in 1970, cited the fragility of the environment and said that the Buddhist leader is “uniquely positioned to spread this message.”
As he did all weekend, the Dalai Lama mixed self-deprecating humor with anecdotes and insight. Smiling, he said the notion that he has a specific healing power is “absolute nonsense.”
He spoke English throughout the two-hour Wege lecture and question-and-answer session, though he frequently paused briefly to clarify points or phrases with his longtime interpreter Thupten Jinpa.
“I’m getting older. My English is also getting older,” he said.
He noted that such things as showering and turning out the lights become habits as one builds a way of life that contributes to our ecology. How we treat the environment can depend on how we treat others on a planet with 6 billion people, the Dalai Lama said.
“We are a social animal,” he said. “Our survival is based on community.”
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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