The Dalai Lama made two public appearances in the Boston area Friday that drew protests from a group accusing him of human rights abuses and discrimination.
The Tibetan spiritual leader spoke Friday morning at the Boston Marriott Copley Place hotel at a symposium organized by the Mind and Life Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on how scientific research and Buddhist teachings can provide insights into the human mind and condition.
The Dalai Lama then spoke at panel discussions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. One of the discussions focused on how individual actions can help address major challenges like global warming and food security.
Throughout the events hundreds of protesters followed, holding banners outside the hotel that said “False Dalai Lama, Stop Lying” and “Dalai Lama Give Religious Freedom.”
Next to them was a sizeable crowd of Dalai Lama supporters waving Tibetan and American flags and handing out flyers suggesting the opposition group was under the direction of the Chinese government, a charge the protest organizers, the International Shugden Community, strongly rejected.
The California-based organization said millions of Buddhists have faced persecution and segregation across the world because in the late 1990s the Dalai Lama banned making prayers to Dorje Shugden, a Buddhist deity.
“This has been going on for nearly 20 years and he has never once entered a dialogue,” said Nicholas Pitts, a spokesman for the group. “So we’re making sure that he sees us and hears us. We absolutely want a resolution. We have no interest in carrying on demonstrating for its sake.”
The group has been organizing protests throughout the Dalai Lama’s visit to the U.S., which has included stops in Birmingham, Alabama, and Princeton, New Jersey.
On Saturday, the Dalai Lama is set to talk about “educating the heart and mind” at the TD Garden, an event organized by the Tibetan Association of Boston. The Dalai Lama is set to wrap up his U.S. trip with stops in New York City from Sunday to Tuesday.