Today, the Senate's opening prayer was offered by the actual Dalai Lama. Standing before the legislature, the Dalai Lama said that he was a "simple Buddhist monk," offering a prayer to "Buddha and all the other gods." This is the first time the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism has offered the prayer in Congress.
He offered a few short prayers, translated into English (or, as the Dalai Lama put it "my broken English"), including one he termed his "favorite" daily prayer. It goes: "as long as space remains, and as long as sentient beings remain, until then may I too remain and help dispel the misery of the world." Here's a video of his full prayer:
The Dalai Lama also met with House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Although the Dalai Lama offered to take questions from the press at the photo op, it looks like someone in the group had something else in mind:
Dalai Lama wanted to take media questions, but Boehner shut that down real quick. pic.twitter.com/k52jKRgN0B— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) March 6, 2014
Those looking to hear even more from the Tibetan leader have another opportunity tomorrow: the Dalai Lama will give a talk at the National Cathedral. It's already sold out, but there's a livestream planned. His last visit to D.C. was in 2011, when the Dalai Lama addressed a crowd of about 20,000 people at the National Mall.
Although he seems to be pretty uncontroversially popular among the American public, his visits to the U.S. are always diplomatically tricky for the federal government. When President Obama met with the exiled spiritual leader last month, China warned the White House that any meeting between the two would "seriously damage" China's relationship with the U.S. Although the president went through with the meeting anyway, it was kept relatively low key.