It was a historic morning in the Senate Thursday, when the Dalai Lama gave the Senate's opening prayer in place of Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black.
Attendance, however, left something to be desired. A good number of staffers were gathered on the floor and in the galleries, but the chamber was by no means packed. Perhaps a dozen senators were present when Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., brought the Senate into session and yielded to the Dalai Lama for the morning prayer.
"We make our world. Speak or act with a pure mind, and happiness will follow you," he said. "This is my favorite prayer. Daily I pray this."
Following the opening prayer, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., requested that the Senate recess in order for senators to meet with the Dalai Lama. "His Holiness often says that he is only a simple monk, born to a farming family in northeastern Tibet. But to millions of people in Tibet and across the globe, he is much more — he is a source of hope and inspiration in a world that can sometimes seem dark," Reid said. "The presence of His Holiness in this chamber today inspires me — as I hope it does all of us — to renew our commitment to speak and act with a pure mind and help dispel the misery of the world."
Before the Senate convened, the Dalai Lama could be seen on the Senate floor greeting several senators, including Leahy and California Democrat Dianne Feinstein. There was also an exchange with Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, the first Buddhist elected to the Senate.
The Dalai Lama has a series of meetings on both sides of the Rotunda Thursday.