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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, September 2, 2006

Dalai Lama to speak at Shriver conference

By Laura Kurtzman
Associated Press

SACRAMENTO In company with Martha Stewart and the Duchess of York, the Dalai Lama has agreed to speak to Maria Shriver's conference on women next month in Long Beach.

Shriver, who prides herself on her eclectic interests, has tried for two years to get the Tibetan spiritual leader to address the conference, a two decade-long tradition of California governors that Shriver has transformed into a glamorous affair.

It's not the only trip to the United States that the Nobel Prize winner has planned: He's also expected to come to Hawai'i next April, when he travels to Maui, then on to San Francisco.

After receiving the Dalai Lama's assent this year, Shriver said she visited him earlier this month in Dharamsala, India, where he presides over the Tibetan government in exile.

They discussed his talk over tea. The Dalai Lama was curious to find out what sort of questions he might be asked by the women at the conference Sept. 26 at the Long Beach Convention Center.

Shriver was intrigued by the Dalai Lama's less-is-more approach to life and his message that people these days may be too busy for their own good. She said the Dalai Lama was keen on speaking to a crowd of women.

"What he was saying was that women really are the vessels of compassion for the world, and it is hard to be in touch with your heart and be in dialogue with yourself when you're on a cell phone, a Blackberry, a computer," she said.

As an antidote to such stressors, the Dalai Lama will lead the 11,000-plus crowd in a brief meditation exercise. He also will take questions from the audience.

A product of Catholic schools, Shriver says she has been interested in religion for years. She minored in theology at Georgetown University and attends Mass once a week.

The Dalai Lama notwithstanding, most of Shriver's conference will focus on more worldly concerns. In addition to Martha Stewart and Sarah Ferguson, the 2006 California Governor and First Lady's Conference on Women features journalists Tim Russert, Maureen Dowd and Anna Quindlen, and the supermodel actresses Tyra Banks and Elle Macpherson.

Hawai'i information was added by Mary Kaye Ritz, Advertiser religion & ethics writer.