The Dalai Lama Packs Radio City Music Hall

It's the home of the high-kicking Rockettes, but for a few days this week, it was the venue for a veritable rock star in religion -- the Dalai Lama.

The spiritual leader of millions of Buddhists around the world ended a brief U.S. tour with packed sessions at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

Thousands of people waiting in long lines to see him this week seemed to be of one mind in their quest to hear his words of wisdom.

"[He] is carrying a really important message and we really need to hear it today, which is the cooperation with each other, and compassion which seems to be sadly missing," Chad Doury of Brooklyn said.

But compassion in political terms still can be anathema to America's economy.

During a press conference this week, the Dalai Lama said Marxism remains "the only economy system expressing concern of equal distribution (of wealth); that is moral ethics."

He takes no payment for his appearances and asks that proceeds from ticket sales go for hunger relief and other charities. But he admits he doesn't keep track of where the money goes. "This is up to the organizer," he says. "I have no connection."

A packed auditorium of followers have been hearing the Buddhist monk's teachings. His main theme of religious understanding draws from his new book, "Toward a True Kinship of Faiths."

He encourages people to hold on to their traditional faiths but to "genuinely accept the full worth of faith traditions other than their own."

"I'm Buddhist," he says. "According to my own practice, Buddhism is best. But I cannot say for 100 people.
"Each person has a different faith. So according to each person, their religion is best for them."

The Nobel Prize winner also warned that respecting other faiths is much more important in this technological world, where globalization shrinks the planet and advanced weapons make religious extremism a globally destructive force.

Although the Dalai Lama’s visit has been for the most part warm and cozy, it has not been without critics. sent out press releases warning about what it calls the Dalai Lama's "false peace" and "spiritual errors."

CI President Steve McConkey says he respects the Dalai Lama but believes Buddhism is pantheistic and goes against Christian doctrine.

"Christians need to teach the truth in their churches and not be afraid to mention different false beliefs by name in order to help people have clarity during these shifting times," he says.

But not all Christians agree with McConkey.

“I find Steve McConkey’s statement offensive, as it is exactly what the authorities of Jesus’ day said about Jesus’ teachings," said Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary in New York.

"What marks Christianity at its best is the openness and compassion of its heart, and the Dalai Lama embodies that to its fullest. The wisdom of the Dalai Lama around compassion helps many Christians be better Christians.”

The 74-year-old exiled leader, meanwhile, continues to be a thorn in the side of the Chinese government, which accuses the revered Tibetan of inspiring separatist unrest in his homeland. He was prevented from entering the country to comfort victims of the recent devastating earthquake in China.

During the press conference in the Big Apple, the Dalai Lama took only a few questions. But he shook plenty of hands on his way out, giving members of the Fourth Estate something to write home about.