Dalai Lama in Eugene: 'He promised Amala that he would make a visit'

EUGENE, Ore. - The Dalai Lama's presence is in high demand all over the world, and a 69-year-old Cottage Grove woman is being credited for making his visit to Eugene happen.

"It was because of Amala's persistance and consistancy that was instrumental in realizing this visit of his holiness," her son Jigme Rinpoche said.

Jangchup Palmo is lovingly known as Amala, or honorific mother. Rinpoche, a spiritual teacher at the Eugene Sakya Center, translates her story. She prefers to speak in Tibeten.

Palmo says she first asked the Dalai Lama to visit Eugene in 1997. She asked him a total of four times, twice in person. He never said no.

"He promised Amala that he would make a visit," Rinpoche said. "It was almost I can say single handedly in her effort and her kindness. She never gave up the request."

He says the Dalai Lama has great respect for his mother. She founded two-week long World Peace Prayers in Portland and Switzerland that have been going on annually for seven years now.

Palmo became a Tibetan refugee when she fled the country after Chineese Communists took over her homeland when she was just a teenager. She was shot six times and imprisoned but affectionately calls the Communists her greatest teachers.

"It is because of those bullets that made me who I am today," Rinpoche translated.

Palmo says Oregon reminds her of her early childood in Tibet before the conflict.

"With the mountains and the rivers and the lakes and the trees," Rinpoche translated. "It's like she is bringing him back to his homeland."

They say they are not surprised tickets to see the Dalai Lama speak May 10 at the Matthew Knight Arena sold out in 20 minutes. Rinpoche said the Dalai Lama's message is important and they want everyone to hear it.

"It is how we can see and use the path of peace and compassion in our daily lives as a means to bring about happiness within ourselves the world and the environment," Rinpoche said.