Dalai Lama gives £1.1m Templeton Prize money to charity

A special service was held for the Dalai Lama at St Paul's Cathedral in London

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The Dalai Lama has said he is giving away to charity £1.1m in prize money that has been awarded to him.

The Tibetan spiritual leader received the annual Templeton Prize in London for exceptional contributions to "affirming life's spiritual dimension".

About £900,000 is going to Save the Children in India, with £125,000 set aside for The Minds and Life Institute.

Money is also going towards a fund to educate Tibetan monks about science.

The 76-year-old was awarded the prize for encouraging "serious scientific investigative reviews of the power of compassion", and its potential to address world problems.

The John Templeton Foundation said he was chosen for exploring these issues - which are key themes of his teachings - with people beyond his own religious traditions.

A service was held at St Paul's Cathedral in London to mark the occasion.

A million pounds is a big donation, even for an organisation of the size of Save the Children. The charity's chief executive Justin Forsyth said it would go a long way in India, where £100 will train a health worker.

But what makes the gift even more valuable for a charity competing for donor money is that it comes from the Dalai Lama. It represents recognition from a religious superstar.

The Dalai Lama - the man regarded as an "enlightened being" by millions of Buddhists - has the bearing and presence of a holy man, and a diffident charm to go with it.

Now freed of his political leadership of the Tibetan government in exile, his status as "conscience" for the international community has, if anything, been enhanced.

The Dalai Lama said his generation was now placing its hope in future generations, and by implication organisations such as Save the Children. It is publicity money could barely buy.

It is the 40th anniversary of the Templeton Prize, which was established in 1972 as a global award honouring a living person who affirms "life's spiritual dimension" - whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.

It also comes with a £1.1 million prize, making it the largest annual monetary award given to an individual.

Foundation president Dr John Templeton said: "With an increasing reliance on technological advances to solve the world's problems, humanity also seeks the reassurance that only a spiritual quest can answer.

"The Dalai Lama offers a universal voice of compassion underpinned by a love and respect for spiritually relevant scientific research that centres on every single human being."

The Dalai Lama, 76 - who was born Lhamo Dhondub - won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and is believed by Buddhist followers to be the reincarnation of an ancient leader who epitomised compassion.

Other people to have received the Templeton Prize include fellow Nobel laureate Mother Teresa, the first recipient of the prize in 1973.

Speaking at St Paul's Cathedral ahead of Monday's service, the Dalai Lama warned British people against feeling "hopeless" and "helpless" in the face of economic troubles.

He also revealed that he wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron following last August's riots to express his "condolences".

'Murder plot denied'

Meanwhile, China has denied claims that it had plotted to kill the Dalai Lama.

The exiled spiritual leader told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper of unconfirmed reports that Chinese agents were training Tibetan women to assassinate him by putting poison in their hair - for him to touch during blessings.

China's foreign ministry said the accusations were groundless and were being spread to attract public attention.

A spokesman said: "Wearing a religious cloak, the Dalai Lama has been engaged in international anti-China separatist activities."

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