Religion: In the Potala

A wispy sickle moon slid through the heavens over Peiping one night last week, eclipsed the planets Saturn and Venus, left them glowing balefully red. To some yellow-robed Buddhist monks conducting sombre ritual in Peiping's ancient, dilapidated Lama Temple, the eclipse was an ominous portent. They twirled their prayer-wheels uneasily, muttering the potent Buddhist charm: Om mani padme hum ("Hail to the jewel in the lotus flower"). Three nights before, some 1,000 miles to the southwest of Peiping, the great Dalai Lama, Venerable Ocean Treasure and Jewel of Majesty, had gone to his...

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