ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) — The Dalai Lama greeted dozens of followers who waited outside a civic center in Minnesota on Wednesday for a chance to see the Tibetan spiritual leader after his recent release from the Mayo Clinic.

Security guards surrounded the Dalai Lama as he emerged from his vehicle and called the group over to him, touching their hands and blessing them.

The appearance by the 80-year-old Dalai Lama in Rochester followed his stay at the Mayo Clinic, where doctors had instructed him to rest. He canceled his October appearances in the U.S. as a result.

Dorjee Damdul of Minneapolis said the Dalai Lama looked happy and healthy. He said he was grateful for a chance to meet him.

“It means the world to us,” Damdul said.

“He is our religious leader,” he said. “We follow his guidance. … He touched our faces. It was a blessing.”

Damdul’s 8-year-old daughter, Pema, was equally thrilled.

“It’s really special because he’s like our president,” she said.

Hundreds of other people passed through security and into the Mayo Civic Center where they waited for the Dalai Lama’s private address, according to the Post-Bulletin.

“He’s my spiritual leader and a living God,” said Tenzin Lungtok of Minneapolis. “I’m here to receive his blessings.”

The Dalai Lama has made regular visits to the Mayo Clinic in past years for routine checkups.

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