Wednesday, September 20, 2006

0 Event of the Week! The Dalai Lama's Visit

Yesterday, 19th of Septermber, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet visited UB and delivered a dissertation that included various themes like mental happiness, unbiased compassion and wholeheartedness.

Before a crowd of almost 30,000 (seriously, this must have been beefed up by the media), he addressed a few words of wisdom for the annual Distinguished Speaker Series held by the Student Association of our University.

It was a windy day. I got there at 2:45 pm along with a friend, Dave Kina, from our Cycling Club, just to attend the final 10 minutes of a solo piano pre-performance from Philip Glass (2 Etudes and Mad Rush). I also missed a time-lapsed video of the construction of a Sand Mandala by the monks of the Drepung Loseling Monastery.

It wasn't a bad turn out for an event which turned UB into a Buddhist center for almost 4 months. Everyone was talking about it. The news had it. The libraries were showcases of books and cultural specimens from Tibet. The UB bookstore at North Campus was selling hundreds of books but how many people bought them and read them is questionable.

I don't have the time and energy tonight to completely describe the events of the day. I patiently waited for a man I had only seen on t.v. He was something of a t.v phenomenon really. But every now and then when I thought that the Dalai Lama was the human incarnation of the Buddha, it got me wondering with awe on a higher plane.

OK. Probably the most interesting statement by Dalai Lama was right after he was handed the mic after being honored with a SUNY Doctorate in humane letters. He remarked :

I've been to many universities (and received many degrees) without a single day of study of modern education. So that is something interesting.

Wish I could do something like that!

Some of the main points, however, that truly struck a chord in me were :

1. Mental health and well being is the most important of all. Physical comforts and material things cannot really make one happy or mentally sound. A contended mind canw even endure physical discomfort such as pain.

2. Human beings are rewarded with highly developed senses than animals. Why humans have feelings, problems, good health or ill-health are all derived from the highly complicated sensory play.

3. We can be truly happy if we develop a sense of warm-heartedness and develop unbiased compassion towards another. (basically, how can we improve the life of another person?)

4. Relations at school or at home within the family should strive to develop warm-heartedness. He emphasized incorporating warm-heartedness in class to professors and lecturers, and also to mothers and fathers.

5. He wants to go to mainland China and over the past years, has submitted many proposals for a dialogue with Chinese leaders. However, his petitions were disregarded or denied.

6. Its hard to make a generalisation that the United States is responsible for all the ills in the world today. They have done good things. They have (again, these were his words) been a champion of democracy, liberty and justice throughout the world. But he specifically pointed out an occasion in his memory when the United States acted strange when they leaned more towards Pakistan during the Pakistani Civil War in the 70's. How much of that is true, I dont know.

In the end, he was practical and modest. He did not bring a magic tantra or any special healing powers with him that afternoon. It is something that we all might have heard at different point in our lives but it is endorsed now by His Holiness. He concluded his remarks by saying that if we don't believe what he said or we want to disregard it as nonsense, its alright and there is no problem! Wow.

However, sitting in the chilly noon on the bleacher chairs and not being able to see even an inkling of Dalai Lama's face (save for the big screens) must have irritated a lot of students. More importantly, Chinese students were heard to be protesting on campus, some even calling him a liar.

I've stuck the front page from our Student Newspaper, the Spectrum. You might be able to zoom in and read it!

Good bye, Dalai Lama! Have a safe journey back.

The above can also be accessed at for better viewing. Check the archives for September 20.


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