"The 14th Dalai Lama’s visit to Bloomington


Here is a message from the 14th Dalai Lama to the students of today:

Develop a wider perspective of your world.

Develop self-confidence.

Cultivate warm-heartedness.

This was one of many messages I heard while attending the sold-out talk given by the Dalai Lama at the Assembly Hall on Indiana University’s Bloomington campus Saturday, Oct. 27. It did not come as much of a surprise that I would learn by listening to this great teacher, philosopher and spiritual leader, but what did come as a surprise is the way he delivered his thoughts and ideas in such a contemporary way. This Dalai Lama is a modern man: informed, engaged and enlightened. He speaks from his intellect and at the same time his heart.

Though it was my first time attending a talk given by the 14th Dalai Lama, many of the audience members whom I talked with had attended other lectures he had given while visiting his brother in Bloomington. The crowd was supportive, appreciative and involved in the entire program and there was a diverse showing from babies to teenagers and, of course, IU college students.

But what exactly were the messages from His Holiness?

The first idea he discussed was to revisit the term secular. The Dalai Lama made his case for secular ethics because secular means to respect all religions (including nonbelievers). Secular ethics means to have an inclusive discussion about all religions. This is relevant given the current world climate of war and anger, misunderstanding over differing beliefs.

Another aspect of the Dalai Lama that is important to note is how positive and hopeful he is in regards to addressing many of these dark issues. His positive outlook in itself is a lesson to us all.

Another part of his talk, “Compassion: The Source of Peace,” focused on war as being an outdated concept. The 20th century was a century of war; the Dalai Lama challenges us to make the 21st century that of dialogue (not bloodshed). Repeated throughout his program was this challenge to move from war to dialogue, from anger to compassion and from focusing on differences to expressing warm-heartedness toward fellow humans. Not only does the Dalai Lama challenge the current war climate, he provides a map for us all to participate in change. This is probably the most important aspect of the difference the Dalai Lama is making to those who listen. It is one thing to declare what is wrong with the world but it is another to offer suggestions on how to make improvements.

The Dalai Lama challenged the students who will lead the future generations by suggesting they cultivate compassion. Also, pleading to professors to show their students warm-heartedness so that those students can then show warm-heartedness to the world they eventually lead.

In keeping with the fundamentals of Buddhist teaching, all humankind is connected. As the 14th Dalai Lama discussed, there can be no winners or losers in war because all people are connected; we are all members of the human race, what we do to one person is the same as doing that to ourselves. Buddhism teaches the connectivity of all living things and the responsibility that comes with how we all affect the world around us.

A surprise for me as a new mom was the Dalai Lama’s advice to mothers: Teach your baby about compassion. Consistently give affection and understanding: seeds that grow compassion in your child. It’s good to know that one of the most important behaviors I can teach my child is showing compassion to others.

Here is the Dalai Lama’s charge to us: Now is the time teachers show warm-heartedness to their students, mothers show compassion to their babies and all of us remember the ideology of secular ethics. These elements will work together to make this world a better place, a peaceful one where we can all live together with respect for our own lives as well as those around us. For me, this was why I bought a ticket to hear the 14th Dalai Lama, to be moved to make a change, to have a deeper understanding of the part I have to play in the human race and personal challenges to live up to the hopes and dreams that the Dalai Lama has for humankind.




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