We have just completed an amazing set of days with the Dalai Lama present here in Atlanta. His reason for being here was to be installed at my alma mater, Emory University, as Distinguised Professor. But either side of the installation were sginificant opportunities for teaching to a wider audience.
On Saturday, the Dalai Lama "chaired" a conference of the Mind Life Institute, this session focusing on the treatment of depression through meditation. There were scientists and physicians present to offer insights and research into the physiological effects of meditation. Our spiritual director at the Loseling Institute offered some timely results from a study of the introduction of "compassion" meditation to Emory students. The conference began at 9:30 and ended at 4...a long but stimulating day.
On Sunday morning, there was a presentation by the Loseling Institute, with chants, highlighted by the Dalai Lama's teaching on an introduction to Buddhism. The event was packed with several thousand people.
Sunday afternoon offered an interfaith dialogue with well-known Jewish, Christian, and Muslim practitioners of contemplative prayer. Most notable was the Dalai Lama's strong admonition of openess and valuing of other's traditions.
The evening was filled with celebratory dinners and festivities.
Monday was the actual installation at the college. The Dalai Lama left the school to go to new facility of Loseling. I feel most fortunate to be at that "blessing" with just a few of the members of Loseling. He was amazingly casual in his conversation with us, displaying his well known sense of humor and self-deprecation. The phrase that resounds in my mind is how many times he said "I'm no expert" and then laughed. A great incarnational lesson.
And finally, on Monday afternoon, Emory offered a public gathering in Centenial Park in downtown Atlanta. Traditional Tibetan music, chants and dance by the Loseling monks, plus a little jazz filled the moments before His Holiness arrived. In spite of threatening weather with a constant mist, the park was packed with a mixed group of folks, a lot of them obvious high school or college kids. John Lewis, the former assistant of MLK Jr. and now congressman from Ga., made a powerful connection with the spiritual lineage of human rights shared by Ghandi, Tutu, Mandela, MLK, and of course HH Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama spoke about the education of the heart and the mind, what the West can learn from the East, and what the East can learn from the West. He spoke of the folly of war and received loud affirmation from the crowd. A question that came from a teenager by email in a local suburb of Atlanta asked what he should say to his friends that tell him that he was going to hell because he was attending this gathering, the Dalai Lama refused to be hooked, and used the question as an occasion to speak to valuing other religious teachings. It was a powerful gathering of the people of Atlanta and left me with some renewed sense of hope about my hometown
I wanted to share this experience with you. Tonight with return to normal with a teaching at our new center. I feel grateful to have had this exposure to the Dalai Lama at this moment in my pilgrimage.
David aka PapaDoc