Posts Tagged ‘Dalai Lama’

Office for Religious Life apologizes for MemChu acoustics

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

I’m not sure exactly who received it, but I just received an email from Scotty McLennan, Dean of Religious Life from the Office for Religious Life. Here’s the body of it for anyone who didn’t get it:

The Office for Religious Life apologizes for the poor acoustics that we know affected many people’s experience of the Dalai Lama’s Rathbun Lecture in Memorial Church last Thursday, October 14, 2010. Our intention to debut a new state-of-the-art sound system did not yield the results we desired. To this end, we wanted each of you to know that the fully intelligible video is now available on-line at: The video will also be available to view and download at Stanford on iTunes U ; and the Stanford Channel on YouTube within the next week. While this is the current consolation we can offer, we are also producing DVD’s to be available to all registered ticket recipients within the next few weeks. When they are ready for pick-up, we will e-mail you again with detailed instructions.

Thank you for joining us at “Harry’s Last Lecture on a Meaningful Life” last week. We hope to see you at a future program, at which time we expect to have greatly improved acoustics.

For those of you who weren’t there, the acoustics were pretty awful. Were you sitting in the back of MemChu, you could really only hear the echoing of sounds from the front. Everyone was sitting there, giving each other sidelong glances and trying to stay perfectly still as even someone scratching their brow felt so amplified. Talking to a few people afterwards, they had the same thought that the Dalai Lama wasn’t even speaking English because it was so incomprehensible. Maybe 10 minutes into the Dalai Lama’s short planned remarks, something kicked in to make the rest of it better, but even so, it was a little tricky to hear. That I appreciated.

Unfortunately, I’m also going to whine and say it was a little too late. As I just said, the Dalai Lama had few prepared remarks, and the part I could hear wasn’t very meaningful because I had no context for it. I was told that this would be one of the most meaningful things I would ever hear, yet the only thing I remember is that he was talking about compassion in a good way. And he was clearly the inspiration for Yoda.

Given that, I’m glad the apology was sent out, and I’m satisfied with it. Watching the recording isn’t quite the same, but knowing I was there to have the remarks directed to me and getting the content later is good enough. It’s too bad that this was the event that they discovered this problem at, but I’m glad they apologized.

Dalai Lama Sand Mandala in Arrillaga (say that five times fast!)

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Tibetan monks work steadily at their sacred art

Five Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in south India are creating a beautiful table-sized sand mandala in the lobby of the Arrillaga Alumni Center.  This mandala-in-progress, which began construction on Thursday, is being created to honor the current visit of the Dalai Lama.  Anyone and everyone is welcome to watch the masterpiece in action today through 5 p.m., Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Tuesday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m. to noon.

The creation of a sand mandala is a meditative process for those involved

I stopped by this afternoon to check out the meditative artwork, and it’s definitely well worth the visit.  “Mandala” is a Sanskrit word meaning cosmogram or “world in harmony.”  According to UNI, Buddhist sand mandalas are “sacred designs created by hand using compasses and chalk lines, which are filled in, grain by grain, with colored sand.”  Accordingly, mandalas had been a closely guarded secret visible for centuries only in Buddhist monasteries to those who had completed a twelve day initiation ritual.  Fortunately for us, in recent years, monasteries and other groups have made mandalas more accessible to the general public.  Mandalas are intended as vehicles to generate compassion, to remind us of the impermanence of reality, and to create a social and cosmic healing of the environment.


What is CCARE???

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

CCAREI was also among the crowd that gathered at Maples Pavilion this morning to hear the Dalai Lama speak about “The Centrality of Compassion and Human Life in Society”. It was mentioned that His Holiness had previously donated to Stanford’s “Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education” (CCARE) . His generous donation ($150,000 generated from book sales) was one of the largest he’s ever made to a non-Tibetan cause. Dr. James Doty, director of CCARE, comically told the audience that his first thought at the time was “Who am I to take the Dalai Lama’s money?”.

Not knowing anything about CCARE, I was curious about that same thing. (more…)

I say “Dalai,” You say “Lama”

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

I’ll be the first to admit that I am woefully ignorant when it comes to the Dalai Lama (although less full of woe thanks to Kristi’s great background post on His Holiness), but I was still jittery with excitement as I flocked to Maples Pavilion this morning with hoards of students and visitors.  I was eager to hear the man himself speak, and in my opinion, he did not disappoint.  After a brief introduction by President Hennessy, the Dalai Lama began to address the packed arena (but not without a bit of jovial debate beforehand about whether he should sit or stand while speaking.  For those of you salivating to know, he did, in fact, stand)

Although flanked by his long-time interpreter, His Holiness spoke to the crowd in English in a low, raspy voice.  During his lecture – entitled “The Centrality of Compassion in Human Life and Society” – His Holiness discussed both the religious and secular justifications for compassion in life.  He argued that regardless of faith, there are numerous reasons to engage in compassionate behavior (my favorite being low blood pressure).  The Dalai Lama stressed that in order to achieve happiness for ourselves, we must incorporate not only compassion, but also trust, into our lives.   The argument was simple, but the message powerful.  In our wildly complicated world, the Dalai Lama can serve as a reminder that sometimes the path can be clear and simple – even if following it isn’t always the easiest thing to do.

While I could go into more detail about the specifics of what was said during the lecture, I’m sure a script will soon be available online for the interested, so I’ll defer.  His Holiness’ talk was followed by a question-and-answer session led by James R. Doty, Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research (CCARE), which hosted the event along with the Stanford School of Medicine and the Office for Religious Life.   Questions were submitted by attendees prior to the event, and included topics such as “Does scientific research on human qualities such as compassion reduce human morality to mere chemical reactions?”  To which the Dalai Lama replied that the mind, at least at the moment, appears to be a far more complicated thing than simply the combination of physical occurences.  How else, he pointed out, could different emotions – happiness, laughter, sadness – result in the same physical reaction of tears?

Although many interesting things were said during the talk, the most striking part of the experience from my perspective was His Holiness’ absolute lack of pretense.  I find it amazing that as renowned and revered a man though he his, his demeanor is completely free of pomp or stiffness – his shoulder sans chip, you could say.  Even from my seat way in the upper deck, I could easily feel his famed humility and good humor.  From unabashedly asking to be reminded the title of his talk to happily recounting anecdotes about his childhood, the Dalai Lama managed to set a informal tone without compromising the sincerity of his message.  His entire attitude was that of someone who doesn’t take himself overly seriously – a true anomaly at a place like Stanford, where taking ourselves seriously just might be a prereq for admission.

Crash Course: the Dalai Lama

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

So we all know that the Dalai Lama is a really big deal.  But do most of us know exactly why?  Probably not.  Have no fear; here’s a primer on everything you need to know tomorrow to understand and appreciate the importance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

What’s in a name?

The literal derivation of the phrase “Dalai Lama” comes from a combination of the Mongolian word Далай “Dalai” meaning “ocean” and the Tibetan word བླ་མ “Blama” (the b is silent) meaning “chief” or “high priest.”

The meaning behind the name is more complex.  The Dalai Lama is the head Buddhist leader of the religious officials of the “Yellow Hat” branch of Tibetan Buddhism.  He is believed to be the rebirth of a long line of tulkus – high-ranking lamas, or spiritual teachers on Dharma (duty) – descending from Avalokitesvara, “the Lord who looks down” and the embodiment of the compassion of all of the Buddhas.

Becoming the highest lama:

The current Dalai Lama was born Lhamo Thondup on July 5, 1935 to a poor farming family in Tibet.   He was barely three years old when a search party sent out by the Tibetan government to find the new incarnation of the Dalai Lama arrived and swept the young boy off to Kumbum monastery where his training would begin.  He began his monastic education at the age of six, when he began studies in logic, Tibetan art and culture, Sanskrit, medicine, Buddhist philosophy, poetry, music and drama, astrology, motre and phrasing, and synonyms.