On Tuesday 5/10, my wife and I made the trek from the DFW area to Fayetteville, AR to see the Dali Lama, a rare and remarkable experience.
Following are photos and descriptions:
(Story and photos copyright by Stephen Levine.. all rights reserved)
I: Morning Session:
The first session, where we sat in the balcony consisted of a roundtable shared between the Dali Lama and two other distinctive individuals: Sister Helen Prejean and Professor Vincent Harding.
The Morning theme was "Turning Swords into Ploughshares: The Many Paths of Nonviolence".
Sister Helen wrote the book "Dead Man Walking" which turned to a movie by the same name. She moved from an upper class neighborhood into the urban slum district of New Orleans and completely gave her life to end the death penalty. Her own life transformend when she met with both the perpretrator and victim's family of a murder and counseled each.
Professor Vincent began his nonviolent participation with the Civil Rights movement in 1957 and worked closely with the Rev. Martin Luther King.
Here is a good screen shot of Professor VIncent Harding as he shared his story as well as humor. I found him to be compelling as well quite humorous during his talk. Among other major accomplishments, he founded the Veterans of Hope Project, which he currently directs. He is a major spokesperson for non-violence.
This quote from Professor Vincent Harding states: "Everywhere in America, there is a deep often unarticulated fear that the voilence of our culture is out of hand and that our children may be among its most vulnerable victims."
II: Afternoon Session and a Miracle:
When we purchased tickets to the Conference back in March, we thought that the tickets covered both sessions. However once in the Stadium, we were told that the tickets only covered the morning session and that the afternoon session was sold out. Needless to say we were both very surprised and rather miffed, since there was no communication of that sort when we ordered the tickets. I talked with the Will Call people and discussed this issue briefly; they told us to come back later.
When we returned after lunch, they handed a pair of tickets to us, saying that they "found a pair for us". On top of that, when we looked at the tickets, we discovered that they were floor tickets.. much better than the general admission tickets that were made available for purchase in the first place. In addition, there was an additional fee for the 2nd session and we got the tickets for free! What a miracle! What joy!
The University of Arkansas has many amazing people working there, and here is one. He is a professor who has devoted his life and his mission to nonviolence. In addition, he started the TEXT program, a wonderful program that trains 15 to 20 students each year to come to India and interview native Tibetans who were exiled from Tibet in 1959 due to the Chineese occupation and genocide. The purpose of this project which stands for "Tibetans in Exile Today" is to listen to the stories of the exiles and log their vivid memories of traditional Tibetan culture for the purpose of forever preserving it.
An additional element of this project is to learn what the Tibetans have to teach us about "the fundamentals of happiness, inner peace and how these qualities when properly nurtured can have a profound impact upon the society that we envision and build.".
Here the Professor is introducing the afternoon session.
Here, the Chancellor of the University introduces His Holiness. One fascinating thing I learned is that it took 2.5 years just to receive a reply from the Dali Lama after they sent an email to him. Then an additional 3 years for him to come and speak.
In 2006, they brought one of the Dali Lama's personal students to the U.of Arkansas, Geshe Dorjee who now teaches there as well as runs a meditation center in Fayetteville.
1) An important distinction between thought, motive and action;
2) Regardless of where individuals stand on issues, we all have one thing in common- everyone seeks happiness;
3) When faced with severe oppression, sometimes we need to make an action, not only for the better of the greater good but also for the betterment of the oppressor to stop them from accumulating further karma;
4) Everyone in all walks of life has problems. That is the nature of life itself. Our goal is to relax and through the power of the human intellect combined with the power of the heart allow them to resolve non-violently;
5) Happiness can be found in the sensations of the outer world, activities, events, etc.. but lasting happiness comes from being happiness from within.
6) In response to the death of Bin Laden, he stated that you can kill a leader but hate remains in the heart of the people. We must strive to address the hate at its source.
He also gave humorous personal stories of holding down the back of a Queen's dress as it blew in the wind during a formal presentation, and the story of how he taught himself to drive and tried to cover up his cracked headlight from his first renegade adventure.
Copyright, Stephen Eric Levine; All Rights Reserved