HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA
A Rare Spiritual Light, Teacher, and Humanitarian of Our Times
Nearly a thousand people – religious, civic, and
community leaders, dignitaries, students, and Tibetan Monks warmly
and enthusiastically welcomed His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama
of Tibet at a colorful and moving Inter-Faith Prayer Service in
“Commemoration of the visit of His Holiness to Bloomington,
Indiana.” Some of the guests at the Prayer Service
had travelled long distances to attend the Prayer Service and
see His Holiness. Others were there to attend special Teachings
by His holiness at Indiana University or participate in other
functions organized around the 6-day visit His Holiness to Indiana.
This was The Dalai Lama’s fifth visit to Indiana over the
past 20 years.
At the Inter-faith Prayer service leaders and representatives
of many faith traditions – Christian, Catholic, Jewish,
Muslim, Hindu, Baha’i, Unitarian Universalist, American
Indian, and Sikh offered in their traditional styles prayers,
chants, sacred songs, and messages of harmony and unity. Indiana
Governor Mitch Daniels issued a special Proclamation for the occasion
and declared October 23, 2007 as “A Day of Peace.”
A wonderfully-assembled Choir offered rich and spirited renditions
of sacred and special musical compositions in English and Tibetan,
in vocals and with a variety of musical instruments. The beautiful
and memorable Inter-Faith Prayer Service at the St. Paul’s
Catholic Center in Bloomington was organized and directed by Brother
Benedict, O.P., and assisted by Gyatso Arjia Rinpoche, Director
of The Tibetan-Mongolian Cultural Center, and members of Inter-Faith
Prayer Service Planning Committee.
His Holiness attended and participated in the Inter-Faith Prayer
Service. He blessed several of the Prayer Service presenters with
sacred traditional Tibetan silk scarves. During his brief remarks,
His Holiness offered his message of peace and compassion, forgiveness
and tolerance. His Holiness exuded incredible reverence for all
faiths, advocated respect for our own embraced spiritual traditions,
and added, “All religions use different methods and different
ways of approach. But they have the same end.” It was a
truly moving experience to be in the presence of His Holiness
and receive his blessing.
A specially designed colorful Mandala created by Gyatso Arjia
Rinpoche and the Tibetan Monks proclaimed a spirit and passion
for Peace and Unity of all faiths and the sanctity of our shared
planet Earth. The beautiful sand Mandala, with a ring of interlocking
hearts and religious symbols of each faith and the word ‘peace’
in different language scripts was installed in the Lobby of St.
Paul’s Catholic Center for everyone to see as a reminder
and representation as our universal hopes and prayer, our interconnectedness
and collective spiritual heritage. The Mandala, an unmistakable
icon of unity, invited us to honor our many diverse faiths, cultures,
and traditions as a source of inspirations and blessings.
His Holiness arrived in Indiana after receiving the Congressional
Gold Medal at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on October 17, 2007.
His schedule in Indiana included public talks at Indiana University
and Purdue University, three days of Teachings at the I.U. Auditorium
in Bloomington to thousands of followers of Tibetan Buddhism and
other faithful and interested students, and attending several
private events with major sponsors and supporters of the Tibetan-Mongolian
Cultural Center in Bloomington. His Holiness inaugurated the newly
designed entrances to the Tibetan-Mongolian Cultural Center.
His Holiness, venerated as the god-king by the Tibetan Buddhists,
has resided in India since 1959 when he fled his country following
the Chinese occupation of Tibet.
Kanwal Prakash “KP” Singh
Indianapolis, Indiana USA