Today is an important and historical day for our town. The 14th Dalai Lama arrived in Charlottesville this morning to lead a panel discussion entitled “Compassionate Care in 21st Century Medicine,” and to speak on his recent publication, “Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World.” His engagements are being held downtown at the Paramount Theater and the nTelos Wireless Pavilion, so be aware of possible traffic issues, parking designations, and other logistical information provided by the City of Charlottesville.
The Dalai Lama is a world-renowned name that is generally associated with extreme compassion, but who exactly is the Dalai Lama? What does he do? According to the official website for the Dalai Lamas, these political and spiritual leaders are believed to be Bodhisattvas – enlightened beings who postpone their own Nirvana and choose rebirth in order to serve humanity. Although the role of the Dalai Lama has shifted and developed over hundreds of years (the first Dalai Lama was born in 1391), the current Dalai Lama is recognized as both the head of state and the spiritual leader of Tibet. Tenzin Gyatso was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama at the age of 2 and has committed his life since to three main tenets:
- The promotion of human values such as compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline. He refers to these values as secular ethics as they are equally important to all people, not just the religious.
- The promotion of religious harmony and understanding among the world’s major religious traditions.
- The commitment to the Tibetan Issue. The Dalai Lama will act as the free spokesperson of the Tibetans in their struggle for justice until a mutually beneficial solution is reached between the Tibetans and the Chinese.
All in all, this momentous visit ties in quite well with our City’s 250th anniversary, and in the words of Mayor Huja, “We are honored to have the Dalai Lama as our guest, and we hope to benefit from his wisdom and his concept of compassionate living.”