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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Morales questions Dalai Lama about science and religion

September 24, 2010

UUA president part of a discussion with Dalai Lama at IARF Congress in India.
Jane Greer
September 21, 2010

The Dalai Lama responds to a question posed by
UUA President Peter Morales at the 33rd World
Congress of the International Association for
Religious Freedom, held in Kochi, India, Sept. 4–7, 2010. (Eric Cherry)

International Association for Religious Freedom.
International organization working for freedom of
religion and belief. (

The IARF World Congress. Post by Eric Cherry, on
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UUA President Peter Morales had an opportunity to
speak with the Dalai Lama at the 33rd World
Congress of the International Association for
Religious Freedom (IARF) held in Kochi, India,
Sept. 4–7, 2010. Morales was one of only a
handful of religious leaders picked to ask the
Dalai Lama a question at an informal
question-and-answer session held after the Dalai
Lama’s keynote address to the congress.

The biennial congress drew more than 600 people
representing nearly 30 member groups, according
to the Rev. Eric Cherry, head of the UUA’s Office
of International Resources, who also attended the
conference. Around 200 of those attending were
youth and young adults, he said. The American
Unitarian Association, a forerunner of the UUA,
was one of IARF’s founding members. The UUA is still a member organization.

During his keynote address, the Dalai Lama, who
is the leader of the Tibetan Buddhists, spoke
about the relationship between science and
religion and said that if science conflicts with
religion, religion will have to change. Morales
followed up with a question on the same subject
during the question-and-answer session.

"He takes a very modern position about the
teachings we receive from our religious
traditions that conflict with science,” Morales
said. “We’re supposed to be aware and learning
and open to new things. That’s very much a part of his version of Buddhism."

Cherry said that it appeared that the Dalai Lama
was enjoying himself during the
question-and-answer session, asking people not to
leave after tea was served and the moderator
prepared to end the discussion. "He was not at
all formal," Cherry said. "He came across as a
humble Buddhist monk -- very wise and learned and deeply experienced."

Morales’s short visit to India to attend the IARF
congress came after a weeklong visit to the
Philippines. (See UU World’s coverage of that
visit here.) He will be returning to India at the
end of February 2011, when he will meet with
partners of the UU Holdeen India Program and
Unitarians from congregations in the Khasi Hills of northeastern India.

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