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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Why Does the Dalai Lama Matter?

April 19, 2009

Robert Thurman and Pico Iyer in Conversation, Wednesday, April 15
By Elizabeth Schwyzer
The Santa Barbara Independent
April 17, 2009

His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet is coming to Santa
Barbara on April 24th for two sold-out talks. On Wednesday night,
April 15, in advance of this historic event, Buddhist scholar Dr.
Robert Thurman spoke at UCSB's Campbell Hall in conversation with
Pico Iyer. The topic of their discussion, and the name of Dr.
Thurman's latest book, was Why the Dalai Lama Matters: His Act of
Truth as the Solution for China, Tibet, and the World.

Thurman teaches at Columbia, and is one of the foremost scholars of
Tibetan Buddhism in the world. He was the first westerner ordained as
a Buddhist monk by His Holiness, and was his translator before
leaving the monastery for America.

Thurman was instrumental in raising awareness and funds for UCSB's
endowed chair in Tibetan Studies, only one of two in the nation. He
worked to have the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Dalai Lama, and
has written, translated, studied, and taught as much Tibetan Buddhism
as any scholar alive.

He's also an over-the-top, unapologetic fan of the Dalai Lama.

"How could you not love him?" Thurman implored his audience, pointing
to a photograph of His Holiness. Iyer told a story of the Dalai Lama
spending the day at a school in an unknown corner of Japan rather
than meeting with dignitaries or the media. When the Dalai Lama later
spoke to a crowd of thousands, his talk was filled with references to
what he had just heard and learned from a young schoolgirl.
The Dalai Lama

     * When: Friday, April 24, 2009, 2 p.m.
     * Where: UCSB Events Ctr., Ocean Rd. and El Colegio Rd., UCSB Campus, CA
     * Cost: $40 - $188
     * Age limit: Not available

Full event details

"A Buddha," Thurman explained, "is a being who considers other beings
equal to themselves. A Buddha experiences the experiences of others
as if they are his or her own. It's like how a mother identifies with
her child and knows almost from the inside what her child is feeling.
A Buddha does that with everybody -- the poor guy!"

"The Dalai Lama doesn't think in terms of self and other," Iyer
added. "He never sees the world as us against them, only as us."

Iyer has known His Holiness for forty years. He shared a story about
when the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. "The
day after he received the prize he called me. 'I've won all this
money,' he said. 'What should I do with it?' In the end, he gave the
money away, to help Mother Theresa, Africa, the Costa Rican Peace
Institute, the Foundation for Universal Responsibility, and a school
for lepers.

This is why Thurman knows, and much of the world knows, that the
Dalai Lama matters. There's something true and profound going on
here: a lesson for the world, and an example of what is possible.
There is a right and noble way to live not based on dogma and belief,
but on wisdom, insight and love.

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