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February 12, 2011

My Trip To See The Dalai Lama at University of Michigan

Yesterday I made my way to an arena on the University Of Michigan campus to see the Dalai Lama speak. My friends and I weaved our way through the protesters and into the arena. Was it worth pushing my way through crowds and sitting in a muggy arena without air conditioning? Oh yes, my friends, it was worth it.

I wish that we had gone to the sessions on Saturday because that was when the Dalai Lama spoke about Bhuddism, a subject my friends and I are very interested in. The topic on Sunday was Sustainability of the Earth, which was laced with the typically UofM propaganda that is present in everything that the school does. However, when I looked beyond the opportunity that UofM took to tell us all about their stadium that is going to cost a couple of million, the main attraction was well worth the wait.

The Dali Lama came out on the stage, took off his flip flop sandals and sat cross legged in a chair. He had an interpreter who translated words he did not know in English. The messages about sustainability may seem to not really apply to human interaction but it does and the Dalai Lama made the connection beautifully.

I do rather enjoy the cyclic nature that Bhuddism seems to have. The Dalai Lama spoke about six billion lives opposed to one life. He talked about everyone doing a little bit to save the environment and everyone doing a little bit to help with world peace. Then he told us about the concepts that he tries to use in everyday life. He spoke about promoting religion and faith in a non-theistic manner and a theistic way. He also talked about education and how it is so important in both religious and secular endeavors. I think that the connection of education and religion is that point that I enjoyed the most.

I enjoy knowledge and loved the part of Catholic school were we were thought about the bible, the saints and the history of the Catholic church. However, the part that I did not like was the part where I was not expected to interpret what I had been taught. I wanted to think about what I had been taught and reach a verdict on my own. The Dalai Lama stressed education in all arenas of life, including religion.

The concept that all religions have something of use for everyone was another point that I embraced long ago. It was so refreshing to hear such ideas articulated by someone else. While the inclusion or identification of some part of all religions is a pretty basic concept that makes plain sense, it is not one that many people subscribe to. As the Dalai Lama went through different instances where he found himself identifying with other religions, I hoped that the audience was really listening to what he was saying. It is often a challenge for those of us in the States to understand that when a non-Christian is speaking about the good they can see in Christianity, that the reverse is true as well. Those of us born and raised in the mono-theistic religions can too appreciate other faiths.

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