CAS's precious, holy Root Teachers
The 100th Ganden Trisur and the Sakya Trizin
Official Head Emeritus of the Gelugpa Lineage & Supreme Head of the Sakya Lineage
* Taken at Dharamsala on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the assumption of secular leadership of HH the Dalai Lama.
"A Buddhist Woodstock"
Dalai Lama marks terror anniversary
By John Miller
September 17, 2005
SUN VALLEY, Idaho -- It was a Buddhist Woodstock. More than 15,000 people,
including business leaders, congressmen, former ambassadors and just plain
folks gathered in this mountain resort to listen to the Dalai Lama this week
during a series of speaking engagements commemorating the fourth anniversary
of the September 11 terror attacks.
Celebrities came on million-dollar jets. Schoolchildren came by the busload.
On a high school football field where public events were held, Tibetan and
Nepalese immigrants prostrated themselves on the grass to the man they
consider the 14th reincarnation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, next to
Idaho natives just curious to hear what the winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace
Prize had to say.
From the time Buddhism was formally introduced to the United States at the
World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893, this 2,500-year-old
religion from the Indian subcontinent has been on the march in America. The
nation has an estimated 2.9 million Buddhists.
No man has been more important to this than the Dalai Lama, who since his
1959 exile from Chinese-occupied Tibet has transformed the perception of
Buddhism from an austere Eastern religion into what many see as an antidote
to 21st-century angst.
"He's shifted the focus, from Tibet, in particular, to worldwide secular
issues such as peace and harmony and reconciliation," said Hiroshi Obayashi,
chairman of the religious studies department at Rutgers University in New
Jersey, where the Dalai Lama is scheduled to speak Sept. 25. "He made
worldwide travels, bringing this message. That's attracted sympathy and
interest, particularly from the United States. Out of sympathy, gradually,
it developed into a cultlike curiosity."
Unlike Western religions, Buddhism doesn't have a monotheistic deity. Its
adherents believe there's no such thing as a permanent identity; instead,
the human personality and all of reality are constantly changing.
"Your friend, your enemy, your neutral -- all are equal," the Dalai Lama
said Monday morning to a private audience including U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott,
Washington Democrat, Alan Blinken, the former U.S. ambassador to Belgium,
and motivational speaker Tony Robbins. "Genuine compassion is unbiased."
Sun Valley -- birthplace of the Western ski resort in 1936, land of author
Ernest Hemingway and actor Gary Cooper, vacation getaway to California Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger -- is a long way from the Nepalese mountains where the
man known as the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, was born a prince around 500
B.C. He eventually gave up his wealth amid a search for a means to end
life's universal suffering.
Still, Kiril Sokoloff, the financial adviser and Buddhist who spent $1
million to lure the Dalai Lama here for five days, said the valley's
elevation at 5,800 feet above sea level was the perfect platform to
disseminate positive spiritual energy.
"There are a million people you want to bring happiness to," Mr. Sokoloff
said of the event. "The Dalai Lama's way to find happiness is to control
your mind and not allow negative thoughts to come in."
His appearance also created its own atmosphere. In addition to famous,
devout and curious visitors, a specialized marketplace developed.
"Buddha's been booming today," said Drew McDaniel, a Boise importer who sold
more than $12,000 worth of Asian statuary off the back of a flatbed trailer.
"I'm practicing my compassionate capitalism."
There were Roman Catholics, Protestants and atheists in the crowd this week,
each of whom was given a "khata," or traditional Tibetan shawl, on their way
into the Wood River High School football stadium. Volunteers wore T-shirts
bearing the image of the Dalai Lama. Mary Gin Barron, a teacher from Hailey,
hoped to incorporate his message of compassion into a lesson for her fifth
However, some in Idaho protested Republican Gov. Dirk Kempthorne's advocacy
of the Sun Valley event, saying church and state should be separate.
Above it all, the spiritual leader to the world's 20 million Tibetan
Buddhists remains a figure whose message of nonviolence, reconciliation and
moderation appears to reach beyond traditional sectarian frontiers -- much
the same as the late Pope John Paul II, the Polish Catholic leader who died
"They straddle two worlds. Pope John Paul II often traveled around the
world, urging ends to conflicts, or speaking on other topics that were
ostensibly secular. So does the Dalai Lama," said Rob Boston, a spokesman
for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which opposes
government promotion of events linked to religious leaders -- but generally
lays off criticizing appearances of the Dalai Lama.
"Certainly there are a lot of people who are interested in the Dalai Lama's
message who aren't Buddhists," Mr. Boston said.
Spiritual leaders gather to meet Dalai Lama --
Religious appreciation rule of theological discussion
by MATT FURBER
Idaho Mountain Express and Guide
Friday, September 16, 2005
Humble but jovial, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama passed into the tent
Wednesday morning for an interfaith meeting where he had previously
counseled business leaders at the home of Kiril Sokoloff, north of Ketchum.
The gathering of local, regional and international religious leaders capped
four unique days in the Wood River Valley with the Tibetan spiritual leader
promoting a message of compassion, who was hosted by Sokoloff, a prominent
financial investment strategist.
Those who gathered Wednesday to meet the Dalai Lama hushed in reverence and
bowed their heads to the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has charmed and
lightened the hearts of thousands here this week.
"Dear spiritual brothers and sisters, this beautiful morning I think
everyone very fresh-outside very fresh. Right time to think about our deeper
selves," the Dalai Lama said following introductions from the Rev. Brian
Baker from St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Ketchum, who moderated the
interfaith discussion. Also greeting the Dalai Lama were Idaho Gov. Dirk
Kempthorne, author Karen Armstrong and Sokoloff.
The Dalai Lama explained that in his view, affection for others begins at
birth, a key factor for survival, happiness and satisfaction. "(Compassion)
I believe is one of the most important human qualities that come by nature."
Following a broad message on Sunday of compassion addressed to 10,000 people
at the Wood River High School football stadium in the wake of Hurricane
Katrina, the fourth anniversary of 9/11, Wednesday's discussion was focused
on the ecumenical subject of universal compassion regardless of faith.
Speaking to the gathering of leaders from a broad range of theological
backgrounds, the Dalai Lama said in his view all religions carry the same
message and all traditions have the same potential to spread love and
"That is my belief," he said.
Leading the event, Baker introduced author and Nez Perce elder Horace
Axtell, who sang a morning prayer in his native tongue together with two
women. Axtell, of the Nim¡§aipuu Longhouse in Lapwai, Idaho, said his people
used to sing the song at sunrise asking for direction for a new day.
"We don't call it a religion. We call it a way of life," he said sharing
words in his language of Numipu or Nez Perce. "We are very honored to be
"I believe this is holy ground," Baker said, thanking Axtell, Kempthorne and
others who made the event possible.
Kempthorne for his part deflected criticism of his interest in the Dalai
Lama's visit both from the government of China and from constituents who
view his meetings with the Dalai Lama as crossing the traditional barrier
between church and state. He said he believes in prayer and that he prayed
to his God before meeting with the Dalai Lama, "not that I'd have a shield
up, but that I would be able to communicate."
"As a lay person I recognize that this doesn't happen enough," he said,
explaining that the interfaith meeting with the Dalai Lama in his view is a
"gathering of people to listen to some wonderful words."
The Dalai Lama said often on Wednesday that communication is an answer to
peace in the world, words that were reiterated by Armstrong, who also was
invited to speak to the morning's theme of unity and compassion. As a former
Roman Catholic nun, who has immersed herself in the scholarship of other
religions, she has written the book "Buddha" and others, including one
titled "A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and
Islam" and another titled "Islam, A Short History."
"The Dalai Lama has seemed to me as an icon of compassion," she said as part
of her introduction, which mirrored the Dalai Lama's own words that
religions must lay aside their differences to embrace together the Golden
Introducing Sokoloff who in turn introduced the Dalai Lama, Baker brought an
initial levity to the morning.
"As a leader of a congregation I yearn for people who put their faith in
action. Some people go overboard," he said, indicating to Sokoloff that it
was his turn to speak.
As Sokoloff took the podium and related a passage from "Birdsong: A Novel of
Love and War" by Sebastian Faulks, the audience experienced perhaps the only
glitch in the four-day event. Sokoloff was relating the story of a young
soldier who at the end of his rope finally embraced his German enemy when
Sokoloff's microphone failed repeatedly.
"I think ... microphone," the Dalai Lama said making a compassionate attempt
to help his friend Sokoloff, who likes to use his hands when he speaks. He
was assisted also by the Dalai Lama's translator, who held a portable
microphone as Sokoloff finished his introduction, which he ended with a plea
for universal compassion.
The Dalai Lama lectured that despite material advances in modern times,
which he expects will reach the far corners of the world, there is a need
for all spiritual traditions to help strengthen basic human values.
"(What is) important is not religious tradition itself ... (they) all have
same foundation," he said.
Rather, he said, different religious traditions have a common responsibility
to come together. He said it was a good sign that interfaith meetings seem
to be happening more often.
"Very encouraging sign ... very happy to see this participation," he said.
"Once (you) accept all religions be very serious, sincere and practice.
Sometimes in Buddhist (temple) some prayer --outside not much," he said
making humorous faces and pantomiming as a believer who has left the temple
then forgets prayer and greedily snatches at desired material goods. His
description of the problem of maintaining compassion brought great laughter
from the audience. "Once (you) believe, be sincere, serious. Try to
implement ... we really need that."
Developing a spirit of compassion makes it easier to understand other
people, easier to open one's own eyes, he said.
Baker opened the floor to questions from spiritual leaders and Armstrong.
The first question in light of 9/11 and the nation's global war on terrorism
was about "people who want to destroy," and the challenge of simultaneously
protecting liberty and freedom through force if need be and working toward
the noble goal of raising human value.
"I think mischievous people always there," the Dalai Lama said. "Some kind
of perfect world, that is impossible. Accept that reality. (For) those
people who have genuine concern about humanity, make some effort--better
He said if we wait for an ideal situation to engage problems, we will never
begin. Anticipation of the Dalai Lama's advice was audible Wednesday. People
held their breath to hear how he would respond to a question about evil in
the world and how to fight it. Some made sighs of relief at his responses.
"This is true. There will be mischievous people. If (the) majority of
society can rise to the challenge, (it) can be localized," he said.
Responding to a later question of whether the use of force was necessary in
this century, the Dalai Lama referred to violence or the use of force as a
method for dealing with problems. "Motive and goal is more important than
method. Some people have the view method most important."
He said that in theory stopping violence protects those who use violence
from suffering themselves. But, he added, practically speaking everything is
interconnected. There is no "us" and "them." There is "only we-solve
conflict through dialogue."
The audience erupted with applause.
Then, he added that he has no direct responsibility over decisions about
such things as the use of force.
"I can say these things easily," he said, reflecting on what he might do if
such a response was up to him. "Then, I don't know."
On the concept of evil and ill feelings towards others, he described it as
an emotion with no value.
"We cannot call them evil ... next day they may become very compassionate
person," he said, adding that he has always supported Amnesty International
in its opposition to the death penalty. He said he believes that a person
should always be given the opportunity to change.
He said that religions make a distinction between actions and the people who
carry them out. For example, he said, he is totally opposed to Chinese
occupation that has kept him out of Tibet for 46 years, but despite that, it
is still possible to be compassionate toward the Chinese people.
Armstrong asked if violence and use of force damage the spirit.
"Oh, no doubt," he said emphatically, bringing laughter again from the
What followed was discourse on anger, homosexuality, abortion and religious
belief whether monotheistic, non-theistic and atheist.
In general, the Dalai Lama said he supported the teachings of religions for
religious people and individual choice for non-religious people. He added
that even in Buddhism, Buddah created contradictory philosophies.
"With six billion people (we) need this variety of approach," he said.
The Dalai Lama also counseled against generalizing about religions groups,
including Islam--a group Armstrong said is having a very hard time in the
There is bad religion at all times in all religions like bad food and bad
sex, she said. She added that religion in general has done a service in
keeping human values such as compassion at the forefront. It can be a
catalyst for change, but is often swamped by incidental debates over
controversial subjects such as those abortion and homosexuality, perverting
a good thing.
The Dalai Lama recommended patience for Muslims, and related stories about
how cultures ultimately overlap. He spoke of Tibetan Muslims who have
carried Tibetan culture to new lives in India.
"The best culture of Tibet kept by those Muslim(s)," he said. "Basically,
harmony not just smile--from heart.
"That's my view. If you agree, then support. If not agree then not argue
with me," he joked.
Before departing to lead resident and visiting Buddhists and Tibetans in a
ceremony nearby, he counseled people who want to practice Dharma to begin
He concluded that study brings more compassion. Then, through effort one can
change his or her emotions. He said eventually higher levels of
consciousness will come.
"No hurry," he said, blessing and thanking Armstrong with a silk Kata scarf
as he departed. Much of the discussion had involved the Christian, Jewish,
Muslim and Buddhist faiths. Greeting people on the way out, the Dalai Lama
greeted a young man at the back of the tent with a small ponytail and a long
"Hindu," the Dalai Lama said, smiling and clasping the man's hand.
Interest in Dalai Lama shows Buddhism's reach
By JOHN CHADWICK
Thursday, September 22, 2005
When the Dalai Lama delivered his first lecture to an American audience, the
year was 1979, and the place was in northwestern New Jersey, at an obscure
Buddhist teaching center.
"We had maybe several hundred people," said Diana Cutler, who has lived at
the center for decades. "He wasn't famous then."
That has changed.
On Sunday, the 75-year-old leader of Tibetan Buddhism and global human
rights champion will address more than 32,000 people at Rutgers University's
football stadium - one of Rutgers' largest crowds for a guest speaker.
The appearance, during which he will speak on "Peace, War and
Reconciliation," has electrified the university, inspiring a series of
events throughout the semester, including films with Tibetan themes,
lectures on global conflict and exhibits of Asian art.
But the sheer number planning to attend also has served notice of a change
going on outside the campus: Buddhism has entered the mainstream of the
American religious landscape, spreading from remote monasteries and
university lecture halls to suburbs like Ridgewood and Wyckoff.
"People don't find it so weird anymore when you say you're a Buddhist," said
Amy Hertz, the vice president of Morgan Road Books, which last week
published the latest Dalai Lama-penned book, "The Universe in a Single
Hertz said a previous book co-written by the Dalai Lama, "The Art of
Happiness," was so popular that it sold a million U.S. copies in hardcover
and turned up in scenes on "Friends" and "Sex and the City."
"When you see Buddhism popping up on TV, you know it's booming," Hertz said.
Yet a more telling change may be happening off-screen.
In North Jersey, American converts to Buddhism have been organizing their
own distinctive communities, meeting in homes, churches and small halls.
Although these sanghas, or practice communities, are barely a blip on the
radar screen compared with the growth of Muslims or evangelical Christians,
they're drawing a steady supply of people seeking an alternative to
"There isn't a leader telling you what you should feel or believe, and
that's very appealing to many people," said Bernard Spitz, who founded a Zen
Buddhist group in Ridgewood.
Spitz's group, which meets in the local Unitarian church, is small and
informal and focuses mostly on weekly meditation classes that begin with the
sound of a bell.
A Buddhist center in Wyckoff is taking the idea a step further, renting
space in a medical building and offering everything from spiritual drumming
to classes in natural healing to a youth group for Buddhist kids.
"In the 1960s and 1970s, everyone wanted to be a great monk or nun," said
Paul Khan, the spiritual director of the High Mountain Crystal Lake Zen
Community. "But today our people have careers, families and responsibilities
in the community. We want to meet them on the ground."
The number of American Buddhists has been estimated at 2 million, with Asian
immigrants outnumbering converts by a 3-1 ratio.
The religion dates back 2,500 years, to India, where a wealthy young man
left his home to seek an explanation for human suffering. He became the
Buddha, or enlightened one.
Buddhists believe that life is filled with suffering, but that humans can
alleviate suffering by controlling their desires, overcoming ignorance and
leading moral lives. Buddhists meditate to achieve a state of nirvana, or a
cessation of suffering.
"It's really about learning how to let go of our attachment to the self,"
said Joan Hoeberichts, who runs Heart Circle Sangha, a second Buddhist group
in Ridgewood. "When you meditate, your connection to others becomes more
transparent, and suffering is reduced."
Buddhism began making inroads into America through the counterculture of the
1950s and 1960s.
And one key destination for aspiring Buddhists was the Tibetan Buddhist
Learning Center, the remote Warren County site where the Dalai Lama spoke in
1979. The center attracted several generations of young seekers eager to
learn the religion firsthand from Tibetan monks.
"I came here at 22 and never left," said Joshua Cutler, who runs the center
with Diana, his wife. "I had it in the back of my mind that I really wanted
to pursue the teachings. I had no intention to do anything else."
But the Cutlers' current students have different priorities. They're
typically adults trying to manage family and careers. They come every
Sunday, seeking teachings that they can incorporate into their daily lives.
"My typical Sunday consists of church in the morning, and the Buddhist
center in the afternoon," said Betty Levy, a practicing Catholic and a
resident of Whitehouse Station near the Pennsylvania border.
Unlike an earlier generation of aspiring Buddhists, Levy didn't discover the
center while on a spiritual trek. Instead, she met Diana Cutler while both
women were waiting for their cars to be repaired at a local auto dealership.
And after three years of classes, Levy said Buddhism is making her a better
"In the Gospels, Christ is teaching how to live," Levy said. "And Buddhism
helps give me the tools to live like we should - to put others first, to
control anger and to be compassionate."
The Cutlers, now in their late 50s, still embrace a quiet, austere lifestyle
that they learned from their mentor, a Tibetan monk named Geshe Ngawang
But they also said the new wave of students is an encouraging sign that
Buddhism is gaining mainstream acceptance.
"It's gotten to the point where people stop me in the supermarket and ask me
about the Dalai Lama," Diana Cutler said. "They want to know how he's doing
and when he's coming back."