H.H. the Dalai Lama Begins Teaching At Lehigh University

July 13th 2008

Bethlehem, PA, USA, 11 July 2008 (morning call.com) - Drawing thousands of the curious and the faithful from as far as India, His Holiness the Dalai Lama began his first-ever Lehigh Valley visit Thursday with a call for greater understanding around the world.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama/File Photo

His Holiness arrived at Lehigh University's Stabler Arena in Bethlehem , Pennsylvania for six days of talks on ''The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment", Tsong-kha-pa's masterpiece on the stages of spiritual evolution.

University President Alice P. Gast and other officials welcomed His Holiness the Dalai Lama on his arrival at Stabler arena.

His Holiness appeared on the stage of the 5,100-seat arena, which was about three-quarters full, the crowd stood and welcomed him in reverent silence.

Introducing himself as ''just one human being among 6 billion,'' His Holiness emphasized that his own Tibetan Buddhist teachings aren't the only legitimate spiritual path.

''Listen to these ideas. If you feel something [is] useful, take it!'' His Holiness said. ''If you feel it's nonsense, forget it!'' His Holiness added, laughing along with the crowd.

His Holiness called for greater understanding of the bonds between all people. When facing problems like economic crises and threats to the environment, ''we simply become one community, one entity,'' His Holiness said. ''We all survive under one sun.''

The same is true in religious conflicts, His Holiness said. ''Some innocent, genuine, faithful people sometimes suffer. So therefore, [there is] the effort of promotion of religious harmony -- with mutual respect.''

American Christians and others in this country must be more open to Muslims, His Holiness said. ''Since the Sept. 11 event, [there has been] sometimes some negative sort of impressions, and that's totally wrong.''

Rob Johanson said he drove six hours from Springfield, Mass., to achieve one of his Top 10 lifetime goals: seeing the Dalai Lama. ''I never thought it was an achievable goal,'' he said.

Lehigh's Gast presented His Holiness the Dalai Lama a white scarf, known as a khata, as part of a traditional greeting to a respected teacher. He blessed it by pressing it to his forehead, then placed it on her shoulders.

Gast said she was deeply touched by the gesture. ''It was wonderful,'' she said. ''In person he exudes such warmth and friendliness.''

The Tibetan Buddhist Learning Center of Washington, N.J., is coordinating the lectures on ''The Great Treatise.'' Its leaders completed the first English translation of the work in 2004.

After opening his talk in English, His Holiness the Dalai Lama shifted to Tibetan, delving into the treatise's historical and spiritual significance and going sentence-by-sentence through parts of the text as a scholar translated.

John Acklen of Albuquerque, N.M., said the experience was surreal and overwhelming. ''There's just so much to take in,'' he said. ''It's like drinking from a fire hose.''

In the afternoon of Sunday, 13 July, His Holiness will deliver a public talk entitled, "Generating a Good Heart", at Lehigh University.



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