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Dominicans Hear Teachings of the Dalai Lama

Simon Felix Michalski, OP with
the Dalai Lama
Bloomington, IN -- November 5, 2007 --- His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, was in Bloomington IN from October 23-27. The opening Interfaith Prayer Service was hosted by St. Paul Catholic Center, staffed by Dominican friars of the Central Province. Dominican friars from the Central and Southern Provinces as well as Dominican sisters from three congregations (Adrian, Blauvelt, Racine) participated and afterwards joined the Dalai Lama at lunch along with Tibetan and Mongolian Buddhist monks and nuns and the abbots of Gethsemene and St. Meinrad's.

The Dalai Lama was in Bloomington at the invitation of the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center there. Brother Benedict Baer, OP, of St. Paul's Dominican Community, was on the planning committee for the events.

Don Goergen, OP (St. Albert) said, "The interfaith prayer service was moving, with representatives from all traditions, the music marvelous. The teachings of the Dalai Lama were substantive and required some background in Buddhism. They were given through a translator who was excellent. They made us aware of both the many things we have in common as well as some of the differences."

Goergen said that the Dalai Lama was extremely gracious in reaching out to Christians present."Being accepted so intimately into the circle of Buddhist monks who came from as far as Mongolia for the teachings, and being recipients of their respect, is what remains a permanent impression," he said.

The three days were given over to teachings at Indiana University by His Holiness based on Atisha's Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment. The Dominican sisters and more than a dozen friars remained and attended the teachings. They were also welcomed to sit with the Buddhist monks and nuns. The Dalai Lama emphasized the value of interfaith dialogue, the importance of everyone's being attentive to their own traditions, and then focused on the Buddhist path grounded in morality, meditation, wisdom and compassion.

On Wednesday evening, as part of the program, Brother Scott Steinkerchner, OP, of the Central Province, who teaches at Aquinas Institute, gave a public lecture on Tsongkhapa, founder of the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, the tradition practiced by the Dalai Lama. On the final day His Holiness gave a public lecture on compassion as the source of peace.

Hospitality for the sisters and visiting friars was provided by the St. Paul Community and parish.


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