Action, Compassion and Commemoration: Meeting the Dalai Lama on my path with the Parliament of the World’s Religions
By Dr. Carl Jylland-Halverson
I, along with 6,400 other people attended a talk on compassion at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis. The reason for our attendance was an opportunity to listen to H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama had been scheduled to be a keynote speaker at the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City. He had to abruptly cancel his participation in the PWR on the advice of his physicians. He did graciously film an interview with Imam Malik Mujahid that was presented during the Golden Banquet. This past weekend I attentively listened to his every word as he spoke in person about issues that reflected his message to Imam Malik and the attendees of the Salt Lake City Parliament.
The beginning of the talk seemed very familiar. The hall was full of people representing many different faiths and cultures. Rabbis, priests, monks, Hindus, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and secular Humanists embraced one another. The event started with an international and interfaith drum circle. That was followed by a choir that sang of unity. Finally there were classical Indian Dancers. I felt as if I had attended a smaller version of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.
When the music ended we all joined in 15 minutes of meditations. Then His Holiness stepped onto the stage and we were ready to learn. He spoke of the need to first love one’s self before trying to love others. He spoke of the differences in theologies the commonality of goals, to be thankful, to recognize our unity, to be compassionate, to love one another. The Dalai Lama was clear that to love others does not require religion. He said animals care for their offspring and children learn to love from their mothers before ever understanding religious teachings. The audience took the teachings and the person of H.H. seriously. The Dalai Lama however remained humble, teasing the audience, joking about himself, and sharing a contagious laughter.
Just as when he spoke to Imam Malik for the Parliament, during this event he again pressed for action. Meditation or prayer was important by we humans were blessed with impressive brains and he states the world needs us to use them. Our meditation and prayers need to be followed up with action.
The public talk by the Dalai Lama reminded me of all that I loved about the 2015 Parliament. It reminded me of why I have admired His Holiness since I first watched a video of him at the Field’s Museum of Natural History in the late 1960s.The Dalai Lama’s words, the unity in the hall, and the diverse sights and sounds left me with anticipation for the next Parliament of the World’s Religions.