Trip to see Dalai Lama with classmates is unforgettable

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After attending a special lecture by the Dalai Lama, my understanding of both my Core Tibet course and my spiritual self was brought to a new level.

For many of my Colgate courses I have attended outside readings, viewed art displays, and enjoyed concerts in order to get a deeper understanding of the subject and to go beyond the class syllabus. However, none of these experiences can compare to my visit last week to see the Dalai Lama at Ithaca College.

dalai.jpgBecause Buddhists revere the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the bodhisattva of infinite compassion and as the spiritual and governmental leader of Tibet, a large portion of our reading and discussion in class has been focused on understanding him.

Before entering the gymnasium where he was speaking, I could not imagine this spiritual being as a real person.

Seated on his ornate pedestal surrounded by a dozen Tibetan monks, the Dalai Lama floored both myself and my 22 classmates with his humility and irrepressible joy.

His lecture, in which he spoke for several minutes in Tibetan followed by an English translation, described the basis of Buddhism.

I have never once considered Buddhism as a spiritual choice for myself; however, the atmosphere of the room was so electric and his teaching of Buddhism’s ideals so clear, I left with a refreshed attitude and a new perspective on this world religion.

His Holiness explained the approach to enlightenment through the practice of deep compassion, wisdom, and skill. His teachings urged the rejection of self-cherishing, in order to find release from greed, jealousy, and anger.

These topics, discussed in depth in his book, Ethics for the New Millennium, which we read for Professor Victor Mansfield’s Core Tibet class, were greatly clarified by this lecture.

One of my classmates, Miriam Aziz ’10, said it this way: “After reading his book, listening to him in person made him seem more genuine. You can tell that the book was not written for him — it is the way he thinks.”

The trip to see the Dalai Lama was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, both as a means for improving myself personally and as a way to better understand this important world figure.