This October, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, will visit the Farm in order to facilitate discussions on compassion and what a meaningful life entails. The Dalai Lama will be promoting the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) within the School of Medicine, the latter acting as his host in conjunction with the Office of Religious Life. This will be the Dalai Lama’s third visit to Stanford since 1994.
On October 14, the Dalai Lama will hold a public speech in Maples Pavilion addressing his teachings on compassion and the relationship these beliefs have with CCARE. Tickets for this event have not yet been made available. Later that afternoon, the Dalai Lama will host a talk in Memorial Church addressing students on what it means to live a meaningful life as part of the Rathbun Visiting Fellow program. The next day will be dedicated entirely to a scholastic conference in Memorial Auditorium focusing on CCARE.
Ticket information for both of these events will be released this summer. In addition to these talks, the Dalai Lama will meet with Stanford’s Ho Center for Buddhism. Though the Dalai Lama intends to spend most of his time on campus, he will also make trips to neighboring venues, including East Palo Alto’s Costano School. Stanford is in the process of developing a website devoted to the Dalai Lama’s visit and hopes to launch it by the end of February.
The Dalai Lama’s enthusiasm for this event is highlighted by his $150,000 donation to CCARE. This donation is the largest sum the Dalai Lama has ever given to a scientific study or center. McLennan attributes this to the Dalai Lama’s belief that technology will be able to transcend cultural and religious differences.
“He thinks science is the way for all 6 billion people on the face of the Earth to become more connected to compassion and altruism,” said McLennan. CCARE hopes to utilize science and technology to understand the dynamics of empathy and the responses people have to the suffering of others. Under the direction of Dr. James Doty, a clinical professor of neurosurgery, the center hopes to study whether a set of mental exercises can be developed that would encourage and teach compassion.
Tenzin Seldon ‘12, regional director for Students for a Free Tibet, expressed great excitement about the Dalai Lama’s visit. “I was extremely excited and in disbelief at first…this figure is not only my spiritual leader but also the primary political figure of Tibet. He is the reason why I was able to have an education in India.”
Seldon does admit that international students and faculty from China may be ambivalent to the Dalai Lama’s message. “When you have a political figure come to any sort of institution, the reaction is going to be political. However, the Dalai Lama transcends political genres because His Holiness represents more than the political situation in Tibet.”
Overall, campus reaction has been extremely positive and supportive of the Dalai Lama’s visit. McLennan described himself as “ecstatic” and thrilled to welcome the Dalai Lama to campus. “The work that Dr. Doty and CCARE are doing is really important and really exciting,” McLennan said.