Castrataro has drawn a wealth of spiritual wisdom, practical lessons
in daily life – even laughter – from the teachings of His Holiness
the Dalai Lama, and she welcomes the opportunity to share that
experience as a sponsor for his October visit to WCSU.
Castrataro, a Chappaqua (N.Y.) attorney and practicing Buddhist
affiliated with the Do Ngak Kunphen Ling (Tibetan Buddhist Center
for Universal Peace) in Redding, has drawn inspiration in her
personal life and professional work from her studies of Buddhism and
the teachings of His Holiness.
“It is always an honor to receive such teachings or talks from His
Holiness the Dalai Lama to further our insight and understanding of
the Dharma,” she said. “With the efforts His Holiness extends to
each of his students, it is a privilege by sponsoring this event to
assist in bringing these precious teachings to everyone, both
Buddhist and non-practitioners, as their message is universal to
Castrataro noted that she has kept a journal over many years of
attending His Holiness’s talks to record his teachings and
anecdotes. “One of the jewels of His Holiness and his teachings is
how exceedingly accessible he makes the subject matter,” she said.
“His analysis and presentation of compassion and the complex
subjects of emptiness and interdependent origination are
effortlessly conveyed. My favorite moments of His Holiness’s
teachings are in his humor – he is incredibly funny.”
The personal journey of His Holiness during his exile since 1959
from his native Tibet enriches his teachings about nonviolence, she
observed. “When he mentions that he has encountered his own
difficulty with anger,” she said, “you realize that, while he has
not specifically referred to the subject, he is speaking about the
Tibetan people’s oppression by the Chinese and how he came to live
in exile. At the same time, he is full of humor and absent of anger.
“These teachings are indeed universal and translate to the daily
life of every person, no matter what your spiritual beliefs or
philosophy may be,” she added. “The very heart of Buddhism is that
we are all connected, and our effort to practice compassion for all
beings is actually a selfish act as it improves our own lives by
promoting the happiness of our neighbors, our colleagues and
An academic setting such as Western offers a most appropriate venue
for His Holiness’s talks, Castrataro noted. “The scientific and
logical aspects of Buddhism are easily translated to the academic
community, and will broaden our lives as we enter those of the
Tibetans,” she said. “In my own work, I have found inspiration in
the manner in which Tibetan Buddhism never accepts a belief system
as valid if it has not sustained debate and full analysis. It is the
marriage of thought, logic and analysis, which I find not only
fascinating but appealing for its validity.”
She urged all who have limited knowledge of Buddhist teachings and
beliefs to receive His Holiness’s words with an open mind and open
“His Holiness encourages those of other beliefs
to remain within their own belief systems, but teaches that the
messages of Buddhism can be applied to all religions,” she remarked.
Barbara Castrataro is one of several generous donors who is helping
to defray the costs of the visit by His Holiness the 14th Dalai
Lama. If you would like to join her and make a tax-deductible
contribution, please contact Jane von Trapp at (203) 837-8419 or
Cover photo: A serene lake setting on
the grounds of the DNKL.
Above photo: A tea was held in President
Schmotter's office with representatives from DNKL.