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Sponsor for visit offers welcome opportunity to share His Holiness's teachings

Barbara 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 all.”

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 others.”

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 heart.

“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.

N.B. 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 email vontrappj@wcsu.edu.

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.

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