DANBURY, CONN. — Western Connecticut State University, in cooperation with Do Ngak Kunphen Ling (Tibetan Buddhist Center for Universal Peace) in Redding, announced today that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet has accepted an invitation to visit and present talks on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 18 and 19, 2012, at the university.
The announcement by WCSU President James W. Schmotter marked the culmination of a process that began in 2010 with discussions initiated between Do Ngak Kunphen Ling (DNKL) officials and two WCSU faculty members — Dr. John Briggs, professor of writing, linguistics and creative process; and Eric Lewis, professor of music and music education.
The Dalai Lama will speak at public forums to be held from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Oct. 18, and from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 19. Both appearances will be in the Feldman Arena in the O’Neill Center on the WCSU Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension, Danbury. The events will be open to the public, and tickets will go on sale at a future date.
Schmotter joined Lobsang Nyandak, representative of his Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Americas, and Janine Coover, vice president and events coordinator at DNKL, for the contract signing ceremony on Jan. 10 at the Office of Tibet in New York City to confirm arrangements for the visit in October. At the signing, Schmotter welcomed “this auspicious day for Western,” observing that the Dalai Lama’s visit will offer an extraordinary opportunity for the university community and residents in the Danbury area to benefit from this unique learning experience.
“In forging friendships that will bring His Holiness the Dalai Lama to our university, we have made many friends with our new colleagues from DNKL, and from the Office of Tibet,” he said. “We know that His Holiness will become a new friend as well when he comes to see us at the university.
“We have many friends, but we also have enemies — and the one enemy that we struggle against every day is ignorance,” Schmotter said. “As His Holiness has said, where ignorance is the master, there is no possibility of real peace. We hope to learn from him in his teaching to help us in our struggle against ignorance at Western Connecticut State University.”
Representing the DNKL board, Coover expressed gratitude on behalf of the center. “Our purpose is to help others and, in cooperation with WCSU, this historic visit by His Holiness the Dalai Lama will impact our communities and make a difference to create a happier world,” she noted.
DNKL, under the guidance of spiritual director Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Jampa and the spiritual tradition of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, promotes universal peace through Tibetan Buddhist teachings to create enlightened individuals who work to end the suffering of others. DNKL offers classes both online and at the center, and provides training in Buddhist moral discipline, meditative concentration and transformative wisdom.
“We have been working with the university to develop this project for the past year-and-a-half, and we appreciate the university’s help and support in this effort to arrange for His Holiness’s visit to the community,” Coover said. “We at DNKL are very excited about working together with the university for the visit of His Holiness and our future endeavors with WCSU.”
Speaking for the Office of Tibet in New York, Nyandak expressed confidence that the Dalai Lama is looking forward to his visit to WCSU and the Danbury area in the fall.
“His Holiness has become more energized over the years by his passionate commitment to promote the inner human values,” Nyandak remarked. “He especially focuses on the educational institutions throughout the world, and reaches out to young people so that, through education, we can improve the human values in our society, and the world at large can become a better place.
“His Holiness also has a strong commitment to promoting interfaith understanding,” he noted. “His Holiness has made tireless efforts toward this end in reaching out to people of different faiths, and in this way he hopes to contribute to making this a better, more peaceful and compassionate world in the future.”
The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibet and has lived in exile since 1959 in the northern Indian city of Dharamsala, seat of the Tibetan political administration in exile. Born in 1935 to a farming family in northeastern Tibet, he was recognized at the age of three as the 14th Dalai Lama and completed his monastic education in Tibet before going into exile following the 1959 Chinese suppression of a Tibetan uprising. Over more than half a century, the Dalai Lama has visited more than 60 countries on six continents, meeting with political and religious leaders, addressing the United Nations, and delivering teachings and talks at colleges and other public forums worldwide.
In recognition of his commitment to peace and democratization in his native Tibet, the Dalai Lama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. He has received more than 80 awards, doctorates and other international honors citing his work for peace, interfaith understanding, universal compassion and similar causes, and he is the author of more than 70 books.
In August 2011, the Dalai Lama yielded his political role as leader of the Tibetan government in exile, recognizing the installation of Harvard Law School graduate and international legal scholar Lobsang Sangay as kalon tripa (prime minister) of the government. Sangay was elected in an April vote in which tens of thousands of Tibetans in exile participated.
Additional talks and events with themes related to the Dalai Lama’s visit will be scheduled in the greater Danbury area during the year.
For information, contact WCSU Interim Associate Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Director of University Relations Paul Steinmetz at (203) 837-9805.
Following are several useful links for information online:
Western Connecticut State University: www.wcsu.edu.
Do Ngak Kunphen Ling: www.dnkldharma.org.
The Office of Tibet, New York: www.tibetoffice.org.
Official website of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama: www.dalailama.com.
Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.