Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Destiny Date with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

My wife hails from a large family of ten siblings, spanning seventeen years in age difference from the eldest (herself) to the youngest, who was born when I was dating her already. Of the ten, only one has ventured down under, and through the years has ascended the academic ladder, culminating in her appointment as the Head of the School of Law and Justice and Co-Director of the Centre for Peace & Social Justice, Southern Cross University early this year. Professor Bee-Chen Goh has really done her family proud.

The Center for Peace and Social Justice, together with the Office of Regional Engagement, has started a Wisdom series aimed at learning from a diversity of spiritual approaches to living. The inaugural lecture was given by Geshe Ngawang Gedun, Spiritual Director of the Australian Tibetan Buddhist Centre (ATBC) on ‘The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, a two-parter on March 24 and 31.

Then this Friday, the Center is scheduled to kick off the first of the Buddhist Perspectives Series that focuses on Buddhism, technology, media and education. And the speaker will be Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, a Buddhist filmmaker and author.

On the heel of these programs with a strong Buddhist presence, Southern Cross University (SCU) has also awarded His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, an Honorary Doctorate in recognition of his humanitarian work and his advocacy of world peace, in conjunction with the Dalai Lama Australia 2007 tour. The Honorary Doctorate was conferred by the University Chancellor, the Honorable John Dowd AO QC, in Melbourne on June 8. [The above news are all gleaned from the SCU website.]

In this connection, Bee-Chen has been honored with being invited to be on stage with His Holiness, one of four who would be asking question during the ensuing dialogue. After the encounter, Bee Chen called her eldest sister (that’s wify) and gave a first-hand account of her very first meeting with the Dalai Lama: forehead-to-forehead greeting, scarf/shawl giving, not to mention the excitement of seeing/hearing the Dalai Lama speak in person. She was even kept on stage during her turn at the scarf giving ceremony when the Dalai Lama explained the meaning of the gesture.

For the past few days, I’ve been trying to source the Net for any news of this momentous meeting that she was a part of. And that account turned up today, in the form of a video taken with a still camera in YouTube. See for yourself and marvel at how easy going the Dalai Lama is. The image below is captured from the above video display.

His Holiness explaining the origin of the scarf giving gesture, an Indian tradition, but acknowledging that the material has come from China.

It's heartening to know that another academic institution is working towards establishing a Buddhist program. And to know that Bee-Chen has played a part in that development really warms our heart. Amitofo.

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