UNO Readies for the Arrival of His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV
The University of New Orleans readies today for the Saturday arrival on campus of His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV, whose presence has been heralded for weeks by the city.
The arrival of the world faith leader to New Orleans has been compared to the 1987 visit of Pope Paul John II, leading WWNO, the NPR-affiliate housed at the University, and the Catholic archbishop of New Orleans, to note a faith-based fervor and sense of community in New Orleans that has not been paralleled in 25 years.
The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader and head of state of Tibet. Tenzin Gyatso was born on July 6, 1935 to a farming family in northern Tibet and recognized at age two as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso, according to the Dalai Lama's official website. Dalai Lamas are descended from a line of Tibetan Buddhist spiritual teachers called the tulkus and considered manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and patron saint of Tibet. In Tibetan Buddhism, Bodhisattvas are believed to be "enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth in order to serve humanity."
The Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988, has scheduled two public talks while in New Orleans. Today, he delivers a talk, "Strength Through Compassion" at the Ernest V. Morial Convention Center. On Saturday, he will speak at Tulane University's commencement, which is a private event, then head to the University of New Orleans, where he will speak before nearly 10,000 people in a sold-out public talk entitled "Strength Through Connection." In his talk, the Dalai Lama will share his thoughts on "how we as one global society can find strength through connection and forge a pathway to peace and prosperity for all."
"Strength through Connection" begins at 2 p.m. at Lakefront Arena. Tickets to the event are now sold out. The doors at the UNO Lakefront Arena will open at 11 a.m. and close at 1 p.m. Guests will not be permitted to enter once doors are closed.
Decorating New Orleans this week are Tibetan prayer flags, called in Tibetan, lung ta, which means "wind horses," said Ron Marks, the dean of the School of Social Work at Tulane University, in a video released by the Tulane University communications department. The prayer flags are flown "with good intentions," Marks said. The flags welcome the Dalai Lama wherever he goes. The flags have mantras written all over them and Tibetan people believe that when the flags fly in the wind, the wind carries these messages of nonviolence or enlightenment all over the world.
Tibetan monks in New Orleans have also in recent weeks prepared an elaborate and colorful sand mandala at the Ernest V. Morial Convention Center to commemorate his holiness's visit to New Orleans. The 2,500-year-old tradition involves painstaking sand decorations, as well as chanting, rituals, prayers and meditation for compassion and healing.