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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Dalai Lama Scholars To Speak for Hope, Peace

April 16, 2009

By Sara-Fay Katz / Staff Writer
Daily Nexus (University of California)
Issue 105 / Volume 89
April 15, 2009

Robert Thurman, a Colombia University Buddhist
scholar, will be speaking tonight.

As UCSB counts down to the Dalai Lama’s visit,
two scholars will pave the way for his arrival as
they unpack the global icon’s political and
religious philosophies tonight in Campbell Hall.

The event, entitled "Why the Dalai Lama Matters,"
will feature author Pico Iyer and Buddhist
academic and political activist Robert Thurman’s
thoughts on the life and nonviolent policies of
the Dalai Lama. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. event
are available through Arts & Lectures - admission
is $10 for UCSB students and $20 for the general public.

Iyer is a well-known scholar of Asia and Buddhism
and is the author of several books including The
Global Soul and The Open Road. He is also a part-time Santa Barbara resident.

Thurman, the Jey Tsong Khapa professor of
Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Dept. of
Religion at Columbia University, said the Dalai
Lama matters for people around the world because he serves as a symbol of hope.

"I think people rush to see him because he says
the simple things about kindness and love in a
way that rouses people from their cynicisms,”
Thurman said. “People are panicked about having
nothing to look forward to but a collapsing
climate, a casual employer with no pension and
fighting for a hopeless oil war, so it’s easy to
feel despaired. Something about his cheerful,
friendly persona makes him very good at
rekindling hope, and Obama does that too. The
Dalai Lama cheers people up - he’s like Prozac.”

Thurman said his presentation will focus on the
Dalai Lama’s agenda for political and
environmental relations between China and Tibet,
noting that nearly four billion Chinese citizens
receive their water from Tibetan glaciers.

"The presentation has three sections. In the
first, we will discuss who is the Dalai Lama and
how has he come to be the most-respected leader
on the planet,” Thurman said. “Second is what he
has said in his speeches and his nonviolent
efforts to settle with the Chinese. Then, third,
is how easy it will be for China to adapt to his
ideas while they’re in their rut."

Furthermore, Thurman said he will discuss how
militarism paralyzes humane activism and
individual agency, rendering the world’s contemporary crises unsolvable.

"The reason the Dalai Lama is so important to the
world is because the greatest problem making us
unable to face planet change and economic
turbulence is military force,” Thurman said.
“Twenty-first century war is obsolete and we need
to resolve problems in a nonviolent way. So, the
Dalai Lama represents the people actually
standing up and saying you can’t really win wars
with weapons anymore because civilians will always want revenge."

Thurman said nonviolent, positive activism is the
key to peace between and within the world’s nations.

"Nowadays, the most realistic people are actually
the idealistic people who want fair treatment and
sanity and free media,” Thurman said. “We need a
kind of activism where people don’t just hate bad
guys. We need a cool revolution of cool heroes
who are happy, but resist causes of violence by democratic means."

Although Thurman said that he is not strictly
religious, he considers himself Buddhist by education and moral practice.

"I’m a pretty lazy Buddhist," Thurman said. "I’m
a Buddhist scholar and I’ve tried to practice for
40 years now, but I’m a regular person with a
family who has an occasional glass of wine or
beer. I’m not really very holy, but I will always
find it important to be less selfish, more compassionate and more ethical."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama will come to UCSB for
a two-part lecture on Friday, April 24 from 9:30
a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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