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The Dalai Lama at the Jaipur Literature Festival

Posted on by Victor Chan

Arriving at the Rambagh Palace

Chatting with Pico Iyer before the event

Press conference at the Jaipur Lit Fest, Diggi Palace

Signing the Wisdom of Compassion by the Dalai Lama and Victor Chan

Saying goodbye to the hotel staff at Rambagh Palace

Leaving Jaipur from the Rambagh Palace

Jaipur Literature Festival (jaipurliteraturefestival.org) Jan 24-28, 2013

Posted on by Victor Chan

Sessions involving the Dalai Lama, Pico Iyer, Victor Chan and other writers in the Buddhist tradition

1. Kinships of Faiths: Finding the Middle Way

The Dalai Lama in conversation with Pico Iyer

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, world-renowned spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, honours the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival with his presence. Winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, he will engage in an insightful and intimate conversation with writer Pico Iyer.

2. Journeys of the Mind [Readings]

Victor Chan and Kunzang Choden, introduced by Swati Chopra

Victor Chan, co-author of The Wisdom of Compassion with the Dalai Lama, shares behind the scenes stories of compassion and provides insights on meditative practice and the importance of humour, optimism and forgiveness.

Kunzang Choden, internationally renowned Bhutanese writer, reads from her books and brings alive the sights and sounds of her mountainous homeland.

3. If You Meet the Buddha on the Road

Karma Ura, Siddiq Wahid, Victor Chan and Ranjini Obeyesekere in conversation with Nayanjot Lahiri

Karma Ura, Siddiq Wahid, Victor Chan and Ranjini Obeyesekere in conversation with Nayanjot Lahiri will bring their varied experiences and encounters with Buddhism to this insightful exploration of the many paths of the Buddha’s dharma.

4. Women on the Path

Ranjini Obeyesekere, Kunzang Choden and Ani Choying in conversation with Swati Chopra

The female sangha is an ancient tradition in Buddhism. Yet, women’s spirituality within Buddhist theology is marked by deeply ambivalent and sometimes misogynisticattitudes that are being questioned and challenged by new interpretations and understanding. Ranjini Obeyesekere, Kunzang Choden, Ani Choying and Swati Chopra discuss the issues that face women on the spiritual path.

5. The Buddha in Literature

Chandrahas Choudhury, Nadeem Aslam and Ranjini Obeyesekere, introduced by Namita Gokhale

Author and critic Chandrahas Choudhury leads us through an impressionistic medley of writings interpreting the Buddha in literature, with readings by Nadeem Aslam and Ranjini Obeyesekere.

6. The Aesthetics of Impermanence

Benoy Behl introduced by Sujata Chatterji

Photographer, filmmaker and cultural historian Benoy Behl explores the ethical and aesthetic underpinnings of Buddhist art and spiritual practice. In an illustrated talk that spans millennia, he examines Buddhist creative legacy as a celebration of flux and an interrogation of the ephemeral. Introduced by Sujata Chatterji.

7. Jataka Readings

Gagan Gill and Ranjini Obeyesekere, introduced by R. Sivapriya

Acclaimed Hindi poet Gagan Gill speaks of her experiences of carrying 'a buddhist heart in the world' and reads from poems invoking mystical and mundane encounters including some from her collection of poetry, 'Andhere Mein Buddha' (Buddha in the Darkness). Ranjini Obeyesekere reads and discusses her books and the Buddhist themes that illuminate them. The session will be introduced by R. Sivapriya.

Huffington Post: God is not a Christian

Posted on by Victor Chan

Huffington Post: God is not a Christian

Desmond Tutu And The Dalai Lama's Extraordinary Talk On God And Religion

Adapted from THE WISDOM OF COMPASSION: Stories of Remarkable Encounters and Timeless Insights by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Victor Chan by arrangement with Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc., Copyright © 2012 by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Victor Chan

The Dalai Lama, wearing an orange visor, was on stage sitting next to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who had just flown in from South Africa. The Dalai Lama sat in his usual lotus position on a leather armchair that was a size too small for his folded legs. His knees stuck out a smidgen beyond the armrests.

“My main concern,” he said to Tutu, “what’s the best way to talk about deeper human values like love, compassion, forgiveness, these things. Not relying on God, but relying on ourselves.”

Tutu was hunched forward in his chair; he was carefully examining his hands, which were resting on his lap. He was dressed in a dark suit and a striking purple shirt with a decidedly magenta hue. A large metal cross hung below the clerical collar.

The Dalai Lama said, “I myself, I’m believer, I’m Buddhist monk. So for my own improvement, I utilize as much as I can Buddhist approach. But I never touch this when I talk with others. Buddhism is my business. Not business of other people. Frankly speaking”—he stole a glance at the archbishop and declared firmly—“when you and our brothers and sisters talk about God, creator, I’m nonbeliever.” He laughed, perhaps a little self-consciously.

It seemed to me that the Dalai Lama’s feelings about God have changed over the years. In an early interview, when I asked him if he thought there was a God, he answered simply, “I don’t know.” He took the view of an agnostic: he understood that it’s not possible to know one way or another whether God exists.

“In Buddhism no creator,” the Dalai Lama said at the Chan Centre. “But we also accept Buddha, bodhisattvas, these higher beings. However, if we only rely on these higher beings, we would just sit there, lazy.” He leaned into his chair, threw his head back, and rolled his eyes heavenward.

“Won’t help, won’t help. So that’s my view,” the Dalai Lama concluded.

Tutu crossed his arms in front of his chest. He looked pensive, deep in thought. Then a smile creased his face.
He said, “I was thinking when you were talking about God or no God, who you blame?” Tutu lifted both his legs from the floor and rocked back and forth in his chair. He was gripped in a fit of uncontrollable mirth. Perhaps it was an inside joke. If so, I didn’t get it. Perhaps he meant that if there is no God, then there is no one to blame but ourselves?

Tutu stared at the Dalai Lama as his trademark giggle filled the hall. The Dalai Lama then bowed deeply in homage, his head nearly level with his folded knees. He whipped off his visor and saluted his South African friend with an exaggerated flourish. Both men seemed to derive an enormous kick out of Tutu’s cryptic question.

Tutu said nothing more for the longest time. He was gathering his thoughts, preparing to expound further on the subject.

Although diminutive, all of five feet and four inches, his is an imposing figure. His facial features are broad and remarkably plastic.

Before Tutu could resume, the Dalai Lama pleaded, “I think . . . maybe I interfere. May I respond, just a little, just a little?”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Tutu screeched in a loud, high-pitched voice that took the audience by surprise. He turned completely sideways and trained his eyes on the Dalai Lama, his face one of pure animation. The two elderly spiritual leaders, for one short, unforgettable moment, became kids again, horsing around and thoroughly enjoying each other’s company. At one gathering in Oslo, after a particularly rambunctious episode, Tutu admonished the Dalai Lama in mock seriousness, “Look here—the cameras are on you, stop behaving like a naughty schoolboy. Try to behave like a holy man.”

The audience at the sold-out Chan Centre was delighted with the bantering. It was heartening to see that these two global icons did not take themselves too seriously. That they could, without being the least bit self-conscious, display such childlike playfulness. The Dalai Lama was carried along by the archbishop’s animal vitality, his irreverence, his lighthearted theatrics.

He was so in synch with the African that he did something I have seldom seen him do before. He interrupted Tutu, with no regard for niceties or etiquette, in mid-thought.

But now that Tutu had given him permission to interrupt, the Dalai Lama turned serious. He said to the archbishop, “The problem is, if we involve religious faith, then there are many varieties and fundamental differences of views. So very complicated.

“That’s why in India”—he pointed a finger at Tutu for emphasis—“when they drafted the constitution they deliberately used secular approach. Too many religions there”—he counted them out one by one with his fingers—“Hindu, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism. So many. And there are godly religions and there are godless religions. Who decides who is right?”

Now that the Dalai Lama had his say, he put his orange visor back on his bald pate.
Tutu replied, “Let me just say that one of the things we need to establish is that”—long pause—“God is not a Christian.” He paused again and turned to look at the Dalai Lama with a mischievous glint in his eyes. It had the intended effEct. The Tibetan leader laughed with abandon. Apparently, Tutu was not done with horsing around.
“Are you feeling better?” Tutu asked the Dalai Lama, who inclined his body far away from his friend and covered his eyes in mock surrender.

“We could go on, but . . .” Tutu turned thoughtful. He enunciated his words with great care, and paused for a long time after each phrase. He picked up the Dalai Lama’s earlier thread. “The glory about God is that God is a mystery. God is actually quite incredible in many ways. But God allows us to misunderstand her”—at this, the audience went wild; the applause was loud and spontaneous—“but also to understand her.”

“I’ve frequently said I’m glad I’m not God,” Tutu continued. “But I’m also glad God is God. He can watch us speak, spread hatred, in his name. Apartheid was for a long time justified by the church. We do the same when we say all those awful things we say about gays and lesbians. We speak on behalf of a God of love.

“The God that I worship is an omnipotent God,” Tutu intoned, opening his arms wide. He paused to let this sink in. Then he said, sotto voce, “He is also incredibly, totally impotent. The God that I worship is almighty, and also incredibly weak.

“He can sit there and watch me make a wrong choice. Now, if I was God,” he said as the hall burst into laughter, “and I saw, for instance, this one is going to make a choice that is going to destroy his family, I’d probably snuff him out.

“But the glory of God is actually mind-blowing. He can sit and not intervene because he has such an incredible, incredible reverence for my autonomy. He is prepared to let me go to hell. Freely. Rather than compel me to go to heaven.

“He weeps when he sees us do the things that we do to one another. But he does not send lightning bolts to destroy the ungodly. And that is fantastic. God says, ‘I can’t force you. I beg you, please for your own sake, make the right choice. I beg you.’

“When you do the right thing, God forgets about God’s divine dignity and he rushes and embraces you. ‘You came back, you came back. I love you. Oh how wonderful, you came back.’”

There was total silence in the hall. Tutu’s speech was a tour de force. The audience was captivated by his malleable facial features, which could change from fiery anger to deeply felt compassion in a heartbeat. His voice scaled multiple octaves. His arms and hands were in perpetual motion. He was a showman and preacher par excellence.

Later that day, Tutu and the Dalai Lama came together again in a small function room at the Chan Centre. They had another opportunity to expand on their views on religion before Tutu had to leave Vancouver.

“I think generally all religious traditions have good potential to improve human condition,” the Dalai Lama said to the archbishop. “However, some followers of religions, they are not very serious about one’s own teaching. They—out of selfishness, money, or power—use religion for personal gain. In some cases, because they completely isolated, so no idea about other traditions, value of other traditions. So that creates religious disharmony. But I think if you make balance, I think more weight to positive side than negative. Much, much more.”

“Yes, you are right,” Tutu replied. “And you have to remember that religion is of itself neither good nor bad. Christianity has produced the Ku Klux Klan. Christianity has produced those who killed doctors that perform abortions. Religion is a morally neutral thing. It is what you do with it. It is like a knife, a knife is good when you use it for cutting up bread for sandwiches. A knife is bad when you stick it in somebody’s gut. Religion is good when it produces a Dalai Lama, a Mother Teresa, a Martin Luther King.”

“And a Bishop Tutu,” the Dalai Lama interjected. Tutu stared at him, stuck a finger at his own chest, and admonished, “I’m talking!”

The Dalai Lama leaned back in playful recoil and laughed with abandon.

“But we’ve got to be very careful that we don’t say . . .” Tutu continued, ignoring him. But the Dalai Lama had trouble concentrating. His chest was heaving, his shoulders were jiggling with involuntary convulsions; he was having a hard time controlling his laugher. “Because there are bad Muslims, therefore Islam is a bad religion. Because there are bad Buddhists, Buddhism is bad. Just look at the Buddhist dictators in Burma,” Tutu said.

“We’ve got to say, what does your faith make you do? Make you become? I would not have survived without the faith of knowing that this is God’s world and that God is in charge, that evil is not going to prevail despite all appearance to the contrary. Yes, of course, sometimes, you want to whisper in God’s ear, ‘God, for goodness’ sake, we know that you are in charge, but why don’t you make this more obvious?’”

The Dalai Lama was not laughing any longer. He nodded vigorously as Tutu finished.


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Heart-Mind 2013

Posted on by Victor Chan

Conference Dates

May 9 - 11, 2013

Audience

Adults who care for and about children:

Educators - teachers, administrators, support workers, superintendents

Mental Health practitioners

MCFD - Mental Health

Out-of-School care providers  (Boys & Girls Club, YM/YWCA, Community Centers, Neighbourhood houses, etc)

Health practitioners

Yoga community (especially those providing Yoga to children and youth)

Thought Leaders

Parents, Grand parents

Academics - University Students (education, social work, medicine, etc)

Conference Focus

The focus of this conference is How Mindfulness Helps Children Thrive.   Mindfulness is often associated with helping children manage worries and stress.  But there is a small-but- growing body of scientific research, and evidence from practice that indicates that Mindfulness can foster development of a wider range of social and emotional abilities/competencies as well as improved relationships with others (self awareness in everyday interactions, self regulation in everyday activities, compassion for self, compassion for others). 

What do we mean by "Mindfulness"?  

We are encouraged by researchers in this field (especially Mark Greenberg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3KXkO7NeG0) to use a broad definition of Mindfulness .  Mindfulness includes intrapersonal activities such as sitting meditation, walking meditation, forms of yoga and prayer.  But it also includes interpersonal activities such as deep listening, story telling, empathy training, forms of martial arts, contemplative art & music, contemplating nature. 

It is also interesting that, over time, Jon Kabat Zinn has broadened his definition of Mindfulness - focusing more on the ethical dimension of mindfulness in everyday life

In 1990 he defined Mindfulness as :

Paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment non-judgmentally.

In 2011 he defined Mindfulness as:

An awareness of ones conduct and the quality of ones relationships, inwardly and outwardly in terms of their potential to cause harm are intrinsic elements of the cultivation of Mindfulness.

Mindfulness in everyday life is the ultimate challenge and practice

Conference Presenters

Goldie Hawn  - http://www.thehawnfoundation.org/

Founder of MindUP - a school-based program that integrates Mindfulness into daily life; author of parenting book "10 mindful minutes"

Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl - Associate Professor in the Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology and Special Education at the University of British Columbia., expert on social and emotional learning, researcher, educator

Dr Paul Ekman - http://www.paulekman.com/about-ekman/

Dr. Rob Roeser - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDw8RaVGFJs

Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychology at Portland State University.  Established the Culture and Contemplation in Education Laboratory at Portland State University

Linda Lantieri -  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWQGAUi8V0U

 Director of The Inner Resilience Program whose mission is to cultivate the inner lives of students, teachers and schools by integrating social and emotional learning with contemplative practice.

Dr. Adele Diamond - http://www.frontiersin.org/video/Adele_Diamond_at_the_Garrison_Institute/1124

Canada Research chair Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

Jetsun Pema - http://worldschildrensprize.org/jetsun-pema

the younger sister of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who has dedicated her life to educating Tibetan children in exile.

Roy Henry Vickers - http://www.artcountrycanada.com/vickersbio.htm

Canadian artist , designer, publisher, author. He is a recognized leader in the First Nations community and has worked tirelessly as a spokesperson for recovery from addictions and abuse.  In his words “The physical, spiritual, emotional, and intellectual well being of our children should be paramount in the teaching and nurturing of our children.”

(here’s an interesting posting connecting RhV to HHDL;  http://butterfliesdragonsandpeace.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/can-we-forget-our-connectedness-and-truly-lead/)

Children & Youth lead mindfulness activities

Artwork and creative contributions by children and youth

Educating hearts

Posted on by Victor Chan

“How can we educate

  the hearts of children?”

       – His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

This was what the Dalai Lama asked assembled dignitaries and guests to consider at the 2009 Vancouver Peace Summit. A simple question premised on a provocative idea: Educating the Heart is foundational to preparing children for the 21st Century.

Educating the Heart is of Global Importance:

The basis for his question is provocative because, if true then social and emotional learning of children is as important as core academics in preparing them to respond in compassionate, effective ways to the challenges of our time: conflict, environmental degradation, and limited resources. Interestingly, emerging health, education and neuroscientific research supports this conclusion. A new U.S. study involving 270,000 students who participated in social and emotional learning programs shows multiple benefits: the students’ pro-social behavior improve significantly, they have less emotional distresses such as depression, and their academic achievement goes up by 11 percentile points. Dr. Daniel Siegel, a leading proponent of interpersonal neurobiology, describes it this way:  “You can make the argument that the future of the planet depends on social and emotional competencies.”

BC as a model of Educating the Heart:

The social and emotional development of children is the leading edge of education, mental health, and brain development science. BC is at the forefront of this, although the province can be characterized as a collection of islands of social and emotional program activity. The missing ingredient – the need – is a convener to connect the strands of activity such that the level of collaboration, shared practice and research has a transformative influence on the province. In this way, educating the heart will become a core focus for all who engage with children – in every classroom and community – and embedded in education and mental health policy.

Clear Role for the Dalai Lama Center

With a mission to Educate the Heart, the pieces are in place for the Dalai Lama Center to advance BC’s efforts to foster the social and emotional learning of children. The audacious goal is that this province can be an example internationally of how caring communities are raising compassionate children.

Our Strategy

The Dalai Lama Center is deploying all its internal and external resources toward this clear and compelling role. Through programs that convene, advise, educate, and apply research we are working with leaders in education, science, politics, government, business and philanthropy who understand the value of social and emotional learning. By using local, regional, national and international connections, the Dalai Lama Center is helping to share evidence-based practice and encourage collaboration. In short, it’s a strategy of supporting, encouraging and leading a rising tide of awareness and action toward educating the hearts of children.  We hope that by the time the Dalai Lama visits Vancouver again in October, 2012, the Center will have achieved tangible outcomes in our strategic focus and show the world that BC is indeed at the forefront of educating the whole child.