Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Dalai Lama, Hands of Peace

By Peter Zehren

I was honored to be in the receiving line when the Dalai Lama came to Riverside Church. Riverside and New York Theological Seminary have has a long relationship and it was extraordinary to feel the presences of peace as his hand blessed me.

Speaking mostly to the Tibetans in the New York Metro area, the Dalai Lama made a plea to heal dishonesty and take personal responsibility. As a people, “it is our responsibility to help.” He asked for understanding and patience with the Chinese government, with being kept out of Tibet, and with continuing to stand up for justice by the way we lead our lives.

“Dialogue,” he said, “is the critical function and only solution” to the political troubles in Tibet. I found that most poignant as my own person reflections have taken me through an exploration of Daniel Yankelovich’s book, The Magic of Dialogue: Transforming Conflict Into Cooperation. Yankelovich outlines dialogue as a method of communicating where both sides honor the other, where opinions and concepts are melded together, combining all aspects of conversation. In the colloquial, it’s a “both and.”

The thrust of what was said centered around being a good person. An appeal was made to teach “Tibetan ways” to the next generation with an admonition that “our survival as Tibetans depends on it.” Then, honoring the greater good, the Dalai Lama added, “Please keep doing well. Always do the best you can. Do the right thing and remember, this must be taught to the community.

Peter Zehren is Vice President for Development and Institutional Advancement at New York Theological Seminary.

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