NEITHER the possibility of offending centuries ofCatholic tradition nor the disapproval of the Chinese governmenthas stopped Costa Rica’s political and church leadersfrom embracing a visit by the Dalai Lama later this month.The widely respected, exiled spiritual and politicalleader of Tibet, having accepted President Abel Pacheco’sinvitation, will meet with the heads of the Catholic Churchand other religious leaders and lead a series of public conferencesSept. 26-28 in San José.Tenzin Gyatso is the 14th Dalai Lama, the title of themanifestations of the Buddha of Compassion. Born asLhamo Dhondrub in 1935 and recognized as the incarnationof the Buddha at age 2, he was renamed JetsunJamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso – HolyLord, Gentle Glory, Compassionate Defender of the Faith,Ocean of Wisdom.Tibetans normally refer to him as Yeshe Norbu, theWish-Fulfilling Gem, or Kundun, the Presence.THE Dalai Lama fled his country in 1959 following aTibetan revolt against Chinese rule. He now lives in exile in India and speaks and writes extensivelyon Buddhism and the Tibetan cause. Hereceived the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 forhis emphasis on non-violence in the struggleagainst Chinese rule in Tibet, in spite of thedeaths of more than 1.2 million Tibetans atthe hands of the Chinese government and thedestruction of 3,000 monasteries.The smiling, unobtrusive thorn in theChinese government’s side will expand onthe principles explained in his last book,“Ethics for the New Millennium,” publishedin August 1999, and which promotes unitybetween religions and the secular world.His unifying effect on Costa Ricansextends from his first visit to the country in1989, when he met with then-President andfellow Nobel Peace Prize winner OscarArias, then-San José Archbishop RománArrieta, the leaders in Costa Rica of theworld’s most widely represented religions, aBribrí native from the Talamanca region onthe country’s Caribbean coast, and Cherokeenative leader Dhyani Ywahoo, from theUnited States, among others (TT, June 30,1989).HE is scheduled to address the public onSunday, Sept. 26 at the National Theater, avenue organizers say may be changed to theNational Gymnasium because of the highdemand for reservations.During his visit he also will speak privatelyabout religious pluralism with thebishops of the Episcopal Conference, thenhold a public conference with Costa Ricanrepresentatives from 30 religions and spiritualgroups.Overlooking the details of how peoplepractice their beliefs, the Dalai Lama’s messageis one of universal responsibility,explained Maritza Pacheco, president of theTibetan-Costa Rican Cultural Association(ACTC).“In simple terms it means the duty eachone of us has to act responsibly toward eachother, to concern ourselves with each otherand to help each other,” she said.THE association is a lasting result of theDalai Lama’s previous visit in 1989, whichhe inspired to “promote a culture of peace,love, compassion and altruism” in CostaRica, according to a statement from the association.“We are at a juncture in which the worldneeds to feel that principles, ethics andmorals sustain people and are important tothem,” Pacheco said. “We are at a juncturewhere violence tends to carry men toward itsmost brutal manifestations. A message ofpeace from a religious leader who is a livingexample of peace makes the real culture ofpeace we must seek more clear. In spite ofthe genocide of his people, he does not promoteviolence, he promotes peaceful dialog,which is fundamental for truth, justice andcompassion.”THE Dalai Lama wrote in his 1999book: “My meetings with many differentsorts of people the world over have helpedme realize that there are other faiths, andother cultures, no less capable than mine ofenabling individuals to lead constructive andsatisfying lives. What is more, I have cometo the conclusion that whether or not a personis a religious believer does not mattermuch. Far more important is that they be agood human being.”His willingness to reach outside of hisown religion is reciprocated in Costa Rica.Monsignor José Francisco Ulloa, Bishopof the Limón Diocese on the Caribbeancoast and president of the Costa RicanEpiscopal Conference, agrees with the DalaiLama’s message and encouraged CostaRicans to listen to him when he comes.“The Dalai Lama is a person who is wellknown in the world as a messenger of peace,in which sense we will receive him as someonewho is contributing with his message,his word, his example, his spirituality, toachieve a world in peace, a world in greatersolidarity, a world in which differencesbegin to disappear and in which we begin toconsider ourselves part of a universal family,”Ulloa told The Tico Times.“WE see it as an exchange with anotherreligion in the sense that we will look for elementsin common between Buddhism andChristianity. I believe in that way we have towalk together to seek a better world,” hesaid.Ulloa broke from the fire and brimstoneforecast to which some Christians believeothers are condemned.“All people are called to salvation,” hesaid. “God saves people in very differentways.” One way is through Christian belief,he said, but that does not exclude the possibilitythat God can save people through othermeans.“Jesus Christ came to die for and unitethe whole world,” he said. “The grace ofChrist is present in the whole universe, andin some way that we do not know can touchthe hearts of many people with good will.And I think the Dalai Lama could be one ofthem.”THE leader of one of the country’sEnglish-speaking congregations, JuanEnrique Toro, minister of the non-denominationalUnity Church in Escazú, southwest ofSan José, has used “Ethics for the NewMillennium” as the core of his talks in a twomonthseries leading to the Dalai Lama’svisit.“The presence of somebody like HisHoliness will be a boost for the country, particularlybecause one of his greatest messagesis to invite us to go beyond the formand structure of religious organizations andrecognize the essence that unifies us,” Torosaid. “He calls us to choose our paths but torecognize that they’re talking us to the sameplace.”For more information on the Dalai Lamaand his visit, call the Tibetan-Costa RicanCultural Association at 258-0254, look it upon the Web at www.tibetencostarica.com,or see the official site of the Tibetan governmentin exile at www.tibet.com.Dalai Lama’s Schedule in Costa RicaSept. 17-28Children’s MuseumConstruction of the Kalachakra Mandala:for 15 days before the arrival of theDalai Lama, three monks from the NamgyalMonastery will make a mandala – a circular,intricate series of depictions of the inner andouter universes, using colored sand. Whileworking, the monks will recite mantras anddedicate their project to the planting of seedsof supreme wisdom and peace in those wholook at it. Art Exhibit: Tankas, Tibetan paintingsover brocades, will be on display for thefirst time in Costa Rica.Sept. 26National Theater or NationalGymnasium, 4 p.m.Public conference with the Dalai Lama“Individual Peace, Universal Peace,”opened by ex-President and fellow NobelPeace Prize winner Oscar Arias. For informationcall the Tibetan-Costa RicanCultural Association at 258-0254.Sept. 27University of Costa Rica,9:30-11:45 a.m.Public Conference “Ethics for the NewMillennium,” with a question-and-answerperiod and a screen outdoors for overflowparticipants to watch the conference. TheDalai Lama will also address those outside.The public is welcome, seating is on a firstcome,first-served basis.Casa PresidencialPrivate meeting with President AbelPacheco.Legislative AssemblyPrivate meeting with LegislativeAssembly president Gerardo González andother legislators.Sept. 28Episcopal Conference of Costa RicaPrivate meeting with the Bishops ofthe Episcopal Conference.Children’s Museum, 10-noonMeeting with official representativesof 30 religions and spiritual groups inCosta Rica.Children’s Museum, 2-4 p.m.Teaching of “The Eight Verses ofTraining of the Mind,” a lesson from theteachings of the Buddha Shakyamuni.Suggested donation for entry is ¢15,000($33.75). Outside, a screen will show thespeech to overflow participants, the suggestedentry donation for which is ¢5,000($11.25).
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