Dalai Lama to speak at Rutgers University

BY JEFF DIAMANT, Star-Ledger Staff, Sept 23, 2005

Rutgers students pose 300 questions for Buddhist leader

Rutgers, New Jersey (USA) -- Can Western notions of God survive critical thinking? How can people avoid everyday opportunities for evil? And what's the best way to stay spiritually mindful in upsetting places like, say, the New Jersey Turnpike at rush hour?

These are among the 300 questions written by Rutgers students that will be given to the Dalai Lama, the congenial spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism, before his visit to Rutgers Stadium on Sunday.

The 41,000-seat Rutgers Stadium in New Brunswick is expected to be filled for the Dalai Lama's 90-minute appearance where he will deliver a public lecture titled, "Peace, War and Reconciliation," and take questions. Today is the last day to buy remaining tickets that as of last night numbered 8,000, said Nicole Pride, a university spokeswoman.

After he speaks for the first half of his 10:30 a.m. presentation, the Dalai Lama will answer some of the students' questions, only a few of which are related to Tibetan Buddhism. Indeed, just a minority of the crowd is expected to be Buddhist, as the Dalai Lama, viewed as a universal force for compassion, appeals to many Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Jews.

In 1989, the Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent struggle against Chinese rule of Tibet. With his home base in Dharamsala, India, he has used trips abroad to lobby foreign leaders to pressure Chinese leadership to allow Tibetan autonomy.

"This man probably has more noncontroversial recognition and celebrity than anyone on the planet," said G. Howard Miller, a history professor at University of Texas at Austin who has taught about religion and popular culture. "In our culture we are so starved for celebrities ... whom we can unreservedly honor as men and women of integrity."

The world's most famous Buddhist is unlikely to speak much about Buddhism on Sunday, said Hiroshi Obayashi, a theology professor who is chairman of Rutgers' religion department.

"He's not bringing out Buddhist theological teachings, but he addresses common themes using Buddhist kind of flavor," Obayashi said. "If he talked about Buddhist doctrines, Buddhist concepts, he would lose the audience."

 But if he won't detail major tenets of Buddhism such as its Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path, the Lama is likely to connect the religion's broad themes to everyday life, Obayashi said.

"His major point is, with Buddhist teaching there's no ego to really obsess about. ... If you realize that ego is not an important foundation of our lives, we can easily find the common ground. That's a Buddhist approach, but the real issue is the common universal theme of reconciliation."

This will be the Dalai Lama's fourth trip to New Jersey since 1979. Already this month, the saffron-robed monk has charmed adoring crowds in Arizona, Idaho and Texas. He speaks tomorrow in Manhattan, and will speak again in Manhattan right after his Rutgers address.

He has long been popular in the United States, for reasons spiritual and otherwise.

His book "The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living" was a best-seller in 1998, and new titles are published regularly. He has posed in widely seen Apple computer commercials.

And, less seriously, he was famously mentioned in a scene of the 1980 screwball comedy movie "Caddyshack," when a delusional greenskeeper played by Bill Murray told of a mystical encounter with the Lama during a supposed round of golf.

His fame is a draw for many people coming Sunday, several Rutgers students with tickets said this week. But for others, there is a sincere longing to hear something profound.

"My mom recently passed away from cancer," said Dana Wall, a sophomore who described herself as a nonpracticing Catholic. "I'm looking for something else to believe, something to give me personal comfort."

The Dalai Lama, born Lhamo Thondup to a farming family in 1935, was determined by a Tibetan government search party to be the 14th incarnation of the Dalai Lama -- the Buddha of Compassion -- when he was 3 years old, five years after his predecessor died.

He became the spiritual leader of Tibet at age 4, and soon afterwards became a monk. He has been exiled from Tibet since 1959, when he fled to India from Tibet during a failed uprising against Chinese Communist leadership, which conquered Tibet in 1951.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv