Tibet Week looks at compassion through its cultural lens

By Leslie King | Emory Report | March 19, 2015

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Tibet Week 2015 celebrates the theme of "Exploring Compassion" through a series of traditional events and educational opportunities. The annual celebration of the culture, arts and philosophy of Tibet is set for March 23-28. 

Tibet Week begins at noon Monday, March 23, with the Incense Offering and Opening Ceremony on the Quad and in the Carlos Museum Reception Hall, led by Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi and monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery.

The week's line-up of events features daily guided meditation and live exhibitions of mandala sand painting, as well as discussions on the legacy and the healing powers of compassion. The closing ceremony, also with the Drepung Loseling monks, follows a talk at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 28. 

All events are held in the Reception Hall of the Michael C. Carlos Museum unless otherwise noted.

Daily discussions

"The China-Tibet Dialogue and Its Implications for International Conflict Resolution: A Conversation with Lodi Gyari Rinpoche and Dr. Paul Zwier" takes place Monday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. Gyari is a Tibetan diplomat and former special envoy to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Zwier is a professor of law and director of Emory Law's Center for Advocacy & Dispute Resolution as well as the Advocacy Skills Program. Students Tsewang Rigzin and Richard Sui are the respondents in this talk. The conversation is sponsored by the Center for Advocacy & Dispute Resolution and the Emory China-Tibet Initiative.

On Tuesday, March 24, Geshe Lhakdor, director of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, will address how the ancient tradition of Tibetan monastics is finding new ways to interface with the modern world in the talk "A Legacy of Compassion: Why Tibetan Monastics Matter in the 21st Century." Gillian Hue, senior program coordinator for the NIH-funded Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD), and student Sonam Choephel are the respondents; Michael Romano, post-doctoral fellow in the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative, will moderate.

"I think the question of why Tibetan monastics matter in the 21st century Western context was summarized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his address to the Society for Neuroscience meeting in 2005: 'I believe that the collaboration between neuroscience and the Buddhist contemplative tradition may shed fresh light on the vitally important question of the interface of ethics and neuroscience,'" Hue says. 

Scholars from science and Buddhism will discuss why both traditions of inquiry are relevant to modern life, notes Romano. "The exponential rate of scientific advancement is a defining quality of 21st century human experience, with profound consequences for ourselves and the planet. Tibetan monastics maintain a 2,500 year-old wisdom lineage, offering insights on how this incredible wave of modern change can be directed toward beneficial outcomes," he says.

On Wednesday, March 25, the Atlanta Science Festival will sponsor a special panel discussion, "Indoor Air Quality in Tibet," where attendees will learn about the Tibetan practice of yak dung burning. It will be held at 6 p.m. in E208 of the Math & Science building. At 7:30 p.m., a forum, "The Healing Power of Compassion: Insights for Patients, Caregivers and Healthcare Practitioners," will feature William Eley, Emory School of Medicine; Ursula  Kelly, the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing;  Tawni Tidwell, Tibetan medical student; and Pema Dorjee, Tibetan medicine practitioner. Stephen Blount will moderate.

Geshe Ngawang Samten, vice-chancellor of the Central University of Tibetan Studies, will speak on "The Dalai Lama's Vision for Secular Ethics—Cultivating an Education of Heart and Mind" on Thursday, March 26, at 7:30 p.m. Emory College associate professor of religion John Dunne and Geshe Dadul Namgyal are the respondents and Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi will moderate.

Prior to the closing ceremony on Saturday, March 28, Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi will give a talk, "The Universe through the Lens of Compassion — Symbolism of the Mandala," beginning at 1 p.m.

Mandalas, meditation and more

The week-long exhibition of live mandala sand painting begins Monday, March 23, from 1 to 5 p.m. It continues daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The monks will construct a mandala of the Buddha of Compassion. 

Everyone is also welcome to participate in guided compassion meditation held Monday through Friday of Tibet Week at 5 p.m. Meditation leaders are Carol Beck, Bobbi Patterson, Samuel Fernandez-Carriba, Jen Knox and Tim Harrison.

Other special events for Tibet Week include Tibetan chanting, singing and dancing, led by Emory Tibetan students, performed on the Quad at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 25. 

On Friday, March 27, at 6:30 p.m., Kids@the Carlos will feature a Tibetan sand painting workshop for children. Pre-registration is required by contacting Alyson Vuley at 404-727-6118.

A film screening of "Tibetan Stories" will be held Saturday, March 28, at 7 p.m. in 206 Whitehall. A panel discussion will follow. The screening and discussion are sponsored  by the Emory chapter of Students for a Free Tibet. 

Tibet Week is sponsored by the Emory-Tibet Partnership, the Carlos Museum, the Joni Winston Fund, the Hightower Fund, the Emory China-Tibet Initiative, the Nat Robertson Fund for Science and Society, the Emory College Department of Religion, the Office of Global Strategy & Initiatives, the Claus M. Halle Institute for Global Learning, the Emory Chapter of Students for a Free Tibet, the Emory School of Law, Drepung Loseling Monastery, Inc., and the Dalai Lama Trust.

From March 17-27, the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative also hosts the 7th Annual International Conference on Science Translation into Tibetan.