Tibet Week explores compassion in action in the world

By Leslie King | Emory Report | March 14, 2019

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Tibet Week begins Monday, March 18, with the colorful opening ceremony in the Carlos Museum’s Ackerman Hall. At the end of the ceremony, monks will begin constructing the intricate sand mandala that will be built throughout the week. Emory Photo/Video

Tibet Week 2019 reaches out to the Emory community and broader general public with its theme of “Engaging Compassion in Our World.” A packed slate of activities is planned for March 18-23.

This year’s them represents “a wonderful opportunity to see how compassion, a fundamental human value that is deeply integrated into Tibetan culture, manifests in many forms,” says Carol Beck, associate director for communications and operations for Emory’s Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics (CCSCBE). 

As with past celebrations of Tibet Week, the Michael C. Carlos Museum will be the location of most of the activities, all of which will be held in Ackerman Hall of the museum unless otherwise noted. They begin Monday, March 18, with the Opening Ceremony at noon with Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi and the monks of the Drepung Loseling Monastery. 

Every day, Monday through Friday, a guided compassion meditation will be held, open to the public, from 5 to 6 p.m. Each evening, there will be a talk or panel discussion related to the theme, Buddhism, Tibetan culture, science, compassion and more.

On Monday at 7:30 p.m., a panel will discuss “Two Decades of Collaboration: His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Emory University.” Beck will moderate. Panelists Brendan Ozawa-deSilva, a CCSCBE associate director; Tsetan Dolkar, assistant director for the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative; and Timothy Harrison, associate director for cognitively-based compassion training, will talk about how the Emory-Tibet Partnership has expanded under a new name to include new initiatives even as it retains its original mission to “bring two worlds together for one common humanity.”

“We are also using the opening evening of Tibet Week to showcase the work of the new Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics,” Beck says.

“Originally the Emory-Tibet Partnership, our center has grown out of the relationship His Holiness the Dalai Lama has had with Emory over the last two decades, expanding to include new initiatives related to promoting a compassionate and ethical world for all," she notes.

Venerable Jamyang will speak Tuesday, March 19, at 7:30 p.m. on “Compassion in Action: An Ordinary Monk’s Extraordinary Transformation of a Community,” describing the challenges and opportunities of working with children in extreme poverty and the transformative effects of a holistic education that incorporates Emory’s SEE (Social, Emotional and Ethical) Learning. Jamyang is founder of the Tong-Len Charitable Trust, which supports educational programs. Beck describes this presentation as focusing on “engaged compassion, highlighting the work of the Tong-Len School in Dharamsala, India, a school for street children that is transforming young lives.” 

Beginning on Wednesday, March 20, at 6 p.m., there will be a viewing of the new Rose Library acquisition “The Murals of Tibet,” a limited edition book signed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama featuring life-sized depictions of 1,000 years of Tibetan masterpieces, followed by a talk and discussion. “The Murals of Tibet: Visual Imagery and Symbolism in Tibetan Culture” is the topic of a talk at 7:30 p.m. to be given by Robert Paul, Candler Professor of Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Studies in Emory College. Paul will be joined by Geshe Kelsang Damdul, director emeritus of the Buddhist Institute of Dialectics in Dharamsala, India. Lobsang Tenzin Negi, executive director of the CCSCBE, will moderate the discussion.

Education and the Science of Compassion” is the topic of a talk on Thursday, March 21, at 7:30 p.m. Robert Roeser, Bennett Pierce Professor of Caring and Compassion at Pennsylvania State University, will provide an overview of what he sees science saying about the role compassion plays in social-emotional development and how contemplative practices can enhance the effectiveness of schools and other educational institutions. Beck says this is an “opportunity to learn more about the science of compassion and how it can be incorporated in education.”

Mandala sand painting

A live exhibition of mandala sand painting will be held every day through Saturday, March 23. This year’s mandala will be of the Avalokiteshvara, Buddha of Compassion. The exhibition is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the public to view the work. On Wednesday, March 20, Emory students are invited to join monks of the Drepung Loseling Monastery for a hands-on experience of sand painting using traditional chak-purs and colored sand. 

On Saturday, March 23, Carlos Museum members are invited to participate in the members-only Tibetan Sand Painting for Families from 10 a.m. to noon. At noon, this event will be open to all. Museum members are free; nonmembers pay $10 for adults and $8 for children from 6-16; children under 5 are free. Registration is required for both events. 

Geshe Lobsang Tenzin and the monks of Drepung Loseling will conduct the closing ceremonies on Saturday, beginning at 2 p.m. 

Sponsors of Tibet Week 2019 include The Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics, the Carlos Museum, Emory College, the Hightower Fund, Trust for the Meditation Process, the Joni Winston Fund, Drepung Loseling Monastery, Gaden Phodrang Foundation of the Dalai Lama, the Yeshe Khorlo Foundation and the Pierre and Pamela Omidyar Fund.