June 4, 2010

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Dalai Lama: All people are considered chosen

Shirley Vogler MeisterLast month at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis was the second time that I have heard the Dalai Lama speak.

I attended his presentation with three longtime friends—a Catholic from my parish, Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, as well friends who are Baptist and Congregationalist.

Two of my friends were also with me when I first heard the Dalai Lama speak years ago. Both times, I felt privileged to be among the thousands of people in attendance.

The Dalai Lama’s message reflected most of Buddhism’s concepts, but reminded me of my early Catholic catechism lessons when students memorized these goals in life: peace, patience, benignity, goodness, long suffering, mildness, constancy and chastity.

Actually, I’m surprised I can still remember this from Catholic grade school lessons. Perhaps these concepts are taught differently now.

Once again, the Dalai Lama charmed his audience. The only difference was that this time he sat on a sofa with a microphone rather than standing—probably because he is still recovering from complications of gallbladder surgery that was more serious than the usual procedure.

Given that, it is amazing that he could speak so succinctly and graciously for such a long time, and answer questions from people in the stage vicinity.

We sat in the bleachers on the third level, but could see and hear everything well. Four huge television screens were hanging high from the ceiling so everyone could view and hear him clearly.

One thing that surprised me was the Dalai Lama’s comment that the Jewish people should not call themselves “the chosen people” because all human beings are considered chosen.

He did not make that remark unkindly. In fact, he is the epitome of kindness and compassion, and has a wonderful sense of humor, too.

He is a tireless advocate for peace, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. When someone asks him who he is, he usually replies, “I am a simple Buddhist monk—no more, no less.”

To learn more about the Dalai Lama, log on to www.dalailama.com.

As a cradle Catholic whose father converted to Catholicism, I have always been curious about other religions, but never swayed from my Catholic roots.

While attending college as a non-traditional student after our three daughters finished their grade school education, I took a wonderful course through Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis from a Catholic teacher, Paula Bowes, who taught a course called “Women in the Old Testament.”

Students of various faiths took the class. This was a pivotal experience for me. The professor and students became friends despite religious differences.

When I heard the Dalai Lama speak, I thought of that dear teacher and friend, who now lives with her husband in Maryland.

Proceeds from the Dalai Lama’s appearance helped fund the Interfaith Hunger Initiative, and I was pleased to know that my parish and Marian University in Indianapolis were among the many supporters.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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