Roanoke student reflects on Dalai Lama words

by rcnewsblog on November 19, 2012

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Timaria Hammond-Downing, a junior at Roanoke, writes about her experience hearing the Dalai Lama speak in Charlottesville, Va., last month. The Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is considered the head of state and spiritual leader of Tibet.

After anxiously waiting, students were finally able to board the bus [at Roanoke College] at 8:15 a.m. to go to [Charlottesville, Va.] to hear the Dalai Lama speak.

Two weeks earlier, some students woke up at 5:45 a.m. to stand in line for tickets.

More than 4,000 people showed up to the nTelos Wireless Pavilion to see His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. People tried to quickly grab and eat food before they entered. There were sad faces as people realized that they couldn’t take cameras into the pavilion, yet there was a positive buzz in the place.

There were several groups who performed for the Dalai Lama. A Native American dance troupe performed several styles of tribe dances. There were two Tibetan singers/musical artists and later a Tibetan children’s choir performed.

The Dalai Lama was actually late, and people sat and chatted in the cold before he was able to arrive. When His Holiness finally arrived everyone stood in silence, then suddenly applause started.

When the Dalai Lama was seated, several people presented gifts to him, including one of the Native American chiefs, who was so nervous that he almost ran off stage without receiving his thank you scarf. One other was an introduction done by the mayor of Charlottesville, who declared Oct. 10 Peace Day in honor of the Dalai Lama.

Finally the Dalai Lama spoke.

His message was not a complicated message. It was simple (although at times hard to hear). His message entailed taking the things we have and using them but to not let them corrupt us. The first example that he started with was technology. He said that technology is good and sometimes we should use it, but we shouldn’t get so wrapped up in technology that all ethics go out the window. We shouldn’t be doing experiments that hurt others or use technology to hurt others. We must always show compassion and not be greedy with the things that we have.

Roanoke College students who heard the Dalai Lama speak pose for a group photo.


He spoke a similar message for religion. It is good to have a religion, because he said all religions [including Islam, Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism] are aiming for the same goals. He said they are all looking to love people and care for each other. The thing he warns us about is not to let our religion overtake our faith.

We don’t want to chastise anyone or hate anyone, because we are only to love. He gave the example of the Indian caste system and said that it was bad because within their religion, they make others feel inferior and do not show compassion to people below them.

His mission is to spread compassion, and it showed as he spoke about how we should love others and not let anything get in the way of that. You could tell that he was compassionate by they way he shook everyone’s hand on stage and smiled at everyone in the room. He stressed the importance of educating others, not only academically but morally.

It is up to the next generation to carry out his message of compassion, because “you are all my sisters and brothers,” the Dalai Lama said.


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