I am humbled today to have the honor to welcome His Holiness, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, to the Ithaca College campus and to our community of learning.
I also welcome, as honored guests, the monks who have traveled with His Holiness from Tibet, as well as those from Ithaca’s own Namgyal Monastery, who have given us the wonderful opportunity to host this event.
To those inside the gymnasium, those watching on television screens throughout the community, and those watching on computer screens throughout the world -- including Ithaca College alumni, faculty, staff, and students at our centers in London, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Rochester, New York -- I welcome you also to this auspicious occasion.
Though His Holiness has been heard to say, “I am a simple monk, no more, no less, that’s all,” we can learn much from the characteristics of a simple monk.
A simple monk cultivates immeasurable joy, equanimity, and compassion.
A simple monk sees the lowest being as his master, a threatening enemy as his teacher.
A simple monk achieves greatness in the eyes of others because he knows that he is nothing special to begin with.
And a simple monk always occupies the position of servant, even when sitting on the teaching throne.
Through his words and his deeds, the Dalai Lama has embodied these characteristics, spreading a message of peace, justice, mercy, humility, and hope at a time in our world when such qualities, all too frequently, seem to be in short supply.
We are here because His Holiness has come to teach the meaning of “Eight Verses on Training the Mind,” a simple Buddhist text that instructs people on how to live in this challenging world. These instructions offer essential practices for cultivating the awakening mind of compassion, wisdom, altruism, and love.
To have true knowledge, one must be both a learner and a teacher. As reflected in Ithaca College’s mission statement, “Our teaching and scholarship are motivated by the need to be informed by, and to contribute to, the world’s scientific and humanistic enterprises. All members of the College community are encouraged to share the responsibilities of citizenship and service in the global community.”
We are therefore most fortunate to be in the presence today of a great teacher. No matter what religion or faith tradition we may follow, let us all be fully alert to, and accepting of, his message to live responsibly -- for our sake and for those who will follow us on this earth.
Please join me in welcoming to Ithaca College His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.