Friday, October 06, 2006

Conference Evening Session and Photos

We had a great surprise: instead of doing crowd control during the final session, Kim and her husband saved us seats on the floor to watch it!

The first part of the program was the presentation of the Minerva Awards. Although I expected this part to be boring, the great videos done by NBC producers and Maria’s heartfelt descriptions of the honorees made it extremely touching and interesting. Sally Ride received a lifetime achievement award and it was cool to see her. The other women were very inspiring.

Link to photos:

The climax of the day was Maria’s interview of the Dalai Lama. He doesn’t generally address such large groups, and has never addressed a large group of women. The lights made him uncomfortable, so he whipped out a visor that matched his saffron-colored robes!

We all expected him to dispense great wisdom, which he did, but many of us didn’t know he was so funny. We were roaring and, by the end of the session, we all wanted to hug him.

You will be able to see the webcast of his interview on the conference website: The points he made that stayed with me are:

* Women are very nurturing, empathetic human beings. He urged women to get more involved with their communities, in the political process, and in the military. He felt that this would be a huge step for the ideal of world peace.

* He talked a bit about his childhood, about being recognized as the next Dalai Lama at age 5 and being separated from his mother and about childhood fights with his brother. I am currently reading a biography of him and will review it for this blog.

* When Maria asked him how we stay peaceful and spiritual in our busy lives, he chided us to take a look at ourselves and see how much of the busyness is self-imposed. He urged us to get our priorities straight, do the top priority things, and let go of checking email and calling on cell phones and shopping for thing we do not need.

* Buddhism is know for its teachings of tolerance and His Holiness stressed the need for religious tolerance, that God is working through us all in the way best suited to each of us. He advanced the case for “secular morals” to be taught to children by parents and by the public schools. His view is that secularism isn’t anti-religion, but is universal respect for all religions. He feels that there are universal morals that should be taught, regardless of individual religious doctrines. An example of secular morals is respecting all humans.

* Though I didn’t get the feeling of a holy aura around the Dalai Lama, he was successful in leading the crowd of 13,000 in a 3-minute silent meditation. That illustrates his spiritual power to me.

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