Dalai Lama, winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, is the spiritual
and political leader of the Tibetan people. He is coming to Portland
at the invitation of the Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association to
support their hopes for a cultural center that will help preserve
Tibetan culture and foster the study of peace and understanding. Over
the course of his three-day visit, His Holiness will participate in
four major events, speaking about the power of compassion and non-violence
and Ethics for a New Millennium, which is also the title of his latest
The Dalai Lama was born in Tibet on July 6, 1930 and was recognized
as the reincarnation of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama when he was two
years old. He has been leader of the Tibetan people from a young
age, assuming both religious and political authority and hailed
as both god and king of Tibet. Throughout the most turbulent
and disturbing actions by communist China, we Tibetans have been
led with Grace and Honor by His Holiness teachings of Compassion
and Wisdom and a strict policy of non-violence. We have slowly but
steadily allowed the rest of the world, especially the West to take
notice of our plight, of our refugee status and of the infiltration
of masses of Chinese populations into our holy land of Tibet.
By and large, Western nations have not stood up to Chinese human
rights violations and environmental violations due to a combination
of business and political interests. Official opposition to the
systematic destruction by Communist China of the ancient Tibetan
Buddhist culture and traditions, including thousands of centuries
old monasteries and artifacts and holy texts has also been muted.
We have, however, received the sympathy and compassion of the people
of America and other countries around the world. Awareness has spread
by word of mouth, through interactions with Tibetan people who are
refugees in this country, as well as through the arts and media,
in the form of books, music, dance and films.
Western students of Buddhism have long had an interest in Tibet,
flocking to Dharamsala, India, or Kathmandu, Nepal or anywhere that
they can find a Tibetan Lama or Rinpoche to receive teachings. These
days, many of these westerners have opened Buddhist centers of their
own, and Tibetan Lamas have more and more opportunities to travel
and teach all over the world. Even here in Portland, there are so
many Buddhist centers that one could fill an entire calendar with
dates for blessings, teachings, or lectures by resident or visiting
esteemed teachers and certainly find a personal guru.
The Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association was established in 1994
to support the cultural activities for Tibetans who make their home
in Oregon and Southwest Washington. The Association is sponsoring
the Pathways to Peace festival, which will be a stepping stone to
our ultimate goal of establishing a permanent Tibetan Center in
Portland. This center, which would be the first of its kind in North
America, will help preserve Tibetan culture and foster the study
of peace and understanding.
His Holiness visit marks the culmination of a 3-year effort
initiated by the NWTCA under the leadership of its current President
Mr. Jigme Topgyal. The Governor, the Mayor of Portland, the Chief
of Portland Public Schools, the Jewish, Buddhist and Native American
communities, the World Forestry Institute and many other community
and social organizations graciously endorsed his visit. The visit
and all the events surrounding it was called the Pathways to Peace
program, and many volunteers from both the Tibetan and American
community worked hard on the planning and organization.
While most tickets for paid events were already sold out by the
beginning of this year, there are still many free events including
a welcoming celebration on May 13, 2001 at Pioneer Courthouse Square
from 12:30 5:30 pm. This multicultural celebration will include
music, entertainment, and food and it is free and open to the public.
Throughout the month of May there will be exhibitions of Tibetan
Art, Music, and Films. Also, many Tibetan teachers and Rinpoches
will be offering Buddhist teachings after the 3-day event.
You can visit the Pathways to Peace website at www.nwtca.com. They may be reached at (503)222-7172