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January 25, 2010

Dalai Lama to make third visit to Stanford

By Adam Gorlick

The Dalai Lama will be at Stanford for two days in October, returning to the university to discuss compassion, altruism and what it means to lead a meaningful life.

Tibet's exiled political and spiritual leader was invited by Philip Pizzo, dean of the School of Medicine. The Rev. Scotty McLennan, dean of the Office for Religious Life, is co-sponsoring the events scheduled for mid-October.

The Dalai Lama will deliver a public talk on "The Centrality of Compassion in Human Life and Society" at Maples Pavilion on Oct. 14. That afternoon, he will talk about leading a meaningful life as part of this year's Rathbun Visiting Fellow program. Ticket information will be available this summer.

The Rathbun fellowship was created in 2008 in memory of the late law Professor Harry Rathbun and his late wife, Emilia. The fellows, who have included retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and former Secretary of State George Shultz, give a speech at Memorial Church, reflecting on what it takes to live a life of meaning.

On Oct. 15, the Dalai Lama will take part in a daylong conference sponsored by the School of Medicine's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education titled "Scientific Explorations of Compassion and Altruism."

Pizzo said the Dalai Lama's input will "help to further promote our understanding of compassion and altruism in scientific, medical and spiritual domains."

"His Holiness the Dalai Lama is one of the world's most renowned and respected spiritual and moral voices and has inspired generations and millions of people throughout the world about the fundamental underpinnings of a caring and compassionate life," Pizzo said.

Several small, private gatherings with groups including Stanford's Ho Center for Buddhist Studies are also being planned.

The upcoming visit will mark the Dalai Lama's third trip to Stanford. He first came in 1994, and returned in 2005 to talk about nonviolence, meditation, science and spirituality.

"The real impetus for the Dalai Lama's visit this time is his excitement about what Stanford is doing by starting the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education," McLennan said. "He thinks it's important to use the language of science to reach people. People will not listen to him merely as a religious person. He says he needs to connect with people using a language he feels is universal."

The Dalai Lama has helped pay for the creation of the center with some of the proceeds from his book sales, McLennan said.

Born in Tibet 75 years ago, Tenzin Gyatso was named the 14th Dalai Lama when he was 2 years old. That made him the successor in a line of political and spiritual leaders spanning six centuries. He was forced into exile after a failed Tibetan uprising against China in 1959. He has since lived in India, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and makes frequent speaking engagements around the world.

A website devoted to the Dalai Lama's visit is being developed and will be launched in February.



Adam Gorlick, Stanford News Service: (650) 725-0224,


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