His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama To Lead Environmental Summit in Portland

Written by: Jeanne Alberts, John Alberts, Laura Miller

His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama.

At the invitation of Maitripa College and its founder and president, Yangsi Rinpoche, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will return to Portland, to join with leaders from the environmental, scientific, policy and faith communities for an Environmental Summit on May 9 & 11. Maitripa College is the host of the Portland visit.

Founded in 2006, Maitripa College is the first Tibetan Buddhist school of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, and its mission is direct – to develop the good heart through scholarship, meditation and service. The college hopes the connections made through the environmental summit will carry His Holiness’ message of promoting universal human values and fostering inter-religious harmony to a larger audience, especially within the context of our shared environment.

The summit could not be timelier – 2012 was the hottest year in recorded history. It was also a year which included record drought across the Midwest and the devastation of the Northeast coast by Hurricane Sandy. At a time when so many feel paralyzed in the face of intensifying environmental degradation, Maitripa’s president seeks to empower individuals and communities to create change.

Lobsang Nyandak, representative of H.H. the Dalai Lama to the Americas, and Yangsi Rinpoche, Maitripa College president, check the Maitripa College meditation hall seating capacity and staging plans, for a private event.

Lobsang Nyandak, representative of H.H. the Dalai Lama to the Americas, and Yangsi Rinpoche, Maitripa College president, check the Maitripa College meditation hall seating capacity and staging plans, for a private event.

“As we face the environmental issues before us, solutions will come through awareness and individual responsibility,” said Yangsi Rinpoche. “The purpose of the Dalia Lama Environmental Summit is not to focus on all that is wrong, but to inspire ourselves and future generations to act in a positive way for the environment.”

“Individual responsibility arises from individual inspiration, formed and catalyzed by spirituality, philosophy and policy,” he said. “Therefore, this summit is designed as a platform for these three areas, all driving forces of action on this planet.”

The summit commences the morning of Thursday, May 9, with an interfaith dialogue entitled, “Spirituality and the Environment.” Joining His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be leaders from the Archdiocese of Portland, Rabbi Michael Z. Cahana of Congregation Beth Israel; Imam Muhammed Najieb of the Muslim Community Center, and Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim from the Confederated Tribes of Siletz.

On Thursday afternoon, His Holiness will offer a public talk on “Universal Responsibility and the Inner Environment: The Nature of Mind.” Both events will be held at the University of Portland’s Chiles Center.

On Saturday morning, May 11, His Holiness will join a panel discussion with political and scientific leaders on the role of science and policy in catalyzing environmental action globally and in the Northwest. The discussion, “Environmental Summit: Universal Responsibility and the Global Environment,” will take place at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum and will include Senator Jeff Merkley, Congressman Earl Blumenauer, David Suzuki, an award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster, and Andrea Durbin, executive director of the Oregon Environmental Council.

Lobsang Nyandak chats with board members, faculty, and staff of Maitripa College and the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana tradition. From left to right, Scott South, Sara Winkelman, Jim Blumenthal, George Chesrow, Namdrol Miranda Adams and Lobsang Nyandak.

Lobsang Nyandak chats with board members, faculty, and staff of Maitripa College and the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana tradition. From left to right, Scott South, Sara Winkelman, Jim Blumenthal, George Williams, Namdrol Miranda Adams and Lobsang Nyandak.

Concluding the summit on Saturday afternoon, His Holiness will deliver a public talk entitled “Inspiration for the Global Environment,” co-sponsored by the World Affairs Council.

Lobsang Nyandak, who was given the post of representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Americas in September 2008, said during a recent visit that he had visited the college near the beginning of his term, and that this year would be his last in office.

He added that he was very happy to be finalizing and bringing “full circle,” plans to bring His Holiness to Portland. Maitripa College is honored to have worked on the program, from aspiration to fruition, with Lobsang Nyandak’s kind assistance.

In addition to his time in Portland, His Holiness will also offer a public lecture in Eugene, Ore., on Friday afternoon, May 10, co-organized by the University of Oregon and the Eugene Sakya Center.

For more information, updates and potential volunteer opportunities, please subscribe to the Maitripa College e-newsletter, or visit www.dalailamaportland2013.net.