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Lions Roar : January 2007
is a Dalai Lama Foundation in Palo Alto, California, founded in 2002; its purpose is to assist and coordinate the many institu- tions and groups around the world that practice and present the teachings of the Dalai Lama.) “I am delighted that the Dalai Lama has chosen Vancouver as the home for this center,” says Mayor Sam Sullivan. “Given our city’s reputation as a leader in promoting inclusivity, it is fitting that we would now welcome a new facility dedicated to fostering peace and compassion.” Why Vancouver? It is already a meeting place of East and West, both in commerce and in thought. Chan, for example, a Vancou- ver photographer and writer (The Wisdom of Forgiveness, with the Dalai Lama, and Tibet Handbook: A Pilgrimage Guide), is origi- nally from Hong Kong. His Holiness likes both the city, which he has visited four times, and Canada, which recently made him its third-ever honorary citizen (the others are Desmond Tutu and the late Raoul Wallenberg of Sweden). The center will be international in scope and nonreligious in attitude, Chan says. He has recruited additional Nobel Peace Prize winners to its advisory board, including former president Jimmy Carter and Irish activist Mairead Maguire. He has already raised $30 million from anonymous donors of a projected $60 million budget for a downtown Vancouver site that will combine a drop-in center with a research center for scholars looking into ways to educate the heart, cultivate compassion, and work for peace. Chan expects the center to open in 2009, to be followed by a retreat on nearby Bowen Island, which will be developed for meditation and private study. ♦ Promoting Human Values ROBERT MARTIN on the new Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2007 65 “Eventually I came across Buddhist practice and I had a very good teacher. On the basis of my biological seed of compassion, I saw through education the value of unbiased compassion and the negativeness of biased compassion. Then my compassion became more unbi- ased. Eventually these convictions led to a deeper experience of infinite compas- sion, and of how unbiased compassion brings emotional inner peace and inner strength.” Again, his objective and analytic ap- proach seems more compatible with West- ern science than religious mysticism. “How do we change?” he asked. “It’s not through prayer. Throughout the centuries we have prayed, but I think the results have been limited. Maybe in individual cases it has had some effect, giving people some peace of mind, but for the whole so- ciety or the whole planet, the effect is very limited. Prayer is very limited, and the ef- fect of meditation also is very limited.” His faith is in human intelligence, rea- son, and self-interest, albeit a higher self- interest. We can learn to be more compassionate because it makes sense. “In some cases, people get the impression that subjects such as compassion and forgiveness are religious matters which don’t relate to the day-by-day level,” he said. “That is a mistake.” Discuss the pros and cons of caring for others, he suggests, and the bene- fits and downsides are obvious. Compassion brings happiness for oneself (and you see why he spends so much time on the scientific study of happiness: it gives him the evidence he needs), and it cre- ates a stronger, happier, and more peaceful society. ➢ page 111 The Dalai Lama with Victor Chan, founder of the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education in Vancouver. PHOTOBYWILLIAMJANS/WRJPHOTO.COM