Buddhist Holiness Comes to Harvard (The Harvard Crimson)
Tibetan Lama at Divinity School
By DAVID A. DEMILO,
Clad in traditional dark red robes and surrounded by his following of ten monks and lamas, the head of the Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhists spread the faith last night to nearly 100 people at the Divinity School.
Gwalya Karmapa, the second-highest ranking living lama, is spending three months in the United States teaching the beliefs of his Buddhist order, Dharmadhatu. He came at the invitation of Harvey Cox, Thomas Professor of Divinity.
Karmapa, who swept into the Center for World Religion in a limousine flanked by a police escort, told about 20 reporters at a 5 p.m. news conference that his religion emphasizes the "impermanence of physical existence," the "permanence of the mind" and "compassion" for others.
At a 5:30 reception at Andover Hall, the Buddhist leader received several gifts from Cox and Krister Stendahl, dean of the Divinity School, including a miniature Liberty Bell. Offering the metallic souvenir, Cox said, "We would like to think of Harvard as an old school, but we feel very young in your presence."
East and West
Speaking to the crowd--which included Divinity School faculty members and students, reporters and American followers of Karmapa, Stendhal said of the mixing of Eastern and Western cultures, "This is a world where Buddha will have his witnesses in the West and Christ will have his witnesses in the East."
Karmapa is organizing a study center for Dharmadhatu in Carmel, N.Y., on 350 acres of donated land. At the reception he said he plans to build libraries, language labs and seminars at the Carmel estate, making it "the fountainhead where people will be able to learn the teaching of Dharmadhatu."
Karmapa will publicly perform the ancient ceremony of the Vajra Crown, a sacred Buddhist rite, in Boston on December 9. Only Karmapa is permitted to perform the rite, which his followers say "transmits directly to the audience the energy and intelligence of the Karmapa's awakened state of mind."
In New York on September 21 Karmapa performed the ceremony for the first time in the Western world.