Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dalai Lama visits NYC to teach about emptiness

The Dalai Lama will teach the spiritual value of emptiness and its importance in existence at Radio City Music Hall this weekend.The Dalai Lama, whose name is Tenzin Gyatso, is considered by Buddhists to be the 14th reincarnation of the Buddha of compassion, Chenrezig. He will be teaching the Diamond Cutter Sutra, along with the 70 verses by Indian philosopher Nagarjuna that explain the Buddha's ideas on emptiness, said the Venerable Nicholas Vreeland, a coordinator of the Tibet Center.The teachings will take place on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and will be repeated from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. More teachings will be held on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., followed by a public talk on peace and prosperity with an introduction by actor Richard Gere, Vreeland said. It will be the first time the Diamond Cutter Sutra is being taught by a Dalai Lama, Vreeland said. Tickets for the teachings are still available through Ticketmaster or, but the public talk on Sunday is sold out, Vreeland said.According to Vreeland, the teachings will emphasize the importance of emptiness, which doesn't mean nothingness but instead means to reject the need to grasp at a sense of self in order to allow a "spiritual revolution." The concepts that are going to be introduced by the teachings usually take years of studying to understand, but the teachings will provide a basic introduction for the public."[The Dalai Lama] is giving us a very brief introduction on this subject - planting a seed which we need to cultivate," Vreeland said. "But the seed is very important, especially when given by a great master." Vreeland said students who are interested in attending should plan on going to all of the sessions in order to understand them in their entirety, and should relax and listen carefully to gain the most from them.The Dalai Lama's visit is being organized by the Tibet Center, the oldest Tibetan Buddhist center in New York, and the Initiatives Foundation, Gere's public charity organization, Vreeland said. This is the fourth visit the Tibet Center and Gere have organized for the Dalai Lama in the city, the others taking place in 1991, 1999 and 2003.Vreeland, who wrote the New York Times bestseller "An Open Heart" about the Dalai Lama's teachings and who is in the process of writing another book, said the response to the Dalai Lama's visits has always been remarkable, with crowds of up to 250,000 attending the Dalai Lama's teachings in Central Park. He said the Tibet Center was happy to be able to help organize these visits."We are really honored to have done this together with Gere on the previous three occasions, and are very excited to be co-hosting this event with him," Vreeland said.

Ms.Cat Contiguglia