The Good Heart - Contributors

A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus

Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was born on 6 July 1935 in the province of Amdo in northeastern Tibet. His family was of poor peasant stock, and of his fifteen brothers and sisters only six would survive: two girls and four boys. When he was two years old, he was recognized as the fourteenth in the line of Dalai Lamas, the previous Dalai Lama having died in 1933. The title Dalai Lama means “ocean of wisdom,” and holders of that title are considered to be the manifestations of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Chenrezig. With his family, the young Dalai Lama moved to Lhasa, where he underwent extensive spiritual and religious formation. He was officially enthroned on 22 February 1940. In 1959 the Fourteenth Dalai Lama took his final exam in Lhasa, during the annual Prayer Festival of Mönlam, and passed with honors, being awarded the highest level geshe degree, roughly equivalent to a doctorate degree in Buddhist philosophy.

Tenzin Gyatso was the first Dalai Lama to come into full contact with modern technology, and he retains a keen interest in science. One of his hobbies is fixing radios.

Before the 1950s, Tibet was governed as a religious state, and the Dalai Lama exercised both spiritual and secular power there. Every Tibetan has a deep and inexpressible connection with the Dalai Lama, who embodies Tibet for them in all its spiritual and natural meaning. Until one was appointed in 1942, no minister for foreign affairs was thought to be necessary because of Tibet’s isolation from the rest of the world. But on 7 October 1950 the Chinese army invaded Tibet’s sovereign borders. Militarily overwhelmed and committed to nonviolence, the Dalai Lama believed an agreement of cohabitation could be arranged with Beijing in which Tibet could maintain its autonomy. In 1954 he went to Beijing for peace talks with Mao Tse Tung.

In 1959, the brutal manner in which the occupying Chinese forces repressed a Tibetan rebellion in March of that year and the imminent danger to his own position and life forced the Dalai Lama to flee Tibet and take refuge in India where the Indian government accorded him the right to settle in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh. Many thousands of Tibetans have followed him into exile. Many other thousands who remained in Tibet have been killed or tortured by the occupying Chinese forces; monasteries have been routinely destroyed, and a systematic program of cultural genocide has been pursued.

In 1963 the Dalai Lama presented a draft democratic constitution for Tibet, and in 1992 he stated that when Tibet regains its independence he will give up his historical and political authority and live as a private citizen. The Dalai Lama has consistently declared that while he directs Tibet’s affairs, he will pursue a policy of nonviolence. Any solution based on the use of force, he believes, can by its nature only be temporary. “Outer disarmament comes from inner disarmament. The only guarantee of peace lies within ourselves.” His uncompromising commitment to peace was accorded global recognition when in 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.

The Dalai Lama talks of human nature in a simple and moving way. His mastery of the full depth and intricacy of Buddhist thought has been so fully absorbed that he not only teaches but is felt to embody the Dharma. Buddhism, for him, is neither a dogma nor a religion but a way to live in peace, joy, and wisdom. He emphasizes universal responsibility and the interdependence of all individuals and nations in the realization of the essential goodness of human nature. For many years the Dalai Lama has traveled extensively and tirelessly as a teacher of peace and a dispenser of wisdom and joy.

At the 1994 John Main Seminar, the Dalai Lama commented for the first time on the Christian Gospels and entered into a dialogue on their meaning with Christians. This is in line with his long advocacy and practice of interfaith dialogue, a vision he has shared and practiced many times during meetings with Pope John Paul II. He sees that the peaceful respect and reverence between religions that this world era demands must emerge from a sharing not only of thought but, even more profoundly, of contemplative experience. Thus, three times each day, the Dalai Lama meditated in silence with the participants of the Seminar.

Father Laurence Freeman, OSB
Laurence Freeman was born in England in 1951 where he was educated by the Benedictines and received a master’s degree in English literature at Oxford University. He became a Benedictine monk and studied under John Main, his friend and teacher with whom he worked to teach the Christian tradition of meditation widely around the world. Laurence Freeman, who is a monk of the Monastery of Christ the King in London in the Olivetan Congregation, is now director of the World Community for Christian Meditation. He teaches widely and is the author of Light Within, The Selfless Self, A Short Span of Days, and Web of Silence, as well as many tapes and articles.

Robert Kiely
Robert Kiely is Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Professor of English and American Literature and Master of Adams House at Harvard University. He teaches courses in nineteenthand twentieth-century fiction, the English Bible, the literature of Christian reflection, and the pre-novel. His research focuses on narrative and narrative theory and communication. His books include Robert Louis Stevenson and the Fiction of Adventure (1964); The Romantic Novel in England (1972); Beyond Egotism: The Fiction of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and D. H. Lawrence (1980); and Reverse Tradition: Postmodern Fictions and the Nineteenth-Century Novel (1993). Robert Kiely is a Benedictine Oblate and chairperson of the Guiding Board of the World Community for Christian Meditation.

Geshe Thupten Jinpa
Geshe Thupten Jinpa has been the Dalai Lama’s principal translator on philosophy, religion, and science since 1986. During that time he has also earned advanced degrees with high honors at Ganden Monastic University, India, and at Cambridge University, England, where he is a research fellow at Girton College. Thupten Jinpa has published numerous works. He is currently residing in Cambridge, England, with his wife.

The Participants

Maureen Allan was born in 1923. She served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service in Colombo, Mombasa, and in London during World War II; was the Flag Lieutenant to the Head of British Admiralty Delegation; and was Combined Chief of Staff in Washington, DC. She was greatly involved in voluntary work with her husband’s, Lord Allan of Kilmahew’s, London Parliamentary constituency. Since 1955 she has been farming in Froyle, Hampshire, where she is an active member of the local Anglican Church. She has practiced mantra meditation and studied Advaita, or the philosophy of non-dualism, as a member of The Study Society for over thirty years. Lady Allan is trustee of the Lord Mayor Treloar Trust for Physically Handicapped Children, and is a Guiding Board member of the World Community for Christian Meditation.

Ajahn Amaro (Jeremy Horner) was born in Kent, England, in 1956. He studied psychology and physiology at Bedford College, University of London. Upon completing his degree, he visited northeast Thailand, where he stayed at a Thai monastery. He became an anagarika (lay renunciant), and then a samanera (novice monk) four months later (in 1978). The following year he received upasampada (full ordination) from Ajahn Chah. Venerable Amaro remained in Thailand for two years. When he returned to England, he joined Ajahn Sumedho at the newly established Chithurst Monastery. In 1983, Ajahn Sumedho asked him to take up residence at Harnham Vihara. Venerable Amaro requested, and was given permission, to make his way there on foot. In 1984 he wrote a book about the 830-mile walk entitled Tudong: The Long Road North.

Isabelle Glover teaches Sanskrit and Pali at two centers in London, as well as through a Distance Learning Course which she pioneered. She has studied Vedanta and its relevance for Christians for forty years. Isabelle Glover has led retreats on the themes of “Indian scriptures as spiritual reading for Christians” and “gentle Sanskrit for Yoga teachers.” She meditates and is a Benedictine Oblate. She loves music and gardening. She and her husband, Peter—who is an engineer and teacher of yoga, meditation, and relaxation through breath awareness—have three sons and nine grandchildren.

Peter Ng is Deputy Managing Director at the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, which manages the government’s overseas investments. He and his wife, Patricia, started the first Christian meditation group in Singapore in 1988. They now coordinate the work of twenty such groups. Peter Ng is a Guiding Board member of the World Community for Christian Meditation.

Eileen O’Hea is a Sister of St. Joseph of Brentwood, New York. She holds an M.S.W. from Fordham University, an M.A. in counseling psychology from Manhattan College, and did three years postgraduate training and supervision as a family therapist at the Center for Family Learning in New Rochelle, New York. She is in private practice in St. Paul, Minnesota doing psychotherapy and spiritual direction. She teaches Christian meditation and is a member of the board for the World Community for Christian Meditation. She is the author of the book Woman: Her Intuition for Otherness and the audiotapes Silent Wisdom/ Hidden Light: Christian Meditation and the Transformation of Consciousness, and Rain for the Sea, co-authored with S. Kate Martin, OPC.