Maral Cavner (left) and her mother, Nadia Cavner, spend time with the Dalai Lama in New York on Sept. 23.
Photo provided by Nadia Cavner
Nadia Cavner and her 15-year-old daughter, Maral, sat in the lobby of the Waldorf Towers in New York last Saturday, waiting their turn to meet one of the most respected religious leaders in the world — the Dalai Lama.
They were among the rich and famous — President and Sen. Clinton had met him the day before, and they watched movie maker Martin Scorsese escorted in just before their meeting — but they met a gentle man who represented much more than money or power.
"The minute he greets you ... you can sense the immense peace in this man," said Nadia of the leader of Tibetan Buddhism.
She pointed out the Dalai Lama's lessons of humility — as you walk in any room, feel yourself the lowest person there — and Jesus' lesson — anyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Nadia grew up in Iran, a minority Assyrian Christian, but her family left for the United States when she was 14. A Roman Catholic, she married a Disciples of Christ minister and shares worship in both churches.
"As a child I saw the importance of respect and interdependence of every living human being and all faiths," she said.
Taking her daughter to visit a man who teaches those principles was an important way for Nadia to pass along the lessons of humility and peace that both the Dalai Lama and Jesus Christ express.
"He's a very peaceful guy," Maral said of the Dalai Lama.
Her lesson about peace? "In an ideal society there would be world peace, countries would be getting together in cooperation."
Nadia said she has studied Judaism and has read the Quran.
"We need to break down barriers to stop aggression," she said. "We must accept our differences and learn from each other to create a better world for our children."
The Dalai Lama offered a "humble" example. When Nadia told him, "God bless you," she was concerned that she might have offended him as a Buddhist.
"But he said, 'Thank you, I need all the blessings I can get.' He was so humble, so graceful," she said.