BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Dalai Lama will make his first visit to the Lehigh Valley this summer, spending several days lecturing on enlightenment and well-being.
The Nobel laureate will lead a symposium from July 10-15 at Lehigh University on a 600-year-old Tibetan Buddhist text titled, "The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment."
He will also offer a two-hour public lecture on "Generating a Good Heart" at Lehigh's Stabler Arena on July 13. The general public may buy tickets beginning at 10 a.m. Monday.
"I think he's very much concerned in human happiness , and who's not interested in that?" said the Rev. Lloyd Steffen, Lehigh's chaplain, calling the visit a "historic" moment for the university.
The Dalai Lama, 72, has been the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism since 1950, less than a year before China invaded the country. In addition to pushing for Tibetan autonomy, the Dalai Lama is one of the world's foremost Buddhist scholars and an internationally recognized advocate of nonviolence.
He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and his rock-star-like appeal routinely attracts crowds of thousands. In 2005, he addressed 36,000 people in Rutgers Stadium in New Jersey.
Steffen and other Lehigh faculty members have scheduled dozens of lectures and other events in the year leading up to the visit. University dining halls have served Tibetan food at lunch once a month and, in October, Tibetan Buddhist monks created a painstakingly detailed design called a mandala in Linderman Library using colored sand.
"His visit has opened up the whole window of knowledge and understanding of Tibetan culture and Tibetan Buddhism," said Lehigh president Alice Gast, "and I think that's been a tremendous gift even before he's gotten here."
The five-day symposium is sponsored the Tibetan Buddhist Learning Center in Warren County, N.J.