C O M M E N C E M E N T
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Tibetan Buddhist Studies Institute inaugurated
Gathering in Cannon Chapel the day after Commencement, four hundred and fifty members of the Emory community and representatives of the Drepung Loseling Monastery celebrated the first affiliation between a Western university and a Tibetan institution of learning. His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama delivered the inaugural lecture for the 1998 Summer Institute for Tibetan Buddhist Studies, the first program of the formal partnership between Emory and Drepung Loseling, a major center of Tibetan scholarship currently in exile in India.
"I believe this is a very historic moment, to see the forging of a relation between two very eminent academic institutions which represent both the best of the Tibetan tradition and the Western academic tradition," His Holiness told the gathering. "I think it is extremely commendable to see the emergence of this new affiliation, to provide a resource in this country where people can have access to the study of the Tibetan tradition and also its interface with aspects of other intellectual traditions."
The new partnership culminates planning that began in 1995, during the Dalai Lama's second visit to Emory, when he met with faculty and administrators to discuss the possibility of such an affiliation. The agreement was signed earlier this year. The summer program, the first offering under the auspices of the agreement, is led jointly by Emory's Department of Religion and the Loseling Institute, the Atlanta-based North American seat of the Drepung Loseling Monastery.
"We feel extremely fortunate that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is now able to merge traditional spiritual values with modern science to assist future generations as they embark upon the next century," said Geshe Konchok Pasang, abbot of Drepung Loseling. "I would like to express my deep respect to President Chace and Emory University for their courageous leadership and their vision of a formal affiliation between two great traditions."
Dean of Emory College and Vice President for Arts and Sciences Steven E. Sanderson echoed Pasang's optimism. "This agreement, and particularly the summer institute, are joined with all the high hopes and promise of a new journey of mutual benefit, intellectual exchange, cultural leadership, and openness. Both traditions value great rhetoric and argument, both protect the scholarly canon and ponder the eternal questions, both demand that we detach ourselves from the whirlwind of everyday life and reflect for some greater knowledge, and both gratefully are open to learning from other traditions."--A.O.A.
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