Prayer for peace ? Dalai Lama goes to Ireland

by Marco Cerna, Georgetown Voice, Dec 1, 2005

Belfast, Northern Ireland -- Three Georgetown students accompanied the Dalai Lama to Northern Ireland last week on a visit to promote peaceful dialogue.

Adam Frisoli (CAS ‘07), Alex Miller (CAS ‘08) and Raymond Schillinger (CAS ‘08) attended the 2005 World Community Way of Peace with Friar Laurence Freeman, a Benedictine monk who directs the new John Main Center for Meditation and Inter-Religious Dialogue at Georgetown University. Fr. Freeman invited the students, who work with him at the Center, to represent Georgetown and help with event logistics.

The Way of Peace event reflected the diversity of religion these students promote at the Meditation center. The annual Way of Peace event aims to have religions come together and meditate to help open dialogue, Freeman said.

Freeman accompanied the Dalai Lama to the same event in 2000 as director of the World Community of Christian Meditation, which hosts the event. This year, it was held in Belfast at the Dalai Lama’s suggestion. The Dalai Lama is the Tibetan head of state and spiritual leader.

“The Dalai Lama was interested in going back because of the disarmament, which seemed like an important turning point in the peace process,” Freeman said.

Beginning Nov. 19, leaders of the major parties in Northern Ireland held private audiences with the Dalai Lama to discuss the conflict in Northern Ireland, Miller said. The students also spoke privately with the Dalai Lama and his brother Tenzin Choegyal.

“It’s hopeful to see a human face on politics,” Miller said, struck by the awed reactions of the politicians after the meetings.

Frisoli added that the Dalai Lama’s willingness to relate his experiences in Tibet to the situation in Northern Ireland was encouraging.

“There is something powerful about him, but he’s also very disarming,” Frisoli said. “He can be serious or giddy from moment to moment and is very curious about everything; he exudes innocence and commands respect.”

Freeman said the Dalai Lama did not present any political solutions but sought to bring an outside perspective that could facilitate discourse between the Catholic and Protestant leaders.

“As a Buddhist, he could be rational about an irrational situation and help put it in perspective,” he said. “If Christians and Buddhists can be friends, why can’t Christians be friends with each other?”