Tibetan Buddhists in Erie join others in prayers for peace

By DANA MASSING, GoErie.com, Dec 31, 2010

Erie, PA (USA) -- Tibetan Buddhists in the Erie area will join others around the world welcoming the first light of the Western new year with pleas for peace.

"It's prayers for peace: peace in your own life, peace in the lives of your loved ones, peace in the world," said Julia Hamilton, a member of Erie Karma Thegsum Choling.

The local Kagyu Tibetan Buddhist center, at 722 W. Eighth St., will host a nondenominational offering of lamps and aspiration prayers Saturday, New Year's Day, beginning at 7:30 a.m.

The local First Light, Aspiration Prayers for World Peace Ceremony will get under way shortly before the sun is due to rise over Erie at about 7:49 a.m.

First Light 2011 will actually start hours earlier when the sun rises at the international date line. The prayers will then follow the sun westward around the world, organizers said.

This is the seventh year in which the Erie group has participated in the international collaboration started in 2000 by western disciples of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, according to a news release from Hamilton.

Her center and others affiliated with the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra monastery near Woodstock, N.Y., are participating in the event, she said.

The collaboration is meant to focus world attention on the need for peaceful, loving relationships among family members, within communities and among all nations, races and religions, according to the release.

Hamilton said anyone is welcome to attend First Light 2011 at the Erie center.

The event will include two 20-minute meditation sessions separated by walking meditation, she said.

The hourlong service also will feature the chanting of prayers for world peace written by the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, head of the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

Lit candles will be placed on the shrine, allowing people to symbolically add the light of their prayers and aspirations to the light of the sun, according to the release.

Hamilton said she and others will be available after the service to answer questions and share information about the local center.