Monk extends love to more than 100

By Natalie Plumb, The Daily Collegian, February 23, 2009

Pittsburg, Penn. (USA) -- More than 100 people listened to a monk "extend his love to the world" in an overflowing Forest Resources Building classroom Friday night.

Bhante Pemaratana spoke about how to maintain healthy personal relationships at an event organized by the Penn State Buddhist community and sponsored by the Pittsburgh Buddhist Center, where Pemaratana serves.

Pemaratana, who has been a monk for 12 years, emphasized four skills and four virtues one must acquire to maintain a healthy relationship.

"Don't seek perfection in a changing world. Instead, perfect your love," Pemaratana said, speaking of the "skill" of having unconditional love for oneself. "You can't love and accept others as a whole without loving and accepting yourself fully."

Pemaratana sat at the front of the room and smiled serenely throughout the discussion. He referred to a PowerPoint presentation with slides of cartoonish characters to make his points in a visual way.

Pemaratana stressed two other skills -- the importance of "accepting the weaknesses and recognizing the goodness in others" and of not being judgmental. If people concentrate on the goodness in others, this will make that goodness grow, and the badness will no longer be imminent, he said.

"If you water the flowers, the flowers will grow," Pemaratana said. "But likewise, if you water the weeds, the weeds will grow."

Pemaratana also touched upon ego, saying everyone has one and it is often an infringement on relationships. Overcoming this is also a skill, he said.

Pemaratana seemed excited to speak in front of such a large audience and wanted nothing more than to "help them be happy," he said.

Among Pemaratana's suggested virtues to attain were generosity, amiable speech, adapting to situations with patience and cordial conduct.

"Be like water," Pemaratana said concerning the virtue of adaptation. "In relationships, sometimes we must make sacrifices and adapt."

The audience responded positively to Pemaratana's lecture.

"I like the message he's bringing that we should focus on the positive," said Kerry Dubyk (junior-broadcast journalism), who considers Pemaratana "like an expert" when it comes to advice about relationships.

Though some students said they initially came for the extra credit, they said they were happy they came.

"A lot of what he said was common sense, but then he put a neat spin on it," Matt Hickok (sophomore-supply chain and information systems) said.
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