REDLANDS: Buddhist leader visits campus, will be awarded doctorate (The Press Enterprise)
A Buddhist leader will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Redlands on Tuesday; on Monday, he toured the campus
Published: March 23, 2015 Updated: 9:52 p.m.
A major Buddhist spiritual leader — a Tibetan refugee who resides in a monastery in India — is making only one stop in Southern California, the University of Redlands, during a two-month tour of the U.S.
He toured the campus on Monday, March 23, and will be back Tuesday to receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, directly after which he will give a lecture. The 7 p.m. ceremony is sold out but will be streamed live at kagyuoffice.org/webcast/
Just 29 years old, His Holiness the Karmapa, whose full name is Ogyen Trinley Dorje, leads a school of Tibetan Buddhism, the Karma Kagyu school, which goes back 900 years and has millions of followers.
He has a bond with the University of Redlands.
In 2011 and 2013, two groups of University of Redlands students traveled to India to study with His Holiness. The school says his interactions with the students formed the basis of his book, “The Heart Is Noble: Changing the World From the Inside and Out,” co-edited by University of Redlands religion professor Karen Derris. Another book is in the works.
Wearing white ceremonial scarves, 20 of those students — now alumni — trailed behind His Holiness as he toured the campus Monday. They traveled near and far to be in his presence.
“I couldn’t miss it,” said Anne Heuerman, 23, describing the opportunity as exceedingly rare.
The experience of studying with His Holiness had an impact on the former biology student, now a research assistant at Loma Linda University.
“He put a lot of things in perspective,” she said.
Heuerman is interested in medicine and she said they talked about mental illness. One of the things that he said has stuck with her: If someone hits you with a stick, you don't blame the stick.
“People with mental illness, you can't blame their brain for what's going on,” Heuerman said.
They also talked about meat. She said His Holiness doesn't make a big deal about it, but he’s a vegetarian.
“He just said, we eat meat for the taste and we don’t necessarily need it,” she said.
Heuerman has been a vegetarian since.
During his tour of the University of Redlands, His Holiness, wearing a red robe and sunglasses, blessed the school’s bulldog mascot, Thurber, and one of his paws.
The tour included stops at a computer lab, an area where students study and a cafe. Associate professor Doug Flewelling gave an overview of work done by students studying Geographic Information Systems — or interactive mapping tools and student Kate Heaton, 21, showed His Holiness and members of his team her dorm room.
His Holiness, who is learning English, remarked it is bigger than his room.
The second to last stop on the tour was a labyrinth, an area on campus for quiet contemplation. A laurel tree was planted here in His Holiness’ honor.
At the close of the tour, he posed for a group photo with students from the school’s Johnston Center for Integrative Studies. The backdrop was an ornate building strewn with Buddhist prayer flags and the Tibetan flag.
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|His Holiness the Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, 29, foreground, second from right, a Buddhist leader who heads a school of Tibetan Buddhism, tours the campus of the University of Redlands, on Monday, Mar. 23, 2015.|
, DAVID BAUMAN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
|His Holiness the Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, 29, a Buddhist leader who heads a school of Tibetan Buddhism, tours the campus of the University of Redlands, on Monday, Mar. 23, 2015.|
, DAVID BAUMAN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER