Copyright 2010 Ben S. Pollock
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — The appearances in Iowa of the exiled spiritual and political leader of China-controlled Tibet, the 14th Dalai Lama, had a successive feel: first a closed reception for a few dozen donors on Monday, May 17, a panel discussion the next morning, then finally a solo turn that afternoon. One wanted His Holiness to hit it out of the park, but knew he’d likely further develop thoughts he’d begun earlier, yet the overall memory is one of satisfaction. Any disappointment would disappear as days melded and faded, much like a bright mandala brushed into a heap of now pastel sand.
This wasn’t summer camp, a spiritual retreat or a rock festival despite similarities. The man in the burgundy and goldenrod robes simply agreed to a couple of speeches in a state he’d not visited before. [Aspects previously covered in Lama-palooza I and Lama-palooza II.]
The title of the Dalai Lama’s keynote address,”The Power of Education,” indicated more a starting point for broad considerations rather than a subject, and indeed was the practiced ramble of an extraordinary mind.
First, before the 2 p.m. start, the University of Northern Iowa Wind Symphony played. As a recorder and low brass player, I’m a sucker for bands, and the group had it a little rough. The spring semester was over by a week or so yet they hung around for this. They were playing before an audience of 5,000 in the basketball arena (the lofty acoustics of such are frustrating, too) settled noisily into the bleachers.
The UNI president, Benjamin J. Allen, opened. He presented His Holiness an honorary doctorate. The academic collar-shawl kept slipping off the Venerable’s shoulders.
Next, the band, accompanied by several choruses, including a children’s chorale, performed Joy, composed for the visit by UNI music professor Jonathan Schwabe, a setting of a Buddhist verse. It’s sung in English, and the translation also was in the program. It advises joy, peace, health, trust. It’s a handsome piece performed with quiet passion. Hearing Joy again would be a pleasure; maybe a podcast was made. Schwabe presented the Dalai Lama with the handwritten original score; in return he received a khata white silk scarf and a blessing.
Leaving the arena later, MB and I found ourselves walking near a French horn player Continue reading