PORTLAND, Oregon, April 12, 2013 (ENS) – His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, will be in Oregon May 9 through 11 to lead a three-day conference on the environment called the Environmental Summit: Universal Responsibility and the Global Environment.

The 77-year-old spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, who lives in exile in Dharamsala, India, will share his views on the responsibility each human being has for the welfare of the planet and all of its inhabitants.

Dalai Lama

His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, October 14, 2012 (Photo by Christopher Michel courtesy Wikipedia)

His Holiness has been conveying the message of universal responsibility for decades.

In his 1976 book, “Universal Responsibility and the Good Heart,” the Dalai Lama wrote, “Today we all are facing a number of serious problems, such as the energy crisis, pollution, and overpopulation. To the extent that the difficulties of life have natural causes, they must be accepted and adjusted to as much as possible. But many of our troubles are man-made, created by our own ignorance, greed and irresponsible action.”

“I feel that our problems, though grave and complex, are within our own power to control and rectify,” he wrote. “The solution can only be based upon an approach which transcends selfish and regional demands. A direct confrontation with the universality of our predicament, along with the ultimate unity of our needs and desires, is vital to our success.”

The Dalai Lama was awarded the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, and universal responsibility was a theme of the lecture he gave when he accepted the award on December 11, 1989.

“We must develop a sense of universal responsibility not only in the geographic sense, but also in respect to the different issues that confront our planet,” he told the audience in Oslo, Norway.

“Responsibility does not only lie with the leaders of our countries or with those who have been appointed or elected to do a particular job. It lies with each one of us individually,” he said. “Peace, for example, starts with each one of us. When we have inner peace, we can be at peace with those around us. When our community is in a state of peace, it can share that peace with neighboring communities, and so on. When we feel love and kindness towards others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.”

Congressman Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat representing Portland, said he is delighted to welcome the Buddhist leader to his city.

“It is a true privilege for Portlanders to host His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a spiritual leader who unites people around the world,” Blumenauer said. “This summit offers a rare and wondrous opportunity to discuss the importance of protecting the global environment, the dangers posed by climate change, and the vital role of ensuring clean water and sanitation.”

“Treating people and the planet with respect should be a universal responsibility and the visit of His Holiness is an excellent occasion to highlight that shared promise,” Blumenauer said.

Maitripa College is host for all Portland events during this visit by His Holiness. Founded in 2006 as the first Buddhist college in the Pacific Northwest, Maitripa offers graduate studies integrating scholarship, meditation, and service in its Master of Arts in Buddhist Studies and Master of Divinity degree programs.

Maitripa College founding president Yangsi Rinpoche said, “As we face the environmental issues before us, solutions will come through awareness and individual responsibility. The purpose of the Dalai Lama Environmental Summit is not to focus on all that is wrong, but to inspire ourselves and future generations to act in a positive way for the environment.”

“Individual responsibility arises from individual inspiration, formed and catalyzed by spirituality, philosophy and policy,” said Yangsi Rinpoche. “Therefore, this summit is designed as a platform for these three areas, all driving forces of action on this planet.”

As it opens May 9, the summit will feature an interfaith dialogue, “Spirituality and the Environment,” in which His Holiness will engage with leaders from the Archdiocese of Portland, Rabbi Michael Cahana of Congregation Beth Israel, Imam Muhammed Najieb of the Muslim Community Center, and Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim from the Confederated Tribes of Siletz.

Regional leaders participating in these events include Oregon Environmental Council Executive Director Andrea Durbin and Canadian science broadcaster and environmental activist David Suzuki.

In addition to his participation in the events in Portland, His Holiness will also offer a public lecture, “The Path to Peace and Happiness in a Global Society,” in Eugene, Oregon on May 10, co-organized by the University of Oregon and the Eugene Sakya Center.

In a supporting statement for the Campaign for Climate Justice, the Dalai Lama said, “While the earth is our only home, we human beings have an immense capacity to alter the environment. Therefore, we have a two-fold responsibility, firstly, to take greater steps to care for this world, and, secondly, to undo the serious environmental degradation that has resulted from incorrect human behavior.”

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