Compassion: Tibetan Buddhists launch 1.2 million mantras from their Salt Lake temple

Published: Thursday, July 4 2013 5:00 p.m. MDT

Part of that enlightenment, he added, is to be aware of other religious traditions and to know how they are like Buddhism and how they are different. “We want to build bridges of understanding through our commonality,” he said. “That is how we can live together in peace and understanding.”

Part of living together with people of other faiths includes inviting others to join them in this weekend’s Prayers for Compassion, which is held in honor of the Dalai Lama’s 79th birthday (Tibetan Buddhists believe the Dalai Lama is “the manifestation of the essence of compassion,” Lama Thupten said. “He is Om Mani Padme Hung Hrih”).

“Through these opportunities we embrace our similarities and our differences,” Lama Thupten said. “For those who follow Jesus, I say ‘You follow in his way, while I follow in the way of Buddha.’ That is our commonality. By praying together we invoke the blessings of that which is most sacred to us, and we are all blessed as a result.”

There is no set time at which people should come to participate in the Prayers for Compassion. “We will be there 24 hours a day,” the lama said. “Whenever you come, there will be someone there to greet you.”

Visitors will receive brief instruction and explanation of what the Buddhist congregation is doing and they will be invited to join in the prayers in any way they choose.

“They will be given a card that has the mantra ‘Om mani padme hung hrih’ printed on it; if they feel comfortable in joining us in chanting that mantra, we would be delighted to have them do so,” Lama Thupten said. “But if they are not comfortable with that, they can do whatever it is that feels comfortable to them. They can recite a rosary, they recite scriptures or parables, they can pray in whatever way they choose. The important thing is to just be present with us, to experience it and to feel what we’re doing.”

However people of faith experience the Prayers for Compassion, Lama Thupten believes they are motivated by the very thing that is the focal point of the weekend’s activities: compassion.

“We will all be engaged in a practice to invoke compassion,” he said. “In order to pray for compassion, we must first be compassionate ourselves. Compassion, like peace, comes from within. Jesus taught that. So did the Buddha. This is how we rise above the ordinariness of our mundane existence. This is how we experience peace and harmony.”

And compassion — 1.2 million mantras worth.

Email: jwalker@desnews.com

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