News

29-30 May 2020 

Members of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics (CSRP) present at the Dalai Lama’s online Avalokiteshvara Empowerment 

During the Pandemic, His Holiness the 14th Dalai, decided to invite Lamas and friends from all over the world to receive the Tibetan Buddhist Avalokiteshvara Empowerment during the mornings of the 29th and 30th May (IST) from his home in Dharamshala, India. Among the guests taking part in the online Buddhist ‘transmission of knowledge’ there was Professor M.I. Aguilar of the School of Divinity, historian of the Dalai Lama and of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as members of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics (CSRP). The Dalai Lama who is a graduate from St. Andrews as he received an honorary doctorate in 1996 insisted that while he had taught online for a few years, he had never thought that the pandemic would be the occasion to perform such ‘transmission of knowledge’. Thus, the Dalai Lama transmitted the blessings and knowledge of Avalokiteshvara together with Buddhist monks from all over the world as well as scholars of Buddhism and friends of Tibet from all over the world. Avalokiteshvara is the earthly manifestation of the self-born eternal Buddha Amitabha, whose figure is represented in his headdress, and he guards the world in the interval between the departure of the historical Buddha, Gautama, and the appearance of the future buddha, Maitreya. The Dalai Lama initiated all present on the rituals and transmissions of the blessing known as ‘the Lion’s Roar’ to keep us all safe during the Pandemic. Over two mornings the role of the Bodhisattva was outlined and those present were commissioned to transmit such knowledge to others and to exercise compassion to the world and to St. Andrews. For Professor Aguilar this was the culmination of his own study and commentary of the Way of the Bodhisattva to be published in India this year, see Mario I Aguilar, The 14th Dalai Lama: Peacekeeping and Universal Responsibility (New Delhi: Routledge, 2020).

14 December 2019

The United Nations Climate Change Conference 25 was to take place in Santiago, Chile from 2-13 December 2019. However, due to the violence that started in Chile in October the meeting was moved to Madrid. However, a significant number of Chilean organisations decided to remain in Chile and to run a parallel international session in Santiago. Fundación Milarepa for the dialogue with Asia was one of them and hosted researchers from the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics (CSRP) of Scotland, Dr Ann Mitchell, and the Secretary General of Laudato Si’ International Dr James Morris, also a CSRP Associate Researcher based in Japan.

The main conference session took place on Wednesday 11 December hosted by Fundación Milarepa at a corporate building in the financial district of Santiago. Speakers on Laudato Si’, dialogue, religion and politics, ecology in Colombia and Japan, and contemporary Chile delivered substantial papers. Members of the interfaith movement in Chile were also present. Speakers included Marcela Arévalo (Fundación Milarepa), Jorge Cuché (Fundación Milarepa), Ivonne Bell (Fundación MIlarepa), Professor Tony Lang of the University of St. Andrews who spoke via skype, Dr Ann Mitchell (CSRP, Laudato Si’), and Dr James Morris (CSRP, Laudato Si’). The session was chaired by Professor M.I. Aguilar, director of the CSRP.

On Thursday 12th December there was a meeting of Laudato Si’ Fellows and members at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. In parallel meetings, the developments of a new Foundation, Health without Borders (Salud Sin Fronteras), were discussed with the medical advice of Dr Camila Foncea, a Chilean dentist surgeon ( lecturer at the Catholic University and CSRP Research Associate), and the international coordination of Professor Aguilar. Impact in research, aid to local communities, and international cooperation were the key areas that will bring together the new Foundation with the CSRP, Laudato Si’ International, universities in the UK, Chile, and Japan, and with research and education programs on dialogue and health, religion and politics in Chile, Colombia, India, Mexico, Ruanda, and Somaliland.

Research cooperation and action within communities, as well as a full publishing program will continue to prepare for the COP26 in Glasgow in November 2020. Indeed, during 2020 the cooperative research team of the different organisations will meet at the annual meeting of the European Academy of Religion (Bologna June 2020), and at the conference ‘Diverse Aspects of Dialogue: Religion, Politics, and Health’ at the University of Tsukuba (Japan, October 2020). We are in conversations with Laudato Si’ Fellows from Samoa to explore the possibility of a conference in New Zealand during 2020.