The Dalai Lama postponed his scheduled October 2017 visit to Emory’s campus because of exhaustion, according to a statement from his office. The Emory presidential distinguished professor’s trip will likely be rescheduled to Spring 2018, according to Associate Director of Media Relations Elaine Justice.
“During and after the recent visit to the United States, despite His Holiness’ overall good health, he has had a recurring feeling of exhaustion,” said the statement, which Justice forwarded to the Wheel.
“His Holiness finds the long journey from India to the United States to be extremely tiresome and taxing on his body, so having to undertake another visit to North America in October would be too much for him,” the statement said.
The Dalai Lama recently cancelled an August 2017 trip to Botswana because of exhaustion, according to Reuters.
“The hope is he’ll come back, but it’s up to him,” Professor of Pedagogy and biology group leader for the Emory-Tibet Partnership Arri Eisen said. “[The postponement] is not too surprising given his age and I was thinking this might be his last visit anyway. You always miss someone like him who is uniquely authentic and full of wisdom.”
During the cancelled visit, the spiritual leader was set to give three lectures covering secular ethics in education, according to Eisen. Each talk was designed to cover a different sect of the education industry: kindergarten through 12th grade, undergraduate education and medical education.
Emory’s relationship with the Dalai Lama dates back to his first visit in 1987. He returned to Emory in 1995 as part of his U.S. tour, during which he delivered the 1998 Emory commencement address and received an honorary doctor of divinity degree. Upon his campus visit in 2007, the Dalai Lama was named presidential distinguished professor, his only accepted appointment with a western university. He has since returned to campus every few years, visiting most recently in 2013.
The University’s relationship with the Dalai Lama spawned the Emory-Tibet Partnership, established in 1998. The partnership strives to converge Western academia and Tibetan Buddhist intellectual traditions, according to its website. According to Eisen, the partnership has been developed through the Dalai Lama’s vision, which is put into practice by those in the partnership.
The partnership sponsors the Mind-Body Sciences Summer Abroad Program, which sends students and professors to the Tibetan community of Dharamsala, India, where they can interact with the 82-year-old spiritual leader, live in a monastic community and teach science to practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism.
“[The Dalai Lama] is an unusual human being and just being around and hearing him is transformational,” Eisen said. “Students always come back inspired and wanting to learn more about his ideas looking at the common thread among all humans for compassion and empathy.”
The Dalai Lama is the title of the leader of the Tibetan Buddhist community as well as the name taken on by the specific man in the role. Each member of the succession is considered to be a reincarnation of the last. The current Dalai Lama is the 14th leader. He can decide if and where he should be reborn and said he will make a decision on if he will reincarnate and continue the line near his 90th birthday, which is in 2025.
Alisha Compton contributed reporting.
UPDATE (8/29/17 at 7:42 p.m.): This article has been updated with comments from Arri Eisen.