Lunch with the Dalai Lama

Photo of the Dalai Lama at Santa Clara University.
I snapped a photo of the Dalai Lama -- and his image on the jumbo screen -- with my iPhone.

Santa Clara University President Michael Engh kindly invited a guest and me to the Dalai Lama's appearance at Santa Clara University yesterday. I had no idea how extraordinary it would be.

Mary-Beth Harhen, executive director of the Academic Senate, and I attended an intimate lunch with the leader of Tibetan Buddhism, followed by his public appearance. I was quite taken aback by what happened. When he first walked into the room, he walked straight to me—before anyone else—and gazed into my eyes. It felt like he was looking straight into my soul. I've never experienced anything like it. Mary-Beth, a longtime follower of Tibetan Buddhism, said the Dalai Lama is known for connecting deeply with people in a way that "fully encompasses" them. I daresay that's how it felt. I'm still reflecting on the encounter, even as I head to Hawaii to chair a meeting of the California Association for Research in Astronomy (CARA).

One note about choosing Mary-Beth to accompany me to the events with the Dalai Lama: Her reaction assured me I'd extended a welcome invitation. "That big swishing sound you hear are the tears of joy rising up from the first floor of Kerr Hall," she said.

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