Toronto, Ontario – Thousands of Buddhists from across North America and other parts of the world are gathering in Toronto this spring to participate in one of the Buddhist faith’s most important teachings and initiation conducted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama – Kalachakra for World Peace. The teachings, traditionally conferred on large crowds, are from April 25 to May 5, 2004 at the National Trade Centre.

This marks the third visit to Toronto by His Holiness – the last taking place thirteen years ago – and it is, once again, at the invitation of The Canadian Tibetan Association of Ontario, the community organization representing approximately 3,000 Tibetans living in the province.

A public talk (Sunday April 25, SkyDome, time to be confirmed) and an interfaith service (Saturday, May 1, National Trade Centre, time to be confirmed) will provide opportunities for the general public to see and listen to Tibet’s leader in exile. A Nobel Peace Laureate, he is greatly revered by Tibetans and other Buddhists, highly respected by world leaders and acclaimed as a man of peace by millions around the world.

The University of Toronto is to confer on His Holiness an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws during this visit. On the same occasion, he will receive the International Acharya Kumar Peace Award, established in memory of Acharya Sushil Kumarji (1926-1994), the most revered teacher in Jain religion whose life was dedicated to non-violence and non-absolutism in religion. (U of T contact, Jane Stirling, 416-978-2105 or [email protected]).

A “Tibet Week” showcasing Tibetan culture in all its aspects of music, dance, medicine, astrology, art and food will be held at the Harbourfront Centre during this period.

Fact Sheet on His Holiness the Dalai Lama

His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso was born in 1935 into a peasant family in Amdo, eastern Tibet and was recognized at the age of two by a government search party and eminent lamas as the fourteenth in the line of Dalai Lamas. At the age of four he was taken to Lhasa, capital of Tibet, and officially installed as the Dalai Lama.

Following the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet in 1949 and the subsequent large-scale popular uprising against the Chinese invaders in 1959, the Dalai Lama along with eighty thousand Tibetan refugees fled across the Himalayas to India and other neighbouring countries. In India he issued a democratic constitution and formed a Tibetan government-in-exile, which he heads. His efforts in the cause of Tibet and a life philosophy founded upon the concept of universal responsibility and reverence for all living beings has won him great acclaim worldwide. In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

An Introduction to Kalachakra

Buddha taught the Kalachakra more than 2800 years ago in South India. Later generations preserved the teachings in the northern land of Shambala (inspiration for Shangrila – the paradise on earth of Western romantic authors).

Kalachakra means “cycles of time” and its foundations rely upon the basic Buddhist tenets of the Four Noble Truths. The initiation confers on the practitioner permission to begin the study and practice of the Kalachakra. Engaging in the practice with the motivation to free all beings from suffering, and with the proper internal and external conditions, one can realize the path to enlightenment.

A person can attend a Kalachakra initiation without any commitments. The initiation is unusual in the sense that anyone can attend it, unlike other initiations, which are only given to small groups of selected disciples. As long as one tries to keep a positive mind state, it can be considered a blessing or inspiration towards the future possibility of practicing in the Kalachakra tradition.