His Holiness the Dalai Lama

His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Light of Truth Awards in Berlin, June 16 2005. (Marco Stepniak)

The Dalai Lama, who is currently in the US, addressed a law school conference on how religion, particularly Buddhism, can influence law and bring about social change.

The conference, “Law, Buddhism and Social Change: A Conversation with the Dalai Lama,” was held on September 20-21 at the University at Buffalo Law School and opened with a discussion between the Dalai Lama and legal practitioners and scholars from around the world.

According to the University’s website, UB Law School Professor and conference organizer Rebecca French, an international authority on Tibetan law and author of ‘The Golden Yoke,’ about Buddhist legal traditions in Tibet, said: “This was one of the first times the Dalai Lama has been asked about legal subject matter.”

The conference was organized by the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy and the UB Law School.

The UB Law School is home to the Law and Buddhism Project, the world’s first and only center for the study of law and Buddhism. A goal of the conference and of the Law and Buddhism Project, directed by French, is to introduce Buddhist legal concepts to the U.S. legal system, says UB Law School Dean Nils Olsen.

“It is truly a great honor that the Dalai Lama has chosen to speak at our law school and discuss issues that go to the heart of law and morality,” says Olsen.

“U.S. law schools and universities have a long tradition of studying legal principles found in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism,” Olsen explained. “The serious study of Buddhist legal traditions in the U.S. is long overdue. Buddhism, like other world religions, can have a very positive effect on our understanding of morality and law.”