This post has been updated.
Tom Williams, a lawyer at Stoll Keenon Ogden and co-chairman of the Partnership for a Compassionate Louisville, told IL that His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama loves to talk about Louisville and the city’s push for a more compassionate community.
Indeed, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader is coming back to Louisville. Mayor Greg Fischer announced Thursday that the Dalai Lama would return to Louisville in April 2017. To honor his visit, the annual Festival of Faiths will move to April 19-24.
Drepung Gomang Center for Engaging Compassion, a Tibetan Buddhist dharma center, hosted the Dalai Lama in Louisville in 2013. On his return visit, the Dalai Lama will deliver talks on universal human values and nonviolence at the Yum! Center on Sunday, April 23, and at a large youth event on Monday, April 24.
Also during his visit, the city will introduce the International Center for Compassionate Cities. The center will serve as an incubator and accelerator for cities that have signed or want to sign the Charter for Compassion, according to Williams.
“We want to be a test market for compassion-driven programs,” he said.
The Mayor, joined by 2017 Festival chairman Owsley Brown III, made the announcement during a press conference Thursday at the George Garvin Brown Garden, just steps from where Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk that Dalai Lama cites as an inspiration for his interfaith outreach, had a spiritual revelation.
Morton wrote of that event: “In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut … I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs. … There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”
The theme for the 2017 Festival of Faiths is “Compassion: Shining like the Sun.”
At the press event, the mayor said that he and a team from Compassionate Louisville, including Williams, met with the Dalai Lama in June at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Indianapolis. The Dalai Lama attended the conference at the behest of Mayor Fischer and the mayor of Anaheim, “the city of kindness.”
The mayor updated the Dalai Lama on the initiatives Louisville had undertaken as part of the city’s embrace of the Charter for Compassion since his last visit, including the Compassionate Schools project and the expansion of the Mayor’s Give-a-Day program. When the mayor then invited the Dalai Lama back, he replied by saying that it was “his duty” to return, according to the Mayor.
Mayor Fischer concluded his speech by addressing the “ugly incidents” that have arisen nationwide since last week’s election. He did not speak specifically of any incident in Louisville.
“In Louisville, we are a welcoming and compassionate city,” he said. “We are all connected and we are all one community. The people of Louisville will stand up for basic human rights.”
Brown called the mayor “an inspiration.” He said that Thomas Merton is Louisville’s “north star.”
Last Friday, the city celebrated the five-year anniversary of being the seventh city worldwide to affirm the Charter for Compassion. Louisville has been named “the most compassionate city” by the Charter of Compassion International four times in a row.