On Tuesday, April 12, Carleton professor Roger Jackson gave students a crash course in Tibetan Buddhism in Viking Theater. The event, hosted by St. Olaf College Team Tibet, began with a lecture and ended with ten minutes of guided meditation.
Jackson described five different religious orientations and modalities, specifically the differences between Bon and Buddhism. The Bodhi orientation utilizes frequent meditation to achieve individual spiritual goals. Though this orientation is not as common as many of the others, even within the monastic class, it does still occur.
The Karma orientation is directed more at laypeople than at those in the Sangha (Buddhist monks and nuns), as it is based solely around creating merit for oneself. Jackson explained that if a person does well in their current life and builds up enough good karma, they have a much higher likelihood of a rebirth into a higher level of livelihood in the next life.
The Pragmatic orientation, the most hard-hitting of all the orientations, attempts to achieve specific results in life in the here and now. This could include praying for better weather or a healthier romantic relationship.
The Shamanic modality fits more precisely with the Bon religion, as it describes more wild, charismatic and visionary methods of worship, while the Clerical modality depicts classical Tibetan Buddhism, as it is very institutionalized, intellectual and structured.
The exile of the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, from Tibet in 1959 forced him to flee to India and settle in Dharamsala. This caused a mass exodus of Tibetans to follow His Holiness to India, which today has become home to a massive population of exiled Tibetans. Minneapolis and St. Paul also have a substantial Tibetan population – the second largest in the United States.
To conclude the lecture, Jackson led a traditional Tibetan meditation session.