Tibetan Monk Visits Hickman

Emily Adams, Newspaper Editor

On an early September morning Battle’s World Religion students trekked across town to meet Tibetan monk the Venerable Champa Lhunpo. As students filled Hickman’s small theater, they were greeted by a smiling Lhunpo, dressed in traditional bright orange robes.

Lhunpo told students that “the goal of Buddhism is to be more compassionate, more loving, more kind, and care more for other people.”

With this goal in mind, Lhunpo has made it his mission to share his perspective with students. He started off by showing students examples of physical prayer unique to Tibetan Buddhism, including a handcrafted prayer bowl, beads, and flags.

Lhunpo also spoke on the differences of Tibetan culture, joking, “In the west they build skyscrapers, but in Tibet we are thinking.”

Underneath his playful words, Lhunpo aims to convey a more serious message of religious tolerance. As a citizen of Tibet, where 1.2 million people were killed under Chinese occupation, Lhunpo tries to teach forgiveness and understanding to students.

“Never teach hatred. You’re dependent on your classmates and your community, it’s all interconnected,” Lhunpo said as he addressed students.

This message resonated with World Religion student Isaiah Greimann, who said he used the experience to learn more about a culture he wasn’t familiar with.

“If someone who is outside a religion tries to speak on one, I really don’t think that the person could fully understand everything in that religion” said Greimann. “Bringing in speakers helps to solidify the message and give firsthand experience.”

Battle’s World Religion teacher Mr. Soden is hoping that having firsthand experience will help students like Greimann achieve a greater understanding of the concepts he teaches in class.

“I am not an expert, but I do find them very fascinating,” said Soden. “Having guest speakers allows an opportunity for me to be a student alongside the ones I teach.”After hearing Lhunpo speak, Soden says he took away a message of compassion and joy.

“For me to be around him changed my mood for the rest of the day,” said Soden.

Soden believes that students also learned important cultural distinctions of Tibetan Buddhism, like the belief in hell realms and demons that blend Shamanism with traditional Buddhism.

As for Lhunpo, he hopes that students take away religious tolerance in a time of social unrest. After he spoke with the World Religion students, Lhunpo stayed after school at Hickman to speak on civil rights for the Tibetan people.

Soden’s World Religion class will continue to have guest speakers throughout the year from different religions and culture to give students a new perspective on the subjects they study.