A Rare Spiritual Light, Teacher, and Humanitarian of Our Times

INTER-FAITH PRAYER SERVICE at ST. Paul's Catholic Center
In Commemoration of the Visit of His Holiness to Bloomington, Indiana

DalaiLamaVisit (41K)
DalaiLamaVisit1 (43K)

Photographs by Mr. Craig Lovell
   of Carmel Valley, California.

At the Inter-Faith Prayer service leaders and representatives of many faith traditions – Christian, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Baha’i, Unitarian Universalist, American Indian, and Sikh offered in their traditional styles prayers, chants, sacred songs, and messages of harmony and unity. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels issued a special Proclamation for the occasion and declared October 23, 2007 as “A Day of Peace.” A wonderfully-assembled and choreographed Choir offered rich and spirited renditions of sacred and special musical compositions in English and Tibetan, in vocals and with a variety of musical instruments. The beautiful Inter-Faith Prayer Service at the St. Paul’s Catholic Center in Bloomington was organized and directed by Brother Benedict Baer OP, assisted by the members of Inter-Faith Prayer Service Committee.

His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet attended and participated the Inter-Faith Prayer Service. He blessed several of the Prayer Service presenters with sacred traditional Tibetan silk scarves. During his brief remarks, His Holiness offered his message of peace and compassion, forgiveness and tolerance. His Holiness exuded incredible reverence for all faiths and advocated respect for our own embraced spiritual traditions.


It was a wonderful experience to serve on the Inter-faith Prayer Service Committee under the leadership of Brother Benedict Baer OP, and work with Gyatso Arjia Rinpoche (Director of Tibetan-Mongolian Cultural Center) and representatives from different faith traditions. It was a great personal honor to represent the Sikh Tradition at this magnificent spiritual affair.

I saw before me a thousand people in the Sanctuary. The multi-generational and multi-cultural audience, leaders of many faith traditions, and distinguished guests had just witnessed the formal processional of Monks, spiritual leaders and His Holiness The Dalai Lama come into the Sanctuary. The gathering had just heard the first Call to Prayer from James Trosper, Shoshone Sun Dance Chief from Wyoming, representing the Native American Tradition dressed in his full traditional regalia. I saw before me a brilliant aura of special light not just from the stained-glass windows across the Sanctuary space but sensed a visible spiritual energy and a spirit of deep reverence, excitement, and anticipation about the Prayer Service songs and chants, faith messages and musical offerings planned for this special welcome event in honor of His Holiness.

I saw myself standing in a Sacred Court presided over by His Holiness, many enlightened souls, disciples, students, educators, seekers and sevaks (tireless servants) from across the land and overseas. They represented something beautiful and comforting about humanity in spite of our many common frustrations, challenges, and personal concerns. Each added their own spirit to the Service. A thousand thoughts have been crowding my mind for weeks, and now I see the true significance of this auspicious moment. I composed and steadied my spirit and began:

Sut Siri Akal (a universal Sikh greeting: Lord’s Name is Eternal Truth)
Let us take our mind and spirit to a realm
Where there is Light and Love,
Boundless Benevolence, God’s and ours;
Let us give glory to God,
His Enlightened Sheperds,
Tireless Sevaks (servants) across the continents;
Cultures and Faiths that grace the human universe,
Ideas and traditions that enrich the human spirit;

I sang the words:

Tudh agey Ardas humari, jeeo pind subh Tera
Kaho Nanak subh Tairi vadyaee, koi nau na janey mera.

As was planned from the beginning, I followed with the Sikh hymn that we always sing as we stand up for Ardas (prayer and supplication) at the end of Sikh worship or other ceremonies:

Tu Thakar Tum pai Ardas
Jeo pind subh Teri Raas

(Translation of this entire hymn and other prayers, songs, and details of the Prayer Service were included in an elegant Program with an image of “Cathedrals of Spirit” drawing proclaiming unity of faiths and sacred traditions gracing the Program cover).

I continued with an unbounded joy that the Sikh Scriptures remind us:
(First in Punjabi/Gurumukhi language and then in English translation)

Jay sau Chunda uugvey Sooruj churhey hazaar,
Aittey chanunn hondyan Gur bin ghoor andhaar.

“If a hundred Moons were to appear,
And a thousand Suns were to rise simultaneously (in the sky),
This immense light still would not dispel the intense darkness of the
Spirit without a True Guru (Divine Teacher);”

Addressing His Holiness, I offered with deepest respect and emotion:
“You are such a rare Spiritual Light, Enlightened Teacher and Mentor, Compassionate Buddha, and Extraordinary Humanitarian of our times for all mankind. Thank you for blessing this Sanctuary and all who share and witness this prayer of peace, unity, and our common humanity.”

Then, I was escorted to present my gift to His Holiness, seated facing the audience about ten feet away. My gift was a book of Japji Sahib, the Sikh Morning Prayer, in Gurumukhi with English Translation and beautiful illustrations. His Holiness received me with utmost kindness, thanked me for my words, and after a short prayer and touching the traditional Tibetan silk scarf to his forehead placed it around my neck. I was overwhelmed by his disarming humility and grace, and by the timeless sanctity of the moment. In the time-honored Punjabi custom of honoring a venerated Saint or respected elder, I bent down and touched his feet with deep respect and good fortune for my blessing to be in his presence. I saw in the eyes of His Holiness the wisdom of Ages and in his face, a Spirit of the Sacred. I prayed for the long life of His Holiness.

I have relived that spiritual meeting, a pilgrimage of spirit, a few times since and recalled the sacred words from the Sikh Scriptures “jaan tun tssaye Meharvaan achinnt vussey mun aaye: Lord, when Your Grace is upon us, undreamed-of blessings are bestowed unto us.”


Legions of admirers of Tenzin Gyotso, His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, around the world see him as a Tibetan Buddhist Spiritual leader and a person of deep conscience, moral authority, and uncommon convictions. His Holiness exudes boundless friendliness, charm, and innocence. The world recognizes His Holiness as a Man of Peace, a writer, advocate, Teacher and a person with many creative interests. For Tibetan Buddhists, he is their venerated god-king. Many know that His Holiness has been living in exile in India since 1959 when he fled his country following the Chinese occupation of Tibet. The brutal treatment of the Tibetan people and the unconscionable destruction of the Tibetan cultural heritage, priceless treasures continue.

I believe it is a moral and political issue for the free world to resolve this matter of Tibet peacefully and expeditiously, to restore the rightful place of His Holiness in Tibet, and to facilitate a peaceful resolution and accommodation with the Chinese. Even in the face of continued official Chinese hostility towards him, His Holiness has consistently advocated a peaceful solution of the Tibet problem as he has of other global conflicts.

The world is beginning to see the cause of Tibet as just and overdue. His Holiness is a voice of reason and hope for all the oppressed of the world. He is a fearless Saint-Warrior for justice, sacred rights, freedom and opportunity, and human dignity for all. His Holiness has been a tireless champion of peace, harmony, and unity among faiths, cultures, and communities. This simple Monk, as he often introduces himself, is one of the most beloved figures of our era.

I see His Holiness as an embodiment of ancient wisdoms, an Enlightened Teacher with an all-embracing humanity. He is a personification of all that is good, right, honorable, and reassuring about humanity. His Holiness is God’s Grace among us. As such, His Holiness is a Global Rattna (a rare and pure jewel with many facets, with each facet radiating Light, inner Beauty, uncommon brilliance, profound Wisdom, and an amazing Grace). His Holiness carries echoes of the unseen and unimagined and a universal message for us all. As such, His Holiness belongs to all humanity, the entire human universe.

The words and thoughts of His Holiness seem to emanate from the realm of Spirit and embrace us all in his personal warmth and friendship. His message, actions, and understanding transcend all frontiers of time and space, traditional divides and differences, diverse perspectives and perceptions, and call each of us to the “Crossroads of unconditional Compassion.” His Holiness urges us to honor our own faith traditions and strengthen it by learning about other traditions that make up the collective spiritual fabric of humanity. In that, His Holiness is affirming the Sikh spiritual belief that “God is the Fountainhead of all Languages, Divine Wisdom, all Faiths and Revelations,” and that we must “Recognize all humanity as One Race, One Brotherhood.”

His Holiness lives his faith in service, in uplifting others, and exemplifies peaceful pursuits and friendliness towards all as advocated in the Meta Sutra (Buddhist Spirituality):

“With a boundless mind, one should cherish all life,
Radiating friendliness over the entire world,
Above, below, all around without limit;”

I pray that we may all be guided by our spiritual lessons and translate the wisdom enshrined in our faiths into acts of compassion, making a difference for others, and giving purpose to our lives and blessings. This is the central message of His Holiness. He personally embodies and radiates this spirit and commitment as a passionate illumined Teacher and venerated Spiritual Mentor.

I pray that these reflections capture a little of the spirit of such blessed experiences. I had seen His Holiness several times during his five visits to Indiana since 1989. The images and details of the Inter-Faith Prayer Service at St. Paul’s Catholic Center in Bloomington, Indiana is another memorable moment to enshrine within and to find in its lasting warm glow new faith, strength, forgiveness, inspiration, and passions long past the sacred ceremonies of October 2007.

Kanwal Prakash “KP” Singh
Indianapolis, Indiana USA


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Kanwal Prakash 'KP' Singh

Kanwal Prakash 'KP' Singh

KP participates in interfaith and humanitarian initiatives (Interfaith Hunger Initiative); activities and celebrations of diverse faiths and ethnic communities in Indiana.  KP assists with cultural training for Police Officers and TSA personnel; works with teachers, students, civic leaders to create a better understanding of Sikh and other faith traditions and contributions. KP advocates interfacing and mainstreaming ethnic talents, assets to benefit and serve all Americans.

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