On Tuesday April 28, Khenpo Tsultrim Lodrö presented a lecture entitled, “Liberating yaks: the vegetarian question in Tibet” in the Norlin Library, with at least 80 audience members in attendance. These included CU faculty, graduate students and quite a few undergraduates, as well as faculty and graduate students from Norlin Library, Tibetan community members, and other members of the broader Boulder public interested in Tibet and the Himalayas and/or Tibetan Buddhism, including members of the CAS advisory board. Khenpo lectured for about 90 minutes about the importance of vegetarianism for the practice of compassion; this was followed by a half-hour question and answer session from the audience. The talk was very well received. The lecture distilled the key arguments of Khenpo Tsultrim Lodrö, a leading figure at the Larung Buddhist Academy in eastern Tibet, the largest Buddhist institution on the Tibetan plateau, with more than ten thousand monks and nuns. He is one of the most, if not the most, influential intellectual in Tibetan areas of China and is also a teacher to many Chinese disciples. Having him on campus was not only a unique opportunity for faculty and students (this was his first trip to the United States) but also elevates the reputation and visibility of CU Boulder among the broader academic community in Tibetan and Himalayan studies.
On Wednesday April 29, we held a second event, “Buddhist ethics and environmentalism: confluences and tensions.” This was a “graduate colloquium” and presented as a panel. There was a panel of researchers who approach questions of ethics, religion and the environment from a variety of perspectives and crafted a series of pointed questions designed to open up discussion and debate among the panelists, with the aim of broadening the horizon of perspectives for both the Khenpo, the featured guest, and the other discussants. The discussants included Emily T. Yeh, a professor in CU's Department of Geography; Professor Julia Klein, an ecosystem ecologist who works on the Tibetan Plateau at Colorado State University; Professor Thomas Andrews, professor of environmental history at CU Boulder; and Professor Mario Hourdequin, professor of environmental ethics at Colorado College. The audience of roughly 35 consisted primarily of graduate students from CU, but there were also graduate students from Naropa, other faculty from CU, members of the Tibetan community, and members of the broader Boulder public including board members of the Center for Asian Studies and the Tibetan Village Project. The discussion was very lively, enjoyable, and eye-opening for all participants, including the audience, Khenpo, and the other panelists.