When Bishop Thomas Zinkula of the Catholic Diocese of Davenport traveled in early March to Dharamshala, India, to present the 2019 Pacem In Terris Peace and Freedom Award to the Dalai Lama of Tibet, he wasn’t feeling the inner peace or world peace he had expected to feel upon meeting such a great meditator and spiritual leader.
Speaking before about 75 people at the Pacem In Terris Peace and Freedom Award gathering held Tuesday at the Rogalski Center on the campus of St. Ambrose University, Zinkula said he was feeling more “inner anxiety and disquiet.”
“Angst is the word for it,” Zinkula said. “When we were there, remember the conflict of India and Pakistan over Kashmir. So the air space was shut down for a couple days in that area. We wouldn’t have been able to get to Dharamshala.
“So the world was not at peace when we were there,” he continued. “There’s still a lot of work to do on this peace thing.”
The Dalai Lama is the 48th recipient of the Pacem In Terris Peace and Freedom Award, joining the likes of Mother Theresa of Calcutta, President John F. Kennedy, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as recipients of the award.
Zinkula traveled to India with the editor of the Catholic Messenger, Barb Arland-Fye.
Since their return, Zinkula said he has been asked many times what it was like to meet the Dalai Lama.
“He’s like you’d expect him to be,” Zinkula said. “He’s a master meditator. You’d expect him to exude peace, love, joy and warmth, and he did.”
Zinkula said the Dalai Lama gave everyone his undivided attention. “He’s mentally sharp. He’s was engaged in the conversation and there’s a sense of vigor and vitality about him. He was gracious and recognized and received us individually and he made us feel very comfortable.”
As part of Tuesday’s program, the audience heard the Dalai Lama speak from one of his visits to Washington, D.C.
“Everybody wants a happy life and a successful life,” he told the Washington crowd. “Everyone has a right to a happy life from our birth.”
But too often, people seek a joyful life from outside. “That is a mistake,” he said. One must look within for inner peace and joy and happiness, and that can be spread to the rest of the community if the individual makes some effort no matter how small to better their community.
The Dalai Lama, 83, is the Nobel Peace Prize recipient of 1989.
He has lived in exile in Dharamsala, India, for 60 years. He fled his homeland in 1959 after the suppression of the Tibetan national uprising in Lhasa by Chinese troops. He has spent his adult life as an advocate of nonviolence and as an advocate for the Tibetan people for preservation of their culture, language, religion and well-being.
The award honors St. John XXIII and commemorates his 1963 encyclical letter Pacem in Terris, which called on all people to secure peace among all nations. Coalition members are the Diocese of Davenport, The Catholic Messenger, St. Ambrose University, The Presidential Center for Faith and Learning at Augustana College in Rock Island, Churches United of the Quad-City Area, Islamic Center of the Quad-Cities, Quad-Cities Interfaith, Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities, Muslim Community of the Quad-Cities, Congregation of the Humility of Mary, Sisters of St. Benedict, Sisters of St. Francis in Dubuque, Iowa, and Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton.