CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia, USA, 12 July 2017 — His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama will visit Botswana in August to participate as an honorary guest during a live public conference hosted by the Mind & Life Institute. The three-day conference takes place at Otse Hall on the campus of Botho University in Gaborone, 17 – 19 August. This historic visit by the Dalai Lama to Botswana is his only planned destination in Africa.
Conference participants include renowned international human rights advocate Graça Machel, and Ponatshego H. K. Kedikilwe who is celebrated among the foremost leaders of the liberation struggle and advancement of democracy in Southern Africa. Also included in the Dialogue are Grace Amponsah, Carsten de Dreu, Michael Onyebuchi Eze, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Uri Hasson, Mandaza Kandemwa, Lily Mafela, Donald Molosi, Rebecca Shansky, Theo Sowa and Thupten Jinpa. The event will feature special guests Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu Van Furth and musician Vusi Mahlasela.
The conference, “Botho/Ubuntu: A Dialogue on Spirituality, Science and Humanity with the Dalai Lama,” brings African humanitarian and spiritual leaders, scholars and healers into conversation with the Dalai Lama and international neuroscientists about the African worldview of Botho/Ubuntu.
In a statement, the Dalai Lama said, “My dear friend Archbishop Desmond Tutu has told me about the beautiful African notion of Botho/Ubuntu, which means “I am because you are.” This resonates powerfully with the ancient Indian idea of interdependence. In participating in the Mind & Life Dialogue, as well as meeting and talking with members of the public, I hope to gain a clearer understanding of this idea and explore ways in which it may help promote compassion and understanding in our world.”
Defining humanity through our connections with one another, Botho/Ubuntu is a view that is reflected also in the Dalai Lama’s teachings. Examining African values and healing practices in light of new scientific research on social connection and trauma, the Mind & Life Dialogue in Botswana explores the potential of Botho/Ubuntu as a framework for healing the legacy and trauma of wars and colonialism, and advancing social justice and women’s equality.
In addition to the two-and-a-half-day Mind & Life Dialogue with scholars, spiritual leaders and scientists on the topic of Botho/Ubuntu, the Dalai Lama will also speak from his heart to the public during a separate address that culminates his three days in Botswana. The public address on Saturday 19 August will include a musical performance by special guest, Vusi Mahlasela.
The conference is open to the general public with discounted tickets available to students and Botswana youth (ages 15 – 35). Please note that all ticket holders will receive a security clearance prior to the conference, so tickets must be purchased by 31 July.
Topics to be presented during the conference include:
- I am because you are: A scientific perspective on interdependence.
- Botho as a basis for intergenerational dialogue.
- The biology of care and conflict in groups.
- The history and contemporary frame of Ubuntu/Botho.
- Traditional healing practices and the restoration of unity in environment and society.
- Oppression and violence against women: Cultural practices and community support.
- Goodness: Exploring the meaning of Ubuntu.
- Emotional trauma and how it affects the brain.
- The human capacities and challenges of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Thupten Jinpa, Chair of the Mind & Life Institute’s Board of Directors and the principal English interpreter to the Dalai Lama since 1985, described the upcoming conference in Gaborone as “an historic opportunity for the people of Africa to benefit from the unique wisdom of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as he encounters profound issues of modern African society through the lens of Botho/Ubuntu. Guided by presentations and conversations with an international panel of experts, the conference will bravely explore African issues, from its sacred pre-colonial history to the importance of gender equality, healthy communities and peaceful coexistence.”
The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and is an internationally revered proponent of secular ethics, inter-religious harmony and human happiness. He is co-author with Archbishop Desmond Tutu of the best-selling “Book of Joy.” He is also the recipient of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize for his message of nonviolence, reconciliation and reverence for all living beings.
Mind & Life Dialogues with the Dalai Lama began in 1987 as intimate conversations with leading scientists and scholars to develop an understanding of the mind in relation to human behavior. These conversations have since grown to include large public and private events addressing critical issues of modern life at the intersection of scientific and contemplative understanding.
The Mind & Life Institute is a nonprofit organization founded in 1991, providing grant funding for research projects and think tanks, and hosting academic conferences and Dialogues with the 14th Dalai Lama. Its mission is to alleviate suffering and promote flourishing by advancing the interdisciplinary field of contemplative sciences, deepening understanding of the mind, and promoting evidence-based applications of meditative practices in real-world contexts.
Donald J. Crotteau
Director of Communications
Mind & Life Institute