Monk addresses teens about Tibet

Tuesday, November 16, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:04 p.m. CDT, Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bundled in a gold-and-magenta robe and a cherubic smile, Tibetan monk Champa Lhunpo told 20 teenagers there are three poisons that could block their enlightenment: ignorance, desire and anger.

It was not an entirely light-hearted morning of learning for George Frissell’s “Classical Ideas and World Religion” class Monday. But as the group listened to the soft-spoken monk, they began to understand some fundamental beliefs of Tibetan Buddhists and the Dalai Lama — and the Tibetan struggle for autonomy.

Lhunpo, a member of the Dalai Lama’s monastery, will speak about the humanitarian crisis in Tibet this afternoon. He is addressing the Hickman and Rock Bridge High School chapters of Amnesty International at 3:15 p.m. today.

Lhunpo said his talk will cover Tibetans’ lack of liberties. Their freedom of speech, freedom of movement and freedom of religion are nonexistent, he said. In addition, Lhunpo’s father — a new permanent U.S. resident — will share about his experiences when he visited Tibet in 2000.

Lhunpo taught Hickman students about Tibetan Buddhist monks’ vows and about karma, the concept that good deeds merit good results and poor deeds merit poor ones.

He said he thought the collective bad karma for the Tibetan people is limited, and that one day Tibet would be free.

Until then, however, Lhunpo said he hoped talking to students would advance the Tibetan cause.

For the last nine years, Lhunpo has lived in Kansas City. He became a U.S. citizen in 2001.

He joyfully told students he voted for the first time in this year’s presidential election. Though he openly shared about the details of his daily life as a monk, he kept one secret from his audience.

“I’m not going to tell you who I voted for,” he said.

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