Dalai Lama cancels trip to Pioneer Valley, appearances at UMass, Smith College and Amherst College

Last modified: Saturday, September 26, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — The Dalai Lama has canceled the remainder of a U.S. tour — including a planned trip to the Pioneer Valley and an address at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and visits to other area colleges — following a medical evaluation earlier this week.

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, was scheduled to speak at the Mullins Center at UMass on Oct. 25, and to make private visits to Amherst College, Smith College and the Mind & Life Institute in Hadley, which organized the Dalai Lama’s trip. Other stops on the tour were to include Boulder, Colorado, Salt Lake City and Philadelphia.

According to a statement issued by his office, the Dalai Lama, 80, arrived in the U.S. earlier this week for a medical evaluation.

“Upon completion of the evaluation, the doctors have advised that His Holiness take complete rest,” the statement reads. “As a result, His Holiness will be returning to Dharamsala (in India) next week and will not be able to visit the United States next month.”

Mary Jo “MJ” Viederman, spokeswoman for Mind & Life, said Friday that the news came suddenly that morning and there was little time to absorb it.

“It is prudent that he takes the time to really rest at home at Dharamsala,” Viederman said. “That said, the Pioneer Valley is a special place for him.”

Viederman said the Dalai Lama helped found the Mind & Life Institute 30 years ago and continues to support its goals of teaching care and compassion as a part of education.

With the Dalai Lama’s cancellation, the events he was going to preside over will be canceled as well, including a discussion at Smith College with teachers, trainers and educators to work with children and a talk at Amherst College focused on the philosophical and scientific implications of living an ethical life.

The largest talk was to be at the Mullins Center. Titled “A Force for Good,” the event was slated to be a discussion of issues surrounding education and ethical living.

Refunds will be issued to those who bought tickets for the Mullins Center event, according to a press release issued Friday by the University of Massachusetts. The refunds will be issued automatically to customers who bought tickets through Ticketmaster or over the phone. Those who purchased tickets at the Mullins Center box office must present the original ticket and form of payment. Those refunds will be available beginning Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 10 a.m.

Those with further questions about ticket refunds can call the Mullins Center box office at 413-545-3038.

Viederman said she was inspired reading about students at UMass lining up to buy tickets to see the Dalai Lama. Hundreds of people gathered outside the Mullins Center box office when tickets went on sale last week, at a price of $10 for students and $32 for the general public.

“I really hope that kids on campus don’t get discouraged and are inspired to start things and to just take his message and the notion of being a force for good locally to whatever level they feel is right,” she said.

Viederman also said Friday that she hopes the Dalai Lama will visit the Pioneer Valley when he is rested, and the statement from the Dalai Lama’s office hinted at a possible rescheduling of the visit.

“We deeply regret cancellation of the visit and apologize to everyone who has worked so hard in organizing the visit as well as to the public who have been looking forward to the visit,” the statement reads. “We thank everyone for their support and understanding and would like to consider rescheduling the visit in the future.”

Viederman added that she hopes to see good will in the area based on the Dalai Lama’s words and teachings.

“It is within all of us to do great works and I hope we see some of that happen in the Valley,” she said.

Dave Eisenstadter can be reached at deisen@gazettenet.com.


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