Next year, the Dalai Lama will receive this nation's highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal. If that seems odd, you might not know that Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the United States. Some say the Tibetan leader's charisma, and Buddhism’s eastern ethics and practical psychology are driving its growth, even in the Ozarks.
Colored and consecrated grains of sand, one by one form an intricate and sacred mandala. But this is more than art. These are signs of a purified mind. On the campus of the University of Arkansas the Buddhist Tibetan monks are back by popular demand. There’s even an Honors Program that has the blessings of the Dalai Lama.
The monks that lead it say they are not missionaries, only trying spread healing and harmony in the Ozarks. The head of an exchange program believes the keen interest in the two monks is proof of more Americans in search of meaning from an eastern direction.
“They do a lot to dispel that romanticism and translate their philosophy into day to day practice,” said Sidney Burris.