Buddhist monk visits ‘Silence speaks to me’

By Geoff Peckham, News Co-Editor

Close your eyes.

The dull background noise of idle chatter and ringing cell phones rapidly died down, as a packed beyond capacity Hill Hall 108 became silent. Only one voice could be heard; it was gentle and deep, and for a room full of students and visiting adults alike, the chaos of everyday life was gone.

McDaniel College was happy to welcome Bhante Wimala, a Buddhist monk of the Center for Conscious Evolution in Princeton, NJ, for the third time last week. His talk was entitled “Peace Within,” and was sponsored by the Peace Club on campus.

“Silence speaks to me,” Wimala said after beginning his talk with a brief meditation. “Such a deep moment of silence, once you experience it… it broadens your perspective of the chaos in your mind. You see the world.”

Take a deep breath.

Wimala, who is originally from Sri Lanka, spoke for about 50 minutes before answering questions from the audience, which ranged from meditation techniques to how to mentally approach the various conflicts in the Middle East.

“The purpose of meditation is to find inner peace,” Wimala said. He talked of how an individual’s character will transform after finding that state of mind, which will lead to the “purest happiness in life.”

He also spoke of the difference between reacting to something and responding to it. He compared the human mind to a mechanical reactor, and that the mental chaoses many of us go through are results of us letting our emotions do that to us. “If you don’t have peace of mind, you [will] drown in chaos,” he said. Wimala spoke of the dangers f letting that chaos take over your mind, of dwelling on negative emotions, which often originate from other people’s negative views.

Wimala said the greatest liberation is not to let other people influence your behavior.

Exhale slowly.

“I think everyone can benefit by achieving inner peace,” said Dr. Tom Deveny, a Spanish literature professor and the advisor for the Peace Club at McDaniel. “I’ve never in my life met anyone who exudes peace like he does.”

The audience appeared to respond just as favorably to the talk. Junior Jake Schuessler was particularly impressed by Wimala’s approach to handling global issues.

“He challenged us to assess our motivations… and [to] ask ourselves if they stem from peace and love. He also encouraged us not to let negative energy… cloud our perception and make us unhappy.”

Wimala concluded his talk with a longer meditation session, for which most of the audience stayed. He compared his words to a “drop from the ocean of wisdom of what peace means.” Such spirituality could only inspire hope that Wimala’s fourth visit wouldn’t be too far ahead.

Open your eyes.