March 30, 2010 09:22 Age: 4 yrs

Dalai Lama to Lead CSLR Interfaith Summit on Happiness

By: April Bogle

His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama will lead a public conversation on happiness with other world religious leaders October 17, 2010, from 1:30-3:30 p.m., on the Emory University Campus. The Center for the Study of Law and Religion (CSLR) is hosting the “Interfaith Summit on Happiness: Understanding and Promoting Happiness in Today’s Society” as the capstone of its multi-year research project, “The Pursuit of Happiness.” It is one of several events featuring the Dalai Lama during his October 17-19 visit to Emory.

An Emory University Presidential Distinguished Professor, the Dalai Lama will open the forum with a 25-minute address followed by responses from The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church; Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth; and George Washington University Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr, a world-renowned scholar on Islam.

Krista Tippett, host and producer of the award-winning public radio program Speaking of Faith, will moderate a discussion among the speakers immediately following their formal presentations.

“We are deeply honored that these distinguished religious leaders have agreed to share with us the deep wisdom of their religious traditions on this important topic,” said CSLR Director John Witte Jr., Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law and Alonzo L. McDonald Family Foundation Distinguished Professor. “Religions variously connect happiness with holiness and health, with piety and charity, with discipline and discipleship, with virtue and valor. We hope the discussion among these world-class leaders will probe deeply, reveal tensions, and draw connections among the religions, ultimately offering inspiration to all peoples.”

Events Following the Summit

On Sunday, October 17 at 5 p.m., CSLR will host “Reception and Reflections on the Summit” at Emory Law. Krista Tippett will moderate a discussion among Pursuit of Happiness Project scholars about their reflections on the Dalai Lama's interfaith dialogue.

On Monday, October 18, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Rabbi Sacks, Bishop Jefferts Schori and Professor Nasr will be featured in a major academic conference at Emory Law on “The Pursuit of Happiness in Interreligious Perspective.” Each will offer a full academic address on the meaning and measure of happiness in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions respectively. Each address will be followed by a panel discussion with some of the CSLR’s leading senior fellows.

Portions of the Sunday and Monday proceedings will be aired on public radio at a later date on Speaking of Faith.

Pursuit of Happiness Project

The events culminate a five-year CSLR project on the ancient ideal of the pursuit of happiness. Eighteen CSLR senior fellows have reexamined the traditional teachings captured in the American Declaration of Independence, which offers the “pursuit of happiness” as one of the “unalienable rights” of human kind, and put these in conversation with science to offer new perspectives on how to approach happiness in today’s society. The project concludes in 2010 and will produce 20 new volumes and dozens of articles.

“Recent developments in positive psychology have brought the idea of happiness back to public attention with a flurry of books and undergraduate courses,” says Philip L. Reynolds, CSLR senior fellow, Aquinas Professor of Historical Theology, and director of the Pursuit of Happiness Project. “We entered the debate by reviewing what various Hebrew, Greco-Roman, Christian and Enlightenment sources had to say about the subject and how those words of wisdom can be applied today in light of recent scientific developments. Adding the ancient Buddhist teachings on this subject opens a new and welcomed dimension to our current and future work.”

Tickets and Registration

Emory University is selling tickets to the October 17 “Summit on Happiness” with the Dalai Lama. Go to

The October 17 “Reception and Reflections on the Summit” event and the October 18 “The Pursuit of Happiness in Interreligious Perspective” conference are free and open to the public. Registration is required for both events. Click here to register. Further details are posted here.

Two-Hour Course for Emory Law Students

Witte is offering a two-hour course for Emory Law students, "The Pursuit of Happiness in Interdisciplinary Perspective," during fall 2010. The compressed course is built around a series of weekly public lectures in September and culminates with the October summit and conference. Students registered for the course will be guaranteed admission and given gratis tickets to the Sunday public panel with the Dalai Lama (a $50 plus value). Preregistration information is available here. The preregistration deadline is April 7.

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