MARQUETTE - A crowd of area residents packed into Northern Michigan University's Bottum University Center Wednesday evening to hear a Theravadan Buddhist monk offer his views on life, death and everything in-between.
His Holiness Gayuna Cealo made his second visit to Marquette, having spoken to a group in the Women's Federated Clubhouse in 2010.
The event was sponsored by the Foundation for Global Harmony.
His Holiness Gayuna Cealo, a Theravadan Buddhist monk from Myanmar, is shown during a 2010 visit to Marquett. Cealo returned for a second visit Wednesday and met with a large crowd of area residents at Northern Michigan University. (Journal file photo)
"It's cold here, isn't it?" he said, eliciting a laugh from the crowd gathered inside the Michigan Room.
Cards were placed on the chairs in the room for people to write a question for Cealo and place it in a basket near his chair.
Cealo was aided by his translator Amica, who helped bridge the language barrier between Cealo and the people looking for answers on topics varying from the slippery slope of consumerism to how to learn to love yourself.
"No is higher or lower. Everyone is perfect, perfect to be here, but somehow, people still like to compare, one to another," Cealo said. "You should have your own color. If you're red, become more red. If you're pink, become more pink. Then, when we have all the colors together, we become beautiful."
Though many of the topics were serious in Cealo, dressed in a simple red robe and sitting cross-legged on a chair in front of the crowd, managed to find ways to lighten the mood.
When asked about death and reincarnation, Cealo said: "Why don't you think about it when you die?
"You are here and now with your body and your life. Think about your life."
Other questions focused on how to help the Earth, how to know when you are making a difference, how to recognize real love, how to deal with grief and loss and what the goal of meditation should be, among others.
Though the questions varied quite a bit, one overall theme seemed to keep reappearing in Cealo's answers: the need for love in all its forms.
"Everything starts from loving yourself. If you truly work on that, your God will find you and help you," Cealo said. "Real love is not to be loved. True love is giving love to others. This is true love. Although all of you here hate me, I can love all of you. ... Love is not give and take. My love is one way."
Kenneth Paulin, a local ordained Theravadan Buddhist and an organizer of the event, said it was exciting to have Cealo back for a second time in Marquette.
"The reason he's back, the response he received was so overwhelming," Paulin said. "We had to have 125, 150 people. It was really quite gratifying tonight. We all resonate with something a little bit different."
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.