In 1997, Mary Elizabeth Thunder traveled to France, at the Invitation of the Dalai Lama to speak about Peace & Women. On stage with his Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama & an audience of 8,000 people who had come to hear spiritual representatives from all over the World talk about Unity & Diversity for all World Religions, Mary Thunder spoke her message & shared her heart about Peace & about being a Woman.
At the end of this gathering, she was named again as a Delegate to the Spiritual United Nations from the USA & asked to chair the Human Rights, Human Relations, & Spiritual Concerns for Women Committee. She is in the process of developing a survey about Women's Roles in the World Religions.
Spiritual United Nations (S.U.N.)
The First Spiritual United Nations (S.U.N.) Gathering held in Arvillard, France at the Buddhist Monastery of Karma Ling.
In April, 1997, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama held a Spiritual United Nations (S.U.N) gathering & gave a week of teachings on the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha. The gathering took place at the Buddhist Monastery of Karma Ling, high in the beautiful French Alps in Arvillard, France, where every morning through the mists we would see, smell, & delight in the view.
Each morning the Dalai Lama would go into the nearby town & share his sacred teachings with thousands of people from many religions, who assembled under a tent massive enough to have parked several large airplanes under. He talked about how does an ordinary person become a Buddha, an enlightened one, a fully awakened, omniscient & compassionate human being, someone who has realized the meaning of existence? This was the central question of his Buddhist teachings.
The Dalai Lama said that in his first teaching after the Buddha's enlightenment, The Buddha presented the world with this answer.
It consisted of four expositions or Noble Truths:
After his teaching the Dalai Lama would return to Karma Ling & be with the Indigenous elders from all over the world who were guest in one of the oldest monastery's in France.
There, representatives of Indigenous ancestral traditions & representatives of all the world's major religions, were gathered in the fulfillment of the Dalai Lama's dream of bringing Spiritual & Religious leaders from around the world to form a council where they would all recognize each other & discuss spiritually the world. From his dream & wish & the United Traditions Circle was formed by Lama
working with all the Indigenous ones. If the Spiritual People can come together & be with each other in respect, that is a start!
The S.U.N. Gathering was brought together by Lama Denys, the gracious host & head Lama from Karma Ling, also the Dalai Lama's committee on World Peace, & by UNO, UNESCO & The Decade of Indigenous Peoples.
The spiritual & religious leaders came from around the globe, from the five continents of Asia, North America, South America, Australia & Africa & from many traditions, such as Native American, Siberian Shamans, Nigerian Voodooans, as well as the traditional religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Muslim, Sufiism, Catholicism, & Protestant.
The Delegation from the America's was made up of Grandmother Sarah Smith who represented Canada, Tlakaelel who represented Mexico, Grandmother Anna Haala, Jeffrey Hubbell, Morgan Eagle Bear, Sparky Shooting Star, & Mary Elizabeth Thunder, who represented the United States, women, & was the one who had brought them all together. The invitation from the Dalai Lama & Lama Denys came to Thunder through her friendship with Tsultrim Allione, of Tara Mandala Foundation in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Thunder was then able to bring elders & friends into a delegation, with the help of Jacqueline Gelzer & Marisabel Olivares who helped sponsor several of the Elder's travel to France.
During that week, THE WEEK OF UNITED TRADITIONS, the Indigenous peoples were invited to share words, customs & ceremonies.
Much sharing & learning took place between the different cultures & the delegates began to know each other, finding Unity within Diversity. They began to form a solidarity. The sharing of common Visions & Prayers were formed into a declaration that was presented on the last day. During this time, Thunder shared the sacred Chanupa (The Pipe) which was carved by her son, Richard Earl Grimes in a large ceremony in the meeting place.
Each day during The Week of United Traditions, one or two of the delegations had a private audience with the Dalai Lama. During Thunder & Crew's audience, she was able to present the Sacred Pipe to Lama Denys & The Dalai Lama; Grandmother Anna Haala gave an Eagle Feather that came from her Elders; Tlakaelel gave a most beautiful beaded piece; & Grandmother Sarah in her elequant way gave a most precious piece with a long tradition of Oral History from the Mohawk Nation; Thunder also gifted to the Dalai Lama a picture that had been put together by Dave & Valarie Heider (The >owners of "Miracle" the White Buffalo) that contained the 4 sacreds, a picture of Miracle, & White Buffalo Hair & a small Crystal Skull that had come from Joanne & Carl Parks & a book about Max the Crystal Skull.
The entire event was topped off on the fourth day with his Holyness being joined on stage, for a day long event, by all of the Delegations; fifteen representatives of world religions lined the stage to one side of him, & fifteen indigenous elders lined the other side. Each of the Elders was invited to present a short ceremony from their culture.
Grandmother Sarah, Grandfather Tlakaelel, & Grandmother Thunder spoke on stage with the Dalai Lama & presented short ceremonies from their traditions which included, all of our Delegation led by Morgan Eagle Bear, Sparky Shooting Star, Grandmother Sarah, Grandmother Anna, Tlakaelel, & Thunder taking a young girl from the audience of 8,000 having her honored by our group with a blanket then they took her to the Dalai Lama who in turn blessed her...saying she was our future & we honor her for all the children.
The day culminated in a beautiful lighting of a circle of candles by every member of newly formed Council of Traditions.
As the delegates traveled down the mountain that day to join the Dalai Lama, thousands of people from the villages & towns & from around the world lined the streets & waved, greeting the Elders after their week together. It was a memory never to be forgotten.
As a result of this gathering the establishment of the "United Traditions Circle" took place. For the next three years the circle will meet in different locations, with delegates representing the various concerns & issues on our planet. During the meeting, Thunder was elected again to bring a delegation & head up the group from the North America. She was also asked to head up a committee of human relations, human rights & womens concerns. Since it is her on the committee, along with Grandmother Anna & Sarah & Sparky, they laughingly called it the Grandmothers Committee...They said, "Grandmother's care about their children & their future!" Thunder has recently begun the formulation of a survey targeted to get response from women on the roles of Women in Spirituality & World Religion.
In remembrance of her trip Mary Thunder says, "The French Alps were beautiful & I was in awe of the Sacredness. To be in France, at the most beautiful Karma Ling, with Lama Denys & the Dalai Lama, it was a dream come true."
Thunder, Sparky, & her crew that came with her to France then toured France & Italy. The Crew was comprised of: Paolo Bellettati; Davie Carrado; Sandy Collins; Suzanne Day; Sheila Simon; & Jude Tolley. During this "Tour" they visited with Paolo's parents in Alba, Italy; was received by the Mayor of Alba; did a Sacred Pipe Ceremony in Alba; visited Castles; visited & did a Ceremony in Marigar, Norbo's Italian Center; & then visited Pompi, Turin, Rome, & was able to visit & actually meet Davie's relatives in Italy in the town of Brenza. Then back to France to see Chartres...there is so much more but you get the idea that it was the time of their lives! Dreams came true on this trip.