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An 1100 year old "living Buddha," who had 17 chances to enter heaven but preferred to return to earth to help others become as holy as he, visited the College yesterday, attending a Mongolian class and staying with his godson in Adams House.
Dilowa Gegen, whose last name means enlightened one, was one of 13 high-ranking lamas in Outer Mongolia before 1980. The Russians entered, and he left, going to China and then coming to the United States to become Consultant on Mongol Studies at Johns Hopkins.
Dilowa isn't physically so old, godson David Lattimore '52 explained. But his soul is the 18th reincarnation of an early saint named Dilowa. When the original holy man died, local Lama leaders picked the first male born in the area as the obvious reincarnation. The process has continued over since, subject to political ocrruption of the choosing authorities.
Dilowa came to the United States last year at the bidding of the United States government and his old friend Owen Lattimore, Professor in the Page School of international Relations at Johns Hopkins and father of godson David. The (physically) 60-year-old Gegen tells seminar students in the Page School about Mongolian history and customs, and spends his spare time at home with the Lattimores in Baltimore.
Talk of the United States world of large cities, department stores, and universities where thousands of students live together brings large smiles to the Gegen's face. His friends, the Lattimores, tell of interesting experiences when the Gegen, in his ornate, heavy silk Oriental robe, enters the large New York emporiums.
Dilowa speaks to his godson David in a combination of Chinese and sign language. They make remarkably few mistakes, but neither do they any much. Lattimore was able to get a decision from the Lama as to whether he should be called Dilowa Gegen or Dilowa Hutukhtu in this story: The Mongolian averred that, while Hutukhtu also denotes part of his political position, Gegen is the more specific name.
Dilowa stayed with Lattimore in Adams House yesterday. When asked how she let the Lama in without a necktie, the checker in the Adams House dining hall emphasized the need to make exceptions, sometimes.
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