Two deep lines etched a “V”-shaped wrinkle into the Dalai Lama’s forehead as he articulated how young college students can peacefully influence and change the future.
“If you are a compassionate person, then you build a compassionate family and then a compassionate community and then a compassionate world,” His Holiness said. “But if you think what I say is nonsense, then do whatever you like once you leave here… alcohol, fighting, sex.”
The creases in his forehead disappeared as the Dalai Lama broke out into a deep-bellied laugh. Not even the laughter of several thousand students could drown out his contagious laughter.
But amidst the jokes, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, communicated a strong message of compassion, respect for both science and the mind, and the interdependence of humanity.
His message to college students Tuesday afternoon in the BankUnited Center was clear: While the future of the world lies in the advancement of the mind through science and technology, people must not forget that without inner peace and strength, intelligence means nothing.
“Brain development is important, but the biggest piece of intelligence is your heart,” he said.
The Dalai Lama, born in Tibet but exiled in 1959 after the oppression of the Tibetan citizens by the Chinese government, has endured tremendous hardship yet continues to lead a happy life promoting peace and compassion through dialogue. He encouraged the young generation to continue this tradition of dialogue to bridge the gap between the mind and the heart.
“There will always be differences. But we are all a part of humanity. We must respect that and come to mutual solutions,” His Holiness said. “There must be reconciliation through face to face dialogue.”
He recognized the university as one of the most diverse campuses in the nation, with students from over 100 different countries. Students empathized with his hopes of projecting respect for diversity on a global level.
“I’ve thought about this a lot. If we can all go to school together, if we can all interact in this environment, why can’t we do it elsewhere in the world?” sophomore Corey Joyner said.
The Dalai Lama stressed that no matter how powerful or educated one single person is, he or she cannot survive alone. He said that survival depends on the rest of humanity and that cooperation only happens with friendship, which is built on the basis of trust.
“If I say that I am the Dalai Lama, I am a holy person and I must remain distant from you, how can I maintain your trust?” he said while sitting in an overstuffed armchair in his traditional maroon and yellow robes.
To gain the trust of others, he said that humans need to be sincere, open, friendly, truthful and honest. Students need to be self-confident without being self-centered.
“The way he emphasized self-confidence over selfishness is important to helping us earn one another’s respect,” sophomore Brianna Clark said. “This is not geared towards just Buddhists or Tibetans but to everyone.”
According to the Dalai Lama, religion is not necessary to achieve the basic human values of love, compassion and tolerance. This allows his message to touch those of any faith or no faith at all.
“Even though our foundations may be different, we both still believe in the responsibility of our generation to be self-less and change the world in the little things we do,” said freshman Kristen Botner, a Christian student.
The Dalai Lama explained that as a Buddhist, he tries not to develop an attachment to Buddhism because then his views become biased. But rather he finds a balance between religion and science.
“Intelligence creates a lot of problems but it is very useful,” he said. “Often we focus only on the short-term interest but if we focus on the long-term interests then we can see that violence is not the answer… it doesn’t encompass the holistic view.”
He used President Bush’s policy toward the Iraq war as an example saying that while the policy promoted good democracy, the method to achieve democracy was violence. This may have solved things in the short-term, but in the long-term, it created unrealistic expectations.
The deep wrinkles on his forehead reappeared as the Dalai Lama said: “Today, everything is interconnected. Destruction of your neighbor is destruction of yourself. So please, prepare your mind and heart with patience, knowledge and skill so that in the world and on every nation there can be peace.”
Heather Carney may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.