The Dalai Lama speaks on peace, compassion
The Dalai Lama gave a public talk Sunday to more than 14,500 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
The Mind and Life Institute, based in Boulder, sponsored the talk, entitled, “The Science of Compassionate Life.” It has been nine years since the Dalai Lama has been to Colorado to speak to the public. The event was sold out over a month ago.
Before the Dalai Lama took the stage, Tibetan flutist and Grammy Award nominee Nawang Khechog provided the sounds of his native land while offering prayers of thanks. The opening entertainment also included Tibetan dancers who sang the Tibetan national anthem and preformed traditional dances.
Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper then introduced the Dalai Lama, who presented the mayor with a white scarf and greeted the audience before taking a seat on a black chair centered on a red rug. An interpreter accompanied the Dalai Lama and helped translate certain points and clarify the Dalai Lama’s intent.
“I am a simple Buddhist monk,” the Dalai Lama said.
He went on to say that people often mistake him by thinking he will bestow blessings, perform miracles or that he has a third eye. “Nonsense,” said the Dalai Lama, who clarified that he professes no miracle or healing power, but he wishes someone could perform a miracle on his itching skin. He also joked about “his peculiar dress and graying eyebrows.”
The Dalai Lama said the greatest gift of compassion he’s ever received came from his mother right after his birth. He said that experience would remain with him until his death.
“By nature, all human beings have the same compassion. Without it, we could not survive,” he said.
Sometimes we forget this gift and rely on other emotions, he said, such as aggressiveness and hatred. This was what motivated those who perpetrated the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he added. He pointed out that since that terrible tragedy, he has been a defendant of Islam, stating that it is unfair and untrue to judge the faith by those attacks.
“All major religious traditions teach love, compassion and forgiveness,” the Dalai Lama said. “The world today is heavily divided.” There is a growing separation between “we” and “they.” The answer, he said, is not in the elimination of “them” but rather to embrace and care for all peoples.
He went on to discuss his beliefs on forcefulness.
“Using force creates more problems,” said the Dalai Lama. “We need inner disarmament to solve our problems.”
He defined inner disarmament as the reduction of negative emotion and the promotion of positive emotion. To change the political view, he said, one must begin with self.
“Why do people who have so much still feel unhappy?” the Dalai Lama asked.
He answered this question by saying a person must first have a healthy mind; with this healthy mind, a person can create a healthy world, but it must begin inside the individual. A healthy mind is compassionate, he said. This compassion creates warm-heartedness and inner strength, which in turn promotes honesty that can finally reduce fear.
“No healthy community deliberately creates problems,” he said.
The Dalai Lama said that the general public needs a secular approach to the world’s problems. The basis of this solution will be scientific, he said, adding that the method to peace is through education because modern education is the foundation of compassion. Religion and philosophy come next.
“If I was boring . sorry,” the Dalai Lama said before exiting the stage.
Joan Halifax Roshi, abbot of the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, N.M., and board member of the Mind and Life Institute, said the Dalai Lama believes in universal responsibility, which is a combination of good works and compassion.
In response to the question why so many people came to hear the Dalai Lama speak, Roshi said, “The Dalai Lama is the global archetype of peacemaker. He is very present and not at all mystical.”
When asked why she came to see the Dalai Lama, Jen Woodruff, a student at Colorado State University, said, “It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Brynn Friedlander, a senior journalism major, served as the public relations intern with the Mind and Life Institute for this event.
“The experience has given me great insight in the field of public relations,” Friedlander said. “It has been incredible to have my first job be with the Dalai Lama. To see the Pepsi Center full has been a great reward for all the hard work.”
Dalai Lama chronology: