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When His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama spoke to Loyolans on Thursday, he insisted the key to obtaining world peace is to first find peace within one’s self. Addressing a sold-out crowd in the Gentile Arena, the Dalai Lama coated seriousness with lighthearted humor to convey his messages of tolerance, compassion, and self-discipline.
Staying true to Buddhism beliefs, the Dalai Lama stressed genuine happiness is not achieved through material goods as those provide only an artificial satisfaction. “Happiness is not money, or a big family, or a big house, or in America, a big car,” he said, adding, “not power, not great knowledge.”
The Dalai Lama urged “realistic self-confidence” elicits feelings of affection and compassion toward others, as happiness and satisfaction are traits that develop within one’s self. “Concern for others’ well-being is the source of inner strength,” he said.
Loyola President Michael J. Garanzini, S.J., opened the lecture by formally introducing Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, explaining how “his teachings on compassion, generosity, and mindfulness resonate around the world. . . especially with our students,” and joking about how that was evident by the fact tickets for the event went within 24 hours.
Frank Fennell, PhD, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, then awarded an honorary degree to the Dalai Lama for his commitments to interfaith dialogue and a “lifelong devotion to peace and nonviolence.” To complement the academic honor, Fr. Garanzini crowned the Dalai Lama with a maroon visor with a gold “L” to replace the solid maroon one he was wearing.
Much of his speech focused on the necessity of a free exchange of ideas without discrimination, specifically concerning religious and spiritual diversity. “The need for different views, even contradictory views,” is important, he said, explaining how opposing beliefs allow individuals to see weaknesses in their own truths, analyze them, and learn as a result.
The Dalai Lama urged expelling hatred and fear from one’s soul because those heavy, negative emotions are constantly “eating at our immune system.”
When addressing poverty, the Dalai Lama said the gap between the rich and the poor in America “seems quite big.” For affirmation of his assumption, he asked the audience to demonstrate with their hands how much of a class disparty existed in the United States. Those who participated had their arms stretched wide.
The Dalai Lama denounced corruption, explaining, “If you have the opportunity to exploit someone, you shouldn’t do it,” — a common law of humanity that often seems disregarded, due to what he diagnosed as a lack of self-discipline.
Although a wide-ranging lecture, the central message of the Dalai Lama’s 40-minute speech encouraged each person to first discover their own harmony before expecting to add good to the world. After he spoke, students asked questions submitted prior to the event. Most concerned how to advocate for peace, deal with weaknesses, and promote religious tolerance, but one question dug deeper.
A student asked the Dalai Lama how he felt about the self-annihilating protests of Tibetans. The Dalai Lama said it was “too sensitive” of a subject, and the student walked away without an answer.
While in a train of thought answering a question, the Dalai Lama spotted Dean Fennell standing to the side on stage, where he had been for about 20 minutes, and insisted, “he needs a chair!” The Dalai Lama then patted the space next to him on the couch and Fennell sat beside him for the rest of the time. The Dalai Lama held his hand for nearly the remainder of the event, showing his warmth and compassion for others.
The Dalai Lama also spoke to a sold-out Gentile Arena crowd earlier in the morning for an event hosted by the TIBETcenter of Chicago. At that speech, the Dalai Lama focused on the topic of “nonviolence” and took questions from students who had been chosen as winners of an essay contest. Each of the students was also given a chance to read their essay on stage to the packed audience. Academy-award winner Sean Penn, who a day earlier was granted the 2012 Peace Summit Award for his humanitarian work in Haiti, attended the morning event and introduced the Dalai Lama.