On April 26 I had the unique opportunity to be one of eighty guests who enjoyed lunch with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Loyola University after he spoke to a crowd of 4,000 people about the importance of non-violence and human compassion.
Sitting in the second row, I had a clear view of the sacred chants, musical performances, and three high school students who read their award-winning essays in response to the Dalai Lama’s question:
“How can an attitude of non-violence counteract the prevalence of violence in our families, in our communities, and in international relations; and how can we as individuals cultivate and promote such an attitude?”
A humble man with a contagious smile, the Dalai Lama describes himself as, “A simple Buddhist monk.” Currently 76, he was proclaimed the 14th Dalai Lama at the age of 4 and became Tibet’s leader at 15. In 1959 he made a harrowing escape from Tibet over the treacherous Himalayans as the Chinese made a violent grab for power. He now resides in Dharmsala, India.
Never once using notes, the Dalai Lama spoke from his heart, calling on young people to lead the world toward peace. He said, “Concern should not be rooted in religion, rather, the focus should be on understanding.” And while his message was serious, he also shared stories that made the audience laugh:
His eyes sparkled with mischief as a recounted being a toddler riding on his mothers shoulders and using her pigtails to “steer” her in the direction he wanted to go in the event she wasn’t listening to him.
When he was ten or so, he and his older brother were not interested in studying—they liked to “goof off.” His spiritual teacher came to the conclusion that two “whips” were needed: a regular one for his brother, and a “holy” one for him (his was painted yellow). With a grin, he assured the audience that a “holy” spanking hurts just as much as a regular one.
In his message of hope the Dalai Lama shared:
“Change must start within one individual.”
“The future depends on the present.”
“The difference between violence and non-violence resides in the heart.”
“When we exercise a compassionate view, we let go of anger.”
In my perspective, the Dalai Lama is the embodiment of goodness. If we all emulated his compassionate attitude—one that is positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing—the world would be a very different place.
What’s one change that you can make for the better?