His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Florida - 23 February 2010

February 24th 2010

On Monday, 22 February 2010, His Holiness the Dalai Lama traveled from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  There were no public events.

This morning, His Holiness started the day at 8:45am with a half hour interview at the hotel with Betty Nguyen of CNN. Betty Nguyen introduced herself to His Holiness as Vietnamese American and explained that her family left Vietnam right after the Communists came in. Her first question was: “What’s your main message to Americans?” His Holiness answered, “Americans are also human beings… Everybody wants a happy life.” He continued, “Ultimately the source of joyfulness is very much within ourselves.”

When asked about the institution of the Dalai Lamas, His Holiness said that the continuation of the institution is up to the Tibetan people. His Holiness commented, “Sometimes the Chinese government is more concerned with the 15th Dalai Lama than me… If they choose, then he will be the official Dalai Lama but not Tibetans’ heart Dalai Lama.” Betty Nguyen asked, “Do you think you will go back to a free Tibet?” His Holiness replied, “Yes, certainly. Not just me, all Tibetans.”

Then His Holiness left for Nova Southeastern University where he gave a talk to university students and faculty members in the morning and the Florida public in the afternoon. Both audiences were 4500 people strong.

His Holiness’s morning talk, entitled Cultivating Universal Responsibility During Challenging Times, began at 10am. NSU Chancellor Ray Ferrero welcomed His Holiness on the stage, and mentioned that the last time His Holiness was at NSU in October 2004, he was awarded an honorary degree. This time also, he said, the event’s co-host Broward College would award His Holiness with the first Baccalaureate Degree (B.A.) in Teacher’s Education awarded by Broward. Broward College President David Armstrong and Chairman of the Broward College Board of Trustees Sean Guerin presented His Holiness with the Honorary Degree, and Mr. Jim Lansing, President of the Faculty Senate, presented His Holiness with the citation.

The Chancellor recalled that five years ago when His Holiness first arrived at NSU, the university offered full scholarships to two Tibetan students, Tenzin Chokden and Tashi Wangla, who are both graduating this year. To great applause he announced that in September, NSU will give full scholarships to two female Tibetan students.

Then His Holiness started his address. His Holiness’s main message to the NSU audience was hopeful; he believes that the sense of global responsibility is growing. The international response to tragic events such as the Tsunami and now Haiti has shown that, he pointed out. He also gave the European Union as an example. In the early part of the 20th century, the nations now currently in the EU were at war with each other and jealous of their national sovereignty; now because the world is interconnected and national boundaries don’t have much meaning, these nations have realized that global interest is more important than national interest and they are working together.

His Holiness also emphasized: America is the “champion of liberty, freedom and democracy… On these principles, you should stand firm.”

After the address, His Holiness had lunch and then several private audiences. Then he had a Meet the Press event where he spoke to about forty journalists for 30 minutes. Among them were reporters from Associated Press, Miami Herald, CBS and NBC. Julie Spechler, Director of Public Affairs at Nova, welcomed His Holiness and Ken Ma, Associate Director of Public Affairs, moderated the Q&A.

His Holiness first made very brief remarks. He said that it’s in everybody’s interest to build a healthier human society and to that end, he has his job and the media has theirs. The media questions touched on the institution of the Dalai Lamas, the Vancouver Olympic Games, and the sense of universal responsibility.

After meeting the press, His Holiness headed into the auditorium to address the Florida public on The Effect of Compassion on the Global Community. Again Chancellor Ray Ferrero welcomed His Holiness onstage.

His Holiness confided to the audience that having spent the last 50 years as a refugee has created for him new opportunities for meeting with people from all walks of life. Because he has had to leave Tibet and live as a refugee, his view of reality is more clear and real. “Difficult situations bring opportunity,” His Holiness advised. He quoted Shantideva: If a problem can be solved, there is no need to worry about it. If a problem cannot be solved, there is no use to worry about it.

His Holiness also said, “We face different varieties of problems. Many are our own creation.” He suggested that warm-heartedness and compassion can act as a counterforce to these negative problems and emotions. He spoke also about the importance of disarmament, and said that to implement external disarmament, you first have to practice internal disarmament. His Holiness said that to see reality more clearly, more objectively, a calm mind undisturbed by negative emotions is necessary.

On Wednesday morning, February 24th, His Holiness will speak to the public at Florida Atlantic University. In the evening, His Holiness will conclude his visit and depart from the United States.



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