His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Florida - 24 February 2010

February 25th 2010

His Holiness the Dalai Lama departed the hotel at 9am for Florida Atlantic University for a public talk entitled Compassion as a Pillar of World Peace. Upon reaching FAU, His Holiness held several private audiences for half an hour. Then at 10am, His Holiness moved to the stage to begin his public talk to an audience of several thousand Floridians. President John Pritchett of Florida Atlantic University welcomed His Holiness on the stage. President Pritchard said he was honored to have His Holiness speak on compassion, a value that is much needed in these troubled times. He said of His Holiness, “He truly lives his beliefs.” His Holiness introduced himself to the audience as a messenger of India. He said that firstly, Buddhist values and Buddha dharma come from India. Secondly, he said that the concept of religious harmony, which His Holiness teaches, is also an old Indian principle; for thousands of years, India has been practicing religious pluralism. His Holiness added that religious harmony and non-violence were both traditional Indian values. “I am proud to consider myself a messenger of India,” His Holiness stated.

His Holiness also expressed deep appreciation at FAU’s Peace Week activities intended to promote understanding, peace and non-violence. His Holiness stated, “Different language, different culture, different race - these are secondary. Fundamentally, we are all human beings.” His Holiness pointed out that a genuine smile is a “unique gift of a human being,” and that if human beings are treated with affection, they will also respond with affection. Because we were all born from our mothers, who give us a strong sense of intimacy and connection, His Holiness continued, we all have the same potential for compassion.

His Holiness again differentiated between two levels of compassion: the first level which is compassion with a biological basis, biased towards our friend and families, related to attitude and therefore limited, and the second level of compassion which is unbiased and objective, related not to attitude but to personhood. His Holiness taught that we should learn to cultivate this second level of compassion. He said that genuine peace must come from love and compassion, and only with this genuine inner peace is there possibility for lasting peace in the world.

Right after the public talk, His Holiness met briefly with former US Congressman Benjamin Gilman and his family and then returned to the hotel.

His Holiness’s program in the afternoon was held at Broward College. Presidents from six different colleges and universities in the area met with His Holiness in a Q&A session entitled The Responsibility of Higher Education in Today’s Global Society. There were Presidents from Nova Southeastern University, Seminole State College of Florida, Tallahassee Community College, Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, Lynn University and Florida Memorial University.

Chancellor Ray Ferrero of Nova Southeastern University moderated event. The Presidents asked His Holiness about his views on the responsibility of educating the global community, the value of individuals in a collective and the achievement of inner peace.

Chancellor Ferrero, in a question about His Holiness’s view on technology, referred to His Holiness’s Twitter account which had just recently been set up. His Holiness answered, “Overall technology really makes our life easier. Immense value.” However, he continued, whether the technology is used constructively or destructively totally depends on the motivation of the individual. The technology itself has no mind or motivation. His Holiness also remarked that we can think of the human brain as a living technology, and that too, whether it is used constructively or not, depends on our motivation.

As far as change is concerned, His Holiness emphasized that change must come first from one individual, then from ten and then from thousands. Therefore, the initiative always comes from one individual first.

He also urged the Presidents and educators in the audience to consider that the role of modern education is not simply to develop the intellectual capabilities of the students but also to develop the students’ moral ethics. His Holiness suggested that their generation should show the right path to coming generations.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama departed the United States this evening for India. 


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