Lafayette, IN, USA, 27 October 2007 (By Bob Scott, Journal and Courier) - The Dalai Lama showed a sense of humor Friday afternoon while he talked about 'Cultivating Happiness' in the sold-out Elliott Hall of Music at Purdue University.
The atmosphere in the theater was charged with anticipation before the Dalai Lama stepped onto the stage. Not quite the rowdiness of a rock show, but the electricity was the same. Before his arrival, Tibetan music and a chanting lesson warmed up the audience.
People knew this was a historic event at Purdue. It was the Dalai Lama's first visit to Purdue and his fifth to Indiana since 1987. He is the exiled head of state and spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists.
Shortly into his 90-minute talk, the seated Dalai Lama stopped speaking, leaned forward and started untying his shoes.
'I'm used to sitting cross-legged,' he said with a smile as he removed the shoes.
Wearing a red visor and a red robe while seated in a red chair, the Dalai Lama was asked a question at the end of his talk.
'What is your favorite color?'
Without skipping a beat, the Dalai Lama looked at his robe and deadpanned, 'Green.'
That drew big laughs from the more than 6,000 people in the hall.
In broken English, the Dalai Lama emphasized compassion and affection as the main sources of all happiness.
'My main commitment is the concept of a happy life,' he said. 'Much depends on having peace of mind.
'Everyone has a basic right to a happy life.'
He said women have the primary role in raising children who are affectionate and compassionate because they are more 'sensitive.'
He said he enjoyed meeting President Bush last week in the White House. He said he loved the president despite disagreeing with some of his policies.
'We immediately became friends,' the Dalai Lama said.
Graduate student Jinghua Zhang came to the talk out of curiosity.
'Being Chinese myself, I've heard a lot of things about the Dalai Lama,' he said. 'Inside China, the impression of him is negative.'
John and Carryn Fletcher of Carmel brought their adopted daughters -- Emily, 9, and Marie, 6, who were born in China.
'I'm honored to be here,' said John Fletcher after the talk. 'He seemed a lot more genuine than I thought.
'He was comfortable with the audience and liked to laugh a lot.'
Carryn said she wanted to bring her daughters to learn about the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan culture.'It was worth taking them out of school,' she said with a smile.