The Dalai Lama spoke Saturday to an arena full of students at the University of Hawaii about education’s role in achieving world peace, and how to move forward to become better people.
The Tibetan-born Tenzin Gyatso (formerly Lhamo Dhondup) is in Hawaii to help launch a new initiative called Pillars of Peace Hawaii, a program where global leaders share ideas for actively practicing peace. Pillars of Peace Hawaii is sponsored by the Hawaii Community Foundation through a grant from the Omidyar Ohana Fund and other supporters, and the Dalai Lama is being hosted by Pierre and Pam Omidyar.
The Dalai Lama may no longer be a head of state, but he remains a worldwide icon of nonviolence, human rights and religious understanding, and he delivered a simple, yet powerful, talk to several thousand of Hawaii’s high school and college students at Stan Sheriff Center. Among his messages: Respect your enemies and kill them with kindness. Give unconditionally; to expect anything in return means your intentions aren’t genuine. And give love and build self-esteem.
When people are insecure, he said, their minds conjure fear. And when there’s fear, it leads to distrust, which leads to anger, which in turn manifests in violence. He added that people need to practice love, compassion and forgiveness, not just because it’s associated with religion, but because these traits can build a community and gain support, no matter how powerful you are.
Throughout his speech, he shared funny personal stories to illustrate his points. For instance, he talked about how his mother spoiled him and how he would ride on her shoulders and steer her as if she were a horse by pulling her ears. Despite being spoiled, he felt that the love she showed through indulging him helped build his self-esteem. (I’m not sure if I agree with that.)
The audience’s favorite story, however, was when he talked about having lunch at a wealthy family’s home. After the meal, he went to the bathroom to brush his teeth. While there, he noticed the medicine cabinet and peered inside “without permission.” There, he found tranquilizers, which made him realize that as wealthy as they were, they had so much stress over material possessions that they needed drugs to help them relax.
The Dalai Lama’s speech was preceded by live performances from Blank Canvas, Hypersquad, Taimane Gardner, Anuhea Jenkins, Ehunuikaimalino and Jack Johnson. — Melissa Chang
— Photos by Dallas Nagata White