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Tibetan Leader Speaks at University of San Francisco

The Daily Californian, USA
Sep. 8, 2003
Tami Abdollah • Monday September 8, 2003

Dalai Lama Spreads Peaceful Message

SAN FRANCISCOThe Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual and political leader of 6 million Tibetans, spoke about peace, happiness and compassion to thousands at the University of San Francisco Friday.

The 14th Dalai Lama, referred to as His Holiness by followers, has been in exile in India since 1959, following a failed uprising against the Chinese government. He is believed to be the embodiment of mercy and compassion by his devotees.

“He’s clearly a man whose only agenda is fostering compassion and understanding among peoples and cultures,” said Jack Treacy, a university rector who helped organize the event.

The Tibetan leader’s morning prayer service drew about 2,000 people to St. Ignatius Church on campus. At the service he was presented with an honorary university doctorate.

Later, he packed the USF Memorial Gymnasium with nearly 5,000 people for his afternoon teaching.

The Dalai Lama interspersed his insights on life with some comedy.

“Friendly fire and enemy fire, physically same, but mentally different,” the Dalai Lama said. “Right? … They don’t think: Oh, bullet made in the U.S., so OK.”

He also continued to spread the message of peace that earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

“Violence is basically against human nature,” the Dalai Lama said. “Violence cannot solve problems. The best way to solve problems is through dialogue, not violence.”

Peace depends on compassion and compassion must begin with each individual, he said.

“War is one way to protect yourself, to defeat your enemy,” the Dalai Lama said. “Yes, in ancient times it’s true. But in today’s world things are interdependent. The destruction of your enemy is the destruction of yourself.”

He also promoted the ideals of self-discipline and self-reliance in order to achieve happiness.

“All (people) want a happy life,” he said. “Now, in order to achieve that, if you rely on others too much you will face many difficulties, so self-rely.”

The Dalai Lama delighted many audience members with his humor and candor.

“I think he truly lives as he speaks and his humor shows his compassion and love for others,” said Mary Bull, a USF alumna and San Francisco resident. “

For many students it was the first time hearing the Dalai Lama speak. Sometimes, he switched to Tibetan and spoke through an interpreter.

“I just wish his speech flowed a little bit better,” said USF third-year student Juanito Maravilla. “It’s kind of disappointing because he’s a really wise person and I wanted to get the most out of it. I guess I just wanted an epiphany or enlightenment.”

Berkeley shares its own ties with the Dalai Lama, who has spoken at both Zellerbach Auditorium and the Greek Theatre.

“I would have been glad to come and sit for two hours and not hear a word and I would have still been happy just to be in his presence,” said Catheryn Brash, a UC Berkeley alumna who was at the event.

The Berkeley City Council also flies the Tibetan flag on Tibetan National Uprising Day held March 10, to show its solidarity with the exiled government.

Local Tibetans are currently working to create a Tibetan Community Center in Berkeley, said Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who was also at the event.

“I think one of the reasons he’s so popular in Berkeley and the Bay Area is for his … passionate commitment to nonviolence,” Worthington said.

The Bay Area stopover was part of a five-city tour that will end in New York.

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