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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Dalai Lama speaks to sold-out UCSB crowds

April 27, 2009

By ERIC LINDBERG
Daily Sound
April 25, 2009

Tibet’s political and spiritual leader, the 14th
Dalai Lama, brought his message of peace and
compassion to the Santa Barbara area yesterday,
speaking to thousands of students and community
members during two sold-out lectures at UC Santa Barbara.

In outlining his vision for the path to a
peaceful society, the 73-year-old Buddhist monk
emphasized the need for a sense of global responsibility and equality.

"The concept of ‘we and they’ is no longer
relevant," he said. "We must look at the world as one entity, just we."

Wearing a traditional monk robe, the Dalai Lama
stepped onto the stage at UCSB’s events center to
a silent, standing audience of approximately
5,000 people for his afternoon lecture on “Ethics for Our Time.”

After clasping his hands together and bowing, the
spiritual leader gestured for the audience to
sit, which served more as a cue for thunderous applause.

"Dear brothers and sisters," he began. "And when
I say brothers and sisters, I really feel like
that. At this moment, we really need that spirit."

The world is facing strife in many forms, from
global warming to religious conflicts, the Dalai
Lama said, describing many of those problems as
created by people who are thinking only of themselves.

Too many people are caught up in materialism, he
said, the focus on possessions or power.

"We pay much less attention to our internal values, our mind," he said.

That brought him to the central point of his
discussion, what he termed the "universal value."
During any event or encounter in his life the
Dalai Lama said he emphasizes the importance of
the universal value, compassion, as a source of self-confidence and healing.

"The more self-confidence, less fear, less
stress," he said. "That opens our mind so we can
reach out to other people, build a healthy society."

At the time of his birth -- to a farming family
in a small town in northeastern Tibet in July
1935 -- Nazis were rising to power in Germany.
Violent conflicts ensued later in his life in nearby Korea and Vietnam.

As a teenager, the Dalai Lama was called upon to
become Tibet’s political leader after China’s
invasion of the region. Despite peace talks with
Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders, he was
forced to seek exile in northern India after
Chinese troops brutally suppressed a nationalist
uprising in Tibet’s capital, Lhasa.

"All my life, I witness too much violence and
also some violence in the name of revolution," the Dalai Lama said.

Losing his freedom at 16, then his country at 24
brought a great deal of sadness and heartache, he
acknowledged, not to mention the impact of
violence taking place across the world.

Money failed to bring him consolation. Pets did
not bring him inner peace. Possessions could not give him inner comfort.

"The only thing which brings inner peace is my
own inner value, compassion and spirit of forgiveness," he told the audience.

That is the approach the Dalai Lama hopes world
leaders and society in general will start to embrace, rather than violence.

"We have to find long-term methods to change our
society, to change our thinking," he said. "The
only way to tackle or to face this problem is
through dialogue. That is the only way.”

In addition to the societal benefits he sees from
a life lived with compassion, the Dalai Lama said
inner peace has a positive impact on his health.

Last year, while have surgery to remove his gall
bladder, the spiritual leader was told by a
doctor that he had a young body, one that looks 60 rather than 73.

"That shows my mental peace," he said.

However, the Dalai Lama shrugged off suggestions
that he has healing powers, noting that if he did
indeed have those skills, he wouldn’t need gall bladder surgery.

"I’m nothing special," he told the crowd. "I’m
just another human being, just like you. We all have the same potential."

If people view him as someone special, he
explained, they will feel that they can’t follow
his experience and live as he does. If they view
him as just another person, however, “Then we can
communicate and, from my experience, you may get some benefit," he said.

Yesterday’s visit to UCSB marked the fourth time
the 14th Dalai Lama has visited the seaside
campus, with previous visits coming in 1984, 1991 and 1997.

It’s also the first visit since the university
established a chair of Tibetan Buddhism and
cultural studies named after the Dalai Lama.
Professor Jose Cabezon, who holds the chair,
acted as an official translator for the spiritual
leader several decades ago and invited the Dalai Lama to visit.

"Because of his connection to the university and
his status as a world figure and exponent of
religious tolerance, this visit is extremely important," Cabezon said.

He is hopeful the lectures and buzz surrounding
the event will give local residents more exposure
to Tibetan culture in general. A series of
lectures on the history of the Dalai Lamas and
Tibet, as well as Buddhism, preceded the visit.

An exhibit of sacred Tibetan fabric paintings,
known as thangkas, is also on display at the
University Art Museum until mid-June, and a group
of monks have been creating a sand mandala at the
museum in recent days to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s visit.

In addition, the university selected the Dalai
Lama’s book, "Ethics for a New Millenium," as its
choice for the UCSB Reads program. Thousands of
students, faculty and staff will read the book
this winter and spring, as well as hold
discussions and campus-wide forums on the concepts it contains.
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