Regardless of whether you were there in person or you watched him through a screen, the Dalai Lama was nothing less than memorable. The mass media seems to be focusing only on his last words, whether they were actually said or not, and they are forgetting about everything else that made the experience worth it. Rather than over talking the already talked about topic of His Holiness’ final remarks, I think we should focus on everything else that happened during the hour and a half long speech and question and answer.
Chosen at the age of two as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, the current Dalai Lama, previously named Lhamo Dhondup, has led a life of spiritualism and education. He has traveled the world to spread his message and has been himself attending various classes. Although this was not as clear in his speaking, his English was not exactly the best and if it wasn’t for the closed captioning I would have been lost. Sure, the subtitles were off and there were many typos, but it is safe to say that our ears alone would not have been able to take in everything His Holiness was saying.
I found him to be an adorable man. He had the greatest laugh I have heard in a long time. There is no doubt that he is a happy man, no doubt that he wants to spread his joy. His laugh was contagious and he laughed at his own jokes, whether or not they were funny I found myself laughing along with him. I was constantly smiling at his small gestures, at his giving the entire talk wearing a Brown cap or his present to President Paxson. However, his speech was somewhat predictable, as an educator and peace advocator I would have been surprised had he not talked about peace and education.
He talked about humanity wanting to lead a happy life and peace being the way to it. He asked the audience, the 21st century generation as he called us, to look outside ourselves in order to be able to have a world in which people get along. He said that our reality is still changing and that although we can learn from the past, it is gone, and we must now focus on our future. The only way to do that is if we have knowledge about reality in order to come up with realistic solutions. He talked about the evolution of compassion and altruism, about human rights being a thing of the present and not of the past, about our world cooperation. He had some inspiring moments, he said some things that resonated with me. He said things like, “success is related to inner peace not monetary gain,” and the fact that we have to think more about the things that motivate us and do them. As a Brown student, these ideas are the reasons I came to Brown, to do what I love. Yet, all this talk about education and altruism made me think a lot about the audience. Whether we like it or not, he was talking to a mostly Ivy League educated audience. We know education is the answer and the option of being altruistic comes a lot more naturally and easier to some of us.
So maybe although the Dalai Lama himself as a figure is inspiring, his words don’t seem to be different from what most world leaders advocate. Even though it was a once in a life time experience, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, I think it is safe to say I wanted a little variety in what our actions should be in order to achieve peace. More than that, I wanted him to expand on his ideas, to tell us what he wishes we could do to make education a more common thing. We are all receiving a proper education; we are part of the answer, but what happens when the people he talks to don’t have the opportunity, not because they don’t want to but because they simply can’t? How can we as an educated audience change that? We all wish it was as simple as sending a letter, donating some money, or signing a petition. But the truth is, that small actions by many individuals can help, but not necessarily change everything. How can we achieve peace through education, and knowing who our fellow humans are, if not everyone is as exposed to other cultures as we are? Part of me wanted to hear something new, something that would make me come out of the talk and say yes, this is what I am going to do to help reach peace. Yet I came out of it happy to have attended, but still unsure as to how I could help. I wish I could provide an education to everyone, I wish I had the means to ensure that every child of this generation received the proper exposure to the world.
I was left a little disappointed, and not because of who he is, but because of what he said. I am all for peace, I think that once as a world we work together and understand each other, rather than cause each other pain, we will achieve our goal of leading a happy life. I don’t disagree with him, I just expected to be enlightened by him. Maybe I put too much responsibility on one single human being.