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Dalai Lama Speaks of Compassion
By Art Hughes
Minnesota Public Radio
May 9, 2001
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The Dalai Lama brought his message of peace and compassion to a capacity crowd at the University of Minnesota's Williams Arena Tuesday night. Topics for his address ranged from parenting to politics and his country's occupation by China.

The Dalai Lama spoke of compassion and peace in an address to several thousand people at the University of Minnesota Tuesday. Listen to an excerpt.
(Photo/Bob Rashid)
THE LEADER OF TIBET BOWED HUMBLY to the expectant faces that reached to the top seats of what is normally a basketball arena. He was welcomed by Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton and St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman. U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone introduced the Dalai Lama with a fiery denunciation of China's human rights record in Tibet.

"The Chinese must sit down with His Holiness and end this barbarism. It is only through negotiations with the leader of the Tibetan people, a pragmatic and insightful man, that peace will be achieved," Wellstone said.

The Dalai Lama is the leader in exile of the Tibetan people, who also consider him to be the reincarnation of the Buddha of compassion. He fled Tibet in 1959 after an invasion by the Chinese. Since then he's lived in exile in India while the people of Tibet are subject to Chinese rule. Tibetans often decry the Chinese government's oppression of their religious beliefs and cultural traditions. The Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, in part for his steadfast insistence on a non-violent resolution to the Chinese occupation of his country.

His resolve echoes in the intimate message he delivered in his characteristic halting English. Seated in an upholstered chair on a stage covered with ornate, hand woven rugs, the Dalai Lama's theme was simple and related to his Buddhist beliefs - by striving to muster compassion any given moment of the day, a person can achieve individual happiness and contribute to global peace.

"It is very useful to think inward, and to realize and to know our internal great potential. And then through that way try to use our inner quality, our mental quality, to fulfill our goal - Happy Life."

The Dalai Lama says it was a foolish mistake for Tibet to isolate itself from the rest of the world for so many centuries. He says the previous century was one of the most important in human history because of advances in technology, science and the recognition of human rights.

"It is very useful to think inward, and to realize and to know our internal great potential. And then through that way try to use our inner quality, our mental quality, to fulfill our goal - Happy Life. "

- The Dalai Lama
"The basic sort of human, basic right. Such as freedom, individual freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of thought, open society. These are basic things for progress."

The Dalai Lama was contrite, charming and even humble as he answered questions from the audience, read by his interpreter.

Question: "Your Holiness. Do you not feel angry with the Chinese for what they have done to Tibet?"
"Yes, sometimes," was the Dalai Lama's reply.

The celibate monk was stumped by a question about how best to raise children.

"I don't think I can do it. I might lose my anger - so may beat, may beat. So therefore, I have no advice."

The Dalai Lama's presentation was well received. David Schiesher of Minneapolis says it was better than he expected.

"I was really impressed with his authenticity, his genuineness and spontaneity. It seems like he lives what he preaches and it's very much from the heart," Schiesher said.

Valerie Overby was also taken with how sincere and inviting the Dalai Lama appeared.

"It was very beneficial, very warm. It was warm going both ways - on behalf of him towards us, and the people of Minnesota towards him," Overby said.

The Dalai Lama says such a connection is achieved among people by minimizing harmful, negative thoughts and building on the positive ones. In that way he says, people can reach what every human desires - a happy family, happy days and a happy life.