Editorial Piece

The Dalai Lama is the Man

Elizabeth Schulte

After nearly a decade of efforts and anticipation, one of the largest spiritual leaders in the world, His Holiness the Dalai Lama finally made his way to the home of the Oregon Ducks to enlighten us all. In the minutes leading up to his emergence on stage, the murmuring and whispers of anticipation from nearly 11,000 spectators filled the air of Matthew Knight Arena. What will his message be? What will I take from this experience? Will it make me re-think certain things within my life? Are only a few questions myself and others were surely wondering before the event’s beginning. As I looked around the entirely packed arena, I began to ponder the vast level of power one must hold to have the ability to bring together such a large number of prospects despite our many demographic differences—religion, race, age, gender—you name it. This thought in itself tipped the scale of my excitement.

            As the brief introduction from UO faculty and president came to a close, His Holiness the Dalai Lama emerged from back stage at last, bringing all 11,000 attendees to their feet in one of the largest standing ovations I’ve ever witnessed.   As the Dalai Lama began to spread his spiritual message, he reminds us that even in the face of our innumerable distinctions from one another, we must always remember that we are physically, mentally, and emotionally the same. We have the same genetic build, get caught up in our own mentalities and thoughts, and no one can evade personal suffering and hurt.  Once we can fully comprehend this, His Holiness states, is when we will begin to work with each other instead of against. It is not until we gain this understanding that we can realize our oneness as human beings. He then makes the interesting note that it is things such as exploiting each other, cheating on others, and bullying one another that are slowly but surely decreasing our sense of oneness within humanity. One of the most moving topics the Dalai Lama covered was that of the human instinct to be selfish. Our selfishness is a hard trait to shake—it helps to ensure our protection and survival as a species. However, we must realize that if we want to open our “inner door” of happiness and fulfillment within our lives and ourselves, we must stop spending so much of our time focusing on our own well-being and instead shift our attention to the practice of compassion and caring for others. This, he argues, will get us further than any selfish act ever could. Another important argument the Dalai Lama spoke about in regards to the betterment of our society was that the 21st century needs to be the time for global change. World Leaders must shift their belief in war and violence to a trust in the power of dialogue, and females must take a more active role in the changing of our planet. I was also pleasantly surprised to hear that one of the world’s most influential religious leaders believes that action is more important than prayer. We can hope and pray for change in our world as much as we please, but nothing in our society will be shifted until we turn our visions into actions.

            On another note, I was pleased to learn that the Dalai Lama is funny and entirely comfortable with speaking exactly what’s on his mind. Between the story about tugging on his mother’s ears while she worked in the field and telling the audience members aged 60+ that they are close to saying “bye-bye”, I developed a further respect for the Dalai Lama by seeing that he too can be silly.

            Even through a thick accent, broken English, and a translator, the Dalai Lama’s message was crystal clear—once humans can learn to swap our selfishness for the practice of compassion—whether it be the donation of millions of dollars to a cause in need or just a simple smile to a stranger you pass on the street—we will be able to achieve fulfillment within our lives. In fact, I feel one step closer to this ultimate goal by merely being able to say that I’ve now not only seen the Dalai Lama in person, but I’ve also seen him sporting an Oregon Ducks visor.

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