Tibetan leader focuses on compassion, nonviolence in speech
Nearly 15,000 people gathered at the Pepsi Center on Sunday to see a man who calls himself a simple monk, nothing special. They waited in lines that stretched far from the main doors toward the CityLights Pavilion, and once inside, some paused to buy $20 T-shirts bearing his name.
When Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper introduced the simple monk, these 15,000 people all stood, nearly in unison. Gaining the stage, the simple monk, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, placed his hands together and bowed humbly to the crowd over and over.
“Hello everybody,” he said, and then laughed about the large images of himself plastered on the Pepsi Center’s screens.
His public talk, “The Science of a Compassionate Life,” focused on compassion, positive thoughts and nonviolence.
The 71-year-old political and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people said his compassion comes from his mother’s love and care for him when he was a small child in Tibet.
“This is the basis of the idea of compassion Â— a sense of concern, a sense of care,” he said. “Sometimes, I think we take for granted these things and don’t pay much attention. As a result, our emotions are closer to negative emotions.”
If you have compassion and respect for others, you will benefit, he said.
“This is an extreme, only to think of oneself,” he said. “Of course, by nature, we are selfish. But be a wise selfish, not a foolish selfish.”
Also, he said, using force creates more problems.
“Violence and war are, morally speaking, wrong,” he said. “That is the wrong method.”
The audience showed their approval with applause.
“He’s just, to me, the epitome of compassion,” said Kathy Emery, of Boulder. Emery’s daughter attended the weekend PeaceJam conference, which the Dalai Lama participated in on Friday and Saturday. Emery and her husband, Jamie, saw the Dalai Lama speak at PeaceJam, and on Sunday, they took three young friends of the family to the Pepsi Center talk.
Emery is Buddhist, but the Dalai Lama’s message is universal, she said.
Jody Stege would agree.
“I’m Taoist, but this transcends ‘isms,'” she said. Stege came from Las Vegas, New Mexico, to see the Dalai Lama and said she’d just met someone who arrived from Atlanta this morning to attend the talk.
“It’s great that people are making this a priority,” Stege said.
Following the talk, the Dalai Lama answered select questions sent in by e-mail ahead of time. One person asked the Dalai Lama how to change his impression of Islam.
“The whole world could learn the rules of religion,” the Dalai Lama said. “They all carry, basically, the same message, but from a different approach.”
He said he, as a Buddhist monk, is a defender of Islam.
The Dalai Lama’s public address was sponsored by the Mind and Life Institute, which started in Boulder in 1987 as a collaboration of Western science and Eastern contemplative traditions. It was founded by the Dalai Lama and longtime Buddhist practitioners Fransisco Varela, a neuroscientist, and entrepreneur Adam Engle. Mind and Life has since grown from a dialogue into an organization that supports research, conferences and retreats.