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Dalai Lama offers words of wisdom about happiness

By Barbara Brooks on April 22, 2008

042208dalailamaCommentsICON.jpgNearly 5,000 people streamed into Hamilton, across Colgate’s campus, and into Sanford Fieldhouse to hear His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama speak about happiness — that illusive quality that all human beings want, yet find so hard to achieve.

Before beginning, he removed his shoes and arranged himself slowly in a cross-legged position in the oversized crimson leather chair that was made for the occasion.

Despite the audience’s palpable eagerness for words of wisdom, he quipped that the chair was so comfortable he’d like to “sit without talk.”

But talk he did, in an engaging and straightforward way; about how inner peace, compassion, and truth are necessary for happiness. He implored his audience to “please think more about those inner values.”

The Dalai Lama speaks about happiness during his appearance before nearly 5,000 people at Colgate’s Sanford Fieldhouse.  SEE MORE PHOTOS HERE. (Photo by Susan Kahn)

He said, “We pay too much concern to material things and neglect our inner resources.”

The Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile from Tibet since 1959, emphasizes that all people possess the ability to achieve happiness and a meaningful life, but the key to realizing that goal is self-knowledge.


Sights and sounds from public appearance

Video of the Dalai Lama’s complete speech

Watch the archived webcast of appearance

Reaction to visit

Photos of the visit.

• See more stories, video, and photos on this Dalai Lama webpage.

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The 90-minute talk and Q&A session was sponsored by the university’s Global Leaders Lecture Series, which is funded by the Colgate Parents’ and Grandparents’ Fund.

To accommodate the overwhelming demand, the lecture also was streamed live on the Internet.

Though his visit to Hamilton drew nearly 200 protesters, the Dalai Lama’s infectious humility and undogmatic approach won over his audience.

“Every sentient being has the same right to live without suffering. Based on the law of causality,” he said, “we need to think seriously about the causes of happiness. Good result, happy result, entirely depends on good action, constructive action.”

Compassion, he said, begins when a baby receives nourishment from his mother’s milk. “When warm-heartedness takes seed, it can transform to unlimited, unbiased compassion, not based on other’s attitudes. That feeling can even extend toward one’s enemy.”

Later he made the point even more simply: “Loving kindness is the strongest antidote to anger.”

At 73 years old, the Dalai Lama credited his own peace of mind with his ability to maintain physical health. His day, he said, begins at 3:30 a.m. and includes eight or nine hours of sleep.

“Peace of mind brings nice sleep.”

Tomorrow the Dalai Lama will hold two panel discussions for small groups of students and faculty: “A Dialogue on Science and Religion,” and “The Moral and Spiritual Power of Religion and the University.”


  • The Rev. Jim Kellaway '72 said:

    It was a true pilgrimage for me to travel to Colgate to see His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. My own studies, 36 years ago, in Buddhism, came streaming back to me, and my own faith as a Christian and as an Episcopal priest were strengthened. I was also able to meet two Tibetan Buddhist monks from the monastery in Ithaca as we gathered back in the parking area on Whitnall Field. They knew the monk who has been teaching my son at Hobart College to create a Buddhist sand mandala, which I saw later in the week prior to its reverent destruction. How much we westerners could grow if we lived out even some of the Buddhist belief that all things are impermanent.

  • Beverly Choltco-Devlin said:

    I thank Colgate University, The Parents and Grandparents group who funded the lecture, Mr. Ho and everyone else who made this amazing event possible. Yesterday was one of the most moving, incredible days of my life. It has been a dream of mine for the last 15 years to be in the presence of and hear the wisdom of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. I am a resident of the town of Hamilton and not really affiliated with Colgate in any way. To open this event to the community at no charge was so in keeping with the spirit of giving to others, compassion and loving kindness that the Dalai Lama encourages. Thank you from the depth of my heart and soul to each and every person at Colgate and the Colgate bookstore who helped me achieve my dream.

  • Ted Vaill said:

    I am a Colgate graduate (Class of 1962) and I have met the Dalai Lama, and he is a genuine, humane, compassionate man, who is venerated by his followers in Tibet and around the world. I have been to Tibet five times, and his picture is in every home, unless the Chinese find it and confiscate it.
    His message should be listened to by more of our world leaders.

  • Jonathan said:

    I was able to bring brilliant HS students to this phenomenal lecture. My students appreciated his argument for hope, rooted in determination of choosing optimism. Another moment that grabbed their attention was when His Holiness made the contention that one should not teach their faith unless they were asked. The lecture was a once in a lifetime experience, and more importantly, a life altering catalyst to view the world in a more engagingly happy way!