Nearly 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.”
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.
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.”