The Dalai Lama spoke about compassion, forgiveness and the oneness of humanity, and even told a few jokes at a lecture co-sponsored by the Office of Religious Life and The Kalmyk Three Jewels Foundation in Jadwin Gymnasium on Tuesday morning, as protests over allegations of discrimination against small Buddhist sects took place outside.
Around two hundred members of a group known as the International Shugden Community held a demonstration to the east of Jadwin. The group claims the Dalai Lama has institutionalized discrimination against members of their faith in Tibet. Since freedom of expression is not protected in Tibet, the members of the group choose to demonstrate in the United States.
The group passed out packets with images of apparent discrimination found in shops, restaurants and many public buildings, such as hospitals and monasteries.This included a sign allegedly posted on the Golden Temple in Tibetan settlement Bylakuppe, India, which reads, “Anyone man or woman who worships Dholgyal or has connection with devotees of Dholgyal: Please do not contact the settlement palace of His Holiness.” According to the group, “Dholgyal” is a religious slur word for Shugden.
Sonam Lama, a Tibetan spokesman for the group, said he only wants the Dalai Lama to practice what he preaches.
“If he would just lift this discrimination, ask his followers to do the same … we would stop [protesting] immediately.”
Nicholas Pitts, a spokesman for the group, said the members were grateful the University had allowed them to demonstrate on campus, saying this act shows a commitment to free press.
“If we were where the Dalai Lama has power, we wouldn’t have these rights,” Pitts said. “The Dalai Lama is trying to shut us down, to silence us, and the University is doing the opposite.”
Supporters of the Dalai Lama, called Global Tibetan Volunteers For The Truth, were stationed in front of Jadwin and passed out flyers condemning the allegations by Shugden followers.
“In recent years, there is a small group of Tibetans, along with few foreigners, who take refuge in an evil spirit called Shugden,” the flyer reads. “These baseless allegations and constant protest has caused lots of disturbances and sadness among the Tibetan people and including the Buddhist followers.”
Despite tensions outside, the Dalai Lama maintained a lighthearted atmosphere indoors, telling several jokes. He also wore an orange Princeton baseball cap during most of the lecture.
When asked what the key to happiness was, the Dalai Lama, formally known as His Holiness the 14thDalai Lama, answered, “Money … and sex,” before following up with inner strength, from which trust and friendship arise.
The Dalai Lama emphasized compassion and unity, especially given current trends of globalization, which link people across borders.
“Because of the global economy … now we cannot say this nation, this continent safe, other not, or something happen other area is something not your concern,” he said. “So therefore we really need sense of global responsibility, because well-being of humanity is your own well-being.”
Meaningful lives, he said, depend upon peace and compassion.
“Meaningful means peaceful life; peaceful means carry with sense of compassion. Then your life becomes meaningful because compassion is a sense of well-being — then no possibility to harm other, exploit other, bully other, cheat other,” he said.
Regarding non-believers and acts of violence, the Dalai Lama repeated that a distinction between actions and actors must be made. While actions must be corrected with “counter missions,” one should avoid developing feelings of anger toward the actors themselves and rather practice forgiveness.
To avoid anger, the Dalai Lama said much of that responsibility lay in childhood, where a mother’s affection, which the Dalai Lama said helps develop a “more compassionate mind, more affectionate mind, [which is] very good for sustained immune system, very good for our health."
The Dalai Lama briefly commented on the Chinese government’s refusal to recognize Tibet as an independent country, saying that while he will “openly criticize” Chinese actions, he believes the Chinese “also want harmony, stability, unity,” and that these are “very much based on friendship, [and] friendship [is] based on trust.”
Bringing a discussion of happiness into educational institutions, the Dalai Lama said, would do much for this stability and unity.
“This university [has] very famous education standard. Because it is very high, now with that high standard of education, if you include a little bit of education about happiness, I think [it would be] more complete.”
When asked what the purpose of life was, the Dalai Lama responded that it was simply to live a happy life with hope.
“Hope means something good, so therefore our very purpose of life, I think we can conclude, is happy life,” he said.
University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 was unable to attend the event due to a prescheduled business trip abroad, according to University spokesperson Martin Mbugua.