EDITORIAL Lessons learned from the Dalai Lama

Even the Dalai Lama peeks into strangers’ bathroom medicine cabinets.

That was one of several fun and refreshing moments in the Dalai Lama’s visit to UM this week. Despite the cold rain, the freezing air conditioning and the unusual, naked feeling of being without cell phones, UM students flocked to the Convocation Center to see His Holiness.

After being in Miami several days, giving speeches and seminars for masses of people, it would have been understandable for His Holiness to be tired. Instead, he seemed genuinely interested in his words and in his audience. He surprised us with his sense of humor and enthusiastic gesticulating. He made us smile and appeared cute, huggable, and approachable. Although he spoke simply and succinctly, he made us feel important by holding a speech exclusively for the UM community – a speech on a topic that he specifically chose for the occasion. And he didn’t even come for Commencement!

It’s not every day that a speaker gets three standing ovations before he even says a word.

The Dalai Lama’s visit was a welcome pause in our hectic, daily lives. We rarely stop in our day to think of the basic, logical truths His Holiness emphasized. He humbly reminded us of the importance of kindness, love and compassion in our interdependent world, and he pointed out that violence leads to destruction. These are all things we already know, but we need to hear it every now and then to give us our perspective back.

Hearing the Dalai Lama may not have been a life-changing experience, but it was a pleasant opportunity to calm down, take a deep breath, and think about the world around us.

We would be wise to remember this the next time we find ourselves worrying about the latest $400 Louis Vuitton bag, the newest BMW or the pettiness in Student Government elections.

Although the Dalai Lama is a Buddhist monk, his teachings were not religious; he touched upon universal ideas. Stressing the importance of “inner values” like responsibility and kindness, he expressed his belief that destroying your neighbor, whether by belittling him or physically attacking him, is a destruction of yourself.

The Dalai Lama’s visit was not perfect: Having a translator was not ideal, and His Holiness sometimes spoke slowly and went off on tangents, which led to some students zoning out. However, he was not so concerned with how he delivered his speech as with what he actually said, which was a welcome change from many of the scripted, rehearsed speeches that we’ve become used to.

Next week, the presidential candidates would be wise to take the hint.

September 24, 2004


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.