I had the honor of emceeing the Dalai Lama's talk yesterday at the packed Stan Sheriff Arena in Manoa. Behind the scenes and around the Buddhist leader, there was heavy security--by the Dalai Lama's private security team, the U.S. State Department and deputy state sheriffs.
And in the middle of the bristling force, there was the smiling, playful exiled leader from Tibet. Equipped with a rock-star-like microphone headset (as was I!), he didn't have to stay at the podium and he proved to be a free spirit, improvising where he delivered his speech on stage and walking forward to accept small gifts from attendees. You could see immediate concern on the faces of the security crew as they moved quickly every time he departed from plan. The Dalai Lama's joyful curiosity and impulsiveness come in the face of continuing serious tensions with heavy-handed China. For decades the Dalai Lama and his followers have lived with loss and have faced threats, violence and repression.
What's the secret to having the peace he seems to carry in himself? That was a focus of audience questions. I found it so interesting, that people are still seeking answers to questions that have been asked for centuries. In this age of constant information, what we really need is wisdom.
The Dalai Lama didn't refer to anything political. But he told the audience that finding inner peace means developing "mental strength" and disciplining yourself to rise above others' hurtful actions. He said in every situation you can find something good--and you must look at every facet to find something positive to come out of it.
He urged forgiveness. And he said forgiveness doesn't mean condoning wrongdoing. It means letting go of the bitterness that others have produced in your life. He advised the audience to listen, listen, listen so that you may understand enemies and if possible, find a basis for friendship.
Simple, huh? As we know, the simplest things can be the most difficult. Another simple thing is laughing--and the Dalai Lama laughs often, much of the time at himself.
The Dalai Lama appeared as the first global peace leader to come to Hawaii as part of the Hawaii Community Foundation's brand-new Pillars of Peace program., founded with a lead grant from Pierre and Pam Omidyar.