Dalai Lama lectures Owls


His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, born Lhamo Dhondup, sat in a plush chair on a stage. Standing next to him wasn’t another world leader: It was FAU Interim President John Pritchett.

As Pritchett read his introduction, His Holiness slid up the sleeve of his robe, glanced at his watch, and tapped his hands on the chair, pretending to be painfully bored with the formal speech


He quietly chuckled as Pritchett finished introducing the world leader, who sat Indian-style in his chair and stressed his love for informalities.

Prior to sitting down, he posed for pictures and hugged monks who approached the stage from within the audience. Dozens of media photographers and hundreds of students snapped shots as the man bowed to the crowd on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

According to FAU officials, the arena was near capacity, with approximately 2,800 of 3,000 seats filled with people waiting to hear the Dalai Lama’s lecture, “Compassion as a Pillar of World Peace.”

He didn’t speak in a typical lecture format, with notes and a podium. The Dalai Lama — described by Pritchett as “a living example of all the good that can be accomplished in this world by one person” — lounged in his chair and looked audience members in the eyes as he spoke.

“I’m happy,” the Dalai Lama said. “I can see the audience’s faces. Sometimes in the dark I cannot see faces, and I feel I am talking to nobody, or maybe some ghost.”

In his lecture, he said that compassion is the root of internal peace.

“Genuine peace must come from inner peace. Without inner peace, world peace is impossible,” he said. He then went on to say that conflict is necessary for inner peace, as people must have compassion for their enemies if they wish to be peaceful.

“In order to have love and compassion, we need some people to create problems,” he said.

The Tibetan leader also addressed his people’s exile in India, explaining that every negative situation has positive gains. The culture of Tibet was very rigid and formal, so he “went to India for some kind of freedom,” he said with a loud laugh.

During his lecture, the Dalai Lama complimented the banners featuring his image that were hung throughout the Breezeway.

The Dalai Lama’s visit was concluded with responses to questions submitted by FAU faculty, staff and students. His Holiness then exited the stage after thanking the audience for their third standing ovation.


Here’s what some audience members thought:

“He’s come all the way to little old Boca Raton, I figure he must have something important to say,” said Chris Staves, a sophomore majoring in history.


“He was more relaxed and funny than I expected,” said Tiara Zepeda, a sophomore majoring in sociology. “He communicated his thoughts very well.”


“My favorite part [of the Dalai Lama’s speech] was having the arena packed with people who had a genuine interest in what he was saying,” said FAU Interim President John Pritchett.


“You gotta love a man who immediately kicks off his shoes,” said State Chancellor and former FAU President Frank Brogan, who had a front-row-center seat to the Dalai Lama’s speech. “I was humbled and totally captivated, and I would bet that so was everybody in the arena.”


The Dalai Lama’s lecture marks the 10th anniversary of FAU’s Peace Studies Program, which coordinated the first annual Expressions of Peace Week.