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His Holiness Speaks to 25,000

By Zoe Jackson  /  June 22, 2017;

Mayor of San Diego Kevin Faulconer presented His Holiness the key to the city
Photo : UCSD

His Holiness the Dalai Lama traveled to the United States in June to give an address at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), as the commencement speaker for the UCSD class of 2017, as well as a public talk. The speech Embracing the Beauty of Diversity in our World, addressed the globalisation of kindness. The venue invited all local community members to share in His Holiness’s “message of nonviolence, interreligious understanding and inclusiveness” according to the university’s website. The keynote address was attended by an estimated 25,000 people.

His Holiness first arrived in Rochester Minnesota for his annual medical exam at one of the world’s foremost medical facilities, Mayo Clinic. Upon his arrival he was greeted by a crowd of two hundred Tibetans and North American Tibetan Representative Penpa Tsering, and the members of Mayo Clinic reception staff.

His Holiness was greeted at the airport by the Mayor of San Diego Kevin Faulconer and his wife and welcomed by UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla and Journalist Ann Curry. The next morning he attended a brief press conference followed by his commencement address, at which he was given a key to the city of San Diego. His Holiness went on to speak about diversity and compassion, stating,“If we understand that we are all the same, there are no barriers between us. So, I deliberately try to promote compassion on the basis of the oneness of humanity…In human history different communities came about in different places, in different environments, at different times. Different languages and modes of writing arose. The result of this natural diversity is that humanity is like a garden filled not with a single bloom, but with an array of different kinds of flowers.”

His Holiness speaking during the UC San Diego’s Commencement ceremony
Photo : Erik Jepsen / UC San Diego

While the response to the visit was in the main positive, the event did incur a walk out of a handful of Chinese students protesting against the presence of His Holiness. The Chinese Students and Scholars Association (an association funded and supported by the Chinese Consulate) has been outspoken since the announcement that His Holiness would give the keynote speech, holding a demonstration a week before the event showing opposition to Tibet’s spiritual leader. Recognising that students of Chinese descent make up 14% of UCSD’s student population, in his speech His Holiness addressed the fact that his views are not shared by the entire student body of the university, but encouraging them, nonetheless, to practice compassion as a value of humanity, rather than religion. As in the past he expressed his positive views on the diversity of humanity, mentioning that while many ethical dilemmas are unique to humanity, so is the ability to smile. He ended his speech with a classic light hearted spin the international community has come to associate with his demeanor.

His Holiness then retired to a luncheon with the leadership of UCSD where he was introduced by his longtime friend Richard Blum and gave another short address.

The following morning His Holiness visited the San Diego Zoo where he was transported by electric buggy around the establishment before its opening to the public, and had the opportunity to pet an Australian koala. He then made his way to meet members of the Young President’s Organisation in Newport Beach where he delivered a speech regarding the current state of global education.

Within this two week US tour, His Holiness is scheduled to do a public talk for the Tibetan community in Minnesota and meet a scholar thinktank in Boston, Massachusetts.

As for the future, the 82 year old leader has obtained a bill of “excellent” health from his annual medical checkup at Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic and plans to retire to Ladakh for six weeks upon his return.

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