It seems fitting that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama should deliver both a public talk and the Commencement keynote address at UC San Diego. His Holiness claims a special affinity for educators and for young people, whom he characterizes as the ones who shape the future; in his view each generation has the opportunity – indeed, the responsibility – to remake the world for the better and to redefine our place in it. Throughout his public life the Dalai Lama has extolled the nexus formed by mind, body, and spirit, stressing that to nurture one is to nurture the others, and that all are essential to lead a fulfilled life. To this end His Holiness is a strong advocate for universal and well-rounded education, and in particular believes that an understanding of the sciences is essential for safeguarding our planet’s health. (He was one of the first world leaders to warn of the dangers of climate change and the need for swift action, on both individual and societal levels.)
The Dalai Lama maintains that the true goal of a fulfilled life is happiness expressed through inner peace. Many Westerners view Tibetan Buddhism as a philosophy that emphasizes asceticism, but the Dalai Lama’s message eschews an isolated, purely contemplative “sackcloth and ashes” approach in favor of one that couples active engagement with the world with a realization that true happiness is not materially based. Rather, it comes from an optimistic outlook, good deeds, and above all, love, tolerance and compassion rooted in the acceptance of our interconnectedness through our shared humanity. Achieving this inner peace is never easy, and His Holiness acknowledges the difficulties when he tells the graduates, “Now you have completed your study period, now you begin another lifestyle – work: not easy; life will not be easy. Determination, willpower, optimism are very essential.”
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