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"For a happier, more stable and civilized future, each of us must develop a sincere, warm-hearted feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood."

Dalai Lama: Creating a Peaceful 21st Century will take All 6 Billion of Us

April 29, 2009

By Cathy Cockrell
UC Berkley
April 27, 2009

BERKELEY -- Whether history remembers the 21st
century as happy or unhappy "is in your hands,"
the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, told the
students at his much-anticipated campus
appearance Saturday afternoon. "My generation
belongs to the 20th century. You are the source of hope."

More than 7,000 people filled UC Berkeley's
Hearst Greek Theatre to see and to hear the
widely revered Dalai Lama, who spoke for close to
an hour on the theme of "Peace Through
Compassion." The exiled leader of Buddhist Tibet
was awarded the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize for his
long-standing advocacy of peaceful solutions to
conflict. It was his reputation as a force for
peace that was on many people's minds as they
waited under a clear spring sky for the Dalai Lama to appear on stage.

Berkeley undergraduates were there in force --
many having braved an overnight line to secure a
ticket, back in early March; a large contingent
hailed from the campus's Richard C. Blum Center
for Developing Economies. Among them was
fourth-year student Rachel Bramwell and fellow
urban-studies major Matt Pruter. Both have done
fieldwork in the developing world (she in
Nairobi, he in Mumbai) as part of their studies
on global poverty. "I'm here for him to tell us
to become global citizens in the world," Pruter said of the Dalai Lama.

His Holiness did not disappoint. Sitting
cross-legged in an armchair on the proscenium,
beneath strings of fluttering Tibetan prayer
flags, the 73-year-old monk called for conscious
development of our human capacity for compassion.
"Peace does not equal absence of problems," he
said. Peace is when, despite "disagreement and
the possibility for open conflict," people
exercise restraint and will power to "seek ways
to solve it" without coming to blows.

While the Dalai Lama touched on Buddhist
understandings of reality, on animal behavior,
and the mind-body connection, his signature
humility and comic timing were in play, in
spontaneous asides on his childhood aversion to
caterpillars and his difficulty finding the right
words in English. ("As I become older, my English
becomes older," he declared.) One visitor,
Associate Professor of Public Policy Jane
Mauldon, described His Holiness as
"extraordinarily available, disarmingly human, and very intimate."

It was the Dalai Lama's second appearance at the
Greek Theatre, his third at UC Berkeley (he
visited in 1997 and 1994). He was introduced by
Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and by actress Sharon
Stone, a board member of the American Himalayan
Foundation, which co-sponsored the event with the Blum Center.

Prior to the talk and in the presence of the
Dalai Lama, Birgeneau presented Blum, a Cal alum
and chair of the UC Board of Regents, with the
campus's highest award, the Berkeley Medal, in
honor of his contributions to the campus and the
university. The chancellor noted that he had
bestowed a Berkeley Medal just two days before,
on former vice president Al Gore, during a
groundbreaking ceremony for the Blum Center's new
headquarters. Blum, an investment banker and
husband to Senator Diane Feinstein, established
the Center for Developing Economies in 2006 with a $15 million gift.

In accepting the Berkeley Medal, Blum called the
day "a merger of the two things I care most
about: UC and the Tibetan people and their plight."

Only a month ago, on the 50th anniversary of
China's crackdown on Tibet, the Dalai Lama
sharply criticized the People's Republic of
China, saying its leaders had turned Tibet into a
"hell on Earth" for the Tibetan people. It was
Blum -- who became interested in the Tibetan
cause in the 1960s and founded the American
Himalayan Foundation -- who uttered the only
strongly worded criticism of the Chinese
government at the Greek. "If they want to become
a great nation," he said, they "also need to
become a moral nation. What goes on in Tibet is just immoral."

The Dalai Lama ended his 2009 appearance at
Berkeley on a high note -- pulling from his cloth
bag a blue and gold Cal visor, and donning it as
the crowd sent him out with a final standing ovation.
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