More than 125 St. Thomas students watched as Macalester College presented the Dalai Lama with an honorary degree Sunday afternoon, acknowledging his lifetime’s commitment to spreading the value of compassion and peace.
After presenting at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum Saturday and celebrating the Tibetan New Year at Augsburg College Sunday morning, the Dalai Lama wrapped up his tour in Minnesota speaking to 3,500 students and educators at Macalester College in the Leonard Center Field House.
Universities across the Twin Cities including Hamline University, the University of St. Catherine, Augsburg and St. Thomas were each provided with a limited number of tickets for the afternoon presentation.
Junior Lauren Buchholz said the presentation was the highlight of her weekend.
“I decided to come because the Dalai Lama is such a symbol of peace, and his message really transcends cultural and religious borders,” Buchholz said.
After the introduction of the Dalai Lama to the sound of bagpipes representing the Macalester ‘Scots’ pride, Brian Rosenberg, the president of Macalester College, welcomed the community and the Dalai Lama. Rosenberg also shared his gratitude for the Dalai Lama’s visit to the college, noting the slightly unstable and shaking risers that they were standing on.
“I knew it would be special standing next to His Holiness, but I didn’t realize the ground would actually shake,” Rosenberg joked.
The Dalai Lama took the podium sporting his new Macalester baseball hat and addressed the community with excitement.
“Now I am nearly 79 (years old), so when I meet young people, I always feel younger,” His Holiness said.
The Dalai Lama focused on the importance of the value of compassion and stressed ending violent actions, instead concentrating on the well-being of others.
“We need full cooperation, a sense of oneness of 7 billion people. So, their interest is my interest. My interest is their interest. My problem, also their problem. Their problem, also my problem,” the Dalai Lama said.
Freshman Patrick Fisher said he walked away with a deeper understanding of the importance of compassion.
“All people could be benefited by taking a less self-centered outlook,” Fisher said.
Directing his message to the students in the packed sports arena, the Dalai Lama said the present is the only time we can change.
“You are the basis of our hope. Young people are the generation of the 21st century. We are the generation of the 20th century, so we (my generation) are ready to say bye-bye,” the Dalai Lama said.
Buchholz enjoyed the laughter in response to the Dalai Lama’s jolly chuckles.
“I thought he had a really good sense of humor,” Buchholz said.
The Dalai Lama also addressed the topic of beauty, stating that society often doesn’t focus on the true beauty of the person.
“I often tell young girls, young females, you take care of your external features. External beauty, no doubt important. But real beauty is inner beauty,” His Holiness said.
Sophomore Gavan Winkels explained what the Dalai Lama’s message meant to him.
“I think that we have the ability to change the world, we have the ability to use what he said and take what we have and do good,” Winkels said.
After his third standing ovation of the afternoon, the Dalai Lama urged the audience to take action.
“So young people, think more seriously. Now is not the time to take time for granted,” His Holiness said.
Caroline Rode contributed to this report.
Ruthie Murray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.