At 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Moody Coliseum at Southern Methodist University was packed with Dallas residents, students and alumni, all in attendance for the event, “A Conversation with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.” The event was hosted by SMU and the George W. Bush Presidential Center in conjunction with the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth.
The Dalai Lama’s visit to Dallas was just days before his 80th birthday on July 6 – a birthdate he shares with former President George W. Bush.
Brad Cheves, vice president of Development and External Affairs at SMU, started off the event by turning the audience’s attention to the people in the first row.
Cheves introduced the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush, and his wife, Laura Bush. Cheves also introduced some special guests who were in attendance, including Michael M. Boone, chair of the SMU Board of Trustees, Rahfin Faruk, student trustee, and Nancy Dedman, one of SMU’s distinguished benefactors.
SMU President R. Gerald Turner was next to take the stage.
“SMU is grateful for the opportunity once again to host His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to campus,” Turner said. “For many of you, this is the second time you get to see him on campus.”
The Dalai Lama last visited the SMU campus on May 9, 2011, speaking to more than 2,500 people at McFarlin Auditorium during a special Hart Global Leaders lecture. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from SMU at that event.
Margaret Spellings, president of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, introduced the Dalai Lama to the stage where he was presented with a gift of prayer flags made by the Tibet Club of Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas.
Cookie Roberts, journalist and author, served as the event’s moderator and sat on stage with the Dalai Lama.
Instead of doing the planned questionnaire with Roberts, the Dalai Lama took to the podium to thank the crowd and speak about his experiences.
“I want to thank my long time friend, President Bush,” he said. “Since our first meeting in the White House, immediately we developed a very close feeling, heart to heart. Since then, I always remember him.”
The Dalai Lama reminded the audience that whenever he speaks, he is speaking on the same level as every other person.
“I am one out of seven-billion human beings, no differences,” he said.
The Dalai Lama spent the time addressing what he believes are the problems with society and the simple fix to it all.
“The human brain is a source of many good things, such as infinite love, compassion, forgiveness, and tolerance,” he said.
The Dalai Lama also explained how the brain can cause more destructive emotions such as anger, hatred and fear. According to him, a lot of problems that society is facing today is a product of our own creation.
“This very day here, we are enjoying peace, using our individual freedom [and] liberty,” he said. “But in this very moment, in a different part of the world [there is] suffering [and] killing. Human beings are killing human beings.”
For the remainder of the event, the Dalai Lama emphasized how all religions carry messages of love, tolerance and forgiveness. He believes that if religions were followed properly, less hatred would exist in the world.
At the end of the lecture, the large audience sang “Happy Birthday” to his Holiness. The Dalai Lama received a surprise balloon drop that filled the space of Moody Coliseum.
To watch his speech or highlights, visit http://www.bushcenter.org/newsroom/dalailama.