Carried with compassion

The Dalai Lama’s first visit to Santa Clara.

Carried with compassion
Genuine smiles: the Dalai Lama onstage with SCU President Michael Engh, S.J. Photo by Charles Barry

His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama came to the Mission Campus on Feb. 24 for a visit that was epic and carried messages that were simple—which is not to say easy, but which is to say true. Such as: There are 7 billion people on this planet and they all aspire to be happy. We are all equipped with affection, with the seed of compassion. But that compassion must be nurtured through education, from kindergarten up through universities. And a compassionate mind is a calm mind, compassionate action constructive and beneficial—whether it’s in the field of ecology or the economy. Be wise selfish rather than shortsighted selfish. Appreciate all religions. Respect the nonbeliever. A genuine human smile is a wonderful thing.

And he laughed.

President Michael Engh, S.J., spoke with the spiritual leader of Tibet about trying to help students find the ideal that will guide them in life, and how do you do that?

One important factor is how to be able to use your own personal capacity for discernment, the Dalai Lama said. For your own interest it is better if there’s a possibility to help the other, serve the other—or at least if not, resist in harming the other. He said, love God. (As a Buddhist, love Buddha.) Your faith must be inside. Find conviction through reasoning.

The momentous day brought more than 4,000 souls including the Dalai Lama, whose name is Tenzin Gyatso, to meet here in Silicon Valley. The headline: “Business, Ethics, and Compassion: A Dialogue with the Dalai Lama.” The co-sponsors: the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University and Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. There was a panel in the morning with Lloyd Dean, CEO of Dignity Health, and James Doty, a professor from Stanford, and some reflection on the fact that compassion costs little but yields endless returns. And a panel in the afternoon chaired by Kirk Hanson of SCU’s ethics center explored “Incorporating Ethics and Compassion into Business Life” with Charles Geschke, co-founder of Adobe; Jane Shaw, the retired board chair for Intel; and Monica Worline, a research fellow at University of Michigan’s CompassionLab. And since we are a university where students and constantly defining this place, there were meetings with these young souls, like psychology major Erin Callister ’14. The Dalai Lama shook hands and he gave this gift and burden: “The future is in your hands. It is up to you to make peace.” And as Marissa Minnick ’14 observed, the way the man laughs, with a deep joy, sounds hope in this chaotic world.

The summer edition of the magazine will have more on the Dalai Lama.

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