James D. Davis
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Feb. 23, 2010.

Voicing admiration for American values, the Dalai Lama, on Feb. 23, called for the United States to spread freedom to other lands.

“America is a champion of democracy and liberty; you should be proud of those values,” the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader told more than 3,500 listeners at Nova Southeastern University in Davie. “When you deal with other countries, you must keep these things very important.”

His morning talk, “Universal Responsibility,” was delivered to students, staff and faculty at Nova’s Don Taft University Center. It was the start of a two-day round of talks in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Believed by Tibetan Buddhists to be an incarnation of Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, the Dalai Lama said that education and mass media had caused people to think in terms of respect and cooperation, rather than conflict.

“It is nearly 10 years since the start of the 21st century, but already much has changed,” he said at the gathering, co-hosted by NSU and Broward College. “Now, we should consider that every part of the world is part of me. We still need to educate people that our own interests depend on others’ interests.”

Some listeners found the Dalai Lama’s thick accent hard to follow. But if the speech issues were a function of age, the 74-year-old remained limber enough to sit cross-legged on an easy chair for his addresses.

He called for schools to teach compassion and responsibility, rather than just facts. “With too much education, even a brilliant mind can go wrong, to destruction,” he said. “Ultimately, inner values are essential.”

He compared the relationship of nations to the relationships of people to families and communities.

“In a family, each person carries some of the responsibility,” he said. “The human being is basically a social animal. Each person depends on the community.”

The Dalai Lama said China deserves to improve its economy and to have a place among more powerful nations. He added that he admired the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong in the early years, but was puzzled by his subsequent aggressive actions in China as well as Tibet.

In a Q&A session, he drew laughs when he donned a visor that matched his maroon robes. Answering one question, he said his talk with President Barack Obama last week dealt with Tibet and the need to educate its young people.

He praised American news media for guarding democracy and said reporters “should have a long nose, like an elephant.” But he did fault the amount of “negativity,” saying it should be matched by positive content.

The Buddhist leader also said people should be given light but productive work between the ages of 50 and 70. Retirement homes would also benefit by letting the elderly mix more with children, he suggested.

“Inspiring” was the word Ryun McKenzie, a graduate pharmacy student, had for the Dalai Lama’s talk, especially the teaching that people should separate respect for a person from his actions.

“He said lessons that we all know, deep down,” said McKenzie, 35. “It’s good to hear from somebody so influential.”

The 4,590-seat Taft Center was nearly filled for the afternoon public speech. He took a more personal turn, as he discussed his upbringing and education, his exile to India after China invaded Tibet and his belief that attitudes are at the heart of most world problems.

“Fear, doubt, anger, negativity,” were on his list of basic ills. “We must counter with warmheartedness, compassion, taking care of the other. Trust, friendship, honesty, brings us together.”

Cory Cohen, a senior in marketing and finance at NSU, said he admired the Dalai Lama’s simple message. “It was very elegant, honest, and passionate. No B.S.”

Cohen, 23, especially liked how the speaker “focused on what we could do as individuals, taking a step of compassion. If you affect someone on a small scale, it can be contagious.”

At a midday news conference, the Dalai Lama said he accepted the invitation to South Florida because of the chance to address several schools. Wednesday, he plans to speak at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, then a gathering of college and university presidents at Broward College back in Davie.

“A university is a place where you’re exploring human abilities, good qualities,” he said.

The future of his own office seemed to bother him less. When an audience member asked how the next Dalai Lama would be chosen, he said it didn’t concern him.

“The people will decide the role of the Dalai Lama,” he said. “In my life, I have to be something meaningful. After that, it is not my concern.”

Article Source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/fl-dalai-lama-nova-022310-2-20100223,0,7531628.story