On a cool spring day at Loyola's Lake Shore campus, lines of people waiting to get into Gentile Arena wrapped around the quad and down Sheridan Road, students side stepped security to get to class and monks held a service in Madonna Della Strada chapel.
This was not an ordinary day. On April 26, His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama made a visit to Loyola's campus to discuss interfaith collaboration and peace.
In addition to a morning session open to the public, sponsored by the Tibet Center, the Dalai Lama made a special speech in the afternoon for Loyola students, faculty and staff. The afternoon event included performances by various cultural and religious groups, prayers by students of several different religious backgrounds and an honorary degree awarded to His Holiness by Frank Fennell, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
The Dalai Lama spoke for about an hour and a half, covering topics from inner peace to globalization, both in his own speech and in response to student questions--with a few jokes in between. Here are a few takeaways from his talk:
Keep the negativity away to achieve inner-peace: He explained how jealousy, anger and other negative emotions can drain from anyone's ability to have peace. He said the best way to avoid these is to distance yourself from these emotions, or you can become consumed by them.
The road to large-scale peace starts from within: He said that though many people want to create peace among nations and peoples, they forget the first step: inner-peace. He said the first step is to achieve inner-peace, the next step is to create peace with family and friends and then to continue onward from there.
There are only two options in terms of worship: He commented on consumerist culture, pointing out that many people today worship money, rather than a God. He said this is a choice, and if you worship money, you cannot also worship God, as the two are antithetical. "You can either worship money, or you can worship God," he said. "There is no third option."
Education is what opens eyes to reality: He praised education throughout his speech, saying it was a way for people to open their eyes to the world. He pointed out that education is what "closes the gap between appearances and reality", offering a way for people to see the world for what it really is.
At the root of all religions is compassion and love: He brought up how terrorism has become something many associate with Islam, but pointed out this is unfair. He said that when someone commits an act of violence, they are no longer practicing Islam, as Islam is a compassionate, non-violent religion. He pointed out that "jihad" actually means an attack on ones' own negative emotions. Overall, however, he explained that compassion and love is what ties all religions together, and can be the basis for interfaith collaboration.
One student asked what his thoughts on the recent wave of self-immolation by Tibetan protesters, but the Dalai Lama said it was too sensitive a subject to discuss.
However, he wasn't only focused on discussing peace and religion. He joked when he was given a Loyola visor that every school gave him a hat, and one day he was going to sell them all and make a lot of money. He later noticed that Dean Fennell had been standing to the side on the stage, and invited him to sit next to him on his couch and offered him a piece of candy.
The Dalai Lama also spoke at the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Chicago earlier this week.
Did you see the Dalai Lama speak this week? If so, what were your favorite moments from his speech? What do you think of his teachings? Let us know! Comment below or tweet us @Chicago_U.