Dalai Lama Focuses on Education, Peace at UNI

The Dalai Lama walks on stage before speaking to students, faculty, and guests at the University of Northern Iowa, Tuesday, May 18, 2010, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

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By Richard Pratt

CEDAR FALLS - Addressing a crowd of more than 5,400 people as “dear brothers and sisters,” the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet said we are all basically the same as human beings.

The Dalai Lama, after accepting an honorary degree from the University of Northern Iowa this afternoon, skipped the podium in favor of the couch to deliver his keynote address. He echoed this afternoon many of the same messages he gave this morning during a panel discussion: we must focus on being one human family, united by many more commonalities than differences, and strive always for kindness, compassion and using education for good.

“We all have the same light,” he said. “We are the same mentally, emotionally, physically.”

The Dalai Lama was lighthearted in his address, chuckling often or turning to UNI President Ben Allen, seated next to him on the couch, to share in the punchline. In thanking UNI officials for the honorary degree, the Dalai Lama said he was thankful because he has “no time for homework, and secondly, I’m rather lazy.”

He later added that anyone in the audience with great expectations for his words shouldn’t expect much. “I have nothing to offer,” he said with a laugh.

But the appreciative audience greeted him warmly and gave him lengthy applause when he finished.

He encouraged the younger generation to take up the mantle of building a peaceful, nonviolent world.

“There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic,” he said. “So be optimistic.”

Follow live coverage of both events at http://live.uni.edu/ and chat about the events below.

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