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"Education and the Warm Heart"

Born into a peasant family in the small village of Takster in eastern Tibet, His Holiness was discovered and recognized at the age of two, according to Tibetan tradition, as the reincarnation of his predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama. He has lived in exile from Tibet since 1960, when the Chinese army brutally crushed the Tibetan uprising for independence. In this address, His Holiness speaks of the inherent goodness of human beings and the responsibility we all have for the planet that we inhabit. Political and spiritual leader of Tibet, champion of nonviolence and human rights, His Holiness was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.
Photo: His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama
His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama
Emory University, Druid Hills, Georgia USA
May 16 (?),1998

President Chace, Your Excellency the Governor, members of the faculty, students, and honored guests:

It is a great privilege for me to be with you today and to address you on this commencement ceremony. I look around here today on this beautiful sight with lots of color and trees in full blossom, on this joyful occasion to all of you because it marks the culmination of many years of hard work and study.

Naturally, all of you who are receiving degrees today will be participating here with great excitement and also with great anticipation, and it seems that even the sun is participating in this occasion and trying to show its glory and brilliance. First of all I would like to take this opportunity to extend my congratulations to all of you. I also would like to express my appreciation to the hard work of all the members of the faculty, your teachers, and also the members of the staff who have all contributed toward your successful education. I’d also like of course to express my own personal appreciation for giving me the honorary degree, too. So that means also I should congratulate myself!

Now I will try to speak directly to you through my broken English. In this solemn ceremony I think my broken English may not suit, but in order to save time and in order to communicate directly, I want to increase my courage to speak my broken English to you.

One of the unique things about humanity is the special human brain. We have the capacity to think and to memorize. We have something that can have very very special qualities.

Because of that, education becomes very important. I believe that education is like an instrument. Whether that instrument, that device, is used properly or constructively or in a different way depends on the user. We have education on the one hand; on the other hand, we have a good person. A good person means someone with a good heart, a sense of commitment, a sense of responsibility. Education and the warm heart, the compassion heart - if you combine these two, then your education, your knowledge, will be constructive. Then you are yourself then becoming a happy person.

If you have only education and knowledge and a lack of the other side, then you may not be a happy person, but a person of mental unrest, of frustration. This will always happen. Not only that, but if you combine these two, your whole life will be a constructive and happy life. And certainly you can make immense benefit for society and the betterment of humanity. That is one of my fundamental beliefs: that a good heart, a warm heart, a compassionate heart, is still teachable. Please combine these two.

Then there is another thing I want to tell you. You have achieved your goal, and now you are ready to begin another chapter. Now you really start real life. Real life may be more complicated. It is bound to face some unhappy things and hindrance and obstacles, complications. So it is important to have determination and optimism and patience. If you lack patience, even when you face some small obstacle, you lose courage. There is a Tibetan saying, ‘Even if you have failed at something nine times, you have still given it effort nine times.’ I think that’s important. Use your brain to analyze the situation. Do not rush through it, but think. Once you decide what to do about that obstacle, then there’s a possibility that you will achieve your goal.

Here we are now entering another new century. I believe humanity during this century has experienced some surprising and great achievements in the fields of technology and science. Then in the meantime, there are other experiences that have been awful. In this century, the greatest number of humanity have been killed through violence, including war and other forms of violence [then in any previous century]. And I think the ecological damage has been very serious. But through these experiences, humanity is becoming more mature.

I think one indication of that maturity is the evident concern for peace, nonviolence, and human rights. Even in the politicians’ statements now, you hear the words ‘compassion’ and ‘reconciliation.’ Peace is now becoming more mainstream. I think these are the signs. Everywhere we hear of unhappy things in every part of the world, but if we judge all, I think there are many signs of hope. But in any case, the future of humanity entirely depends on our own shoulders. You have completed a good preparation for a better future. You must have what I call a sense of global responsibility.

I feel an atmosphere of spirituality, of belief, of faith, is also very important. Whether you are a believer or non-believer is up to the individual. It is an individual right. In humanity, however, spirituality with faith is very useful. When we face some problem, the various different religious traditions help us keep our mental peace. Those people who believe, who accept religious value, should implement their faith as part of their daily lives, so that we can really feel the value of a religious tradition - not just on a few occasions in church, when we are not so much affected. Accept religion, and be a sincere practitioner.

Finally, I want express my deep appreciation and my congratulations to all those students who are receiving degrees and certificates. I think this is the first time in the States I am receiving an honorary degree in an actual ceremony of convocation when the student are also receiving their degrees. So I am particularly happy today. Of course, another factor in my particular joy is that you had to work hard to get it for many years, whereas I didn’t have to study at all!

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