Crowd packs Leavey Center to hear global icon speak, protests occur along El Camino Real
THE SANTA CLARA
February 27, 2014
In one of the most highly anticipated events in recent years, the university welcomed the 14th Dalai Lama to campus on Monday to discuss the role of compassion and ethics in business.
The spiritual leader of Tibet addressed a capacity crowd in the Leavey Center as part of a public dialogue hosted by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism, Research and Education.
The 78-year-old advocate of world peace and human rights spoke for about 15 minutes while donning a Santa Clara visor, urging the audience to focus on compassion for others rather than personal materialism.
“Basic human nature is generous,” said the Dalai Lama, a Buddhist whose given name is Tenzin Gyatso. “We are social animals. We cannot survive alone. We are strong as a community.”
The Dalai Lama spoke in broken English with the help of his interpreter, but still seemed to have the large audience hanging onto his every word.
Dean, who spent much of his allotted speech time explaining how his company is committed to creating a culture of compassion, called it a “dream come true” to be onstage with the Dalai Lama.
Not everyone, however, was supportive of the Dalai Lama’s presence. Over 100 members of the International Shugden Community lined El Camino Real across from the Leavey Center in protest, beginning more than two hours before he arrived on the Mission Campus. Representing a Buddhist sect different from the Tibetan version, the group expressed grievances regarding the Dalai Lama’s alleged ban on worshiping their deity Dorje Shugden.
“Our belief is you can believe anything you want and you can teach anything you want, but once you begin to enforce a ban and make people follow what you want them to do … that’s why we’re protesting today,” said protest spokesperson Len Foley.
Inside, the remainder of the event took the form of a panel discussion involving Dean, the Dalai Lama, Santa Clara President Michael Engh, S.J., and James Doty, director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University.
After Dean made a joke about prostate exams, the crowd held its breath until the interpreter finished whispering its translation to the Dalai Lama. When he cracked a smile, the audience burst out laughing in what became a highlight of the morning.
But when Doty asked the holy man about his thoughts regarding stress in the workplace, the answer did not produce laughter and instead exposed one of the event’s possible fallacies. The Dalai Lama, who has never worked in an office, deferred to Dean, saying “I have not much experience here.”
Engh wrapped up the proceedings by asking the Dalai Lama where he believes students can find “that belief to follow in life.” Instead of giving a specific answer, he left the crowd with something to think about, citing awareness from the application of discernment as a key factor.
Contact Nick Ostiller at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4894. Eryn Olson contributed to this report.