The Dalai Lama speaks at USC about the importance of happiness

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, wearing a USC hat with matching cardinal and gold robes, spoke at the “Secular Ethics, Human Values and Society” event at the USC Galen Center on Tuesday, presenting his message that secularism is not opposed to religion but something to be respected and valued.

The Dalai Lama’s visit — his first to USC — was co-hosted by The Dalai Lama Foundation and the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values. More than 4,800 USC students and members of the community attended the event.

Photo courtesy of USC Communications

“To achieve a happy life, we not only have to take care of the physical but also the mind,” the Dalai Lama said. “Everyone has the same right to be a happy person.”

The Dalai Lama stressed the importance of individual happiness, which in turn creates a happy family, a happy community and a happy world. He said, however, that religious activities are not necessarily the key to a happiness.

“I don’t think that a happy world can be achieved through prayer,” the Dalai Lama said.

He also stressed the importance of education and compassion.

“Faith and reason must go together,” the Dalai Lama said.

Students said they enjoyed how personable the Dalai Lama was during his talk.

“I wish I could have a conversation with him one-on-one,” said Nichole Lighthall, a graduate student studying gerontology. “He was surprisingly open-minded about how society should be run… He seems like a genuinely good person, through and through.”

Some students, however, said the Dalai Lama’s message was somewhat dampened by acoustic problems in the arena.

“[His talk] was hard to hear because there was so much echo in the center and there was the language barrier,” said Raymond Penaia, a sophomore majoring in communication. “But I still feel like I was able to capture the meaning of his message.”

Despite minor difficulties, most students left inspired.

“He’s an important figure and it’s nice to see someone of his holiness come speak to us,” said Chris Manasserian, a senior majoring in public policy, management and planning. “He was very charismatic and funny. It surprised me.”

The Dalai Lama’s appearances at UCLA on Monday were canceled because of ill health.

11 replies
  1. Ken
    Ken says:

    @Ian Swift

    Rights have to come from somewhere. It does not come from another human (as you state) or governments. Maybe Brian’s point is that the Dali Lama believes that God exists, or that God does not exist. So then if God does not exist, then where does the right to be happy come from? If God does exist, then that right comes from God. My apologies Brian if that is not where you were going.

  2. LNH
    LNH says:

    The speech was great. But I had a hard time understanding some of what he said. Anyone have any idea if transcripts and/or video will be available?

    • James
      James says:

      Come to think of it, I wasn’t very happy yesterday! I just imagined having a “real” conversation with A. Eistein or Mother Theresa, but could not hear or understand their spoken words because of lawnmower or leaf blower!

      I understand the sound of his delighful laughter, but I could not understand most of everything that the Dali Lama said (it was not a result of His accent, either)!

      There were times when I felt so disappointed because of substandard acoustics that I wanted to find another seat, but a sore back prevented this. I’ve contacted the ticket office about my concerns.

  3. BB
    BB says:

    What I found interesting and a little surprising, especially coming from a religious/spiritual leader, was that people involved in organized religion should not blindly pursue their religion’s doctrine, but that people should occasionally step back and question their faith. Is this the right behavior for me and my faith? How does it impact others?

    If more people were to practice this approach the world would REALLY be a better place.

    • Ian Swift
      Ian Swift says:


      hold the phone. are you telling me that in order for me to be able to have a specific feeling, other humans have to first approve of it and allow me to have that feeling? what a joke…talking about the ‘right to be happy’.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] but also the mind. Everyone has the same right to be a happy person.” (Read a report on the event here, via the USC Daily […]

  2. […] but also the mind. Everyone has the same right to be a happy person.” (Read a report on the event here, via the USC Daily […]

Comments are closed.