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.
“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.