EUGENE (AP) — Eugene resident Katrina Salinas, after seeing the Dalai Lama speech, propped herself against a wall in the arena foyer, waiting while her companion checked out a table of Dalai Lama gear.
She was heavy with child. A migraine squeezed her brow and her feet hurt — and still she said she was so happy to hear what the 77-year-old Tibetan monk had to say.
A lot of his speech was about motherhood, she said.
“It was really positive hearing about having compassion and affection for my child-to-be,” she said.
The Dalai Lama regaled the 11,000 who packed the University of Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena on Friday with stories about when he was a child in Tibet, about how he believes women are biologically more sensitive and inclined to compassion, and how the next Dalai Lama might even be female.
That would be a departure.
The 14 Dalai Lamas, believed to be incarnated one to the next, have all been men. They are believed, in Tibetan Buddhism, to be a deity called the Bodhisattva of Compassion.
But up until age 2½, this Dalai Lama, born Lhamo Dhondup, lived as an ordinary boy. He grew up as the seventh and youngest child of a Tibetan farmer.
After training through his childhood in a monetary, he became, at age 15, the Dalai Lama.
In his speech in Eugene, his recommendations were backed by his reading about the neurobiology of infancy.
He said world peace begins when parents give their attention, time and “maximum affection” to their children. The purpose is to aid in the development of the brain and a disposition of warmheartedness, he said.
Standing in his saffron robes and wearing a green Chip Kelly-like visor — given to him by UO President Michael Gottfredson — the Dalai Lama spoke plainly in broken English, which to the delight of the crowd he lightened with frequent laughter.
As the youngest child, he said, living in the village with his family, he got a lot of affection and indulgence from his mother.
“My mother used to carry me on her shoulders,” he said, “even when she work in the field.”
The Dalai Lama said he would grab on to her ears and use them like reins, steering her from one side to the other. He said he was spoiled by her compassion.
“My mother so kind to me,” he said. “(It was) the real seat of my compassion at that time.”
Children without “maximum affection,” or those who suffer a painful experience, develop a fear and distrust for the rest of their lives, he said. It’s a biological fact, he added.
“We must pay more attention,” he said.
The Dalai Lama asked all the children younger than 15 to raise their hands. They did, which sparked an outburst of applause.
Then he asked those younger than 30 to raise their hands and told them, “You are truly the generation of the 21st century.”
He bid all those older than 70 to raise their hands — and his own hand shot up into the air, and he laughed and laughed.
“You are my generation,” he said. “We are from the 20th century, so our century gone. This generation, we are ready to say bye-bye.”
Rosemarie Sobieniak of Eugene, who is a member of the “bye-bye” generation, said she loved that.
“We will be bye-bye, too. And we’ll leave it in the hands of the young people,” she said after the speech.
The Dalai Lama grew serious and recounted the failings of the 20th century generations, the marvelous achievements of science and technology used in the service of violence and fear. He said more than 200 million people were killed in the world wars and other conflicts of the 20th century.
People believed, he said, that immense violence could create a better world, a more peaceful world. “That’s totally wrong. Mistake.”
The generations of the 21st century can do better, he said.
“You have real opportunity to see happier world,” he said. “You will see better shape of world, more friendly, more peaceful, more compassionate.”
He spoke at length about the oneness of humanity and said that labels, religions and self-centeredness keep people apart.
“East, west, south or north, no difference,” he said. “Different races, nationality, color, these are secondary.”
Mockingly, the Dalai Lama said, “I am His Holiness, the Dalai Lama,” raising laughter from the crowd. “I separate myself from you. The result, more uneasiness inside.
“That creates deep inside loneliness.”
He urged the crowd to develop a feeling of openness and compassion for one to another. He said that when he smiles it creates this feeling.
When people recognize their oneness, violence is reduced, he said. For brothers and sisters to solve their problems with war is silly, he said.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.
The Dalai Lama told an amusing story about how, in the practice of compassion, he smiled at a young woman on the street.
“(My) friendly compassionate expression brought suspicion on her mind. Therefore, sometimes compassion practice not necessarily bring some blessing to others,” he said.
Elza Corkery, a Springfield sixth-grader, said he liked the Dalai Lama.
“He has a really good sense of humor, I noticed. He makes a lot of jokes all the time. He’s funny.”
The Dalai Lama said he has nothing against prayer and spiritual practice — saying he has his own — but that’s not enough.
“Action is more important than prayer,” he said.
Eugene resident Michael Carrigan, who has been a peace activist for four decades, seemed levitated by the Dalai Lama’s speech.
He spent an hour shoulder-to-shoulder with a massive audience who cheered nearly every mention of peace.
“By speaking out like he does, I believe we can reach peace by the end of this century,” Carrigan said. “My daughter’s generation are going to see the fruits of the labors we are undertaking now.”
The visit will give momentum for the drive to create the Palmo Peace Center in Eugene, Carrigan said.
“I’m very, very excited and encouraged,” he said. “It’s a really big, big, big development. The Dalai Lama has inspired people throughout the world. And he’s inspired people here to roll up our sleeves and make this peace center a reality.”
The 21st century generation, pouring out of the arena, seemed undaunted by the Dalai Lama’s expectations for them.
“It’s our century to really change how we view the world,” 16-year-old Eugene resident Nick Crazniak said, “and we should think about the choices we have before we make them, so this can be a better, safer, more amazing place to live.”