Yesterday I had the opportunity to see the Dalai Lama speak at my college, Loyola University Chicago. The experience exceeded any expectations I could have possibly held about the event.  There is an undeniable air of calm and happiness about the man that is down-right infectious.  If you ever have the chance to see him speak, do not pass it up. You will leave feeling better than you felt going in.

The Dalai Lama at Loyola University

To be honest, I didn’t quite know what to expect; I’m not a particularly spiritual person, and my knowledge of the Dalai Lama is limited at best.  I knew that he speaks a message of peace, happiness, and compassion, but that is not exactly a revelatory message.  However, I can’t deny that for some reason I was giddy with excitement on the day of the event.

While his English may be lacking, he makes up for it with charisma through the roof.  He transcends all of the intense security and rigid formality that surrounds him. His message was playful, joyous, and genuine.  The theme of his talk was inter-faith collaboration, but he covered much more.  The topic that both surprised me and hit home the hardest was his call for us to find inner strength by promoting self-confidence and compassion, while dispelling hatred through science, skepticism, and education.

I think that it is important not to lose sight of our internal potential for happiness.  The Dalai Lama said that our careers, houses, cars, even our friends and families, are external.  We will not be able to find happiness in any of those things without the self-confidence necessary to find happiness in ourselves.  He asserted that our relationships cannot succeed if any of the parties involved have too much inner-turmoil.  This puts a lot of responsibility on the individual, but that fits right in with my love for DIY, entrepreneurship, and self-guided learning.  I like knowing that when it comes down to it, I’m the only one responsible for my happiness and growth.

Perhaps the most compelling message that the Dalai Lama had to offer was about education.  He talked about the religious community’s need to embrace science, because it is the ultimate pursuit of the truth, which is what religion is about in the first place.  As we learn more about our world, ourselves, and each other, we also find it easier to relate to each other.  It becomes clear that our differences are minute.   If ignorance breeds hate, then education must breed compassion.

He made it quite clear that education is the first step on a path toward a better, more compassionate, and happier world.  Not just spiritual education, but academic, scientific, and social education.  I spend so much time engrossed in education, between working at MentorMob and going to school at Loyola, that it is easy to forget what I am really working towards.  The real value of education can be lost; education can easily just become the work that I do—a task that I have to complete.   I was excited to hear two messages that I could relate to MentorMob, one about self-empowerment and the ability to better yourself, and the other about the importance of education to both the individual and society.  The Dalai Lama helped me take a step back and see education’s true role in my life, in the relationships that I build, and in society as a whole.