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Dalai Lama Touts Compassion At Sold Out Santa Clara Event

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The Dalai Lama speaks at an event. (CBS)

The Dalai Lama speaks at an event. (CBS)

SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — The Dalai Lama bought his spiritual message of compassion Monday to about 4,000 people inside an arena at Santa Clara University as about 100 protesters made noise outside.

The Dalai Lama, the 78-year-old Buddhist spiritual leader whose jovial manner and warm laugh amused the crowd, spoke in general terms about the subject of compassion and ethics in business at the university’s Leavey Event Center.

“Depend on honesty and truth and you will be successful,” he said. “Feel with conviction. Faith must (be) inside.”

“Give more happiness to others, you get maximum happiness,” he said.

The spiritual leader was invited to be the keynote speaker for a program titled “Business, Ethics and Compassion,” with James Doty, director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research at Stanford University, and Dignity Health chief executive Lloyd Dean.

Doty introduced the Dalai Lama, praising his emphasis on fostering compassion in the workplace.

Silicon Valley technology companies offer their engineers employment perks such as free meals but many employees report seeking treatment for stress, anxiety and depression due to overwork, increasing health costs and lowering productivity, Doty said.

The Dalai Lama “has been in the forefront of the neuroscience research related to the effects of meditation on the brain and the effects of compassion on the brain and this has stimulated a revolution in science and we are starting to see the reality, that being compassionate increases one’s health and one’s well-being and one’s longevity,” Doty said.

The Dalai Lama, dressed in a traditional red Tibetan Buddhist robe, was at times difficult to understand between his thick accent and the amplified sound of his voice echoing in the arena.

He declined to comment specifically on the effects Silicon Valley tech firms have on their employees, but said that businesses should show more “empathy and concern.”

“A compassionate mind creates self confidence and strength,” he said. “Anxiety brings anger…Compassion brings inner peace.”

The Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his quest to liberate his native Tibet from China, said that China is “supposed to be a socialist country” based on compassion but still has many poor people.

He also said that India—where he lives—“is a very religious nation and (has) a lot of corruptions.”

Of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, head of civil war-torn nation of Syria, where thousands of civilians have died in recent years, the Dalai Lama said, “I think he needs some compassion.”

“This is just the beginning of the 21st century,” he said. “It could, could be a more compassionate society.”

After the event, Maribel Alcazar, 20, a second year sociology major at Santa Clara, commended the Dalai Lama for raising awareness about morality at the workplace.

“He touched on subjects you can relate to, how us as students could choose professions that don’t compromise on our values,” Alcazar said.

John Muller, 58, an information technology architect from Chicago, said he thought the leader’s message was “wonderful—the need for businesses to start emphasizing compassion as part of their business models.”

People in businesses are seen as “human capital,” Muller said. “I think that the influence of money is so great today that people get afraid for their livelihood, and voices like the Lama’s get drowned out.”

A Tibetan Buddhist, Thupten Gyaltsen, 41, of Richmond, dressed in a red robe, said he was “very excited” to be there and “my important thing is the daily life, to think what you can do to help other people, try to balance your life, control your anger and make other people happy.”

A group of about 100 protesters gathered shortly before 8 a.m. across El Camino Real from the event center to protest what they say is the Dalai Lama’s persecution and banning of Tibetan-exiles who make prayers to the Buddhist deity Dorje Shugden.

“He’s enforcing a ban that affects millions of people,” said Len Foley, 46, spokesman for the group International Shugden Community.

“We want the Dalai Lama to end this discrimination, to end this religious abuse,” Foley said.

The group held up signs reading “Dalai Lama Stop Lying” and “Dalai Lama Give Religious Freedom” and chanted slogans through bullhorns.

The Dalai Lama’s visit to Santa Clara ended three days of public events in the Bay Area. He also attended events in San Francisco on Saturday and Berkeley on Sunday.

Copyright 2014 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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