By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Neighbor Island Editor
The Dalai Lama watches a dancer from Halau Hula Wehiwehi O Leilehua perform before his address. Photos by CHRISTIE WILSON | The Honolulu Advertiser
WAILUKU, Maui — Even before the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso appeared on stage yesterday at War Memorial Stadium, his message of peace and compassion permeated through the crowd, estimated at more than 10,000.
"You get that vibe that everyone's together," said Mike Serro, 27, of Brooklyn, N.Y., as he wandered around the booths selling food and Tibetan crafts with Jen Bino, 25, of Toronto.
"I'm just thinking how lucky I am that he's here right now. It's amazing," Bino said about the Dalai Lama's first visit to Maui.
Wailuku resident Tina Del Dotto said she's not a Buddhist and never studied Buddhism, but felt a need to experience the occasion. "If there was going to be an opportunity to be with people of Maui who have a heart of peace and kindness in this world of turmoil, I want to feel that Maui energy and the peace," said Del Dotto, 55.
Tenzin Gyatso, known as his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, visited O'ahu and the Big Island in 1980 and 1994. His Maui appearances this week kick off a U.S. tour of eight cities.
The 71-year-old spiritual leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner and author of the best-selling "The Art of Happiness" fled into exile in India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese communist rule in Tibet. He continues to negotiate with the Chinese government over maintaining some degree of self-rule and cultural autonomy for Tibet.
A group of kumu hula from four islands yesterday welcomed the Dalai Lama with a series of oli and lei offerings, followed by a performance by Halau Hula Wehiwehi O Leilehua. The guest of honor noted with a chuckle that the women's Hawaiian garb resembled the robes worn by Buddhist nuns.
He was quick to laugh throughout his hour-plus talk, titled "The Human Approach to World Peace," enchanting the crowd with his humor and humble demeanor. The Dalai Lama said religion may not be essential to a happy life, but that respect for basic human values is.
Many people consider love and compassion as a religious matter and not important in daily life, the Tibetan leader said. "That's totally wrong, he said." In fact, in a busy world, love and compassion are even more critical than ever, he said.
Just as we choose the right foods that are good for our bodies, we should make proper choices from our "supermarket of emotions" for the good of our mental health, he said, avoiding hatred, jealousy, envy and anger.CRITICIZES ISOLATION
More than 10,000 people packed the War Memorial Stadium in Wailuku, Maui, to hear the Dalai Lama speak on peace, compassion and preserving the culture of indigenous peoples.
Speaking to the issue of cultural preservation, the Dalai Lama said he disagrees with those who think isolation is the best way to protect indigenous cultures. He said native peoples should take advantage of education and "modernization" to keep their identity.
He also said that in the context of a modern world, cultural leaders should pick which traditions to perpetuate and which to abandon because they are no longer relevant or helpful to their cause.
After the Dalai Lama departed the stage with a simple "aloha," Maui kumu hula Hokulani Holt-Padilla told The Advertiser he was a "practical man who offered practical, useful advice." She said she agrees that some cultural ideas must change while Hawaiians and other native peoples preserve their language and "hold out the values and things we have that keep us who we are."
The Dalai Lama's remarks on the worth of pursuing a right and just cause even though it may seem hopeless in one's lifetime put the struggle for Native Hawaiian rights in perspective for Big Island kumu hula Pualani Kanaka'ole Kanahele.
"It may take more than one lifetime to do it. Sometimes we get a little bit anxious about it getting done in our lifetime," she said.
Maui audience hears Tibetan monk's counsel on preserving indigenous cultures, compassionSECOND APPEARANCE
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama will speak from 2 to 3:30 p.m. today at War Memorial Stadium on "Eight Verses for Training the Mind: A Buddhist Philosophical Discourse."
Tickets are $20; call (808) 242-SHOW (7469) or visit www.MauiArts.org
. A live webcast will be offered to those with broadband computer access at www.tibetfund.org