By LARRY PARNASS
The Dalai Lama bows to the crowd during his address at Smith College on Wednesday morning. (GORDON DANIELS)
NORTHAMPTON - In a half-hour address at Smith College this morning, the 14th Dalai Lama pledged himself to three continuing causes, as an individual and worldwide leader of Tibetan Buddhism.
Speaking in Smith's Indoor Track and Tennis facility, the Dalai Lama said that until his death, he will work for humanity by speaking out on the importance of "the compassionate heart," by urging people to put their faith into practice and by working for the well-being of Tibet.
His Holiness accepted an honorary doctorate from Smith, which co-sponsored the address with Hampshire College, and then cautioned the capacity crowd that knowledge is not enough. Education can guide, but the heart must lead, he said, using a slow, measured English.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who is 72, asked listeners to consider the feeling of security instilled in a newborn child by a mother's love and devotion. "That is the most crucial experience. That is the beginning of our life," he said.
The Buddhist leader spoke calmly and with humor, as if to a small circle of students and monks, not a yawning athletic arena. He joked that he is semi-retired.
When asked later in a question-and-answer session how people should raise their children, the unmarried monk quipped, "I am the wrong person to ask."
Knowledge in itself, and modern technology, His Holiness had said earlier, can be guided by hate, as some "suppress" their inner values. "I think we should pay more attention to warm-heartedness. ... With action, I think it is very important to cultivate the usefulness of these qualities," he said.
"I'm always sharing with people ... if they are negligent ... then our world may not be a happy world," His Holiness said, occasionally looking to his translator for the right English word.
His Holiness also pledged to urge people to put their religious beliefs into action in the interests of humanity. He said people of all faiths need to act purposefully. "All religious traditions are meant to provide happiness for humanity," His Holiness said. "We need a different way of approach to increase and promote these inner values."
"Sad events" in world history, he said, even if associated with religious division, are not the fault of belief, he said.
"The main reason is not religion itself, but some other interest of power, or economy, or organization," he said.
His Holiness said it is up to the individual to put religion into action for the benefit of all: "If we accept religion, we should be serious and sincere ... and implement what the teachings say."
He joked that too often, people who proclaim themselves to be tolerant lose their commitment and patience. "As soon as you meet someone who disagrees with you, the practice of tolerance, (it's) completely forgotten."
His Holiness noted that he is often credited with being a good Christian or Muslim.
"I don't know whether I've deceived these people," he said, drawing laughter from the arena. Then he leaned to his translator seeking a word. "Or whether they are words of flattery."
"All these traditions have the same potential," he said.