Dalai Lama urges compassion in address to lawmakers


John Ferrannini

The Dalai Lama spoke about the need for all people to get in touch with the values of love and compassion during his first time addressing the California State Legislature on Monday.

While not open to the general public, lawmakers and guests packed the floor of the Assembly Chamber to hear the Tibetan spiritual leader’s 25-minute address.

The Dalai Lama, who has been living in exile in India since the Chinese government occupied his native land of Tibet in the 1950s, weighed in on current political affairs, including gun control and environmental protection.

“Real gun control must start here,” he said, indicating his heart. “More compassion, inner feeling.”

The Dalai Lama’s message comes as California lawmakers consider a variety of gun-control measures.

The Dalai Lama also lauded the legislature for taking action to combat climate change.

“This state pays special attention to environmental issues — wonderful,” he said. “This planet is our only home. There is no other way. I always telling people ‘moon, night, sky — very beautiful, but if we go there no hope.’ This planet is the only place you can live happily.”

The Dalai Lama said that inner peace, not material things, is the way to a better society.

“Peace must be through inner peace. Happiness is not physical comfort, but mentally,” he said, adding that a homeless person can be “more happy than business leader, politician or leader who has great suspicion.”

The spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, who is believed to be the incarnation of the bodhisattva of compassion, was invited to speak on the themes of love and peace by Sen. Janet Nguyen, R-Santa Ana.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles, called the afternoon’s proceedings “a joint session of enlightenment” for times troubled by hatred and violence.

“It is at these times where spiritual guidance not only gives guidance but incredible direction,” he said. “His Holiness is the embodiment of our highest aspirations: compassion, empathy and love.”

The Dalai Lama was escorted into the Assembly Chamber by a delegation that included Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, whose district includes Sacramento State University.

“The Dalai Lama’s compassionate message about happiness, care for the environment and the importance of education in bringing people together was truly inspiring,” said McCarty in an email.

The Dalai Lama said that, in spite of turmoil in the world, people can make a positive difference if they start with “human contact.”

“When we have a conflict, we think how to solve this by force. This is outdated thinking,” he said. “Initiative must come through thinking more seriously and creating a compassionate atmosphere in your own family. From your family to 10 families, from 10 families to 100 families. That’s the way to change.”