HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Thousands of students packed the Stan Sheriff center at the University of Hawaii Saturday afternoon to hear from Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
He shared a heartfelt message with nearly 9,000 high school and college students in his speech called "Educating the Heart" on his first full day in the islands.
The Dalai Lama entered the stage while musician Jack Johnson was playing his last tune as part of the pre-speech entertainment. As the audience cheered, he walked over to Johnson as he was singing and strumming his guitar and patted Johnson on the knee.
Musicians at the event gave the Dalai Lama some lei that were a bit pokey and uncomfortable, so he very respectfully asked the audience's permission to take most of them off before he spoke.
He told his young audience that in spite of cultural differences of people around the world, "We're just a big human family. That's the reality."
The Dalai Lama compared his generation with the young people in the audience.
"We are generation of twentieth century. So our century already gone. So the generation that belongs to that century, they say 'bye bye,' he said.
He said last century and 12 years into this one, there's been a big problem in the world.
"Too much violence. Too much destruction," he said.
He had this challenge for the students listening to his speech in person and around the world via the Internet.
"You are the generation who really has the responsibility to create a peaceful century," the Dalai Lama said.
His visit to the islands marks the launch of a new initiative sponsored by the Hawaii Community Foundation called "Pillars of Peace." The program aims to bring other global peace leaders to Hawaii in the future.