Courtesy Torrey Times
By Chris Schuck
La Jolla Country Day School Head of School
Regardless of your political view or your religious affiliation, there is something humbling about hearing the Dalai Lama speak. Perhaps it is because he quickly shows himself to be an exquisite teacher – and that’s our profession here.
I was a guest of the Wednesday and found myself in a very long line of people crowding in to hear this spiritual leader from Tibet – a line that included more than a few families. (Country Day parent, Pamela Gray Payton, introduced the Dalai Lama in a similar talk at University of San Diego later in the day).
Within just a few minutes of the start of his talk, you could understand how a man who presents himself so humbly could fill a college arena on a Wednesday morning. In a world of seemingly endless confrontation and anger, he spoke of peace, compromise and understanding.
For more than an hour – and without the use of multi-syllabic words or grandiose concepts, he talked about the interconnectedness of mankind and the environment. He talked of respecting those with whom you disagree while seeking some obtainable common ground.
The Dalai Lama’s life – like his sphere of influence – has played out on a global stage, yet he is a world leader who would don a UCSD visor, laugh at himself and then, in an almost oblique way, suggest to an audience of educators that, perhaps, they have been forgetting how important it is to prepare students for an ethical life, as well as a career.
It was his thoughts on education that particularly hit home with me. Global warming? War? Famine? Political unrest? One by one as world problems were brought up in questions from the audience, his answer was, at base, the same.
“Education,’’ he repeated over and over. He wasn’t talking just about academics.
“Educating whole person – ethics,’’ he said with a halting, but still powerful English. “Material value of education and internal value go together.’’
Perhaps, he hoped aloud, the next generation would have this “complete’’ education and would develop an holistic worldview that will help fashion more effective answers to famine, inequality and injustice.
“Big house, big car, big salary?’’ he questioned. “That is the meaning of life? No!’’
I found myself thinking about our Community Service efforts, of our students working on water projects in Kenya, of the canned food drives for the local Food Bank, visits to nursing homes. Perhaps, it occurred to me, we are guilty of seeing these things as “add-ons’’ to our own “core purpose.’’
I am convinced they are not.
Wednesday’s visit from a simple man from Tibet, clothed in a robe, wearing red socks and a visor, reminded me of this.