Dalai Lama discusses global economy at UC Santa Barbara

The Dalai Lama, in a ringing denunciation, declared Friday that the ailing global economy is the result of “too much greed, and lies and hypocrisy.”

“These are some of the factors behind the global crisis,” he said at a news conference at UC Santa Barbara. “Those people who feel that money is the most important thing in life, when economic crisis hits, learn that it is only one way to be happy. There is also family, friends and peace of mind.”

“Therefore, this crisis is good,” he added with a laugh, “because it reminds people who only want to see money grow and grow that there are limitations.”

The Dalai Lama’s remarks followed the first of two sold-out public lectures in the university events center Friday on “the nature of mind.” That discourse, delivered from an ornate wooden couch with ocher robes draped over his bony shoulders and with his legs folded beneath him, drew an audience of 4,800 people.


Tickets, which had sold out within two hours, ranged in price from $20 to $40. Scalpers fetched up to $600 per ticket, university officials said.

In his characteristic self-effacing manner, the 74-year-old leader of Tibet’s government-in-exile began by apologizing for a serious cold that had him frequently pausing to clear his throat or blow his nose. Midway through the talk, he began speaking for up to 15 minutes at a stretch in Tibetan about arcane aspects of Buddhist history and philosophy, leaving his assistant to translate.

Advanced students of Buddhist philosophy leaned forward, hanging on every word. Many others, however, began fidgeting or heading off to the restrooms. Some snoozed.

Joyce Tapper, 74, of Van Nuys took it all in stride.


“It’s amazing that he pushes ahead despite little things like a cold and big things like the condition of his homeland,” she said. “Just being in the room with him lifted me to a higher place, even if I didn’t get it.”

Then there was Melanie Strickland, 48, from the Joshua Tree area. Moments after the Dalai Lama left the stage, she was reciting large portions of the teachings -- nearly verbatim -- over her cellphone.

“The key is to rise above thoughts of pain and anger,” she told her friend, “and focus on the here and now between those thoughts. See?”

UC Santa Barbara became a top center of Buddhist and Tibetan studies after the Dalai Lama’s first visit there in 1984. He was invited back this week by Jose Cabezon, the first occupant of the school’s XIV Dalai Lama chair in Tibetan studies.


The invitation was made “quite a while ago because the Dalai Lama books his appearances about seven years in advance,” Cabezon said. “Finally, our number came up.”