BERKELEY -- About 3,000 people filled the Berkeley Community Theatre on Sunday to see His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet speak about how to find happiness in life.
"Compassion, obviously love, a oneness with humanity, less division in life; it was a message on how to be more happy as a person in the world," said Mark Kaldunski, a Hayward resident.
The sold-out event was attended by Tibetan Buddhists and non-Tibetans rooted in the Bay Area and beyond after being planned for three years by the Tibetan Association of Northern California (TANC), which had its Richmond community center blessed by His Holiness on Sunday morning.
The Dalai Lama, 78, is considered one of the world's foremost voices for peace and universal ethics. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 in recognition of his commitment to peace and nonviolence over a 40-year-long campaign to end China's occupation in his home country from which he's long been exiled.
"His philosophy is to be kind and compassionate to other human beings. That's a simple message that everyone can understand," past TANC president Tenzin Tsedup said, speaking to the Dalai Lama's popularity among people of different faiths.
"We are filled with awe and humility. We are touched by your presence today," Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, said in welcoming the Dalai Lama to the stage Sunday. The event was kicked off by a chorus of Tibetan children singing the Tibetan and U.S. national anthems.
For 29-year-old Tsering Pamlo, of Sacramento, seeing the Dalai Lama was a dream held since childhood come true.
"I think hearing him will make me a better person and teach me how I can help my friends and family be happy in life," Pamlo said.
It was the third time that 26-year-old El Cerrito resident Choney Sedon had seen the spiritual leader in person. Whenever she is feeling anxiety over life's stressors, she calms herself by watching the Dalai Lama on You Tube.
"Whenever I feel sad, I listen to his teaching and it really, really helps," Sedon said. "He's my leader, my teacher, my everything and that's why I'm here."
The Dalai Lama launched his three-city Bay Area speaking tour in San Francisco on Saturday. His final appearance in the tour is a talk on "Business, Ethics and Compassion" at Santa Clara University on Monday. Tickets are no longer available.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.