The Dalai Lama visited Mayo for a medical check-up, but he also came to speak. Sunday he spoke at the Minneapolis Convention Center to 1,500 Tibetans. In Rochester his audience was mostly health care professionals. The crowd of almost 400 learned he would speak on Compassion in the Face of Suffering.
Dr. Kurt Carlson is a general internist. He has read a few of the Dalai Lama's books. He was looking for some insight to answering a question he hears regularly at the clinic.
"And people say "Why, why should a young child have an illness that affects them in this way?" Carlson explained. "And I anticipate that we'll see a response to some of those questions why."
Other people in the crowd said they wanted to hear about Dalai Lama's views on international peace and his thoughts on Tibet's political situation.
As His Holiness entered the room the only sound came from the photographers snapping away. He joked with the crowd as he settles in with another monk who peppered the Dalai Lama's remarks with additional English words and translations.
He talked first about meditation and compassion and how one fosters the other. He said neuroscientists have studied the effects of meditation on the body and found good results.
"They also now begin to realize among the emotions, such as compassion, [it has a] very positive element when person meditate on compassion. All people who use it, who do daily meditation on compassion, the positive emotions, the left side of their brain becomes more active so that's good for health," he said.
His Holiness joked that he was telling the doctors their own business. He said there are some things that he believes are self-evident. He said hatred is bad for the body. Whereas, he said, compassion allows people to develop tolerance and forgiveness and health themselves.
That prompted him to think of his meeting with Muslim leaders in San Francisco on Saturday. He said the meeting was one of healing and compassion.
"When we know each other through conversation or through exchange then the true feeling comes," he said. "I told them also, in India, in the past, we Buddhists suffered in the hands of Muslims. I told them that's past. Past is past. Now today we have new reality."
One audience member asked what can be learned from suffering. The Dalai Lama shrugged, and said it depends. Sometimes a person can't learn anything.
"Instead of discouraged or sad, work hard. If there is no way to overcome then no use to worry," he said. "Accept the reality. How sad. How pity. Finish. Besides that, I don't know."
He also said if you are a believer in God, take heart that God has a purpose to the suffering.
"That may be one angle or one way by which you can be consoled. The non-believer I don't know. Just forget it. And then like that. Or [try] alcohol," he joked.
His Holiness added that even he sometimes doesn't learn from his suffering.