His Holiness the Dalai Lama currently on a 19-day tour of the US, paid a visit to the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah on June 21, 2016.
Speaking at the University's Hunstsman Centre before a 12000 strong, rapt audience of devotess, supporters and well-wishers he began his address by saying,"I believe that if we thought of the 7 billion human beings alive today as our brothers and sisters, many of the problems we face would go away. Fundamentally we are all the same as human beings. We all want to lead a happy life and we all have a right to do so."
University President David Pershing announced that the state's leading school was awarding the Tibetan leader its highest honor, the Presidential Medal for his championing of world peace and non-violence. The President said the Dalai Lama wouldn't have to wear it because the medallion hangs from a heavy chain.
The Buddhist leader immediately put the medal around his neck. "No, no. Not heavy," he said. "Now give me that hat." He then donned a white cap sporting a red "U." Much to the delight of the large audience.
His Holiness went on the advocate peace and compassion in his usual fervour, "We've prayed for peace for 1000 years without much success. We need to ask who it is who breaches the peace and creates violent conflict and the answer is, we do."
The the Nobel peace laureate encouraged the audience at the University of Utah to start with themselves and their families to spread a sense of wonder in humanity.
"Who creates violence? Who destroys peace? Not God, but you. So you have the responsibility to solve this problem," he said.
More than 200 million people died violently in the 20th century, His Holiness the Dalai Lama deplored. "We need to create a better relationship on this planet. Today's reality must change. We cannot do it with old thinking. We must create a new way of thinking, offering a global message that transcends national boundaries."
However he added optimistically that an increasing number of youth view themselves as primarily global citizens and this attitude of compassion and brotherhood is promises a better future.
Speaking briefly in Tibetan, the soon to be 81 year old said, "This has been one of the most difficult periods in Tibet's long history. It has also been a period of opportunity for those in exile, while in Tibet the spirit of Tibetans remains strong."
When asked if he expects to return home in this lifetime, then the Nobel laureate, who calls himself a "simple monk," replied saying he "remains optimistic" that "one day there will be a reunion of Tibetans in exile and our brothers and sisters in Tibet. I remain optimistic."
Governor of Utah Gary Herbert hosted the private lunch for the spiritual leader of Tibet that was attended by former presidential candidate Mitt Romney and the mayors of Salt Lake City and county. The spiritual leader also met with two senior Mormon church leaders on Wednesday.
The meetings with politicians came despite a warning letter from a Weber State University professor who helped broker Utah's relations with China.
Professor Taowen Le said that officials could jeopardize that relationship if they met with the Tibetan spiritual leader, but Utah leaders said the China connection doesn't mean giving up core values such as freedom of speech.