LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, delivered a message Saturday to UC San Diego graduates centered on the power of compassion and the importance of emotional knowledge.
The remarks were part of his keynote address at the all-campus commencement ceremony at RIMAC Field in front of a crowd of 25,000 people including the 9,000 graduates and their supporters in the audience.
The Dalai Lama wore a graduation gown, a flower lei and a UC San Diego visor as he emphasized that through loving kindness toward others, the next generation can manifest a more peaceful world.
"You have the opportunity to create a better world, a happier world," the Dalai Lama said. "In my own experience, I feel it is important to create happy individuals, happy family, happy community, and a more happy humanity, more peaceful humanity."
The Dalai Lama's commencement address topic was "The Value of Education, Ethics and Compassion for the Well-Being of Self and Others." He received a standing ovation at the conclusion of his remarks.
The 81-year-old Dalai Lama's San Diego appearance was the first in a planned U.S. tour. He also visited UC San Diego five years ago when he spoke at the University of San Diego and San Diego State University.
The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner is the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism as well as a political leader, traveling the world advocating autonomy for his country, which is controlled by China. He lives in exile in India and travels the world sharing his message of peace, nonviolence and compassion.
"I had the honor of meeting His Holiness for the first time last October. Peace and positivity radiate from him," UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla said during the ceremony. "His wisdom inspires us to be better caretakers of the world and better caretakers of each other."
Richard "Ricky" Flahive was the undergraduate student speaker at the ceremony. Flahive is a first-generation, low-income student who wasn't sure he would graduate high school.
"It is beyond my wildest dreams and expectations to share the stage with the Dalai Lama," Flahive said. "I am very humbled, considering I didn't always see myself going to college."
The all campus commencement kicked off graduation weekend at UC San Diego where Chancellor Khosla officially conferred degrees by academic division upon graduates gathered as one student body.
The campus' six undergraduate colleges, two professional schools and various graduate programs were scheduled to host personalized graduation events where undergraduate and graduate students walk across stage as their names are read.
Eleanor Roosevelt College bio-engineering major Annalise Miller said celebrating graduation with the whole campus was important.
"I worked really hard for four years and I am very proud to be here," Miller said. "It's very exciting to have the Dalai Lama speak."