Divine smiles

By Robyn Stubbs, 24 HOURS, Spet 11, 2006

Vancouver, Canada -- Committed to ancient Buddhist thought on mental well-being, stress, and happiness, the Dalai Lama's modern approach to scientific research also suggests a crucial connection between science and spirituality.

In Saturday's Vancouver dialogue on Happiness and Stress as Determinants of Health, the 14th Dalai Lama listened intently and discussed leading-edge research from seven of North America's top "happiness" scientists, including UBC's Allan Young.

The session wrapped up with a moving discussion with world-renowned physician and author Deepak Chopra, who repositioned scientific research about the positive benefits of a compassionate mother into a philosophical, if not totally Buddhist, realm.

"Should one strategy be to recognize [that] the mother is the most important healer? Shouldn't we be paying more attention to elevating motherhood as the most sacred profession? And if we make motherhood the most sacred profession on our planet, is there hope for world peace?" he asked, to thunderous applause.

"Long-term, that's the answer to deal with violence. Violence is usually motivated by hate, anger, fear, so the opposite of these emotions are compassion," replied His Holiness, with a smile.

Later that day, the Dalai Lama graciously accepted his honourary Canadian citizenship in front of a sell-out crowd of 12,000 at GM Place.

The Dalai Lama now joins African leader Nelson Mandela and Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg as the third recipient of an honourary Canadian citizenship.

Presented with a scroll to mark the occasion by federal immigration minister Monte Solberg, His Holiness expressed eagerness to discover the benefits of being a Canadian citizen, but if it also meant taking on more responsibilities, he'd have to give it back, he said with an infectious laugh and beaming smile.