3500 people traveled to Western Connecticut State University's campus in Danbury Thursday afternoon to hear his holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. The school worked in partnership with the Tibetan Buddhist Center in Redding to host his visit.
As WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil reports, the spiritual leader of Tibet shared his thoughts on finding inner peace within oneself.
People streamed through the doors of the university's O'Neill Center to listen to the Dalai Lama talk about the art of compassion.
Most walked in with smiles on their faces. Tracy Smith from East Hampton had a glow about her as she scanned the arena for her seat.
"Already my breath is taken away, I have tears in my eyes and I have goosebumps. Just knowing the Dalai Lama is somewhere around here. It's one of the most extraordinary things I could have hoped for in my life."
Smith, like many in attendance, said she came to see the Dalai Lama after spending time reading his books or learning about Buddhism.
Before the Dalai Lama appeared, the audience first they took in the calming chants of seven Tibetan monks from the Drepung Gomang monastery in India.
And then there was time to be a bit starstruck when actor, Richard Gere, a well known Buddhist and friend of Tibet gave brief remarks.
But the crowd saved its biggest applause for the Dalai Lama when he appeared from behind the stage curtains wearing his familiar red robes, rimmed glasses and characteristic wide smile.
One of his first messages on compassion was that human beings should view each other as the same instead of noting differences.
"If I look at you as human brothers and sisters, no barrier, I'm one of you. I'm always telling people that now is the time to develop oneness of humanity. And think about well being of humanity, not my group your group, not that way."
Inner Peace is the key to happiness according to the Dalai Lama. He says reaching this place is possible but it takes more than just praying.
"Of course as a Buddhist monk, in my daily life at least four or five hours some prayers, some contemplation and mainly analytical meditation.
"But I believe action is more important. These prayers should translate into action. So therefore, real peace does not come through prayer alone."
His words resonated with Addie Avery of New Milford. She came with her mother to hear the Dalai Lama. And while her family has been interested in Buddhism for sometime, Avery says his message appeals to people from many backgrounds.
"His love of everyone and everything I think some people can't believe it's possible to have. And to see it and know it really is possible, it's such a moving experience."
The Dalai Lama will speak again at WCSU Friday morning before traveling on to New York City and then India later this month.