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  • Every year just before finals at my university, the University of Maryland, the student entertainment group brings in dogs to help students relieve stress in an event called Puppy Palooza.

    This year just before finals, the university brought in His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to speak to our campus about happiness and religion.

    I'd argue that the Dalai Lama relieved more stress than puppies could ever do.

    He sat in his red and yellow robes in the center of our arena, overlooking thousands of students that had reserved his coveted tickets, which booked up quicker than most athletic events. He played around with modeling a visor with our university's name on it that he was given. His laugh was infectious, and so adorable for an elderly holy man who had traveled across the world to see us. "Adorable" was the word most used to describe him after the event.

    Everyone wants a happy life, he said, looking around the audience, grinning. That automatically means they want a peaceful life. He defined happiness as utilizing the sensory organs - seeing something nice, tasting something good, smelling and touching. But with one drop of negativity, happiness can vanish.

    Monks live the happiest of lives, the Dalai Lama said. He said it's because of their lack of material want. Material things provide the essentials of physical comfort but never mental comfort, he said. Having material things but no mental comfort evokes stress for people.

    The result? An unhappy purpose.

    He was so ideal, preaching peace in a century that has already been plagued with conflict and destructions. Preaching happiness to college students at the end of their ropes. Preaching things we'd heard before but they seemed so much more enlightening when the famous leader was speaking them to us, just to us. But the Dalai Lama leads them all, I realized, because of the determined and bubbly way that he encapsulates the very message he's trying to spread.

    Just like the puppies normally are, the Dalai Lama's event was fleeting, a short burst of relief before the daily grind. But as we exited the arena, we heard the Lama's laugh - a giggle, reverberating throughout the microphone system.

    Interesting that those who clamored for his tickets and waited for hours switched back to reality as soon as they left his lecture. I felt it in myself - it was raining outside, and I remembered all my responsibilities, and the sky was gray and not happy as it was in the Dalai Lama's land.
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