When the Dalai Lama was a young boy, he would sit on his mother's shoulders, hang on to her hair and try to direct her movements with his hands.

"If mother not follow me, I cry," said the Buddhist holy leader, who praised his mother and others during an address to a crowd of about 8,000 gathered at the Mariucci Arena on Mother's Day.

Warm-hearted mothers and family members, a sound education, embracing scientific knowledge and being compassionate toward others are all key to finding inner peace, said the Dalai Lama in addressing the theme of the event, "Peace Through Inner Peace."

The Tibetan leader-in-exile was also given an honorary doctorate from the University of Minnesota -- as well as a maroon and gold visor with the college's gold M logo, which matched his gold-and maroon-hued robe.

"First we learn from mother," he said. "We all come from our mother. We all have the same sort of experience. That's very important. My mother, very, very kindhearted. I think this makes impact."

The Dalai Lama's address was among a series of appearances he made this weekend, part his second official visit in the past decade to Minnesota, which has a Tibetan-American community of nearly 3,000, the second-largest concentration of Tibetans in the country.

Before the afternoon event, he also celebrated a Tibetan spiritual ceremony and addressed thousands of Minnesota Tibetans and other supporters at the arena.

During that address, the Dalai Lama, who sat cross-legged on an ornate throne on a stage surrounded by Buddhist monks sitting on oriental rugs, stressed that tolerance and compassion are central to Buddhist philosophy.

Speaking in both English and Tibetan, he encouraged altruistic actions among people. He also discussed Buddhist views on the different levels of human consciousness and the afterlife compared to other religions, among other spiritual topics.

Many Tibetan Minnesotans in attendance kneeled on the concrete floor and bowed to the Dalai Lama as he took to the throne. Entitled "Medicine Buddha Empowerment," the ceremony included the Dalai Lama offering a blessing for long life, health and enlightenment.

He led the audience in a Buddhist mantra in Tibetan, which is intended to bring release from suffering and protection from an untimely death. He encouraged people to recite it daily, particularly if they're suffering from illness.

Brooklyn Park resident Jennifer Sorensen, who attended the Dalai Lama's afternoon address with her husband, said they were both raised in the United Methodist Church but were very interested in hearing the Dalai Lama's message of peace. This was the first time they'd been to one of his talks.

"Like a lot of people, we're looking for peace. And we're coming here to try to find that," she said.

Rose French • 612-673-4352