EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Dalai Lama made a special trip to Minnesota while visiting the United States to continue his call for global compassion and kindness.

The Tibetan Buddhist leader came to Starkey Hearing Technologies in Eden Prairie as part of a panel titled, “A Call for Compassion and Conscious Kindness,” moderated by Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker, along with Bill and Tani Austin, Starkey Hearing founders.

Through their international philanthropic work, His Holiness, the Austins’ and Whitaker came together because they are aligned with their mission of creating peace and understanding.

The Dalai Lama has met the Austins' three times on their Starkey mission sites in Nepal, and volunteered to visit the company’s headquarters for the groundbreaking discussion.

The world's most celebrated monk didn't waste a moment letting Minnesotans in on the secret behind his contagious joy, calling a smile the most genuine expression of love.

“How would you define compassion?” said Whitaker.

“Occasionally, I find it difficult to keep compassion for mosquito,” His Holiness joked to a room full of laughter and applause.

But for the Dalai Lama, compassion is a serious practice.

“Compassion firstly brings inner strength, secondly, immense health, a healthy mind, these are not through prayer but through training,” he said.

He's found fear and anger can be conquered through mindfulness and letting go.

“Our materialistic culture or materialistic life is only physical comfort, not mental comfort. We should pay more attention to our inner world, that is all mind,” said His Holiness.

He also said the practice of mindfulness should start young in our modern education system. To his Holiness, in a distracted and divided world, we first must find peace within

“A compassionate century through education is possible if we start efforts now,” His Holiness added.

The Dalai Lama also discussed the keys to strong leadership and conflict resolution, giving a similar talk to 1,300 Starkey employees this week.

“So, when anger, fear comes, you cannot see reality. Compassion brings calm mind,” he said. “Your whole life can carry honestly, truthfully, that brings inner strength, self-confidence, with nothing to hide.”

The Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota will be hosting him in an event open to the public this Saturday at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Tickets are available here.

The Dalai Lama was selected as a spiritual leader when he was 2 years old. He’s now 81 years old.