Oxford, UK — The spiritual leader of Tibet His Holiness the Dalai Lama has praised those countries' plan to welcome thousands of refugees but warned that a long-term solution was needed, saying "generally using force never solves these problems."
His remarks came at a meeting in Oxford, where he inaugurated the "Dalai Lama Centre for Compassion" – which will specialise in the study of ethics – at the start of a 10-day visit to the UK which will include addressing thousands of people at the 02 arena on Saturday.
"I am a human being, just one among the 7 billion alive today. We all face problems, many of them of our own making. And because we made them, we surely have the ability to solve them. I sometimes wish that grown human beings were more like children, who are naturally open and accepting of others."
"Instead, as we grow up, we fail to nurture our natural potential and our sense of fundamental human values. We get bogged down in secondary differences between us and tend to think in terms of 'us' and 'them'. Prayer will not change this the way education and intelligence can. We need to learn to distinguish emotions like anger and attachment that are destructive from positive ones like compassion that are a source of happiness," he said.
He went on to explain that as a Buddhist monk he tries to promote religious harmony, drawing inspiration from the example of India, where all major religions flourish side by side. He described the problems and violence that seem to arise from religious faith today as unthinkable since all religious traditions teach us to be compassionate, forgiving and contented. These are qualities relevant to day-to-day life.
Warm-heartedness, for example, generates trust, which is the foundation of friendship.
His Holiness also explained that he is Tibetan with a responsibility towards the many Tibetans who place their trust and hope in him. He is concerned to preserve Tibet's natural environment, as well as its compassionate, non-violent Buddhist culture.
Asking for his impressions on the European response to the refugee crisis, he said: "I think some, especially Germany, have given a very good response, and Austria. And then this country also now is showing serious consideration about that – wonderful."
"But then you have to think, it is impossible for everyone outside Europe to come to Europe, impossible. They are taking care about these refugees, a small number, but ultimately we have to think how to reduce this killing in their own countries.
"And the way to reduce that is not by using force ... in certain cases maybe but generally using force never solves these problems. He said that only education, dialogue, and personal contact could resolve conflicts in the long-term.
Asked about his response to the refugee crisis affecting Europe, he appreciated that their welfare is being taken seriously, but added: "Ultimately we have to stop the killing and fighting in these people's countries that is forcing them to become refugees, but without the use of force. Military might never solves problems, but instead tends to produce unexpected results."
"So taking care of several thousand refugees is wonderful, but in the mean time you have to think about long-term solutions, how to bring genuine peace and genuine development, mainly through education, for these Muslim countries," he said.
He added: "Talk about a clash between Western civilization and Islam is mistaken. My Muslim friends tell me that a genuine Muslim should not spill blood, but should show respect to all the creatures of Allah."
With regard to his hopes for the new Dalai Lama Centre for Compassion, he said he thought it was a commendable effort, but it would be better to see how it develops. As to whether material development had brought any benefit to Tibetans in Tibet, he expressed appreciation of such infrastructure as roads, airports and the railway.
He also observed that President Xi Jinping seems to be more realistic than some of his predecessors and has been courageous about tackling corruption. When pressed about the 60th anniversary of the declaration of the Tibet Autonomous Region he remarked that many Tibetans are deeply sad inside despite pretending to officials that they are happy.
When one journalist asked if His Holiness thought members of the media had a duty to be more positive about what they report, he commented that while they can't change the world by themselves, they can make a positive contribution to doing so.