GENEVA: - On October 3, the organisation International Interfaith held an inter-cultural and inter-religious forum in Geneva, to mark the International Day of Non-Violence and the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.
The panelists were Abbot Geshe Thupten Legmen, of the Tibet Institute Rikon, Ambassador Mukhtar B Tileuberdi, permanent representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Nations, and Ms Clare Amos of the World Council of Churches.Abbot Geshe, who has lived as a refugee in India since the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959, spoke on the Buddhist Perspective on Non-violence. He said Tibetan Buddhism teaches the same things about love, compassion and tolerance as other major religions. He added that Tibetan Buddhists consider all life to be precious, renounce any act of violence, and believe every living thing - including micro-organisms - should be treated with equal respect.
Referring to current world turmoil, particularly in the Middle East, Abbot Geshe said we must recognise the root causes of violence, and that violence cannot be resolved through further violence - whether at the family, community or government level. It must be tackled with peaceful dialogue and mutual respect, he said.
Abbot Geshe suggested introducing non-violence programmes in schools, and urged all attendees of the forum to work together to promote non-violence as individuals, civil society organisations and government bodies.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is committed to non-violence in resolving the Tibet problem with China, the abbot said, and has followed the path of Mahatma Gandhi whilst in exile. In 1989, His Holiness was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Abbot Geshe concluded by promoting His Holiness' Foundation for Universal Responsibility, a key function of which is to work on global and ethic of non-violence, coexistence and social change.
Also during the forum, Ambassador Mukhtar talked about his government's domestic and internationial initiatives to promote inter-cultural and religious dialogue.
Ms Amos shared her 20 years of experience of working in Jerusalem, and spoke on the works of St Francis - reminding the audience that October 4 was St Francis Day.
After the speeches, Interfaith International's general secretary, Dr Charles Graves, moderated a half-hour discussion, including questions from the audience.