Milan, Italy, 28 June 2012 - His Holiness, the Dalai Lama was invited by the Ghe Pel Ling Institute for Buddhist Tibetan Studies to spread his message of spiritual awakening and brotherhood to a stadium that was filled to its capacity. About 10,000 people were in attendance.
During the course of the event, he bestowed Upasaka vows upon the common people and devotees, and also performed the ceremony for generating, engaging and awakening the ‘Bodhichitta’ (heartmind). He also explained how the values and tenets of Buddhism are found in other traditions and cultures as well. Various other religious dignitaries such as an Italian Imam, several Catholic monks were in attendance at the gathering. His Holiness suggested about the ways in which his teachings could be relevant within the context various other faiths.
During a television interview, when asked to comment about the series of self-immolations that have lately burned across Tibet, the Dalai Lama said that he prefers to keep silent due to the politically volatile nature of the issue.
“However, these sad events are evidently not taking place because the concerned individuals have family problems. The Chinese authorities must investigate what the cause is, what’s wrong to provoke such desperate acts. After former premier Hu Yaobang, who was a good Communist, visited Lhasa in 1980 he publicly apologised for what had happened in Tibet and promised to reduce the Han population. As Deng Xiaoping recommended, the Chinese authorities should seek truth from facts.
“When Hu Jintao became President and made known his aim to ensure harmony in society, I supported it. But the right method for achieving that is to create trust, whereas they think they can achieve it through force, which is illogical. The use of force contradicts any efforts to create trust. The Tibetan spirit will never be cowed down by the use of force. It is rooted in Buddhism, a tradition that is more than 2500 years old, whose image in the world is on the rise. Communism, on the other hand is barely 200 years old and its image is on the wane, while totalitarianism is completely out of date.”
In context of the European crisis, His Holiness remarked that he has always appreciated the EU and he suspects that the current issues affecting the region, are a temporary setback, and certainly not the end of the road. However, he also felt that the lifestyles to which people have become accustomed, may have to change.
During a gathering of Mongolian and Tibetan residents in Europe, he stressed on the value of Tibetan Buddhism as a culture that both peoples share. Addressing the Tibetans in particular, he elucidated that the recent changes in his own political status and that of the institution of Dalai Lamas have not occurred because he is disappointed, but have happened for the welfare of the Tibetan people who according to him must become more democraticized.
Honorary speeches were made in tribute to his His Holiness by the Mayor of Assago, the Municipality in which the teachings were taking place, and the President of the Province of Milan. The ceremony was concluded by presenting His Holiness with the key of Assago. He responded,
“Dear brothers and sisters, I am extremely happy to meet you and to have this opportunity to share some of my experiences and thoughts - and through your questions I hope to learn some of your concerns. Of course, to begin with I’d like to express my thanks to the organizers here for making such good arrangements. I’d also like to thank the Mayor of Assago for the certificate and key presented to me, which I appreciate as being in recognition of what I am trying to do.
“If we remember that at a fundamental level we are the same, that we all have a right to a happy life, we can understand that there is no difference between us. In this twenty-first century, when we live in such a globalized and interdependent world, our old notions of them and us are no longer relevant. We need instead to think of a great us. The Hawaiians have a marvellous saying ‘Your blood is my blood, your bone is my bone’ meaning that your pain in my pain and your joy is my joy. What this means is that if we must be selfish, it’s much better to be wisely selfish rather than foolishly selfish. In order to derive the maximum benefit the wise thing is take care of others.”
The Dalai Lama has repeatedly spoken of his vision about the 21st century becoming an era of dialogue. He has always remarked that using dialogue as a solution requires having genuine respect for others’ rights, their happiness and their prosperity. He concluded that:
“Whatever you do, take a realistic view and think of the long term interests of humanity. Thank you.”
Before His Holiness’ departure, the organizers of the events created and declared a financial report in the interests of transparency. They announced that, of the 10,000 seats available, 1000 had been made available free of charge to monks and nuns and to the needy. Income from ticket sales and donations amounted to €628,000 while expenses for the rental of the venue and facilities cost €465,000, leaving a balance of €163,000. This will be divided as follows, 40% to be given to the Dalai Lama Trust, 30% to be given to Ghe Phel Ling to support future teaching programmes, and 30% to be given to two other Ghe Phel Ling charitable projects: one supporting young Tibetans studies in India and another dedicated to rehabilitation of prisoners in Milan.
His Holiness, has returned to Dharamshala and many of his devotees were seen rejoicing on the streets or awaiting in welcome.