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2013-05-20-Louisville-G07Dharamshala: -His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet met with Vietnamese Buddhists, middle and high school students and the top official in Louisville, before ending his two week US tour.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate and spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists met a group of Vietnamese Buddhists at the Kentucky Center for Arts in Louisville, where the Heart Sutra in Vietnamese chanted.

"Let's begin with your reciting the Heart Sutra in Vietnamese," His Holiness said. "While you do that visualize the Buddha in the space in front of you surrounded by Indian teachers like Nagarjuna and Asanga, and those who brought Buddhism to Vietnam. And remember how the Buddha practised for aeons to show us that through a combination of the awakening mind of bodhichitta and the wisdom understanding emptiness, we too can attain enlightenment."

His Holiness was impressed by the way Vietnames keep up their language, Buddhist traditions and monastic robes. He remarked that Tibetans too are trying to preserve their culture and religion in the face of adversity.

A question was asked about how His Holiness imagines freedom coming about in Tibet and he replied that although they don't seek outright independence, Tibetans have their own language and culture, as well as a fragile environment, to protect, something best done by Tibetans themselves. And for that they need genuine autonomy.

His Holiness reminded the audience about the fact that material development may be much advanced but that it will not necessarily bring more inner peace. On the contrary, it often tends to bring more greed and competitiveness.

The spiriutal leader also spoke in positive words about having respect for the Buddha's teachings, other religious traditions and the way how Vietnamese keep up their language and Buddhist traditions.

After the spiritual event with the Vietnames group, His Holiness spoke to a group of middle and high school students, followed by a meeting with Greg Fisher, the Mayor of Louisville, Kentucky and his team.

2013-05-21-Louisville-G06It is a misconception, the Nobel peace laureate said, that love and compassion are values that only belong to religion. "Not only should we not think that human values are confined to religious practice, it would be a mistake to think that compassion only benefits other people, but brings us no reward. My mother was consistently kind and compassionate to others, despite being illiterate and uneducated, and she was also consistently happy. Later, when I came to engage in Buddhist training in compassion, I found it easier because of the seeds of compassion my mother had sown in me."

He made them remember that all humans are like brothers and sisters and that it can help to remind yourself that we are all human beings when confronted with negative behaviour.

"If someone behaves negatively towards you, it can be very helpful to remember that they are human beings like you. It's also helpful to remember to distinguish between an action and the person who does it," he said.

We can prevent others from harming us by taking measures preferably with a calm mind as anger disturbs our ability to reason properly. He continued that the practise of compassion and forgiveness gives one great inner strength. By using your intelligence you can reinforce your sense of compassion, a quality that is not a sign of weakness.

"If you need to take counter measures to prevent someone doing harm, it is always better to do it with a calm rather than an agitated mind. If we act out of anger, the best part of our brain fails to function properly. Remember, compassion is not a sign of weakness," he added.

His Holiness answered some questions asked by the students. "I have some regret that at an age that was an ideal time to study I played instead. That time is gone and I regret losing it. When I was younger I loved gardening. I also used to love toys that moved. I'd play with them for a while and then would open them up to see how they worked. In a similar spirit, I looked at the moon through my telescope and seeing the shadows of the mountains realised they were caused by sunlight and that the moon had no light of its own. This was the beginning of my interest in science, which I have encouraged Tibetans to share. Last year, our Tibetan monasteries in India formally decided to incorporate science into their study programs."told the students.

His Holiness talked about how the American youth can develop a calm mind. His Holiness said that "what they need to do is tackle their disturbing emotions, adding that if their basic mental state is calm it's easier to deal with eruptions of anger. He recommended that corresponding to physical hygiene we should encourage the adoption of mental or emotional hygiene. When we have a calm mind we have less fear, anger and suspicion. One way to achieve this is to pay attention to our breath, by mindfully counting 20 inhalations and exhalations. That will reduce our tendency to anger."

One thing is that we could pay full attention to our breath for 20 in- and exhalations to tackle disturbing emotions like anger. By reintroducing a sense of human values we can also reduce destructive emotions.

2013-05-21-Louisville-G04During his meeting with Greg Fisher and his team, His Holiness emphasized that whatever you do it is your motivation that is vital. He commended Fisher for his initiatives towards compassion for the city and suggested that under his leadership it should be possible to promote human values under the banner of secular ethics.

Students and teachers expressed their gratitude to His Holiness for coming, one of them telling him, "You remind us of the goodness within us."

His Holiness also met with Archbishop Joseph Kurtz before the start of his teaching at the Yum Center in the city.

His Holiness returned to his exile home town of Dharamshala on Thursday after a historical 16-day visit to the United States. Members of the Tibetan community and other devotees in the Himalayan town offered His Holiness a traditional welcome on his arrival.

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