Melbourne, Australia: On 18th June 2013, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama interacted with an audience of over 170 students and others in a discussion on Ethics for a Whole World at the New South Wales Parliament House on invitation by the Sydney Peace Foundation. Prelude the dialogue, a tribute was paid to the Cadigal people and their possession of the local land, corresponding to the Tibetan's possession of the land of Tibet.
The session was initiated with Andrew West of ABC asking His Holiness about the present situation in Tibet. He replied saying: "Over the last 60 years some of the time things have been good, some of the time they have been bad and some of the time, like now, they have been very serious."
His Holiness also expressed grief when West spoke of the 119 self-immolations that have taken place since 2009. He said that Tibetans have suffered a lot. Now the whole of Tibet is full of fear, reminding him of a group of young Chinese he met in the 1990s who described China as a place where no one could say what they really thought or felt in an atmosphere full of fear and suspicion.
Religion was one of the key topics in the exchange and when asked if he thought religion was a root to the conflict, he said He said religion involves teachings about love, compassion, tolerance and self-discipline; who could object to that? Religious institutions, on the other hand, the world over have not always been free of bias and corruption. About the clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma he said he thought the root of the problem was more economic and political than religious and had been heartened by news of a Buddhist monastery there offering Muslims shelter.
His Holiness also shared insights from him book his latest book, 'Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World':
"Look at basic human nature. Our mothers give birth to us and we survive because of the affection she shows us. If she abandons us we die. Because of the affection we receive as infants, we have the potential to show affection to others. However, as we grow up we tend to feel we can look after ourselves and have no need for others' support and affection. And yet we are social animals, whose very existence and opportunity to live a happy life depends on the rest of our community. In our modern education system we need to find a way to nurture our basic human values."
Elaborating further, on religions' role in conflict, he said that such conflicts were more often rooted in economic problems, although sometimes narrow-mindedness and outmoded insularity are also to blame.
"The world has become a multi-religious, multi-cultural single entity in which it is better to remain true to your native religion. In Mongolia," His Holiness said, "I became aware of the proselytising activities of Korean missionaries and when they came to see me I told them that Mongolia is a Buddhist country and it would be better for them not to propagate another faith there."
He also shared his views on the education system and how many leaders are prepared to lie and deceive and that education is the key to correcting this. He said that while faith is one thing, secular ethics should naturally appeal to human intelligence. The human values they represent are the basis on which to build a peaceful more compassionate world. He hopes that the coming generations would receive a proper education, one that not only imparts knowledge to the brain, but also nurtures warm-heartedness in individuals.
His Holiness also told the audience that it's common sense to observe that the happier families amongst your neighbours are the ones who are more affectionate to each other, rather than those who are materially better off.
"Some people think that compassion is only relevant to the religious," he said, "this is a mistake. Compassion is relevant to being happy in day to day life. Compassion brings non-violence and strength, whereas aggression and anger are signs of weakness. Right from the start of our lives we experience affection, which is the ground in which to grow affection and compassion ourselves. Anger and fear may also be part of our lives, but they do us no good." "When I meet other people, I think about how to encourage the development of inner values and how by building on these values we can make this twenty-first century an era of compassion and peace."
Conclusively, His Holiness noted that both former Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and imprisoned human rights activist Liu Xiaobo have spoken of the need for a freer and more open society in China and it would be good if countries that are free to do so expressed their support.