Tokyo, Japan 16, 17 & 18 November 2013:- The spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness started his tour of Japan at Chiba Institute of Technology before an audience of 600 teachers and students. He was initially asked what he thought were the potential benefits of science and technology from a Buddhist point of view. He spoke about the ways technology has changed our lives, making them easier but busier.
For a Buddhist he said we spend too much time involved with sensory activities and this distracts from our special human faculty: intelligence, and he warned that science and technology can be used positively or negatively depending on our motivation.
His Holiness had opened a dialogue with scientists back in the 70's, focusing on cosmology, neurobiology, physics and psychology that resulted in the 'Life and Mind Institute' which is now 27 years old.
Asked if he thought a robot could ever emulate emotional response he replied that he doubted it, but it remains to be seen. He was also asked if a better future could be created without resort to violence. His Holiness replied that we need to counter negative emotions through education.
On the 17 November His Holiness arrived at the Shingon school of Japanese Buddhism for a dialogue about Buddhist and scientific approaches to reality. He said that his dialogue with scientists over the last 30 years had been mutually beneficial. Science and spirituality deal with knowledge of the material world and the inner world of the mind.
The Buddha's advice, he said, was not to accept everything at face value, but examine and investigate it. This contains a healthy scepticism in connection with a scientific approach. His Holiness highlighted the practical nature of Buddha's teaching, who himself was an ordinary man but through intense training became enlightened.
From a Buddhist point of view, he added, understanding emptiness is important because through this wisdom we eliminate our disturbing emotions. The Buddhist approach is to use our intelligence to the maximum and this he said was the reason for his eagerness to engage in discussion with scientists.
His Holiness remarked that Buddhist's distinguish inanimate living things from sentient beings and a sentient being could be defined as something that can move voluntarily. He revealed that two volumes of Buddhist science material have been compiled and will be published shortly.
He remarked that the best scientists are intelligent, open-minded and receptive and they accept nothing until it can be proved by experiment and reason. His Holiness summarized that Buddhism not only has no concept of a creator or an existent self and its basic philosophical view is that all things are interdependent.
On his final day His Holiness arrived at Yakumo Academy to talk to 950 schoolgirls. He likened himself to the students saying that he thought of himself as just another human being, hysically, mentally and emotionally. He also noted that he was from the 20th century whereas the girls were from the 21st. Adding that we cannot change the past and must learn from it to shape the future. He said the important thing now was to ensure that the 21st century becomes an era of peace and non-violence.
He also noted that our attitude to war has completely changed and urged them to look at how nations had re-built themselves after periods of war. He said that human beings are becoming more mature and their desire for peace is very strong. Children, he added, who grow up in an affectionate family, grow up happy and healthy. Kind responses suggest that human nature is essentially compassionate and as social animals we naturally show each other affection.
Questions were asked by some of the girls and then His Holiness was thanked for talking to them and back at his hotel he was interviewed in connection with a film focussing on the life of the Buddha.