Bangalore: - 'Violence only brings suffering and pain. To deal with the global problems we face today, we must apply non-violence,' His Holiness the Dalai Lama said during a conference on "Bounds of Ethics in a Globalized World" at Christ University in Bangalore, India.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama was accorded a warm welcome on arrival at Christ University, not only by the Vice Chancellor Thomas Mathew who escorted him into the building from his car, but also by the students who thronged balconies and stairwells. The Tibetan leader proceeded through the crowd to the Christ University Auditorium, where he presented a keynote address encompassing the issue of violence in modern times.
He began his speech with a brief overview of recent global history: "I was born in 1935, just as the Sino-Japanese war was about to break out. That was followed by tension in Europe that eventually erupted as the Second World War which brought immense violence to Europe and parts of Africa and Asia. Next was the Korean War in which ever more powerful weapons were used against waves of soldiers and after that the relentless Vietnam War. Some historians say that 200 million died through violence in the 20th century."
He then connected that history to modern times by noting, "At present as a result of fighting in Syria and Sudan women, children and old people are suffering. This is a hangover from the 20th century and the notion that problems can be solved by force, and that your victory is won in the destruction of your enemy. When communities or nations were simply self-sufficient this may have made some sense, but the reality is that we are now interdependent on a global level so the concept of the war is out of date.
The speaker continued, "Violence only brings suffering and pain... Shouldn't we be thinking of making this a century of peace? Even if we do, it doesn't mean there won't be any problems; there will. Population is set to rise, natural resources are going to become scarcer, and climate change will give us trouble. To deal with these problems we must apply non-violence."
His Holiness said that after the violence of the 20th century, the 21st century should be an era of dialogue. He argued ethics are very important because they can apply to any human activity. Crucially, he emphasized that ethics are not a luxury, but a question of human survival. Amongst scientists' discoveries that drive innovation are also the immense destructive power of nuclear and chemical weapons. Ethics, the Dalai Lama believes, are the steady hands that prevent the use of such tools.
Taking this point further into the reality of the worldwide decline in active religious populations, the Dalai Lama spoke on the value of secular ethics to prevent violence's continuation. "I've read that among the 7 billion people alive today, 1 billion declare themselves non-believers. Frankly speaking, many among the 6 billion apparently religious are not really sincere. With so many people beyond the reach of religion, there is a growing need for secular ethics. In the Indian context the word secular is not dismissive of religion, but accepting and respectful towards all religions, and those who have none, without bias."
His Holiness concluded his speech by stressing the reasoning behind his drive for greater secular ethics: "Everyone wants to be happy and everyone has a right to fulfil that goal. This is why, in the context of 7 billion human beings, our need is to introduce secular ethics."