Donning his saffron-coloured Dharma robe he paid respects before the 36-feet-high statue of the Walking Buddha, an image favoured as personifying the expression of compassionate activity for the benefit of all. His Holiness scattered flowers at the foot of the statue before circumambulating it. He recommended that it would be beneficial if quotations from the Buddha's teachings could also be displayed in the vicinity. Next, His Holiness paid his respects before the statue of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, architect of Independent India's secular constitution, of which he regularly speaks in praise and admiration.
At morning and early afternoon meetings with representatives and students from Indian Buddhist communities, he stated, "I'm just another human being. Wherever I go I talk about how to create a happier humanity. If we educate people to live more compassionate lives, there will be no place for exploitation, bullying and deceit. Our approach should be based on our common experience, that we all receive affection from our mothers when we're born, without which we would not survive. This experience of affection enables us to show affection to others, which is the basis of the kind of secular ethics that can benefit all humanity."
He said that in addition to fostering such human values, there is a need to develop self-confidence. He told a story of visiting a black African family in Soweto, South Africa and talking to them of the great prospects for improvement they had in their newly democratised country. He said he was taken aback when the teacher he was talking to shook his head and said, "We can't compete with the white people, our brains are not as good as theirs." His Holiness told him how sad it made him to hear that and insisted that there is no such difference in the quality of the brains among groups of human beings. The important thing, he said, is to develop self-confidence keeping in mind our equality as human beings.
His Holiness stated that in addition to his commitment to foster basic human values, as a Buddhist monk he is concerned to promote inter-religious harmony. The Buddha engaged in respectful dialogue and discussion with followers of other traditions. He reiterated that secular ethics express the values of love, compassion, tolerance and self-discipline that all the major religions have in common.
His Holiness pointed out that one unique aspect of the Buddhist tradition is the advice the Buddha gave his disciples not to accept his teachings at face value or on the basis of faith, but to analyse, investigate, and experiment with them. The Buddha, he said, taught on the basis of what he had learned from his own experience and told his followers, "You are your own master." His Holiness repeatedly mentioned the value of education and study, stressing that 21st-century Buddhism will be more effective if based on knowledge and understanding rather than on faith alone.
"The Buddha made it clear that we should not rely on a person, but on the teaching, not on the words alone, but on their meaning, and not on a superficial or provisional meaning but on their profound, definitive meaning."