Minneapolis, MN, USA, 1 March 2014 - The Nobel Peace Prize Forum, which inspires peacemaking by celebrating the work of Nobel Peace Prize winners, invited His Holiness to Minneapolis to give the Laureate address today on the first day of the event.
"Brothers and sisters," he began, "wherever I go, wahoever I meet, I remember that we are all the same physically, mentally and emotionally. From my own experience when I was younger, I know that to focus on such differences as my being a Tibetan, a Buddhist and even the Dalai Lama creates anxiety. It can lead to pretentiousness and hypocrisy. Gradually I came to realise that on a basic level of reality we are all the same as human beings. When we focus on the secondary differences that distinguish us, we rapidly decline into a sense of 'us' and 'them', which easily leads to cheating, exploitation and even killing one another. Each one of the 7 billion human beings alive today depends on the rest of humanity. If humanity is happy and prosperous, each human being benefits."
"We all come from our mothers and grow up under the shelter of her affection, something each of us has enjoyed. Those who receive such affection grow up to be happy. Unfortunately, in the case of unwanted children who lack such affection, they tend to grow up hampered by suspicion, fear and insecurity. Experience suggests that while we're still young we appreciate the need for loving-kindness, but as we grow older this fades. This is partly because our education system is oriented towards material rather than human values; our education is focused on material success. Modern society has developed a materialistic culture in which our good qualities become dormant."
His Holiness has friends engaged in serious discussions about how to introduce ethics and human values into the modern education system. There are limits if this is based on a religious tradition. Although all religions convey a similar message of love, compassion, tolerance and forgiveness, because of their different philosophical views, no one of them can be universal. What is required is a new secular system that is universally acceptable. He explained that different philosophical views have arisen but their purpose is the same: to ensure the promotion of human values and the achievement of a happy life.
Inviting questions His Holiness was asked how he manages to overcome despair and replied that there is no choice, jokingly adding "If you want to die early, meditate on pessimism." Another questioner wanted to know the hallmarks of compassion and he told her it was a genuine sense of concern for others' well-being. His Holiness remarked that people talk about dirty politics and yet politics by itself is not dirty. It only becomes so when practised by devious people, which is true of other activities too, even the practice of religion. Asked how we can remain hopeful, His Holiness pointed out that whereas the 20th century had been a period of immense violence, the 21st century should be an era of dialogue. Pressed to describe the world today in one word, he said: "Complicated," which evoked laughter from the audience. Finally, someone invited His Holiness to give his blessing and he replied that as a Buddhist he is sceptical about so-called blessings, feeling that real blessing is derived from our own good actions, our good motivation.
His Holiness met with members of the State Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans and took the opportunity to clarify his retirement from political responsibility. Later he met with Chinese students and told them he always considers himself to be just another human being. "Human problems must be solved by taking a human approach," he said, "and dialogue is a way to find an agreeable, mutually beneficial solution."
His Holiness explained that the narrow mindedness of Chinese officials had led to the impression that Tibetans were against the Chinese and stated that the leaders need to adopt a broader point of view. He added, "You young Chinese shouldn't just listen to what the government says. You have two eyes and two ears; make use of them. The 1.3 billion Chinese people have a right to know what's really going on and have the ability to judge right from wrong. Therefore, censorship is morally and practically wrong."