Dharamshala: - While visiting Tuscany in Italy, His Holiness the Dalai Lama stressed on the importance for journalists to promote human values and religious harmony. The visit attracted quite a lot of media attraction, and a meetig with more than 80 journalists was organized.
Remarking on the weather, His Holiness said that he had hoped to beat the summer heat of India in Italy, but was surprised to find that the weather was similar to that in Mumbai. He also expressed his happiness at being back in Italy, even though a lot has changed sice his first visit to Lama Tsong Khapa Institute.
His Holiness spoke about his three commitments in life. He said he always considers himself as one human being out of seven billion. Everyone has the same desire for love, affection and happiness, which is the basis for human love. Therefore he always advocates the promotion of basic human values. His main message is human love – the ultimate source of human happiness. Human affection is basically a biological factor and the basis of our survival is human love. Irrespective of whether we believe in religion or not, whichever culture we belong to, all of us need love.
Speaking on his second commitment, His Holiness stressed the need for religious harmony. He mentioned that he always maintains contact with the practitioners of other faiths and traditions, who carry the same practice of love, compassion, tolerance and forgiveness. He cited India as an example of a country where several religions have co-existed peacefully for more than 2000 years.
His Holiness said he has always advocated preservation of Tibetan culture and its rich Buddhist knowledge and tradition. He emphasized his present role as just a spiritual leader, having handed over all his political responsibilities to the directly elected political leader in 2011. He said he had done so voluntarily, happily and proudly.
Emphasizing on the role played by journalists in promoting human values and religious harmony, His Holiness said that media people should have long noses like that of an elephant to smell in front and behind politicians and other people. In a democratic society people have the right to know the truth and journalists should inform the public of the reality. However, he said they must report truthfully, objectively and in an unbiased manner.
On a question about Chinese embracing Buddhism on a large scale, His Holiness mentioned that China has the largest population of Buddhists in the world: now over 400 million. He remarked about the genuine interest shown by a growing number of Chinese from mainland China, who come to receive his teachings in India. He mentioned that he had always advocated for genuine autonomy and living with the Chinese. "We are not seeking independence," he reiterated.
Reflecting on the Kalachakra Initiation in Bodh Gaya, India in 2012 His Holiness spoke about the different reactions from the Chinese authorities towards the Tibetans and the Chinese on their return home after attending the Initiation. He said while the Chinese did not face any problems on their return, the Tibetans were subjected to all kinds of questioning and also house detention.
On a question about religious conversion, His Holiness said that it was better and safer to keep one's own traditional religious values. "Changing ones religion is not easy and sometimes it creates more problems. Of course there are some who have natural interest for other religions and it is their freedom to change," he said. He also advised those interested in Buddhism to try to study Buddhist philosophy and to investigate for oneself and practice, rather than follow a teacher blindly.
Sympathizing with the increasing number of refugees in Italy, especially from Syria and North Africa, His Holiness said that we should provide as much as we can to help; but when we can't, we should say so. He said we must pay more attention to the problems in their country of origin such as the economic situation, the ever increasing gap between the rich and poor on a global level and urged nations to help bridge the gap.
He said that his main hope for peace in the world was with the younger generation. He called on the youth to seek ways to create a more peaceful and more compassionate world. He also spoke on the research on inner values being carried out by American scientists.
His Holiness then spoke on the topic of secular ethics education, again citing India as a successful example. He said that his main hope for peace in the world was with the younger generation. He called on the youth to seek ways to create a more peaceful and more compassionate world.
Answering a question on the Chinese leadership, His Holiness said he liked the hard working culture of the Chinese people, but jokingly said that common sense in the brains of the hard liners in the Chinese leadership was unfortunately lacking.
On a question regarding the Dalai Lama's reincarnation, His Holiness said that he had back in 1969 made it explicitly clear that the continuation of the institution of the Dalai Lama is ultimately for the Tibetan people to decide. He remarked that the Chinese government was more concerned about the reincarnation of the 15th Dalai Lama than the present Dalai Lama.
Tomorrow afternoon, on the fourthday of his visit to Italy, His Holiness is expected to leave for Livorno city.