His Holiness held a meeting with a group from the Mind & Life Institute (MLI) in Washington, DC, USA on February 4, 2015. The group had come to report progress on the development of a curriculum to inculcate a sense of core human values in students throughout their educational career from kindergarten through to university.
"We may not see the changes we envisage in our lifetimes, but the present shocking violence in the Middle East, in which so much anger is involved that there is little room for common sense, impels us to try," His Holiness told them, adding "If we can actually implement a plan for improving education, we may be able to create a happier world."
His Holiness remarked that as social creatures we all need friends. 'We need circumstances to bring us together, and concerning ourselves only with our own interests runs counter to this.'
The Tibetan leader cited research that Richie Davidson and others have done to show that basic human nature, as revealed in the responses of young infants, tends to favour helping rather than hindering others. Concern for others therefore accords with our basic nature.
Arthur Zajonc, President of Mind & Life, explained that the educational research initiative being developed by the Mind and Life Institute has been named a Call to Care. It is organized around three integrated modes of care - receiving care, cultivating self-care, and extending care.
Involving education, developmental science, and contemplative scholarship, the project incorporates a distinctive hybrid approach focusing on both students and educators through a joint program within a common framework. So far, response from teachers has been very encouraging.
Guidebooks for children and classroom guides for teachers are more or less complete up to grade 8. Successful pilot projects have been taking place in Bhutan, Israel and Vietnam.
His Holiness reiterated his interest in seeing such a system incorporate a map of the mind and suggested that students could begin to learn about the map of emotions from grades 6-7. He felt they should be informed about disturbing emotions.
Kathryn Byrnes, Call to Care Program Officer, told him they are, but they are referred to as obstacles. She agreed that in our present education systems the human component is missing. There is too much emphasis on the head where there needs also to be focus on the heart and being in the world.
Diana Chapman-Walsh commented - "Arthur Zajonc has led MLI to see that we have a responsibility to take these ideas forward without promising too much or violating scientific values. However, we seem to be at a point in history where we need to put these ideas out into the world."
The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate agreed on the importance of a positive by saying that "we have to make sure that this is not just propaganda, but we do have to get the word out. Our approach should be one that is acceptable to everyone."
His Holiness also participated in a panel discussion on Service in Action - a dialogue with His Holiness and the American Muslim community - in Washington, DC.
A long-time friend of Tibetans, Doug Coe on Wednesday organized meetings between His Holiness and first CEOs who are sponsors and then with sitting Congressmen and others who have been supportive of the Tsering Dhonden Tibetan Refugee Settlement in Rajpur, India.
This was a project initiated with the late Senator Clairbourn Pell. His Holiness told them that in providing such support and facilities they had contributed to the preservation of Tibetan culture, which, as a culture of peace and non-violence, remains valuable.