Copenhagen: - The spiritual leader of Tibet His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke of the need for "changing the way people think based on common sense, common experience and scientific understanding" at a press conference in Copenhagen, the Capital of Denmark on February 11.
Speaking to a room of Danish journalists before his public lecture – Strength Through Compassion and Connection – he talked at length about the relationship between human connection and mental well-being: "We are social animals, born from our mothers and receiving care and affection from her from a young age. Those who appreciate such affection have the potential to show affection to others. Affection, confidence and peace of mind are all interconnected."
Responding to a question on the government's reluctance to meet him during a visit to Denmark, His Holiness said it was "logical" since his retirement meant he had "nothing to ask" politicians.
"I think it's quite logical. I have no political responsibility so even if I met some political leaders I have nothing to ask," the exiled spiritual leader -- who retired from politics in 2011 -- said at the press conference.
Despite stepping down as the political head of Tibet in 2011 – when the country established a democratic state leadership – he discussed his spiritual responsibilities as a Buddhist monk: "I have a responsibility to work for harmony among our various religious traditions. We share common aims and common practices. While violence in the struggle for national interest or political power is just about understandable, killing in the name of religion is unthinkable. It is only ever a case of ignorant religious extremists manipulating others."
He asserted the media's responsibility to "help educate others about the values of peace of mind and the need for inter-religious harmony" but with the caveat that "it is essential [to be] truthful about it".
When asked about whether the attempts of political leaders to maintain relations with China are in the best interests of the international community, His Holiness the Dalai Lama remained positive, if a little restrained: "China is the world's most populous state, an ancient and important nation. China wants to join the international mainstream and it is up to the free world to lead her towards democracy."
Yet positive sentiment has not prevailed so far; China remains a closed and controlled society for 1.35 billion people, ruled by autocracy and inhibited by censorship. For Tibetans living within occupied territory, elements of this regime have been felt since the invasion of the People's Liberation Army in 1950.
The declining ability to freely practice Buddhism in Tibet is lamented by the Dalai Lama: "in 1959 there were between 7000 and 8000 monks studying in Drepung Monastery. Today, there are reports of fewer than 100 with no proper teachers and no serious study."
Destruction, of religious practices, cultural history and human liberty, is an ongoing and intensifying problem.
His Holiness added: "If we look back on the 20th century, it's estimated 200 million died in violence [including, according to French historian Stéphane Courtois, 65 million in communist China]. To change the world for the better, complaining is not enough, prayer is not enough; we need a long-term vision implemented in a systematic way."
The Tibetan spiritual leader's vision is rooted in the desire to reinstate lost moral principles into the education system, specifically by utilising a secular approach that – like India's example – is respectful of all religious traditions without bias.
"Scientists are also finding evidence that small children respond more positively to helping than hindering others, which reveals that basic human nature is to be affectionate. Love brings us together, anger pushes us apart."
"It will take time, but if we start to make an attempt now, it may be possible to create a better world by the end of the century."