Cambridge – Groups of Tibetans, friends and British dignitaries gathered at Magdalene College on the morning of September 16th for the first of a two day conference graced by the Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, entitled, Growing Wisdom, Changing People.
The conference, organized by the Inspire Dialogue Foundation, was hosted by Lord Rowan Williams. Barrister and former Attorney General, Baroness Scotland, as moderator of the first plenary session, introduced His Holiness as an embodiment of wisdom. She described herself as honored and humbled to be joining them and invited His Holiness to speak first.
His Holiness greeted the conference, saying "time is always moving on and while we can't change the past, the future is still in our hands. Meanwhile, circumstances change but our old ways of thinking remain the same. Many of the problems we face are of our own making. To solve them requires vision and a more holistic view. Therefore, I've come here to listen, to gather suggestions. My ears are open!"
Discussions and panels on a variety of topics convened throughout the first day, including, global economy, ethnic and religious conflict, gender, and several other compelling topics. Panelists talked extensively about the environment and climate change.
Lord Williams introduced the notion of security, suggesting that this is the underlying reason why we accumulate wealth. However, he added that our pursuit of growth could breach natural limits yielding a lack of security and defeating our ability to manage the planet.
His Holiness responded that the solution to this is education and increased awareness. He also reminded the gathering that too large a number of people in the world have little time or energy to entertain such awareness because they are preoccupied by where they will get their next meal. This illustrates the seriousness of the gap between rich and poor. Nevertheless, if members of the 21st century generation make the effort, with vision, now, by the end of the century the world may be a happier more peaceful place.
The second day of the conference convened on the theme of 'A Vision for Education.' His Holiness began by describing the traditional model of education in Tibet has come down from ancient India, in which a teacher works with a few students. He painstakingly explains the text in hand. Students study and then exercise what they have learned with each other on the debate courtyard. Employing logic they bring doubt and skepticism to the conversation, which is helpful for sharpening the mind.
His Holiness pointed out that where the church used to foster a sense of humane values, as its influence has waned, responsibility for this has not been taken up by schools and education institutions. It needs to be, which is why His Holiness has proposed the incorporation of secular ethics into modern education and has encouraged the creation of appropriate curricula to do so.
The event concluded with a thanks from the organizers and a group photo. His Holiness today traveled to London to continue his UK trip.