Dharamshala — Aspiring young leaders from 16 countries, the spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama Tuesday spoke about the virtues of European union as another example where diverse people have come together to share a common identity.
The U.S. Institute of Peace and the Tibetan Nobel peace laureate have joined in a project to strengthen the abilities of youth leaders working to build peace in the world’s most violent regions.
His Holiness's meeting with members of the Youth Leaders’ Exchange, young women and men from trouble-torn countries across the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia, dedicated to managing conflict in non-violent ways.
The world’s most violent conflicts are being occured in recent decades, within its most youthful populations. In the five countries that suffered more than one million, nearly 80 percent of recent deaths from violence (Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria), half of all people are younger than 22. Breaking this pattern requires leadership from within the younger generations being targeted.
His Holiness, who at age 15 was thrust into the leadership of his people as they faced the Chinese occupation, systematic erosion of their cultural and religious identity. Like some of the participants, he fled his country as a refugee and has lived for years in exile.
In Dharamsala, the youth leaders will share their experiences and ideas on improving their communities’ abilities to manage conflict nonviolently, notably by drawing on human values, compassion and their communities’ own resources. They will hold morning dialogues with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on ways to build inner strength for their work.
The education and sharing afforded by this program will expand the effectiveness of the participants as they work to transform conflicts at home into peaceful change. The program will provide a platform for greater international advocacy of youth priorities in peace and security.
On the first day of interaction Tuesday morning, the moderator Nancy Lindborg, President of USIP asked His Holiness if he had any preliminary remarks to make. His Holiness addressed the students spreading his message of peace, harmony and compassion, not only for human beings but for all sentient beings. The basic tenets of Buddhism including the message of world peace and respect for living beings are best manifested in his personality.
"There are Muslims who are isolated even to this day similar to Tibetan people a hundred years ago when there were less than one hundred thousand Tibetans...India is the unique example-where all religions stay together in spirit of brotherhood and harmony," His Holiness said, adding: "So, India i think is a good example of different people living in peace, further India has the second highest population of Muslims in the world along with Christians, Jews and other religions, they want to live in peace."
"No one wants war or bloodshed, not even those who do not beleive in any religion; peace and harmony along with love and compassion is something every living being irrespective of who or what it is wishes to achieve. The European union on the other hand is also a fine example of unity where people belonging to different nations come to get her to forge a singular identity," he said.
"Whether we like it or not we only have one planet to stay in, there is no other home; So, instead of complaining or negative feeling it has to be us as human beings who work towards peace. Not Buddha, nor Mohammed or Jesus ever asked for violence in the name of religion or culture, it is humans who have done so; hence it has to be humans who have to remedy this situation and establish peace."
“All 7 billion human beings have a common experience in that we all appreciate love. We all have a seed of love and affection within us and the potential to cultivate greater love and compassion. If we want to create peace in the world it has to start with the heart, with inner peace.”
While expressing appreciation of the efforts of those countries that have extended help to refugees currently fleeing war and destruction, His Holiness reiterated that the real long-term solution is to restore peace in the countries they are fleeing. The first step towards that is to achieve a cease fire followed by encouraging the competing sides to begin to talk to each other.
“As a Buddhist monk and student of the Nalanda tradition,” His Holiness said, “I have been trained to use logic, to employ my human intelligence. Analysis is a powerful way to solve problems. The American psychologist Aaron Beck has told me that on the other hand when we are angry with something or someone, the object of our anger seems to be completely negative. And yet 90% of that feeling is a result of our own mental projection. We are faced with a gap between appearance and reality. We tend to grasp at the appearance at the expense of reality.”
His Holiness talked about the three aspects of religious traditions, the religious aspect, such as the practice of love; the philosophical aspect, such as whether or not there is a creator god; and a cultural aspect such as the Indian caste system or the sense of gender discrimination in Buddhism. He suggested that when such cultural aspects are no longer appropriate, they should be changed.
He also talked about the importance of peace to have a healthy body and mind which ensures physical, emotional and mental stability. He also spoke of the need to forgive and accept the situation. While speaking on friendship he made a distinction that friendship is not measured by what you give and receive but by mutual trust and understanding. On moral values, Holiness made a distinction that morals should be based on human values; the sanctity of any life is universal. He also spoke the need for internal disarmament as a path to achieve peace saying that internal disputes need to be solved first with love and compassion.
These statements made by his holiness have been reiterated by His Holiness in his teachings and speech over many years in a time when the world is going through a tough period that has lead to the birth of radicalism, mutual hatred between groups and regular show of violence around the world.The Youth Peace leaders from around the world
Participants in this program, in their 20s and early 30s, are peace-builders from 14 countries: Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Morocco, Myanmar, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Uganda. Many have faced war or been uprooted by it. Some have lost friends or family to bloodshed; others have lived in exile as refugees.
A participant spoke His Holiness's dedication over several years to his practice and teachings that peace is possible, practical and attainable. She also said that as many youngsters have been and continue to be inspired by his lifelong journey embodying his commitment. He is one of the most influential people standing up for world peace and lifelong dedication along with courageous work. she further states that the knowledge imparted by him of peace, harmony and hope needs to be taken back by the participants to their home countries.
Harry is a trainer and community activist working on conflict resolution, civic engagement, inter-religious peace, and legal reform from Myanmar (also known as Burma). He is executive director of The Seagull, an organization based in Mandalay that promotes human rights. As communal tensions have grown in Myanmar, erupting into violent conflict in 2012, Harry has worked in creative ways to bridge community divides and promote inter-religious understanding.
“Most of the communities heal through having a lot of dialogue and making people feel that their pain and loss are recognized and heard by other people in the communities,” Harry has said. “I have worked with some of the victims of violent religious conflict in Burma, and learned that their trauma can be healed through a long process of listening to their stories, recognition of people lost, and through a longer-time dialogue with members of the perpetrator communities.”
Khadija participated in the U.S. State Department’s Mandela Washington Fellowship in 2015, focusing her work on the healing of trauma and on social reconciliation after the decades-long civil war in Somalia. Concerned about the lack of preserved history or storytelling in her community, Khadija is determined to change the world's perspective on Somalia. Khadija is the founder of Mogadishu City Volunteers, which provides leadership training to young people and aims to make Mogadishu a better and safer place through volunteering.
“I'm that young girl whose struggle for survival started from that fateful day when all the residents were running away from their homes,” Khadija has said. “The only memories I have from my past are of the destructive, violent conflict, displacements, bloodshed and the cries of my people for peace; thus, I dedicated my life to peace building. … I guess this is something that has been in my blood as both my father and grandfather are traditional peace-builders. I have always wanted to be a beacon of hope for the people of Somalia—a country that suffered from turmoil and lawlessness for decades, where everybody bears psychological scars from the atrocities of civil war and healing and reconciliation are absolutely necessary in order to move forward.”
After a break for tea, the meeting was opened up to the Youth Leaders, inviting them to share their experiences or ask questions, which His Holiness answered. He mentioned that while members of the 20th century generation to which he belongs have created all sorts of problems in the world, it is going to be up to members of the 21st century generation to clear them up. However, he said that if they start now, towards the end of the century the world might have become a more peaceful, happier place. A crucial factor will be improving and broadening education to include a better understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions. He remarked that having a calm mind makes it much easier to employ common sense.