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Dalai-Lama-interfaith-dialogue-Paris-2016Paris —  The spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet joined an interfaith dialogue held at the Collège des Bernadins on September 14th, 2016 as part of his six-day trip to France.

Held inside the beautiful old church on campus, His Holiness was welcomed by Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Head of Catholic Church in France. Other religious leaders joining them included Mr. Haim Korsia, Grand Rabbi of France; Mr François Clavairoly, President of the Federation Protestant in France; Mr Anouar Kbibech, Head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith; Métropolitan Emmanuel, Head of the Orthodox Church in France, and Zen Master Olivier Wang-Genh, President of the Union of Buddhists in France.

Opening the gathering, His Holiness declared, "the time has come to exploit our deeper values of compassion. Mainly through education, especially secular education not based on religious belief. Unfortunately different religious faiths are causing more problems. Very unfortunate. Therefore, at this very moment we are enjoying peace and tranquility, while elsewhere people are being killed, whether it’s in Iraq, Syria or Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, all over differences of faith. We can’t ignore it, because to do so would be immoral and fellow human beings are involved. Killing is bad enough, but killing in the name of religion is terrible."

"So how do we counter such things? In order to encourage inter-religious harmony I have been following three practices since the late 1970s: meeting with religious scholars and holding discussions with them about what we have in common, where we differ and what is the purpose of that difference. I’ve also met with spiritual practitioners to learn from their experience. For example, in Montserrat I met a Catholic monk who had been in retreat in the mountains for five years with little more than tea and bread to eat. I asked about his practice and he told me he’d been meditating on love and as he did so I saw the sparkle of true happiness in his eyes. I’ve had similar meetings with wonderful Muslim practitioners too.

“My third practice is to make pilgrimage to other people’s places of worship. I started this in Sarnath, Varanasi, India, where I visited a mosque, a church, temples and a gurudwara to offer prayers, one after the other.”

His Holiness listened earnestly to the other leaders, through a translator, as they each spoke in French, and closed the dialogue by reminding everyone the similarities of religion; how each promotes compassion and love at it's core.

“I have lived in India for the last 57 years,” His Holiness explained. “And the Muslim population in India, which is larger even than that in Pakistan, has long lived in harmony with other religious communities. Members of all the world’s major religions Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam flourish side by side with Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs. If they can do it in the world’s second most populous nation why can’t the rest of the world live that way too?”

"Our common this is the practice of love. That is common. Individual practice, that is personal. But most important is to remember our common practice of love."

As the dialogue came to an end, the participants were then provided lunch. His Holiness then boarded a plane for Strasbourg, where he is scheduled to give a one-day teaching.

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