Bern, Switzerland — His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that every individual on earth wants a happy life and he or she has the full right to claim it. He said that the present century is all about establishing dialogue with one another and finding a common ground to resolve conflicts.
Before departing from Latvia, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was in a meeting with a bunch of Russian intellectuals proclaimed that, "I prefer things to be completely informal so we can feel free."
When he was questioned about going away elsewhere from his country, he replied that, "Historically leaders of governments can be more open-minded and sometimes less so—but the important thing is that they don't last forever. It's our basic human nature to want to be free. In our case, people in Tibet have worked to preserve our culture and language, while some of us escaped and took advantage of the freedom we found outside to preserve our identity.
"All human beings are the same in wanting happiness and not wanting suffering. We are born the same way; we die the same way. Wherever I go and whoever I meet, I consider them to be equally human like me. In today's world we need the trust of friends. I want to retain the freedom to meet people and speak with them. I want to encourage them all to work to cultivate peace of mind.", he said.
When His Holiness was asked by a neuroscientist about the source of thoughts, he told the latter that with regards to sensory perceptions and a great amount of our mental consciousness, we tend to rely fully on our brain. This comes to reality while we are asleep and our senses are sealed and we dream. He said that, nevertheless, when we breathe our last, our mind which is contingent on the brain comes to a halt – a bit of consciousness can still lurk around.
The discussion took a turn and the Tibetan spiritual leader remembered about Erich Honecker's prediction about the Berlin Wall standing on its feet for 100 years and how in a few weeks, the wall came down. In the present day, in Beijing and Shanghai's tea shops, one will find people disapproving the Chinese authority openly. Ironically, this was not the case in the past. On the other hand, the Tibetans are much more restricted. His Holiness have had people coming up to him and telling him that they were surprised to discover that liberation could be found more in mainland China.
His Holiness conveyed that he considered the European Union as an ideal representation of politics. He commented that, "When people are ill-informed, unscrupulous leaders can be manipulative. When Chinese tourists come to India they are often apprehensive that Tibetans will be hostile to them, but they find we are largely easy going, jovial and friendly."
His Holiness reached Bern, known as the capital and/or federal city of Switzerland. He went straight to the House of Religions – a collaborative enterprise which began in the year 2014 with eight devout communities. Tibetans, both young and old along with several Mongolians assembled outside the building to welcome the Nobel Peace Laureate. Mrs Gerda, President of the House of Religions greeted him at the door and presented him formally to the members of the group.
The lunch which was served was entirely vegetarian and went with the Ayurvedic tradition. Mrs Hauck gave an official welcoming to the spiritual leader and said that he was the person to look up to when it came to peace.
She described him as being a role model for peacefully meeting challenges. She thanked him for taking the time to come. The Mayor of Bern, Alexander Tschappat recalled that His Holiness's planned visit to Bern in 2008 had had to be called off. Since then, he said, this amazing House of Religions has come about, which he was particularly happy for His Holiness to see.
After lunch, His Holiness paid a visit to multiple religious places including a Hindu temple where the lively music and other ceremonies reminded him of South India. He also spent time in a Mosque and as well as in a Buddhist and Muslim chapel.
The spiritual leader was requested by the lunch guests to initiate the dialogue upstairs. He said, " I'm very happy to be here.. As a Buddhist monk I'm committed to fostering inter-religious harmony, but here you are making a practical effort to bring that about by allowing a deeper understanding and mutual respect to grow. Wonderful.
"All our religious traditions convey the same message of love, forgiveness, contentment and self-discipline. Their philosophical views may be different, with some taking a theistic stand, worshiping God the Creator, and others taking a non-theistic stand, stressing personal responsibility instead. Amongst the latter only Buddhists assert that there is no independently existing self."
He also brought the audience's attention towards the cultural facet of religion and mentioned that India's caste system which is at loggerheads with the country's staunch democracy needs to be reconditioned by the Indian spiritual leaders.
When His Holiness was told by the Hindu Alevite spokesmen that both the Kurdish and the Tamil did not have a free native land, the former replied that in this day and age, we need to remind ourselves that all of us are a part of one human family. He also referred to the Israel-Palestine conflict to make his point. He said that the birth of the Jewish state had let down many Palestinians.
He mentioned to the Hindu priest that Buddhism and Hinduism are in many ways like twin brothers. They have the shila ( morality), shamatha (concentration) and vipashyana (insight) in common. The main point of difference between the two religions is the Hindu's claim that atman exists while the Buddhist declares that as untrue.
When a Buddhist broached the topic of honoring non-violence in a brutal world, His Holiness commented that, "We all want a happy life and we all have a right to pursue it. I try to promote human values on the basis of common experience, common sense and scientific findings. So it is all the more important that we make efforts to ensure that conflicts are resolved through dialogue, that ultimately this becomes a century of dialogue.
"Within the various Buddhist traditions the Vinaya or code of monastic discipline is common to all whether they belong to the Pali or Sanskrit traditions. When I have the opportunity I encourage Buddhists to become 21st century Buddhists with a firm understanding of what the Buddha taught. Rituals and prayers alone are not enough."
Tibet's spiritual leader let the Christian and Muslim spokespersons that since 9/11 he has been a firm supporter of Muslims because according to him, the people who committed those crimes were not proper Muslims but agitators. He also mentioned that he is glad that the Sunni and Shia followers are getting along with each other.
"I'd like to suggest that you consider sending members of your small community here to places of conflict to help establish reconciliation." I'd like to suggest that you consider sending members of your small community here to places of conflict to help establish reconciliation.", he said.
His Holiness was asked by Baha'I and Sikh representatives about the role which religious leadership plays. He answered with a reference to Pope John Paul II's endeavor of calling together an inter-faith gathering in Assisi. He told his audience that it was the perfect opportunity for both intellectuals and sincere practitioners to talk about their common interests and learn from their differences. He had made an appeal to the Pope for making such events more often.
Mrs Hauck, the President and moderator expressed her thanks to His Holiness for coming all the way here from India and sharing his beliefs. He replied that he was delighted to see that the House of Religions was an active organization unlike other sleepy inter-religious forums.