Bratislava, Slovakia — Describing affection and compassion as the source of inner peace, the spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said on Monday that all 7 billion human beings have a real responsibility to work to create a happier more peaceful world.
Apart from offering a public lecture at the National Tennis Centre venue in Bratislava on October 16, 2016, His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with Slovak President Andrej Kiska. "I had the privilege of once again meeting with the Dalai Lama on this day, but for the first time as a president," Kiska wrote on Facebook after the meeting.
"We talked about the need for understanding among people; about the fact that all religions are similar if they're founded on love, forgiveness and empathy." Kiska said that Buddhism is a philosophy of how we should all live.
"We also discussed the issues of today's world. Sometimes it seems that today's term is more complicated, the world is smaller. But some problems are only in our mind. As someone wise once said - the happiest people are those who have regard for the happiness of others. And the unhappiest are those who have regard for their own happiness," Slovak President added.
Speaking about his meeting with Slovak President, His Holiness said: “I’ve just had lunch with your marvellous President. We talked about how politics can often become dirty, but he told me that what he really wants is to serve the people. We found we have a lot in common. We talked about how existing education systems focus on material goals with too little attention to inner values. There needs to be a more holistic approach. I mentioned to him that a curriculum to enable young people to learn more about universal values is being prepared.”
"Look, I'm a normal human being. One nose, two eyes, a mouth in a smile. I'm very happy to be here. This morning I met students and teachers at the University and now I'm happy to be able to talk to you," His Holiness told an audience of 4000 people at the National Tennis Centre in the afternoon.
"We may have different faiths and beliefs, but we are all equally human beings. Scientists have found that constant anger, fear and anxiety undermine our immune systems, so it's in our own interest to cultivate peace of mind. Affection and compassion are the source of inner peace. They are qualities necessary for social animals like us," he said.
"In the early part of the 20th century, when the first and second world wars broke out, people proudly and unhesitatingly joined up to serve the war effort. I feel this has changed, that people have got fed up with war. Also, in the early 20th century, no one talked about the environment or taking steps to protect it, nor were there the inter-faith meetings that we see today. After so much violence and conflict, these are all positive developments.
"My number one commitment, simply as one of the 7 billion human beings, is to encourage other people to understand that we all have a real responsibility to work to create a happier more peaceful world. My second commitment, as a Buddhist monk, is to encourage people to see that despite different philosophical points of view, different customs and different history and all the world's major religious traditions convey a common message of the importance of warm-heartedness, contentment, forgiveness and tolerance.
He said he would like to point out how in India all the world's major religions have flourished side by side for centuries. This is an example we can all learn from. "My third commitment concerns my being a Tibetan. Since 2011, I have completely retired from any political responsibility and have ended any such role for Dalai Lamas in the future. However, I remain deeply committed to the welfare of the Tibetan people and encouraging the protection of Tibet's language, culture and natural environment."
At the meeting at the Comenius University's Faculty of Philosophy His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that the 21st century should be a century of dialogue. The meeting, called Moral Aspects of Education and Science to the Benefit of Humanism, was full of ideas stressing the need for respecting each other, for unity and solidarity. People should learn to be empathetic and develop compassion, His Holiness said, as quoted by the university press statement.
"Too often we think in terms of 'us' and 'them', a division that contains the seed of conflict. The use of force to solve problems is the wrong approach. After the bloodshed of the 20th century, it is important that we make this 21st century an era of dialogue instead, which involves solutions of mutual benefit," His Holiness said while addressing students and faculty at Comenius University.
"I am honoured to have this opportunity to speak to people involved in education as you are. Wherever I go I consider whoever I meet to be another human being like me. We all want to live a happy life. We all respond to smiles, so wherever I go, I smile. Scientists are finding evidence that basic human nature is compassionate. Therefore, even if we don't share a language, we can communicate our friendship by smiling. If we consider everyone as a human brother or sister, differences of faith, nationality, social status and so on will fade in significance. We need instead to focus on the oneness of 7 billion human beings.
"Too often we think in terms of 'us' and 'them', a division that contains the seed of conflict. The use of force to solve problems is the wrong approach. After the bloodshed of the 20th century, it is important that we make this 21st century an era of dialogue instead, which involves solutions of mutual benefit."
The Buddhist leader mentioned his commitments to promoting human happiness and encouraging inter-religious understanding before inviting questions from the floor. In answering these he reiterated his view that real happiness comes from warm-heartedness. He explained that in addition to a limited instinctive biological sense of compassion we can develop a more extensive impartial sense of compassion through training and education.
Describing such compassion can even be extended towards our enemies, the Nobel Peace Laureate explained that to compensate for the inadequacies of modern education it is possible to cultivate universal values on the basis of our common experience as human beings, our common sense and scientific findings.
The visit, organised for the third time by Suzanne and Csaba Kiss of the At Home Gallery in Šamorín, also included meeting with students and representatives of the academic sector from Comenius University in Bratislava.
In the evening, His Holiness met briefly with 240 Tibetans who had mostly come to see him from Austria. He reminded them that as refugees they represent the 6 million Tibetans in Tibet. He encouraged them to be 21st century Buddhists, not only to recite the 21 Tara prayers but to study what the Buddha’s teachings mean. This includes coming to understand the workings of the mind and emotions. He asked them to ensure that their children learn Tibetan.
The Tibetan leader also observed that there are now estimated to be 400 million Buddhists in China, many of them recognising the importance of Tibetan Buddhism and wanting to know more about it. He also looked forward to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China that will be held in Beijing next year and his hopes that it will result in change for the better.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama also met with an official Slovakian Parliamentary delegation, including Ms Lucia Nicholson, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly; Mr Frantisek Sebej, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee; Mr Martin Poliacik, MP and member of the Tibet Group and Mr Pal Csaky, MEP and former Deputy Prime Minister of Slovakia. He has visited Slovakia three times (2000, 2009 and 2016).