First addressing more than 1500 students from 60 different schools in the area, His Holiness began, “Brothers and sisters, I’m extremely happy to have this opportunity to talk you young students. I believe all 7 billion of us are the same as human beings. Many of the problems we face are of our own making. Why? Because we continue to think in terms of my people, my nation, my religion, focussing on the secondary differences between us.
“We can’t change the past, but we’re still able to shape the future. Since I was born in 1935 I’ve been witness to continuing violence and war. We are sitting peacefully and amicably together here, but elsewhere on this planet other human beings are suffering—being killed and dying of starvation. Can we remain indifferent? We need to remember the oneness of humanity and that we are all brothers and sisters. Those of you who belong to the 21st century have a responsibility to create a more peaceful world. If you start now and make an effort you may see such change in your lifetimes, although I won’t live to see it. The peace of mind that will be its foundation will require a combination of warm-heartedness and intelligence.”
“Who created violence? Not God, but we. So we have the responsibility, to reduce and eventually to eliminate all these violent actions. We must not be indifferent to the suffering of other beings. I cannot ignore when someone is in pain, even if he or she isn’t a Buddhist. He or she is a human being, brother or sister, whom you must help as much as you can”.
Asked about the refugee problems in Europe, His Holiness clarified that most of them have fled their own countries because of unrest there. He compared contemporary refugees to Tibetans who have always expected ultimately to return to Tibet. Refugees today, he said, should be given shelter and provided with education and training for the young so that when peace is restored in their homelands they can return to rebuild them.
His Holiness highlighted a change in attitudes between the early 20th century, when everyone proudly joined up when war was declared, to the opposition to war, violence and nuclear weapons at the end. The manifest desire for peace is encouraging, he said, noting that the Berlin wall fell not as a result of the use of force, but due to popular will. He expressed his admiration for the spirit of the European Union, which has countered a sense of ‘them’ and ‘us’, the source of division.
“Our basic human nature is warm-hearted,” His Holiness asserted. “Without it we can’t survive. But we must also use our intelligence, asking ourselves, for example if anger is of any use. The answer is that it destroys our peace of mind. Women are prone to use make up to enhance their prettiness, but if their expressions are angry, no one will want to look at them.”
Asked whether freedom or security was more important, His Holiness replied, “Freedom—because of our natural ingenuity. We have great potential for creativity which requires freedom if we are to avoid stagnation. Security is sometimes cited as protecting that creativity, but it should not be in terms of restraining our thinking. Totalitarian systems typically link security to restrictions.”
In the afternoon, His Holiness continued, addressing an audience of nearly 3000 in Jahrhunderthalle, again stressing the need to overcome a tendency to dwell on secondary differences and realize that we are fundamentally the same in being human. He stressed the importance of creating a happier, more peaceful world, of acknowledging the oneness of humanity. He pointed out that when we go to hospital, no one asks where we are from or what we believe. We are received as patients in need of treatment.
“Similarly, if, lost in the wilderness, we finally see someone else in the distance, our first thought will not be to ask where they are from or to what race or religion they belong to, but relief at encountering another human being.”
Among questions from the audience, His Holiness was asked how to deal with fear. He answered that some fear, such as fear of a mad dog, is valuable and well-founded. However, there is also fear rooted in thinking too much about ourselves. When that arises, he suggested, it could be fun to ask yourself where or what is the ‘I’ you are so worried about.
His Holiness’s answer to why people are so greedy was that they lack basic moral principles and a respect for the rights of others. They fail to understand that real happiness is related to the mind rather than to physical satisfaction.
Finally finishing the day, His Holiness spoke to 1500 Tibetans from various parts of Northern Europe.
"Much has been achieved in exile in terms of keeping Tibetan Buddhist culture, the Nalanda Tradition, alive by extending opportunities for rigorous study. Only Tibetans maintain an approach to the Buddha’s teachings based on skepticism, logic and reason. Besides that, that the Tibetan language is the medium through which the Buddha’s teachings can be most accurately expressed. In addition, the detailed explanations of the workings of the mind and emotions found in Buddhist literature are of crucial relevance today. This, is something to be proud of."
His Holiness recounted an occasion earlier this year flying from Guwahati to Dibrugarh in a small plane during a storm when the turbulence made him fear for his life. Telling them his main concern was for what the six million Tibetans who have vested their hopes in him would do if he were to meet with an accident, the audience applauded. He assured them that his health is good and that he may live another 15-20 years, during which time there could be positive change for Tibet. Before waving goodbye, he urged them to be happy and at ease.
Tomorrow, His Holiness will attend a conference on ‘Western Science and Buddhist Perspectives’ and visit the new Tibet House in Frankfurt.