Moderator of the event, Gert Scobel announced that to begin with a tribute would be paid to German physicist and philosopher Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker who died ten years ago. His son, Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, a biologist and co-president of the think-tank the Club of Rome, was present for the occasion.
In his opening remarks, His Holiness the Dalai Lama noted that it was an honor to be sitting with his teacher, von Weizsäcker’s son and his old friend, Wolf Singer—a happy reunion of old friends. He mentioned that he regarded David Bohm and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker as his tutors in relation to quantum physics, but that they had discussed many other issues too.
“I really admire your expert presentations of the work you’re doing,” His Holiness commented. “I am reminded that everything is due to other factors and nothing exists independently.
“Modern education is inadequate on a mental level. We need to supplement it from other sources. By and large, ordinary people are readier to accept what is borne out by scientific findings. I believe that our ethics education must be based on these, as well as on common experience and common sense. Generally, we might say that ethical actions give rise to happiness, while unethical actions give rise to pain. Therefore, we need to encourage education about warm-heartedness, in the knowledge that it is a cause of better personal health and well-being, as well as greater individual, family and community happiness.”
His Holiness then entered into a dialogue with Wolf Singer that touched on the scientific view earlier in the 20th century that mind is but a product of the brain. Towards the end of the century there seemed to be an acceptance that some mental activity can affect the brain. Singer replied that the prevailing view is that mind is an emerging property of the brain, but some reciprocal functions may have been underestimated.
His Holiness also wanted his opinion on whether a brain exists at the time of conception and Singer told him it has only potential existence at that time. He went on to ask if, on a subtle level, we can say that particles that constitute a brain and the particles that make up rocks and plants are the same. Singer conceded that the matter is the same, but it is organized differently.
After lunch, His Holiness drove to the newly established Tibet House where he was received by the founder, Dagyab Rinpoche and the local Mayor, Uwe Becker. He formally cut the ribbon, lit the lamp and recited verses of consecration to inaugurate of the institution.
Mayor Becker welcomed His Holiness and introduced him to gathered members of the media.
“The world is becoming smaller due to technological developments,” His Holiness told them. “Therefore, it’s important to know about different cultural heritage. I believe that Germans interested in Tibet came to Lhasa before the Second World War.
“After the war, a new nation arose from the ashes of ruin and yet I’ve been struck by the lack of resentment for what happened among my German friends.
“Since first coming to Europe in 1973 I’ve visited Frankfurt several times and have often passed through the airport on the way to other destinations. I’m happy to see a German Tibet House set up here. Amongst our rich cultural heritage, we Tibetans have kept the Nalanda Tradition alive with its exercise of logic and understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions. It’s my hope that this may become a centre of learning where people can study these things in an academic way.”
Asked his view of the refugee crisis with which Europe is still grappling, His Holiness expressed admiration for German efforts to extend help. However, he compared the various refugees to Tibetans who have not given up their fundamental expectation to eventually go home. In that context, he said that it is good to offer shelter and education facilities for the young. The long term aim though should be for them ultimately to return home once peace has been restored.
His Holiness arrived the following day in Sicily, southern Italy.