As His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived at the European Parliament this morning, the flags of member states arrayed outside flew freely in the breeze, lit by the early morning sun. His visit began with a meeting with President of the European Parliament, Martin Schultz. This was followed by discussions with Elmar Brok, Chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, prior to meeting with the Committee. Welcomed as an advocate of freedom, human rights and protecting the environment, His Holiness was given the floor.

“Respected brothers and sisters, as human beings there are no differences between us, we belong to one human family. It’s a great honour for me to have this opportunity. I am an admirer of the spirit of the European Union. In relation to our own problems in Tibet, we are not seeking separation from the People’s Republic of China; we are not splittists although that’s what Chinese hard-liners continue to accuse us of being.
“Since 2011 I have completely retired from political responsibility, which is handled now by an elected leader. I’m 81 and some friends say I look younger and ask my secret. I think it’s to do with peace of mind and tackling the destructive emotions. Basic human nature is compassionate and all human beings have the potential to create inner peace. And I believe world peace can only be built on the basis of inner peace.

“I have three commitments I’d like to tell you about. The first is to promote a sense of the oneness of humanity, that we are all equally human beings. Generally we pay too much attention to secondary differences between us, such our religious faith, nationality, whether we are rich or poor etc. and neglect what fundamentally we have in common. As I mentioned before, I admire the spirit of the European Union and would like to see such a union in Africa and Asia.”

His Holiness explained that as a Buddhist monk, a follower of the Nalanda masters, thinkers and philosophers of ancient India, his second commitment is to fostering inter-religious harmony. He remarked that all religious traditions make love their main message, supported by tolerance, contentment and self-discipline. He observed that in India all the world’s major traditions are represented and live together in harmony. He asked if India can do it, why not other countries too?