The Dalai Lama Speaks at RutgersPhiladelphia 12 Oct 2005 05:39 GMT
September 25, 2005
14th Dalai Lama as remembered by Catharine Pidcock Thomas who attended the talk wiyj her daughter, Susanna Calvin Thomas
I am writing this piece so I do not forget what the Dalai Lama said. I have used quotes from the Newspapers.
After receiving an honorary degree from the university, the Dalai Lama said he appreciated getting the honor "without actually having to work hard and study."
Then the spiritual leader, dressed in red and gold monk's robes with prayer beads around his wrist, spoke to the crowd about the obsolete nature of war and ways to reach compassion and peace.
He started his "Peace, War and Reconciliation" lecture by saying that the topics were familiar to everybody.
"I have nothing to offer, no new ideas or new views, nothing special. So, you may disappoint after listen to my ... lecture. If you feel boring, then I’m sorry. But at least today this weather--not hot, not cold, quite pleasant, so just a few minutes you spend here OK, not my problem," he said.
The crowd chuckled and applauded often as the Dalai Lama spoke against the death penalty and war and pressed for disarmament.
"Eventually, I think the whole world should be free of nuclear weapons," the Dalai Lama said, calling for countries to trust each other and to ban nuclear, biological and eventually all offensive weaponry. The Dalai Lama called weapons dangerous and expensive -- not just in financial terms, but also to humanity. He gave the example of some African states that have an abundance of weapons, but not enough food for their people. In contrast, the living standard in Costa Rica is higher than its neighbors because it uses its money for health and social programs rather than the military. He thought encouraging education was key.
He said it should be society’s dream that the whole world should be free of nuclear and biological weapons. The Dalai Lama called the concept of war "outdated," and said peaceful reconciliation requires determination, and frank dialogue. The idea of "[destroying] your enemy is an outdated sort of concept," he said. With modern science advancing and the world becoming increasingly interconnected economically, making war on other countries and people is essentially self-destruction, he added.
"Even in the name of a death sentence, it's still killing. Those individuals already in your hand are no further danger."
"This whole planet is just us," he said. "Therefore, destruction of another area essentially is destruction of yourself."
He also stressed that all humans are fundamentally the same, mentally, emotionally and in their desire for happiness. Anger and jealousy also are normal experiences that he feels too, for example, when his translator on stage with him speaks better English.
The Dalai Lama said people need to develop a deeper awareness about their emotions -- which ones are beneficial and which are destructive. When anger dominates, he said it has a tendency to obscure reality.
"Hopefully, our dream should be [to do this] within the end of this century or the next," he said. He stressed that peace is not just the mere absence of violence but the condition when all actions are motivated by compassion.
He believes the world is safer than it was 30 years ago because more people are pushing for peace. He recalled visiting the Soviet Union in the late 1970s and its people's fears of being attacked with U.S. nuclear weapons. "That is not genuine peace but peace out of fear," the Dalai Lama said. "Now today there are some problems here and there, but it's comparatively better."
And he said the major religions, although different in philosophy, are the same by having one supreme being and teaching forgiveness, discipline, love, tolerance and compassion. He said different philosophies had developed, appropriate to historic and geographic circumstances. However, in practical results of ideals for treating fellow creatures the religions tended to a closer norm. He praised the values of other religions, making specific reference to a friendship with Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk. He wishes Buddhist monks "took a more active role in education and helping, like our Christian brothers and sisters."
Talking about shared common positives, he mentioned the ability to create, which humans share with plants and animals. He mentioned the trees surrounding the stadium, flowers on the stage and grass before him, before wondering out loud, "True grass or artificial?" (It's artificial FieldTurf.)
Looking to Peace starting with the individual, he considered the effect of emotions on our reasoning and behavior. He compared the effects of two “positive” emotions, attraction and compassion . He noted that like anger, attraction could distort one’s perception of reality. Also, that emotions can change from attraction to hate overnight and finally it is hard to be attracted to one’s enemy.
Compassion on the other hand, is something one can have, even for one’s enemy. It doesn’t have to do with felling sorry for someone, but having empathy with them.
The Dalai Lama said that conflict would always exist, but that showing compassion and controlling negative emotions could bring peaceful resolutions.
He encouraged the crowd, particularly the students, to seek knowledge, study other cultures, and experiment with different ideas.
"When we left Tibet, all belongings were left there," the Dalai Lama said. "But knowledge always remains. Knowledge is the best kind of wealth."
Questions & Answers:
After the speech, the Dalai Lama answered questions Rutgers solicited on the Internet.
Conflict between Israel and Palestine
Asked how he would solve the current conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, he mentioned how he has visited Israel and has talked to persons on all sides of the debate. "But the precise answer to your question is, "I don't know.' " he confessed.
Is the World Better off today?
The 70-year-old Dalai Lama called himself a child of the 20th century, a century that marked two world wars and the threat of nuclear holocaust during the Cold War. Referring to the generation that included members of the Rutgers' administration behind him on the podium, he said, "We are ready to say goodbye."
To the thousands of students in attendance, he said, "You are the generation of human beings who can give the new shape to this century." "Opposition to the war is a healthy sign."
Asked to comment on the worldwide culture of greed, he said, "American lifestyles need some change." That line drew applause that was not matched when he illustrated his point about greed, noting that American families have "two cars, three cars." He wasn’t sure if the planet could stand having the populations of China and India have the same car/population ratio.
A questioner whose son was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks asked what message he would have for the Sept. 11 terrorists and those responsible for the bombings in Madrid and London. He described terrorism as "the worst kind of violence."
He placed no blame on Islam, saying all religions mentioning Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism have "mischievous people."
Ultimately, he said, the proper response to terrorism is compassion, a point reinforced when he met a Tibetan who had spent 20 years jailed in a Chinese prison. When asked about danger, the ex-prisoner said the greatest danger was "the danger of losing compassion to the Chinese."