His Holiness the Dalai Lama Speaks about Compassion in Action and Visits the Presidential Library at the Fox Center

October 16th 2013

León, Guanajuato, Mexico   15 October 2013 - This morning as the day began to warm, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s hosts at Hacienda San Cristoboal, former Mexican President Vicente Fox and his wife came to see him. They met privately for a few minutes before walking with him from the main house to the newly established Vicente Fox Center of Studies, Library and Museum. This modern facility which incorporates a library, museum, a centre for the advancement of democracy, and is privately funded will be Mexico’s first US style presidential library. President Fox was pleased to point out how the new buildings blend in with the old ones that have been in his family for more than one hundred years.


Former Mexican President Vincente Fox introducing His Holiness the Dalai Lama before his talk in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico on October 15, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
After His Holiness had signed the visitors’ book, they walked on to the open field where a stage had been set up under an awning. President Fox drove His Holiness the last part of the way in a golf cart. Excited people eager to have a glimpse of His Holiness in person pressed against the security fences.

On behalf of the Fox Center, Karla Perez welcomed His Holiness and the 6000 strong audience, President Fox offered some remarks and His Holiness began his talk.

“I am very pleased to be here able to meet so many people at President Fox’s invitation. As a human being I’ve found that the source of a happy life is not money and other facilities but warm-heartedness. I’ve just seen the Fox Center and heard about its humanitarian aims and its help for the poor. I speak about compassion, but you put it into effect in your work. I appreciate that. Looking out into the audience I can see many faces that remind me of Tibetans.

“Every human being wants to lead a happy life and from the moment we’re born we have a right to do so. While there is no guarantee that things will work out well, it’s hope that helps us survive.

“After my talk I’d like to take questions. If you disagree with me, say so. I love to have an argument. To just say “Yes” all the time is a waste of human intelligence.

‘Now, my main point is that joy and happiness are mental experiences and according to our day to day experience, mental satisfaction is superior to physical pleasure. We need material development, but if we depend on material things alone to find happiness, we’ll be making a mistake. We need also to pay attention to inner values; we need warm-heartedness.”


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to a crowd of over 6,000 near the Fox Center in Guanajuato, Mexico on October 15, 2013. Photo/Oscar Fernandez
His Holiness stressed that despite the advances of the last couple of centuries we still face a multitude of problems. Nobody wants problems, he said, no one gets up in the morning looking forward to having problems. Nevertheless, many of them are our own creation. Why is this? Our basic human nature is compassionate because we start our lives in the lap of affection. Problems arise as a result of our predominantly self-centred attitude. Too much self-centredness and short-sightedness skews our attitude and gives rise to problems. Consequently, we need more effective methods and the necessary conviction to bring about change in our minds.

“The important thing is education,” he said. “Modern education is oriented towards material values, but lacks a corresponding sense of warm-heartedness. This is where we need to focus our attention. We need to find ways to introduce ethics into education and encourage more people to develop warm-heartedness. While many of you may pray to go to heaven, even more important is to make the effort to create heaven here on earth.”

In response to various questions His Holiness remarked that if this twenty-first century could be made a century of peace and compassion, human society would be much happier. He also commented that technology can be very useful, but it depends on how we use it. About abortion he said that it is basically an act of killing and should be avoided if possible. However, it is difficult to generalize and each case needs to be judged according to the circumstances involved. An Indian man told him of the difficulties he and his Mexican wife had had persuading their families to accept their marriage. His Holiness observed that this was a case where accepting each other as fellow human beings, rather than focussing on secondary differences of faith and nationality, would make things easier. He recalled hearing that the veteran Italian communist leader Enrico Berlinguer, a staunch atheist himself, was quite willing to drive his wife to church every Sunday.


Former Mexican President Vincente Fox interviewing His Holiness the Dalai Lama for his television show on TV Azteca in at the Fox Center in Guanajuato, Mexico on October 15, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
After lunch, President Fox interviewed His Holiness for his television show on TV Azteca. In the course of their conversation, His Holiness talked about his life up to the point of his retirement from political responsibility two years ago. President Fox asked him why he did that and he replied:

“Since childhood I have admired democracy and felt that as Tibet belongs to the Tibetan people it would be more appropriate. I accepted political responsibility in 1950 and set up a reform committee in 1952 with mixed results. So when we came into exile we gradually resumed reform and the introduction of democracy. In 2001 I semi-retired and in 2011 retired completely.”

Speaking in the Fox Center afterwards he said:

“I am very happy to be here and able to share some of my thoughts with you. I have three main commitments in my life. As a human being I promote the adoption of human values to achieve a happier life. As a Buddhist, I believe that all religious traditions carry the same message, so it’s important to foster respectful harmony among them. Thirdly, as a Tibetan, I believe that Tibetan culture is a culture of peace and compassion and so is worth preserving. Equally, the fragile ecology of Tibet needs to be preserved too.

“Now I’d prefer to interact with you and answer whatever questions you may have.”

The first concerned what political system His Holiness favours. He replied:

“If we want to establish genuine democracy, it’s not good for everything to depend on one person. The world trend is towards democracy. The world belongs to its 7 billion people, just as each country belongs to the people who live there. That’s why it’s better to elect leaders who are accountable. In the Tibetan community in exile, we have gradually achieved an elected leadership.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the Fox Center in Guanajuato, Mexico on October 15, 2013. Photo/Oscar Fernandez
Another questioner asked for clarification of the word ‘compassion’ for someone who had not heard it before. His Holiness explained that there are two kinds: spontaneous compassion whose scope is limited and reasoned compassion brought about by analysis. The latter is stronger because it is voluntary and the result of training.

To a question about autism in relation to destructive emotions, His Holiness said he didn’t know and that there needed to be more research into it. This is something he thought the Mind & Life Institute, which is dedicated to building a scientific understanding of the mind to reduce suffering and promote well-being, might well look into.

Finally, one of President Fox’s grand-daughters stood up and, saying she had no question to put to him, asked His Holiness to keep Mexico in his heart. The room filled with applause and he answered:

“Certainly.”

From the Fox Center His Holiness drove to Leon airport to fly to Zacatecas, where tomorrow he will take part in an inter-religious dialogue and give a public talk.
 

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