His Holiness the Dalai Lama Arrives on a Visit to Japan

November 15th 2013

Narita, Japan, 15 November 2013 - As the Dreamliner in which His Holiness the Dalai Lama had flown from India touched down at Narita Airport this morning, the weather, not surprisingly for the time of year, was overcast. In contrast, the friends who came to meet him were warm and welcoming. Before driving to his hotel, he briefly answered journalists’ questions, stressing how urgent it is to overcome a sense of ‘them’ and ‘us’ and instead consider the oneness of humanity,.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama is greeted by well-wishers on his arrival at the airport in Narita, Japan on November 15, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
In the early afternoon, he gave an interview to Nobutaka Murao, a newscaster for News Zero on NTV, which began with a question about the purpose of his visit. He replied that he hoped to meet the public, to share the idea that happiness lies within. He said that Buddhists regularly pray to benefit all beings, so when an opportunity arises it’s proper to take it. Change comes through action not just through making prayers. He noted that natural disasters like that which has just struck the Philippines are likely to increase and in such situations we have to remember that we are all part of one humanity; we have to see how we can help our fellow human beings.

Informing His Holiness that an important current concern in Japan is bullying, Mr Murao asked what it is that impels people to bully others. His Holiness replied:

“Only thinking of yourself, having no regard for others, a lack of concern for others’ well-being.”

Suggesting that some children feel driven to suicide by bullying, His Holiness was asked how it can be stopped.

“This is a wider phenomenon, it doesn’t only happen in Japan,” he said. “Our existing education system is oriented towards material values and goals, with little concern for inner values. This is one of the reasons some of my friends, scientists and educators, are looking at how we can introduce a greater sense of ethics into our education system, without necessarily having to involve religion.”

He was asked if he had a message for children who are victims of bullying and responded:

“I don’t know. I think parents and teachers have some responsibility here. Parents need to show their children affection; they need to find the time. Teachers shouldn’t be satisfied with merely imparting knowledge; they need to demonstrate deeper values and a concern for their students’ long term future. If families and schools provide a greater sense of affection and warm-heartedness, they will change the way children grow up.”

Picking up on the theme of suicide in response to bullying, the interviewer asked for His Holiness’s thoughts about the more than 100 self-immolations that have taken place in Tibet since 2009. His reply was that these events are very sad, but that these people are not doing it because they are drunk or burdened by family problems; they find themselves living in an atmosphere of fear. People who are prepared to give up their own lives would be capable of harming others, but they deliberately avoided that. He remarked:

Nobutaka Murao of News Zero on NTV interviewing His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Narita, Japan on November 15, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
“When this first took place, a BBC correspondent asked me about it and I told her it was very, very sad, but I also questioned whether it would be effective. I don’t encourage it, but my position is difficult. I am outside Tibet; I have nothing to offer these people. I believe the Chinese authorities should investigate what gives rise to such actions and address the causes.”

Asked his thoughts about the new Chinese leader Xi Jinping, His Holiness said that looking at the last 60 years in China as different eras, Mao Zedong’s focused on ideology, Deng Xiaoping’s on developing the economy, Jiang Zemin’s on extending the scope of the party and Hu Jintao’s slogan seeking harmony in society, we can see that the same system has the ability to adapt to a new reality. He said that Xi Jinping seems to be firmer in his efforts to eliminate corruption and that he seems to be a man of action.

To a question about how he adopts such a balanced approach whatever happens, His Holiness replied that it is only realistic. He stressed that turning to the use of force is an admission of failure.

Finally, it was explained to His Holiness that American folk musician Peter Yarrow has composed a new song "Never Give Up," an anti-bullying anthem adapted from His Holiness’s words that he hopes will inspire a new generation of "peace-builders" in Japan. Yarrow agrees with His Holiness that if children can be taught to be more peaceable when they are young, they will grow up to be caring, loving peace-builders in the world. His Holiness concurred:

“If we are demoralized, sad and only complain, we’ll not solve our problems. If we only pray for a solution, we’ll not solve our problems. We need to face them, to deal with them without violence, but with confidence - and never give up. If you adopt a non-violent approach, but are also hesitant within, you’ll not succeed. You have to have confidence and keep up your efforts - in other words, never give up.

“Look at you Japanese, after the Second World War, you rebuilt this nation out of the ashes, you showed how important it is to never give up. Germany too rebuilt a strong economy and a thriving democracy. Therefore, it’s clear that no matter how difficult things get, we should never give up.”
 

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