His Holiness the Dalai Lama Calls on Journalists to Promote Human Values and Religious Harmony

June 13th 2014

Pomaia, Tuscany, Italy, 12 June 2014 - His Holiness the Dalai Lama started the day with an hour-long interview with Mr. Beppe Severgnini, a journalist, essayist and columnist from the largest selling Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. Afterwards Dr. Dan Goleman - author, psychologist, and science journalist - interviewed His Holiness the Dalai Lama for his new book. Dr. Goleman was with The New York Times for twelve years specializing in psychology and brain sciences.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama meeting with two Franciscan monks from the Sacred Convent of Assisi who called on him during his visit to Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa (ILTK) in Pomaia, Tuscany, Italy on June 12, 2014. Photo/Tenzin Taklha/OHHDL
In the afternoon, the Rome based Indian Ambassador to Italy Mr. Basant Kumar Gupta called on His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This was followed by a meeting with a delegation from the Sacred Convent of Assisi.

As there was great media interest on His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit to Italy, a meeting with members of the press was organized in the afternoon for over 80 journalists at Pomaia.

In his opening address to the press, His Holiness remarked on the surprisingly hot summer weather in Italy, 'Quite hot,' he said. He remarked how he had looked forward to visiting Italy, hoping for cool and pleasant weather, and to escape the hot and humid weather of Mumbai, India, where he gave teachings prior to coming to Italy. But he said the weather in Italy was unfortunately more or less the same as Mumbai.

His Holiness said he was honored and happy to be in Italy. Even though generations have changed since his first visit to Lama Tsong Khapa Institute, the original vision is being carried on. “I feel very good,” he said. He expressed his appreciation to the media for their interest and their presence.

His Holiness spoke about his three commitments in life. He said he always considers himself as one human being out of seven billion.  Everyone has the same desire for love, affection and happiness, which is the basis for human love. Therefore he always advocates the promotion of basic human values. His main message is human love – the ultimate source of human happiness. Human affection is basically a biological factor and the basis of our survival is human love. Irrespective of whether we believe in religion or not, whichever culture we belong to, all of us need love.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama meeting with members of the media during his visit to Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa (ILTK) in Pomaia, Tuscany, Italy on June 12, 2014. Photo/Olivier Adam
Speaking on his second commitment, His Holiness stressed the need for religious harmony. He mentioned that he always maintains contact with the practitioners of other faiths and traditions, who carry the same practice of love, compassion, tolerance and forgiveness.

Emphasizing the example of India, where all major religious traditions continue to co-exist peacefully for generations, His Holiness said that he has lived in India for over 50 years and that India is a living example of many different religions co-existing peacefully for over 2000 years and even longer. So, he said, religious harmony is possible.

As a Tibetan, His Holiness said he has always advocated preservation of Tibetan culture and its rich Buddhist knowledge and tradition. He emphasized his present role as just a spiritual leader, having handed over all his political responsibilities to the directly elected political leader in 2011. He said he had done this voluntarily, happily and proudly.

His Holiness emphasized the importance of the role journalists can play in promoting human values and religious harmony. He said that media people should have long noses like that of an elephant to smell in front and behind politicians and other people. In a democratic society people have the right to know the truth and journalists should inform the public of the reality. However, he said they must report truthfully, objectively and in an unbiased manner.

In response to a question on the football World Cup and his favorite team, His Holiness said he wasn’t interested in football. He said that his main interest was overcoming negative emotions and generating positive emotions in his daily life. On a lighter note, he said this was his kind of football, to which everyone applauded.


Members of the media during the press conference with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa (ILTK) in Pomaia, Tuscany, Italy on June 12, 2014.
Photo/Tenzin Taklha/OHHDL

On a question about Chinese embracing Buddhism on a large scale, His Holiness mentioned that China has the largest population of Buddhists in the world: now over 400 million. He remarked about the genuine interest shown by a growing number of Chinese from mainland China, who come to receive his teachings in India. He mentioned that he had always advocated for genuine autonomy and living with the Chinese. “We are not seeking independence,” he said.

Reflecting on the Kalachakra Initiation in Bodh Gaya, India in 2012 His Holiness spoke about the different reactions from the Chinese authorities towards the Tibetans and the Chinese on their return home after attending the Initiation. He said while the Chinese did not face any problems on their return, the Tibetans were subjected to all kinds of questioning and also house detention. He said next month he was giving the Kalachakra Initiation in Ladakh, India and already the Chinese authorities had imposed strict restrictions, especially on those Tibetans from the Tibet Autonomous Region.

On a question about religious conversion, His Holiness said that it was better and safer to keep one’s own traditional religious values. Changing ones religion is not easy and sometimes it creates more problems. Of course there are some who have natural interest for other religions and it is their freedom to change.

He advised those interested in Buddhism to try to study Buddhist philosophy and to investigate for oneself and practice, rather than follow a teacher blindly. However he emphasized that if you change, you must respect all faiths.


A member of the media asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question during their press meeting at IstitutoLama Tzong Khapa (ILTK) in Pomaia, Tuscany, Italy on June 12, 2014.
Photo/Olivier Adam

Replying to a query on the best method to deal with the increasing number of refugees in Italy His Holiness acknowledged the problem of the influx of refugees, especially from North Africa and Syria. He said refugees face some problems in their homeland, no refugee comes to another country seeking a holiday. Sympathizing with the difficult situation faced by the refugees, His Holiness said we should provide as much as we can to help. But when we can’t, we should say so.

He said we must pay more attention to the problems in their country of origin such as the economic situation, the ever increasing gap between the rich and poor on a global level and urged nations to help bridge the gap. He called on the richer nations to help poorer countries by providing educational, economic and technical support. He stated that the refugee problem was man-made and that everyone should take moral responsibility for this. He then touched on the concept of 'we' vs. 'they', which he said was outdated and the root of all problems.

He said that his main hope for peace in the world was with the younger generation. He called on the youth to seek ways to create a more peaceful and more compassionate world.

He spoke about the research on inner values that has been carried out by American scientists over the past decade or so. He said, the scientists were now ready with a three week program and will soon start experiments with volunteer students. The participants’ blood pressure and stress levels, etc. will be measured prior to the start of the three week program, looking for changes at the end of the program.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama laughing during his meeting with members of the media at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa (ILTK) in Pomaia, Italy on June 12, 2014. Photo/FilmPRO
He then touched on secular ethics education. He drew on the example of the great nation of India, whose constitution is based on secularism - respect for all religious traditions including respect for non-believers. In this regard His Holiness spoke about the research carried out to try to develop an academic curriculum in schools, which he preferred to call "hygiene of emotion".

He expressed hope that a draft curriculum for secular ethics would be available in the next two to three years, that schools could experiment with. If found useful, more and more schools could include the education of secular ethics in their academic curriculum.

Answering a question on the Chinese leadership, His Holiness said he liked the hard working culture of the Chinese people, but jokingly said that common sense in the brains of the hard liners in the Chinese leadership was unfortunately lacking.

On a question regarding the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation, His Holiness said that he had back in 1969 made it explicitly clear that the continuation of the institution of the Dalai Lama is ultimately for the Tibetan people to decide. He remarked that the Chinese government was more concerned about the reincarnation of the 15th Dalai Lama than the present Dalai Lama.

Tomorrow, on the fourth day of His Holiness visit to Italy, he will bless the 5-meter tall four-armed Chenrezig statue and give a short teaching on the importance of developing love and compassion. In the afternoon, His Holiness will leave for Livorno city.
 

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