His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Indianapolis, IN - May 14, 2010

May 14th 2010

Indianapolis, IN, USA, 14 May 2010 - On his last day in Indiana, His Holiness left Bloomington in the morning for Indianapolis, the capital of the state, to give a public talk on Facing Challenges with Compassion and Wisdom.

As His Holiness entered the Conseco Fieldhouse and stepped on the stage, concert-cellist Michael Fitzpatrick was playing “Invocation for World Peace.”  His Holiness stood beside Mr. Fitzpatrick until he finished his piece and then offered a greeting to him.

Thereafter, Rev. Kent Millard of The Interfaith Hunger Initiative offered some words of welcome.  Then, Elaine Mellencamp of the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Culture Center gave a brief introduction of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and recognized her husband John Mellencamp, who is a rock singer and song writer.

His Holiness at Canesco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Photo courtesy/Shirchin Baatar

In his more than 50 minutes of remarks to the crowd which numbered over 9000 people, His Holiness first offered his appreciation of the involvement of the Interfaith Hunger Initiative. He said its work was commendable as individuals who did not have a full stomach would not be interested in anything else like his talk today.  His Holiness also talked about millions of children who remain malnourished saying that did not enable them to develop full thinking power. He said even though the United States was very rich with a luxurious lifestyle, yet there still were many poor people.  He therefore said initiatives like the Interfaith Hunger Initiative were
acts of compassion and wonderful.

His Holiness then talked about the role of the different religions in society.  He said that all religions had the same message; that of compassion, love, forgiveness, tolerance, etc.  He said the different religious traditions had the same objective of reducing the self-centered attitude of individuals.  He felt that all religions had a role in the human society as individuals had different mental dispositions, which would not be satisfied by any one religion.  He gave the example of a

restaurant serving just one dish (which might tire the customers and reduce their numbers as the days go by) to a restaurant with a variety of dishes that would suit the culinary dispositions of different individuals.

His Holiness explained that one of his life-long commitments was the promotion of religious harmony and said that he is proud to be able to make some contribution towards this.  He cited the case of a Christian Minister in Australia once introducing him at a public event as a “good Christian.” His Holiness said that the Minister was only indicating His Holiness’ role in inter-religious harmony.  His Holiness said he had then responded saying the Minister was a “good Buddhist.”

His Holiness said his other life-long commitment was the promotion of human values and explained that the topic of today’s talk was related to this.  His Holiness prefaced this by saying that he did not have any magical or healing power (he cited his gall bladder surgery in October 2008 as scientific proof that he did not have any healing power) and that people should not have any great expectations from him as he was just like any other human being.

His Holiness said all human beings are the same in that they have the same desire, whether it is the President, a beggar, a queen or a prisoner. Everybody desires a happy life, he said. He said whether an individual is a religious believer or not they all had the same desire of inner peace.

His Holiness then explained the importance of developing secular ethics to promote inner peace saying his definition of secularism is not rejection of religion but something that India promotes namely equal respect to all religions.

His Holiness explained three main reasons for developing inner peace.  He said first is Common Experience. He said when a child is born the mother provides the maximum affection to it despite not having recovered from her labor. Similarly, he said that the child at that age is not aware what its relation is with the mother but nevertheless relies on her.  His Holiness said even animals have this common experience saying he knew of some just born kittens that were blind but nevertheless was able to find its way to the mother’s nipple and be comforted by sucking it. His Holiness also recalled the kindness of his mother that has taught him the value of a compassionate attitude. 

His Holiness said the second reason for developing inner peace is Common Sense. His Holiness said whether it is human beings or animals when they are quarrelsome they certainly have more unhappiness, stress and tension. Whereas, individuals who are more compassionate are much happier.

His Holiness also said that it is common sense that money brings about only temporary or superficial happiness. Material values, he said, cannot bring about inner peace, which can only be attained through warm heartedness.

His Holiness said the third reason for the need to promote inner peace is scientific.  He said scientific research has shown that individuals with more compassion have fewer issues with blood pressure and stress, whereas constant anger and hatred are seen to be negatively affecting our immune system. 

His Holiness also talked about two different compassions, biased and unbiased. He said biased compassion is biological and change on account of the change in their cause whereas unbiased compassion is not affected by the attitude of others. His Holiness said the biased compassion could be the seed upon which we should use human intelligence to develop further into an unbiased compassion. 

His Holiness asked everyone to comprehend the importance of compassion in facing our day to day challenges.

Thereafter, His Holiness first responded to some pre-collected (through the internet) questions that related to maintaining faith in the face of atrocities.  He then invited some members of the audience to ask questions. One asked about his views on the role of technology, particularly the social networks, to which His Holiness said technology itself was positive but that in its usage sometimes there were challenges.  He said although he loved technology he did not understand the modern developments but that he loved “old fashion mechanics.”

Another questioner asked about ways to deal with those who had caused you harm and explained that in her case she was talking about her ex-husband.  His Holiness said although he did not know her particular case, it is generally beneficial to take a holistic perspective and if one’s basic mental attitude is firm, then it would not be affected by some temporary  disturbances.  He also said it is good to keep in mind an advice by a Buddhist master about not having to worry if there was a solution (one had strive to achieve it) to an issue and there being no use of worrying if there was no solution at all.  His Holiness said that this would be a realistic approach.

He further said that it might help if the lady tried to look at the positive sides of her ex-husband as he may not be hundred per cent negative.  Citing the experience of the Tibetans who had last their country but also found new opportunity on account of this tragedy, His Holiness said the lady should not destroy any possibility for positive change.

The audience gave a standing ovation as His Holiness completed his remarks.  Prof. Lawrence H. Gerstein of the Indiana Buddhist Center made some remarks of appreciation before His Holiness left the venue for the airport.

This is His Holiness’ sixth visit to Indiana and the second visit to Indianapolis.  The event in Indianapolis was the collaboration of the three Indiana based organizations, Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Culture Center, Interfaith Hunger Initiative and the Indiana Buddhist Center, to meet the needs of persons experiencing poverty and hunger in Central Indiana and Kenya.  Their partnership has brought together members of the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh communities.

His Holiness departed Indianapolis for Rochester in Minnesota where he will have his routine annual medical checkup.  He will be leaving for Madison in Wisconsin on May 15, 2010.

In Rochester, around 100 Tibetans from Minneapolis area had gathered to welcome His Holiness.  His Holiness gave brief advice to them to maintain peace of mind and also took some group photos with them.


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