His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Toronto - Day One

October 23rd 2010

Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 22 October 2010 - His Holiness the Dalai Lama began his three-day visit to Toronto on October 22, 2010 by participating in a Symposium in the morning at the University of Toronto on “Cognitive Science, Mindfulness and Consciousness” and giving a public talk in the afternoon to 18,000 people “A Human Approaches to World Peace.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is met on arrival in Toronto by Toronto Mayor David Miller on October 22nd, 2010.
Photo/Sonam Zoksang

His Holiness left Miami University in Oxford, OH, on October 22, 2010 morning for Toronto.  The president of the Canadian Tibetan Association of Ontario (CTAO), which is the host of his visit, Mr. Norbu Tsering, came to receive His Holiness i n Ohio.  On his arrival at Toronto airport, His Holiness was welcomed by Toronto Mayor David Miller, Kasur Lobsang Nyima, and Board members of the CTAO while artists of the Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre performed traditional dances and songs at the tarmac.

“His work around the globe promoting peace, understanding, tolerance, social justice and equality for all is beyond compare," Mayor Miller is quoted by the media as saying.

"He is quite a remarkable man, he blesses you," Mayor Miller is also quoted by Canada’s CTV News as saying. "The last time, he held my hand and laughed. He wants to spread joy and peace and compassion and tolerance and understanding; those are Toronto values," it added.

His Holiness drove straight to the University of Toronto from the airport to participate in the science symposium.  He was received at the University by its Chancellor, David R. Peterson.  Speaker Penpa Tsering and Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche, who are on a visit to Toronto, were also there to receive His Holiness.

In his welcome remarks, Chancellor Peterson spoke about his admiration of His Holiness as well as interest in Tibet saying the fascination began after he had read the book “Seven Years in Tibet,” a long time back.  The Chancellor also said that when he told his 97 year old mother that he would be introducing the Dalai Lama, his mother reminded him about His Holiness’ message of love the last time he was in Toronto.

University Vice President Franco Vaccarino, who was the moderator, said the topic of this symposium is symbolic of either the final frontier of science or the beginning of a new frontier where science meets humanism.  He then invited the four panelists to make their presentations.

The first presenter was Dr. Laura Ann Petitto, Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Toronto Scarborough and the University of Toronto.  Dr. Petitto spoke on “Expanding the Human Brain’s Processing Capacity for Thought And Language: Insights from Neuroimaging Explorations of Bilingual and Monolingual Brains.”  She explained the biological mechanisms and environmental factors that together determine how human beings acquire language, as well as how language is organized in the brain. She explained how languages and concepts impacted the brain and the difference between a monolingual person’s brain and that of a bilingual person.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the science symposium at the University of Toronto on October 22nd, 2010. Photo/OHHDL
The next presenter, Adam Anderson, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Toronto, who spoke on “The Mindful Brain”  and how the concept of self was perceived and the role of mindfulness in this.

Dr. Zindel Segal, Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Toronto, in his presentation “Mindful Awareness Enhances Emotion Regulation And Prevents Recurrence of Mood Disorder” spoke about the impact of mindfulness. He explained the mindfulness training with cognitive therapy skills for cognitive therapy.

The last presenter was Dr. Tony Toneatto, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Director of Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health Minor Program in University of Toronto. He talked about a survey of the thought process as people meditate and how mindfulness impacted them.

In his comments following the presentation, His Holiness said he was very impressed with the panel of presenters.  He then talked about the development in human belief from the ancient time when they solely prayed and hope for results to the development of science and technology in the past two centuries.  During this period, His Holiness said people felt all theirs aspirations were being fulfilled by science.  However, in the latter part of the 20th century people began to feel the limitations of science and began to pay attention to inner science.  He said in the past, scientists merely looked at external matters but then they began to look at themselves and their inner mind.  This has led to a new development and has made modern science more complete, he added.

His Holiness said this new quest will enable the people to get a deeper knowledge of the inner world, which can then be utilized for promoting a healthy body and a healthy mind.  His Holiness recalled having wondered 30 years back where the East and the West met.  He now said the interaction between science and the inner mind was the meeting place for the two saying that modern science, which is mainly western, combined with eastern inner science can have more benefit for humanity as a whole.

His Holiness also commented on some of presentations, including the one by Dr. Petitto on languages and concepts.  His Holiness analyzed her findings from a Buddhist perception of language and thought.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Mr. Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism in Toronto on October 22nd, 2010. Photo/Sonam Zoksang
His Holiness then left for his lunch venue.

In the afternoon, His Holiness visited Rogers Centre, the venue of his public talk.  Prior to the talk, His Holiness met with Mr. Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

His Holiness was introduced to the public by Craig Kielburger, founder of Free The Children, an organization dedicated towards the promotion of rights of the child.

As His Holiness proceeded on the stage and started to look at the people, as is his usual practice, he recognized retired Canadian Ambassador James George, who was sitting in the front and called him “a long time friend.” (His Holiness had known Ambassador George when he served as the High Commissioner to India)

His Holiness began by talking about the oneness of humanity at the fundamental level.  He said there was too much emphasis on the secondary level forgetting that the seven billion human beings are the same mentally, emotionally and physically.  Everyone wants a happy life, he said.  He said the religious faiths are also supposed to bring a more happy life.

He said also today’s reality is that global economy and others have shown that everything is interdependent.  The entire world has become one small entity, he said.

His Holiness said many people in the audience must be young and said that the 21st century belongs to the younger generation. He said the younger generation has the main responsibility to bring a peaceful, compassionate and happy world.  In order to make a more peaceful world, there needs to be a vision, out of past experience.

Rogers Stadium, venue for His Holiness the Dalai Lama's public talk in Toronto on October 22nd, 2010. Photo/Sonam Zoksang
His Holiness said his generation witnessed a major portion of the 20th century, including the beginning of the Second World War when nuclear weapon was used, as well as other wars like Korean War and Vietnam War.  The beginning of 21st century was not a healthy one with wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said these problems are due to negligence in certain fields in the past century and due to the excessive use of force.

His Holiness said the 20th century people relied too much on external values neglecting the inner values.  Therefore, he said in today’s affluent society there was too much mental stress.

His Holiness said drawing from these experience, we should create a new vision on how to build a happy life in this century.  He said, therefore, he was always talking about the importance of warm heartedness, which is the basis of all moral ethics and all major religious traditions.  He said all religious traditions carried the same practice of compassion, love, forgiveness, contentment, etc., which come about on account of warm heartedness.

His Holiness said the time has come to look more inward and less on external matters. He then talked about the development in human belief saying in the ancient time people solely prayed and hoped for results. He said sometimes the prayers took a long time to fulfill and sometimes they even failed. His Holiness then talked about the development of science and technology in the past two centuries.  During this period, His Holiness said people felt all theirs aspirations were being fulfilled by science.  However, in the latter part of the 20th century people began to feel the limitations of material values or external values. He talked about billionaires who are rich but still very unhappy. Here, His Holiness related his interaction with a rich person who opened up to him in a conversation about his mental unhappiness. His Holiness said he was able to change after His Holiness also began sharing some of his own challenges to this person.

Saying that money alone was not the answer, His Holiness talked about the gap between the rich and the poor globally, including in Canada.

His Holiness then talked about more scientists beginning to feel that peace of mind and a calm mind were very essential for a healthy body. He said they began to realize that a change in the plasticity of the brain could be engendered through the
training of the mind. His Holiness talked about his meetings with scientists recently and their finding about the value of inner mind.

His Holiness said in order to achieve a peaceful world and a happy world, there is the need to promote a concept of dialogue. He said the spirit of dialogue should be encouraged in the school system from the Kindergarten to the university.

His Holiness said the opposite of peace is violence, which is a man-made development. Therefore, he said peace can also be brought about by man.  His Holiness said a healthy mental attitude was a key factor.  Considering others as part of the human society can bring about trust, and genuine friendship.

His Holiness said basically human beings are gentle by nature. He said if we look at the physical attributes human beings do not have fangs or claws like those violent animals such as tiger.

His Holiness said some of the people known to him are thinking of ways to incorporate the promotion of moral ethics into the school education system. He said these moral ethics are secular ethics and explained that by secularism it means respect of all religions and not anti-religion.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama waves to the audience at Rodgers Stadium in Toronto on October 22nd, 2010.
Photo/Sonam Zoksang

His Holiness said human inner values can be promoted through three ways. First, those who are theistic, they would believe in the supreme God the creator and that all beings are his creature and need love. At another level, those believers who are not theistic like Buddhists and Jains, they believe in the law of causality and through that way they could promote inner values.  The third way is to meet the need of the many people who do not identify themselves as believers but still desire a happy life. His Holiness said therefore there was the need of a secular way to promote inner values.

During the Question & Answer, His Holiness was asked about the role of female power and whether there could be a female reincarnation of the Dalai Lama.  His Holiness explained at length about how women have been shown to be better inclined for compassion and caring. He said the time has come to pay more attention to compassion and the female should take more active role in this. His Holiness said that females have also turned out to be better educators. In terms of a female Dalai Lama, His Holiness said he was first asked this question 30 years back by a journalist in Paris.  He said he had told the journalist that the very purpose of the reincarnation is to serve the Buddha Dharma. If a female reincarnation can be more effective and useful to serve that purpose he said then a female Dalai Lama will be possible. His Holiness said that Tibet did have the tradition of high reincarnated masters who were female.

He said as early as 1969 he had made it clear that it was up to the Tibetan people whether the Dalai Lama institution needs to continue or not. He added that if the Tibetan people and other concerned people feel that the institution has served its purpose then he will be the last Dalai Lama. His Holiness joked that in such a situation, he feels he may not have been the best Dalai Lama but he certainly was not the worst Dalai Lama.

In answer to another question of the source of his calmness in the face of tremendous challenges, His Holiness said that it was basically because of the power of truth, power of sincerity and power of transparency.

In terms of the Tibetan struggle, His Holiness said since 2001 Tibetans already have an elected leadership and that his position was that of semi-retirement. He said he told a Tibetan gathering in South India that he also was a human being and had human rights and so the right to retire, too.

On October 23, 2010, His Holiness will inaugurate the Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre.


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