His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Arrives in Hiroshima, Japan

November 11th 2010

Hiroshima, Japan, 11 November 2010 - As daylight came to Niihama, on a gray and misty morning, His Holiness traveled by car the three hours to Hiroshima on his fifth full day in Japan. Arriving at his hotel, on a bay looking out upon a series of islands, His Holiness was greeted by a large group of TV and press reporters, gathered to cover the 11th Nobel Peace Summit: "The Legacy of Hiroshima: A World Without Nuclear Weapons."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama talks to the press on his arrival in Hiroshima, Japan, on November 11th, 2010. Photo/Taikan Usui
"Nuclear weapons are outdated," His Holiness said, when asked for a comment, not hesitating a second. "We cannot bring about complete peace, but we can reduce war." Organizations such as the G-8, the G-20 exist, he went on, but usually they cover "only money matters. Money produces physical comfort, but not mental comfort. People, having money, may feel some satisfaction; that's actually an illusion. If you become richer, jealousy increases, stress increases, distrust increases, fear, too, increases. All these problems are created by material wealth.

"We need material things; we have this body. And modern technology is very, very useful. However, if we think that money alone can give a happy life, no! Inner values are very important."

After lunching in his hotel, His Holiness traveled across Hiroshima by car--on a day newly sunny--to the Hiroshima Cultural Exchange Hall, a large modern facility, where a capacity crowd was awaiting his talk on Samsara and Cause and Effect. As he came onto the stage, it was to be greeted by a field of gold and red, a group of Tibetan monks gathered on one side and a group of Japanese monks on the other. Together they chanted, the smell of Tibetan incense filling the area.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his teachings in Hiroshima, Japan, on Novemeber 11th, 2010. Photo/OHHDL
His Holiness blessed a long line of petitioners, and after leading the audience in a recitation of the Heart Sutra, he began to speak in front of a large screen, explaining how you don't get happiness from outside, and how material comfort is not always enough. Kindness itself, he said, can exist regardless of whether or not you believe in Buddha. "The Buddha asked people please not to pray to him; he was only teaching us how to relieve our own pain."

Buddha is urging us, he said, to work harder. He then explained a little about the law of causality, and the question of where exactly the self is. When a questioner in the audience asked about evolution, he explained, "We Buddhists believe in the continuation of consciousness. So, before the birth of our galaxy, our consciousness was in other galaxies. We are like tourists. When this planet formed, we came here to enjoy it for a short period. Then we will go away. Unless basic mind is purified, this life goes continually. After basic mind is purified, then this cycle of births will stop."

Another man got up and explained to His Holiness how his son had been born with mental problems. How can this pain end, he asked, for my son and for me and my wife?

His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his teachings in Hiroshima, Japan, on Novemeber 11th, 2010. Photo/Taikan Usui
His Holiness elucidated certain principles, from Shantideva and other Buddhist teachers, and then pointed out how many children in the world, with similar sufferings, have no one to care for them. "Think along those lines," he advised the questioner, "and your mental burden may be reduced." Ultimately, he stressed, we need to be aware of all the nearly 7 billion people on the planet as "one human community." If we think in terms of interdependence, we can begin to reduce these unhealthy situations. We are not powerless. "But through prayer we cannot solve these problems. These problems can be solved only through action. We must work hard, with vision."

The people of Hiroshima have actually suffered through a nuclear bomb, His Holiness said in conclusion, leaving his audience with some final words. So they can be the leaders in the attempt to ban nuclear weapons. "Logically, any human being who passes through difficult experience gains deeper knowledge. So, you have that experience; already, over the last few decades, you've been making an effort to eliminate nuclear weapons. That's wonderful!"

Returning through the late golden light to his hotel on the water, he found himself again surrounded by cameras and microphones. This was his fourth visit to the city, he said to a journalist, in answer to a question; and the first time he visited the Peace Museum, he had written in the guest book, `Fire cannot be extinguished by fire. Similarly, inner fire, which is hatred, cannot be extinguished by hatred. We need a more positive way of thinking."

Then he walked into a lobby filled with Nobel laureates and campaigners for peace.

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