His Holiness encourages students to develop compassion, addresses situation in Tibet

April 17th 2012

Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, 16 April, 2012 - On his final full day during this visit to Hawaii His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke on warm-heartedness to a very receptive and positive gathering of students and blessed Hokule’a, a Polynesian canoe that will be departing on a worldwide voyage in 2013 to draw awareness to Hawaiian culture.

In the morning, he visited the Kailua High, one of four public high schools that service the Windward District of Oahu Island on which is located Honolulu.  Ms. C. Suzanne Mulcahy, complex superintendent, Hawaii State Department of Education; Ms. Kathryn Matayoshi, State Superintendent of Hawaii State Department of Education; Principal Francine Honda; and two student representatives, Norma Joy Agbisit and Isaac Hein, received him at the school.  Students performed a Hula dance to welcome His Holiness.

Students from Kailua High School welcome His Holiness the Dalai Lama to their school with a Hula dance on Oahu, Hawaii, April 16, 2012. Photo/JHook/Civil Beat
In her welcome remarks, Superintendent Matayoshi said given certain positive development in the school, it was chosen to host the event. She added that in preparation for the visit of His Holiness the school had developed a new curriculum to learn more about His Holiness, Tibet and Buddhism.  Saying she had the opportunity to attend the public talk by His Holiness yesterday, Superintendent Matayoshi said his message of compassion is both powerful and personal.

His Holiness then began his remarks titled “Cultivating Unbiased Compassion.” Speaking in Tibetan first, he thanked the State Education Department and school officials for providing him the opportunity to have this discussion with the students.  His Holiness then switched to English saying that was the “formal’ part of his remarks. He said the reason why he spoke in Tibetan briefly was to let the gathering have a taste of how Tibetan sounds. He said he had also done this, as he knew the Hawaiian people were much concerned about their language. He said the Tibetans had a written script that is one of the oldest.

His Holiness said he always felt very happy mixing with young people, the younger generation.  He said time is always moving and that no force can stop it.  Past is past and only some memory remains. However, the future is yet to come and to some extent we can shape the future, he said.  But simply thinking about the future is wrong and people should make effort during the present for a happier future.

His Holiness talked about a non-violent and peaceful approach to securing a better future and said ultimately it is related to the mind.  He added that mere education or intelligence were not enough. He said since man is a social animal, an individual’s future depends on that of the community. He joked that if we made a lone educated person reside on a small isolated island, the individual will ultimately perish despite his education.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet addresses students at Kailua High School on the topic of Cultivating Unbiased Compassion at Kailua High School on Oahu, Hawaii, on April 16, 2012. Photo/Eyes of the Island Photography
He said there was the need to understand the new reality that one’s future was dependent on others. He said even if people wanted to be selfish and think of oneself alone, there is a way to be a wise selfish (that also benefits others) rather than being a foolish selfish.

He told students that people above the age of 40 were members of the 20th century, and that the future is very much on the shoulders of the generation to which the students belong. Saying that the time of his generation was almost ending, His Holiness told the students that their time was just beginning as they belong to the 21st century.

He urged the students to take action to bring about concrete changes saying realchange on this planet cannot be achieved merely through wishful thinking.  He said for effective action will power was needed and that there was no guarantee that human intelligence can be constructive. He said that with warm heartedness, technology could be utilized to help for positive results. Otherwise, human intelligence can also utilize technology to bring about unthinkable disasters like the September 11 tragedy.

His Holiness talked about cultivating genuine compassion that is without attachment. He said too much attachment; whether to one’s own faith, race or country, prevents one from seeing the reality that is beyond.  He said everyone had the capability to generate this.

His Holiness said this needed being educated accordingly and he appreciated the fact that the school had programs that aimed at such an education.  His Holiness then answered questions from students. They had compiled eight questions from 850 questions through a month-long vetting and voting process. The process involved students from each grade level drafting questions, and then voting on them.

Hawaii State Teacher of the Year Chad Miller kicked off the student Q&A with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Kailua High School at Kailua High School on Oahu, Hawaii, on April 16, 2010. Photo/Eyes of the Island Photography
The first questioner asked if we have all reasons like compassion, patience, love, etc. to be good people, why was it so hard to be a good person.  His Holiness responded that nothing was easy to achieve. Even to become a professor one had to make years of efforts.  He said there was the need for sustained enthusiasm towards this objective that has to be continued for a long time.  Giving his own example, he said although he began his study at the age of six or seven, he did not have any interest in it until the age of 11 or 12. Nevertheless, his study continued despite his dislike of it and he is able to appreciate that effort now.

The second question was, in this time of political unrest leaders around the world promote many things. However, many haven't taken action to fulfill their promises. Can words be taken seriously?
His Holiness responded that it would depend on the character of the individual. If the person was honest then the words can be taken seriously.  He said there was a lack of respect for moral principles in today’s world with money being given much importance. Also, peace has become like a slogan. He said, in some countries, peace for example, has come to mean some pigeons being released. He said this is not only confusion but also is somewhat violent to the pigeons.

His Holiness said something was wrong with the modern education system. He said in the past in Europe when the educational institutions were established the tradition was for the church to take care of imparting knowledge in moral ethics. Given the situation then, this was a well-balanced approach. Then gradually the church’s influence diminished and family values declined.  Therefore, he felt there was a need to impart moral education. But trying to do this through religious faith was complicated as choosing a particular religion will not cover all people. He therefore said adopting a secular approach was a better alternative.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering questions from students during his visit to Kailua High School on Oahu, Hawaii, on April 16, 2012. Photo/JHook/Civil Beat
His Holiness said there was a role for the media in holding the leaders to their words. He said the media should be like the elephant that can smell in all directions through its long nose.

Another student asked, “At Kailua High School we value learning through confusion. When you are confused, what thinkers and other external sources do you turn to in order to find clarity?”  His Holiness responded saying he wanted to quote the Buddha in that you are your own master. He said one should read books, think and analyze.  He said Buddhists talked about three ways to gain knowledge. First was through hearing from the teacher, which meant relying on information from others.  The second way was to analyze and contemplate. The third type was then to familiarize, which comes without effort.  His Holiness said whenever he was in a dilemma he adopted this approach

Another question was, “Is too much compassion dangerous because it makes us vulnerable? For example, if I gave a homeless person money, but he attacked me because I refused to give him more, did my unbiased compassion make me vulnerable?”

His Holiness said if you let someone take advantage of you continuously then this is harmful to that person in the long run. Compassion, he said, does not mean you bow down to others. He added that forgiveness and tolerance does not mean that you accept others’ wrongdoing. He said one needed to differentiate between the actor and the action.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, along with his translator and student Jeremiah Taleni enjoying a moment of laughter with the audience at the conclusion of his talk at Kailua High School on Oahu, Hawaii, on April 16, 2012. Photo/JHook/Civil Beat
His Holiness concluded by advising the students to have a positive and optimistic approach towards life.  He said until the mid-1950s there was a feeling in the world that war was unavoidable. But with the fall of the Berlin Wall people saw serious danger being reduced and talks about demilitarization increased. He said more people are starting to look seriously into inner peace. Scientists are also beginning to see a connection between the state of one’s emotion and the health of one’s body.  He said there was thus clear sign that human being was becoming more mature.

Following his talk, His Holiness was presented with a canoe paddle and a peace quilt the students had made.

School authorities reported positive reaction from the students to the event with His Holiness.  "It was so moving. I think what it's done is it's a confirmation of all the work we've put into Kailua High School for the past 10 years," the school’s ethnic studies teacher Amber Makaiau was quoted as saying.  "I don't know if there's a bigger reward than having the Dalai Lama come and say that he's appreciative or has recognition of the work that we've been doing to promote peace and tolerance and compassion. It was emotionally overwhelming, in a positive way," the teacher added.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet climbs aboard the Hōkūle‘a to bless the voyaging canoe at Kualoa Regional Park on Oahu, Hawaii, on April 16, 2012.
Photo/Eyes of the Island Photography

Following lunch, His Holiness went to the Kualoa Regional Park to bless the voyaging canoe Hokulea in preparation for its round-the-world sail in 2013.  He was received with the traditional blowing of horns and chants. Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle was present at the ceremony. Polynesian Voyaging Society President Nainoa Thompson expressed his gratitude to His Holiness for coming to consecrate their canoe.  Following the recitation of prayers, His Holiness offered a Khata, Tibetan scarf, for the canoe and also boarded it to personally bless it.

Thereafter, accompanied by Mayor Peter Carlisle, His Holiness met with the press and answered some questions.  When asked about the more than 30 self-immolations of Tibetans, His Holiness said these were very, very sad developments. He said we have to look at the causes and conditions and these are related to the difficult experience of the Tibetan people for the past 50 to 60 years.  He said the late Panchen Lama had publicly stated in 1989 that although Chinese rule had brought some development, the damage done to Tibetans had outweighed the benefits.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama with Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle during a meeting with the press on Oahu, Hawaii, on April 16, 2012. Photo/JHook/Civil Beat
His Holiness said things worsened thereafter. The resentment among Tibetans was met with suppression.  In the 1990s one Chinese Party Secretary banned the teaching of Tibetan classics in Tibet University in Lhasa. Some Tibetans even opined that some sort of semi-Cultural Revolution was happening.  These were the immediate causes for the Tibetan uprising in 2008, His Holiness said. He said suppression continued, many monks and nuns were arrested and some disappeared.

Referring to the ruthless Chinese attitude towards Tibetans, His Holiness said they seemed to be worshippers of the gun, somewhat like what Chairman Mao Zedong had said about power coming from the barrel of the gun.  His Holiness felt the time had come for the Chinese authorities to really investigate the causes into Tibetan resentments.

His Holiness said when Chinese demonstrated the authorities were more lenient whereas when Tibetans or Uyghurs demonstrated the response was tougher.

His Holiness however said that there were hopeful signs. He referred to Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s call for political reform and his warning about the risk of Cultural Revolution returning and the subsequent dismissal of Bo Xilai who is said to be a hardliner.

His Holiness said resentment among Tibetans was not just in the Tibet Autonomous Region but also in other provinces where the majority of Tibetans live.  He said Tibetans have a language and a script that were completely separate from Chinese or Indian.  Tibetan language was being considered the best language to explain Buddhist philosophy, he said.  His Holiness outlined this environment under which the situation was developing in Tibet.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking with members of the media on Oahu, Hawaii, on April 16, 2012.
Photo/JHook/Civil Beat

His Holiness was asked how one should approach the presence of American military in Hawaii. He responded by saying that a specific political party did not control the American military, as also of India. The US is a democratic country and every individual had the freedom to express views. He recalled being asked about the presence of American military during his trip to Okinawa. He said he had responded then that looking solely from a local level, it was sad and the military force should withdraw. However, one should take a global perspective. He said North Korea had a secret society. Then there was China. He said until there is a situation where there was brotherhood and sisterhood and complete mutual trust some military presence was needed.

When asked about a weakness in Western society, His Holiness said not just in the West but also throughout the world corruption was becoming a new cancer.  He said since the disease of corruption was universal, the countermeasure to deal with it also needed to be universal.  He then talked about his view of adopting a secular way to promote secular ethics.

Following this session with the press, His Holiness returned to his hotel.

His Holiness departs Honolulu for San Diego in California on April 17, 2012 arriving there in the evening.  His programs will begin on April 18, 2012.

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