His Holiness the Dalai Lama's final day in Toulouse

August 16th 2011

Toulouse, France, 15 August 2011 - His Holiness the Dalai Lama this morning gave an audience to representatives of the Danielle Mitterand Foundation who requested a message for their 25th anniversary celebrations in October. He said that the 21st century belonged to the younger generation which has tremendous responsibility as well as opportunity. They are the ones who will shape the future. His Holiness expressed his great appreciation of Mrs. Danielle Mitterand and her work and he prayed for her good health and long life.


French Parliamentarians meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Toulouse, France, on 15 August 2011.
Photo/Alexandra Silva
Thereafter, His Holiness met with 13 Mayors from various regions each of whom has adopted one or more Tibetan village or town. The Mayors told His Holiness that, the goal of their campaign was to help in the preservation of the language and cultural identity of Tibet and its natural environment. In response His Holiness expressed his gratitude for the French initiative. He said that the Chinese policy of destroying Tibetan identity continues and threatens to reduce Tibetans to an insignificant minority. He appealed the Mayors to expand their campaign to include all the member states of the European Union.

His Holiness later met a group of French parliamentarians and had a lively exchange on various issues. In his opening remarks His Holiness said that friends in difficult situations are always precious. While answering their questions His Holiness gave an overview of the current situation, both political and ecological, and of the continuing Chinese repression in Tibet.

Finally, His Holiness gave an interview to the German Weekly Der Spiegel for a cover-page story.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama greets Stephan Hessel before the public talk in Toulouse, France,on 15 August 2011. Photo/Alexandra Silva
In the afternoon, His Holiness gave a public talk at the Toulouse Zenith to an audience of more than ten thousand. The conference was introduced by Stephan Hessel, the 94 year-old French writer, poet and former secretary and the sole living member of the Commission for the Convention of Human Rights of the United Nations. He expressed his admiration of His Holiness' great wisdom and his joy at hearing him speak on the Art of Happiness .

After greeting Stephan Hessel with a white scarf, His Holiness began by saying that he wished to speak about secular ethics. No disrespect towards religion was intended; but on this occasion, he wished to speak of matters that affect the whole of humanity, believers and non-believes alike.

His Holiness said that, in his view, the foundation of ethics is essentially altruism, the concern for the well-being of others. This does not mean that it is unethical to take care of oneself but only that it is wrong to do so at the other people's expense.

It is a fundamental fact of human existence, His Holiness said, that the development of a healthy body and sound mind derives originally from the loving care that one receives from one's mother. The dependent trust of the baby and the intense affection of the mother are natural instincts; they do not come from religious belief. Moreover, he said, it is scientifically proven, that physical well-being flourishes in a climate of affection and trust, whereas it is well known that one's health can be damaged when one lives in constant fear and stress. In such adverse conditions, he said, our real protection is in our peace of mind and inner calm, and these in turn are fed by our affection and concern for others. It is therefore clear, His Holiness said, that warm-heartedness is the key factor, and this is something we originally learn from our mother.


An audience of over 10,000 listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Toulouse, France, on 15 August 2011.
Photo/Alexandra Silva
Training in warm-heartedness, His Holiness said, can only come through education. It is not a matter of religion. No religion, however good, His Holiness said, can be universally valid. On the other hand, secular ethics can be understood and accepted by all.

It is our task to rebuild our world, His Holiness concluded. This is an immense challenge but change is possible. This is what we must work for. Change for the better comes not through prayer but from action. The great inequality between the nations in the distribution of wealth, the immense corruption that besets our society—these, His Holiness said, are the things that we should strive to remove. The bloodshed of the 20th century has solved nothing. The 21st century must instead be the century of dialogue.

The conference concluded with His Holiness answering questions from the audience.

His Holiness will be leaving Toulouse for Estonia tomorrow morning continuing the next stage of his current European tour.

 

 

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