His Holiness speaks about peace and non-violence in Udine

May 22nd 2012

Udine, Italy, 22 May 2012 - After a flight that took His Holiness from Salzburg, over the Alps, to Trieste, it was a short drive to his next meeting at the Palasport Primo Carnera, Udine, where 3000 people were waiting to hear him contribute to a discussion about  the Role of Religions in Promoting Justice, Peace and the Protection of the Environment. His fellow speakers were Bassima Awad, President of the Italian-Palestinese Cultural Institute Al Quds, Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom, a member of Rabbis for Human Rights, and Izzedin Elzin, an Imam in Florence, chair of the Italian Union of Islamic Communities.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama and panelists of the discussion on  the Role of Religions in Promoting Justice, Peace and the Protection of the Environment in Udine, Italy, on May 22, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Taklha/OHHDL
His Holiness greeted the audience as brothers and sisters and reminded them that the ultimate source of happiness is within ourselves. Compared to animals, we human beings have a tremendous intelligence that enables us to fulfil our hopes and aspirations. However, since there are many people in America, Europe and parts of Asia who are very well off, but also feel lonely and unhappy, it is clear that sensory pleasure on its own does not yield mental satisfaction. The key, on the one hand, is warm-heartedness and on the other, a calm mind. If in addition to a calm mind we adopt a holistic view of our circumstances we can develop self-confidence.

The affection we receive from our mother when we are born is the seed of compassion and concern for others, in other words warm-heartedness. Evidence for this is that those of us who received warmth and affection from our mothers tend to be happier and more concerned about others later in life. And it is obvious that an affectionate family tends to be a happy family.

“Our Palestinian friend has recounted her experiences and the difficulties of her people. I have visited Israel several times and have met with other Palestinians, so it is as if I have listened to the Palestinians with this ear and to the Israelis with the other. This is a complicated issue, but the reality is that out brothers and sister must find a way to live together. What can make a difference is the development of human values, for which we are equipped from birth. But we have to make the effort,” His Holiness said. He added that his second commitment is to foster inter-religious harmony, and that India, where  almost all the world's major religions flourish, provides a remarkable model of pluralism and mutual regard.

“It's by getting to know each other that we develop respect. And this is why I am happy and honoured that we have been able to sit together and share our common concerns.”

Following lunch, the Mayor of Udine, Furio Honsell thanked His Holiness for returning less than 5 years since his last visit and offered him the key to the city. Meeting Regional President, Renzo Tondo and Provincial President, Pietro Fontanini, they told him of the difficulties they face in preserving their own local culture and dialects, what an example His Holiness is to them and how helpful Geshe Lobsang Phende's presence has been. His Holiness said that when he appointed Geshe-la Abbot of Gyume Lower Tantric College, he advised him not to sacrifice one responsibility for the other. The Presidents each offered him the Province's and Region's flags and medals. The press then joined the meeting and His Holiness mentioned that 10 years ago classic Buddhist texts were studied at Lhasa University, but a hard-line party secretary banned them, substituting shallow modern works translated from Chinese in their stead. The party's excuse was that the old texts had no contemporary educational potential. This was one of the real causes of the 2008 unrest in Tibet.


Palasport Primo Carnera, venue for discussions with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Udine, Italy, on May 22, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Taklha/OHHDL
The afternoon event focussing on Promoting Non-Violence and Compassion Against Aggressiveness and Violence, was moderated by Dr. Giovanni Marzini, and addressed by Vito Mancuso, whose field is theology and philosophy and Franco Fabbro, whose field is neuropsychology. His Holiness made clear that as far as he is concerned the demarcation between violence and non-violence is less to do with the physical appearance and much more to do with motivation. Whatever steps you take to harm or cheat others, even if you smile and use mollifying words, is violent, whereas, for example, a surgeon who cuts into your flesh during an operation is non-violent because he wishes you well.

As far as a scientific appraisal of violence, non-violence, compassion and aggression is concerned, His Holiness has taken an interest in the workings of the brain for nearly 40 years. He has regularly collaborated with scientists over the last almost 30 years. Recently he has proposed investigations of the difference between sensory and mental experience. He suggested for example that it would be interesting to examine why we shed tears of joy and of distress. The emotional circumstances are completely opposite and yet the physical expression is the same. Another topic he touched on was the phenomenon of meditative absorption revealed in the case of some spiritual practitioners after death. Although there is no sign of clinical life, the body remains fresh until the subtle consciousness departs. Work has begun to assess and document such cases.

Asked about adopting a non-violent approach to the environment, His Holiness said that we cannot afford to wait for others to act first.

“For my own part,” he said, “I turn off the lights when I leave the room and I use a shower instead of a bath, which uses less water.”

Tomorrow, His Holiness will speak to university students from Udine and Trieste about Holistic Training of the Mind: Spiritual, Humanistic, Scientific and Technological, before leaving for Institute Yeunten Ling, in Huy, Belgium.
 
 

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