His Holiness the Dalai Lama visits Okinawa

November 12th 2012

Okinawa, Japan, 12 November 2012 – “I am happy to be back in Okinawa. This is my second visit to your beautiful island. I look forward to spending some time interacting with the local people and having an opportunity to re-acquaint myself with your culture”, His Holiness remarked to members of the local organizing committee of the visit shortly upon his arrival at Naha airport on the early evening of 10 November.  After a drive along the eastern coast of the island, His Holiness was greeted upon his arrival at the hotel by a small group of Okinawans, young and old, who eagerly rushed forward to shake his hands.

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His Holiness the Dalai Lama offers prayers at Kanpakto memorial park on Okinawa, Japan, on November 11, 2012. Photo/Office of Tibet Japan
On the morning of the 11th, His Holiness arrived at Konpakto, a memorial park dedicated to those who lost their lives during the Battle of Okinawa during the Second World War. He offered prayers near the burial site of both Japanese and Americans victims of the conflict.

He then visited the site of a Bodhi Tree that was planted in 2004 in the name of peace. His Holiness had earlier visited this place on 4 November 2009 when he planted a sapling for peace nearby the sacred tree. During that occasion His Holiness’ message, which has been inscribed on a plaque, read: “Taking all facts into consideration, and applying wisdom and compassion together, we can solve every problem in the world without recourse to violence. My hope and prayer is that peace and harmony will prevail in this world.”

During his present visit, His Holiness’ written message read: “Past history clearly shows that violence cannot solve problems. Therefore, in the 21st century the path of peaceful dialogue is the only option left to us in achieving peace. For that reason, both compassion and courage are needed in order to work towards our mutual benefit.” 

Expanding on his written message, His Holiness addressed the gathered crowd about the importance of dialogue. He pointed to the fact that some historians have stated that over 200 million people have died in the 20th century as a result of war, including those victims in Okinawa.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama visits the Okinawa's Himeyuri Peace Museum, dedicated to the hundreds of Japanese teachers and students who were posted on the island on November during World War II, on November 11, 2012.
Photo/Office of Tibet Japan

“On the basis of our past memory, we must make efforts to make the 21st century one of dialogue. The 21st century should be one of peace. Peace cannot be achieved through prayer. Peace can only be achieved by action. So the younger generation should think more and work hard towards achieving this goal.”

His Holiness then made a brief visit to The Himeyuri Peace Museum where he toured the exhibition dedicated to raising awareness about world peace by telling the story of the tragic experiences of a group of students and teachers from a local girl’s school during the Battle of Okinawa. Of a total of 240 students and teachers, 227 lost their lives.

In the afternoon, after a drive to Naha, the capital city of Okinawa, His Holiness arrived at Kenritsu Budho Hall. More than 5000 people had gathered for his public talk on The Strength to Overcome Difficulties and Talk to the Future Younger Generation.

Before His Holiness began speaking, local artists presented two beautifully choreographed dances reflecting the Okinawan culture. The audience sat mesmerized by the delicate movements of the female dancers who wore intricate dresses and headgear.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama watches traditional Japanese dancers before his talk in Okinawa, Japan, on November 11, 2012. Photo/Office of Tibet Japan
At the beginning of his talk, His Holiness introduced his two life-long commitments, the promotion of human values and religious harmony. He also said that since 2011, he had retired from his third commitment of political responsibility.

He pointed out that with the advancement of technology in the 20th century, enormous strides have been made in the development of our society whether in economics or other fields. Physical comforts have become readily available. However, this did not mean that people have peace of mind. Stress, distrust, and loneliness have become negative symptoms of our present-day society. The destructive power of weapons has greatly increased. It was also important to consider the consequences of damage to the environment caused by these nuclear weapons.

Walking around the stage during his talk, His Holiness said, “Because of our human intelligence, the potential of conflict is always there. When different interests or views lead to potential conflict, we must find the ways and means to find peace. This can only be achieved through dialogue.”


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to the more than 5,000 people attending his talk in Okinawa, Japan, on November 11, 2012. Photo/Office of Tibet Japan
“Peace does not come without effort.” He advised the younger generation that they must assume the responsibility of making effort in turning the 21st century into a century of dialogue and peace. Only twelve years have passed and there were still eighty-eight more years left. He said that though we could learn from the past, it was more important to think about the future and how to build a happy and more peaceful world. For this it was important to have vision. The method in building vision should be realistic and therefore it was important to look at issues through all the different angles and not just one. However, one’s mind needed to be calm in order to carry out an effective analysis. This could be referred to as what Buddhists call “analytical meditation”.

His Holiness further elaborated on the process of achieving a calm mind by transforming one’s destructive emotions such as anger, hatred, suspicion and fear into positive emotions. In order for this to be universal, the most appropriate method should be secular, respecting all religious believers as well as non-believers.


A member of the audience asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question during his public talk in Okinawa, Japan, on November 11, 2012. Photo/Office of Tibet Japan
During the question and answer period, His Holiness was able to field only a few of the questions from among many who quickly formed a long line around the aisles of the hall.

While answering a question on seeking happiness in this ever more connected technological world, His Holiness sought to downplay the materialistic way of life which only satisfied our happiness on a sensorial level. “Genuine happiness must come through mental training, not from our sensorial consciousness.”

He went on to describe the research work being carried out by a number of scientists around the world in the areas of mind training. He stressed that emotions developed through mind training were more reliable and steady when compared to those that were spontaneous or biological. He ended by talking about the importance of understanding “the map of our mind” in order to deal with emotions.

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His Holiness held a meeting with the press on the morning of November 12.

In his introduction to the media, His Holiness outlined his two life-long commitments. Concerning the promotion of human values, he talked about the important role the media had in this effort by educating the public in the form of articles and opinions. It was not correct to only portray that one’s life was about money. It was unfortunate that we were witnessing increasing greed in the world, leading to what His Holiness described as the “cancer of modern human society”, corruption.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to members of the media during his visit to Okinawa, Japan, on November 12, 2012. Photo/Office of Tibet Japan
On a question about the recent self-immolations in Tibet, His Holiness commented that since 2011, he had completely retired from political responsibility. However, he felt that it was important for the Chinese government to investigate the causes of these self-immolations that were in fact the symptoms of a larger problem. Unfortunately, the Chinese government simply chose the easy way out by continuously blaming the Tibetans in exile, including His Holiness, for causing all the problems inside Tibet. If this helped to solve the problem it was okay. But this was not the case. Soon after the March 2008 protests in Tibet, Premier Wen Jiabo claimed that the crisis was started from India. The Tibetan side immediately responded by inviting officials of the Chinese government to come to Dharamsala to carry out a full investigation of all our records and files, including going through all of His Holiness’ talks to recently arrived Tibetans from Tibet. They never took up the offer. After the recent allegations by the Chinese authorities of His Holiness and the exile Tibetans being behind the recent self-immolations, he once again invited Chinese officials to come to Dharamsala to carry out investigations.

Commenting on China, His Holiness said that 1.3 billion Chinese people have the ability to judge what is right and wrong. He also said that these same 1.3 billion Chinese people have the ability to judge what is right and what is wrong. Therefore, censorship carried out by the Chinese government was immoral. His Holiness also felt it was important that the Chinese judicial system should be raised to international standards of judicial systems. 

Finally, on a question about the recent tensions between China and Japan over some disputed islands, His Holiness remarked, “This is a delicate situation. It is a political issue. Even I don’t know where this island is or what is the name of the island. However, after my meeting with the press in Yokohama the Chinese media reported that I used the Japanese name of the island and sided with the Japanese. This is totally false! China needs Japan, Japan needs China. That is the reality. This is more important. To solve problems you must talk.”

After having lunch with members of the local organizing committee, His Holiness flew back from Okinawa to Tokyo.

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Tomorrow morning, His Holiness gives a talk on Human Values and Universal Responsibility followed by an afternoon panel discussion on Science of Mind, Ancient Wisdom of Healing: Balancing Body and Mind with Dr. Suzumu Tonegawa, the 1987 Nobel Laureate in Medicine.
 

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