In the Garden City of India, His Holiness the Dalai Lama Speaks about Religion and Science at Christ University

November 27th 2012

Bangalore, Karnataka, India, 26 November 2012 - A warm sun shone brightly as His Holiness the Dalai Lama drove along the landscaped roads from the airport into Bangalore, the Garden City of India, this morning after a short flight from Kochi. A traditional brocade welcome arch stood over the approach to the hotel where many Tibetans were gathered to greet him, among them a delegation of Lamas including the Jangtse Chöje.

After a brief lunch, His Holiness was invited to inaugurate an exhibition of paintings entitled ‘In the Footsteps of the Buddha’ and launch a children’s book by Mrs Puneeta Khatri. Requested to say a few words to mark the occasion, this is how he began:

“What we are lacking today is a clear awareness of the oneness of humanity. All the other kinds of problems we face, like dealing with poverty or the degradation of the environment, would be solved if we kept the oneness of humanity in mind. Many of our problems are our own creation; we can reduce them by taking a more holistic view. Whatever your profession, keeping the oneness of humanity in mind will affect how you perform.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is greeted by a large crowd of students on his arrival at Christ University in Bangalore, India, on November 26, 2012. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
He remarked that we are all born from our mothers and nurtured by her affection, which sows the seed of compassion within us. While anger leads to depression, fear and loneliness, a calm mind contributes to our physical health, the happiness of our families and peace in society. How do we achieve a calm mind? By using our intelligence. A warm heart is related to our emotions, and emotions are blind, whereas our intelligence, which is related to our brain, is like an eye. Clearly our intelligence should guide our emotions. It is our intelligence that can discriminate between constructive, positive emotions, such as compassion, love, tolerance and forgiveness, and negative destructive emotions like anger, hatred and jealousy. This is the context too for paying attention to these things in our day to day life.

Leaving his hotel in a motorcade, His Holiness drove down leafy shaded avenues, past historic buildings to Christ University, an institution with 12000 students. When he stepped out of his car a great cheer swept through the crowd of students waiting outside to catch a glimpse of him. At the door he was offered the tsampa and chang of a traditional Tibetan welcome. On the stage inside the auditorium Fr Thomas Ayaka welcomed His Holiness, saying how blessed and privileged staff and students felt at His Holiness’s presence among them. He replied,

“Respected elder brothers and sisters, younger brothers and sisters, wherever I give a talk or meet other people, I think about how we are all human beings. I am nothing special, I am like you. We 7 billion human beings on the earth are physically, mentally and emotionally the same; I am one of you.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at Christ Univesity in Bangalore, India, on November 26,2012. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
He asked for a show of hands to see who in the audience was younger than 15, 20 or 30. The majority were less than 30 years old. The reason he asked is that those who are younger than 30 truly belong to the twenty-first century, whereas those more than 60 years old belong to the twentieth century, an era that is already gone. He said, the past is past, we may learn from it but we cannot change it. The future is yet to come and depends upon the present. It is because of this that it is possible for us to think of changing our world for the better. We can do it, not through the use of force or money, but by developing inner peace. It may feel that changing the world is a huge task, he said, but peace must be created by humanity which is but a collection of individuals. If one creates inner peace within him or herself and shares it with 10 other people and each of them does the same and so on, we can imagine influencing all 7 billion human beings.

“Start here and now in your own mind, then extend it into your family and community. You young people are our source of hope; you should show vision. These days we pay too much attention to material things and not enough to inner values. We need to see more equality, efforts to overcome the huge gap between rich and poor, and to root out corruption that is like a cancer in society. The existence of corruption shows clearly our lack of ethical principles, without which we have no self-discipline, but simply tend to exploit others. Try to improve society within this twenty-first century.”

Regarding religion and science, His Holiness said that religion is related to our emotions while science is more related to our brain. He agrees with the Pope’s statement that faith and reason must go together. Science is about analysis and research, experiment and investigation, not accepting things on the level of appearances. Nevertheless, scientists do not yet know everything, they have focussed on the natural physical world, but their understanding of the inner world of the mind has been much more limited. Now, however, there is evidence that mental training can change the brain and scientists are examining the effects of positive mental training, such as training in compassion and concern for others. They have found sound evidence that compassionate warm-heartedness is good for our physical and mental health. 

His Holiness noted that it is not necessary to be religious to be a good human being. He said,

A choir made up of Christ University Tibetan students perform for His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his visit to Christ University in Bangalore, India, on November 26, 2012. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
“One of my commitments is to human values based on common sense and scientific findings. What we need is more self-confidence, which comes from concern for others’ well-being. The real source of inner strength and self-confidence is warm-heartedness. While it is not compulsory to be religious, if you decide to adopt a religious practice you should not do so half-heartedly, but sincerely, as, for example, luminaries like Thomas Merton and Mother Teresa have done.”

Before taking questions from the audience, a group of Tibetan students of Christ University sang for His Holiness. The session concluded with everyone standing while the University Choir sang the Indian National Anthem. As His Holiness emerged from the building, another great cheer went up from the students gathered outside. He waved and stood with them for photographs to be taken.
Stopping at the University Chapel, he was invited to say a few words to the theology students.

“The purpose of your study is to serve others. While history and chemistry largely deal with knowledge alone, for spiritual work you need some experience of transforming your mind and destructive emotions. You need to be able to say, ‘This is something that I have found to be effective.’ Spirituality should not remain only in the temple or chapel, but should be effective in our daily lives.”


His Holiness the Dalai Lama with students and staff during his visit to the Chapel at Christ University in Bangalore, India, on November 26, 2012. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
His Holiness conceded that he is a Buddhist, but stressed that he has complete admiration for other faiths. India, he observed, is the only country where all the world’s major religious traditions flourish and live together. He said this is something that must be kept alive and proudly revealed to the rest of the world. Similarly, India has upheld the tradition of ahimsa or non-violence for thousands of years.

“Non-violent action depends on a non-violent motivation. This is a precious inheritance that is worthy to preserve,” he advised.

His Holiness is to spend a second day in Bangalore tomorrow and will speak on A Human Approach to World Peace at Tumkur University.
 

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