The Path to Peace and Happiness in a Global Society

September 10th 2013

Riga, Latvia, 10 September 2013 - His Holiness the Dalai Lama began his second full day in Riga by giving two interviews. The first was conducted by Arnis Ritups, a bluff philosopher who moderated his public talk yesterday, for Rigas Laiks (The Riga Time) magazine. Uncompromising in his questions he asked, “Have you understood the nature of thought?” to which His Holiness replied that his daily practice is essentially about examining the nature of the mind.


Arnis Ritups interviewing His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Rigas Laiks magazine in Riga, Latvia on September 10, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
When he asked, “Am I speaking with the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara?” His Holiness replied that he never claims to be a Bodhisattva, and that Avalokiteshvara is his boss. Regarding his predecessors as Dalai Lama, he lauded the qualities of the first seven, noting that while many of them experienced spiritual visions, the significant contribution he himself has made is in establishing a dialogue between Buddhist science and modern science. This prompted the interviewer to ask why consciousness cannot arise from matter, to which the answer was that the substantial cause of phenomena should be of the same nature. Therefore, the substantial cause of consciousness is a previous moment of consciousness. To a final question, “What is the essence of the Buddha’s teachings?” he said:

“Use your human intelligence in the best way you can; transform your emotions in a positive way.”

The second interviewer, for PBK TV, was Jurgis Liepniecs, who challenged His Holiness by saying that he liked his talk about compassion, that it has no weaknesses, and yet it does not work, because even he needs body guards and so on. His Holiness responded that this is indicative of the degree to which we have neglected our inner values and how worthwhile it is to make an attempt to change.

Welcoming him to a round-table discussion of The Path to Peace and Happiness in a Global Society, the moderator said that His Holiness needed no introduction and invited him to open the conversation.

“In today’s global society there are no longer any real boundaries. For example, climate change is something that affects all human beings wherever they are. Our artificial emphasis on ‘them’ and ‘us’ prepares the ground for violence and war. And since you chose not to, I’d like to introduce myself – I consider myself to be just another human being like you.

“We don’t want problems, and yet most of our problems are our own creation. Nevertheless, we have this marvellous intelligence that enables us to evaluate our emotions, judging which bring happiness and peace of mind and which bring trouble.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama and fellow participants in a round table discussion on "The Path to Peace and Happiness in a Global Society" in Riga, Latvia on September 10, 2013. Photo/Igor/SaveTibetRussia
“Secondly, as a Buddhist monk, I try to promote inter-religious harmony. I take inspiration from India that has become home to all the world’s major religions, which live together peacefully side by side.

“As human beings, we have a common responsibility to build a more peaceful society.”

Archbishop Vagans asked how we implement inner change not merely our external behaviour. His Holiness responded that despite philosophical differences, both Buddhism and Christianity advocate the practice of love and compassion, the ultimate source of all happiness.

Asked whether he will be reborn in Tibet, His Holiness explained that as early as 1969 he announced that whether another Dalai Lama is recognised or not depends on the will of the Tibetan people. More recently he has declared that he will reconsider the issue with the support of other Tibetan spiritual leaders when he reaches the age of 89 or 90.

An Indian member of the panel voiced appreciation of the positive ideas expressed, but wondered why it seems so hard to put them into practice. His Holiness suggested that our existing education system has a materialistic bias that affects everyone. While extolling material goals it says little about inner values. He proposed the incorporation of secular ethics into our education system based on common sense, common experience and scientific findings. He conceded that it is difficult to change the present generation, but if we make a common attempt to improve our education systems, we can educate the coming generations to be more compassionate.

“This will not be achieved by prayer alone; prayer can be of great solace to the individual, but changing the world requires us to take action.”


His Holiness the Dalai Lama meeting with Latvian Parliamentarians in Riga, Latvia on September 10, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
After lunch with the organizers of his visit, His Holiness was invited to meet Latvian Parliamentarians sympathetic to the cause of Tibet. Welcoming him among them, they said:

“We will always support the Tibetan effort to preserve their culture and identity.”

“Thank you for talking about values at a time when things in the world seem to be getting worse.”

“Thank you for coming and thank you for highlighting the importance of values.”

His Holiness responded:

“Respected Members of Parliament and Tibet Support Groups, thank you for inviting us here and for the warmth of your welcome. Over the last 50 years or so, I think I can claim to have made some contribution to introducing democracy in our community. Since 2011, as a result, I have been able to retire completely from my former political responsibilities.

“Your experience accords with our experience. When it comes to the power of truth and the power of the gun, the gun may prove more effective in the short term, but in the long run the power of truth will prevail.

“We are committed to remaining part of the PRC, which could be of benefit in modernizing Tibet. However, we have our own language, which we love the way you love Latvian. It is also the best language for explaining the subtleties of Buddhist philosophy. Our aim is the establishment of genuine Tibetan autonomy, as mentioned in the Chinese constitution. What we are asking is that they implement it.”


His Holiness the Dalai Lama with a group of Parliamentarians on the steps of the Latvian Parliament building in Riga, Latvia on September 10, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
He went on to outline several different aspects of the Tibetan issue. The first was the environment, the idea that Tibet’s importance as the watershed for millions of people across Asia makes it a Third Pole. The second was that Tibetan Buddhist culture is of interest to many of the reputed 400 million Chinese Buddhists. The third was that China needs justice and freedom, the present lack of which is a sign of a lack of moral compass. The fourth was the importance of human rights and religious freedom to the Tibetan cause and, finally, the fifth was Tibet’s position as a buffer between China and India, the world’s two most populous countries. Normalizing the situation in Tibet could lead to a reduction in troops and a relaxing of suspicion in the region.

The Parliamentarians then invited His Holiness to join them in taking a photograph together on the steps of the Latvian Parliament building.

His final engagement for the day was to meet a group of Russian Buddhists who included not only people from the Russian Mongolian republics, but European Russians too. He told them that Buddhism is based on investigation and that to be Buddhists in the twenty-first century they need to understand what they are doing, not simply recite mantras out of faith, which means they need to study.

Tomorrow, His Holiness will travel to Vilnius, Lithuania.
 

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