His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Public Talk about Universal Responsability in Sapporo
Aprile 7th, 2015 by admin

His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his talk on "Universal Responsibility" in Sapporo, Japan on April 3, 2015. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL

His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his talk on "Universal Responsibility" in Sapporo, Japan on April 3, 2015. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL

His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Public Talk about Universal Responsability in Sapporo

Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan, 3 April 2015 – The roughly 800 kms flight from Tokyo to Sapporo His Holiness the Dalai Lama took today was a journey from one season to another. In Tokyo spring has come with bright days, blue skies and the cherry blossom in full bloom. In Hokkaido, by contrast, it is still winter; cold, cloudy, wind-swept and wet. Piles of cleared snow are plain to see. He was the guest of the Sapporo branch of Junior Chamber International, a non-profit international non-governmental organization of young people between 18 and 40 years old. With members in about 80 countries, it encourages young people to become responsible citizens participating in social and economic development, while fostering international co-operation, good-will and understanding. The 1800 strong audience gave His Holiness a warm welcome as he took the stage and listened with rapt attention.

Greetings,” he began. “This is the first time I’ve been here. Now, everyone wants to be happy and everyone has a right to be happy. And while on a secondary level there are differences between us of nationality, faith, family background, social status and so on, what is much more important for us to remember is that on a human level we are the same. None of us wants to face problems, and yet we make problems for ourselves by stressing the differences between us. If we can overcome them and see each other just as fellow human beings, there’ll be no basis for fighting or conflict between us. What we need is harmony, something I believe you Japanese are good at.”

His Holiness mentioned that in 1973, as he was about to embark on his first journey to Europe, the BBC correspondent in India, Mark Tully, asked him why he wanted to travel to other parts of the world. He told him that he considered himself a citizen of the world, that he wanted to meet other people and experience different cultures.

We need a sense of the oneness of the 7 billion human beings alive today. When I meet other people, I don’t think about my being different from them, about my being Tibetan, Buddhist or even the Dalai Lama. I only think about being a human being like them. We all have a similar potential for positive and negative emotions and one of our special qualities as human beings is our mind, our intelligence. If we use it well it will make us successful and happy.”

He commented that in modern society everything seems geared to material development, even our systems of education. As a result we no longer pay sufficient attention to our inner values, which leads to mental unrest. In order to address this imbalance we need to pay more attention to our minds.
“If we let our minds be dominated by destructive emotions, by self-centredness, with little regard for others, we won’t be happy. We are social animals and as such we need to work together. If we have friends around us, we feel secure, happy and our minds are calm. What’s more, we’ll have good physical health. When we are filled with anger, fear and frustration, not only are our minds disturbed, but these feelings sap our physical well-being as well. Therefore, it’s clear that the ultimate source of happiness is warm-heartedness. Warm-heartedness is the basis of what in India amounts to secular ethics. And it begins with the affection our mothers shower on us when we are young, which equips us to show affection for others.
“Here in Japan I’ve heard you have a problem of suicide among young people. One of the ways to address this will be to educate the coming generation in cultivating a basic sense of care and affection for others.”
His Holiness remarked that all religious traditions have secular ethics in common inasmuch as they carry a basic message of love and affection. There are philosophical differences, but the aim of these philosophical approaches is to strengthen the importance of warm-heartedness. Coming to appreciate and respect our different religious traditions is an important part of developing harmony among them. And inter-religious harmony is ever more important at a time when people are killing each other in the name of religion.
Responding to questions, His Holiness explained that the purpose of life is to be happy. He supported the choice of leaders through elections, but suggested they should be truthful, honest, warm-hearted and take a broad view of what they need to deal with. He stressed the importance of showing children affection, which gives them a sense of security and ability to be affectionate to others for the rest of their lives.
Asked about caste discrimination in India, His Holiness said that it was something even the Buddha had opposed. He said that all human beings are the same and that there is no basis for discrimination, even between men and women. Chuckling, he recalled Chairman Mao telling him in 1955 that the Buddha was a revolutionary for his opposition to caste discrimination. He suggested that of three aspects of religious tradition, there is the religious aspect that deals with the message of love and compassion, the philosophical aspect that tends to focus either on a creator god or the principle of causality and the cultural aspect. It’s this last, the cultural aspect, that can and should change with the times and about which spiritual leaders and teachers should speak out. To a question about whether he ever loses his temper, His Holiness admitted that he’s human and now and then he does. He told the story of a journalist in New York who persisted in asking the same question, to which he’d already told he had no answer. He lost his temper with her, but, he stressed, when they met again a year later they both laughed about it. He repeated that giving in to anger, fear and suspicion not only disturbs our minds, it disrupts our physical well-being too. Anger can even break up families, whereas trust and friendship are what human society is based upon.
He linked this to his answer about his response to good and bad news. He said that when people trust each other and treat each other well it’s not news. On the other hand there are grounds for optimism when you think that in the early 20th century few people used the word compassion, but now even politicians talk about it. Similarly, a century ago hardly anyone thought about ecology and the environment the way they do today. What’s more, in the early 20th century people regarded war and the use of force was the way to resolve problems and today that has changed.
As the afternoon drew to a close, His Holiness happily accepted gifts of thanks from young children who came onto the stage to give them to him. He thanked them affectionately in turn and remarked that they truly belonged to the 21st century, the generation who may be able to make this world a happier, more peaceful place.

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