His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Second Day of Growing Wisdom, Changing People
Settembre 23rd, 2015 by admin

Second Day of Growing Wisdom, Changing People

Cambridge, England 17 September 2015 – A bright sun shone in a clear blue sky as His Holiness the Dalai Lama took the short drive to Cripps Court today. Theme for the morning discussions was ‘A Vision for Education’ and Ed Kessler was the moderator.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting friends in the audience on his arrival at Sir Humphrey Cripps Theatre at Magdalene College in Cambridge, UK on September 17, 2015.
Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL

Lord Rowan Williams opened the conversation with observations about education. He noted the significance of the early months and years of life and suggested that the size of classes is a cause for concern. He questioned whether education is about more than pouring the contents of one vessel into another and asked how we imagine a system that produces a creative, compassionate person. He recalled that when his wife was giving teaching support in schools there were times she talked to children who had never been spoken to seriously by an adult before.

His Holiness began by describing the model that in Tibet has come down from ancient India in which a teacher works with a few students. He painstakingly explains the text in hand. Students study and then exercise what they have learned with each other on the debate courtyard. Employing logic they bring doubt and scepticism to the conversation, which is helpful for sharpening the mind. He outlined three steps to knowledge:
“The teacher’s words or what you read are the source. Then you explore and think about what you’ve learned; you contemplate it. Read other books and take many other points of view into account. Study the variety of Buddhist and non-Buddhist schools of thought and why these views are proposed. The third step is to deepen this knowledge through experience.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during the morning session on the second day of dialogue at Magdalene College in Cambridge, UK on September 17, 2015. Photo/Ian Cumming

His Holiness mentioned that coming to understand how the mind and emotions work, observing the effects of, for example, anger, anxiety and frustration is important. It also gives perspective to cultivate a sense of the oneness of all human beings. To think primarily of my nation, my community in the context of our globalized world is out of date. He pointed out that where the church used to foster a sense of humane values, as its influence has waned, responsibility for this has not been taken up by schools and education institutions. It needs to be, which is why His Holiness has proposed the incorporation of secular ethics into modern education and has encouraged the creation of appropriate curriculums to do so.
Lord Williams agreed and suggested that religious institutions also need to talk more about human well-being and our growing interdependence. In response to a question from the floor he said that education should be less about providing certainties than about confidence. He said he’d like to put a sign over school gates that reads, “Don’t panic”.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Lord Rowan Williams visiting a small group discussion on the second day of dialogue at Magdalene College in Cambridge, UK on September 17, 2015. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL

is Holiness and Lord Williams again visited the small groups discussing education, conflict resolution and freedom. His Holiness remarked that he felt the Buddha’s advice to his followers not to take what he taught at face value but to examine and investigate it, to see if it made sense remains a very relevant guideline today.He said that ethics is about principles not an absolute code, the important criterion for action being motivation. He mentioned that many people today refer to politics as dirty, but it isn’t politics that is dirty, it’s a question of the motivation of the politicians. He clarified that freedom does not mean doing whatever you like, but is grounded in a sense that human beings are fundamentally compassionate. The non-violence of the ancient Indian tradition of ahimsa involves exercising a sense of responsibility. On the one hand it is about serving others if you can, but more important are those occasions when you could do harm and don’t.
For the final plenary discussion in the afternoon the moderator was Rajiv Mehrotra, Secretary of the Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness the Dalai Lama based in Delhi. At the outset he asked for a show of hands from the audience to indicate whether they felt they were religious or spiritual or neither. The majority claimed to be spiritual, but not necessarily religious. Few considered they were neither.

Moderator Rajiv Mehrotra asking posing questions to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Lord Rowan Williams during the final session of dialogue at Magdalene College in Cambridge, UK on September 17, 2015. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL

Mehrotra asked Lord Williams to talk about the difference between religion and spirituality. He mentioned popular preconceptions about religion being inflexible or impersonal and the spiritual being about what you find for yourself. However, he suggested that if religion is not about discovery, it is empty and if spirituality is not connected to the actual world we live in it is empty too. He said he preferred to talk about faith, which he said also involves trust, much like the Buddhist idea of taking refuge. What is fundamental for each one of us, he added, is how to become truthful, honest and transparent.
For his part His Holiness suggested that spirituality in general is about being good so he can envisage a secular spirituality. Religion involves faith, and while some may think it requires grand buildings, it is essentially about the practice of love. The philosophy of different religious traditions concerns different ways and means to understand reality, with faith its function is strengthen the practice of compassion and love. However, there seem to be people today who feel their faith is more important than practice in their day to day lives.
His Holiness acknowledged that the concept of this very life’s having been created by God and the direct connection that makes to him is very powerful. He spoke of the notion of there being one truth and one true religion as being relevant in terms of one individual’s practice, but declared that in a multi-religious world we have to accept that there are several truths and various religious paths. The crucial issue is to be sincere in your practice.

A member of the audience asking a question during the final day of dialogue at Sir Humphrey Cripps Theatre at Magdalene College in Cambridge, UK on September 17, 2015.
Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL

uestions were asked about Thomas Merton, assisted dying and the nature of consciousness. Lord Williams said that religion does not say we have to preserve life at all costs, but stated that he is not yet persuaded that assisted dying is the way to go. Both he and His Holiness expressed their admiration for Thomas Merton, who His Holiness described as a strong bridge between Christianity and Buddhism.
Talking about consciousness, His Holiness said that our normal waking consciousness is dominated by sensory awareness. A subtler consciousness occurs when we sleep and dream because there is no sensory input. The consciousness present in deep sleep, when we faint and when we die is progressively more subtle still. He stated that until the end of the 20th century, most scientists considered consciousness to be an effect of the brain. However, with the discovery of neuroplasticity this has begun to change.
His Holiness spoke of cases in Tibetan society of people, mostly spiritual practitioners, whose bodies remain fresh after clinical death has taken place. He said that scientists are taking an interest in this phenomenon and have provided equipment to assess it that has yielded interesting findings. The Tibetan explanation is that in such cases the subtlest consciousness remains in absorption for some time after death.
His Holiness explained that the contents of the 300 volumes of Buddhist scriptures translated into Tibetan can be seen in terms of science, philosophy and religion. While the religious parts are really only of interest to Buddhists, the scientific and philosophical content may be of interest to anyone from an academic point of view. With this in mind, a compilation of Buddhist science has already been prepared and the resultant book is being translated into several languages including English. He promised to send copies to the College when it is done.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama with Lord Rowan Williams waving to the audience at the conclusion of the dialogue at Magdalene College in Cambridge, UK on September 17, 2015.
Photo/Ian Cumming

t the conclusion of the plenary session, spokespersons for the small discussion groups briefly reported their findings to the gathering. In some cases this included references to inspiring projects already underway.
Cameron Taylor stepped forward to thank everyone who had taken part, everyone who had helped to organize the event and everyone who had given it support. He reminded the audience that this was the Inspire Dialogue Foundation’s inaugural event, that there will be further events in the future and that he hopes those attending today will stay in touch and come again. He reserved special thanks for His Holiness, Lord Williams and Hilary Williams-Papworth. The event concluded in a warm and friendly atmosphere with a final group photograph together.
Before leaving Cripps Court, His Holiness spoke briefly to a group of Tibetans encouraging them to take pride in Tibet’s linguistic, cultural and religious heritage and keep them alive. He thanked them all for coming to see him and for the warm and colourful welcome they had given him outside on the street. Tomorrow he will travel to London.

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