Cambridge, England, 19 April 2013 - His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a guest of the Global Scholars Symposium which allows current world leaders to interact with young academics who are striving to meet the great challenges of global society. He is staying in the Master’s Lodge of St John’s College, Cambridge and this morning walked through the College to the Divinity school to his first engagements of the day.
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama gestures during an interview with Cathy Newman of Channel 4 News in Cambridge, England, on April 19, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL|
To start with he gave an interview to Cathy Newman of Channel 4 News, who mixed questions about general news stories such as gun control in the USA with questions related to Tibet. She asked His Holiness to explain his praise for the courage of those who have committed self-immolation in Tibet. He replied that right from the start he had described his sadness over these events, but also expressed his doubts about their effectiveness. He reiterated that he has no alternative to offer and that it is for the Chinese authorities to launch an objective investigation of the causes of these events and to act accordingly. With regard to China itself he said:
“Nowadays the world trend is towards greater openness, democracy and the rule of law; if China wants to participate more fully in the world it will have to follow this trend. The harmonious society that Hu Jintao aspired to create is admirable, but it can only be created on the basis of warm-heartedness, not fear; fear is the opposite of harmony.”
He acknowledged that a lot of development has taken place in Tibet, which is good, but pointed out that freedom is also important.
“We are not animals. If you give animals food and shelter they are happy. Tibetans have a rich and ancient Buddhist culture, which is of value, but which is presently under dire threats to its existence.”
Meeting the press under the auspices of the Global Scholars Symposium, His Holiness said:
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama meets with members of the press in Cambridge, England, on April 19, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL|
“The source of happiness is compassion although it doesn’t necessarily have any connection to religion. It can be based on our common experience, common sense and scientific findings. Promoting human happiness along these lines is my first commitment. My second relates to religious traditions, their common message of compassion and forgiveness, and encouraging respect among them. Thirdly, I am a Tibetan and someone in whom the Tibetan people place their trust, so if need be I have to be prepared to speak out freely on their behalf.”
With regard to the Chinese, he stated that 1.3 billion people have a right to know about reality, and censorship interferes with this. Once they recognise reality, they have the ability to judge what’s right from what’s wrong.
It was a short distance, after lunch, to Trinity Hall, where His Holiness met a group of Chinese students who are studying in Britain.
“Brothers and sisters - I always begin my talks in this way because it is one of my fundamental beliefs that we are social creatures, physically, mentally and emotionally the same.”
He remarked that many people are concerned about the prevalence of material values, which seems to have a link to the shocking increase in suicide among young people. In this context, transparency in your work brings about trust and friendship, which leads to a happy life. This depends on recognising that other human beings are just like us.
Noting that the twentieth century was an era of bloodshed, His Holiness recommended that we try to make this century an era of peace, which is not to say there will be no problems, there will, but the question is how we solve them. In relation to the problems of Tibet, he said:
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to a group of Chinese students studying in Britain during their meeting in Cambridge, England, on April 19, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL|
“We are seeking meaningful autonomy. When the Chinese government objects that we are seeking a Greater Tibet, my retort is that we do not use that term. We have to solve these differences through dialogue. We want the central government to give us the ethnic minority rights mentioned in the Chinese constitution.”
One student wanted to know how you can have a dialogue with someone pretending to be asleep. His Holiness said that dealing with the government is one thing, but he also believes in reaching out to the people. He said he tells Tibetans that Chinese are their neighbours and that they will have to live together side by side.
“Let’s wait and see how things change and whether the government will adopt a more realistic, holistic view. At the moment by maintaining censorship in China, the government are in effect fooling the people. Such deception is essentially self-defeating.”
At the beginning of the meeting, when the students were invited to ask questions only one or two hands went up; by the end, more than a dozen still had points to raise when time ran out.
Returning to St John’s College, His Holiness addressed a more general meeting of members of the University of Cambridge on the theme, ‘Educating the Heart.’
“Respected brothers and sisters, it’s a privilege to speak to you today. I was born in a distant village in Tibet and never saw my mother show an angry face. She showered me with affection. From her I first learned about showing others compassion, an experience later reinforced by my training as a Buddhist monk.
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to members of the University of Cambridge at St John's College in Cambridge, England, on April 19, 2013. Photo/John Thompson/Cambridge|
“People want to live a peaceful happy life, but don’t find it because they are not realistic in their approach. When we are too self-centred, we tend to see other people in terms of ‘them’ and ‘us’ which is divisive and unhelpful. Nowadays, scientists say that a healthy body requires a healthy mind, so just as we adopt physical hygiene to protect our health, we also need a sense of emotional hygiene too.”
He pointed out that ancient Indian literature contains an immense store of knowledge about the workings of the mind. Science is beginning to gather evidence that people meditating on compassion do experience measurable changes in their brains and their health improves. Today, in order to make compassion available to everyone we need to develop a system of secular ethics. We need a map of the emotions, because dealing with our emotions, especially the destructive emotions, is the key to a healthier mind.
“When you have greater compassion and inner strength, you have more confidence, which gives rise to trust, transparency and friendliness.”
Back at the Master’s Lodge, before he turned in for the day, the St John’s College choir sang delightfully for His Holiness. The young choristers’ faces, so serious while they sang, lit up when he came forward to shake each of their hands and thank them.