Hindu Council UK’s Chairman – Mr Umesh C Sharma and Director/Secretary General – Mr Sanjay Jagatia attend His Holiness The Dalai Lama’s talk to an audience of 2300 people in celebration of ‘Ahimsa – India Day’.
In an introduction to the event it was explained that ‘ahimsa’ means to do no harm and that His Holiness considers it to be compassion in action.
The Dalai Lama began by saying “Brothers and sisters, all human beings are the same. We are mentally, physically and emotionally the same. We all experience constructive and destructive emotions. Our basic human nature is compassionate, and compassion brings people together. In our daily life, we feel happy when someone smiles and treats us with affection. But if they frown we feel uncomfortable. This is a sign that we need friends. Friendship doesn’t depend on fame, money or physical strength. It’s based on trust and trust depends on love and affection. Therefore, love and affection are important if we are to live a happy life. And the purpose of life is to be joyful and happy.”
The audience responded to His Holiness with warm applause.
His Holiness continued:
“Many of the problems we face are of our own making. Why is that? because we tend to pay too much attention to secondary differences between us. We emphasise differences of nationality, of race, of colour and faith, whether we are rich or poor. We neglect the fact that fundamentally we are all human beings, who all want to live a happy life. And because of that what we should do is to help one another.
In the past, when nations went to war, they looked for their own victory and the destruction of their opponent. This kind of attitude is out of date because we have now become so interdependent. In defeating our neighbour we will defeat ourselves. In our increasingly globalized world, climate change and the global economy are not limited by national boundaries, they affect us all. I often point out that the 20th century, besides its many great developments, was a period of violence and bloodshed. We need the 21st century to be an era of peace. We need to take a more human approach to conflict and seek to resolve it through dialogue instead of resorting to military force.”
His Holiness the Dalai Lama affirmed that his first commitment is to promoting human happiness. His second, he said, as a Buddhist monk is to fostering inter-religious harmony. He described religion as having three aspects: religious, philosophical and cultural. The religious aspect includes the message of love, compassion, tolerance and self-discipline that all religious traditions have in common. The philosophical aspects, belief in a creator or the law of causality, are different means to strengthen the practice of love and compassion. In this context ‘ahimsa’ relates to physical and verbal action, but the demarcation lies in the quality of our motivation, which involves our mind.
Furthermore, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his great admiration for India’s ancient traditions of ‘ahimsa’ and inter-religious harmony, demonstrating to the world that different religious traditions can live together side by side in peace and respect. He said that the Indian community in places like the UK has a responsibility to uphold these ancient traditions and show their relevance in today’s world.
At the end of his talk the Dalai Lama answered questions from the audience His Holiness said that ‘ahimsa’ doesn’t fall from the sky; it comes of cultivating a warm heart within. Asked if there were even situations when ‘ahimsa’ is inappropriate, he replied that ‘ahimsa’ non-violence and non-harm are the proper solution to any human problem. When a member of the audience asked how to respond to the rape and murder of her friends, he said:
“Ask yourself if getting angry would solve the problem and make it better. Anger and feelings of revenge only disturb your own peace of mind. The 8th century Indian master Shantideva gave advice that I find practical and realistic. ‘If there is a way to solve a problem, there is no need to worry about it and if there is no way to solve a problem, worry won’t help’.
When a young woman cried out a question related to the practice of Shugden and religious freedom, His Holiness listened and suggested that people who demonstrate about this don’t know the full story. They should do more investigation. He said he feels sorry for them in their ignorance.
Finally, asked the purpose of life, His Holiness answered:
“Happiness and joy are the purpose of life.” Again the theatre was filled with applause. “If our actions bring joy to others, that’s good”
“Genuine Ahimsa, or non-violence, will only come after the inner disarmament of our mind. Lots of problems in this world are created out of ignorance and greed and it is impossible to achieve non-violence if our minds are full of fear and hatred. We need to use our human intelligence in challenging and overcoming negative emotions with positive emotions.”
Describing himself as a simple ‘Buddhist monk’, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is revered as one of the great spiritual leaders of our time, reaching out to people of all faiths and no faith. Few names are so immediately associated with the causes of peace and, among the many awards he has received, is the Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace.
Now eighty, the Dalai Lama’s wisdom, compassion and warm-hearted humour continue to touch and inspire people around the world.
In 1959, as Tibet faced Chinese occupation, he made a daring escape over the Himalayas to exile in Northern India; since then thousands of his countrymen have followed in his footsteps. The Dalai Lama has remained in exile ever since and often jokes that he is “India’s longest-staying guest.”
Hindu Council UK