The Dalai Lama on War and Peace.
Part 2.
Editor's note:
Last month, we published for the first time the unedited content of a lecture given by Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, in Rutgers Stadium in New Jersey, U.S.A., on Sept. 14, 2005. In Part 2, we share Judith Pennington's transcript of the Dalai Lama's thought-provoking answers to audience questions.
— How do we make war obsolete? What can we do to make world leaders choose peace?
— I see the world becoming better, compared to the '50s, '60s, even the '70s, when the real danger of nuclear holocaust was there. Even as late as 1979, I visited the former Soviet Union. There I saw a country thinking others were ready to attack them. Of course, there is reason to dislike authoritarianism Communist system but that is not genuine peace with nuclear weapons, but peace with fear.

Now individuals join war to make individuals name a hero. That mood is changing. So many have shown opposition to violence and war. Still we need more effort, through education.

Students are the vehicle, the generation who shape the new century. I come from a country of war and bloodshed. This new century can be a century of peace and compassion. Our generation is ready to say goodbye. For global issues, we must look for a wider perspective.

— What would you say to Israelis and Palestinians about how to settle their conflict?
— I have been a few times to that area, mainly because Jerusalem is very important to these traditions. I met some people there, maybe a small number, but they are very dedicated to peace. I think both sides want to end the violence.

Of course, I am not a person knowing everything. I cannot claim to be all-knowing. Second, I do not have expertise, so I think the precise answer is 'I do not know.' I think both sides need patience to look at things from a wider perspective.

— As a peace-loving man, what would you say to extremists like Al Qaeda who murdered my precious son Peter at 9-11?
— I think much of our search is for past negligence and hatred. For political, economic and sometimes religious reasons we do this. But no force can change what has happened. Terrorism is the worst kind of violence. Therefore, it won't achieve their goal. One Tibetan monk who spent about two years in a Chinese prison came to India in the early 1980s with permission from the Chinese authorities. One day he told me that occasionally he faced danger – the danger of losing compassion for the Chinese. So he considered losing compassion as dangerous.

Another Tibetan I asked about his anger toward Chinese. His face became red and his cheeks twitched. I explained that this kind of strong hatred is wrong and won't solve the problem. It brings more hatred to yourself. That person's negative strong emotion is full of ignorance. But when that kind of emotion becomes out of control, there is no room to use reasoning. When we see people hurt like this, we must prevail on the future—education, understanding. A few years ago, someone asked me if I had the opportunity to meet Hitler. I gave the same answer.

— What would you say to our world leaders to heal the rifts caused by different religions? How can we be tolerant of each other's religions?
— If you look closely, each of the major religions have ethical teachings. Even among Buddhists, there are differences. People need different approaches and philosophies. It is actually necessary.

All major religions teach us compassion, love, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment, and so on. I have my Christian brothers who dedicate their lives to the benefit of others. Sometimes Buddhist monks dedicate themselves to prayer and do less. I tell monks and nuns to do more in helping and educating, like others do.

In Australia, a Christian minister introduced me – he said he considered me a good Christian. (laughter)

I think we should teach these qualities to humanity. My attitude toward other traditions is better than in Tibet; people think Buddhist is better. Now I have more opportunities to meet with people from other traditions, especially those practitioners like the late Thomas Merton, Trappist monk. I really love the values of Christians, and similarly in meetings with Rabbis. We have different concepts but that is useful.

I was in north India when there were Muslims. They said that young people must respect older people and not harm all creatures. So sometimes people, due to Muslim terrorists, consider these people as a whole to be terrorists. There are mischievous people everywhere.

— How does one promote generosity and harmony in the face of growing materialism?
— I think the American lifestyle needs some change. I see families having two or three cars. In India and China, with so many millions of people, if each family possesses one or two cars, it would be impossible. I think the teaching of contentment is needed.

In America, I spoke in Washington, capital of the richest country, and there were poor people. So greed is not only morally wrong but practically impossible.

I have been to some countries with a lot of potential, but also problems. They need self-confidence and for the richer nations to provide them with skills. Through education we can change.

— People from all over go to you for your guidance. Where do you turn for answers?
— I always tell people that one form of problem develops one type of action, so I leave it on their own shoulders. That relieves my responsibility. Then of course I always tell people I don't know; I have no such knowledge or experience. (laughter)

Knowledge is always best effect. It is ready to help you. Knowledge can bring your own future, your own fortune. Knowledge is your best defender. So I think we human beings have this intelligence. Then to bring will and determination, we need warm-heartedness.

As a Buddhist, as a believer, there is also mystery. We believe there is assistance beyond the visible world.

Another common thing among all traditions is higher being. Some call it Allah, Buddha, but all accept some being who has wider knowledge, different expression, and extra energy. So that is my approach.

Thank you.

Transcribed by Judith Pennington
Main photo by Sonam Zoksang

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