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Friday, May 16, 2014

The Dalai Lama in Netherlands: Buddhist Teaching and Public Talk in Rotterdam

On 11th May, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and one of the most powerful spiritual leaders of the world visited Rotterdam, GHRD's EVS volunteer and intern attended this event.

Barbara Mojzes

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and one of the most powerful spiritual leaders of the world gave a thought-provoking public lecture in Rotterdam in front of 11,000 people.

Photo: Jurjen Donkers
The 79-year old Dalai Lama, currently living in exile in India surprised the audience with his down to earth attitude, spontaneity and great sense of humor. Wearing an orange baseball cap during his teachings made the lecture even more enjoyable and reminded us about how often we are concerned about improving our body instead of improving our mind.

As the head of a 500 year old religion, the Dalai Lama was not afraid to connect his beliefs to more modern theories from Quantum Physics in relation to questions of existence and the present time. For example, he spoke about a theory which came up with the possibility that time may not even exist. This is because, he argued, if the present moment we are living in turns into the past every second, and in the same second, the future becomes the present, does the present moment exist at all?

His Holiness then explained the three principal aspects of the Path. These are renunciation (the determination to be free), bodhichitta (the altruistic aspiration for enlightenment) and wisdom. We all, “Dharma Friends, Spiritual Brothers and Sisters” want happiness not suffering, but we need to know how suffering and happiness come about. Suffering is always a result of our own actions and the main reason or all the suffering in the world is ignorance, due to the gap between appearance and reality. It is not  technology, state governments or weapons that are our biggest enemies, but our own selfish attitude and ignorant minds.

Sara Fiorentini

Since I started working for human rights protection, one of the main issues I have had to face is that the more religious authorities influence the social and political choices of a country, the less a real integration between different communities is possible.

It is undeniable, indeed, that religions have a great effect on society as well as the opposite, in a dialectical relationship. I have always believed that religions can find a common ground to peacefully coexist and promote the protection of  fundamental rights which are recognized as intangible precepts. Nevertheless, if we do not contemplate the possibility of creating a neutral structure that allows different religions to express freely and to identify their common features, it seems impossible to state the existence of these universal principles. 

To this end, I was highly inspired by the Dalai Lama’s speech about the possibility to get a human rights-framework that allows different religions to coexist in a peaceful way on the basis of secularism.
He stated that every religion talks about love and compassion, as well as teaching self-discipline because it is fundamental to avoid impulsivity and greed. Therefore, the only difference between religions rests on the way in which they promote love and compassion, that is to say that religions do not contradict each other.

The only way to gain a peaceful coexistence between religions is to build every State’s rules on secular principles able to reflect the fundamental teaching of love that every religion shares. According to this pattern, a tolerant society is possible: a society which rests on moral ethics and promotes both individual and communal values. A State should promote these principles by delegating educational tasks to individuals, families and small communities that when working together, have the capacity to build up a local, national and then international idea of tolerance and mutual respect.

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