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21st Century of Peace, predicts Dalai Lama in Princeton, N.J.

by Linda Brown Holt

newjerseynewsroom.com Religion Correspondent

The 21st century can become the “Century of Peace” if the new generation takes responsibility and seizes the opportunity to make an effort to champion inner values and live compassionately, the Dalai Lama told thousands of rapt listeners in a Princeton University lecture at Jadwyn Gymnasium in Princeton, this morning. The program was simulcast by Princeton University’s Media Central Live.

In a public lecture titled, “Develop the Heart,” the 79-year-old leader of some 20 million Buddhists worldwide (www.adherents.com) called for all humanity to recognize its oneness and for people to treat each other fairly, with understanding and compassion.

“Our target,” he said, speaking in English under a Tibetan thangka (banner), “is 7 billion human beings. But it is not enough to have wishful thinking or just prayer. Be active, make an attempt. If one person influences 10 people, and each of them reaches 10 others, soon hundreds of thousands will be taking action to spread happiness, understanding, and peace.”

Wearing the traditional monastic robes of red and yellow, the Dalai Lama, considered one of the most influential spiritual leaders in the world, stressed that believers of all religions, as well as non-believers, need to respect and have compassion for all other people, even those with opposing dogmas. “All religions teach love, forgiveness, self-discipline,” he said. “We need a sense of concern for each person’s well-being.”

Known for his jocular sense of humor and frequent bursts of laughter, the Dalai Lama donned a Princeton baseball cap at the beginning of his presentation. “Carry out any action of your life with a sense of compassion. If you think of the well-being of others, there will be no possibility of hurt, bullying, cheating others.”

The Dalai Lama urged world leaders to revisit and revise the educational system to include values. “Scientists and educators already are discussing this important issue,” he said. “People in society think money is the secret to happiness, but it will not bring inner peace. Each person deserves a totally happy life, not just relying on money.”

People do not have to be religious in order to put materialism in its place, he said. “Of course, money is important, but pay more attention to inner values. You don’t have to include much of this in the curriculum…just a little bit.”

Referred to as His Holiness, the leader also noted that too much emphasis is placed on differences. “We have differences in family, professions, education, faith, color,” he noted. “but we need to put more emphasis on the first level, that we are human beings who need compassion. We are brothers and sisters. There is no basis for war or killing.”

The Dalai Lama broke with tradition by suggesting that certain parts of his own religion (Buddhism) may evolve over time. He noted that some statements and restrictions need to be updated as society changes. Asked by an audience member about a scripture suggesting that women are inferior, His Holiness said that cultural norms at the time sometimes affect how people are perceived. “There are no differences between the male and female brain,” he said. “There is no difference in people because of color, gender, and so forth. I think we have the ability to change things.”

The Tibetan leader, who escaped from Tibet during the uprising of 1959, said students and others today do not need to become hermits in order to practice a more spiritual life. “Study is very important. Learn to remain calm, do not become angry,” he said. “I find that meditation is a great practice that you can bring into the world in your work and daily activities. Think of others, do not be self-centered: that is the secret of happiness, and happiness is the purpose of life.

“There is no guarantee what will happen, but make an effort on the basis of hope. Our lives are based on hope,” he said, “and a happy life is our goal.”

The Dalai Lama reflected on influences that shaped his life. “My mother was illiterate, uneducated, just a farm woman, but very, very kind,” he reflected. “She carried me as she worked in the fields and with the animals. I would hang comfortably on her back, and grab her ears. If I wanted to go right, I’d pull on the right ear! I was a young, spoiled boy!” (laughter)

In another light moment, the Dalai Lama was asked what is the meaning of life. “Ah,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye, “Money! Sex!” Uproarious laughter followed this tongue-in-cheek remark, as the leader went on to seriously address the need for compassion and values.

Since Buddhism developed out of the teachings of India, the Dalai Lama spoke reverently of Indian writings on spirituality and psychology, especially those from southern India.”We gain knowledge by study, hearing and critical reflection, and experience,” he said, quoting a famous Indian text. “Think critically, analytically,” he said, “and change your mental attitudes.”

The Dalai Lama is delivering two more talks in Princeton: “What Does it Mean to be In the Service of All Nations?”and a private gathering the morning of Oct. 29, 2014. (Quotes in this article were occasionally rephrased because of language differences.)




Posted on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 12:48PM by Registered CommenterLinda Brown Holt | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

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