Washington DC, USA, 9 July 2011 - On July 9 His Holiness first went to the Kalachakra teaching venue to continue his preparation rituals. Thereafter, he went to the West Lawn of the Capitol to give a public talk on peace.
Prior to His Holiness’ arrival, monks of Namgyal Monastery recited prayers of blessings. Thereafter, Bhuchung Tsering welcomed the people on behalf of the Capital Area Tibetan Association and also thanked the concerned offices of the United States Congress for enabling this event to take place. Artists of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA), who had come from India, performed a special dance next.
Thereafter, actress and TV personality Whoopi Goldberg went on the stage to make introductory remarks. She exclaimed her happiness to be at a place that was celebratory, adding that it is nice to come out and celebrate the idea of peace.
Ms. Goldberg then introduced singer Skylar Grey who performed the solo version of her song, "Coming Home." Next the video message by Archbishop Desmond Tutu for His Holiness’ 76th birthday was played on the screen.
As Ms. Goldberg introduced His Holiness and he was received on the stage by The Gyalwa Karmapa, Mr. Penpa Tsering, Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament, and Dr. Lobsang Sangay, the Kalon Tripa-elect of the Central Tibetan Administration.
In his talk His Holiness dwelt on the importance of creating inner peace saying he felt very happy to share these ideas with the public. He said that irrespective of whether one was a believer or nonbeliever, everybody wants a happy and a successful life. He added that these goals depend on inner peace. His Holiness said that if there were too much suspicion, fear, distrust, anger, etc., at the mental level, life would not be a successful and a happy one. But he said there was the opportunity and ability to create inner peace, through secular way, not necessarily based on religious belief.
He talked about his two commitments of promotion of human values and the promotion of religious harmony. He said at the level of a human being we were all the same, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Everybody had a desire to have a happy life and a successful life, he said adding that from our birth everybody had the right to have a happy life, he said.
The problem is that we sometimes neglect our inner values, he said.
Talking about his commitment to promote religious harmony, His Holiness said that according to his “little experience” all religious traditions have the potential to bring about inner peace. He added that close cooperation among religions is essential.
His Holiness said in life there would always be problems. He said problems were mainly of two kinds: at the sensorial or physical and at the mental level. Despite difficulties we have the ability to create peace of mind, he said. He referred to his own experience saying that at the age of 16 he had lost his individual freedom (a reference to his having to assume political responsibilities of Tibet at that young age) and at the age of 24 he had lost his country (after China’s takeover of Tibet in 1959). In all these times, His Holiness did not lose his inner mental calmness. He talked about scientists who contend that too much anger; constant fear, etc. were eating the immune system. He also referred to another scientist who told a conference in New York that those individuals who constantly think of “I’ or “we” had a greater risk of heart attack. He also said that scientists say that those individuals who have a compassionate mind and think of others enjoy better health.
His Holiness said that we had the ability to create peace of mind and to do that self-confidence and inner strength were needed. He said that people needs to realize that individual happiness was dependent on the happiness of others.
He said that thinking of compassion or forgiveness as being only for those who are religious was a mistake. Saying that being religious was an individual choice he added that one could be happy without being religious. He said that it was also a mistake to assume that being compassionate was only of benefit to others. He said the primary beneficiary of being compassionate is oneself.
Underscoring the importance of strong inner values, His Holiness drew attention to inner beauty being superior to external beauty. Here he added that even marital relationship tend to be happier and lasting when they are based on appreciation of inner beauty than mere external beauty.
In the practice of compassion, it was important to think of reality and look at things objectively, His Holiness said. Referring to the eighth century Buddhist master Shantideva’s advice that if there is a solution to a problem, there is no need to worry, but if there is no solution then there is no use worrying, His Holiness said this is very realistic.
In the course of his talk, His Holiness pointed to the Capitol building in the front, and talked about the Tibetan people’s admiration of the United States since his childhood. He pointed out the positive development of promotion of liberty, equality and rule of law as well as human values like democracy, liberty and freedom that exist in the United States.
Following his talk, Ms. Goldberg came back on the stage to moderate the question and answer session. She posed three questions selected from that submitted online. The first one dealt with a query by a 14 year old on how he should approach the issue of promoting peace. His Holiness talked about the responsibility of the younger generation in bringing about a more peaceful world. He said his generation belonged to the 20th century while the younger generation, to which the 14 year old belongs, belongs to the 21st century. He said they should pay equal attention to their brain development as well as to developing warm heartedness.
Here His Holiness referred to the historical development in the United States. He said Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery while Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. achieved civil rights. Today, His Holiness said, the United States had a black President. He said these are achievements.
The second question dealt with advice on the proper learning environment. His Holiness said that it was important to promote secular ethics and nonviolence. He said that people need to realize that the power of truth and the power of compassion are much more effective than the power of gun.
The third question asked whether he hoped to return to Tibet after 52 years in exile.
His Holiness responded positively saying that China was changing. He said the voice of freedom, democracy, rule of law are increasing in China drawing attention to the fact that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao himself has called for political reforms.
"So things will certainly change," he added.
As Ms. Goldberg was ending the session, a person got up from among the audience wanting to ask a question, which His Holiness took. The individual wanted to know what should be done if those in authority were not paying heed. His Holiness said that people could continue to use avenues available to them to voice their opinions. He said in particular people should think more carefully in times of election. He said despite drawbacks a democratic system was the best system and talked about his own relinquishing of authority “voluntarily and happily” in this regard.
Following his talk, cellist Michael Fitzpatrick played a number, “Invocation for World Peace.”
His Holiness then returned to the Verizon Center where he began preliminary teachings in the afternoon. After an extensive explanation of the foundation of Buddhism His Holiness started his commentary on the Stages of Meditation by Acharya Kamalashila.
On July 10, His Holiness will address a conference on Democratic China and the Future of Tibet and continue with his preliminary teachings thereafter.