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His Holiness Visits Europe

By Vasudha Bhatia  /  September 29, 2017;

His Holiness reaching out to touch the hands of the audience at the second day of teaching in Riga in Latvia
Photo: Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited four countries in Europe during a 20-day tour from September 9-27. The tour took him to Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Latvia.

Northern Ireland:
His Holiness started his tour with a talk, Educating the Heart, at the Millennium Forum in Northern Ireland. This talk was organised by Children in Crossfire, an organisation which works for the rights and needs of children and young people caught in the crossfire of global poverty, injustice and inequality. His Holiness said he appreciated the work of this organisation in helping thousands of needy children, especially in the African states, and expressed his gratitude to the founder, Richard Moore, and all the people working for Children in Crossfire. He said, “If we make an effort we can change the world. Those who are still young can make a difference and shape a better future. For my part, I try to encourage interest in inner values and I believe that if I influence ten people and each of them does the same, we’ve reached one hundred. And so it goes on. This is the way to educate people.”

Members of the Tibetan community offered His Holiness a traditional welcome in Frankfurt on September 12. He gave a talk, Global Ethics – Shared Values, at the Jahrhunderthalle Convention Centre in Frankfurt on the following day where he mentioned that, “Most of the problems in many countries today, except for the natural disasters, are created by us and our differences. We need to go deeper to understand that all human beings are same and I consider myself one among several billion human beings.” While in Frankfurt, His Holiness spoke to1,600 students from over 60 schools, telling them of his concerns over the sufferings of human beings which, he said, originate from increasing violence, starvation, selfishness and indifference. “There are a lot of problems in this 21st century”, he said, “Leaving the natural disasters aside, most of the problems are our own creation”. He continued, “The future of the world is in our hands. The future depends on the present. The past is gone. We can only learn from the past, we cannot change it.” He then embarked on a question and answer session with the students.

He concluded his two-day tour of Germany by participating in the conference Western Science and Buddhist Perspectives. In his address, he said, “Today’s world has seen a lot of progress in the materialistic, economic and other fields, but I think in today’s world there is some kind of mental crisis. Too much fear, too much anger…leading to use of physical action like bullying and neglecting thousands of people…Then there is the big question, whether we can do something or not. Mental consciousness is important in order to keep peace of mind and through that better health.”

His Holiness arrived in Italy on September 16 and gave a talk on the subject of “Peace” at the Ancient Greek – Roman theatre of Taormina. On the following day he visited Sicily where he was greeted by the Archbishop of Messina, Giovanni Accolla, and gave a talk, Joy in Education. Arriving in Florence, he spoke on Peace through Education, before travelling to Pisa, Tuscany, for a two-day symposium Buddhist Science and Modern Science. His Holiness was escorted to Piazza dei Cavalieri on September 20 by the mayor of Pisa, Marco Filippeschi, where over 3,700 people were gathered to listen to his talks.

In one of his talks His Holiness said, “It is my conviction that a genuine collaboration between contemporary psychological sciences and the ancient Indian science of the mind is possible. It has the potential to make a significant contribution to scientific understanding and the development of useful educational and therapeutic techniques. The application of mindfulness and practices involving kindness and compassion are proving particularly effective.”

In Messina, His Holiness was awarded the prize for the Builder of Peace, Justice and Nonviolence on September 17 as well as an Honorary Masters Degree by the University of Pisa in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the understanding of psychology and for his inspirational guidance and leadership in promoting the study of Buddhist science. Two towns in the province of Sicily, Italy awarded His Holiness honorary citizenship.

His Holiness with the Mayor of Pisa in Italy
Photo:Olivier Adam

His Holiness arrived in Riga, Latvia, on September 22 where he gave a two-day teaching on Kamalashila’s The Middling Stages of Meditation and Tsongkhapa’s Concise Stages of the Path to Enlightenment.

On his final day in Riga, His Holiness gave a public talk, Harmony without Boundaries, at Skonto Hall.

While in Latvia, His Holiness was asked during an interview on Latvian Television what he meant by “the world being in crisis” and replied that the crisis in the world is brought about by the presence of fear and anger, unfulfilled desires, exploitation and the huge gap between the rich and the poor. “All these problems faced by humanity are of our own making”, he said. When asked about terrorism, His Holiness said, “The problem of terrorism can only be solved if we can reach out to them, keeping in mind that they too are human beings”..

His Holiness returned to Dharamshala on September 27 and was greeted at Kangra airport by Sikyong Lobsang Sangay, the President of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile. He will be giving a four-day teaching in Dharmashala on October 3-6 on Chandrakirti’s Entering the Middle Way (umajukpa).

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