May 22, 2012 9:20 am
As the sun caught the peaks of the mountains around the city, His Holiness drove to the Salzburg Arena, where he was received by the Governor Ms. Gabi Burgstaller. They exchanged views privately for several minutes before she escorted him into the hall where he was to address an audience convened by Alpine Peace Crossing, an NGO that holds a major event annually to mark the plight of refugees.
His Holiness began by saying, “When I meet people, I feel that as human beings we are just the same. We may have bigger or smaller noses or different coloured hair, but we 7 billion human beings are essentially the same. And now that we are so interdependent it seems to be out of date to think of this or that community as separate from the rest.” He expressed his admiration for the EU as an organization in which members keep their own identity, while taking account of their common interests. He said that we now face several challenges that cannot be solved unless we solve them together and cited the failure of the Copenhagen summit on climate change as an example of countries continuing to focus on their own narrow interests rather than the good of the world.
Before opening the discussion of World Peace and Universal Responsibility Dr Michael Kerbler of ORF Radio called on those present to observe a minute’s silence in memory of Tibetans who have recently committed self-immolation in Tibet. Pressed to respond to these tragic incidents, His Holiness said that it is a very sensitive political issue and that he has devolved his political responsibilities to others. However, he said, we must look into the real cause of this tragedy. The stated aim of hard-liners in the Chinese communist leadership is to secure harmony in society, but the way they are going about it is both wrong and contradictory. Harmony cannot be achieved by force, it must be based on trust. The use of force arouses fear, which undermines trust. His Holiness suggested the Chinese authorities could adopt a more realistic approach, following Deng Xiao ping’s advice to seek truth from facts. But they would have to be real and objective facts, rather than official propagandist reports.
In a world where the trend is towards democracy, freedom, and freedom of speech, His Holiness said, countries like North Korea and China can drag their feet, but they cannot resist the trend forever. In China itself, 1.3 billion Chinese people have the right to know what is going on and the right to make decisions on that basis. Consequently, censorship is morally wrong. Censorship and distorted information must stop. Likewise, the Chinese judicial system must be raised to international standards. The rule of law must be established, because China belongs to the Chinese people, not to the communist party, just as the world belongs to humanity.
His Holiness invited Ms Irmtraut Wager and Alfred Stingl, former Mayor of Graz and his wife, to lunch. Ms Wager has worked long and hard to support the education of Tibetan children in exile. Afterwards he met Members of the Tibet Centre Advisory Board and commended their work. He advised that just as Christian brothers and sisters have done remarkable work for education around the world, what Buddhists may contribute is their understanding of how to develop peace of mind.
He explained that although there are philosophical differences among our religious traditions, they all have the potential to help their followers to become more compassionate, better human beings. This is the ground for mutual respect that inspired His Holiness since 1975 to adopt three steps in his own quest to improve inter religious harmony: meeting with religious leaders and holding discussions with them; meeting with spiritual practitioners to exchange experiences and visiting other traditions’ sacred places and joining them in prayer.
Tomorrow, His Holiness will fly to Trieste, Italy, to attend an inter-faith programme and a meeting with scientists in Udine.
Report by Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama