After honoring Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, with an honorary doctorate in the year 2010, Jamia Millia Islamia once again welcomed him back on its premises to deliver a talk on “The Importance of Non-Violence and Ethical Values” at the Faculty of Engineering and Technology on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012.
The program began with the recitation from the Holy Quran, which was followed by a welcome address by the university registrar and the pro-vice chancellor. Following the welcome address, the vice chancellor, Najeeb Jung, spoke to introduce the Dalai Lama. In his address Jung said that “there are two champions of non-violence and ethical values, and India has been blessed with both these champions. Firstly, Mahatma Gandhi and now for the last fifty years, the Dalai Lama.”
After Jung, the Dalai Lama addressed the audience and said, “There are differences in appearances, status, etc, but the human level is the same. I am talking to you at the human level. No matter you are a member of a royal family or a beggar, the way you are born is the same.”
Delivering his message on togetherness, he said that “every human being has the right to achieve a happy life. As a social animal, no matter how powerful, no human being can survive solely. But sometimes the human brain creates false perceptions. Biologically, we equip certain emotions—affection, compassion, anger, hatred and suspicion.”
He said that the negative emotions at both national and family level bring force and violence. He iterated that the seven billion people in the world are the same: “Whether we like it or not, we have to live together and share nature, oxygen, the sun and the rain. This is the fundamental reality. So realize the oneness of humanity,” he said. “Differences of race, color, religion, nationality, political and economic views are secondary,” he asserted.
On 21st Century Problems
Talking about the problems faced by humankind in the 21st century, the Dalai Lama said that “most 21st century problems are man-made and woman-made.” Referring to environment and global economy among concerning issues of the 21st century and citing them as the “new reality,” he said, “when people wake up in the morning, they hope for a day with lesser problems. Nobody at the beginning of a new day prays for more problems.” However, problems arise “because we place too much emphasis on the differences that are secondary. There is a lack of awareness of reality and a lack of holistic approach. Even if you want to hit someone, there should be a realistic approach to analyze that person’s weak points.”
Recalling his childhood moments when he would ride on his mother’s shoulders, steer her by the ears and be pampered as the youngest child in the family, he said that “a mother’s physical touch is the most important factor in a child’s development.” He expressed that a lack of affection could lead to a sense of insecurity and distrust in later stages in life. “Scientists have come to realize that a healthy body is related to a healthy mind. Frustration and fear are very bad for our health. Honesty, truthfulness and transparency build trust. Trust in turn builds friendship and as a social animal, we need friendship. One must practice and promote a sense of concern and compassion for others,” he said. “Some people say that practice of compassion is only for the benefit of others. That is completely wrong. The first benefit goes to the practitioner,” he stated.
On Religion and Ethics
“Love, compassion, truthfulness — these are precious values irrespective of the fact whether you are a believer or a non-believer. Concern for others is part of human nature. It is important for survival,” he said. “If you don’t implement what you believe, then religion teaches you hypocrisy,” he added.
On Political and Economic Structures
Though associating positive ideas of liberty and freedom with capitalism, the Dalai Lama criticized the capitalist structure on the grounds of it being profit-centric. On the other hand, he praised socialism as it concerned itself with equal distribution among people. “I am a Marxist. I am a Buddhist Marxist,” he said with a laugh.
The Dalai Lama, comparing human teeth and finger nails with those of animals, said that “human being’s physical and moral appearances are closer to the concept of non-violence.” He said that the concept of non-violence is “very much related to a sense of other’s well-being. If your mind is full of hatred or anger, then a few nice words would be hypocrisy. Peaceful mind is the ultimate source of non-violence.”
With a few examples from his personal life and with a few mischievous and modest laughs every now and then, he explained a concept that he calls “map of emotion.” “Anger brings energy but that energy is blind, negative energy. It is not constructive. We have the ability to judge an emotion when we feel it; to judge whether it is constructive or destructive. To judge is the responsibility of our intelligence,” he said.
In conclusion he said, “Non-violence doesn’t mean we accept all injustice. We have to fight to oppose injustice. To overcome your suffering in a non-violent way is your right.”
Watch a 3-minute video of Dalai Lama speak at the event: