The future is in your hands

November 6th 2011

Koriyama, Japan, 6 November 2011 - On a rainy Sunday morning, His Holiness went to the Seiwa Gakuen Buddhist high-school in Sendai, where lines of students were waiting for him, holding long banners of welcome. Proceeding into the school auditorium, he was met by rows and rows of students, all in their dark uniforms, singing a quiet song and then, to the accompaniment of a pounding drum, chanting the Heart Sutra in front of a stage on which sat a small golden Buddha.

Students greet His Holiness the Dalai Lama on his arrival at Selwa Gakuen Buddhist high-school in Sendai, Japan, on November 6, 2011. Photo/Kimimasa Mayama
"The future is in your hands," His Holiness told the students. Looking at the violence of the 20th century, some of which was caused by intelligence misused, he pointed out how now, "early in the 21st century, we are dealing with some mistakes and negligence from the past century. Since violence has solved nothing, non-violence makes more sense."

He reminded the students, in a world without national boundaries, to think "of the whole planet, and not only of Japan" and to have vision, so they could "build your blue planet, and make it happier and healthier and more peaceful. For that you need intelligence, but that alone is not sufficient. Intelligence must be guided by warm-heartedness."

Students line up to ask His Holiness the Dalai Lama questions during his visit to Selwa Gakuen Buddhist high-school in Sendai, Japan, on November 6, 2011. Photo/Kimimasa Mayama
When a student asked him how he remained so healthy, His Holiness pointed out that, according to medical science, the whole foundation for good health is peace of mind. Everyone has problems; it's how we look at these problems that determines how strong or weak we are. Asked about religion, he said, "Since your country has experienced nuclear wars, the anti-nuclear movement is very strong in your country. You should be the leading people in external disarmament. And for that you should pay more attention to inner disarmament."

When one student came forward and read out a long, searching question, about how there was one self the world saw, and another that he felt within, and he couldn't tell where his real self was, His Holiness gave him a brief explanation of emptiness--the insubstantiality of the self--as he had to an audience of serious Buddhist practitioners at the very beginning of his stay. It seemed both an ultimate compliment to a teenager, and a perfect blessing for a fellow Buddhist.

Hurrying through the rain to Sendai's train station, he then took a bullet-train to Koriyama, in Fukushima prefecture, where he was to deliver a lecture at Nihon University, organized by a special "School for Living," on how to meet life's challenges. His Holiness spoke to a large packed audience with great passion about the need to look at reality--to analyze it--and about the need to develop moral principles. "Inner peace of mind is entirely based on self-confidence," he explained. "Then you have nothing to hide. You can act transparently. That brings trust. That brings friendship. Modern scientists have found that, through training of the mind, your brain actually changes."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at Nihon University in Koriyama, Japan, on November 6, 2011.
Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

As His Holiness opened the floor to questions, a long line formed, often with men asking about the recent disasters that had devastated their region. Should they stay to help the community or should they try to protect their family by moving away? Was hope possible?

"If you have too much fear, too much worry, too much attachment," His Holiness said, "your mind becomes biased. With that kind of mind, you can't see reality. You need a calm mind to see things clearly."

When a teacher asked how to work with his students, in dealing with this trauma, His Holiness said, "We have this marvelous intelligence. Also we are parts of society. There are always people who are really taking care of you. You should explain your own difficulties to your students. Then they feel, `This person, too, even though he's our teacher, is experiencing difficulties.’ Of course we have no ability to remove every kind of suffering, but we can share something."

The final questioner challenged that His Holiness had said that light would come: did he still feel that?

His Holiness the Dalai Lama taking questions from the audience during his talk at Nihon University in Koriyama, Japan, on November 6, 2011. Photo/Kimimasa Mayama
"When we look at events in the 20th century," His Holiness said, "there are a lot of reasons for optimism. Even yesterday, when I saw a place where a whole town had disappeared, that's not the end of the world. Some people say, `Next year, 2012, is the end of the world, or some sort of catastrophe will happen.' I don't believe that!

"Natural disasters may increase because of global warming; but that does not mean the world will end. At least for a few centuries--1000, 2000 years--things will go on. I still have hope.

"So don't worry! Be optimistic!"

With that, he went out into the rain again, and traveled to Koriyama Station, for another bullet-train to Tokyo, where he would spend his last night on this trip to Japan.

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