His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrives in Maribor, Slovenia, the Cultural Capital of Europe

May 16th 2012

Maribor, Slovenia, 15 May 2012 - It was raining in London this morning as His Holiness left for Vienna, Austria on his way to Maribor, Slovenia, at the invitation of the Mayor, Franc Kangler. His Holiness was accompanied to the door of his plane by David Cassidy of the Templeton Foundation, his host during his brief visit to London.

During his transit stop at Vienna airport, His Holiness met Kurt Seinitz, Foreign News Editor of Kronenzeitung, Austria's largest newspaper with an average daily readership of nearly 3 million. Kurt Seinitz began by asking if His Holiness had a message for the people of Austria, and he replied, “Nothing special”. He went on to elaborate that Austrians like him are just human beings, some among the 7 billion who want a happy life and who have a right to achieve happiness. He pointed out that happiness derived from mere physical comfort tends to be shallow and fleeting, failing to pacify anxiety and fear, whereas if we have a calm mind it is effective in overcoming even physical pain, therefore we should not neglect the inner values that are a source of a calm mind. His Holiness said that he was most concerned to advise people to cultivate secular ethics, those inner values beyond religion that help us lead a peaceful and happy life.

His Holiness noted that he has a strong link with the Austrian people because of his friendship with Heinrich Harrer and Peter Aufschneiter. He recalled that he has been aware of this special link since his first trip to Europe in 1973 and offered his special greetings to all Austrians today.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greets members of the press on his arrival at the airport in Maribor, Slovenia, on May 15, 2012. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
A short flight took His Holiness and his party from Vienna to Maribor, Slovenia's second city and currently the Cultural Capital of Europe. He was met on the tarmac by his host Mayor Franc Kangler with members of his staff and family. His Holiness spoke briefly, recalling his first visit here 2 years ago. He told assembled journalists that he wanted to share his experience that since most of the problems we face are of our own creation it is logical to think that a solution to them is also in our own hands. We need to approach them with self-confidence and whether we face problems on local or global levels we must not lose our sense of optimism.

Arriving at his hotel within sight of the Drava River, His Holiness met the Mayor again and asked what changes had taken place since he was last here. The Mayor told him that this year Maribor is, jointly with Guimaraes, Portugal, the European Capital of Culture. He added that next year Maribor will be the European Youth Capital and asked His Holiness if he had time to talk to the leaders of the European Youth Forum. They told him that they are in touch with youth groups across Europe and in Russian and Azerbaijan. They are also in touch with various faith groups and advocate the kind of inter-faith dialogue dear to His Holiness's heart. Asked what advice he would offer European Youth today, His Holiness suggested that they should not become demoralised because we need courage, determination and self-confidence to solve our problems. He recalled his own experience of losing his freedom at the age of 16, losing his country at the age of 24, and yet he has not given up. He noted that although there is great suffering in Tibet under Chinese communist oppression, Tibetans steel themselves against it by hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama with Maribor Mayor Franc Kangler in Maribor, Slovenia, on May 15, 2012. Photo/Sami Rahim
His Holiness continued that young people in their teens and early twenties belong to the 21st century, whereas he considers himself to belong to the 20th century that is already over. The 20th century was, despite many momentous developments, characterized by violence, bloodshed and oppression. If that had resulted in a better, more stable world it might have been justified, but that was not so, he said. Recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are symptoms of mistakes originating in the 20th century. He urged young people today to ask themselves how to solve problems they might face. What you need, he said, is a vision that this 21st century will be an era of dialogue and peace and he commended the steps already being taken in this European Youth Forum.

Tomorrow morning His Holiness has been invited to participate in the University of Maribor’s Out of the Box Conference – focusing on the theme: Innovative Ways to Improve the Culture of Living – Special Session with World Thinkers. In the afternoon he is to give a public talk on Cultivating Peace of Mind.

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