Working for Peace, Educating the Heart and Cultivating Compassion in Derry

April 19th 2013

Derry, Northern Ireland, 18 April 2013 - Today, His Holiness the Dalai Lama made his second visit to Derry, the Irish city whose motto is ‘Life, Truth and Victory’ and is UK City of Culture for 2013. He was invited by his old friend Richard Moore, the Director of the charity Children in Crossfire.

In the morning, His Holiness met Richard Moore, his wife and daughters and several of his brothers and sisters. When Richard remarked that his 93 year old mother was hoping to meet His Holiness, but was not feeling strong enough to go out, His Holiness replied that, if possible, he would like to go to see her.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on "Philosophies of Peace & Conflict" at the University of Ulster Magee Campus in Derry, Northern Ireland, on April 18, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
His first engagement was at Magee University where he was invited to participate in a conversation with Prof Brandon Hamber about ‘Philosophies of Peace and Conflict.’ In response to Prof Hamber’s question about whether the world is becoming a better place, he said:

“It’s a great honour for me to participate in this discussion. I’m here because of my wonderful friend Richard Moore, who as a young man, not especially religious minded, came to embody deep human values. When tragedy befell him, he didn’t allow himself to become filled with feelings of anger, hatred and resentment. The result is clear; he’s now a happy, peaceful human being.

“In the world at large it seems that people are becoming fed up with war and violence and the sense of ‘them’ and ‘us’ that provokes it is breaking down.”

Asked what his philosophy of peace is, he replied:

“Genuine peace comes about as a result of inner peace, so it starts on an individual level. Then you share it with your family and your neighbourhood. Inner peace is the basis of trust, the basis of friendship and so the basis of a wider peace in society and the world at large. Prayer doesn’t bring about peace, because it’s we who create the trouble, so it’s we who have to fix it.”

Prof Hamber asked if he was optimistic about Tibet and he was clear in his response.

“The problem in Tibet is not a matter of civil war, but that a new guest has come without a proper invitation, armed with a gun. Once that guest arrived, every Tibetan’s way of life came under threat. We have a rich cultural heritage, a culture of peace and compassion, which we want to preserve. Yes, the Tibet issue is linked to what happens in China. And things are changing there so, yes, we can hope. The last prime minister Wen Jiabao often spoke of the need for change and even the need for democracy. In the early 1980s Hu Yaobang went to Tibet. I met him in 1954 when he was head of the Chinese Communist Youth. He visited Lhasa in 1980 and publicly apologised for what had happened in Tibet. He was someone he followed Deng Xiaoping’s stricture, ‘Seek truth from facts’ and he realistically investigated local conditions. Some people say the new leadership seem to be taking a cue from Hu Yaobang’s approach, but it’s still too early to say. In the meantime, our Middle Way Approach attracts a lot of support from Chinese writers, thinkers and even ordinary villagers who get to know about it and understand it.”


Members of the audience listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the University of Ulster Magee Campus in Derry, Northern Ireland, on April 18, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
To the suggestion that people can become tired of working for peace and reconciliation, His Holiness said that this kind of work is not a matter of choice, but something we have to do. As he frequently tells Tibetans, in the long run the people we are in conflict with are the people we have to live with side by side, so we have to find a peaceful solution. In such situations, resorting to violence is like suicide. Taking a more realistic and holistic view can give us a more positive perspective, whereas getting caught up in the destructive emotions of anger, hatred and fear create unhappiness and bring nothing positive.

Addressing those in his audience who were less than 30 years old, His Holiness said:

“You truly belong to the twenty-first century generation; the future is in your hands.”

On the way from Magee University to St Joseph’s School, where Richard Moore had been a student, at His Holiness’s request, he stopped to visit Richard’s mother. He was able to tell her personally that her son was his hero, because although he talks about compassion, Richard puts it into effect. At the school, after Richard Moore had introduced him, he said:


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on "Educating the Heart" at St Joseph's School in Derry, Northern Ireland, on April 18, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
“I’ve known Richard for many years now and have long admired his strength. Today, I’ve also met his brothers and sisters and just now I’ve met his mother. I remember him telling me that when he was shot he fainted and when he came round he didn’t feel anger or hatred, but was sorry that he could no longer see his mother’s face. I’m happy that today I’ve been able to see her myself. I believe that human beings are gentle by nature and this is nurtured by the affection we receive from our mothers. As we grow up and go to school we need to combine the knowledge we gain there with warm-heartedness. The real test of our compassion is when, as Richard was, we are faced with a challenge.”

Meeting the press later in the day, His Holiness reiterated that when Richard Moore encountered tragedy he kept a calm mind and as a result his life since has been peaceful and he has been able to do much good for others. If like him we can cultivate a concern for others, keeping in mind the oneness of humanity, we can build a more compassionate world. It’s unrealistic to think we can achieve this through prayer alone; we have to take action as Richard Moore has done through the work of Children in Crossfire. Altruism does not mean you neglect your own happiness, but by acting transparently, you create trust and trust creates friendship.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama and fellow participants crossing the Peace Bridge as part of Children in Crossfire's Culture of Compassion event in Derry, Northern Ireland, on April 18, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
In the early afternoon, as the wind whipped down the Foyle River, 300 local primary school children provided a guard of honour on the Peace Bridge as His Holiness, Richard Moore, Bishop Ken Good and Monsignor Eamon Martin led a Peace Walk from one side to the other. As they walked, the children who lined the bridge sang ‘Peace is flowing like a River.' The rain held off until the very last moment.

In the last event of this day to mark the Culture of Compassion, 2500 people gathered to hear Richard Moore and His Holiness speak. In his introduction, Richard said that the meeting was to celebrate compassion and to succeed they need the support of people like His Holiness. He was forthright that the only way forward is peace. His Holiness responded:

“I am very happy to be here with my hero Richard Moore. Harmony and peace are things you have to work for and he works hard. Those of us who believe in peace and non-violence have a responsibility to show support and solidarity with that. It’s a great honour for me to come here and show solidarity with your noble work. Thank you for inviting me.

“Today has turned out to be a special day for me. I’ve known Richard for some time, and he’s even come to see me in Dharamsala with Charles the soldier who shot the plastic bullet that blinded him. Despite that tragedy, he showed how as human beings we have a capacity to forgive and be reconciled. But today, I met my hero’s 93 year old mother, which has made it a great day.” The audience cheered.

“Peace is crucial to our survival and non-violence is the key to peace. This doesn’t mean that we will face no problems, but we have to be prepared to deal with them through dialogue not conflict. Peace must be part of our lives and part of our culture. Non-violence doesn’t mean we should be passive, because, for example, it takes will-power to restrain yourself from violence. When we have a problem, we need to look at it from many angles with a calm mind in order to understand the reality of the situation. If we don’t take a realistic approach we won’t reach our goal.”


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at Embrington Plaza on "The Culture of Compassion" in Derry, Northern Ireland, on April 18, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
His Holiness stressed that developing a culture of peace is ultimately related to developing compassion for others. We need to analyse whether anger and hatred have any value. He said that he has three reasons for developing compassion. It is based on our common experience; everyone responds positively to kindness. It is common sense, because it’s obvious that people who are warm-hearted are happier. And finally, scientific findings show that negative emotions like anger, hatred and fear eat into our immune system, whereas there is evidence that warm-heartedness and compassion are good for our overall health. He concluded:

“Please think. It’s not enough to pray and to hope, we have to work hard to create and maintain compassion and peace.”

He then presented the Youth Compassion award to a young medical student who regularly gives a substantial amount of his free time to volunteering in the hospital where he studies. He said that he finds it is always worth making time for others.

After the earlier rain, the sun came out as His Holiness left Derry to travel to Cambridge. He was welcomed to St John’s College by the Master, Christopher Dobson and his wife and representatives of the students who have invited him.
 

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