Meetings and a Public Talk on the Path to Happiness in Auckland, City of Peace

June 12th 2013

Auckland, New Zealand, 12 June 2013 - It was cold and dark when His Holiness the Dalai Lama left Dunedin early this morning to fly to Auckland. The drive from the airport into the city on arrival was warm and sunny, more like an autumn morning than the depths of winter.

Members of the Peace Foundation with His Holiness the Dalai Lama holding the declaration of Auckland as a City of Peace in Auckland, New Zealand on June 12, 2013. Photo/Jacqui Walker
He went straight into a meeting with the Peace Foundation that has declared Auckland, nuclear-free New Zealand’s biggest city, a City of Peace. He was introduced to the small gathering that included schoolchildren by Vice President Yvonne Duncan. He lost no time commending the Foundation and expressing his appreciation of its work for peace. He summarized the wars and violence that have taken place since he was born in 1935, concluding on a hopeful note that people in many places today are showing that they are fed up with violence. He said:

“As an idea City of Peace is wonderful, but a declaration is not enough, we each have to work to cultivate the inner peace that will contribute to peace in the world at large. The source of conflict is often dividing people into ‘them’ and ‘us’. We need to educate young people in the understanding that the use of violence never solves problems; the real solution to conflict is dialogue. That’s the basis on which we can work to make this a century of peace.”

From the Peace Foundation he went to an interview with TVNZ One, which touched on his hopes for Tibet. He said he looks forward to the new administration in China adopting a more realistic approach to ensure that the ‘China Dream’ does not become a nightmare. He reaffirmed that Tibetans have their own language and Buddhist culture that, along with the fragile environment of Tibet, they seek to preserve by seeking genuine autonomy, not independence. He said there is growing support for this Middle Way Approach among members of the Chinese public and intelligentsia who come to know about it. Asked if he would set foot again in Tibet, he answered, “Yes.”

In the afternoon, in the picturesque Civic Theatre he spoke to an audience of 2300 about the Path to Happiness.

“Brothers and sisters, once again I have an opportunity to meet with the public, which I consider really worthwhile, because my No.1 commitment is to promote human values in the interest of human happiness. I am one of the 7 billion human beings alive today and I believe we are all mentally, physically and emotionally the same. And as a Buddhist monk I am also concerned to encourage inter-religious harmony. Who is likely to take responsibility for fulfilling these commitments, not our leaders or governments, but individual members of the public.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on the Path to Happiness at the Civic Theatre in Auckland, New Zealand on June 12, 2013. Photo/Cally Stockdale
He explained that we all receive a seed of affection from our mothers, but in our materially oriented society, with an education system largely focussed upon material development, the natural human values that can grow from it remain dormant. He said that it is ultimately individual members of the public who can be effective in changing this, which is why he is always happy to talk to them. He talked of how our sophisticated human intelligence is capable of wonderful achievements, but can also be a source of great stress and anxiety.

He suggested that instead of harbouring fear and suspicion we need to think of other people not as ‘them’ but ‘us’. When we develop care and concern for others in this way, there is no room for bullying, exploitation or deceit. If on the other hand we find ways to stoke our sense of mistrust, when we need help we won’t find it, leaving us isolated and alone.

“What we need to recognise is that others are like us. They also want to live a happy life and have a right to do so. We need to support this recognition with common sense, our common experience and scientific findings. For example, scientists have found that concern for others improves our physical well-being, while people who often use the words I, me and mine, indicating significant self-centredness, are more prone to suffering heart attacks.”

His Holiness repeated a story he has told before about a Catholic monk he met in Barcelona who had spent five years living in complete simplicity as a hermit in the mountains. When he asked him what he had been meditating on, the monk answered ‘Love’ and His Holiness noted the sparkle in his eyes that revealed the depth of his peace of mind.

He commended warm-heartedness as a source of happiness and the basis for leading a meaningful life, remarking that when we are young death seems a long way off. However, it will surely come and leading a meaningful life is a way to prepare for it.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama waves to the audience at the conclusion of his talk at the Civic Theatre in Auckland, New Zealand on June 12, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
In answering questions from the audience, His Holiness reiterated that compassion and concern for others is the key to human survival. He commented that people with no interest in religion sometimes disregard qualities like patience and compassion, which they associate with religious practice. In fact, he said, they are relevant to anyone who wishes to live a happy life. He suggested we can make such values known by promoting secular ethics by means of secular education. He clarified that by secular he means an unbiased respect for all religions and those who have none. This is relevant to today’s world.

A final question asked if he ever makes mistakes like ordinary people and after a moment’s reflection he answered that when he was a young teenager and had the opportunity to study, he failed to use it properly. He feels he was lazy then and that it was a mistake because once time has gone you can never take it back.

Before retiring for the night he met briefly with a group of Tibetans and Mongolians resident in New Zealand and members of the Chinese-Tibetan Friendship Group, followed by members of the New Zealand Friends of Tibet and the Tibetan Children’s Relief Society who have given longstanding support to children in Tibetan schools in India.

Early tomorrow morning His Holiness leaves New Zealand, after a short but successful visit, to fly to Sydney, Australia where he will give Buddhist teachings and several public talks.

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