This edition of the Express Adda held at the Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi, hosted the Dalai Lama. In a discussion moderated by The Indian Express’s Executive Director Anant Goenka and National Opinion Editor Vandita Mishra, he took questions from the audience and spoke on a range of subjects—the role of modern education, reviving ancient Indian knowledge, polarisation, living in a world without violence and the future of the institution of the Dalai Lama.
We are all social animals and compassion, care and concern for others brings us together. Animals may be violent but only human beings make war. However, this may be changing. In the early part of the 20th century, when one nation declared war on the other, every citizen joined the war effort, without asking questions. This has no longer been the case from the latter part of the 20th century. When a government declares, or contemplates war, quite often citizens speak up against it. Many Americans were against the Vietnam War and during the Iraq War, millions expressed their desire for peace. So humans, I feel, are becoming more mature. They also know that war brings with it immense destruction. There are no winners. Everyone suffers. I am an admirer of the European Union. I think if the European Union hadn’t been formed, there would have been fighting among member states. Therefore, this is an indication that people are fed up with violence. People now consider common interest to be more important than just personal national interest and I admire this. I think there is hope.
On a world without violence
I think theoretically it’s possible. Now it all depends on our efforts, mainly through education and closer contact. The only way to remove suspicion is close friendships. Unfortunately, there is violence in the name of religion. Look at Iraq and Syria. Thousands and thousands of young children are dying in Syria. How could we have created such a situation, how can we see another human being dying and remain indifferent. I am fully committed to the oneness of humanity. If we share these common feelings, then we will have no ground for violence or war. It’s difficult but possible to achieve, through education, not through prayer. I met someone who asked me, please pray. I said, I am a Buddhist, I have a daily practice of prayer but I do not believe prayer brings a peaceful world. We can keep praying for a thousand years and nothing will happen. We should be realistic. If you have the opportunity to meet the Buddha or Jesus Christ, ask them to bring peace to this world and they will certainly ask you, who creates violence? If god created violence, then yes, it’s relevant to appeal to god. I am certain that Buddha and Jesus Christ would tell us, you have created the problem, so it’s your responsibility to solve it. Work for peace, the easy thing to do is pray.
On violence in India
India is the most populated democracy and there will be some mischievous people. So these things happen, it’s normal and they are reported in the media. The media has an important responsibility. It should report all that is happening — murders, rapes — but at the same time if the news is always negative, then the reader may start thinking that basic human nature is negative and the future of humanity is doomed. So, we must report on whatever is happening but at the same time, we must occasionally provide readers with something positive.
Transcribed by Suanshu Khurana, Ektaa Malik, Pallavi Chattopadhyay and Damini Ralleigh