On Peace: Exchange with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama
Amb. Tunde Ogunyale
*The basic nature of man is compassion* – The 14th Dalai Lama
A few days ago, I completed an exchange and or fellowship programme with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama in the beautiful town of Dharamsala, India as one of the 26 youth leaders selected from 12 countries (in Africa, Middle East, and Latin America) facing serious conflicts. The entire programme is annually sponsored and facilitated by the United States Institute of Peace, and my cohort was the fourth edition. The programme is designed to give thorough and comprehensive leadership trainings to the selected youth leaders who are also peacebuilders in their communities. As part of the programme, the youth leaders would have the opportunity to interact with His Holiness, who at the age of 15 assumed full leadership responsibility of his people, the exiled Tibetan people, on issues relating to his experience and global peace vis a vis the challenges the youth leaders face in their peacebuilding works. So, my colleagues and I had an audience with His Holiness formally and otherwise for two days!
I can’t, by all means, reproduce all I learnt in this article for sake of brevity but I wish to draw my gleanings from some strong submissions of the global peace icon made in our conversations.
To start with, he believes that the basic human nature is compassion. All religions seem to promote this and if it is lacking in any, then it is probably not a religion at all. Compassion breeds love, and love is essential in every sphere of beings. We must be able to combine intelligence with kindness and warm-heartedness in order to move forward and still remain humans.
He also prioritizes dialogue over violent conflict when he submits that “the 21st century should be a century of dialogue in order to create peace”, and I agree with him. It is amazing that he leads by example; despite all the harsh treatments by the Chinese people against his people, the Tibetans, in China which made thousands of them including him to take refuge in India many years ago. He still leads and encourages his people against violence and towards dialogue even with the Chinese government!
His Holiness went further to say that man must be responsible for his actions. According to him, “when we create problems as man, we should also think of solving them instead of praying to God for solution. If we just pray, we wouldn’t be able to use our mental capability maximally”. He is by no means saying prayer is irrelevant, but prayer without work is vanity!
Also, His Holiness is an advocate of quality education and he is a strong advocate of same. In his words, “Peace education is necessary to facilitate peace in our society. Education does not only give material values, it also gives inner strength”.
When one of us asked him to what extent must we put our lives at risk in our peacebuilding works, he gave an instructive response when he says that “your life is very important and precious. Sometime, practice escape instead of sticking to peace and compassion”. I suppose it depends on the circumstance and we should be guided by wisdom at all times. The wise monk is surely not a warrior without reasoning. Dead men don’t make a change. I asked him a question on how he managed resistance against his work as a young leader so we could be advised, and he responded by saying “keep doing your work; keep pushing”. That’s what he did. He further said at another time that “peaceful demonstration is the solution to a problem”. I reacted to this statement by asking for measures that could be put in place to prevent peaceful protest from being hijacked as we have severally witnessed in Nigeria, unfortunately. In response, His Holiness advises against impatience and bad organization.
Just before we concluded our conversation, he encouraged us to be more active as young persons and to think better and deeper and that critical thinking has the capacity to transform the future. In his words, “time never stands still. The past is not in our power but we can transform the future by our thinking.”
No doubt, my experience with His Holiness was terrific!
For peacepace Initiative…towards peace.