Public Talk by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Compassion and Respect in Today’s Society
Saturday, September 14, 2013, 13.30–15.30
Tipsport Arena, Prague
On Saturday, September 14, 2013, at the Tipsport Arena, Prague, a public talk, entitled “Compassion and Respect in Today’s Society,” was held by the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The talk was held in English and was consecutively interpreted into Czech. After the deduction of operational costs, proceeds from ticket sales was used to support the 2014 Forum 2000 Conference and schools in Tibet through the Civic Associations M.O.S.T. and Brontosaurus.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama was welcomed with a standing ovation Saturday afternoon by thousands who had come to hear the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet’s message for greater “Compassion and Respect in Today’s Society.” Greeting the audience as his “dear brothers and sisters,” the 78-year-old Dalai Lama recalled how he was first invited to Prague by the late Czech President Václav Havel – whose legacy has inspired the theme of the upcoming Forum 2000 Conference (September 15–18) – and how even as a Head of State the former dissident had remained a “humble” man.
Havel was honored with a Light of Truth award in 2004 from His Holiness for his outstanding contribution to public understanding of Tibet’s plight. The two leaders met often over the years. “Our friendship is based on us being human beings. It’s not based on power,” he said when last meeting Havel, a week before he died in December 2011, and not long after that year’s Forum 2000 Conference.
The goal of this year’s Forum 2000 Conference is to deepen understanding of what’s necessary to move from authoritarianism to democracy, and the causes of the cessation or reversal of these processes. The Dalai Lama alluded to global struggles – telling the Cuba people (in response to a question from the audience), “You must keep your spirit, hope, determination and in some cases, maybe a little more patience,” citing Czechoslovakia’s case. But he spoke mainly about looking beyond one’s own needs for the greater good of humanity.
“I never considered myself as something special – nonsense, I’m the same as you!” the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate told the audience, cautioning that a “self-centered attitude is just the opposite of compassion,” robs one of inner peace, and ultimately leads to divisions in society, and is a root cause of violence against others and war between nations.
“We are social animals – this nobody can deny – one nation. Like birds, mammals, even I think ants and bees, these are social animals. … And the individual’s survival depends on the others,” the Dalai Lama said. He said people must work together to tackle problems such as global warming and rising poverty across the globe. “So now we must think of the entire humanity as one. We need a sense of oneness. Man ... needs a sense of community, a sense of belonging.”
Recognized as a moral and religious authority throughout the world, the Tibetan spiritual leader also spoke of his desire for modern secular education to include “moral teaching” with respect for all religions as being equal. “If the next generation goes through such an education, then I think there is more hope for a more compassionate society,” the Dalai Lama said.
The proceeds from this appearance will go to helping cover the costs of organizing next year’s Forum 2000 Conference, and to support schools in Tibet through the Czech civic associations M.O.S.T. and Hnutí Brontosaurus.