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"For a happier, more stable and civilized future, each of us must develop a sincere, warm-hearted feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood."

Dalai Lama shares laughs, advice in TV interview

October 8, 2009

By: Sheri Block,
Saturday Oct. 3, 2009

Craig Kielburger was just 14 when he first met the Dalai Lama. He says that
meeting changed his life.

Fast-forward more than 10 years later and the Free the Children founder had
the privilege of interviewing His Holiness for a special one-on-one
interview for CTV -- the only one granted to an English-speaking TV network
during a visit to the Vancouver Peace Summit and We Day this week.

Kielburger says even though he had previously met the Dalai Lama and
travelled with him, it didn't mean there weren't any jitters.

"I was incredibly nervous!" admits Kielburger with a laugh. "And honoured
and excited and elated all at the same time."

When Kielburger first met the Dalai Lama, they were both attending a
week-long think-tank in Stockholm, Sweden that set out to answer the
question of "What is the greatest challenge of our time?"

Although answers like "weapons of mass destruction" and "climate change"
were brought forward by others, the Dalai Lama responded by saying people
know how to solve problems like hunger and environmental degradation but
they don't act. Therefore the biggest challenge of our time is making
bystanders take action.

"That fundamentally changed the way I looked at the world," says Kielburger.
"Very few moments have had such a profound shaping of my personal life

This idea has shaped the kind of work Free the Children does. The
organization, which Kielburger founded when he was just 12, is all about
inspiring a generation of kids who care.

"The work that we do is dedicated to try and answer that challenge he put
out to the group."

Any advice for the next incarnation?

During their one-on-one interview, Kielburger also talked to the Dalai Lama
about compassion and how Kielburger himself had struggled with such a
simplistic idea in a world filled with such complex problems.

"(I asked him), 'If compassion is at the root of creating a better world,
then how in practice do you nurture compassion?' (as well as) a number of
follow up questions on that line of asking how can parents do this, how can
teachers make this come alive?"

Kielburger says other things came out of the conversation that he never
expected -- including a discussion on the recent passing of the Dalai Lama's
great teacher and mentor, and the question of whom he now turns to for

"He said after the passing of his teacher and looking at his life today, the
person he can turn to is himself and his memories and the lessons he's
learned," says Kielburger.

"And my favourite part of the interview was the follow up conversation to
that because in philosophy teachings according to reincarnation your
consciousness continues -- and therefore his consciousness will continue in
the next Dalai Lama. So I asked him, 'What advice would you give your next

It was a question His Holiness had never been asked.

"And the laughter and great chuckle at the question, he said 'I don't know!'
... it was brilliant what he said, but also just to see how much he enjoyed
the conversation was a great part of the exchange."

The Dalai Lama also showed his sense of humour during Vancouver's We Day.

"He was hilariously funny in his challenge (when he said), 'Outer beauty is
too expensive with all the makeup, you should focus on inner beauty,'"
recalls Kielburger.

Both Kielburger and his brother Marc were presented with white scarves by
the Dalai Lama -- a symbol of harmony in Tibetan culture. And this time, as
well as funding a school for children in India, they wanted to reciprocate a
gift so gave him a "Be the Change" T-shirt, which he slung over his

"What do you give the Dalai Lama?" says Kielburger with a laugh. "You give
him a school but you can't physically present that."

Kielburger was also impressed with how much extra time the Dalai Lama spent
at the event, his willingness to answer questions and how candid he was with
the crowd -- in particular about how he knows this is the generation that
will take over for him.

Having His Holiness there only elevates an already growing We Day, says

"He's one of the iconic figures of compassion of our time and for him to
spend time with these kids is truly a great gift to Canada."

We Day will continue in Toronto on Monday, Oct. 5 with a lineup that
includes Nobel Laureate and humanitarian Elie Wiesel, community activist and
Toronto Argonauts CEO Michael "Pinball" Clemens, and performances by Hedley
and Justin Bieber.

Toronto's We Day will stream live on CTV dot ca beginning at 9:30 am ET. A
two-hour television special, "CTV Presents: We Day 2009," will air Saturday,
Oct. 10 at 7 pm ET.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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