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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

When Dalai Lama Preached Tolerance

December 3, 2008

THISDAY - Apapa,Lagos, Nigeria
The leader of Tibet , Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was in Nigeria last week to deliver the 10th Anyiam-Osigwe memorial lecture in Lagos. Nosike Ogbuenyi writes on the essence of his message
His Holiness , the 14thy Dalai Lama ,Tenzin Gyatso , last Thursday was in his electrifying elements as he delivered a thought-provoking lecture in Nigeria . He attributed frequent religious flare ups in parts of the world to ignorance arising from underdevelopment of the human minds to appreciate the fact that all religions of the world are united by the message of peace, love and the existence of one supreme God. The 73 year-old spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people who was keynote speaker at the 10 th session of Emmanuel Onyechere Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe lecture series in Lagos denied speculations that his religion, Buddhism was atheistic and irredentist. The theme of the 2008 Anyiam-Osigwe lecture is “Religious, Social Harmony and Development: Towards an Explicit Construct of the Holistic Development”.
Dalai Lama, who won the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for Tibetan freedom, identified three levels of the development of the mind, namely lower, medium and higher rungs. According to him, the underdeveloped or ignorant minds can easily be misled or incited into provocative or violent act. He therefore advocated that conscious steps should be taken by all spiritual and lay leaders of all religions and countries of the world to put the human mind on the right path through subjection to increased reading and learning especially the exploration of ones religion and those of others in order to discover their true messages of peace and love. To him, that is the most assured route to peace and harmony in the world and its component nations.
Dalai Lama hailed the level of religious harmony prevalent in culturally and religiously divergent Nigeria , declaring that the world could profit from Nigeria ’s example of religious tolerance . The Tibetan leader was full of effusive praises for the initiators and organisers of Anyiam-Osigwe Lecture series for promoting national and global harmony. His lecture was delivered extempore on the theme, ‘The Unity of the Absolute’.
Espousing ‘The Oneness of all Religions’, he said, “Here in Nigeria, I think the large number of Muslims, the large number of Christians, I think basically remain very harmoniously, this is wonderful, please keep this type of harmonious relationship…There have remained  religious differences and practices in different parts of the world but basically we as humans all have in common the concept of the self (individual). The self despite constituting the centre of the universe, still remains elusive, making it difficult to pin-point what self is.
“What has been recognized to be a universal bonding factor in us all is the sense of appreciation, which is derived from compassion from one individual to another. It is this compassion for our fellow humans that continues to sustain humanity.
“It is compassion that could conquer the ills of the society.”
Dalai Lama said that Africa has been recognised as the cradle of human existence adding that he was happy that Nigeria , like many other African countries now has a democratic government. He however said it was saddening that parts of what he called ‘the first continent’ are still mired in ethnic and sectarian conflicts. He equally bemoaned the ravages of starvation, poverty, illiteracy and HIV/AIDS of the people of the continent. “The problem of AIDS is not limited to Africa, even in Tibet such cases arise and even in developed countries like the United States , there are poor people but I have  asked people to tell me what the gap is between the rich and the poor, and their reply is that it was wide.”
Most of the dignitaries expected to grace the annual failed to show and only sent their representatives. Those represented include President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan , Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State and the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence , Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III.
Those who graced the occasion include the Executive Director, Africa Institute for Leadership, Mr. Coetzee Bester and Coodinator-General, Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Foundation, Mr. Michael Anyiam-Osigwe. The Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Foundation and its lecture series were instituted in memory of the late Emmanuel Onyechere Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe, “to propagate the ideals and philosophy of a man who in his lifetime, and among other things, sought to convey what he described as the sense of unity in the teachings of the great masters who have walked the earth, showing mankind how to live by dispensing both practical and spiritual wisdom; to hold out hope of inherent treasures in these teachings.” 
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