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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?"

My vision of a compassionate future: Many of the problems we confront today are our own creation.

February 7, 2008

Straight Goods, Canada
Monday, February 04, 2008

by The Dalai Lama for the Washington Post

Brute force can never subdue the basic human desire for freedom. The
thousands of people who marched in the cities of Eastern Europe in
recent decades, the unwavering determination of the people in my
homeland of Tibet and the recent demonstrations in Burma are powerful
reminders of this truth. Freedom is the very source of creativity and
human development. It is not enough, as communist systems assumed, to
provide people with food, shelter and clothing. If we have these things
but lack the precious air of liberty to sustain our deeper nature, we
remain only half human.

The old concepts of "we" and "they" are no longer relevant in an
interdependent world.

In the past, oppressed peoples often resorted to violence in their
struggle to be free. But visionaries such as Mahatma Gandhi and the Rev
Martin Luther King Jr have shown us that successful changes can be
brought about nonviolently. I believe that, at the basic human level,
most of us wish to be peaceful. Deep down, we desire constructive,
fruitful growth and dislike destruction.

Many people today agree that we need to reduce violence in our society.
If we are truly serious about this, we must deal with the roots of
violence, particularly those that exist within each of us. We need to
embrace "inner disarmament," reducing our own emotions of suspicion,
hatred and hostility toward our brothers and sisters.

Furthermore, we must reexamine how we relate to the very question of the
use of violence in today's profoundly interconnected world. One may
sometimes feel that one can solve a problem quickly with force, but such
success is often achieved at the expense of the rights and welfare of
others. One problem may have been solved, but the seed of another is
planted, thus opening a new chapter in a cycle of violence and

 From the Velvet Revolution in the former Czechoslovakia to the popular
pro-democracy movement in the Philippines, the world has seen how a
nonviolent approach can lead to positive political changes. But the
genuine practice of nonviolence is still at an experimental stage. If
this experiment succeeds, it can open the way to a far more peaceful
world. We need to embrace a more realistic approach to dealing with
human conflicts, an approach that is in tune with a new reality of heavy
interdependence in which the old concepts of "we" and "they" are no
longer relevant. The very idea of total victory for one's own side and
the total defeat of one's enemy is untenable. In violent conflicts, the
innocent are often the first casualties, as the war in Iraq and Sudan's
Darfur crisis painfully remind us. Today, the only viable solution to
human conflicts will come through dialogue and reconciliation based on
the spirit of compromise.

Many of the problems we confront today are our own creation. I believe
that one of the root causes of these manmade problems is the inability
of humans to control their agitated minds and hearts — an area in which
the teachings of the world's great religions have much to offer.

A scientist from Chile once told me that it is inappropriate for a
scientist to be attached to his particular field of study, because that
would undermine his objectivity. I am a Buddhist practitioner, but if I
mix up my devotion for Buddhism with an attachment to it, my mind will
be biased toward it. A biased mind never sees the complete picture, and
any action that results will not be in tune with reality. If religious
practitioners can heed this scientist's advice and refrain from being
attached to their own faith traditions, it could prevent the growth of
fundamentalism. It also could enable such followers to genuinely respect
faith traditions other than their own. I often say that while one can
adhere to the principle of "one truth, one religion" at the level of
one's personal faith, we should embrace at the same time the principle
of "many truths, many religions" in the context of wider society. I see
no contradiction between these two.

I do not mean to suggest that religion is indispensable to a sound
ethical way of life, or for that matter to genuine happiness. In the
end, whether one is a believer or a nonbeliever, what matters is that
one be a good, kind and warmhearted person. A deep sense of caring for
others, based on a profound sense of interconnection, is the essence of
the teachings of all great religions of the world. In my travels, I
always consider my foremost mission to be the promotion of basic human
qualities of goodness — the need for and appreciation of the value of
love, our natural capacity for compassion and the need for genuine
fellow feeling. No matter how new the face or how different the dress
and behavior, there is no significant division between us and other

For the whole story, please go to the related site below.

The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual leader of Tibet.
Since 1959, he has been living in Dharamsala, in northern India, the
seat of the Tibetan government in exile.

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