Nonviolent Peaceforce Discusses His Holiness The Dalai Lama at Nobel Peace Prize Forum

Nonviolent Peaceforce Endorser The Dalai Lama Speaks At Nobel Peace Prize Forum In Minneapolis

By Shannon Livingston-Harris, Nonviolent Peaceforce Communications Intern

On March 1, I attended the Nobel Peace Prize Forum’s Faith and Peace Day at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The Nobel Peace Prize Forum is, according to its website, a “public, global event [that] brings Nobel Peace Prize winners, civic leaders, and scholars together with students and other citizens.” The Forum’s mission is to inspire peacemaking by celebrating the work of Peace Prize winners. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama gave the Nobel laureate address.

For nearly an hour and a half, I heard His Holiness speak and answer questions on human rights, compassion, happiness, and transcending despair. Right away, I noticed his sense of humor and a deep gust in his voice that sounded like wind traversing the Himalayan Mountains. His Holiness, who travels and speaks internationally, is currently exiled in India after fleeing Chinese rule in his homeland of Tibet. Beginning his address on the issue of human rights, His Holiness said, “The concept of human right is based on the oneness of humanity.”

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded His Holiness the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. According to the Committee’s 1989 press release,

The Committee wants to emphasize the fact that the Dalai Lama in his struggle for the liberation of Tibet consistently has opposed the use of violence. He has instead advocated peaceful solutions based upon tolerance and mutual respect in order to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of his people. The Dalai Lama has developed his philosophy of peace from a great reverence for all things living and upon the concept of universal responsibility embracing all mankind as well as nature.

In his address, His Holiness shared that “all spiritual masters [were] concerned with how to promote and strengthen basic human values.” He acknowledged humanity’s “smart brain” but also shared how it produces aggressiveness, greed, and intolerance. He reflected on how hatred, fear, and distrust eat away at our human immune system; whereas mutual respect and learning among communities creates a happy life. He expressed hope for today’s youth in creating a better future for our world: “The 21st century could be a century of love and compassion.”

His Holiness answered questions from the Convention Center audience, as well as from those watching the address online. He was asked, “What allows you to transcend despair?” to which His Holiness quickly replied, “There is no other choice.” Chuckling, he then said, “If you want to die soon, meditate on pessimism!” His Holiness was also asked to share his thoughts on defining compassion. He said, “[it’s] genuine concern for another’s wellbeing.” He explained how compassion and peace of mind build gentleness. His Holiness remarked, “Destruction of neighbor is destruction of self.”

Another question prompted His Holiness to reflect on religion’s influence in the world: “Does

religion foster world peace?” While affirming that religion is necessary for peace, His Holiness rephrased the question to himself, “[Will] religion alone bring world peace?” and thoughtfully answered, “Difficult to say.” He stated that any change in the world must start with the individual before it can positively affect families and spread to communities.

His Holiness is also one of many endorsers for Nonviolent Peaceforce. His endorsement says, “The moral force and personal discipline of non-violence offer the best, most effective long term strategies to resolve conflicts . . . . I wish your efforts every success. I am asking the Foundation for Universal Responsibility to work with you on this very worthy initiative.”

One of the final questions asked His Holiness to sum up the state of the world in one word. After a brief pause, he answered, “Complicated.”

Photo by Luca Galuzzi –


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