The Dalai Lama participated in a panel discussion today at the University of Northern Iowa called “Educating for a Non-violent World.” It dealt with ways to overcome violence in today’s society.
His holiness says he does not believe people are naturally violent. He says the basic human nature is to be a social animal and the basis of a social animal is some kind of cooperation, “So therefore I describes human nature as more gentleness.” He went on to say that the people who are violent are in the minority in our society.
He says we take for granted that the violence by others becomes very striking in our minds, so it becomes significant, but he says the majority of people still remain gentle by human nature.
The Dalai Lama also talked about the impact of religion on violence and the society. He says religion plays a role in improving humanity as all religions bring long-term interest and a basis in moral ethics.
But he says you don’t have to believe in a particular religion to be a compassionate person. He explained that positive people who have not much interest in religion say things like compassion and forgiveness are part of religious practice and not relevant. “That’s wrong,” he said.
His Holiness says India’s secularism teaches respect for all religions and all people, and that is the type of approach need to address violence. The Dalai Lama says overcoming the difficulties ultimately depend on warmheartedness, respect for others and everything being shared equally. He says first you need a healthy individual, healthy family and then you will have a healthy community.
Some 7,000 people showed up for the panel discussion.