Dalai Lama projects hope for peaceful 21st century

The Associated Press
Wednesday May 16, 2001

The Dalai Lama expressed hope for a more peaceful 21st century Tuesday night, saying humanity seems to have learned something from the bloody and violent one that just ended. 

“In the 20th century, there was more bloodshed, more pain and suffering,” he told a sold-out crowd of about 10,000 at Memorial Coliseum, capping his three-day visit to Portland. He leaves for San Jose today. 

As technology advanced, he said, so did destructive power. “Material development did not make us more humane. What was lacking was human compassion. Humanity is actually too much mechanized.” 

The Dalai Lama, 65, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and leader of Tibet’s exiled government, is on a three-week American visit. His audience paid from $25 to $100 to attend the lecture titled “Ethics for a new Millennium.” A portion of the ticket price will go toward construction of a Buddhist cultural center in Portland. 

In wars of the past, he said, heroes used their strength, swords and spears. “At least it was an honest war,” he lamented. 

Now, he said, with modern warfare, one side can’t see the suffering it imposes on others. “Mechanized war is much more serious, much more dangerous,” he said. 

“If we combine our brilliant brain with a warm heart, human beings will have the potential to overcome their problems,” he said. “I think there are many signs of hope because of our past experiences.” 

He cited South Africa’s progress, Mahatma Gandhi of India and Martin Luther King Jr. 

In both World Wars, he said, people supported the government without question. During Vietnam, they not only questioned policy but demonstrated against it. 

While the talk was mostly serious, the Buddhist leader also displayed his gentle sense of humor. He said people attending the lecture with great expectations would be disappointed. Some, he said, believed that he had healing powers. 

“I want to show you my skin problem here,” he said 

The red-and-saffron-robed Dalai Lama, the 14th, is considered the reincarnation of his predecessor. He fled to India as a teenager in 1959 after a failed uprising against the Chinese occupation of Tibet. 

He decried the wide gap between rich and poor. Too much emphasis on material wealth is immoral, he said, when hundreds of thousands of people struggle to survive. 

“We must think to reduce this gap,” he said. “We have to develop a more civil, more contented way of life.” 

He urged self-discipline and the foregoing of short-term pleasures for long-term results. “If I take a drug I may get satisfaction, but eventually it will ruin the body,” he said as an example. 

He said man’s intellect gives him access to all processes and emotions, but it also gets him into trouble. 

If we want peace, he said, “no disturbances, a trouble-free world, all human beings should go to heaven. There should be no human beings on this planet.” 

But he said that while humanity can be a troublemaker, it is uniquely capable of absolute altruism. “We have great potential,” he said. 

He urged his audience to implement some of what he said, if they found it of some interest. 

“If you feel these points are not of much interest, then forget it!” he said to close the speech.