Zurich, Switzerland: Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama said inner values need to be incorporated into education, not on the basis of religion but from a secular point of view as he wrapped up the four-nation European tour after addressing a symposium on ‘Human values and Education’ at Zurich University of Applied Sciences on Monday.
Jean-Marc Piveteau, President of Zurich University of Applied Sciences received His Holiness as he arrived at the venue.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when I see a human face, I think, ‘another human brother or sister’. We focus too much on secondary differences between us—differences of community, religion, religious denomination, whether people are rich or poor—which gives rise to a sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’.
“There are differences between us, but at a deeper level, we are the same in being human. We’re all born the same way and we die the same way. Some scientists say, as a result of their findings with young, pre-verbal infants that basic human nature is compassionate. At the same time, while constant anger, fear and hatred undermine our immune systems, peace of mind is good for our health,” said His Holiness.
He emphasised that as human beings we are social animals and therefore survive in dependence on our community.
“We need friends and friendship is based on trust. To earn trust, money and power aren’t enough; you have to show some concern for others. You can’t buy trust in the supermarket.
“Therefore, we have to integrate and since we are interdependent we have to show some global responsibility.”
He also urged the members of the institution to incorporate an education system that could nourish the future generations with values such as compassion, warmheartedness and understanding.
“Just as we teach physical hygiene to stay physically fit, we need to cultivate emotional hygiene, learning to tackle our destructive emotions, to achieve peace of mind. We need to think about peace of mind. About 200 years ago the church looked after inner values along with education. Today, inner values need to be incorporated into education, not on the basis of this religion or that, but from a secular point of view.
Swiss TV anchor Susanne Wille moderated the panel discussion. The members of the panel were Dr Christiane Hohenstein, Professor of Inter-Culturalism and Linguistics; Dr Andreas Gerber-Grote, Professor of Public Health and Head of Research; Leanardo Huber, President of the Students’ Association; and Dr Rudolf Högger, Tibet-Institute Rikon.
The moderator asked His Holiness if it was true that he was a lazy student. His Holiness replied that it was only natural. In Tibet education begins with memorization and at the age of seven he began to learn classical texts by heart and didn’t enjoy it very much. It wasn’t until he was older that he began to take an interest in what he was learning. When he was 16, he told her, he lost his freedom and when he was 24 he lost his country, but by that time he had discovered that what he’d learned before helped him keep his inner strength.
Dr Hohenstein remarked that she wasn’t sure that universal human values exist yet, but that we should be prepared to change our stance or perspective. She observed that, given the continuing gender gap, equality is some way off. His Holiness explained that it is his understanding that early human beings gathered and shared what they needed. Only after they took up agriculture and began to stake claims to property was there a need for leadership. Since the criterion to be a leader was physical strength a male dominance emerged. Education has helped address that inequality to some extent, but there remains a need to work to improve equality by overturning entrenched customs and habits of mind.
On the question of universal human values in relation to investment banking, Leanardo Huber suggested that corporate responsibility would be a start, but, he added these are things that need to be talked about. His Holiness remarked that a materialistic way of life has materialistic goals, but we also have to ask what consciousness is. He recounted discussing this with Russian scientists who would not accept the notion of mental consciousness, dismissing it as a religious idea. He mentioned the value of ancient Indian psychology and its methods for training the mind through meditation. Today, the discovery of neuroplasticity has shown that meditative practice can change the brain.
In response to questions from the audience, His Holiness suggested that children can be trained with love and affection to learn to manage their emotions. He expressed doubt that artificial intelligence will ever fully replicate the sophistication of the human mind that designed it in the first place.
Jean-Marc Piveteau expressed gratitude to His Holiness and other members of the panel on behalf of the University.
After the talk, His Holiness left for Berne and next, to India.