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DVD Review: A Message of Peace & Compassion with His Holiness the Dalai Lama

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A Message of Peace & Compassion is a part of Series 1 but it departs greatly in style and substance from the other DVDs in the series. His Holiness is traveling throughout the UK making stops in Liverpool, London and Glasgow in May and June of 2004. There he is received by important men and women in political office and citizens from various religious communities.

Tony Blair declined to meet with His Holiness on this visit, however they did meet five years earlier. There are many short chapters in this 60-minute DVD compared to the other ones because it included a full touring itinerary for His Holiness out and about in the UK which included a visit with the Tibetan community in the UK. Even though in exile he is considered the titular head as well as the spiritual guide of the Tibetan people. I watched this highly professional documentary film with great interest and reverence.

The chapters in this DVD: “His Holiness arrives in Liverpool, receives a honorary fellowship from John Moore University & gives talk: Secular Ethics”; “Meeting with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at Lambeth Palace and Jack Straw Foreign Secretary in Houses of Parliament”; “An audience with Tibetan Community in UK”; “His Holiness receives Christmas Humphreys Memorial Award from the Buddhist Society”; “Temenos Interfaith Lecture: A Human Approach to World Peace”; “Meeting Michael Howard, leader of the opposition and talks to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet”; “Press Conference at Foreign Press Association”; “His Holiness arrives in Glasgow and meets Lord Provost Liz Cameron”; “His Holiness arrives at SECC, Tibetan music performance, Celtic music performance and piper”; “Public Talk: Inner Peace, Outer Harmony.”

In this film we see His Holiness in many human and relaxed moments sipping tea and talking to his gracious hosts. He accepts his honors with a grace and humility that is almost childlike. But when it comes to speaking his mind he is adept at the hard sell of peace, harmony and non violence.

His first talk begins by defining “secular ethics” that means a rejection of any one particular faith yet tolerance of all religions because all are seen equally. From Wikipedia the full definition of secular ethics reads: “a branch of moral philosophy in which ethics is based solely on human faculties such as logic, reason or moral intuition, and not derived from purported supernatural revelation or guidance.” And if you know anything about Buddhism you recognize that this fits their belief system. It also holds up under separation of church scrutiny. His Holiness speaking says that more emphasis should be placed on secular ethics and it should be introduced in the universities.

Secular ethics he argues would make the heart and mind stronger bringing happiness and compassion. His Holiness speaks for only a few minutes in this edition and in the end tells everyone that they can take or leave his beliefs on secular ethics. He is typically frank and honest in his transactions and speeches.

The interfaith lecture focused on world peace. The Dalai Lama lives by example in the Tibetan struggle for freedom so it goes without saying that his Holiness must walk the walk because anything less would not be spiritual. What about world peace—is it possible? I think we all want to know the answer to that question. It can be gleaned from this talk on peace.

His Holiness said that violence is bred by hatred and in that moment one cannot see reality. He said that if one is on the receiving end of violence they must accept it with compassion.That was on the individual level—microcosm. He continued: the best solution to ever-present conflict is with directness to face it boldly and take it seriously. He said destruction of your neighbor is destruction of yourself. Compromise is a viable option if it arises out of bilateral talks and solutions. He concluded by saying that change will not come from the United Nations or from world leaders but from the grassroots from the people, of the people meaning that each and every person has the chance to change the world. With those words he ended this talk.

The political hot potato is ever Chinese control of Tibet. His Holiness believes that technology and the gradual opening of China might lead to further lessening of the reins, but he is cautious and reminds that it will take time. If the change is too dramatic it will not be in the best interest but a smooth transition is needed in China to maintain stability politically for its people. It takes patience and determination. Because it is understood that there will be no change for the Tibetans politically unless there is some change in China.

The foreign press segment was most interesting. He took questions and repeatedly emphasized the important role of the media as a modern, free instrument in the building of a happy, healthy society. How to promote world peace was asked by press. His answer: if you compare the second half of the 20th century to the first part, it was much healthier than the early part of the 20th century. Peaceful popular movements of the later 20th century such as Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s use of non violence and what happened after the change in government. He lauds the attitude of blacks towards whites as “very nice.” He also mentioned 9/11 and terrorism: “It is very serious, really serious because such a violent act can be carried out by a few individual people—very unpredictable and easily carried out.”

Peace takes time, and peaceful resistance requires patience and individual commitment because countries must make long-term peaceful solutions by promoting the spirit of dialogue. A woman asked what he thought of not meeting with Tony Blair this visit. He said he had no idea and that if she wanted to know why then she should ask him.

Inner peace, outer harmony: altruism means that you forget one’s own interest.That is not the case, he said, I think genuine love must exist first then it extends to your family, then to your community, state, country, and the world. It does not mean to just forget one’s own interest but according to reality the more altruistic the mind then the more one benefits from it—it is essential. The remainder of the film included question and answer sessions with the Dalai Lama and communities in the UK and an initiation into the Action Tantra.

Once again we get a profound, prescient message from His Holiness that can be applied to present-day stress and strain, useful in interpersonal conflicts, world conflicts and social conflicts to resolve peacefully first. He urges mankind to resort to the sheath of compassion and to shatter the sword of hate.

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