Dalai Lama Urges Religious Harmony in the Wake of Tragic Events in Orlando

By Craig Lewis
Buddhistdoor Global | 2016-06-14 |
The Dalai Lama speaks at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC on Monday. Photo by Kevin Lamarque. From reuters.comThe Dalai Lama speaks at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC on Monday. Photo by Kevin Lamarque. From

Leading a silent prayer in Washington, DC on Monday morning in the wake of Sunday's deadly shooting in Orlando, Florida, His Holiness the Dalai Lama emphasized that the only viable route to peace in the world was through peaceful dialogue built on bridges of compassion between communities. Speaking at a United States Institute of Peace (USIP) event on the role of youth leaders in resolving global conflict, he called on the audience of several hundred people to observe a moment of silence for the victims of the deadliest mass shooting in US history.

“Yesterday, a very serious tragedy—Orlando. So let us [have] some silent prayer, OK.” the Tibetan spiritual leader said to the assembled guests. After a moment’s silence, he thanked the audience, and noted with emphasis that, “Although one Buddhist monk [is] quite skeptical about the effects of prayer; real change comes through action.” (C-SPAN)

His Holiness called for committed and sustained action to foster greater compassion and tolerance in the world, “without losing our determination, our courage” in the face of obstacles and difficulties. “Then, on top of that,” he said, “some prayer is OK, no harm!” (C-SPAN)

The shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando early on Sunday claimed 50 lives, including that of the gunman, US-born Omar Mateen. Some 53 people were wounded, 29 of whom remain hospitalized. Investigations into the circumstances surrounding the tragedy continue as law enforcement agencies gather more information about the gunman, his motives, and the possibility of ties with terrorist organizations.

Expressing his conviction that lasting peace in the 21st century must be achieved through empowering young people and women, the Dalai Lama reminded the audience that building peace among nations would require improved education and personal interactions between disparate social groups based on compassion. “We have to live on this small planet . . . with a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood,” he said. “There is no other choice.” (United States Institute of Peace)

“If you attempt now, make the effort now, the end of this century could be more peaceful, more compassionate,” the Dalai Lama said. (C-SPAN)

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate was speaking to promote a worldwide peace-building campaign organized by the USIP. In May, he led a workshop in India under the initiative, which discussed using universal spiritual values such as compassion as a means to transform violent conflicts into peaceful dialogues. The workshop was attended by 28 young activists from conflict zones around the world, including Africa and the Middle East.

The Dalai Lama, who is on a 19-day visit to the US, during which he will give a series of teachings, empowerments, and public talks on compassion and universal responsibility, cautioned against knee-jerk reactions to Sunday’s shooting in an interview with Reuters. He conceded that “there are some mischievous people” in every religious community, including Buddhism. “But you cannot generalize. Some individual Muslims may carry out some terrorist activities, but better we should not say ‘Muslim terrorists.’ I think that’s wrong.”

Friends and family members comfort one another following the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. From and family members comfort one another following the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. From

In a commentary for The Washington Post published on Monday, His Holiness underlined his optimism for the future. “Today, there is no end in sight to the horrific violence in the Middle East, which in the case of Syria has led to the greatest refugee crisis in a generation,” he wrote. “Appalling terrorist attacks—as we were sadly reminded this weekend—have created deep-seated fear. While it would be easy to feel a sense of hopelessness and despair, it is all the more necessary in the early years of the 21st century to be realistic and optimistic.

“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the 21st century does not repeat the pain and bloodshed of the past. Because human nature is basically compassionate, I believe it is possible that decades from now we will see an era of peace—but we must work together as global citizens of a shared planet.”

See more

Youth and World Peace (C-SPAN)
Dalai Lama Urges Greater Compassion, Role for Youth (United States Institute of Peace)
Dalai Lama - must not see all Muslims as terrorists after Orlando (Reuters)
Dalai Lama to America: Don’t make same mistake after Orlando as 9/11 (McClatchy DC)
The Dalai Lama: Why I’m hopeful about the world’s future (The Washington Post)
Schedule (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)

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