(TibetanReview.net, Oct19, 2016) – Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, on Oct 17 paid tribute to the Czech Republic’s late first President Mr Vaclav Havel, who he said always put human rights first whereas governments today tend to put economic concerns ahead of human rights. He added, speaking during an interview with the Czech TV 24, that while that was quite normal, what set Havel apart was that he firmly stood by truth.
The Dalai Lama addressed a crowd of more than 2500 people who braved the cold and packed into the Hradcanske Square adjacent to Prague Castle, along with Dana Nemcova, an original signatory of Charter 77; Jiri Fajt, director of the National Gallery; Ladislav Heryan, priest and musician; Martin Bursik, former Minister for the Environment; Simon Panek, former activist and now director of People in Need; and Zuzana Ondomisiova of the Potala Foundation.
At the end of his talks, which focused mainly on his three commitments in life, the Dalai Lama told the audience that he had accepted an invitation to give religious teachings in Prague, perhaps on a visit next year. He prefaced this by saying, “In general I believe it’s better to stick with the religion you are born with and Europe is by and large a Judeo-Christian region, so I am a little reluctant to give strictly Buddhist teachings here. However, there are also aspects of Buddhist science focused on the workings of the mind and emotions and aspects of Buddhist philosophy that correspond to the thinking of quantum physics that can be profitably studied in an academic way. We can all benefit from learning how to tackle our destructive emotions. From that point of view I’d like to accept the request Zuzana Ondomisiova has made to teach.”
Noticing that many in the audience were carrying the Tibetan national flag, the Dalai Lama said that today hardliners in China regard it as a separatist symbol. “However,” he continued, “I’d like you to know that in 1954-55 I met Chairman Mao on several occasions in China. On one of them he asked me if we had a national flag. I hesitated and answered that we did. He said it was important to keep it and fly it alongside the red flag. So, you can tell any Chinese who complain that I received permission from Chairman Mao himself to fly our flag.”
The Dalai Lama was in Prague to take part in the Forum 2000 conference initiated by his late friend and fellow-Nobel Peace laureate Vaclav Havel. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of Forum 2000 and 26 years since the Dalai Lama first visited Prague at President Havel’s invitation.