Distinguished representatives of world Religions...
I would like to take this opportunity to extend
my greetings to all gathered here at the Vatican. It is a
great pleasure for me to be at this important Assembly, which
has been organized by the Roman Catholic Church, with the
aim to promote inter-religious harmony and understanding as
we approach the New Millenium.
It goes without saying that everyone longs
for a more meaningful life and a better future. In the New
Millenium most people would like to see a world with sound
economies, greater peace and better human relations. However,
as the Calendar janges to the year 2000, this transformation
will not automatically come about. It can only happen if people
jange their way of thinking and their conduct. Simply hoping
for peace, mouthing slogans and distributing leaflets promoting
world harmony will not make the New Millenium a Golden Era.
Even though there are differences of race, religion and nations,
we should all dedicate ourselves to work for peace and harmony.
Only then will there be a firm foundation for world peace.
In this world there are two kinds of peace
and happiness: one that is commonly known as temporary peace
and happiness and the other which is taught in the world religions
where it is described as ultimate peace and happiness. Ultimate
peace and happiness can only come about through the realization
of the wisdom of ultimate reality. Therefore, ultimate peace
and happiness is to be achieved by following the footsteps
of the great Masters who have the realization of Absolute
Truth. Ultimate peace and happiness is not possible as long
as we discriminate by attachment to oneself and by rejection
of others due to overpowering negative emotions are. This
is the root of disharmony. If our view and actions remain
like this, then none of the world's great Masters would have
seen any possibility of gaining ultimate peace and happiness.
I believe that temporary peace and happiness
could be established in many ways. Among these, a vital force
would be joint effort by all world religions.
At this critical time it is very important
to have good inter-religious relations. In my opinion there
are a few factors which are necessary to bring this about:
Firstly, whoever one may be, whether a religious
leader or a follower, if one grasps only one's own faith in
an extreme fanatical way and has disrespect for others, disharmony
is created among mankind. All religions are like medicines.
There are varieties of medicines, as there are varieties of
diseases to be cured. The same logic should applied to the
religions. In the Buddhist Sutra teachings, it says one may
not understand or have the wish to enter another path, but
one should never lack respect for and criticize other faiths.
Such action or deed is considered very sinful. Also in the
Buddhist Tantric teachings, there are fourteen extremely serious
causes of downfall of which the sixth is to condemn other
We should not focus on contradictions between
faiths. We must make efforts to understand the heart of all
religions and their similarities. It is essential to develop
respect and confidence among all faiths without creating sectarian
All religions have deep and profound explanations,
views and theories. In practice, all Great Masters have taught
unselfishness, benefit to others, honesty, justice, contentment,
patience, the development of love and compassion, high moral
and ethical standards, generosity and the importance of not
harming others. Every religion has taught these concerns as
the foundations of its faith, like the foundations of a house.
People regularly visit their places of worship, such as temples,
viharas, churches, synagogues, mosques, etc., to pray and
make offerings. However, what is important is that people
truly live with and cultivate the above-mentioned virtues,
for without these they are not genuinely practicing their
religion. The Great World Teachers have given us their thoughts
and practices. Their intention was to show us the right path
by which we could subdue our untamed minds and cultivate altruism.
We all understand that their teaching is not for their own
benefit but for the sake of others, and in no way for creating
an extra headache for the world.
However, history has shown that sometimes mistaken
people, such as powerful leaders or fanatics, have attacked
or destroyed other religious communities in the name of their
own beliefs, because they were narrow-minded and too attached
to their own faith. Instead of bringing harmony among mankind
they created distrust and disharmony among faiths. This did
no good service to their own faith and we can all clearly
understand that these were unwise actions. Anger, discord,
money and military power will not bring peace and happiness.
Instead, love, compassion, wisdom and understanding are some
of the qualities which can bring about inter-religious, inter-racial
and international harmony.
In conclusion, distinguished guests, I would
like to emphasize that religions are not confined within national
boundaries. They reside within the hearts and minds of people.
Peace and happiness would be certain if everyone, disregarding
power and position, began to adhere to the fundamental principles
of their own religions in their everyday lives. I believe
all religious paths are based on love and compassion. In Buddhism
these two virtues are supreme throughout one's practice ...
in the beginning, in the middle and at the end. They are important
in the beginning because they are like seeds in fertile ground.
They are important in the middle because they are like the
life-giving properties which make the seeds grow. They are
important in the end because they are like the enjoyment of
the ripened fruit.
As His Holiness The Dalai Lama says, "compassion
is the pillar of world peace" and "one should travel
from a limited compassion to the one which is limitless".
When love and compassion based on altruism
flower in this world, then this world will be full of good
outcomes. Let us begin here and now, and agree that we, the
representatives of world religions, will undertake to meet
regularly and work towards greater mutual understanding, with
the hope that the new Millenium will see love and compassion
in the heart of every living being.