New Delhi — "The past can't be changed, but we do have the opportunity to and create a happier world," His Holiness the Dalai Lama said during a visit to the American Embassy School - New Delhi, India, on April 8, 2016.
Arriving at the American Embassy School in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi's diplomatic enclave, the morning of April 8th, His Holiness was welcomed by the Director Paul Chmelik and nearly 300 young children waiting to greet him. The school choir sang a song based on the Hindi and Tibetan greetings 'Namaste' and 'Tashi Delek.'
His Holiness then addressed the audience, totaling 1,500 students, teaches, and guests. "Young brothers and sisters and older brothers and sisters, I am happy to be here again. Time moves on; nothing can stop it. The 20th century has gone and we're more than 15 years into the 21st century. The past can't be changed, but we do have the opportunity to shape the future and create a happier world. And who will do that? Those of you who are young today, in one or two decades from now, I'll be gone. But even if I've ended up in hell, I'll take a break to come back and see how you're doing. If you're working for peace and a more equitable world, when I get back there I'll tell the wardens of hell that they can reduce its size. But if I find you are still engaged in violence and discrimination on the basis of race, nationality, faith or social status, I'll report that hell should be expanded to accommodate everyone who'll be destined to arrive there. Because of the changes you can make, you are the basis of our hope."
He continued speaking on the topic of peace, telling the children, "we are still at the beginning of the 21st century and I believe that if we make the effort, starting now, we can make the world a more peaceful place by the latter part of the century. We have to try. The human population is growing and climate change is having its effect. On top of that we have created more problems. Violence breaks out because our negative emotions run out of control. Human rights violations, for example, arise as a result of causes and we have to think about what those causes are. They are related to anger and a lack of respect. We can counter these if we cultivate warm-heartedness and concern for others. Then there'll be no place for bullying or exploiting others."
His Holiness explained that human beings are social animals, who cannot survive on their own without the support of a community. Therefore, he said, to think only of our own benefit is narrow minded, whereas taking care of others is like a farmer's tilling the soil of his fields to ensure a good crop. He pointed out that where small communities in the past were largely self-sufficient, we are now very interdependent. We need each other. In the meantime, climate change affects us all wherever we are, and our global economy is interdependent. This is why we need a sense of concern for all the 7 billion human beings alive today, rather than creating divisions among ourselves.
"Bringing about change in the world will depend on those of you who are young now making an effort on the basis of vision. I appeal to you to think about what I have said and how you can make it work."
His Holiness then fielded questions from students on a variety of topics, from optimism, courage, his pets, kindness and science. Finally, he asserted that change in the world begins with individuals transforming themselves.
The occasion ended with the Director, Paul Chmelik expressing the school's thanks to His Holiness for sparing the time to come and talk to them. There was an exchange of gifts and His Holiness returned to his hotel for lunch.