Prague — His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama reached Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, early morning of October 18, where he was received on arrival at airport by old friends, Jakub Klepal, Karel Schwarzenberg and Sasa Neumann.
More than 2500 people braved the cold and packed into the Hradcanske Square adjacent to Prague Castle, on the far side of which His Holiness first addressed the Czech public from a balcony of the Archbishop's Palace in 1990. He was received warmly by the crowd, many waving Tibetan flags, holding signs in support of Tibet or simply photographs of His Holiness.
He took a seat as representatives of the various organizations who had cooperated to arrange the event stepped forward to pay tribute to President Havel and welcome His Holiness. They included: Czechs Support Tibet, Post Bellum, Potala, Lungta, Politics and Conscience and the International Community Dzogchen Kunkyabling.
Among the speakers were 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 Potala Foundation. Everyone enjoyed Aneta Langerova's and Lenka Dusilova's spirited singing.
His Holiness began his address saying, "brothers and sisters, I'm extremely happy to be here with you. I very much appreciate your warm feelings and your support for justice and truth. "I'm an admirer of President Vaclav Havel and although, as happens to us human beings, he has physically passed away, his spirit lives on. Many of you, like me, will be determined to continue what he started, to carry his vision forward, not only in this country but in other parts of the world.
"I am fully committed to promoting human values such as compassion. Irrespective of whether we are religious or not, we all need compassion because we all want to be happy. Scientists have observed that constant anger, fear and suspicion undermine our immune system, so warm-heartedness is in our own interest for our physical and mental well-being.
"A calm mind brings physical well-being. Many of you young women spend money on cosmetics to make yourselves look beautiful, but since no one likes an angry face, it's clear that the real beauty is inner beauty. The ultimate source of happiness is love and compassion—warm-heartedness.
"Thirdly," he declared, "I'm a Tibetan, and someone in whom the majority of the Tibetan people have placed their trust and hope. Although since 2011 I have completely retired from political responsibility, because of that trust and hope I retain a moral responsibility. So, I'd like to thank all of you, on behalf of the 6 million Tibetan people, for your support.
"I am deeply concerned about protecting Tibet's natural environment and for the preservation of our rich Buddhist knowledge. Conversation with other Buddhists has convinced me that the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, derived from the Nalanda tradition, is the most comprehensive presentation of the teachings of the Buddha. Keeping it alive is really worthwhile and of interest not only to Tibetans, but also to many among the 400 million Buddhists in China. Since Tibet's is a culture of peace and compassion, it is well worth preserving.
"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, perhaps on a visit next year. What do you feel?"
The audience responded with cheers. His Holiness went on to explain how Chinese documents reveal that historically, in the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries Tibet was a separated, powerful nation. However, in a similar spirit to that of the European Union Tibetans don't now seek separation from China so long as they are free to preserve their language and culture. They seek a mutually agreeable solution.
"By the way, many of you here are carrying the Tibetan national flag. Nowadays, of course, hardliners in China regard it as a separatist symbol. However, 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.
"Finally, let us keep the late President Havel's vision alive across the world to ensure equality, freedom and compassion for all. Thank you."
As the event came to a close, the crowd responded with warm applause and joined the band Zrni in singing John Lennon's anthem 'Imagine.'
His Holiness is visiting the Czech Republic as part of a five country tour of Europe, he will travel to Italy for a public talk in Milan on October 21st.