INSPIRE DIALOGUE 2015 DIALOGUE WITH THE DALAI LAMA HOSTED BY LORD ROWAN WILLIAMS GROWING WISDOM, CHANGING PEOPLE
The Inspire Dialogue Foundation has been founded as a cross-generational, interdisciplinary forum to promote dialogue and insight into the greatest challenges facing the human community. Our vision is to support creation of a century of dialogue and compassion, to foster connections and inspire people.
Lord Rowan Williams hosted the inaugural Inspire Dialogue Foundation event 16 and 17 September 2015 with His Holiness XIV Dalai Lama in Cambridge, U.K. The overarching theme was Universal Responsibility. The cross-generational, interdisciplinary group benefitted from the unique platform for conversations addressing the crises of our time. The atmosphere was one of trust and hope. Of the 150 attending the symposium, nearly half were under 30 years old joining leaders from business, civil society, government and academia. Attendees joined in plenary session dialogues, and participated in small groups on topics ranging from resources, technology, environment, health, education, freedom and conflict resolution. This report is intended to serve as a catalyst to deeper thinking on Universal Responsibility and the diverse issues facing us as a global community.
Through the centuries we have prayed to God, or Buddha, and asked “Please bring peace or happiness”. If we had the opportunity to meet Allah, God, or Buddha, I think they would say “I have always given you peace, but you destroyed it. So it’s your responsibility. Don’t ask me for peace; you should do it!” So therefore we should develop our responsibility. If we actively promote peace, then God’s blessing is always there. So, now I think time come, we should be active – just saying “peace, peace, peace” and releasing some pigeons. I really feel that’s quite silly. The real destroyer of peace is anger. Anger always related with other different emotions. Too much worry, fear or anxiety, too much pride, different sort of emotions, is the basis of anger, hatred. So then when we deal with anger. It is not sufficient to say ‘anger is bad’. When pain develops, we don’t just say oh ‘pain is bad’. We investigate the cause for that pain by analyzing what’s wrong in the body. Then we can deal with it effectively. Just taking pain killers in not a solution. Hygiene of emotion is also necessary. These things should be considered an academic subject, not just religious study.
We can change. We can create our future. That’s mainly up to human beings. We must develop firm conviction. We have to solve our problems through dialogue, not by using force. Last time I was in Cambridge, my mouth was wide open. This time, my ears are wide open.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama 07
GROWING WISDOM, CHANGING PEOPLE. 16 and 17 September 2015
“The globalized economy is no respecter of national boundaries, as citizens of Greece will tell you. The environmental crisis is no respecter of boundaries as the citizens of Bangladesh or Tuvalu will tell you. Epidemic disease is no respecter of national boundaries as citizens of Ghana and Sierra Leone will tell you. Crises do not read maps.”
“According to today’s reality we have to think on a wider level, not just about “my continent” or “my nation.” That is now out of date. We have to think about the wellbeing of all humanity. Our very survival is based on our community, so we have to take care of that community. It’s in our own interest.”
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Part of our prison is starting from the notion that the problems are ‘out there’ and the solutions are ‘out there’, and we can devise enough technical solutions to secure our future and ourselves. Technical solutions must always be servants of human solutions. What we’ve heard in different words over these two days is the priority of human-sized, relationship-based solutions. Therefore not ‘solutions’ in the usual sense of tying up a problem and tidying it away. I hope we go out from this rather extraordinary event with a sense of truly deepened commitment to human responses to the crises—not arms length, not third person—but moving from inside outwards, rather than from the grand technological aspirations inward. Because on that trajectory what we find when we get right inside is nothing very much at all. Begin here, with this resource – this moment, this person, and move out.” Lord Williams 11
CO-CHAIRS OF THE DIALOGUE
Baroness Patricia Scotland Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Former UK Attorney General
Dr Bhaskar Vira, Director, University of Cambridge Conservation Institute
Dr Ed Kessler, MBE Director, the Woolf Institute
Rajiv Mehrotra Trustee, Foundation for Universal Responsibility, His Holiness the Dalai Lama
â€œOur education system needs to change. My question is, how do we teach wisdom? Lord Verjee
TABLE OF CONTENTS Report 2015
Plenary Sessions Conflict Resolution and Unity
Our Environmental Future
A Vision for Education
Spiritual Integrity and Human Well-Being
Small Group Sessions Resources
Plenary Session 1
CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND UNIT “ Each one of us has the power, if we choose, to make the first step of changing the level of peace which we have in this world.”
Interdependence and fear were the initiating topics in this dialogue framed on Conflict Resolution and Unity.
“Our fear of the potential of another has to do with the fear of our potential of ourselves.”
His Holiness stressed that it is no longer useful to think of the major crises of our time in terms of national boundaries. Our survival as a human species depends on recognizing our interdependence. He expressed the value of recognizing that it is in our self-interest to be concerned about the well being of all humanity. “It’s important for most of us to remember that as human beings, 99.9% of our DNA is identical. The other is 0.01% of our DNA.” Baroness Scotland 16
Lord Williams added to His Holiness’ com men ts by poi n ti n g out the environmental devastation in Bangladesh and Tuvalu, the health crises in Ghana and Sierra Leone, and the economic collapse in Greece – all of which are connected to causes originating outside of those countries. He observed that “conflict has everything to do with fear, not least the fear that if ‘I’ lose, the world ends.” The group refined the concept of fear into sane fear and insane fear. Sane fear is beneficial and gives us an evolutionary advantage, e.g. the adrenalin rush when faced with an immediate physical danger. Insane fear is detrimental, and is created by human intelligence and not based in reality. “We don’t talk honestly and openly with our vulnerabilities enough to one another.” Ben Okri- Poet and novelist The importance of building trust was a focal point. His Holiness suggested that trust arises when we are genuinely concerned for others’ well-being. He spoke about compassion being intrinsic to our species, as evidenced by the survival of humanity and its
Ben Okri - Poet and novelist
ever-increasing population. All babies require adults to look after them, and all adults rely intrinsically on their communities to survive. Rabbi Laura Janner Klausner commented on the importance of humour to decrease fear. The abundance of negative stories in the media is surprising to us because of our basic human nature. Matthieu Ricard (geneticist and Buddhist monk) referred to this as the banality of goodness. The majority of human interactions are characterized by gestures of kindness and decency. He believes the distorted view of reality results from paying special attention to unusual events abundant in the
media. This causes us to fall victim to the “wicked world” syndrome; we then lose confidence in “the beauty of human nature.” “I’m sure the general public must be a great disappointment to most of the media. They persist with surprising and unexpected compassion. And our question as a society is, how do we set free that kind of instinct, that kind of depth of identification and resist the addictive power of the fear story.” Lord Williams Jorg Eigendorf, investigative journalist, reminded the group that people working in media are human beings, and the news you pay attention to is your choice. “We only provide you with what all of you want. So if you start complaining about the media, please start thinking about yourself and the news you have consumed today.” Jorg Eigendorf His Holiness exhorted the group to come up with more solutions to establish more peace in the Middle East. He suggested changing the mentality of young people through education, and not isolating hardliners. “Deep inside, they are the same human being. But because of certain factors, their emotions became out of control. That’s the problem. I think we really come out with ideas, how to Jorg Eigendorf
Lord William and Baroness Scotland
solve this immediate problem. It is not just Americans responsibility, or European Union’s responsibility to send more weapons and more violent methods. That’s not helpful. This problem cannot be eliminated by force. If you kill one hardliner, soon there will be 10. So we need to change their mind, which is full of fear.” His Holiness Baroness Scotland commented on the importance of being genderinclusive in leadership roles to increase opportunities for peace. His Holiness stated that women leaders are necessary to promote a more compassionate society, including in the Muslim world.
intentional communities which are based on our common humanity and advocate for human values. The Inspire Dialogue Foundation has been created exactly for this purpose. In the long run, the best way to take care of our own interests is to take care of others. Then you get maximum benefit. If you only think of yourself, then you’re mentally lonely. Basic human nature, we are social animal. Our lives are entirely dependent on others. Sometimes our intelligence use wrong way and just think about ourselves. Baroness Scotland
“We need narratives of humility, letting go, reconciliation, discovery, we need those values. And we need communities that express them. Now, religious communities ought to be those communities, but they’re often not. Let’s be candid. But how do we shape human communities, intentional communities that live by this.” Lord Williams Lord Williams suggested we can generate more peace by creating 17
Plenary Session 2
OUR ENVIRONMENTAL FUTURE “ When we talk about changes to the natural environment that will take place in the 21st century, we are talking about the present for people are born today. It is not some distant future that we are talking about.”
The conversation on our environmental future commenced with comments about extreme weather events causing mass scale movements of people, redefining prosperity and growth, equitable distribution of resources. “Security for myself’ and ‘security for my neighbor’ are inseparable. We are on one planet with one set of challenges, and therefore there is no way in whichI can build a secure future without securing yours.” Lord Williams His Holiness said that a concern about the environment will naturally arise if we are concerned about the well-being of the other 7 billion human beings on the planet. “If the whole world becomes a desert, then how will we survive? By repeating ‘compassion’ 1000 times? That’s not sufficient. We have to think about how to protect environment.” His Holiness One of the biggest obstacles to caring from the environment is the unequal distribution of wealth. People whose daily life is a struggle for survival cannot seriously think about the environment. His Holiness stated that the wide gap between the rich and the poor is due to a lack of concern for others well-being. 18
“Poor people’s standard of living must increase.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama Over the past two centuries, technological and material progress has been the primary focus of human advancement. Now there’s a surplus in the West, and people are showing more interest in inner values. The conversation turned to question whether the business sector is a partner in moving toward a more sustainable 21st century. The overwhelming majority of the participants agreed that it is. “Oil producing countries in the Middle East are building the largest solar energies just for economic purposes.” Cornelius Matthies Renewable Energy Developer Younger participants argued that without the support of business, society would not make progress, and it’s important to recognize that companies are made up of human beings. Lord Williams advocated for less division between the business world and civil society, and reminded the group that businesses are also comprised of human beings with human values.
Bhaskar Vira and His Holiness
“There’s another meeting I recall more recently where a point came up that if the only criterion in business is profit, then basically everybody ought to be in narcotic drugs or arms trading because these are the major money spinners in our world as it actually is, shamefully. If you put it in those terms, not many people in the business world will say profit is the only motivation. That’s one basis for prizing open the discussion just a bit more. If it’s not good enough to say that the arms and drugs trades are the paradigm for business operations in our world, then what is? And what is the value for persons considerations you might want to feed in? And what does a corporation do for the humanity of the persons that are operating it.“ Lord Williams
Ben Okri’s comment about creating more vulnerable interactions with each other in order to increase the level of trust and friendship in business, and society in general. “How do we help men to have courage and vulnerability, to let go of the idea that the appropriate emotion for a man is anger, and replace it with the idea that the appropriate emotion for a man could be love?” Jude Kelly “Education is less about pouring stuff into an empty vessel and more about inducting people into conversation.” Lord Williams
The isolation of human activities from one another was viewed as one source of problems in society. There was consensus among the participants that people in different fields should be in dialogue with one another, and that everyone should maintain a wide perspective about the consequences for the globe and act responsibly in their local endeavors. Jude Kelly, Artistic Director at the Southbank Centre, followed up with
Plenary Session 3
A VISION FOR EDUCATION “A society’s seriousness about its human future is measured largely by the kind of priority it gives to education”
All conversations over the two days identified the need to modernize the education system as a long-term solution for positive change. There was broad consensus that a key factor missing in secular education is the promotion of human values. Equally, the participants emphasized the importance of developing a critical view in order to investigate the world at a deeper level. I t wa s ackn ow le dged t hat o ur technological capabilities are drastically increasing equal access to education “We should be heartened by the possibility of new forms of education.” Professor Mike Sharples, Open Univeristy In the past, moral ethics was taught in religious institutions. The decline of interest in this resource has left a vacuum. At the same time, it was agreed that it is too late to go back to an older system.
“Why is it that education trains us how to become doctors, lawyers, but doesn’t train us how to live?” Ben Okri Values such as warm-heartedness, tolerance, compassion and concern for the well-being of all 7 billion human beings on the planet were agreed to be at the heart of the solution to the major challenges of our time, and a mandate for education. We have the means for education: massive online courses, etc. We have the means, but what do we do with them, and do we actually use those tools in a humanizing way? Lord Williams Genuine concern for the well- being of others and an understanding of our interdependence naturally leads to a
Lord Rowan Williams
concern for our environment, healthcare systems, the implementation of new technologies, use and distribution of resources, our value of democracy and freedom, and the promotion of conflict resolution in other parts of the world. “It seems like we are missing teaching about inner values. Psychology, or science of mind, is very personal. Another point is the sense of responsibility, on the basis of oneself and of humanity. We really need that in today’s reality: a sense of global responsibility. All countries should have the same aim: a happier world for 7 billion human beings. It should not be about “my nation, my group.” We have to cultivate in our minds the idea that the whole world is part of me.” His Holiness
“It’s impossible for any single institution to make decisions on behalf of all of society. That means that religious believers/leaders have to earn the right to be heard in public space. Some of us would like to go back to a more certain society in which this or that institution made the decision. But in the world we actually inhabit…that’s not possible.” Lord Williams Many participants criticized the current education system for being too narrow. 20
Ed Kesseler and His Holiness
The promotion of human values in education was also viewed as a possible tool to increase personal happiness and success.
new curriculums. Even Buddha said, you should not accept my teaching out of faith, but out of thorough investigation and concrete research.” His Holiness
“Perhaps what we most need in education is not certainty, but confidence. Sometimes there are certainties that get in the way of truthfulness.” Lord Williams
Implementing successful methods from other institutions was deemed a useful way to begin developing a new system.
The rising case of mental illness and suicide was cited as evidence that there is a distinct lack of affection in society and lack of a sense of community. His Holiness suggested that a major cause of our suffering is the teaching of materialistic values in education. Extreme self-centered and narrow-minded attitudes make it difficult for others to trust you. His Holiness stressed that changing the education system is a long-term project that requires a thoroughly researched approach. “We should develop a curriculum; let one school implement it, then wait patiently. We must experiment with
“In arts school we are promoted to fail to develop. I wonder how to celebrate failure, to develop a confidence.” Simon Tegala, artist
Simon Tegala, artist
Lord Williams remarked that failure is recognizing that the truth is bigger than you, and that is very joyful. Realizing that you have been given the grace of entering a larger world than you are. “Religion, if it is not about discovery, transformation, growth and the flowering of what there is, is empty. But equally spirituality is not about making connections and relating to an actual world, not simply just making us feel better, is empty.” Lord Williams 21
Plenary Session 4
SPIRITUAL INTEGRITY AND HUMAN WELL-BEING “Religion is love. Who can be against love? But people usually consider religion as some big temple, or church or something. ”
His Holiness outlined three aspects in every religion:
The practice of love.
Practitioners of Islam should extend love toward entire creation of Allah. Buddhists extend love to all sentient beings. If you really believe in God, you must practice compassion.
There are different ways and means to understand reality. Different philosophical traditions, even within each religion, are suited to different mental dispositions. For example, for some people, the concept of a creator is more personally moving than a religion like Buddhism without.
Founders of each religious tradition set out rules suited to the cultural needs of the social environment of the time and place. When Mahavira founded Jainism, animal sacrifice was common in India, so there’s a strong emphasis on not killing. When Mohammed founded Islam, there were many nomadic tribes and crime was a problem, so he created Sharia law to deal with crime prevention. Tibetan Buddhism was founded in feudal times where the king was the centre of power, so there’s an emphasis on hierarchies. The practice of love and philosophical traditions are beneficial in today’s reality, but the cultural aspects of religion need to change from time to time according to the needs of society. His Holiness urged the group to respect religions and the diversity of religions. I follow nonsectarian beliefs. All major religious traditions I respect and admire. In the case of one individual, ‘one truth, one religion’ is relevant in order to develop single pointed faith and a serious interest to follow the tradition. In a pluralistic society, logically, several truths, several religions, is relevant. So the fact that both ‘one truth, one religion’ and ‘several truths, several religions’ are both true is not a contradiction. 22
“Over thousands of years people have followed these traditions. In the future, another thousand years I think people will still have religion. In 4 or 5000 years, I’m not sure. For the next few centuries, I think the major world religions will still carry inspiration to millions of people.” His Holiness But there was consensus that religion may not be the most effective pathway to promote human values in wider society. “Frankly speaking, religion, including Buddhism, for over 2000 years has always taught people to practice love and compassion. That has more or less failed. So now, we have to find another way to promote these values.” His Holiness Lord Williams addressed a question from a younger participant about the value and effectiveness of mindfulness practices in society. “I do believe very strongly that contemplation as practiced in the great traditions is not the same as adjusting yourself to the world as is. And it’s not the same as cultivating inner peace. It’s about truth. Contemplative traditions are not just techniques to make us do our jobs better, to make us calmer as we make a lot of money, or drop bombs or whatever. It’s about the disciplines that break up images of the self that are untruthful, dishonest, enslaving. I would be very cautious about saying that lots of multinational companies practicing mindfulness is going to change very much” Lord Williams
I think the answer is it’s corrupting for everyone.” Lord Williams
It was acknowledged that the eating habits of the world require inhumane treatment of animals at an industrial scale.
A younger participant questioned whether compassion really is the pathway to happiness, and whether that is what human beings really want. Lord Williams referred to discussions from St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas.
is “no we couldn’t”. The broadly contemplative and compassionate perspective has been seen by very varying kinds as a way to move forward beginning from the assumption that humanity does not wish its own unease.” Lord Williams
“What does it do to us, as well as other sentient beings, that we take for granted a level of casual and unnoticing cruelty.
“Could we actually imagine a humanity that was devoted to its own unhappiness? And the general answer in the tradition
This session strongly emphasized the need for human values to be promoted in society. 23
• Ultimately what is needed is to foster values of compassion, and a culture where we are concerned for the wellbeing of others. Both at the level of intellectual ideas or technologies. • The structures and interests we are creating today are completely not aligned with these values. The openended consumerist attitude which has no limits cannot continue. It’s a question of altruism vs selfishness. If we care for future generations then we cannot ignore that. We need more sustainable harmony. To redefine our aspiration as having a decent life that’s fulfilling, but not to run endlessly after what is supurflous. • Inspire Dialogue Foundation could create an alternative news source and journal that shares positive matters and research about the better part of human nature. • Redefine prosperity more as quality of human relationship, doing more with less; qualitative growth rather than quantitative growth; remaining within the boundaries of the planet so that future generations will not say, you knew yet you did nothing.
• The opportunity to ask the question “ what does health or wellness mean to you” led to a vigorous dialogue that broadened the scope of what healthcare of wellness should really mean What is the nature of well-being. How do we define what well-being is. How do we make sure we are using these things to make us well. Teaching of mindfulness in schools and prisons to feel better about themselves. • If we don’t think about holistic, context community dependent solutions, we’re going to be face with insurmountable challenges in the future. • Create links between elderly and the young to combat loneliness.
• Dialogue is important and critical, but individual and group action to move forward the momentum and action is critical. We’d love to hear more about that.
• Difficult not to feel helpless at the prospect of environmental degradation since the problem seems so huge. We have created most of these problems, so we should be able to find the solution. • We in the Western World have become really separated from our environment and see it as a separate place, we don’t recognize that the environment is part of us. • We are apart of the environment. So rather than thinking about us saving the planet, recognizing that the planet doesn’t care about us. The planet will continue to be here for thousands of years, but we might not be.
healthier lives. Incentivize necessary behavior. • We create the economy, we vote for the politicians we have. We create the system we own. We should be able to turn it around, and create a society which is aligned with our values. • We need to find a way to promote human values in a secular world. Education may be a solution. Protecting the environment follow suit. • Question: How do create corporations that serve humanity, rather than serving the economic bottom line?
• From a position of self interest to promote living sustainably, and having 27
• Technology is something which amplifies the consequences of our actions, either for good or ill. • It would be better if we could act early at the lab bench, within business, with individuals feeling empowered to have a conversation. They need a safe space to start those dialogues. A way for them to engage with a wider range of people, hearing opinions of people who might even use the technology: - Guerilla action (fun, exciting, clandestine way without authority) - An org an i zat i on to promote responsive corporate social responsibility programmes and schools outreach programs to raise conversation with those forums in a way that’s interesting and creative - Considering how professional bodies or unions or other establish construct in a new and constructive way. Subvert them to engage with big issues
• The promise lies with people at the beginning of their careers where they’re full of aspirations for getting things right.
CONFLICT RESOLUTION • Finding legitimate mediators in global conflicts such as in the Arabic speaking world can be difficult. • Ritual moments, set piece moments in history where certain people come together and prove a kind of trigger in moving forward a conflict resolution process. • In addressing conflict prevention, we need to look at our own selves to see how we react to conflict in our own lives, in the circle immediately around us and in the wider world. • An excessive emphasis on identity can also lead to conflict. • We need to promote human values in education, and not filter old views from one generation to the next so that grudges and prejudices are not carried forward.
• Freedom is not discrete, and it’s not just about having choice (consider being imprisoned by choices at a supermarket) • Real freedom has two dimensions (inner and with respect to others), which begs the question, what is the relationship between freedom and responsibility? • Our freedom flourishes and grows when used in line with responsibility. Universal Responsibility is the highest form of freedom. • Allowing and strengthening interdependencies is a way of growing 30
freedom. • Freedom is relative and conditioned. Someone who experiences having to wait for a long time for a meeting to happen. “Westerners have watches and Africans have time.” Who is free, the person with the watch or time? • What means are we using to protect or enhance others’ freedom? Are they truly means of freedom, or are they actually means unfreedoms being used in the name of freedom? • One of the most freeing things we have is the ability to act.
• What is the purpose of education? We do not feel that the current models by Western governments go far enough to develop a holistic opportunity for young people. Human dignity should not be taken for granted. • Education is not restricted to the school. Everyone has a responsibility for the education of children and young people. • Since schools are often restricted by public policy, funding, inspection requirements, systemic change at the policy and practice level is needed. • Need to have perspectives on what it means to be a global citizen, and to prepare students to take their place in society whatever they choose to do.
• We can’t change systems at a macro level within countries or across regions or globally, but we can take responsibility for the role that we can play as parents, community members, and maybe school by school try and have a more healthy and holistic environment for everybody’s benefit. There are a number of examples of this that already exist in different countries. We need to capture these examples, learn from them, try to scale them up. • There was a sense of the tremendous, staggering, inspirational level of potential that exists with ever y individual at the dialogue. Recognising the phenomenal level of potential that exists is really cause for hope in trying to address the kinds of changes we’d like to make.
THANK YOU TO OUR PARTNERS The Rumi Foundation The Association of Commonwealth Universities CG Creative Studios The Forum on Geopolitics at Polis, University of Cambridge EMC3 The Foundation for Universal Responsability of His Holiness the Dalai Lama English Language Scholarships for Tibetans The Williams Papworth Studentship The Woolf Institute
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Lord Williams hosted the inaugural Inspire Dialogue Foundation event 16 and 17 September 2015 with His Holiness XIV Dalai Lama in Cambridge,...
Published on May 12, 2016
Lord Williams hosted the inaugural Inspire Dialogue Foundation event 16 and 17 September 2015 with His Holiness XIV Dalai Lama in Cambridge,...