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Visits to Wiesbaden City Hall and the Hesse Parliament

Wiesbaden, Hesse, Germany, 14 July 2015 - This morning, before leaving for India, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was invited to the Wiesbaden City Hall and the Hesse Parliament. He was met at the foot of the steps to the City Hall by Mayor Arno Grossman, who escorted him inside.

Over the door hung a banner with a quotation from W. Somerset Maugham which read: ‘A little common sense, human understanding, tolerance and humour - how much more comfortable it is to live with them’. The Speaker of the Civic Assembly welcomed him on behalf of the citizens of Wiesbaden, capital of the state of Hesse.

“You have honoured us by visiting on your 80th birthday, our special greetings to you. Two days ago we gathered in the Kurpark to listen to your message of peace, humanity and respect for life. You touch the hearts and minds of all who hear you. On behalf of the citizens of Wiesbaden I thank you and welcome you to the most beautiful city in the German Republic.”

“Your Holiness, Wiesbaden is happy to have you here. I had the honour of also speaking at the Kurpark on behalf of the city last Sunday. I was impressed by your sincerity. You came here on your 70th birthday and here you are, with us again, for your 80th. Your message of peace and happiness is important in these difficult times. It also impressed me that you count yourself as one of the 7 billion human beings, which reveals your humility. It’s a privilege for us to host this reception and we look forward to seeing you here again soon.”

His Holiness responded:

“Mr Mayor, Mr Speaker and Members of the Assembly, thank you for inviting me and giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you. The essence is that everyone wants to have a happy life and each of us depends on others to achieve it. Even in your own interest you have to consider how to make others happy.

“Somehow this city and I have developed a special connection, which I cherish. Because I’ve been here several times before many of your faces are familiar, I can’t remember your names but I love your smiling faces. This afternoon I’m returning to India and I don’t know when I’m likely to come again, but since I go wherever I’m invited, if you invite me, I’ll come. Thank you.”

The Mayor presented His Holiness with a gift of honey, and in return he gave the Mayor copies of two of his books: ‘A True Kinship of Faiths’ and ‘Beyond Religion’.

The Hesse Parliament is housed in a former palace of a prince of Nassau and is a short walk across the square from City Hall. President Norbert Kartmann welcomed him on behalf of the people of the state of Hesse and told him he was proud to receive him in the presence of the Hesse Prime Minister, and His Holiness’s old friend, Volker Bouffier and leaders of the various political groups who make up the parliament, the Greens, Liberals, the elders and so forth.

Bouffier greeted His Holiness on behalf of the government:

“We welcome you as a Nobel Laureate, as a person who has gained respect for his work for the peace of humanity, and as a man who has recommended alternative ways of resolving conflicts. I last met you at Tibet House. We are not only honoured but touched to have you here and congratulate you on your 80th birthday.”

In response, His Holiness enquired if there was anything those present would like to ask him. The first question was how he assesses the new leadership in China.

“First of all, last year, President Xi Jinping mentioned in Paris and later in New Delhi that he considers Buddhism has an important contribution to make to reviving Chinese culture. However, before he came to India, a group of Indian Journalists were invited to visit Lhasa. The Deputy Party Secretary there gave them the clear impression that talks with the Dalai Lama’s representatives were going smoothly and arrangements were in hand for me to visit a pilgrimage place in China. Not long afterwards the Party Secretary dismissed all such talk. So signals seem to be mixed.

“Right now, Xi Jinping is actively engaged in tackling corruption, so he’s completely occupied. It has been suggested that they intend to discuss what to do about the Tibetan problem later this year. We’ll see.

“Inside Tibet, the spirit of the people is very strong. Meanwhile, Chinese Buddhists are taking greater interest in Tibetan Buddhism.”

His Holiness was asked if the policy of transferring Han Chinese into Tibet was continuing. He replied that hardliners were still intent on eliminating the Tibetan identity and disrupting Tibetan unity. They continue transferring Han people in order to make Tibetans an insignificant minority in their own land. However, whereas in the ‘50s and ‘60s the People’s Republic of China didn’t care what the outside world thought, since Deng Xiaoping opened up the Chinese economy, they have become more sensitive to world public opinion. He added that there are now 400 million Buddhists in China.

A questioner wanted to know what hopes His Holiness has for development among Tibetans over the next ten years. He replied:

“I’d like to see an increase in knowledge. Over the last 30 years I’ve held serious discussions with scientists and it’s become clear they have been to mutual benefit. The Buddhist tradition has a wealth of useful knowledge of the mind. Today, many problems arise because of the influence of disturbing emotions like anger. I’m totally devoted to helping people learn to deal with them. There is a growing consensus of the need to introduce a greater sense of ethics into the education system, based not necessarily on religion, but on common sense, common experience and scientific findings.

“In the Tibetan monasteries in India we have decided to incorporate science into the curriculum of study, with the intention of contributing to a more peaceful world.

“Meanwhile, I have, since 2011, retired from political responsibility. I have also ended the Dalai Lamas’ involvement in Tibetan political affairs. So now there is no room to accuse us of trying to restore a feudal system, in fact the democratic credentials of our exile community are more advanced than China’s.”

His Holiness also mentioned his commitment to promoting inter-religious understanding and that he has suggested that India, with its long tradition of inter-religious harmony, should convene a conference on these lines. He said that bearing in mind that there are 200 million Muslims in India, it ought to be possible to invite hardliners and militants to an exchange of views.

Referring to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s discussions with the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in which he had firmly advocated engaging in dialogue with Tibetan representatives, His Holiness remarked:

“We have friends, but China is not a small nation!’

When pressed over whether there is any hope of his returning to Tibet, His Holiness replied:

“Every Tibetan hopes for this. In the short term I can envisage making a short visit on pilgrimage, but as to a permanent return, I don’t know. I remember asking Mr Chirac when he was Mayor of Paris whether he thought it appropriate to consider such a return and he said that while he thought Deng Xiaoping a good man, he thought it might be better not to trust a communist dictator.”

Mr Bouffier and his Vice Prime Minister Tarek Al-Wazar held their own meeting with His Holiness. When they emerged, the press were waiting and His Holiness had this to say:

“Now I’m leaving for India and returning to my second home. The birthday celebrations are over. I’m glad to have had these last two days among old friends here. I’ve been able to talk about the importance of humane values and the fact that changing the world begins with individuals creating inner peace within themselves.”

Asked his impressions of his visit to Wiesbaden and Frankfurt, he answered:

“Happy.”

From the Hesse Parliament, he drove to Frankfurt Airport to board a plane for Delhi and will arrive in Dharamsala tomorrow morning.