Riga, Latvia – His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived in Riga this morning after a smooth flight from Pisa. He was greeted at the airport by members of the bodies organizing his visit—Saglabasim Tibetu (Save Tibet Latvia) and Save Tibet Foundation, Russia. The weather was bright and autumnal as he drove into the city. At the hotel people from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, Russians, Kalmyks, Buryats and Tuvans, as well as one or two Tibetans gathered round the door and in the lobby to greet him with smiles and scarves.
A Latvian television journalist approached His Holiness with a question: “The world is facing so many problems, what are we doing wrong?” He answered, “There is still too much old thinking—on the one hand the idea that problems can be solved by use of force; on the other, viewing other people in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Such divisiveness too often leads to violence. What we need to do instead is to remind ourselves of the oneness of humanity and whenever conflict arises work to resolve it through dialogue.”
As far as natural disasters are concerned, he told her many are beyond our control, but some have been made worse by climate change to which we human beings have contributed. On the bright side, he said he was encouraged to hear about the return of fish to rivers in Scandinavia from which they had vanished and to know that the hole in the ozone layer has recovered to some extent. These are signs that if we really make an effort to protect the environment we can improve the situation.
His Holiness resisted the suggestion that Tibet and the Dalai Lama are one and the same. He told her he had retired from any political responsibility after the election of Tibetan leaders in 2001 and 2011. He insisted that he is just another human being with the same mind and same emotions as other people.
He mentioned his admiration for the spirit of the European Union, suggesting that in the long run Latvia’s big neighbour Russia should also become a member.
Over the next two days, His Holiness will be teaching the middle volume of Kamalashila’s ‘Stages of Meditation’ and Tsongkhapa’s ‘Concise Stages of the Path to Enlightenment’.