Despite the very tight program, His Holiness was always relaxed and good humored. The primary aim that His Holiness advocates throughout the world is the promotion of human values such as warm-heartedness, love, compassion and tolerance. He therefore advocates secular ethics beyond religion for all human beings, even for non-believers. A second important commitment is the promotion of harmony among world religions. Also the inter-religious dialogue on the afternoon of May 21 in the Salzburgarena with representatives of the most important religious communities in Austria, especially Archbishop Dr. Alois Kothgasser from Salzburg, was characterized by this sense of harmony.
Religions have to co-exist constructively in a multi-religious society – that was the main content of the event. He explained that although there are philosophical differences among our religious traditions, they all have the same scope: To enhance love, compassion and tolerance in their followers. There are many ways how to reach that goal. “It is possible to foster religious harmony, to develop respect towards other religions and still maintain the faith of one’s own religion. Each of our religious traditions gives its followers a sense of how to lead a meaningful life. The important thing is however, to make religion relevant to our daily life rather than simply maintaining old traditions.Besides His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Dr. Alois Kothgasser from Salzburg, Super-intendent of the diocese Salzburg/Tyrol of the protestant church Mag. Luise Müller, Rabbi Mag. Schlomo Hofmeister of the Israeli religious community Vienna and the President of the Islamic religious community Dr. Fuat Sanac attended the inter-religious dialogue. Dr. Doris Appel, head of department “religion” of ORF radio, moderated the event. In his address, His Holiness drew attention to the example of India, where the world's major religions – Christianity, Islam, Judaism – and indigenous traditions – Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism - live alongside each other in peace. He explained that although there are philosophical differences among our religious traditions, they all have the potential to help their followers to become more compassionate, better human beings. This is the ground for mutual respect that inspired His Holiness since 1975 to adopt three steps in his own quest to improve inter-religious harmony: meeting with religious leaders and holding discussions with them; meeting with spiritual practitioners to exchange experiences and visiting other traditions' sacred places and joining them in prayer. He advised, “It's all right for an individual to think in terms of one truth and one religion, but when we think of the world at large, we must allow for several truths and several religions, mindful of the fact that the Buddha didn't attempt to convert everyone when he was alive, any more than did Jesus or the Prophet Muhammad.”
Photos: Tibet Center / Tenzin Choejor