Monday, June 17, 2013

Dalai Lama Calls for Secular Ethics

The Dalai Lama doesn't find bright-coloured eyeshadow attractive, he's interested in the mechanics of desalination and thinks small dinners are good for weightloss.

These were just some of the diverse topics the Tibetan spiritual leader broached when he addressed more than 10,000 people at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on Sunday.

The 77-year-old moved from global warming to the state of the news media, Marxism and reincarnation during his sold-out public address on the "ethical mindfulness of everyday life".

One of the key messages of the talk, which was part of his 10-day tour in Australia, was the need for "secular ethics" – a human value system that is not grounded in religious teachings.

"Ethics can be universal," the Dalai Lama said.

"Secular ethics respect all religions and non-religions.

"They are taught not through prayer, not through meditation, not through teaching in church but through education."

His argument for "secular ethics" is grounded in the belief that humans are by nature compassionate.

"Our lives start with much immense affection from our mothers so everyone who experiences that is then equipped with the potential to show that affection," he said.

It wasn't all serious. The Dalai Lama, who has toured Australia eight times, generated much laughter and applause during his two-hour talk.

When asked by an eight-year-old what it felt like to be a Buddha, the Dalai Lama responded: "Buddha? Me? Nonsense, unrealistic".

When asked about love, he related an anecdote about meeting an official's wife who was "not very attractive" but wonderful "on the inside".

Ben McDade, 26, who travelled from Queensland for the address, said he was surprised at how funny the Dalai Lama was.

"His message is really simple and easy to comprehend. It's for everyone," he said.

"The thing I've taken away from today is probably just to relax a little about everything."

Rose Levin, 32, of Darlinghurst, brought her three-and-a-half-week-old daughter to the address.

"We thought it would be really lovely to tell her one day that she'd seen the Dalai Lama," Ms Levin said. "She's got to be the youngest person here."

Yoga teachers Jacki Murray, of Gosford, and Michelle Mulliet, of Seven Hills, said they plan to use the Dalai Lama's messages in their classes.

"I first probably heard about his messages five years ago and it has led me to have a massive lifestyle change," Ms Murray said. "It helps me to stay calm and deal with the stress in my life."

The Dalai Lama will make his next public talk in Melbourne on Tuesday. He is also due to visit Adelaide and for the first time Darwin.

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