Lund, Sweden, 16 April 2011 (Erik Edling) – Having touched down at Malmö airport in the Scanian lowlands of south Sweden the plane taxied in, the door was opened and His Holiness the Dalai Lama stepped out under the grey clouds with his kind smile spreading a good atmosphere. His Holiness was met by Mr Håkan E Wilhelmsson, president of SOIR-IM (the Swedish Organisation for Individual Relief /Individuell Människohjälp).
Ms Annika Annerby Jansson, Mayor of Lund, welcomed His Holiness to the city of Lund by inviting him to lunch. Among the distinguished guests for lunch were the leading politicians of the municipality as well as leaders and board members of SOIR-IM.
A special guest and a dear friend of His Holiness was Ms Anina Fenneberg, daughter of Brita and John Fenneberg, the legendary Danish-Swedish couple who in 1959 on the initiative of Prince Peter of Denmark started to receive Tibetan youngsters in exile to their home in Denmark. The Fennebergs made contacts with IM-SOIR in Sweden, and soon Tibetan youngsters started to come to Sweden also. In the mid sixties IM-SOIR started operations in India to assist the stream of refugees from Tibet with the Fennebergs as leaders. Today SOIR-IM is cooperating with the Central Tibetan Administration within the fields of education, health and environment.
During a press conference approximately 50 journalists were assembled. His Holiness stated that the free world has a moral obligation to give moral support to those persons in China who have the courage to raise their voices against the Chinese government, “China needs a political reform”. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who had recently “voluntarily, happily and proudly” stepped down from the political responsibility, keeping the religious responsibility explained the importance of a separation between political and religious leadership.
A two hour event in a sports arena in Lund gathered an audience of over 3000 persons. As in the Stockholm event, the day before, the program started with an introduction from the representatives of IM-SOIR and the singer Mr Lars Winnerbäck.
The interviewer, Mr Johan Wester, a well known Swedish comedian, is described as a humorous man with depth. His task was to have dialogue with His Holiness the Dali lama, described as a deep man with a sense of humor.
On the question of what to teach children His Holiness said that “our real hope lies in the younger generation. No one wants the troubles of the world. Instead we want a calm and compassionate world. The proper way must be in a compassionate way with maximum affection and care.” In his own case, a certain amount of His Holiness’ compassion came from his mother. She was the wife of a farmer and illiterate but very compassionate. Therefore all her children grew in full affection. This is what His Holiness would like to share with the children of today.
His Holiness said that it must sound strange that he so forcefully tells others that religious and political institutions must be separate whilst he himself for many years both had the religious and political responsibility. “I am fully for democracy, also when I was in Tibet. In 1953 I set up a reform committee. But the Chinese wanted a reform according their system. Our ideas could be a hindrance to their reform.” So eventually, in 1959 he fled together with 150 000 of his fellow Tibetans to India. He described how the exile Tibetans took care of themselves, but with immense help from others such as from groups and individuals in Scandinavia. His Holiness specially mentioned the Fenneberg family and Prince Peter of Denmark, “I will not forget their kindness”. Together with his people they started to work for democratization. In 2001 the position of His Holiness the Dalai lama became “semi-retired”. 10 years as a semi-retired leader was enough. He asked rhetorically, “I also have human rights?” So he formally asked the parliament to be released from the political responsibility and the 19 March 2011 the decision was taken. Thus a four century tradition had come to an end and was replaced by a fully democratic system.
His Holiness with a smile told the audience that he slept very well and deeply that night.
His Holiness mentioned that peace will not come through prayers but through actions. He stated that we must start by changing ourselves, each individual, each family, in school etc. Also media had a very important role.
His Holiness also recommended more interfaith meetings, e.g. the Assisi meeting. He described how he himself got immense understanding by meetings with practitioners of other faiths such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hindu religion. He felt that this was a way to naturally develop genuine understanding for others and he was happy to see that there now are many interfaith services.
His Holiness was very much appreciated by the Lund audience and he was interrupted many times by warm applause. The event was finished off by a song about youngsters leaving their parents in Tibet for the dangerous exodus over the Himalayas to India, written, composed and sung by Mr Thomas Wiehe.