His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Zurich

Upon invitation from the Tibetan Community in Switzerland and Liechtenstein (TCSL) His Holiness the Dalai Lama offered Buddhist teachings to the public in Zurich, Switzerland on 14 October 2016.

The Hallenstadion– one of Switzerland’s largest indoor event halls – was almost sold out with more than 9,000visitors, an impressive number given that it was a working day. Besides the many Tibetan followers there were also numerous Westerners in the audience.

The opening ceremony was conducted through long life prayers (Tibetan: “Tenshuk”) for His Holiness who turned 81 this year and appeared to be in great physical as well as mental health. 

In his following teachings the Dalai Lama recited and explained three classic Buddhist texts from ancient masters Nagarjuna, Kamalashilaand TokmeZangpo. The scriptures discuss aspects of meditational mind training and provide instructions on how to lead an ethically commendable life based on principles of compassion and respect.

Those texts date back to the 7th century, a time when great kings such as Songtsen Gampo ruled over Tibet. During that period Tibetan Buddhism and culture spread throughout Central Asia and this formed the basis for Tibetan to become the language with the most extensive catalogue of Buddhist scripts worldwide. The Dalai Lama noted that this– besides many other scientific findings – gave proof of Tibet’s very unique and rich cultural heritage. 

His Holiness also highlighted a key difference between Buddhism and other major religions: the clear distinction between pure faith and real knowledge. In Buddhism challenging of certain theses is encouraged with an emphasis on understanding the actual context, as opposed to following teachings blindly. His Holiness urged the audience to continue studying Buddhism and sacred texts on a regular basis: “If you only come here to listen to me, it is not enough. Only through practice you can achieve a happy life!”

A Swiss lady from Basel-Land, who had already attended several teachings by His Holiness before, commented during the lunch break that there was always a very special atmosphere in the Dalai Lama’s presence: “The experience and learning effect is by no means to be compared with seeing him on Youtube”. She also mentioned that this event was very well organized and that she very much appreciated all the hard work in the background.

Only thanks to the many volunteers – mostly TCSL members –it was possible for this large event to take place. One of them, MrShawaTsering from Zurich-Oerlikon, responded when asked by us why he signed up as a volunteer: “When I think about all the Tibetans in Tibet who do not have the chance to see the Dalai Lama, I feel extremely lucky. It is indeed a blessing that I can be part of this organization.” He added that it may get stressful at times as a volunteer but he considers that as “positive stress”.

In the afternoon lecture the Dalai Lama explained that any perceptions depend on one’s state of mind. Looking at the many playing kids in the hall he noted that they were the perfect example for happiness. They would not seem to worry about anything. His Holiness asked his helpers to give some of the sweets from the altar to them and he concluded that through positive thinking and the right state of mind every individual could do their part in creating a better and more peaceful world.

At the end of his teachings the Dalai Lama expressed his sincere thanks to Switzerland and its people for the support it has provided to Tibet and all the Tibetans who found a second home in this country which hosts the largest Tibetan community in Europe. He reminded the Tibetan people in the audience to lead an ethical life and to practice Buddhism “as Buddhists of the 21st century”.

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