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His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama met with Nancy Lindborg, the new president of the U.S. Institute of Peace. Photo: USIP

Spiritual Life
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His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama met with Nancy Lindborg, the new president of the U.S. Institute of Peace, today for a conversation on paths to peace, marking the first time an Institute chief executive has met with the spiritual leader of Tibet.

The Dalai Lama particularly focused on the vital role of education, interfaith work and personal control of anger, saying people must address the violence in the human heart in order to counter animosity in the world.

“It’s not weapons that cause violence,” the Dalai Lama said. “It’s the human heart.“

Lindborg, who took office at the Institute this week, has lived in Nepal and travelled to Tibet and has met with the Dalai Lama in the past. Others in the USIP delegation who met with the Dalai Lama included Board Member Joe Eldridge; Acting Executive Vice President Bill Taylor; Colette Rausch, acting vice president for the Center for Governance, Law And Society; Susan Hayward, interim director for religion and peacebuilding; and Communications Director Diane Zeleny.

As an organization that works with governments and civic activists to build sustainable peace, USIP considers spirituality to be an important component. The institute has worked jointly with religious leaders and organizations and members of faith communities in conflict zones for more than 20 years, sharing knowledge and skills with Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, indigenous and other faith traditions to bolster their influence in advancing reconciliation, good governance and peaceful coexistence.

USIP is especially dedicated to forging understanding and collaboration across religious traditions, with the view that people of all religions must work together to find sustainable solutions to violence in the world.

The Institute specifically has entered partnerships with members and organizations of the Buddhist faith in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Burma and elsewhere in Asia.  Most recently, USIP has worked closely with Buddhist monks and nuns and with Muslims in Sri Lanka and Burma to promote dialogue and to train interfaith teams that help prevent violence between these communities.

Buddhist monastics and scholars also have worked with USIP to develop Buddhist peacebuilding curricula for use in monastic schools, part of the Institute’s mission to educate young people in the knowledge and skills required to manage conflict nonviolently. The Dalai Lama met with a delegation of young Iraqis in 2008 who were part of a USIP program on a visit to Dharamsala, where he is based.

The meeting between the Dalai Lama and Lindborg preceded a forum in which the Tibetan leader hosted representatives of the American Muslim community for a dialogue about the Muslim concept of service to society. The guests who participated in that discussion before an invitation-only audience included Manal Omar, USIP’s acting vice president for the Middle East and Africa. Watch The Olive Branch blog for more on that in the coming days.

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