The Dalai Lama has said that the Olympic Games provide an opportunity for the participants to achieve distinction in fair and honest competition through mutual understanding, respect and trust. In a message to a conference on Religion, Peace and the Olympic Ideal, which began in Greece on August 10, 2004 to coincide with the upcoming Olympic Games, the Dalai Lama said the event highlights the role of religion for a peaceful world inspired by the Olympic ideal.

This message was read on August 10, 2004, on the Dalai Lama’s behalf by Geshe Jampel Senge, Assistant Abbot of the Tibet Institute (Rikon Gonpa) in Rikon, Switzerland. The two-day inter-religious conference is being organized by Ecumenical Patriach Bartholomew of the Orthodox Christian Church and the Olympic Municipality of Amaroussin in Greece Olympics will be held in Athens from August 13 to 29, 2004.

Following is the full text of the Dalai Lama’s Message.

Although everyone wishes to live in peace, we are often confused about how it can be achieved. Violence inevitably leads to more violence. This is not the solution, certainly not in the long term. Today, more and more people realize that the proper way of resolving differences is through dialogue, compromise and discussions, through human understanding and humility. There is a growing appreciation that genuine peace comes about through mutual understanding, respect and trust. The Olympic Games take place in just this spirit. They provide a marvelous opportunity for athletes, sportsmen and sportswomen, who exemplify superb physical accomplishment and perfection, to achieve distinction in fair and honest competition.

Because I believe that peace in the world depends on peace in the hearts of individuals, I also feel that people with religious interests have special responsibilities in this regard. On the one hand, all religions counsel forgiveness, patience and compassion and ways to cultivate them. These are practical qualities that are of great value in creating a dialogue that we can share with others. On the other hand, it is an unfortunate fact that religion is sometimes the source of conflict. When this is the case, the cause more often than not is ignorance and misunderstanding, and the fear that result from them. I believe we can contribute to countering these shortcomings through engaging in active dialogue with members of other faith traditions. I have no doubt there is much we can learn from each other.

Therefore, I welcome the organizing of a conference on the theme Religion, Peace and th Olympic ideal by the Ecumenical Patriachate and the Olympic Municipality of Amaroussin. I feel it is especially appropriate on this grand occasion, when the Olympic Games are once again being held in the country of origin, that attention should be drawn to the role that religion and our inner development have in contributing to a more peaceful world inspired by the Olympic ideal. I pray that the conference may lead to practical steps that can be taken to create a happier, friendlier and fairer world, a world in which the champions of peace may triumph.

The Dalai Lama
August 7, 2004