“Inner Peace is the Best Foundation for World Peace”

International Conference on a Culture of Peace

King Juan Carlos University
11-13 December 2000

Statement by Professor T.Y.S. Lama Gangchen

“The Inner and the Outer Culture of Peace:
Transforming the world for the betterment of humanity”



In Support of the
United Nations


Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Let us first invoke ‘peace’ with a minute of silence. Let us use this moment of silence to link into the deepest statements of peace: our own inner peace. (SILENCE)


My friends:

The Great Paradox

The greatest paradox facing humanity today - and this gathering in particular - is the fact that while we are here to promote “the culture of peace”, we are at the same time experiencing major wars and conflicts in today’s world. Just think about Africa and the Middle East.

I see myself around this table surrounded by souls who are “converted”, who are seekers of peace, or who understand the real importance of a peaceful world, rather than a world in a state of conflict.

It seems that the choice we have is a simple one: we all want to live at peace and in peace.

Yes, all of us belong to this club that groups together those who are already converted.

With your permission, I would like to take this opportunity and my intervention as a vehicle and as a conduit to reach:

  • the hearts and souls of those who, in practice, do not believe in peace; those that are not at peace with themselves;

  • the hearts and souls of those who are the major promoters of conflicts through partisan politics, selling and buying weapons, covering up major realities of human existence in the name of democracy, religion, and ethnicity; and

  • the hearts and souls of those who are denying that conflict is the major disease affecting humanity today.

My friends:


I want to reach those millions of children  who are in combat today and who have become heads of household because of the death of their parents.

I want to reach those innocent lives lost as casualties in so many conflicts in this world.

I want to speak to those who are at the negotiation table taking ‘grand stands’ in the name of winning the war rather than of establishing everlasting peace.

They are not here, although they should be here, and share their personal testimony. But, we all know that they are either the architects of conflict and war, or, clearly, they are the victims of major destruction. Simply said, right now, they are at war somewhere else in the world.

They are the ones who need our peace energy, our peace hearts, ad our peace souls.

The Culture of Peace


The culture of peace, if ever applied in practice, is the most revolutionary paradigm that humanity has ever put forth on the table of each and every household in the world.

A paradigm that touches the rich and the poor, the north and the south, the developed and developing countries, all different races and communities in the world, governments, private sector, NGOs, and so on. The key to this revolution is a fundamental change in the existing value system so dominated by economics, excessive consumption, exclusion and marginalisation. All of these are happening in a world that globalises so rapidly, and sees that poverty is increasing at an ever high rate.

The culture of peace is not a title, or another theoretical proposition, but a totally new way of life on this planet.

A planet that is getting smaller and smaller, as billions of people search for co-existence and betterment.

The culture of peace is, and should be, the foundation of everything we do.

From economics and finance to equality and an acceptable form of distribution of productive assets. From social imperatives in our societies to cultural and institutional sustainability. From the human dimensions of progress and change to the moral and ethical dimensions of life and our human existence.

It is the culture of peace that provides the substantive elements to close the existing gap of a notion of economic development that is practised today within a major ethical and moral vacuum.

But we seem to be far from having adopted this culture of peace. We seem to talk about it rather than to identify the true transformational instruments and actions that will actually provoke the changes we are all looking for.

Three fundamental steps


The way forward requires three fundamental steps.


The first fundamental step is the basic distinction between our outer peace and inner peace.

Most of what humanity and leadership is doing to attain some acceptable level of peace is to grab the elements of outer peace. What looks like a world without conflict. Physical conflict, I must say. But the absence of conflict is NOT tantamount of a state of peace. Lack of physical conflict is simply “the lack of physical conflict”.

And in doing so, we are using more sophisticated weapons of mass destruction, so some can neutralise others who are prepared to create more conflict. This happens within countries, between countries and all over the world. Thus, instead of addressing crime, we train more police officers, we expand the space under the prison system, so we can keep more and more people inside those facilities; we create an industry of alarm systems and anti-alarm systems that is now in the trillions of dollars,..., all in the name of outer peace. All in the name of maintaining a world without apparent conflicts.

We have seldom gone beyond the management of physical conflict, despite the fact that we know that there are so many other forms of conflict. These remain totally unattended. Of course, the results are clear: very high suicide rates in teenagers, increased trafficking and prostitution of young girls, of highly illegal drug, ad so on.

Peace, on the other hand, is a state of consciousness. An inner state in each of us, with individual and social connotations.

We simply cannot buy peace. There is no supermarkets for peace. There is no level of material wealth that will be capable of buying everlasting peace either for a person or for a nation.

Therefore, if any progress is to be made in the practice and materialisation of a culture of peace, we must focus on its inner values, its inner dimensions, and its inner realities rather than on its outer elements.

This approach will demand a different discourse, a different attitude, a different system of education, a different way of facing life in all its dimensions within this planet.


The second fundamental step is to recognise the importance of what I call the “presence factor”.

Many of our meetings and many of our institutions are filled with people who advocate and promote peace, but who are not at peace within themselves.

Many people have never experienced the state of inner peace. As long as you have not done so, everything tends to stay in a state of abstraction. We simply cannot promote that which we do not know what it is.

How can we allow those who are not at peace with themselves to sit at the table to negotiate a peace treaty? How can we trust architects who are in deep inner conflict to construct a world of peace?

This is an element we must understand and strive for in the next few years. This is particularly the case in children who have been taught how to kill through the media, films and toys. Our children have been trained to take the life of another human being.

Yes, the future leaders of the world, some, who should have been here today, may become the most effective machines of destruction.

This is simply not acceptable.

This presence factor also applies to our teachers, our political and spiritual leaders, and to everyone who is in an influential position.

We must take massive steps to assist and contribute to the peace of those who are making decisions that affect each and everyone of us. We must get closer to them now. We must approach them with huge respect and compassion, but with a firm and unequivocal message that peace is the objective and not just the elimination of conflict.

The third fundamental step is to bring in action.

Peace must be an intrinsic element of all we do. We must have peace in ourselves and among ourselves. We must have peace with all of the elements and constituents of nature. We must have peace within every institution and organisation, as a coherence factor as well as a performance factor. We must have peace with all religions, with all ethnic groups, with all possible communities of interest.

This is a step we all feel comfortable with, although it has proven to be the most difficult one to attain in practice.

Peace in action means peace in every step of the way of our existence. Peaceful thoughts. Peaceful actions. Peaceful goals and commitments. Peaceful instruments. Peaceful forms of exchange. Peaceful politics. Peaceful business. And so on.

Our public commitment


My friends:


This cannot be just another meeting. This cannot become just yet another self-congratulatory event. This cannot be the platform of speeches that have no transformational implications or that remain in one book of proceedings for historians to decide if we made it or not.

This meeting must be the new beginning of a massive concerted effort to transform the world into a world of peace, once and for all.

My personal commitment is to go out of this door with my heart and soul full of that peaceful light and that peaceful energy that will be able to transform everyone I see, everyone I touch, everyone I think of. My personal commitment is to go out of this room and create the level of awareness that this problem deserves before more people get killed on the streets of so many cities in the world. My personal commitment is to heal those who have been affected by war and conflict and those whose wounds go far beyond the physical body.

But what is our collective commitment?

What actions are we planning to take here and now so the impacts of our existence touches every corner of the world?

In this regard, I would like to propose only one simple idea: the opening of the international bilateral or multilateral dialogues - anywhere they happen - into a  debate that takes due account of human, spiritual, cultural, ethical and moral values.

We have gone too far in promoting material welfare. It is time we promoted spiritual welfare.

In practical terms, I have called this idea the creation of a Spiritual Forum in every instance of public policy making. This is practical and do-able, if we are in the vein of transformational change, and if we would like to reach far beyond political or allegorical declarations.  

Let is stand up for peace. The choice is really ours.


Thank you very much.