Thursday, January 8, 2015

Secular Ethics is the Light of Hope: Dalai Lama

Sunday, 4 January 2015 - 7:30am IST | Agency: dna
Vaishali Balajiwale

"Tibet had remained dark till light from India reached the place; enlightenment came to Tibet from India, and historically Indians are our gurus, and we the chelas," said Dalai Lama, addressing the International Conference on Secular Ethics in Nashik on Saturday.

Dalai Lama, who captivated the audience with his thoughts, also answered questions of the gathering.

Stressing the need to lead a happy life, Dalai Lama said we needed to think of a happy world. "Oneness means all the people being one and leading a happy life. The basis of human rights is happy life. Everyone wants to lead a happy life for which we need to have a holistic approach. Faith is important, religions can be different," Dalai Lama said, giving example of the Chinese following the communist thought. He said: "The Chinese I met were non-believers, but were dedicated to working for the poor. What is important is becoming a good human being with deep human values."

On religious tolerance, Dalai Lama said: "Religious differences are borne by retarded thought. Acceptance of humanity should lie in the head and the mind."

Many problems in the society arise due to short-sightedness, or on account of looking at something in just one angle. The reality however is much complex. It is necessary that we look through six dimensions, or else we may fail to see the reality, Dalai Lama said.

On secularism, he said: "Secularism does not mean disrespect for other religions. No religion teaches violence. It will be unfair to generalise the bad tendencies in a religion and say it does not teach good."

On religious fundamentalism, Dalai Lama said: "Religions preach devotion to Allah, the Almighty or God. Saying that a particular religion teaches conflict would be totally ridiculous. No religion is negative. Any religion that teaches people to live happily cannot be bad. A religion may have mischievous people, but saying that their behaviour reflects the whole religion will not be correct."

On similarities in Buddhism and Jainism, Dalai Lama said: "Both believe there is no beginning or end, as well as non-violence (ahimsa)."

Saying it was important to develop an investigative bend of mind, Dalai Lama urged people not to follow any religious leader blindly. "Question", he said adding, "Buddha said investigate a thought thoroughly. Study the qualifications of a guru or a leader, meet them, observe till you develop a conviction that what the leader says can be followed."

"Know the qualities of a disciple, and as a disciple conduct unbiased investigation; use your intellect and develop enthusiasm to practise what you have accepted and believed. This is the Nalanda tradition and time has come to follow it, he said.

Compassion and affection are important in life for even those who have had cruel or unfavourable experience in early stages of life. With some effort we can turn to positivity, that is the basic human nature, Dalai Lama said.

Praising Dr Ambedkar, he said the maker of Indian Constitution was a great scholar. "His contributions are great."

On science and Buddhism, Dalai Lama said many scientists had come to accept that science had a role in transforming thinking. Even Albert Einstein believed that religion and science could go side by side. Many people say Buddhism is a way of life and not a religion. Buddhist psychology is all about building a healthy mind, healthy body and a healthy society.

Leaders of different religions expressed themselves on religion and all of them emphasised that the "true religion is secularism, brotherhood and peace" – "One God, one world and one family, binds all together," he said. "Secularism is the call of the day and secular ethics, the light of hope."

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