Monday, June 22, 2015

Prayers Offered for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Long Life and Celebrations of His Birthday

Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India, 21 June 2015 - The premises of the Tsuglagkhang and the yard before it were packed with people this morning for the first of two days celebrations of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday. The Tibetans included many monks and nuns, as well as laypeople in their best clothes and students from Tibetan schools.

At 8 o’clock His Holiness was escorted from the gates of his residence up to the Tsuglagkhang, where he greeted the assembled guests and took his seat on the throne. Seated before him on a line of thrones were the leaders of the Tibetan spiritual traditions: to the right, Sakya Daktri Rinpoche, Menri Khen Rinpoche, Gyalwang Karmapa, Drikung Chetsang Rinpoche, Taglung Shabdrung Rinpoche, and to the left Ganden Tri Rinpoche, Katok Getse Rinpoche and a representative of the Drukchen Rinpoche. Behind them sat abbots and retired abbots of the great monasteries.

Several prayers, among them Praises to the Buddha, the ‘Invocation of the Seventeen Sagacious Adepts of Glorious Nalanda’ and an invocation of the Series of Reincarnations of the Dalai Lamas, preceded the Long-Life Offering. This was presented by the Central Tibetan Administration, the Domay Community and the Gelug International Foundation and presided over by Sakya Daktri Rinpoche. During the ceremony the Tse-ring Che-nga and Nechung Oracles appeared separately in trance. They each paid their respects to His Holiness and gathered spiritual and political leaders together in front of him to say prayers. Sakya Dagtri proclaimed the long Eulogy and Request to live long in conjunction with the offering of the mandala of the universe. He, the Sikyong and the Speaker of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies together offered the mandala to His Holiness. Symbolic offerings of the 8 Auspicious Symbols, the 7 Emblems of Royalty and the 8 Auspicious Substances were presented, while a procession of other offerings was carried through the temple.

The ‘Song Accomplishing Longevity’ composed by His Holiness’s two Tutors, another Long-Life prayer by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodro and a prayer to Guru Rinpoche for the fulfilment of wishes were recited to complete the ceremony.

His Holiness briefly addressed the congregation. He explained that according to the Tibetan reckoning his birthday was the 5th of the 5th month, which falls today. Because of the variations of the Tibetan lunar calendar 6th July had been accepted as his birthday according to the regular conventional calendar. He continued:

“The CTA, Domay Community and Gelug International Foundation initiated this offering. My living siblings, Gyalo Thondup, Jetsun Pema and Tenzin Choegyal have gathered here along with many of my nieces and nephews. Sakya Daktri Rinpoche has presided over the ceremony in the presence of the leaders of Tibet’s spiritual traditions. You’ve all made fervent prayers and I’d like to thank you.

“As far as the Gelug Foundation is concerned, monks, abbots and retired abbots are here in addition to the Ganden Tri Rinpoche who has been conducting a week long rite in conjunction with this Long-Life Ceremony. It follows instructions contained in the 5th Dalai Lama’s ‘Secret Visions’. The 5th Dalai Lama had two statues made of Chenresig, one of which remained in Lhasa, while the other was in Kyirong. They were regarded like brothers. He conducted meditation retreats in their presence and experienced a series of visions. The cycle of teachings deriving from them has been a practice of all the Dalai Lamas since and the text for this Longevity Ritual is taken from them.

“I received the empowerments and transmission of these teachings from Tagdrag Rinpoche in Tibet. While I was receiving them I experienced dreams that I didn’t pay much attention to at the time. However, I’ve since realised they were propitious. Today, the people and deities of Tibet have made prayers for my long life. Doctors also suggest I could live another 20 years or so. I’m 80 now; let’s plan to celebrate again when I’m 90.”

“Although there is no freedom in Tibet, people there too are praying for my long life, even if they can’t do so openly, but they have faith, devotion and a special connection with me. I’d like to thank you all.”

His Holiness said that he has been asked what he’d like as a birthday gift and he has replied that as a Buddhist monk he has no particular wishes. However, he urged people to try and engage in spiritual transformation. He said we all have the potential to do good in the world, but that we need to take action rather than just talk about it.

Once the Long-Life ceremony was complete, a second part of the celebrations took place in the garden of the Tsuglagkhang. Artists from the Tibetan Institute for Performing Arts sang as His Holiness came down to take his seat.

The first guest to speak was the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, the Hon. Nabam Tuki. On behalf of the people of Arunachal Pradesh he prayed for His Holiness’s long life. A similar message was read from the Chief Minister of Sikkim. Mrs Viplove Thakur a Himachali Rajya Sabha MP was expressing her appreciation of His Holiness when the Chief Guest, Dr Mahesh Sharma, Union Minister for Culture and Tourism, and MoS for Civil Aviation, arrived.

In his welcome address, Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay thanked His Holiness for his leadership and fervently prayed that he would live long. On behalf of Tibetans inside and outside Tibet, he wished him a very happy 80th birthday. He also stated that it was an honour to have Dr Mahesh Sharma as Chief Guest for the occasion.

Next to speak was an old friend of His Holiness’s, Marco Panello, president of the Italian Transnational Radical Party. He thanked His Holiness for the joy he brings to the world. The Hon. Kiren Rijiju, the Guest of Honour, who is Minister of State for Home Affairs and incidentally from Arunachal Pradesh said that everyone welcomes His Holiness’s message of peace, friendship and harmony. Because he represents humanity, he said, we all pray that he live long.

The next cultural interlude from the Domay community was a popular song ‘Thuk-je che’ which was received with cheers from the crowd.

Chief Guest Dr Mahesh Sharma offered greetings on behalf of 1.25 billion Indians, all of whom benefit from the blessings of His Holiness’s presence in the country and who pray for his long life, good health and the fulfilment of his wishes. He noted how important His Holiness’s message of compassion is for the world.

Finally, His Holiness was invited to speak. As usual he greeted all those present as ‘dear brothers and sisters’. He acknowledged the guests and made a point of thanking the various cultural troupes representing the three regions of Tibet for their performances.

He again commended the Nalanda tradition of Buddhist study and practice, which involves profound and vast paths, that was preserved in Tibet. He explained that the profound paths deal with understanding reality, while the vast paths involve generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta. He mentioned that he has given both much thought over the years and found that they are not only useful, they are a true source of happiness. This is important, he said, because although we all want happiness and don’t want suffering, we tend to create problems for ourselves. Why? Because we don’t use our intelligence in a proper way. He confirmed that if we use our intelligence properly we can transform our lives and noted that scientists confirm that peace of mind ensures physical as well as mental well being.

“As Buddhists we may pray to the Buddhas and bodhisattvas, however the Buddha was clear when he said:

The Buddhas do not wash away the karma of other beings,
Nor do they remove the consequences with their hands;
They do not transmit their understanding into others' minds; 
They introduce beings to freedom by educating them about reality.

“We human beings can use the potential we have to create happiness and I try to share this with people wherever I go. In my own case, I’ve tried to use my intelligence and gained experience. This has primarily involved using the logic and reasoning I’ve learned from the Nalanda tradition.”

Recognising that today was also being observed across India as International Yoga Day, His Holiness acknowledged the benefits of practising physical yoga. He also had praise for India’s longstanding tradition of inter-religious harmony and mentioned that since all his knowledge came from India he considers himself a son of India.

After a brief vote of thanks to everyone who had contributed to and attended this grand occasion celebrating His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday, all present were served a thali lunch which they ate together. His Holiness walked back to his residence and the crowd began to disperse.

original link with photos http://dalailama.com/news/post/1286-prayers-offered-for-his-holiness-the-dalai-lamas-long-life-and-celebrations-of-his-birthday

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