Monday, June 18, 2018

Dalai Lama Meets with Tibet Supporters & Public Talk in Vilnius

Meeting with Tibet Supporters and Public Talk in Vilnius

Vilnius, Lithuania - Meeting with members of the Lithuanian Parliamentary Group for Tibet and Tibet supporters this morning His Holiness the Dalai Lama told them:

"We’ve been passing through a difficult period with extensive human rights violations in Tibet, but my main concern is for the preservation of Tibet's unique cultural heritage. This is rooted in the ancient Indian understanding of the workings of the mind, on the basis of which we can achieve peace of mind and tackle our destructive emotions. This is something that is very much relevant today.

“We appreciate the support of friends like you. The people in Tibet’s spirit remains strong and when you show concern it not only gives them courage, it also sends a clear message to Chinese hardliners that the Tibetan issue has to be dealt with in a realistic way. Therefore, I would like to thank you on behalf of the six million Tibetans."

Answering a question about different kinds of maps, His Holiness remarked:

"Political boundaries are the creation of bureaucrats, which may or may not reflect cultural boundaries. Historically the Chinese empire was characterized by political power, the Mongolian empire by its military prowess and the Tibetan empire by its spiritual strength. There was a brief period when Mongolia dominated both Tibet and China by military means. On the other hand, Tibet’s preoccupation with spiritual affairs meant that its influence extended to what is now, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Iran in the west, to much of China in the east, to Mongolia in the north and the Himalayan Region and the border with Burma in the south. Therefore, a map reflecting the extent of Tibetan Buddhist culture would be much larger than a political map of Tibet.”

While posing for photographs with people holding Tibetan flags, His Holiness told them a story.

“When I was in Beijing in 1954-55 I met Chairman Mao several times. We developed a close relationship—he was very kind to me, almost like a father to his son. On one occasion he asked if we Tibetans had a national flag. Somewhat hesitantly I answered, “Yes”. He approved and told me we should fly it alongside the Red Flag. So if anyone criticizes you for displaying this flag, you can tell them the Dalai Lama was given permission to do so by Chairman Mao himself. “

Meeting with Prof Vytautas Landsbergis, who became President of Lithuania when it achieved independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, His Holiness recalled, "How happy I was when you invited me here in 1991. I was so moved and impressed by the people’s joy, enthusiasm and determination. It was an honour to be here among you."

At the Siemens Arena His Holiness was introduced to the crowd of more than 2500 by the Mayor of Vilnius, Remigijus Šimašius. As he presented the Mayor with a traditional white scarf, His Holiness explained what it meant.

"The colour white represents warm-heartedness, truthfulness and honesty. The smooth texture of the scarf represents non-violent conduct—trying to help others whenever you can and refraining from harming them. At the end here, written in Tibetan, it says ‘May whoever is given this be happy night and day’. This kind of gift was first offered in India and has been adopted in Tibet. Since the silk the scarf is made of originated in China, the gift reflects a sense of harmony between India, Tibet and China."

Addressing the crowd as brothers and sisters, His Holiness continued, “If we really thought of the rest of humanity as our brothers and sisters there’d be no room for bullying and cheating each other. Thinking of ourselves as somehow special only leads to loneliness, because the reality is that every human being's future depends on other human beings. Of course it’s natural to want to look after your own interests, but you have to do so in a wise rather than a foolish way. That means taking others into account and considering their concerns as well as your own. If the people around you are happy, obviously you’ll be happy too."

When a member of the audience asked how to reconcile traditional and modern teaching methods His Holiness suggested that to start with it’s important for parents to show their children maximum affection. In schools it is a teacher’s responsibility to take an affectionate interest in their students well-being as well as providing them with instruction. For example, she or he might explain how anger disrupts our peace of mind, while compassion sets the mind at ease and fosters good health.

“My first teacher of compassion was my mother. As part of my Buddhist training I read a great deal about the qualities of altruism, but she was the first person to demonstrate it in practice."

At the end of his talk His Holiness thanked the audience for their interest and for staying awake. He urged them to think about what he had said.

"No matter what work you do, if we each make the effort, we can create a more peaceful world. I also believe that smaller nations like the Baltic States are sometimes freer to be creative and take a lead in this process in international affairs.”

Tomorrow, His Holiness will travel to Riga, Latvia, where he is to teach Tsongkhapa’s ‘In Praise of Dependent Origination’ and the ‘Diamond Cutter Sutra’, as well as giving Manjushri permission.

original link & photos:

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Dalai Lama: Meeting Visitors from India & Abroad

Meeting Visitors to Dharamsala from India and Abroad

Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - Following three days of teachings for young Tibetans, His Holiness the Dalai Lama met this morning with an estimated 1200 people in the yard of the Main Tibetan Temple adjacent to his residence. There were about 1000 visitors from India and abroad, as well as 200 Tibetans. He first posed for photographs with smaller groups of people arranged by geographical location before sitting down on a chair beneath the temple.

His Holiness observed to begin with that since he had just taught for three days and many of those sitting before him had probably attended he had little to say. Nevertheless, he made some remarks before inviting questions from the audience.

“The Nalanda Tradition, of which Tibetan Buddhism is very much part, made thorough use of logic and reason. This involves investigating what the Buddha said and why he said it. The result of such investigation is a clearer and firmer understanding. As a result of their examination of the records of Buddha’s teaching Nalanda masters like Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti declared that some of them could not be accepted literally because they contradicted reason.

“Following the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet in the 8th century by the great philosopher and logician Shantarakshita we Tibetans adopted a similarly rigorous approach. Since Tibetan is probably the classical language closest to Sanskrit it remains the most accurate means available to us today for expressing Buddhist ideas. Although the Nalanda Tradition has been somewhat neglected in India, it was kept alive in Tibet.”

The first question from the audience concerned psychology and how it can be combined with Buddhist methods for cultivating compassion. His Holiness replied that ancient India knowledge of the workings of the mind and emotions is rich and deep. He reaffirmed that he is trying to revive appreciation of it because in India it has fallen into neglect. He recommended reading Akya Yongzin’s ‘Compendium of the Ways of Knowing’.

Another questioner asked how to strengthen equality and His Holiness reported that scientists assert that basic human nature is compassionate and this seems to be borne out by the way children respond. So long as their companions smile and behave in a friendly way they don’t seem to care about what their nationality, race or family faith may be.

“As we grow up and pursue our education,” he suggested, “we learn to disregard our basic human values. Instead we pay disproportionate attention to secondary differences, which here in India includes caste distinctions and whether people are rich or poor. These observations give rise to a lot of problems, especially in light of the fact that essentially human beings are physically, mentally and emotionally the same. At the same time I have great admiration for the way India still manages to find unity in diversity. What’s more, compared to her several neighbours, India is remarkably stable.

“Likewise I have great respect for the way leading members of the European Union, France and Germany for example, decided that the common interest was more important than national sovereignty. Where they had long been historical enemies, attitudes have completely changed and peace has prevailed among the members of the EU for 70 years.”

His Holiness mentioned that modern education has little time for what he refers to as inner values, nor for explanations of the workings of the mind and emotions. He noted that just as we observe physical hygiene to preserve our health, we also need to cultivate emotional hygiene to maintain our peace of mind. He remarked that if our lives were filled with anger we’d find it difficult to survive.

“Through education and training we can extend our basic human nature. This brings self-confidence, which is important and allows us to be more transparent, leading to trust, which is the foundation of firm friendship. It’s true to say that loving kindness is of value right from birth up to the time of our death.”

Asked how to reconcile science and religion, His Holiness referred to Indian sources that focus on the gap between appearance and reality. To understand reality requires investigation not just acceptance of things the way they appear. The self, which may appear to exist independently, is described in the Buddhist view as merely designated on the basis of body and mind.

An eight year old girl asked His Holiness what advice he would have had for himself when he was her age. He told her he had been a naughty boy with no interest in studying. All he wanted to do was play and run here and there. He’d been such a tearaway that his tutor was shocked to see his shoes in tatters. He conceded that he later came to appreciate the value of studying and applied himself to it.

“I belong to the generation of the 20th century,” he said, “and my time is gone, but we’re still near the beginning of the 21st century when we can think seriously about whether we want to repeat what went before in terms of people suffering and dying of violence. There is still time to follow the Indian traditions of karuna and ahimsa, a compassionate motivation expressed in non-violent conduct.”

A young man who is undertaking a meditation course asked about vegetarianism in the context of the avowed Buddhist prayer for the welfare of all sentient beings. His Holiness first pointed out that although Tibetans sincerely make such prayers, when they were in Tibet there were few vegetables and little non-vegetarian food. However, living in exile in India they had many other options. He explained that the main kitchens of the great re-established monasteries prepared only vegetarian food. At the same time efforts had been made to avoid poultry and pig farming in Tibetan settlements.

Then, His Holiness changed the direction of the conversation.

“We also have to make an effort to reduce the trade in weapons. We need to create a demilitarized world. Some problems may be solved by the use of force, but in general it just perpetuates problems. Violence engenders counter violence in a seemingly endless cycle.

“I love America, which I regard as an important leader of the free world, and I’m great friends with George W Bush. The day after 9/11 I wrote to him expressing my profound condolences but also the hope that any response to the attack would avoid further violence. Eventually Iraq was attacked and when we met afterwards I told him of my affection for him, but also of my reservations about some of his policies. The intention to bring democracy to Iraq was admirable; the use of force was not.

“The only way to really solve human problems is to meet, talk and engage in dialogue. Only if we’re prepared to depend on dialogue will we be able to create a more peaceful world.”

His Holiness thanked the members of the crowd for coming to see him as many of them stood with folded hands and smiles on their faces to see him off. He went from the temple yard to an audience hall in his residence where 88 Thai monks, 13 nuns, 48 lay-people and 8 foreign supporters were joining him for lunch.

To begin with a Thai Elder expressed the group’s gratitude for His Holiness’s kindness and hospitality. He replied that it was a great honour for him to share lunch with all of them.

“Fifty years ago, before Thailand entered into diplomatic relations with China, I visited your country two or three times and had an audience with His Majesty the late King. I also joined local monks on their alms round and I remember that the Bangkok streets were hot, so although I was pleased and happy to be there, my bare feet suffered.

“I greatly admired the Thai Buddhist way of life as I saw it. Today, you are about to set out again on your Dhamma Pad Yatra, your third Walk for World Peace from here to Leh and I’m happy to have been able to welcome you and offer you lunch.

“I’m very reluctant to say that one religion is better than another, just as we could not claim that one medicine is the best remedy for everything. However, I do believe that by observing the three trainings of ethics, concentration and wisdom we can tackle our emotions and transform our minds enabling us to be of greater help to other people. In that respect Buddhism has something universal to contribute to our common well-being. We can share this with others in a secular way without talking about liberation or nirvana, concerning ourselves only with becoming happier human beings in more peaceful communities.”

Prayers to offer the food were recited in Pali and Tibetan. At the end of the meal His Holiness wished all his guests well as they set out on their pilgrimage.

original link with photos:

Monday, June 4, 2018

Dalai Lama on Religious Harmony

American, Indian and Tibetan Students and Teachers Meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - Eighty people from three different groups met His Holiness the Dalai Lama today. They included students and faculty members from Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, as well as participants in the Emory-Tibet Partnership from the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, and students involved with the Kurukul Program of the Foundation for Universal Responsibility, New Delhi.

His Holiness welcomed them to Dharamsala, which he described as his second home for the last 59 years.

He outlined his four main commitments, explaining that the first is to promoting an understanding of the oneness that unites all 7 billion human beings alive today. He mentioned not only the interdependence of the global economy, but also how we are all affected by common concerns like climate change.

“We are emotionally, mentally and physically the same and we can help each other by sharing our experience of achieving peace of mind.”

Noting that the fundamental message of all major religious traditions includes the importance of cultivating friendship, love, tolerance and self discipline, His Holiness is committed to promoting inter-religious harmony. Consequently, he expressed regret at the level of religious conflict that can be seen today.

“Look at India,” he said, “where religious harmony has been thriving for thousands of years. In addition to indigenous traditions, there others from elsewhere. Followers of Zoroastrianism, for example, originally came from Persia and their community now numbers fewer than 100,000, mostly in Mumbai. But they live there completely without fear. That’s the Indian tradition.

“Then, as a Tibetan, someone in whom 6 million Tibetans have placed their trust, I have a moral responsibility to help them as best I can. I semi-retired from my political role in 2001 and completely retired and devolved those responsibilities to an elected leadership in 2011. Now I’m committed to working to encourage the protection of Tibet's fragile environment. This involves more than the well-being of six million Tibetans because, as a Chinese ecologist has observed, Tibet’s influence on global climate is equivalent to that of the North and South Poles. That’s why he referred to the Tibetan Plateau as the Third Pole. Almost a billion people across Asia depend on water from rivers such as the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Salween and Mekong, all of which rise in Tibet. If the snow on the mountains of Tibet disappears, millions of Indians will suffer the consequences."

His Holiness also expressed his dedication to keeping Tibet’s language and its rich cultural and religious heritage alive. He explained how the Buddhist traditions of Tibet were drawn from those upheld at the Nalanda University in India. They included a strong reliance on reasoning and investigation, which corresponds to a scientific approach.

“The world is facing a crisis of emotions. Elements of the Nalanda Tradition derived from the longstanding Indian practices for developing a calmly abiding mind and deep insight (shamatha and vipashyana) have much to tell us about tackling our negative emotions and cultivating lasting peace of mind. This is why this knowledge remains relevant today, which is why I am also committed to trying to revive an appreciation of it. I believe that here in India it is possible to integrate ancient knowledge with a modern education.”

His Holiness answered several questions from the audience related to creating a more compassion society, dealing with adversity, making positive use of technology and coming to terms with death. He also advised the Buddhists in the room to take a 21st century approach to their faith by developing a reasoned understanding of who the Buddha was and what he taught.

The meeting ended with members of the various groups gathering around His Holiness to have their photographs taken with him, after which everyone dispersed for lunch.

original link & photos: