His Holiness the Dalai Lama Successfully Concludes Washington DC Visit

October 12th 2009

Washington, DC, USA, 11 October 2009 (www.tibet.net) - His Holiness the Dalai Lama concluded his five-day Washington, DC visit Saturday, 10 October, by conferring a Buddhist teaching, meetings with a select group of Administration officials, diplomats, members of Congress, and members of the Tibetan American community.

In the morning, His Holiness went to the Bender Arena at American University, the venue of his teaching.  His Holiness was received by Greg Kruglak, President of Conservancy for Tibetan Art and Culture (CTAC), Rinchen Dharlo and Ani Tenzin Lhamo, members of CTAC's Board. The Conservancy was the organizer of this teaching session. His Holiness first went to the nearby Provost's Office where he was received by American University President Cornelius Kerwin and Provost Scott Bass.

Nancy Pelosi, left, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama's interpreter, Thupten Jinpa, with His Holiness
the Dalai Lama at a Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice event.
(By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)

The teaching program began with the recitation of the Heart Sutra in Pali, Chinese, Vietnames and Tibetan. Thereafter, His Holiness first dwelt on the topic of religious harmony.  He explained that different religions  were not only needed in order to suit the mental disposition of different individual but that they also had the same objectives both at the theoretical and practical levels.  His Holiness said in the theistic religious traditions, there was the special bond between the individual and God the creator. This called for total submission of the individual to the will of God. He said this resulted in the reduction of a self-centered ego, which is something that religions like Buddhism also aspire for. At the practical level, he said all religious traditions called for the practice of compassion in different ways.

 People listen as His Holiness the Dalai Lama delivers a Buddhist teaching at American University in Washington, 10 October 2009.Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/US
His Holiness emphasized the importance of individuals to stick to their own traditional religious belief while respecting all religious traditions. He drew a distinction between faith and respect. He said each individual should have faith only in his or her own religion (this will reduce confusion, he said) but that respect should be shown to all religious traditions.

His Holiness then explained the tenets of Buddhism and also bestowed the Bodhicitta vows. While doing this, he said that followers of other religious traditions could visualize their respective religious Masters like Jesus Christ, the Prophet Muhammad, etc. His Holiness explained the dependently arisen nature of our happiness and suffering, showing by way of Buddha's teaching of the four noble truths how both of them are produced from causes under our control. He explained the proper view to be adopted by practitioners.

At the conclusion, Amy Head of CTAC informed His Holiness and the gathering about how the organisation intended to utilize income generated from the event. She said part of it will be used to fund CTAC's Himalayan Education Program, a portion will be donated to the Booker T. Washington Schoo, which His Holiness had visited some years back, and another portion will be donated to a local organisation that provides food to the needy.

Followers and organisations belonging to the following Buddhist traditions were involved in supporting the teaching event: Thai, Sri Lankan, Tibetan, Vietnamese, Japanese and Laotian traditions.

His Holiness then left for the residence of Senator Dianne Feinstein and Mr. Richard Blum, who were hosting a lunch with a select group of individuals.

His Holiness' last program was a visit in the afternoon to the Adas Israel Congregation, the venue of his audience to the Tibetan community. On his arrival at the synagogue, its Rabbi Gil Steinlauf received him. As His Holiness' visit coincided with the celebration of Sukkot festival, Rabbi Steinlauf invited His Holiness to enter a structure set up outside the synagogue where many of its members had gathered. They sang a song as His Holiness reached the structure. In a brief address, His Holiness expressed his admiration of the Jewish people and how Tibetans were looking to the Jewish people to find the secret of maintaining one's own identity.

His Holiness then went to the hall where the Tibetan community were gathered. He was first received by Mr. Kalden Lodoe, President of the Capital Area Tibetan Association (CATA), and then by the Board of Directors of CATA.

The program,announced by CATA General Secretary Dhondup Gonsar, began with the singing of the Tibetan national anthem and a prayer for the long life of His Holiness.  Thereafter, the CATA President gave a brief report outlining the activities of the community in the political and cultural fields. He recognized the services of those involved in running the Sunday school for the children, including the voluntary teachers.  He also announced that CATA had requested His Holiness to bestow the sacred Kalachakra Initiation in Washington, D.C. and repeated the supplication.

In his remarks, which His Holiness chose to make standing up, he first dwelt on the strength of the Tibetan identity.  He asked the Tibetans abroad to be specially mindful of the tremendous hope placed on them by the majority of the Tibetans who currently reside inside Tibet.  He said the best way of being able to meet their expectation was to pay particular attention to education.  His Holiness also asked that the people study the Buddhist religion and not just look at it as a ritual.  His Holiness asked the Tibetan community to uphold the best of standards and be a good role model. He recalled a conversation he was having during his recent visit to Ladakh in which he learnt that some Ladakhi people had  been learning the bad habit of playing of Majhong from some Tibetans. He said this was unfortunate.

His Holiness addressed the members of the clergy who were in the audience and said that they should really stick to the tenets of the faith and not do anything inappropriate bearing in mind that they were wearing the garment of religion.  He said he had made a similar appeal during his address to the Tibetans during his recent visit to Taiwan.

In response to the supplication for a Kalachakra Initiation, His Holiness said it need to be studied as to what the situation and interest is and if appropriate such a ceremony could be considered. He said it would not do to be performing such a ceremony merely as a sort of performance.

On the issue of the Tibetan political situation His Holiness said that he had nothing new to say.

His Holiness had a specific message to the people working in the two Tibetan language radio programs based in Washington, D.C.  He said they should certainly report both the positive and negative developments truthfully. However, he said they should be particularly mindful of the atmosphere under which many of their listeners in Tibet reside and the risk they take to listen to them.  He said thus specific attention needs to be paid so that reports are not based on mere hearsay or rumor but that crosschecking needed to be done. Otherwise, there is the danger of creating confusion, particularly if the motivation was not good.

His Holiness next touched on the issue of propitiation of  Dholgyal or Shugden. He said recently he had met a Chinese from China who informed him about how the Chinese Government was making political use of the Dholgyal issue and the need, therefore, for him to continue explaining the issue.  He then recalled hearing some delegates at a gathering of Tibetan religious leaders saying that the propitiation needed to be stopped because His Holiness had said so.  His Holiness said he himself had at one time been propitiating Dholgyal and that he had stopped after a thorough investigation and with full knowledge of both his senior and junior tutors, Yongzin Ling Rinpoche and Yongzin Trijang Rinpoche. His Holiness said since Ling Rinpoche did not indulged in the practice he welcomed His Holiness' move. While Trijang Rinpoche, who did the practice, said that he understood that His Holiness was taking the action after doing a thorough investigation.  His Holiness said that his action thus had the concurrence of both his tutors.

Therefore, His Holiness said the pertinent issue was the reasoning behind his urging rather than him merely saying it. He said it was during the period of the Fifth Dalai Lama that the propitiation began and so he would know the best. The Fifth Dalai Lama had discouraged this practice and His Holiness said the situation could only be altered by an individual with knowledge and standing equivalent to the Fifth Dalai Lama who had a different view.

His Holiness said the people should not merely be engrossed in one's own individual interest after having immigrated to the United States but should also pay attention to the common community's issues.  He also said that the recent establishment of Tibetan-Chinese Friendship Associations have been beneficial and asked the people to continue paying interest on such matters.

His Holiness departed from Washington, D.C. after the Tibetan audience, on his return journey to India.

--Report filed by Mr Bhuchung K Tsering of ICT



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