Meeting Tibetans, Temple Inauguration and Public Talk at Yeutenling

May 24th 2012

Huy, Belgium, 24 May 2012 - The early morning sun shone out of blue skies over the green lawns in front of Yeunten Ling Institute, one of Europe's oldest Tibetan Buddhist centres, as His Holiness walked briskly down to meet members of the Tibetan and Mongolian communities in Belgium and Holland.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing Tibetans, Mongolians and Tibet support groups from Belgium and Holland who came to Yeunten Ling Institute in Huy, Belgium, on May 24, 2012. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
“Wherever we Tibetans find ourselves, we must not forget our identity; our blood, flesh and bones come from Tibet. We have a unique spoken and written language which is valuable in and of itself. It's important to keep up our self-confidence. People who know about Tibet support us because our goal is based on truth and justice.”

With these words of encouragement His Holiness began his talk to Tibetans and members of Tibet Support Groups living in Europe's Low Countries. He went on to explain the importance of preserving the Tibetan language, not only for Tibetans' benefit, but also because the widest range and most thorough translations of Buddhist teachings in the world are available in Tibetan. He said he was pleased to know Yeunten Ling offered language classes for Tibetan children and stressed once again how important it is that Tibetan children learn and use their own language as well as that of the country in which they live.

Since so many people had come and there was enough time, His Holiness decided to give a short Dharma talk. Quoting a verse from the Descent into Lanka Sutra he spoke at length about different vehicles of Buddhist teaching and practice, in particular Nagarjuna's defence of the Mahayana as the authentic teaching of the Buddha. He concluded with a concise explanation of the verse that expresses taking refuge in the Three Jewels and generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta, recommending his listeners recite it every day.

    To the Buddhas, the Dharma and the Supreme Community,
    I turn for refuge until enlightenment is gained.
    By the strength of my practices, such as the six perfections,
    May enlightenment be attained for the benefit of all.

Finally, he expressed heartfelt thanks to the members of the Tibet Support Groups gathered before him for their unwavering good work.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama signing the certificates proclaiming him an honorary citizen of the city of Huy at Yeunten Ling Institute in Huy, Belgium, on May 24, 2012. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
Back in the lobby of Yeunten Ling's grand old house, Mr Franz Goethghbeur, the Institute's Secretary General, and coordinator of this visit, welcomed His Holiness and the Mayor of Huy, Mr Alexis Housiaux. The Mayor was accompanied by several Belgian politicians, whom he introduced. He formally conferred the Honorary Citizenship of Huy on His Holiness. In his words of acceptance, His Holiness mentioned how happy he was to meet the people assembled today. Remembering that he had visited the centre soon after in began, in its middle phase and now again when the Temple was complete. He looks forward to coming again and again.

Addressing the press, His Holiness said,

“First, let me say something about one of my main concerns. I speak to you as a human being, one of the seven billion human beings on this planet. All of us want to be happy, and all of us have the right to be happy. Many of the problems we face, however, arise because we pay too much attention to the secondary differences among us regarding our religion, race, nationality, whether we are rich or poor, educated or uneducated. What we neglect is what unites us all as human beings.”

He cited the example of the Copenhagen Climate Change summit, which failed largely because too many countries defended their narrow national interests instead of protecting the global interest. Another serious problem he mentioned was the gap not only between rich and poor, but also between North and South. He explained that one of the reasons he was raising these issues with the press was because of his conviction that the media have a role to play in making a better world.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to members of the press at Yeunten Ling Institute in Huy, Belgium, on May 24, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Taklha/OHHDL
“The media should have a long nose, long like an elephant's trunk, to sniff out what is going on. In many democratic countries, despite a sound legal system, corruption still prevails. The media should investigate such cases and reveal what they find, then an informed public can draw their own conclusions.”

Among questions from the press, His Holiness was asked again about the young Tibetans who have committed self-immolation recently in Tibet. He replied once more that this is a politically sensitive issue, because when the Chinese authorities feel something has gone wrong in Tibet, they invariably try to blame him. If he tells the truth, he risks upsetting people, but as a Buddhist monk he cannot lie, so he prefers to remain silent. He urged those who really want to know why such events are taking place in Tibet to go there, to see for themselves and to make as widely known as they can what they dsicover.

“Since these tragedies have been taking place, I have strongly advocated following Deng Xiaoping's advice to seek truth from facts, although the facts should be genuine, not just items of propaganda.”

To a question about what he does now he has retired His Holiness said he reads and revises what he has studied before. He revealed that for the last two years he has lost interest in watching television and only listens to the BBC on the radio; and at night he gets 8-9 hours sound sleep. Asked whether he feels he will ever return to Tibet, he replied that he is quite certain he will, noting that this is not only a Tibetan plea, but one also expressed by many Chinese Buddhists, of whom there are now some 300 million.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama cutting the ribbon to inaugurate the new temple at Yeunten Ling Institute in Huy, Belgium, on May 24, 2012. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
In the afternoon His Holiness was driven in an open topped car to front of the new Yeunten Ling Temple. He cut the ribbon, the doors swung open and he stepped in for the first time. He paid his respects before the principle image of the Buddha, greeted the assembled guests, many of whom he had met before, and sat to recite brief prayers of consecration. Several religious leaders, who had arrived fresh from an inter-faith gathering in Holland were introduced to him before he took his seat on the ceremonial throne. Lama Katar, Spiritual Director of Yeunten Ling offered fulsome thanks to His Holiness for the inspiration and encouragement he has given the centre over many years.

In his public talk, His Holiness spoke about the importance of mental strength in securing the happiness we all desire. In contrast to this we are commonly led to believe that we will be happy as a result of various kinds of sensory input, whether it be music, attractive things to look at, or delicious food. However, when these things come to an end the satisfaction they provide comes to an end too. If, on the other hand, we train our minds, without relying on sensory experiences, by finding ways, for example to strengthen loving kindness, the resulting happiness will be more stable and long-lasting.

To a question about his next life, His Holiness recited what he calls his favourite prayer:

    For as long as space endures,
    And for as long as living beings remain,
    Until then may I too abide
    To dispel the misery of the world.

“After this life, wherever there's an opportunity to serve others, that's where I'll be. Maybe there'll be an indication closer to the time, but for now, I don't know.”

Tomorrow morning His Holiness will leave Huy to fly to Vienna, where he is due to give a public talk in the afternoon on Beyond Religion – Ethics for the Whole World.
 
 

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