His Holiness the Dalai Lama Teaches a Group from Russia in Delhi - Day Four

December 28th 2012

New Delhi, India, 27 December 2012 - Holiness the Dalai Lama made a brisk start to the final session of his four day series of teachings in Delhi:

“Dharma is something that should concern us on a day to day basis; it’s not something to just set aside when the teachings are over. Use what I’ve taught as way to open things up. Study the text yourselves and let your mind flow with the Dharma. If you can do that, when we meet again you’ll be able to look back with the confidence of having reduced your attachment and anger. Then the purpose of the Dharma and these teachings will have been fulfilled.”


He mentioned that in addition to translations of the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, other Dharma books, books about the ongoing dialogue between modern science and Buddhist science, as well as His Holiness’s teachings are available in English and Russian.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to a group from Russia in Delhi, India, on December 27, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
Focussing on the importance of logic, His Holiness cited his own experience of his dialogue with scientists. He said that although the scientists are experts in their fields, when he listens to them he invariably finds what seem like contradictions that lead him to ask questions, often prompting the response, “I’ll have to think about that.” One of the scientists attending a Mind & Life dialogue noticed this and asked if the Tibetan system of logic could be applied to other topics, and His Holiness confirmed that it could. This is taking place now in several Tibetan schools. He told his Russian speaking listeners that they would find it very helpful to introduce the study of logic into their own studies.

Turning once again to the need to foster a more widespread sense of secular ethics, he said not one person among the 7 billion living today actively wants problems and suffering, and yet many of our problems are of our own creation. As evidence of the unease he finds in the world, he mentioned Japan, a modern country with a modern education system, which is also traditionally Buddhist, but where increasing numbers of people are committing suicide. This is also happening in Ladakh and in Sweden despite its strong welfare state and much narrower gap between rich and poor. He commended the Buddha’s instruction that we are essentially our own masters, remarking that the Buddha does not have the power simply to grant happiness, but has revealed the path to liberation.

“Buddhas do not wash away sins with water,
Nor do they remove the sufferings of beings with their hands,
Neither do they transplant their own realization into others.
Teaching the truth of suchness they liberate (beings).”

His Holiness said that when it comes to our own interests we are practical, but when it comes to the needs of others we only make prayers. In the last 15-20 years he has met many scientists and held discussions with them. Their conclusion is that what is lacking in society is compassion. This is even true on the level of families where people no longer have the time to pay proper attention to their children.

As religious influence has declined and people’s faith in religion has dwindled, no one else has stepped in to teach and promote ethics. In the USA there are shocking cases of mass shootings in schools, in India we hear about rape. These sad events indicate the degree to which some individuals lack moral standards. Inconsiderate, uncouth behaviour has become a habit. His Holiness said these are problems not easily solved by religion. What is more important is that we incorporate ethical training into our education system, starting with kindergarten and following right through to university. Just as we teach about physical hygiene to ensure physical health, we need to foster a sense of mental hygiene to ensure more positive attitudes, mental peace and happiness.

Research has been going on to examine how to introduce ethics into education and His Holiness expects to attend meetings in the near future to hear what conclusions have been reached so far. But he invited his Russian speaking listeners also to join in this project, to do research and report their findings on the prospect of introducing secular ethics into education. He ended his talk with the remark,

“This is all I want to say, but I’m giving some responsibility to you.”


A member of the audience asking a question of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the final day of teachings in Delhi, India, on December 27, 2012. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
His Holiness then answered a number of questions from the audience. These began with one about the number of Buddhists in the world, which he answered saying it was difficult to calculate, but that he had no interest in trying to convert people to Buddhism to increase the numbers. Another concerned how to foster ethics among educated people. He pointed out that education, money and power by themselves do not ensure happiness. What he does consider effective is to think of all human beings as essentially the same. The differences between us are minor and superficial. The thing to remember is that we all belong to one human family.

Someone who introduced himself as a Russian Orthodox Christian wanted to know how to derive benefit from Buddhism without abandoning his faith. His Holiness stressed the importance of practising your own religion sincerely and within that context borrowing instructions on how to foster love and compassion, cultivate patience and so forth. He noted that many of St Francis’s prayers echo advice to be found in the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life.

Someone else asked if corruption had any role in Tibet’s loss of freedom. His Holiness replied that corruption is like a new cancer in the world. He said we have to oppose it; we cannot remain silent. Withstanding corruption requires self-discipline. We like to boast when we achieve something by our own efforts, but corruption isn’t something we can brag about. Therefore the corrupt are not happy or at ease. Prior to the agreement between Tibet and Communist China in 1951, there was very little corruption in Tibet. Since that time, corruption has grown in China and Tibet has been affected too.

Finally, a questioner asked about receiving teachings over the internet. She wanted to know if she viewed teachings that were being webcast, whether she could feel she had received them fully. His Holiness answered that with regard to general teachings, of course you could receive them that way. With regard to tantric empowerments, he felt it could also be possible if the Lama concerned were aware that there were students participating in this way. He cited the precedent of remote ordination at the time of the Buddha. There were occasions when messages were sent in order that ordination could be conducted when, for various reasons, the Buddha was in one place and those seeking ordination were in another.

His Holiness concluded the session as follows:

“Well, we’ve completed what we set out to do. I really enjoyed our meeting here and I feel that I have fulfilled my commitment. Thank you very much.
 

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