Copenhagen, Denmark, 10 February 2015 - As darkness lay on the sea around Trondheim this morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with Tibetans who had come to see him.
“We have been in exile for nearly 56 years,” he said, “which in the life of a people is not such a long time, but for one individual may seem long. The spirit of Tibetans in Tibet is still very strong. A Chinese friend reported to me how tough they have become. This is because of the hard-line policies they encounter. It is this narrow-minded hard line that stokes their sense of being separate from the Chinese.
“Just as the Chinese love their culture, we Tibetans love our culture and language and seek to preserve them. Some Chinese have told me that although they also claim to follow the thought of Nagarjuna, they are unable to articulate it in the way it is clearly laid out in Tibetan. The Chinese also follow the Nalanda tradition, but not as rigorously as we do. While young Chinese today can’t even read their classical Buddhist texts, we can elaborate the different philosophical points of view. This is something to be proud of.”
His Holiness also recalled seeing the place in Xi’an where the Lhasa Jowo came from. There was an empty space where it used to sit. He saw too the place on the city wall that marked the point at which the Tibetan army stopped in 763CE when they occupied the city and installed their own Emperor. His Holiness observed that although Tibetan military power declined and the country fragmented politically, from a religious point of view Tibetans remained united. He said:
“Things are changing in China. There will be an opportunity for us to return to our homeland. We have all worked hard and that day will dawn. Do not lose heart.”
His Holiness the Dalai Lama with members of the Trondheim Buddhist Association in Trondeheim, Norway on February 10, 2015. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
The Trondheim Buddhist Association, which brings together Buddhists from different countries met with His Holiness. They included monks, nuns and lay people from Thailand, Burma and Vietnam. He told them:
“Here we are on the northern edge of Europe. In Asia there are some Christians, but Burma, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Laos and Cambodia, China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Tibet and Mongolia are traditionally Buddhist. I make no effort to propagate Buddhism, but I’ve come across missionaries in places like Mongolia. I told them it’s very good if you can help these people, but they are Buddhist and trying to convert them is inappropriate.
“Nevertheless, I always tell Buddhists I meet that we should try to be 21st century Buddhists. Simply folding our hands and praying without understanding what the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha or the Four Noble Truths are isn’t much help. We need to know what cessation is and what the steps of the path are. We have no belief in a creator god, we are our own masters. But the Buddha cannot give us realization; he can only indicate the path by which we may pursue it ourselves. This is why I tell our Chinese brothers and sisters, as well as Tibetans, that praying to Amitabha or reciting Mani is not enough. We need to understand the Buddha’s teaching, so we have to study.”
His Holiness observed that followers of the Pali or Theravadin tradition are the senior students of the Buddha. However, in the Sanskrit tradition, and maybe the Pali tradition too, it is recorded that the Buddha counselled his followers not to accept what he taught blindly out of devotion, but to investigate, analyse and examine it to see if it is true. In this case the experiments are to be done not in a laboratory but in the mind.
|Members of the Tibetan community offering His Holiness the Dalai Lama a traditional welcome on his arrival at his hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark on February 10, 2015.|
Students from ISFiT saw His Holiness off at Trondheim airport as he boarded a plane for Copenhagen. As the destination neared, the snowbound land gave way to freshly ploughed fields and the sun came out. He was met on landing by representatives of the voluntary association of seven Danish organizations co-ordinating his visit led by Lakha Rinpoche, and a representative of the Indian Embassy. The drive from the airport to the hotel adjacent to the conference centre where he will speak was short. Tibetans greeted him on arrival and he was offered a traditional welcome.
After lunch His Holiness met with the organizers and members of Tibet Support Groups. He acknowledged the active work Lakha Rinpoche and his wife have done both in India and Denmark and expressed his thanks. He discussed archaeology and the origin of the Runic alphabet, earliest examples of which date to 150CE.
An encounter with protestors from the pro-Shugden group at the door of the hotel prompted His Holiness to speak about the Shugden issue.
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama meeting with members visit organizers and Tibet support groups in Copenhagen, Denmark on February 10, 2015. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL|
“This is not something new. The concerned spirit arose about 400 years ago out of difficult relations with the 5th Dalai Lama. From then until the time of the 13th Dalai Lama it was generally considered to be a local spirit and remained low key. Phabongka Rinpoche spread its practice. He came to rely on it not for good reasons but out of fear. In the early part of his life he had adopted a non-sectarian approach. Trijang Rinpoche told me of an occasion when he was young when Phabongka Rinpoche did a retreat in connection with the Most Secret Hayagriva during which he made pills. Later, the 13th Dalai Lama warned him that if he relied too strongly on this spirit he would breach his Buddhist refuge commitments. Consequently his practice remained low key during the rest of the 13th Dalai Lama’s life, but once he passed away he revived it.
“In 1951, in Yatung, I made the mistake of taking this practice up. Later, in the 1960s I looked more closely into it, found out what it was about and stopped. I kept both my tutors informed and they supported me. I take a non-sectarian approach. I do practices from the Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu and Gelug traditions. I consider it my duty to make this issue clear to others. The people manipulating these demonstrators and protestors, who are not fully informed, do so for their own reasons. I feel sorry for them in their ignorance.”
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama with members of the Tibetan community, their families and friends in Copenhagen, Denmark on February 10, 2015. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL|
Speaking to a group of Tibetans, their families and friends, His Holiness praised the ancient Indian knowledge, particularly concerning the mind and emotions, that Tibetans have kept alive. Sharing this knowledge is something Tibetans can contribute to the world. He advised that Tibetans should be humble, learned, and keep up their reputation for honesty and kind-heartedness. Recalling that the Tibetan population has declined from the 10 million Dromtonpa estimated 1000 year ago, he encouraged Tibetans to have more children and to bring them up speaking Tibetan.
He mentioned that China is changing, that there now seem to be 400 million Chinese Buddhists, some of whom are taking an interest in Tibetan Buddhism. He cited Xi Jinping’s remarks in Paris and Delhi that Buddhism has an important role to play in reviving Chinese culture as an encouraging sign.
Concluding with the observation that he might be nearly 80 years old, but doctors tell him he is fit, he told his listeners they shouldn’t worry about him. He advised them to be happy. While in Copenhagen His Holiness will give a public talk and an explanation of the ‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’.