Indianapolis, IN, USA, 24 June 2016 - Meeting 650 Tibetans from Colorado and New Mexico this morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama told them:
“We Tibetans are an ancient nation. The Emperors of the past were kind and far-sighted. Some say that a Tibetan written script existed beforehand, but what Thönmi Sambhota composed is still in use today.
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to members of the Colorado and New Mexico Tibetan community in Boulder, Colorado on June 24, 2016. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL|
“In 7th century Songtsen Gampo married a Chinese and a Nepalese princess, who each brought Buddhist images to Tibet. The statue of the Buddha that came from China was housed in the Ramoche Temple, which sparked an interest in the Buddhadharma. Then in 8th century, Trisong Detsen had a Chinese mother so he could have furthered connections with China, but he chose instead to create links with Buddhism in India, particularly with the Nalanda Tradition. He invited Shantarakshita, whose writings, such as the ‘Adornment of the Middle Way’ (Madhyamakalankara) and ‘Compendium of Principles’ (Tattva-samgraha), with its two volume commentary by Kamalashila, reveal him to have been a top scholar. It was Shantarakshita, assisted by Guru Padmasambhava who overcame obstacles, who established the Nalanda Tradition of Buddhism in Tibet.
“It was Shantarakshita too who instigated the translation of Indian Buddhist literature into Tibetan. And although he is said to have been 70 years old when he came to Tibet, he apparently made an effort to learn Tibetan. At that time it was just developing as a literary language, with new terms being coined to express new ideas. Today, if we want to know about the Nalanda Tradition, Tibetan is the best vehicle for studying it. The introduction of Buddhism enhanced and enriched the Tibetan language. This is something for us Tibetans to be proud of.”
His Holiness explained that he is able to hold his own in discussions with modern scholars and scientists because of his training in the Nalanda Tradition. He went on to explain that the main treatises concerning Buddhist logic and epistemology are now only available in Tibetan. The existence of such literature has been crucial to the preservation of Tibetan traditions. His Holiness spoke about other indigenous peoples he has met who struggle to preserve their own traditions because they have no system of writing and he has urged them, like the Scandinavian Sami, to create one.
|Members of the Colorado and New Mexico Tibetan community listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Boulder, Colorado on June 24, 2016. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL|
“Tibetan Buddhism is the most comprehensive transmission of what the Buddha taught available today. This is something Tibetans should be aware of. As a nation we going through very difficult times, yet we have been able to keep our heritage alive.
“The 13th Dalai Lama recognised the need to adapt to the modern world. He sent students to Britain to study, where Lungshar looked after them. However, the monasteries resisted the study of English and undermined the 13th Dalai Lama’s efforts at reform. Then the British invaded so their misgivings appear to have been fulfilled.
“After we escaped from Tibet in 1959, with Nehru’s help we established modern schools for Tibetans. We also searched for land on which we could set up Tibetan communities. The most fulsome response came from the then State of Mysore and its leader Nijalingappa, who was a strong supporter of Tibetans. Consequently we were able to re-establish the Three Seats, Sera, Ganden and Drepung, as well as Tashi Lhunpo and several other important monasteries.
“In the early days, school students learned to debate. Gyen Lobsang Gyatso, the teacher who was murdered, started teaching it. But after some time the custom declined. Today, I have suggested that those who teach these topics should be called Philosophy Instructors rather than Religious Teachers.
“When we talk about studying the Dharma, we are talking about transforming the mind. We need to study what is contained in the 300 volumes of the Kangyur and Tengyur in terms of science, the nature of reality, the nature of the mind and philosophy.
“We’ve been in exile 57 years and as the older generations pass away the younger ones have to carry the torch forward. At the same time we have to avoid falling into the traps of sectarianism and regionalism.”
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the Indiana Buddhist Center in Indianapolis, Indiana on June 24, 2016.|
Taking off from Rocky Mountain airport, His Holiness flew over five states to land at Indianapolis Airport, from where he drove to the Indiana Buddhist Center. He was greeted by members, Americans and Tibetans. Entering the small temple he lit lamps and offered auspicious prayers. In his advice he emphasised his suggestion that such Centers become Centers of Learning where anyone can come to find out about the workings of the mind and emotions according to traditions coming from ancient Indian psychology.
Tibetans welcomed His Holiness on arrival at his hotel in Indianapolis, where he retired for the night.