Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - This morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama drove the short distance from his residence at the main Tibetan monastery here to Palyul Namdroling Monastery. There members of the Nyingma Tradition were to make offerings and prayers for his long life as part of their Great Prayer Festival. His Holiness beamed with joy as he walked through the temple and sat down on the throne.
Five Lamas led by Shechen Rabjam Rinpoché, including Dudjom Rinpoché, Khochhen Rinpoché, Minling Khenchen Rinpoché and Ringu Tulku, sat facing His Holiness as the Long-Life Ceremony began.
Tea and sweet rice were served.
At a certain point in the proceedings an elaborate three-dimensional mandala was wheeled out of the temple followed by another trolley supporting an array of ritual cakes and an effigy of His Holiness, which symbolized the removal of obstacles to His Holiness’s long life. Shechen Rabjam Rinpoché approached the throne to offer long life nectar and long-life pills to His Holiness.
A Senior Khenpo recited a tribute to His Holiness along with requests that he live long. He mentioned the five excellent factors — teacher, place, time, entourage and teaching — in relation to His Holiness and alluded to the qualities of members of the lineage of Dalai Lamas, of whom His Holiness is the unmistaken reincarnation, especially Gendun Gyatso and the Great Fifth Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso.
The Khenpo requested, “Please do not pass away, stay to teach us. May the Dharma protectors help our master to live a long life. May all sentient beings purify their defilements and find true happiness.”
Next, His Holiness addressed the gathering: “Today, this Long-Life Prayer is being offered to me with unwavering faith and devotion on behalf of all Tibetans. Since circumstances are interconnected, I have been able to serve them at this critical time in Tibetan history.
“These days there is new-found interest in Buddhism across the world, even among those of different faith such as my Christian brothers and sisters. Our teachings on love and compassion are widely admired. I have been able to take part in making them more widely known. Although they adopt a different philosophical stance, our Christian friends’ work to help the poor and needy is a practical expression of love and compassion for sentient beings.
“I have long had Muslim friends too. When we were still in Lhasa, they would pay their respects to me and regularly took part in government celebrations.
“Everyone in the world is the same in not wanting suffering and wishing to find happiness. This is true of all eight billion people alive today and I have done what I could to show them how to be happy. Even scientists have shown an interest in this.
“Tibetans and people of the Himalayan region, linked by previous actions and prayers, have long paid me respect, as we say in the single verse prayer for my long life:
In the heavenly realm of Tibet, surrounded by a chain of snow mountains,
The source of all happiness and help for beings
Is Tenzin Gyatso—Chenrezig in person—
May his life be secure for hundreds of aeons!
“I’ve seen indications in my dreams that I may live to be more than 100 years old. I’m in good health, apart from some trouble in my knees, so I’ll be able to continue to support Tibet’s Dharma traditions for some time to come.
“People from all Tibet’s Buddhist traditions have gathered here today to pray that I live long and I too pray to fulfil their wishes. Indeed, what follows is the prayer I make every day:
As long as space endures,
And as long as sentient beings remain,
Until then, may I too remain
To help dispel the misery of the world.
“I also believe that truth will prevail and the issue of Tibet will become clear. It’s not independence that we seek, but genuine autonomy so we can keep our language, culture and religion alive and so our people can live in dignity. It’s to fulfil these goals that I will live as long as I can.
“I work to help people achieve peace of mind by cultivating love and compassion. That inner peace is the basis for peace in the world. I try to live a good life free from anger and hatred, and I pray that the world may become demilitarized. If that goal is fulfilled the purpose of my life will have been achieved.
“Today we’ve been praying that obstacles to my living long will be overcome. I look forward to a time when we can hold another long-life prayer like this in the park in front of the Potala Palace.”
As the ceremony came to an end a thanksgiving mandala, the eight auspicious substances, seven royal emblems and eight auspicious symbols were offered to His Holiness and dedication prayers were recited.
“May all beings find peace and joy.”
As His Holiness left the temple many individuals pressed forward bowing low before him and he patted them affectionately on the back of the head.