Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - This morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama left Gaden Phelgyeling for the Kalachakra Teaching Ground to attend a ceremony of offerings and prayers for his long life requested by the Central Institute of Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, and its alumni, and people belonging to the Tibetan settlement at Paonta Sahib. Monks wearing crested yellow hats and playing horns led the way. A golden umbrella fluttered overhead. His Holiness smiled and waved to well-wishers lining the route.
From the platform he smiled and waved again to the crowd and many among them waved back. He greeted the distinguished Lamas, saluted the image of the Buddha surrounded by the seventeen masters of Nalanda in a large thangka behind the throne and took his seat.
The ceremony, led by the Chant-master of Namgyal Monastery and presided over by Ganden Tri Rinpoché, opened with a salutation to the Buddha, ‘the Subduer of the world’. Next came a recitation of 'Clouds of Ambrosial Blessings', Trulshik Rinpoché's invocation of the series of incarnations of Avalokiteshvara in Tibet. The long-life prayers focussed on White Tara.
At a certain point Ganden Tri Rinpoché came forward to present His Holiness with the long-life wand, which he accepted. A seven-limb prayer was chanted, and a large ritual cake was presented to His Holiness, who took a token portion. The Chant-master made a full mandala offering.
Next, Tri Rinpoché offered representations of the body, speech, and mind of the Buddhas, the vase, symbols [of the Buddhas] of the five noble families, the seven royal emblems, the eight auspicious symbols, the eight auspicious substances, and so forth. As this was going on, a procession of people belonging to the patron organizations passed across the front of the platform carrying an array of gifts that mostly comprised volumes of scripture. Some of these were books that have recently been newly translated from Pali and Sanskrit into Tibetan.
Ganden Tri Rinpoché, Jangtsé Chöjé Rinpoché, and Sakya Gongma Rinpoché followed by representatives of the patron organizations approached the throne to pay their respects. His Holiness gave each a white silk scarf and a red protection ribbon.
After the chanting of a prayer for His Holiness’s long life by his two Tutors and another by Jamyang Khyentsé Chökyi Lodrö, His Holiness addressed the congregation.
“Today, what I wish to say to my Dharma brothers and sisters, monks, nuns and laypeople, people with an interest in the teaching of the Buddha, who have gathered in this sacred place of Vajra-asana, the seat of enlightenment, and offered this ceremony for my long life, is that when I look back, I rejoice in what I have been able to do in the world. What’s more I will continue to benefit sentient beings until I am more than 100 years old.
“In recent times we have seen conflict breaking out in the vicinity of Russia and other parts of the world as a result of neighbours regarding each other in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’. This creates division and overlooks the fact that as human beings we all belong to one family. It is my hope that if we learn to appreciate the oneness of humanity, that we are all the same as human beings, we will learn to live in harmony and friendship, able to be of help to each other. I consider it my responsibility to bring this to people’s attention.
“Each of us, when we were born, was nurtured in our mother’s love. We were suckled by her milk. As we grow up, we all want to be happy and not to feel pain, therefore we should remember how important love and affection have been to each of us. That’s why we should help one another wherever we can.
“We don’t need to create divisions on the basis of ‘us’ and ‘them’, we need to live together in peace. Differences in the colour of our skin or the faith we follow are of secondary significance when compared to our being the same as human beings. When we are born, we are not divided on the basis of national or religious labels.
“Today is New Year’s day and I want to say, ‘Tashi Deleg’ to all of you. We must try to make this year more peaceful, putting the problems and conflicts of the past year behind us. We can start by developing a sense of the oneness of all eight billion people alive today. As Buddhists we pray for the welfare of all sentient beings, but at least we should do what we can to help the beings of this world. What’s important is to recognise our companions as fellow human beings—then we’ll be able to create a more peaceful world.
“We increasingly face extreme weather events. Some places have been too hot, others have been flooded, still others have been stricken by drought. We must pray that these calamities subside.
“I often point out how important it is to be warm-hearted, but our good heart must be guided by wisdom and good sense. Short term goals may not be enough, we must also judge what will be best in the long run. The key to leading a meaningful like is to help others as much as you can.”
A final thanksgiving mandala offering was followed by a prayer to Buddha Amitayus.
A financial statement was read, first in Tibetan and then in English, declaring what was received and what was spent in support of the three days of His Holiness’s teaching and today’s Long-Life Ceremony. Norbu Tsering’s family, Nyanang Tashi Dhondhup’s family, Sonam Gyatso’s family and the Lhaden Chotrul Monlam Trust gave significant support for the teachings. The Central Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies and its alumni, Shalu Monastery, the Paonta Sahib Tibetan Settlement, the Gelugpa University and Lhaden Chotrul Monlam Trust contributed to today’s ceremony.
Thanks were offered to His Holiness for the teachings he has given, as well as to the local Bodhgaya administration, the local police for security and to members of Namgyal Monastery for their far-reaching contributions. Thanks were also expressed to others, too many to name, whose help ensured that all went smoothly.
Proceedings were concluded with the steady chanting of the Dedication Prayer from the end of the ‘Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment’, the ‘Prayer for the Flourishing of the Teaching’ and the ‘Words of Truth’, both composed by His Holiness, and lastly the ‘Samantabhadra Prayer’.
Waving once more to the crowd and saluting the image of the Buddha, His Holiness boarded the golf-cart that then carried him back to the monastery.