Dalai Lama https://www.dalailama.com/ en-us Fri, 03 Jul 2020 18:14:40 +0000 Fri, 03 Jul 2020 18:14:40 +0000 Vision of a More Compassionate & Peaceful World https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/vision-of-a-more-compassionate-peaceful-world Thu, 25 Jun 2020 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/vision-of-a-more-compassionate-peaceful-world Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP - This morning His Holiness the Dalai Lama took part in a ‘webinar’ organized by Amity University. When he entered the sitting room at his residence, he smiled, folded his hands in greeting and silently sat down.

Vice-chancellor of Amity University, Gurgaon, Prof PB Sharma greeted him, set the scene and asked, “How do we serve humanity, now?” The Chancellor, Dr Aseem Chauhan added that Amity University is founded on human values and working together. He asked, “What can we do to make our world a more compassionate, peaceful place?”

Vice-chancellor of Amity University, Gurgaon, Prof PB Sharma and Chancellor, Dr Aseem Chauhan greeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the start if the interactive video conference with students from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 26, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Thank you, it’s a great honour for me to talk to you and share some of my experience with you,” His Holiness replied. “I always feel especially close to my Indian brothers and sisters because I consider myself to be a student of Indian thought. In the eighth century, the Tibetan Emperor Trisong Detsen had close links to the Chinese Emperor. Tibet was subject to a strong Chinese Buddhist influence with its preference for meditation rather than study. Nevertheless, he opted instead to invite the Indian master, Shantarakshita, a great philosopher and logician from Nalanda University, to Tibet.

“For more than 3000 years this country has upheld the concepts of ‘ahimsa’ or non-violence and ‘karuna’ or compassion. Buddha Shakyamuni was a product of these ideas as well as the practice for cultivating a calmly abiding mind, ‘shamatha’ and insight, ‘vipashyana’.

“We consider India to be the Arya Bhumi, a country that is highly developed in spiritual terms. As Buddhists, we Tibetans have long cherished the wish to make a pilgrimage to Bodhgaya at least once in our lives, much as Muslims go to Mecca.

“We Tibetans see ourselves as ‘chelas’ or loyal disciples of our Indian gurus, so there is a special bond between us. These days, however, it seems that the ‘gurus’ pay less attention to their ancient knowledge, something we have kept alive for more than 1000 years. We study as Shantarakshita taught us and we follow his advice. We take a logical approach and question everything. For example, the writings of Nagarjuna have been significant to us, which is why I recite several of his verses to myself every day.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to Amity University students by video conference from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 26, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“In the end, the reason we study is to be able to tackle and reduce our destructive emotions. In my own case, my own daily practice consists of cultivating bodhichitta, a sense of altruism rooted in compassion. This aspiration is expressed in a verse by Shantideva:

For as long as space endures
And for as long as living beings remain
Until then may I too abide
To dispel the misery of the world.

“All destructive emotions revolve around our self-centred attitudes — and bodhichitta serves to counter them.

“As far as philosophy is concerned, the Madhyamaka Buddhist view has much in common with what quantum physics has to tell us today. The Indian nuclear physicist Raja Ramanna once mentioned to me that quantum physics was a new discovery in the West, but Nagarjuna was already thinking along similar lines 2000 years ago. Both concur that nothing exists as it appears. Things may appear to exist objectively, but quantum physics states that deeper investigation reveals this isn’t true. Nagarjuna wrote that things are empty of independent existence. They exist dependent on other factors, which he describes as ‘pratityasamutpada’ or dependent arising.

“If you feel angry or afraid, but you investigate what it is about the object you are angry about or afraid of, you’ll mostly find that your feelings are mental projections. This is why those who give you trouble provide you with opportunities to cultivate patience and compassion — and this is why we say your enemy can be your teacher.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing students from Amity University by video conference from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 26, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“I sent a copy of a book we compiled called ‘Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics’ to professors in a university in China. And once they’d read it, they came to appreciate that Tibetan Buddhism is firmly rooted in the Nalanda Tradition, a scientific approach that we learned from India.”

His Holiness outlined his three or four commitments. First of all, as a human being himself, he considers his seven billion companions to be the same in being human. Because we are social animals, he observes, we are dependent on others and they are dependent on us. To see other people in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’ stokes conflict that can result in bloodshed and killing. Therefore, he is committed to promoting the oneness of humanity.

As a Buddhist, His Holiness feels a strong responsibility to encourage inter-religious harmony. He considers it unthinkable that anyone should fight or kill in the name of religion. He concedes that different spiritual traditions propound different and contrasting philosophical points of view. Many Indian traditions describe a self or atman, separate from the body and mind, that goes on from life to life. The Buddha taught that the self is not something separate and independent. Rather, it is dependent on the body and mind. Despite such different views, all these traditions, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Jewish, convey a common message of love. On such a basis, religious harmony is possible. And of this India is a living example.

His Holiness declared that the Tibetan people place their trust in him and so historically he has a responsibility to help them. However, since 2001 he has retired and devolved his political responsibility to an elected leadership. He feels a strong need to speak up for the protection of Tibet’s ecology, not just for the benefit of the Tibetan people, but also on behalf of all those across Asia who depend on rivers that rise in Tibet for their water.

Of corresponding importance is that Tibetans have kept ancient Indian knowledge alive, not just in terms of prayer and ritual, but by means of rigorous study. Tibetans have memorized the classic texts, studied their meaning, word by word, and tested their understanding through debate.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to Amity University students by video conference from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 26, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness declared that since formally completing his own studies in 1959, he has continued to exert himself in practice. He has worked to increase his positive emotions and reduce those that are destructive. As a result, he says, he always has a smile on his face, a genuine, sincere smile, not an artificial one. This reflects, he said, that his mind is always at peace.

“It’s on such a basis that I am a messenger of ancient Indian thought,” he disclosed, “especially with regard to ‘ahimsa’ and ‘karuna’ — compassion and non-violence.”

The first question put to him was about how to maintain peace and compassion in the face of violent forces.

“Non-violence springs from compassion,” His Holiness replied. “If you have compassion for others, your wish will be not to harm but to help them. If you apply your human intelligence, you may also recognise that anger destroys your peace of mind. It ruins the friendly feeling in families and communities. We are social animals, who need close friends. Compassion attracts friends. Anger and violence, on the other hand, are contrary to human nature. What we need to do is to find ways to live happily together.”

When another questioner suggested that kind-hearted people tend to suffer more than greedy people, His Holiness answered that he doesn’t think they do. In a society with primarily material goals, a society that doesn’t much acknowledge the idea of peace of mind, it may seem, that tough, competitive people are more superficially successful. But this judgement overlooks their inner world. Ancient Indian knowledge revealed by Hindu and Buddhist scholars provides a rich explanation of the workings of the mind. It reveals how to tackle destructive emotions and nurture those that are positive. The key is to combine this ancient understanding with modern education.

“In the last century, Mahatma Gandhi taught so clearly about the essential value of non-violence that he deeply influenced men like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King. In this century, we need to extend the message to include compassion.

“In India today, there remains a huge gap between rich and poor. We need to cultivate deeper concern for our human brothers and sisters. One way of approaching this is to revive a strong sense of compassion and non-violence in action. We can start by trying to train our minds.

“An old friend of mine was imprisoned for many years in Tibet. When he was finally released, he came to India. During our conversation about his experiences he told me he had sometimes felt in danger. Thinking he meant a danger to his life I asked him to tell me more and he replied that several times he felt he was in danger of losing compassion for his Chinese captors.”

Founder President of Amity University, Dr Ashok K Chauhan intervened to tell His Holiness how proud they were to listen to his words, assuring him that they will change Indian lives. He introduced His Holiness’s friend Dr Pradeep Chowbey who told him how delighted he was to know that he was so well.

“It is my duty to make whatever contribution I can to this country,” His Holiness responded. “Sharing the message of ancient India can reach across the world.

Noting the difficulties that Covid-19 has brought in its wake, a doctoral student asked what we can do to overcome depression. His Holiness told her,

His Holiness the Dalai Lama waving goodbye to students from Amity University at the conclusion their interactive video conference from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 26, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“One of the approaches that I personally find useful is to cultivate the thought: If the situation or problem is such that it can be remedied, then there is no need to worry about it. In other words, if there is a solution or a way out of the difficulty, then you do not need to be overwhelmed by it. The appropriate action is to seek its solution. Then it is clearly more sensible to spend your energy focussing on the solution rather than worrying about the problem. Alternatively, if there is no solution, no possibility of resolution, then there is also no point in being worried about it, because you cannot do anything about it anyway. In that case, the sooner you accept this fact, the easier it will be for you. This formula, of course, implies directly confronting the problem and taking a realistic view of it. It’s very practical.”

Asked whether he will choose to come back as the Dalai Lama, His Holiness retorted,

“That’s my private business. However, I’ve already told you my favourite prayer and the infinite aspiration that involves. We are all part of human society, so the purpose of our lives is not to make trouble, but to serve others in any way we can. We’re all driven by self-interest to some extent, but cultivating concern for others is a wise way of fulfilling our own self-interest.“

Prof PB Sharma thanked His Holiness on behalf or Amity University for sharing his time with them. His Holiness folded his hands together and smiled as the meeting came to a close.

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Mind & Life Conversation: Resilience, Compassion, & Science for Healing Today https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/mind-life-conversation-resilience-compassion-science-for-healing-today Fri, 19 Jun 2020 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/mind-life-conversation-resilience-compassion-science-for-healing-today Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - This morning His Holiness the Dalai Lama took part in a Mind & Life Conversation from his residence by means of video conferencing. Joining him were: Richie Davidson, Carolyn Jacobs, Thupten Jinpa, and Susan Bauer-Wu, all longstanding members of the Mind & Life Institute. As His Holiness entered the room, ten minutes earlier than scheduled, and saw his old friend Richie Davidson’s face on the screen in front of him, he laughed and tapped his nose. Usually when they meet, His Holiness teases Davidson about his prominent nose and then rubs it with his own, greeting him affectionately as he learned to do in New Zealand.

Susan Bauer-Wu, President of the Mind & Life Institute introducing the Mind & Life Conversation with His Holiness the Dalai Lama by video conference from his residence in Dahramsala, HP, India on June 20, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Good morning,” he said, addressing the whole panel. “I feel very happy to see you although we are at such a physical distance from each other. Nevertheless, we are able to gather virtually and dedicated to the well-being of others.”

When Susan Bauer-Wu told His Holiness how good it was to see him again and asked if he was well, he replied, “You’ll have to judge from my face. I’m 85 and physically very healthy. I feel this is because my mind is peaceful as a result of my cultivating altruism, the awakening mind of bodhichitta. As you know, my favourite prayer says:

For as long as space endures
And for as long as living beings remain
Until then may I too abide
To dispel the misery of the world.

“And, in trying to fulfil that aspiration, I feel my life has been of some benefit. The 1st Panchen Rinpoché lived to the age of 108 and some of my friends have asked me to do the same. So, I hope I’ll be around for another two decades.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the opening of the Mind & Life Conversation by video conference from his residence in Dahramsala, HP, India on June 20, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Phuntsok

“We’d like that very much,” Bauer-Wu replied. “We’re so happy you could join us today. We last met in November and the world has changed so much since then.”

“For many years now, we’ve held these Mind & Life meetings,” His Holiness continued, “that have given us the opportunity to exchange experiences. The main point is how much we can contribute to human knowledge.”

Susan Bauer-Wu mentioned that 100,000 people might be tuning in to the conversation. In fact, taking account of webcasts in 14 different languages, the eventual audience numbered more than 900,000. She remarked that at the first Mind & Life meeting 33 years ago His Holiness had made his fellow participants curious and stimulated their desire to help the world. She introduced the other members of today’s panel and handed over to Carolyn Jacobs, who would moderate.

“We are coming together today to discuss the current crisis,” she told him. “We want to ask how we can bring humanity together, with resilience and compassion. The first of five questions I’ll put to you is, considering the high level of unease associated with this global pandemic, what skills can we adopt to deal with the anxiety and uncertainty?”

Moderator of the Mind & Life Conversation Carolyn Jacobs, Dean Emerita, Smith College School for Social Work, asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question by video conference at his residence in Dahramsala, HP, India on June 20, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Phuntsok

“This illness is serious,” His Holiness responded. “Many experts are paying attention to it, so I have nothing to add. I appreciate their efforts and the help they are giving so many people — both those who are doing research and those who are giving treatment and care. So many doctors and nurses are putting themselves at risk.

“I believe that when there is fear it makes the effect of the illness worse. We need a stable mind. An eighth century Nalanda Master, Shantideva advised that we examine the situation we find ourselves in. If a problem has a solution, we must work to find it; if it does not, we need not waste time thinking about it. This is a practical approach. It’s helpful to reduce our fear and anxiety. In the context of evolving worlds and galaxies, one human life is tiny, but when it ends the end is not permanent. Something goes on, life after life.

“Among other serious problems we face are many we have created ourselves. In America these days protests are taking place against racial injustice. Much of this depends on our mental attitude. We must promote a sense of the oneness of humanity, which I am committed to doing. Among the seven billion human beings alive today, we’re all born the same way and we all die the same way. In between those events, while we’re alive, there may be minor differences between us, but essentially, we are all the same as human beings.

“What’s more, all our futures depend on humanity. Thinking of ‘my group’ and ‘their group’ on the basis of colour or faith is an old way of thinking. Today in the global economy there are no boundaries. To emphasise small differences between ‘us’ and ‘them’ gives rise to problems and provokes conflict. We have to think instead of the whole of humanity. We might think one way when we’re young and another when we’re older, but despite these differences we still think of ourselves as the same person.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during the "Mind & Life Conversation: Resilience, Compassion, & Science for Healing Today" from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 20, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Making distinctions on the basis of colour, faith or nationality distracts us from the fact that we are all the same in being human. This is something we must share with others, because we all have to live together on this planet. We are mentally, physically and emotionally the same. Concentrating instead on superficial differences is foolish.

“Look at the diversity of India. All the world’s major religions flourish here unhindered. People in the south, north, east and west of the country speak different languages, have different modes of writing, yet they all live together as part of the Indian Union.

“If we put too much stress on differences of colour it becomes important. Instead it’s better to stress that we are all the same in being human. Look at the European Union. Among its members are people of different nationalities, speaking different languages, enjoying different cultures. In the past they fought and killed each other. One of my physics teachers, Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, told me that when he was young in every German eye the French were enemies and in every French eye the Germans were the same, but it is no longer true. After the second world war, Europeans adopted a more mature approach and founded what has become the European Union. Since then, its members have no longer fought and killed each other. The spirit of the European Union is something we all can learn from.

“Many of the problems we face we create for ourselves as a result of narrow-mindedness and emotions. Emotions are a natural part of our lives, but negative emotions have no sound foundation. Positive emotions like compassion, on the other hand, are based on reason.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking by video conference during the Mind & Life Conversation from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 20, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness referred to the quantum physics insight that although material things appear to exist objectively, if you look deeper, nothing exists as it appears. Identity is not solid. When you look deeper, you find that material things are composed of particles and that their identity is a mental projection.

He mentioned that the Indian nuclear physicist Raja Ramana pointed out to him that quantum physics seemed new to some, but corresponding ways of thought could be found long ago in ancient India. He quoted a verse by Nagarjuna:

There does not exist anything
That is not dependently arisen.
Therefore, there does not exist anything
That is not empty (of objective existence).

His Holiness asserted that if we could adopt the quantum physics point of view, negative emotions could be set aside. He reiterated that negative emotions have no foundation, whereas compassion and other positive emotions, based on reality, can be enhanced through meditation and reason.

“Wonderful,” Carolyn Jacobs exclaimed. “Richie, are there any parts of this you’d like to talk about?”

After greeting His Holiness, Richie Davidson brought up the issue of the coronavirus pandemic. He quoted a Chinese scientific paper that reports that 54% of the Chinese population have been experiencing moderate to serious symptoms of distress. Elsewhere too, other scientists cite mental health problems associated with the pandemic. People have difficulty coping with the uncertainty: not knowing if they’re infected, not knowing how long the risk will last, and not knowing when the pandemic will end.

Richie Davidson, Founder and Director of the Center for Healthy Minds and Professor of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison speaking by video conference to His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India during the Mind & Life Conversation on June 20, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Recalling His Holiness’s earlier quoting Shantideva’s advice, it seems that there are some things we can control and some that we can’t. What we can learn to do, Davidson suggested, is to control our minds. This is particularly important when messages of fear and uncertainty are having such destructive effects.

Following up on His Holiness’s concern about racial tensions currently afflicting the US, Davidson cited evidence that black people between the ages of 35 and 45 are ten times more likely to die from coronavirus. This is a serious physical problem.

Meanwhile, people’s attention is being hijacked by fear, so the question he wanted to discuss was, ‘How can we control our minds and not give in to fear?’ ‘How can we calm our minds and reach a state of equanimity?’

“Research into this illness,” His Holiness replied, “is going on and must continue. It’s caused by a virus, so the body has the potential to create anti-bodies and immunity. However, as far as our mental state is concerned, fear makes us more vulnerable. Self-confidence strengthens our well-being.

“From a materialistic point of view, sense consciousness predominates. Until the late 20th century not much attention was paid to the mind itself, to our mental consciousness. But towards the end of the 20th century it began to be acknowledged that there was something else that affected our brains. Meditation and exercises to control our breathing affect our mental consciousness. These things can help us focus on the mind itself, for a few seconds to begin with and then for a few minutes. I have some friends who can focus their minds for several hours. Adding analysis to this enables us to achieve insight.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama making a point during the Mind & Life Conversation by video conference from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 20, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“The common Indian traditions of cultivating a calmly abiding mind (shamatha) and insight (vipashyana) are very useful. They enable us to increase the power of the mind and hone its sharpness. And this can be done in a secular, academic and objective way.

“You, (Richie Davidson), have made a great contribution to the understanding that something about consciousness can affect the brain. As a result, more and more scientists are paying attention to emotions and our inner world. Anger and fear are part of our mental landscape, but through meditation we can develop a conviction that such negative emotions are of no use. We need to learn how to achieve peace of mind. Negative emotions deserve the blame for many of the problems we face. We need to learn how to reduce them through analysis. We have more work to do in the emotional field.”

“When we first began our dialogues as part of Mind & Life,” Richie Davidson told His Holiness, “the word compassion was not used in a scientific context. If you looked in the indexes of books at that time, compassion was missing. You, (Your Holiness), have been a catalyst for change for an entire generation of scientists. They have learned how compassion affects our emotions, something twenty years ago few people knew. Twenty years ago, in Dharamsala we pledged to put compassion on the scientific map. There are now fields of contemplative science and contemplative neuroscience.

“We see that even a small amount of compassion training counters implicit bias, the prejudices within us that we don’t know about. Through compassion we can reduce them. However, we still face the question of how to disseminate this knowledge more widely. We welcome any advice you may give about how all seven billion human beings could learn to do this. An analogy I use is that not so long ago not so many people brushed their teeth — now everybody does.”

“The existing education system,” His Holiness observed, “lacks any concept of the mind. It should incorporate an understanding of the mind and emotions. Just as we teach children physical hygiene, they need to develop a sense of emotional hygiene. Ancient Indian tradition has a great deal to tell us about this. For example, it distinguishes between our primary awareness and 51 mental factors. These are defined by their function. I believe it’s possible to study this material in a contemporary academic context.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during the "Mind & Life Conversation: Resilience, Compassion, & Science for Healing Today" by video conference from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 20, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Because we generally lack an understanding of our inner world, we would do well to find a way to incorporate it into the education curriculum from kindergarten to university. Small beginnings can lead to a thorough and sophisticated understanding of the mind, just as a single seed grows into a great tree. We have to examine which emotions are helpful and which are harmful. Some, like compassion we should learn to enhance, while others, like anger and fear, we should learn to reduce. Emotions have causes and we need to understand what they are.

“In ancient Indian thought, ‘ahimsa’, non-violence is regarded as conduct. ‘Karuna’ or compassion comprises the motivation. This is the background out of which Buddhism arose.

“The existing education system is inadequate for ensuring people are happy. Scientists have the authority to raise questions about it. If I do so, as a monk, it will attract less attention. People these days pay closer heed to what scientists have to say.

“The Nalanda Tradition cultivated the scepticism the Buddha encouraged and questioned everything. Nalanda University was a centre of learning as much as a monastery. Its scholars employed reason, logic and philosophical thought. This was the tradition introduced to Tibet by Shantarakshita in the eighth century and we have followed it rigorously ever since. Our familiarity with reason and investigation is the basis on which we have held conversations with scientists, and with the Mind & Life Institute have been able to make a positive contribution.”

Carolyn Jacobs asked His Holiness what advice he had for young people today who are protesting and seeking to change the world.

“The world is always changing,” he responded. “Science moves forward. Today’s world is so different from what it was 100 years ago. The 20th century was a period of great violence. People readily resorted to the use of force to resolve conflict. These days when disagreements occur, it’s better to talk them through. Let’s make this an era of dialogue.

“Previously, when people engaged in killing one another, there was no final victory. Some opponents still survived. Pursuing dialogue is a much more constructive policy. My main aim is to promote a spirit of dialogue through education on the basis of the oneness of humanity. War and the use of weapons are no use. We should set our sights on a demilitarized world. The manufacture of weapons is a waste of money and resources.

“In a demilitarized world we would resolve problems through dialogue, for which we need self-confidence, truth and honesty. We need to take a wider perspective not only concerned with our side. Thinking only of ‘my nation’, ‘my people’ is too limited when you reflect that we all have to live together. Scientists have observed that human beings are social animals who depend on others in their community. Therefore, we need to cultivate a compassionate mind.

“Education is a key factor. Still, how much time we have left in the context of global warming, I don’t know. But to spend what time we have left killing each other is senseless. It would be like two old people on the verge of death quarrelling — pointless. How much better to live happily, at peace, in a compassionate society.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressing his gratitude to at the conclusion of the "Mind & Life Conversation: Resilience, Compassion, & Science for Healing Today" by video conference from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 20, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“So, my friends, we all have a responsibility to educate our human brothers and sisters. Inner values are the ultimate source of happiness, not money and weapons, whether you’re talking about individuals or the whole of humanity.”

Carolyn Jacobs thanked His Holiness and Richie Davidson for their respective contributions to an engaging conversation. Susan Bauer-Wu expressed a deep gratitude to His Holiness for sharing his wisdom and warm-heartedness, telling him they looked forward to seeing him again soon. She announced that a film, ‘Infinite Potential’, about theoretical physicist David Bohm, one of His Holiness’s teachers, was to have a premier showing tonight and again on His Holiness’s birthday.

His Holiness remarked that in the wider scheme of things the impact of an individual life is limited, but if we use our brains for the welfare of humanity, our ideas will be of benefit to future generations. He also stated that there is evidence that some level of subtle consciousness goes on from life to life, citing children who have clear memories from their previous lives. He remarked that while it might be difficult for scientists to accept, there does seem to be something to investigate.

His Holiness concluded by observing that, in his experience, reflecting deeply, day by day, on altruism, the awakening mind of bodhichitta and the reality of dependent arising is really useful when it comes to tackling destructive emotions.

“I hope our conversation has been of some help, especially to those who are studying now. Thank you — and goodbye.” And he waved to the many whose faces he could see on the screens before him.

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The Seed of Compassion https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/the-seed-of-compassion Tue, 16 Jun 2020 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/the-seed-of-compassion Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - This morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was invited to take part in the Jaipur Literature Festival’s Brave New World project, joining his old friend Pico Iyer in conversation over the internet. When he walked into the room at his residence, His Holiness was visibly pleased to see Pico’s face on the monitor before him. He smiled, waved and wished Pico and Sanjoy Roy of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), “Good morning”.

Sanjoy Roy of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) introducing the program with His Holiness the Dalai Lama by video conference from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 17, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Roy returned the greeting on behalf of the JLF, explaining that they were honoured to present a conversation between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Pico Iyer on the theme ‘The Seed of Compassion’. He introduced His Holiness as someone who describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk, a man of peace and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his consistent advocacy of non-violence.

“Welcome, and thank you for joining us,” Pico began and asked His Holiness, “How have you been?”

“Check my face,” His Holiness replied. “Listen to the strength of my voice. My regard for the thousands of years old Indian traditions of ‘ahimsa’ (non-violence) and ‘karuna’ (compassion) gives me both self-confidence and inner strength.

“Wherever I go, I always feel the people I meet are the same as human beings like me. Scientists have also observed that we human beings are social animals. We have a sense of community. From birth we have the same feelings of closeness to those around us.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama joining Pico Iyer in conversation on "The Seed of Compassion" from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 17, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“In the past, people had limited relations with others. Today, as part of the global economy, we all belong to one community, whether we’re from the north, south, east or west. At the same time, we face problems like global warming that affect us all. Therefore, we have to think of all seven billion human beings as one human community. That’s why wherever I go I always think of those I meet as brothers and sisters.”

“How do you practise ‘ahimsa’ and ‘karuna’? Is it something we can try?” Pico asked.

“Because of this pandemic, I’ve been asked not to meet people physically face to face, so I’ve had a holiday,” His Holiness told him. “But I say my daily prayers and do four hours of meditation in the morning as usual. As soon as I wake up, I think about ‘karuna’, which is the method side of my practice. On the wisdom side, ‘ahimsa’ reflects ‘pratityasamutpada’ or dependent arising, which can also be expressed as ‘shunyata’, emptiness, free of assertions.

“Anger and jealousy, which are destructive emotions, are based on our having a strong sense of ‘I’. So, cultivating an understanding of selflessness reduces the hold destructive emotions have over us. Quantum physics makes a comparable observation that appearances differ from reality. The appearance is that things exist independently, but if we examine them deeply, they’re not like that. Destructive emotions are based on that kind of appearance. Understanding nothing exists as it appears reduces the influence negative emotions have over us.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking live to a world wide audience during the conversation with Pico Iyer from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 17, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“The Indian nuclear physicist, Raja Ramanan once told me that quantum physics is new to the West, but corresponding ways of thinking were developed long ago in India by thinkers like Nagarjuna.

“So, when I wake up, I look to see where is the self, but I can’t find it. This loosens the hold of negative emotions like anger, fear and jealousy. Positive emotions on the other hand like ‘karuna’ — compassion — are based on and can be strengthened by reason.

“India also has longstanding traditions for cultivating ‘shamatha’ (a calmly abiding mind) and ‘vipashyana’ (insight); useful methods for training the mind.

“As I said, when I wake up, I ask myself, ‘Where is the self? Where is the ‘I’? Where is the Dalai Lama? When I can’t find it, I realize it is only a designation. This is what the Buddha’s explanation of selflessness (anatman) is about. And it’s very useful when it comes to tackling the negative emotions. These emotions are negative because the destroy our peace of mind and in that way damage our health.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama in conversation with Pico Iyer by video conference from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 17, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Each night I also get nine hours sleep. Three or four years ago, I was in north-eastern India and made friends with a local politician who was accompanying me there. One morning he asked how I’d slept, so I told him ‘I always get nine hours sound sleep, followed by four hours’ meditation to sharpen my mind so I can more readily cheat other people.’ He immediately responded, ‘O, I only ever get six hours sleep, so I’m not able to cheat anyone.’”

His Holiness remarked that all his knowledge originally came from India and that these days he’s encouraging Indians to revive their ancient heritage. Modern education, he asserted, is only oriented towards material goals with little appreciation of the role of the mind and emotions. However, he is convinced that India could find a way to combine modern education with ancient knowledge, and if she were to do this, could help the whole of humanity by showing how to cultivate our inner world. He stressed that we will only achieve a peaceful world if we first cultivate peace of mind within ourselves.

Pico Iyer noted that His Holiness talks about educating the heart and asked what that entailed and how it was different from educating the mind.

“It can’t be done through prayer alone; we have to use our intelligence. Whether or not we’re healthy is related to having a more detailed acquaintance with our minds. We often think of our minds only in terms of sense consciousness, but we need to be better acquainted with our mental consciousness. We need to analyse the mind, to use our human wisdom. We need to examine which emotions are useful and which are harmful. We also need to examine the causes of our emotions. Ask yourself what gives rise to anger in you and what is the source of compassion. This is something to think about deeply. As a result, we’ll be able to enhance the causes of positive emotions and reduce the sources of those that are negative.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama enjoying a moment of laughter during his conversation with Pico Iyer by video conference from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 17, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“The human brain in its analytical rather than its non-conceptual aspect is so important. We need to use this intelligence and ability to analyse to make the effort to reduce our negative emotions. Ancient Indian psychology has the potential to make a contribution to healthier minds across the world; something that is missing from Western civilisation. Indian understanding is not just rooted in faith, but in optimal use of human intelligence in a secular context.”

His Holiness mentioned that he has four commitments. The first is related to his being one of the seven billion human beings whose basic nature is to be compassionate. He’s committed to promoting appreciation of compassion and warm-heartedness. He also feels a duty to foster inter-religious harmony. All religious traditions teach about loving-kindness and warm-heartedness, so killing in the name of religion is unthinkable. India, he observed, is an example that religious harmony is possible. The world’s great religious traditions, those that arose in India, as well as those that originated elsewhere, live together here in harmony.

Acknowledging that he’s a Tibetan and someone in whom the Tibetan people place their trust, His Holiness explained that he retired from political responsibility in 2001. The Tibetan refugee community is small, he added, but it has evolved a democratic system that ensures there is now an elected leadership. Not only has he retired from his former political role, but he has declared that no future Dalai Lama will take it up again.

With regard to Tibet, one of his main concerns is its ecology. Major rivers of Asia, such as the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Mekong, and Yellow River rise in Tibet and flow across the continent. They are an essential source of water. Global warming, and the consequent reduction in snowfall, poses a serious threat.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking with Pico Iyer during their conversation by video conference organized by the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 17, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

In addition to environmental issues, what most concerns His Holiness about Tibet is preserving its knowledge. “In the eighth century, the Tibetan Emperor, Trisong Detsen recognised how important it would be to study what the Buddha taught. He was interested to know more about India’s Sanskrit tradition as upheld by the masters of Nalanda University. So, from there he invited the great scholar and logician Shantarakshita. We have followed what he taught us for more than one thousand years. We have applied sharp minds to keeping the Nalanda Tradition alive.

“Our training begins with memorizing the classic texts. I myself began to do this when I was seven years old. Then, we listen to word by word explanations based on the writings of Indian and later Tibetan scholars. Finally, adopting a logical approach, we examine what we have understood in debate. The Buddha advised, ‘As the wise test gold by burning, cutting and rubbing it, so, bhikshus, should you accept my words — after testing them — and not merely out of respect for me’. This was the approach, always asking Why? Why? adopted at Nalanda. And it’s on such a basis that we use our human intelligence to the full.

“Such a reasoned, logical stance was only preserved in Tibet. Chinese Buddhists were aware of the Nalanda Tradition because Xuanzang studied there, but they preferred a quiet meditative rather than a studious approach. The great texts of logic written by Dignaga and Dharmakirti were not translated into Chinese, although they were available in Tibetan.

“After coming to India, we gradually entered into discussions with scientists focussing mainly on cosmology, neurobiology, physics and psychology. Science also takes a reasoned, investigative approach to knowledge and our interactions have been mutually beneficial.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama gestures as he speaks with Pico Iyer by video conference from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 17, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Since I became a refugee, I have enjoyed living in India. For us it is a sacred land. In Tibet we cherished the wish that we could visit Bodhgaya at least once in our lifetimes, much as a Muslim hopes to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. As refugees now, we’re able to go to Bodhgaya every year.

“Another important part of India’s appeal is that it is free. I love Chinese culture, but in China there is no freedom of speech. So, becoming a refugee was sad from one point of view, but provided opportunities from another. I feel very fortunate to live in this country and enjoy its freedom to the full. I am also deeply honoured to be the Government of India’s most longstanding guest.”

Iyer recalled that the last time they met in Japan in 2018, His Holiness told him the world seemed to be passing through an emotional crisis. He asked if he still felt that way.

“We really need a sense of the oneness of the whole of humanity,” His Holiness replied. “Thinking only of my country, my people, my religion is out of date. A lot of problems arise when our thinking is restricted to one narrow identity or another. It can lead to conflict, but even war derives from a feudal attitude. In the past, kings, queens or sometimes even religious leaders, would go to war out of concern for their own power. They would evoke a sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and conscript men to fight on their behalf.

The view from the camera of His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking with Pico Iyer by video conference from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 17, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Today, in our more democratic world, if we were to ask individual soldiers, whether, from their own personal point of view, they were willing to die for their country, or whether they would prefer peace — most of them would say they prefer peace. Nevertheless, since they have been trained, armed and are under orders, they have to go to fight.

“I believe we can achieve a more peaceful world through education and the use of intelligence. If we consider the whole of humanity, each of the communities that make it up will derive the maximum benefit.

“You, my old friend, please keep in mind these commitments of mine, the fourth of which is to encourage a revival of ancient Indian knowledge in modern India. The education system set up by the British left little room for this. Even Mahatma Gandhi, it seems to me, was more concerned with the power of non-violence than with ancient Indian psychology and Pandit Nehru was quite westernised. Still, it’s not too late to find a way to combine a knowledge of our inner world with modern education. Please keep this in mind.”

“Your Holiness,” Iyer asked, “you are an optimist and you’ll soon be 85 years old. Do you feel the world is better now than when you were a child?”

“It’s improving,” His Holiness averred. “I admire the spirit of the European Union (EU). After so much conflict and violence culminating in two world wars, the people of Europe, France and Germany in particular, decided that enough’s enough. Rather than let killing go on, it would be better to work together. Despite their history as arch-enemies, France and Germany developed the idea that became the EU, and as a result there has been no fighting between member states for the last 70 years. In the early 20th century such a result seemed unthinkable.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama saying thank you to Pico Iyer and Sanjoy Roy after their conversation by video conference organized by the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 17, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“The English, however, still think too much of the few centuries when they ruled an empire. Now, England is just a small island. Of course, it’s the Britishers’ right to decide what they will, and it’s not for me to question, but I feel that it would have been better if they had remained in the EU. And I think it would be good if unions with a similar spirit could be established in Africa, Latin America and elsewhere.

“We should expand the influence of the United Nations (UN) and accord equal status to all its members. Confining the power of veto over decisions to only a few is no longer democratic. Wherever there are problems in the world, the UN steps in. It paid attention to the crises involving the Rohingya and in Yemen. It concerns itself with the poor and starving.

“In the world today, there is still a huge gap between rich and poor. Starvation is rife. We must reduce this gap out of a sense of the oneness of humanity.”

“So, isolation is unrealistic?”

“Yes,” His Holiness answered, “we need to think of all human beings. Clinging to my nation, my religion, my this, my that, leads to fighting. We need to aim for a demilitarized world; to extend ‘ahimsa’.

Thanking His Holiness for sharing his wisdom, Pico Iyer brought the conversation to an end. Sanjoy Roy thanked His Holiness and Pico Iyer for their words, as well as the audience for listening to them. As the screen faded, His Holiness could be heard saying, “Thank you, and goodbye.”

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Dialogue with Young People from South-east Asia https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/dialogue-with-young-people-from-south-east-asia Sat, 06 Jun 2020 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/dialogue-with-young-people-from-south-east-asia Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - When His Holiness the Dalai Lama entered the sitting room at his residence this morning, he folded his hands together and smiled in greeting at the array of young faces on the screens before him. The moderator, Ms. Weenee Ng of the Tibetan Buddhist Centre Singapore, welcomed him and told him that in addition to more than 700 young South-east Asian participants, they were joined by three distinguished guests: Mr. Kishore Mahbubani, Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, from Singapore; Prof. Imtiaz Ahmed Shaukat Yusuf, Deputy Dean at International Islamic University of Malaysia and Professor Kamar Oniah Kamaruzaman, Author and Lecturer at International Islamic University of Malaysia.

Ms. Weenee Ng of the Tibetan Buddhist Centre Singapore, welcoming His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the start of the dialogue with young people from South-east Asia at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 7, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“The outbreak of the coronavirus has brought about change in the world and given rise to anxiety and fear,” remarked Ms Ng as she introduced the dialogue. “Many people face unemployment. The world has become more complex and more interdependent. Today, more than 700 young people from eight South-east Asian countries are participating in this virtual dialogue. We hope to put several questions to you, but first would like to ask, ‘What is your advice for young people today?’”

“Thank you, I appreciate the efforts of all the organizers for creating this opportunity,” His Holiness replied. “First of all, I’d like to share with you the idea that as human beings, all seven billion of us are the same. From a Buddhist point of view, all sentient beings are the same in that all want to be happy and to avoid suffering. Human beings are intelligent, but when our intelligence is combined with destructive emotions, the results can be destructive. We develop science and technology, but dedicate them to war and destruction, creating ever more fearsome weapons. Other animals can’t do this.

“When our wonderful brains are under the control of destructive emotions, we create problems for ourselves. Therefore, since we also have the ability to reduce them, we have a responsibility to tackle these problems.

“Some scientists say that it’s basic human nature to be compassionate. We are social animals. We have a sense of community. Right from our birth we are familiar with the idea of being concerned about others and actively cultivating altruism gives us energy.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama laughing as he addresses participants in the dialogue with young people from South-east Asia by video conference from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 7, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“First among several of my commitments is to encourage other people to appreciate that it is part of our nature to be altruistic, to be concerned about others. In today’s world there is too much division. Thinking of others in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’ is too prevalent—and it leads to conflict. We constantly need to remind ourselves of the oneness of humanity. If we were to do that, there’d be no basis for hostility or bloodshed.

“Imagine being lost in some remote place and suddenly seeing someone coming towards you over the horizon. You wouldn’t care about their race, nationality or religious faith, you’d simply be filled with the joy of encountering another human being. Fundamentally human beings are the same. We’re born in the same way and we die in the same way. We have to remember the oneness that unites us. Reminding others of this is my first commitment.

“Secondly, I’m committed to promoting inter-religious harmony. Our religious traditions have evolved over thousands of years. All of them convey a message of love and forgiveness. They hold different philosophical views. Some believe in a creator god; others stress our own responsibility for our condition. Scientists describe the earliest organisms emerging from the sea and a process of evolution eventually giving rise to the wonderful human brain.

“Because religions share a common message about the importance of love, harmony can develop between them. In India we can see all the world’s major faith traditions living together side by side. The world’s second most populated nation is a living example that inter-religious harmony is possible.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to young people from South-east Asia by video conference broadcast live world wide from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 7, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Thirdly, I’m a Tibetan, someone in whom the Tibetan people place their hope and trust. With regard to Tibet, one of my main concerns is the preservation of the Tibetan language. This is the language into which we translated more than 300 volumes of Buddhist literature from Sanskrit and Pali sources. We have studied and meditated on the knowledge they contain. This knowledge, which derives from the Nalanda Tradition that Shantarakshita introduced to Tibet in the eighth century, I regard as a precious part of our human heritage. The logic and philosophy it contains is not confined to religious tradition, but can be beneficially studied from an objective academic point of view.

“I’m also concerned about Tibet’s natural environment. Several of the great rivers of Asia rise on the Tibetan plateau, providing crucial water supplies to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, China and so forth. At this time, when global warming is becoming increasingly serious, it’s very important that Tibet’s ecology be protected.”

Recalling that the knowledge kept alive in Tibet originated in ancient India, His Holiness described a further commitment to encourage interest in it in modern India. He emphasised that his concern is less with nirvana or positive future lives than with the ability of young Indians to train and sharpen their minds here and now.
    
He also took time to praise India’s ancient traditions of ahimsa and karuna. He stressed the crucial role non-violence can play in today’s world.

His Holiness voiced his conviction that in India, ancient Indian knowledge of the workings of the mind and emotions can be combined with the benefits of material development.

“Young brothers and sisters, think about these four commitments of mine and if they seem useful to you, share them with other young people. In today’s world too many people cherish only materialistic goals. They pursue sensory pleasure, but neglect to acquaint themselves with their underlying mental consciousness. By paying more attention to inner values, they’ll achieve greater peace of mind.”

The first questioner came from Thailand and asked about compassion for ourselves as well as for others.

“When we’re born, our mothers show us compassion. This is a natural response that has nothing to do with spiritual practice,” His Holiness replied. “Without that kindness we wouldn’t survive. So, our lives start with an experience of kindness and compassion. When we’re dying, being surrounded by gold and jewellery is of no solace at all, but having caring family and friends around us puts us at ease. This is how important compassion can be.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering a question from one of the participants during his dialogue by video conference with young people from South-east Asia from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 7, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

A questioner from Hong Kong wanted to know how young people should cope with mental bullying on the internet that leads them to self-harm or attempt suicide. His Holiness told her that as human beings we are intelligent and we can evaluate and choose what to take seriously. Even the Buddha advised his followers, ‘As the wise test gold by burning, cutting and rubbing it, So, bhikshus, should you accept my words only after testing them, and not merely out of respect for me’. He said that as a Buddhist, a follower of the Nalanda Tradition, he finds it very useful always to ask, ‘Why?’

His Holiness recommended that young people use their intelligence to investigate the situations they find themselves in. That way they can be confident of finding the right way to go.

“I’m 85 years old,” he told them. “At the age of 14 or 15 I lost my freedom. When I was 24, I lost my country. Since 1959, Tibet has been full of suffering, but when difficult situations arise, I think carefully about it before deciding what to do, so I have no regrets. Tibet and India have close links from the past and today India is a democratic country, so for 60 years I’ve enjoyed the freedom I’ve found here.”

Explaining that his work is currently suspended, a young man from Malaysia asked if this was due to bad karma. His Holiness told him that he was young, and has a long future ahead of him. There’s no need to lose hope. Difficulties are more easily overcome if you keep up a sense of self-confidence.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering questions from the participants during his dialogue by video conference with young people from South-east Asia from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 7, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

When a young woman from Singapore enquired about the importance of religion for members of her generation, now and in the near future, His Holiness replied that religious or not, if you smile, other people are happy. The important thing is to have a warm heart. He suggested that members of her generation have the opportunity to compensate for the shortcomings of modern education by developing inner values and learning how to tackle destructive emotions and find peace of mind.

Bringing up the reality that we all will die, a young Vietnamese asked how we can overcome our fear of death. His Holiness reminded her that even the Buddha passed away, as did all the scholars and saints who came after him. We all have to die, what’s important is to lead a meaningful life while we’re alive. Even if you’re going to die next week, he remarked, if in the meantime you’re able to share deeper human values with your friends, when you die, you’ll be able to do so without regret.

His Holiness told a young woman from Indonesia, who wanted to know more about cultivating inner happiness that existing modern education doesn’t have much to say about the mind and ways to find inner peace. He recommended combining the benefits of material development with coming to understand the workings of the mind. When we’re physically ill, he said, we employ an appropriate remedy. Finding peace of mind involves learning to understand the workings of the mind and emotions.

“We Asians,” he said, “have a tradition of practising meditation, both single-pointed concentration and analytical meditation. If you’re able to meditate purely on the mind, without sensory distractions, it can be very effective. Single-pointed concentration gives us mental strength that we can then apply to analytical meditation.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting one of the participants before she asks her question during his dialogue by video conference with young people from South-east Asia from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 7, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Quantum physics distinguishes between appearance and reality. Most of our emotions focus on appearances, so we can tackle destructive emotions by delving deeper into reality. When you realize that all material things consist of particles, it undermines the basis for attachment. The concept of ‘shunyata’ or emptiness, like the explanation of quantum physics, tells us that nothing exists as it appears.”

A young Singaporean woman raised a question about promoting social harmony in the face of religious extremism. His Holiness repeated that it is unfortunate that existing education systems focus primarily on material development. They provide little opportunity to learn about the mind. At a time when differences of race, nationality and religious faith come to the fore, religion can become a cause of division. Even within Buddhism, he remarked, we distinguish the Sanskrit and Pali Traditions, Sutra and Tantra, Yellow hat and Red hat, on the basis of which we cling to ‘my faith’ and ‘my religion’. He pointed out that sometimes religious differences are manipulated for political reasons by those in power. The solution is to focus on the oneness of humanity and remind ourselves that religious practice is a matter of personal choice.

“We are all human brothers and sisters,” His Holiness reiterated, “we have to live together. Personal contacts are very important. In Ladakh, for example, Muslims, Buddhists and Christians are friends with each other. In the Arab world, where almost everyone is Muslim, there’s less familiarity with people of other faiths. At my suggestion my friends from Ladakh convened a conference of Muslims in Delhi and representatives came from Iran. It would be good if such a meeting became an annual event.”

His Holiness explained to a young Indonesian man that everyone loves themselves, so everyone is selfish to some extent. However, every individual is reliant on their community, so the best way to look after themselves is to take care of others. Farmers look after their land, not out of any sentimental feelings, but because their livelihood depends on it. Whatever happiness we experience, is likewise dependent on others.

A young Singaporean, who wanted to know the benefits of studying Buddhism if you are not a Buddhist, was told that it is possible to employ the logic and psychology of the Nalanda Tradition on an intellectual level. For example, its methods can simply be used to sharpen the mind.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering questions from the participants during his dialogue by video conference with young people from South-east Asia from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 7, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness responded to another Malaysian’s question by pointing out that our mind and emotions are not produced by a machine. Education should provide an understanding of the inner world of our mind and emotions, he told her.

“Earlier, specialists considered only the functions of the brain to be important,” His Holiness declared, “but by the late 20th century many had begun to acknowledge there was more to it than that. Neuroscientist Richie Davidson undertook experiments that showed that changes could be seen in the brains of people with experience of meditation. The discovery of neuroplasticity reveals that training the mind effects changes in the brain. Consequently, more and more people are now paying attention to the vast topic of the mind.

“Meditation can help us learn to use our minds. We can learn to focus on different topics to analyse them, which can be very powerful. Destructive emotions are founded in ignorance, so gaining a deeper understanding of reality can help us counter them. It could be useful to introduce the practice of meditation at school, because improved concentration and analysis are very helpful.

“I engage in analytical meditation every day and it’s my experience that it is very effective. For example, I read from Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’ every day and find it very helpful to reflect on what I’ve read. I began my studies at the age of seven or eight, memorizing the classic texts. I’m 85 now, but I still read and study whenever I can. What you need to do is read, reflect on what you’ve read until you’ve really understood it and then familiarise yourself with what you’ve understood until you gain a sound experience of it.

“Thinking about how nothing exists independently over many years and reflecting persistently on altruism have transformed my mind.”

When one of the teachers suggested there is little mutual understanding among religious traditions, His Holiness recommended creating opportunities for discussion between their representatives. Another teacher observed that we are technically capable of eliminating poverty and asked why we are failing to do so. His Holiness replied that the gap between rich and poor is very serious. There is poverty in Africa, but even in India there are wealthy millionaires while many other people are very poor. He advised that those who are better off should help by providing facilities and opportunities for poor people to improve their lot.

His Holiness praised the socialist goal of greater equality, but wryly remarked that although China is nominally a socialist system, the gap between rich and poor there is huge.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama waving goodbye at the end of his dialogue by video conference with young people from South-east Asia from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 7, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Finally, a young Malaysian woman asked what role youths can play in making the world a happier place. His Holiness replied that despite the existing education systems’ inadequacies, young people can pay more attention to inner values and the methods for tackling destructive emotions with the aim of achieving greater peace of mind.

Moderator, Ms. Weenee Ng, thanked His Holiness and requested him to stay healthy and well. He replied that as a Buddhist practitioner he has dedicated his body, speech and mind to the benefit of others, so he’s always ready to help. “Now, technology means I can remain where I am and still share my experience with you. Thank you. See you again.”

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Cultivating the Awakening Mind https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/cultivating-the-awakening-min Fri, 05 Jun 2020 13:44:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/cultivating-the-awakening-min Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - Seated on a comfortable chair at his residence, His Holiness the Dalai Lama opened today’s webcast by quoting the verse of homage at the end of Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way:

“I prostrate to Gautama
Who, through compassion,
Taught the exalted Dharma,
Which leads to the relinquishing of all views.

“What this teaches us,” he said, “is that we have to overcome ignorance, our misconception of reality, by developing wisdom.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama arriving at his sitting room to lead a ceremony for cultivating the awakening mind broadcast live to a world wide audience from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 5, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Chandrakirti also stated in his ‘Entering into the Middle Way’:

“Hearers and solitary realizers
Arise due to the powerful buddhas;
Buddhas are born from bodhisattvas;
And bodhisattvas arise from
The compassionate mind,
The understanding of nonduality,
And bodhichitta, the awakened heart.

“Developing compassion is the best way to follow the Buddha and repay his kindness to us. And along with compassion it’s important to cultivate an understanding of emptiness.

“Many of you will be commemorating the Buddha and his enlightenment in many different places today. We’ll cultivate bodhichitta together. I’m not going to recite something for you to repeat after me. I’m a bhikshu, but otherwise, we’re all the same, so in that spirit we’ll cultivate bodhichitta together.

“Imagine Buddha Shakyamuni in front of you in person. Around him are other great upholders of the doctrine such as Nagarjuna and the Seventeen Masters of Nalanda. We still have their books, which we can read, and gain experience of what they wrote. Our principal offering to them is to read their works, analyse what they mean and integrate that understanding within ourselves. Also present in front of you imagine Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri and Arya Tara, embodiments of compassion, wisdom and enlightened activity respectively, along with Maitreya and Kshitigarbha.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama explaining how to cultivate the awakening mind during his teaching at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 5, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Remember Jé Rinpoché’s words from ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising’:

“Becoming ordained in the way of the Buddha
not being lax in study of his words,
and by yoga practice of great resolve,
this monk devoted himself to that great purveyor of truth.”

His Holiness suggested that the virtual congregation recite the seven-limb offering and a praise to the Buddha with him. He reminded his listeners that, moved by compassion, the Buddha generated the awakened mind of bodhichitta, realized emptiness and dependent arising and collected merit over three countless aeons. He recalled that the Buddha undertook austerities for six years, which is vividly depicted by a replica of the ‘fasting Buddha’ statue behind him.

“I thought it would be good for us to cultivate the awakening mind of bodhichitta together on this auspicious day commemorating the Buddha’s enlightenment, and although I expect to be here to take part for the next twenty years or so, I’d like to request those of you in the monasteries in South India to make this an annual event.”

His Holiness pointed out that in order to fulfil our own goals and those of others we need to cultivate bodhichitta. We do have self-interest, but we need to be wisely selfish. If we’re kind to others, he said, we’ll be happy and gather many friends around us. If we’re suspicious instead, others won’t trust us. People may be attracted by money and power, but having an altruistic attitude is more effective. The verses speak of inviting sentient beings as our guests and if we do that, we have to have something to offer them. Shantideva wrote:

All those who suffer in the world do so because of their desire for their own happiness. All those happy in the world are so because of their desire for the happiness of others.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking live to a world wide audience as he leads a ceremony for cultivating the awakening mind at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 5, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Why say more? Observe this distinction: between the fools who long for their own advantage and the sage who acts for the advantage of others.    

His Holiness recited verses for cultivating the awakening mind:

With a wish to free all beings
I go for refuge To Buddha, Dharma and Sangha
Until I reach enlightenment.

Inspired by wisdom and compassion,
Today in the presence of the Buddha
I generate the mind of full awakening
For the benefit of all sentient beings.

For as long as space endures
And for as long as living beings remain
Until then may I too abide
To dispel the misery of the world.

He followed that with the lines for taking the bodhisattva vow:

I seek refuge in the Three Jewels;   
Each and every wrongdoing I confess.
I rejoice in the virtues of all beings.
I take to heart the state of Buddhahood.

I go for refuge until I am enlightened
To the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Supreme Assembly,
In order to fulfil the aims of myself and others
I develop the awakening mind.

Having developed the aspiration for highest enlightenment,
I invite all sentient beings as my guests,
I shall enact the delightful supreme enlightening practices.
May I become a Buddha to benefit all sentient beings.

Next, he repeated verses in praise of the awakening mind from Chapter Three of the ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’.

'This is the supreme medicine, curing the sickness of the world, a tree of shelter for weary creatures staggering along the road of existence;

'The causeway to cross over bad rebirths, open to all who travel; It is the rising moon of the mind, mitigating the defilements of the world;

'It is the brilliant sun, dispelling the mist of ignorance from the world. It is the fresh butter risen up from churning the milk of the true Dharma.

'For the caravan of humanity travelling the road of existence, hungry for the enjoyment of happiness, this is a feast of happiness offered as refreshment to all beings who approach.

'Today, I summon the world to Buddhahood and to worldly happiness meanwhile. In the presence of all the Saviours, may gods, titans, and all rejoice.'

“We need to think of benefiting others,” His Holiness continued. “Since we all have Buddha nature, we all have the potential to reveal the omniscient mind. The luminous nature of our minds is no different from the luminous nature of the mind of a Buddha. The defilements that afflict our minds are not of the nature of the mind. If we cultivate a correct view, we can eliminate them.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama leading a ceremony for cultivating the awakening mind at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 5, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“In stating that the Buddha’s teachings are based on the Two Truths, Nagarjuna was following the lead of the ‘Ornament for Clear Realization’, which outlines the path—on the basis of understanding the Two Truths we can understand the Four Noble Truths and on the basis of that take refuge in the Three Jewels, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha

“Prayer has a role in all religious traditions, but by itself it’s not sufficient. In Buddhism we also use our minds. All Tibet’s Buddhist traditions uphold a complete presentation of the teachings, within which, tantra involves a subtle engagement of the mind.”

His Holiness quoted a Kadampa master who said, “By some stroke of good karma I have acquired this precious opportunity. May I use it well and not fall into the abyss of lower rebirth.

“We’ve conducted this ceremony for cultivating the awakening mind on the propitious occasion of Saka Dawa, the day we commemorate the Buddha’s enlightenment and mahaparinirvana, to encourage us in our practice.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama concluding the session with auspicious prayers at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 5, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

The session concluded with the recitation of auspicious prayers such as the ‘Prayer for the Flourishing of the Dharma’, the ‘Prayer of the Stages of the Path’, the ‘Words of Truth’, a Prayer for His Holiness’s Long Life and a final dedication prayer.

Folding his hands together and looking everyone in the eye, His Holiness ended with a simple, “Thank you”.

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Webcast of an Avalokiteshvara Empowerment https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/webcast-of-an-avalokiteshvara-empowerment Fri, 29 May 2020 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/webcast-of-an-avalokiteshvara-empowerment Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - People all over the world were able to watch as His Holiness the Dalai Lama performed preparatory rituals for an Avalokiteshvara empowerment for almost three-quarters of an hour this morning. While he remained seated at his residence, what he did and said were webcast over several platforms. Translation of his words in Tibetan was provided simultaneously in thirteen other languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama performing preparatory rituals for an Avalokiteshvara empowerment at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 30, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“As I mentioned yesterday,” His Holiness began, “Avalokiteshvara’s mantra, Om mani padme hum is full of blessings. During the course of the empowerment this morning we’ll also meditate on the awakening mind of bodhichitta and the wisdom understanding emptiness.

“May the sound of the great dharma drum
Dispel the misery of sentient beings.
May you live to give teachings
for inconceivable billions of aeons.

“This empowerment belongs to the vehicle of secret mantra or tantra. Tantra was not revealed in public but in secret. The first round of the Buddha’s teachings, the first turning of the wheel of dharma, concerning the four noble truths and so forth, was taught in public. The second round, dealing with the perfection of wisdom teachings was given to a more select group of people who were not discomfited by the concept of emptiness. Since these teachings were not given openly, some have later questioned whether the Buddha gave them at all.

“The practice of tantra or secret mantra was directed towards disciples with sharp intelligence. The word mantra implies ‘protection of the mind’, protecting it from ordinary perception. It is practised in secret.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking live to a world wide audience during the Avalokiteshvara empowerment at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 30, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“With regard to the ‘I’ or sense of self, the Buddha has a sense of ‘I’, but it is not as ordinary beings think of it. For those who have an experience of emptiness, bodhisattvas as well as the Buddha, the ‘I’ is a mere designation. Ordinary beings misconceive the self as something solid. If it were, then the more you looked for it the clearer it should become, whereas, in fact, the harder you look for it, the harder it is to find. The self or ‘I’ doesn’t exist as it appears to us. Changkya Rölpai Dorjé said that the self appears to exist in and of itself—but that’s not the case. It seems as if it should be tangible, yet it can’t be found.”

His Holiness led the virtual congregation in taking the bodhisattva vows. He encouraged them to imagine an assembly of the Buddha and the great masters of India and Tibet in the space before them bearing witness to their pledge and aspiration. He quoted Khunu Lama Rinpoché, who said, “To reach your own goal, you need bodhichitta; to serve others, you need bodhichitta; to purify negativities, you need bodhichitta.” He also cited a verse lauding the Buddha from Jé Tsongkhapa’s ‘Praise for Dependent Arising’:

Becoming ordained in the way of the Buddha
not being lax in study of his words,
and by yoga practice of great resolve,
this monk devoted himself to that great purveyor of truth.  
 

His Holiness mentioned that he renews his bodhisattva vows and tantric vows daily, thinking, “Not carried away by selfish thoughts, I’m determined to serve all sentient beings—I will become enlightened for their sake.” If you follow such a practice, then day by day, month by month, familiarity will grow. His Holiness remarked that conventional bodhichitta involves an aspiration to become a Buddha for the sake of all sentient beings; ultimate bodhichitta involves meditation on emptiness.

Statue of a 1000 armed Avalokiteshvara on the table behind His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the Avalokiteshvara empowerment at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 30, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

He repeated several verses from Shantideva’s ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’:

All those who suffer in the world do so because of their desire for their own happiness. All those happy in the world are so because of their desire for the happiness of others.

Why say more? Observe this distinction: between the fools who long for their own advantage and the sage who acts for the advantage of others.

For those who fail to exchange their own happiness for the suffering of others, Buddhahood is certainly impossible—how could there even be happiness in cyclic existence?    

“Because, most of us are driven by selfish motives, even the thought of bodhichitta has a calming, restful effect; it is the source of all happiness and joy. Bodhisattvas have two aspirations, to become enlightened and to help other beings. They focus on enlightenment through wisdom and on sentient beings with compassion.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to a world wide virtual audience during the Avalokiteshvara empowerment at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 30, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Wisdom involves the two truths, conventional and ultimate. Things appear to us, but they don’t exist as they appear. Quantum physics observes something similar—nothing has any objective existence. As the Middle Way School says, things are merely designated. Nagarjuna elaborates on what the Buddha taught, making it clear that nothing exists independently and that the king of all reasons is dependent arising. The ‘I’ or person is designated on other factors. As Aryadeva states in his ‘400 Verses’:

Anything that has dependent arising
Is not independent.
All these are not independent,
Therefore, there is no self.

“Dependence and independence are mutually exclusive. Things exist in relation to other factors. Until you examine them, things appear to have objective existence, but when you analyse them, they can’t be found. They exist conventionally as mere designations. Because it has no foundation, ignorance can be overcome. Consequently, bodhisattvas see that cessation is feasible and feel compassion for those without protection. As Chandrakirti says, bodhisattvas cultivate the two wings of wisdom and compassion.

“‘Us’ and ‘them’, ‘you’ and ‘me’ exist as designations, but not independently as they appear.”

HIs Holiness the Dalai Lama conducting rituals as he gives the Avalokiteshvara empowerment at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 30, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness explained the meaning of the words ‘dependent arising’. Dependence does not refute emptiness; arising does not deny causality. He cited a verse from Jé Tsongkhapa’s ‘Three Principal Aspects of the Path’:

Appearances refute the extreme of existence,
Emptiness refutes the extreme of nonexistence;
When you understand the arising of cause and effect from the viewpoint of emptiness,
You are not captivated by either extreme view.

Guiding the congregation through the ‘all-encompassing yoga’, which focuses on conventional and ultimate bodhichitta, His Holiness summed up with a verse describing bodhisattvas from Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’:

And like the king of swans, ahead of lesser birds they soar,
On broad white wings of relative and ultimate full spread.
And on the strength of virtue's mighty wind they fly
To gain the far and supreme shore, the oceanic qualities of Victory.

Once he had completed the Avalokiteshvara empowerment, His Holiness gave the Simhanada (Lion’s Roar) permission. He concluded by declaring that he had made a special determination to dedicate whatever blessings arise from the two days’ teaching to everyone on the planet, both human and other kinds of beings. He noted that the Buddha’s teachings consist of scriptural transmission and realisation derived from experience. As Vasubandhu affirmed, the only way to preserve the dharma is through study and practice, which entails hearing or reading the teaching, reflecting on what you’ve understood, then familiarizing yourself with that conviction through meditation.

“I have meditated long on the Buddha’s teachings and I’ve shared what I’ve learned with you. You should do the same, share what you’ve understood with your family and friends and encourage them to do likewise. Because of the coronavirus pandemic we cannot actually meet together, but we’ve been able to create a virtual gathering and have completed the discourse. Please take care of yourselves”.

His Holiness rose from his seat, scanned the faces on the screens before him, and with a laugh and a wave he left the room.

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Preliminaries for an Avalokiteshvara Empowerment https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/preliminaries-for-an-avalokiteshvara-empowerment Thu, 28 May 2020 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/preliminaries-for-an-avalokiteshvara-empowerment Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - The webcast of the preliminaries for an Avalokiteshvara empowerment began today with His Holiness quietly performing necessary preparatory procedures at his residence. Several monks from his household assisted as and when required. To His Holiness’s right was the small mandala pavilion. Behind that stood a statue of 1000 armed, 1000 eyed Avalokiteshvara. On this occasion, on either side of the camera before him were large monitors on which His Holiness could see Lamas and friends from different parts of the world.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama performing necessary preparatory procedures for an Avalokiteshvara Empowerment at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 29, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Once he was ready, His Holiness explained the situation. “Many concerned people have asked if I could give an Avalokiteshvara empowerment at this time. Therefore, I’m doing so over the internet. Last year too, when I gave such an empowerment, it was webcast and I heard that people in Tibet were able to follow it. Also, as a preliminary to the Cycle of Manjushri teachings that I began in Bodhgaya and completed in Mundgod, I gave a Vajrabhairava empowerment that devotees could access over the internet.

“If you have a clear intention to receive it and I have the intention to give the empowerment in this way, I’m confident you will receive it. Avalokiteshvara is the embodiment of compassion. If you pray to him and if you cultivate the practice focussed on him, it will help you increase your compassion. It is said that bodhisattvas focus on enlightenment with wisdom and on sentient beings with compassion.

“Among the seven billion human beings, not one is looking for suffering; all of us seek happiness. And yet if we watch news on the television, we see reports of racial discrimination and of people who seem to take a delight in killing. In addition to instances of racial discrimination, like the case of the African-American man in Minneapolis killed by the police, there are reports of religious discrimination too.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama explaining the situation at the start of the preliminaries for and Avolokiteshvara Empowerment at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 29, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Scientists declare that it’s human nature to be compassionate, but even insects survive in dependence on compassion. All living beings who experience feelings of pleasure and pain ultimately survive as a result of love and compassion. If we human beings help each other, serve each other, with compassion, we’ll be happy. If, on the other hand, we let ourselves be carried away by anger and jealousy, we’ll be miserable.

His Holiness summarised his four principal commitments. Firstly, he’s committed to helping human beings to be happy. He reiterated that if you’re warm-hearted you’ll be happy, but if you’re consistently angry and jealous, you won’t. This is why he encourages people to cultivate love, compassion and bodhichitta. Love and compassion, he said, are beneficial to all sentient beings.

He pointed out that, as a result of material development and modern education, people commonly seek happiness in external things, but neglect their minds. True, lasting happiness depends on our taming our unruly minds. This is not so much about intellectual development as cultivating a warm heart. When human beings are warm-hearted, they help others and themselves.

His Holiness the Dala Lama on the first day of the two day Avalokiteshvara Empowerment at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 29, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness remarked that the real reason for his giving this Avalokiteshvara empowerment is to encourage the flourishing of compassion.

Turning his attention to other religious traditions, he observed that they all seek to inspire their followers to develop such qualities as love and compassion, tolerance and self-discipline. Therefore, harmony and respect between them should come naturally. However, preaching love and compassion, but stoking conflict with others, contradicts this. His Holiness declared that he is committed to promoting inter-religious harmony. He cited India, where indigenous spiritual traditions live amicably alongside those that originated elsewhere, as an example that inter-religious harmony is possible.

“I’m a Tibetan,” His Holiness continued, “and Tibetans place their hopes in me— they trust me. There was an occasion when I was in Assam, flying in a small plane during a storm when I felt I was in danger and I thought, ‘What will happen to the six or seven million Tibetans if I should die?’ Because they look to me with respect, I have a responsibility to do what I can to help them.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama in front of a virtual audience of lamas and friends from all parts of the world on the first day of the two day Avalokiteshvara Empowerment at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 29, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“We lost our country and some of us have had to live as refugees. For us it’s been like a blessing in disguise. We live in this sacred land where the Buddha lived and taught, and where Nagarjuna and his followers came after him. India is the original source of all our knowledge. It’s a democracy. This is where I became acquainted with Pandit Nehru. Subsequently, many Indian leaders have been my friends.

“Here in exile, many of us live in the monastic centres of learning re-established in South India. I can see Ganden Tri Rinpoché on the screen in front of me. All of you monks and nuns are custodians of the Nalanda Tradition. In the discussions and exchanges of views we’ve had with scientists, we’ve been able to contribute to the world at large from what we know. In your study and practice you are doing a service not only to our culture and people, but to humanity as a whole.

“In the more than one thousand years since Shantarakshita brought us the Buddhist tradition, the Nalanda Tradition, we have kept it alive—an invaluable part of humanity’s cultural heritage. Even those who have no interest in religious practice can benefit from the knowledge it preserves. When we first came into exile, people still referred to our tradition as Lamaism. Thurman and Berzin there — gestures to the screen in front of him — know all about that. It was as if all that was important was Lamas and their hats. Now, people are clear that our tradition is the Nalanda Tradition with firm roots in Indian traditions.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama reading from the preliminary rites for an Avalokiteshvara Empowerment during the live broadcast to a world wide audience from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 29, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“And although modern education in India tends to focus on materialist goals to the neglect of inner knowledge, these days there is growing interest in ancient Indian knowledge and its understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions.

“So, I’m going to give this Avalokiteshvara empowerment because of the need for compassion in the world today.”

As he began the preliminary rites, that include the preparation of the disciples, His Holiness remarked that it’s customary at the outset to offer a ritual cake to drive away interfering forces. He declared that he no longer follows this procedure since he realized that there is a contradiction between stating early in the morning that “Having developed the aspiration for highest enlightenment, I shall invite all sentient beings as my guests,” and driving them away later in the day.

Ganden Tri Rinpoché could be seen on the screen before His Holiness offering a mandala and the three representations of the body, speech and mind of enlightenment.

“Historically, Tibet is said to be the land to be tamed by Avalokiteshvara,” His Holiness observed. “From the time of Songtsen Gampo and Trisong Detsen, many great Lamas and leaders had links with Avalokiteshvara. He is the patron deity of Tibet.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama smiling as he talks live to a world wide audience during the preliminaries for an Avalokiteshvara Empowerment from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 29, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“The great Fifth Dalai Lama once brought together statues known as the three Avalokiteshvara Brothers when he was conducting a retreat. One of those statues, known as Wati Sangpo or the Kyirong Jowo, was in the care of the monks of Dzongkar Chödé Monastery. As a result of the turmoil in Tibet, they managed to move it out of Tibet to Nepal and later brought here to me in Dharamsala.

“When Dzongkar Chödé was eventually re-established in the south, I did a divination to see whether the statue should go with them or stay here. The result was that it stayed here. One thing about it that I’ve noticed is that its facial expression changes according to the circumstances. I’ve also dreamt about talking to him and asking him if he had a realization of emptiness, a direct realization of emptiness, and he told me he had.

“As I give this 1000 armed, 1000 eyed Avalokiteshvara empowerment what’s most important is to have a pure motivation.”

His Holiness gave the vows of a lay practitioner, followed by the bodhisattva vows, and led his audience through the various visualizations of the empowerment. At the end of this preliminary session he said he would give the empowerment proper tomorrow. He also mentioned that Prof Robert Thurman has asked him to grant the permission of Simhanada (Lion’s Roar) Avalokiteshvara and that he has agreed to do so.

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Expressing Sympathy for the People of Odisha and West Bengal https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/expressing-sympathy-for-the-people-of-odisha-and-west-bengal Wed, 20 May 2020 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/expressing-sympathy-for-the-people-of-odisha-and-west-bengal Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - This morning His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote to Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik, the Chief Ministers of West Bengal and Odisha respectively to express his sadness over the loss of life, the devastation of property, as well as the hardship caused to so many people, in several districts of their states due to Cyclone Amphan.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik exchanging greetings at the Chief Minister's residence in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India on November 20, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“I appreciate the prior preparations that were made to respond to this natural disaster, and the efforts that are underway to provide relief and assistance to those affected,” His Holiness wrote to each Chief Minister. “As a mark of solidarity with the people of West Bengal and Odisha, I am making a donation from the Dalai Lama Trust to the relief and rebuilding efforts.

“I would like to convey my condolences to you, to the families who have lost loved ones, and to all those affected by Cyclone Amphan.”

To Mamata Banerjee he remarked, “In addition to our profound respect for India as a sacred land, which has also been home to many Tibetans over the last 61 years, we have a special regard for Bengal. This is because Shantarakshita, the great philosopher and dialectician who established Samyé, the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Tibet in the 8th century CE, and Dipankara Atisha, who revived the practice of Buddhism in the 11th century, both hailed from Bengal.”

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Second Day of Nagarjuna’s ‘Precious Garland’ Webcast https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/second-day-of-nagarjunas-precious-garland-webcast Sat, 16 May 2020 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/second-day-of-nagarjunas-precious-garland-webcast Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - “Today is a new day,” announced His Holiness the Dalai Lama as he opened the second session of his webcast teaching about Nagarjuna’s ‘Precious Garland’, “and I’d like to wish all my dharma friends ‘Good morning’.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his speaking live to a world wide audience from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 17, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Once again viewers could see His Holiness seated in his residence and while he spoke in Tibetan, his words were simultaneously translated into thirteen other languages: Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Vietnamese and English. Considering that some of the interpreters were in far off corners of the world, this was a technical feat.

“As I mentioned yesterday,” His Holiness continued, “we all want to be happy and not to suffer, this is true of animals too. However, when we human beings act on the basis of anger and attachment, we bring trouble on ourselves. This often disturbs other creatures as well. We talk endlessly about peace, but bringing it about depends on how human beings behave. In the previous century we saw intensely violent conflict typified by two world wars provoked by narrow-minded thinking in terms of self-interest. In the past, kings sent people into battle with their neighbours in disputes over territory. This is why I think there is an underlying feudal character to warfare.

“However, there has been progress. After the Second World War the United Nations was set up to ensure the welfare of all nations in the world. Europe, saw the establishment of the Council of Europe that grew into the European Union. In a region historically riven by war, peace has prevailed. India historically consisted of kingdoms and princely states, but since independence the establishment of the Union of India has brought the nation together.

“People face difficulties in many parts of the world, but since all seven billion of us live on this one planet we should be united and stand in solidarity with each other. When this blue planet is viewed from space, there are no national boundaries to be seen. To concern ourselves solely with this nation, our nation, is out of date. When affectionate relations exist between members of a family, each one is confident of being able to call on the others for support. In a similar way, we must constantly remind ourselves of the oneness of humanity.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on the second day of his teaching on Nagarjuna's "Precious Garland" at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 17, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Religious traditions, Buddhism among them, talk about the happiness of all human beings. Despite differences of philosophical approach, their common message is about the importance of love and compassion. I welcome the variety of religious practice that accords with the variety of human aptitude and interest. A restaurant that served only one dish would not be popular—variety is a human need. I suspect that past conflict between religious traditions had a political character. The traditions and teachings themselves have a potentially positive contribution to make to human flourishing. Just as we human beings should maintain harmony among us, we should seek harmony among our religious traditions too.

“Yesterday, I cited a verse by Aryadeva, which begins, ‘First eliminate what is lacking in merit’. I mentioned the sixteen factors that give rise to favourable birth that Nagarjuna calls ‘high status’. One of the factors refers to not drinking alcohol and I was reminded of an occasion when my Senior Tutor, Yongzin Ling Rinpoché gave the layperson’s precepts here in McLeod Ganj. Afterwards, as he was explaining the vows to the gathering, an elderly man confided that he couldn’t give up drink. Ling Rinpoché smiled and advised, ‘Then at least don’t get drunk.’”

Turning his attention back to Nagarjuna, His Holiness cited the first verse of Chapter 22 of his 'Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way':

Neither the aggregates, nor different from the aggregates,
The aggregates are not in him, nor is he in the aggregates.
The Tathagata does not possess the aggregates.
What else is the Tathagata?

He mentioned that he often reworks this to refer to himself and reflects on it accordingly:

I'm neither one with the aggregates, nor different from the aggregates,
The aggregates are not in me, nor am I in the aggregates.
I don't possess the aggregates.
What else am I?

“When you understand that everything, including yourself, is dependently arisen, that nothing exists independently, you’ll understand that there is no independent self, no controller, separate from your body and mind. This is what the third line of Aryadeva’s verse, ‘Later, prevent views of all kinds’ is referring to.

The Korean and Portuguese interpreters sitting at the Main Tibetan Temple translating on the second day of His Holiness's teachings from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 17, 2020. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“Where Buddhist literature refers to the lack of an inherently existent self, it does so in order that we may counter our negative emotions.”

Adding to the verses from Shantideva’s ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’ that he cited yesterday with reference to being concerned about the happiness of others, he cited another stanza.

Proceeding in this way from happiness to happiness, what thinking person would despair, after mounting the carriage, the Awakening Mind, which carries away all weariness and effort?

And

Having developed the aspiration for highest enlightenment,
I shall invite all sentient beings as my guests,
I shall delightedly enact the supreme enlightened conduct.
May I become a Buddha to benefit all sentient beings.

His Holiness turned to chapter four of the ‘Precious Garland’. Reading verse 465, ‘Therefore in the presence of an image, or monument or something else say these twenty stanzas three times every day’, he remarked that he has several Western friends who recite the following twenty verses daily, as he does himself. The final two verses are:

May I be as dear to sentient beings as their own life,
and may they be even dearer to me.
May their ill deeds bear fruit for me,
and all my virtues bear fruit for them.

As long as any sentient being
Anywhere has not been liberated,
May I remain [in the world] for the sake of that being,
though I have attained highest enlightenment.

His Holiness commented that the Buddhist tradition in Tibet was established by the kind Abbot Shantarakshita with the help of King Trisong Detsen. He encouraged the kind of sceptical curiosity that the Buddha himself recommended:

O monks and scholars,
As gold is tested by burning, cutting and rubbing,
Examine my words thoroughly
And accept them only then—not just out of respect for me.

Careful study on the basis of logic and reason yields the understanding that things come about because of causes and conditions. Because of this, that arises. Cultivating reason and logic enables the development of vast, great, profound and swift intelligence. This accords with the Nalanda Tradition that follows the example set by Nagarjuna. His ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’ is translated into Chinese. If our Chinese brothers and sisters were to study it, His Holiness observed, they would find it very useful—as would our Japanese brothers and sisters too. He added that he also encourages friends who follow the Pali tradition to take an interest in logic.

His Holines the Dalai Lama reading from Nagarjuna's "Precious Garland" on the second day of teachings from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 17, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“These days there are many monks and nuns from the Himalayan Region in our monastic institutions. They study books composed by the seventeen masters of Nalanda and so contribute to keeping alive this vast and profound tradition that I consider to be an invaluable part of human culture. It consists of non-harming conduct and the philosophical view of dependent arising in which scientists are taking interest.

“Here we are in the 21st century, we all want to be happy and not to suffer, which means we need the world to be at peace. As I mentioned earlier, we can see that historically wars were fought out of narrow-minded self-interest. This is why it is so important now to think of all human beings as belonging to one family.
 
“Living in India, a free country, we can take advantage of the opportunity to study and integrate what we learn into our practice. There’s no use just paying lip-service to learning. Trulshik Rinpoché used to tease me saying that Geshés may be learned, but what they know just amounts to empty words with no fruit. Learn through listening and reading, come to an understanding through reflection and turn that into experience through meditation. I’m impressed by Jé Rinpoché’s approach as he describes it in ‘Praise for Dependent Arising’:

“Becoming ordained in the way of the Buddha
not being lax in study of his words,
and by yoga practice of great resolve,
this monk devoted himself to that great purveyor of truth.

“I, too, have tried to integrate the teaching within myself, as a result of which I feel calm and at ease.

“Today, the state of the world is quite critical. Medical professionals are on the front-line treating patients suffering from Covid-19. I sincerely rejoice in the courage of them all and lament that some have sacrificed their lives in the care of others.

“We should not let ourselves become despondent or demoralized because it doesn’t help. When problems like this pandemic come about, if we human beings don’t work together to solve them, who else is going to do it? I request the doctors and researchers seeking a solution to keep up their efforts.”

His Holiness then announced that he would give the transmission of the mantras of the Buddha, the Medicine Buddha, Avalokiteshvara, the embodiment of compassion and patron deity of Tibet, the four-line praise of Jé Tsongkhapa, as well as the mantras of Guru Padmasambhava and Arya Tara.

He advised that it would be usual to first visualize yourself transformed into the deity concerned and if people could do that, it would be well and good. Otherwise, reciting mantras with a wish that the pandemic subside could serve as an impetus to virtuous practice. He said: “You may not think of attaining liberation or the omniscient state of a Buddha, but such recitations may help reduce the kind of idle gossip that comes about in conversation with many different people.

“That’s all. Tashi Delek. I wish to thank you all for paying attention.”

With that, His Holiness folded his hands and the session came to an end.

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Teaching of Nagarjuna’s ‘Precious Garland’ Webcast around the World https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/teaching-of-nagarjunas-precious-garland-webcast-around-the-world Fri, 15 May 2020 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/teaching-of-nagarjunas-precious-garland-webcast-around-the-world Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - Today, for the first time, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave a teaching with no one sitting in front of him that was captured on video and webcast to the world. Viewers, who included Tibetan monks and nuns, laymen and laywomen throughout the settlements in India and elsewhere, as well many other people in distant locations, were able to see and hear His Holiness clearly. Many rejoiced that he was so evidently strong and in good health.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to viewers around the world live from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 16, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Today, we are able to use this marvellous technology to communicate,” he explained. “Many friends have shown interest and requested a teaching, but due to restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, we not able to meet physically.

“The main topic of my talk today will be Nagarjuna’s ‘Precious Garland’, which, along with the six books of the ‘Collection of Reasoning’, we continue to study. The first part of the text, which I’ll read today, deals with the sixteen factors for high status or good rebirth. Later in the text is the verse,

“May sentient beings be as dear to me as my own life,
And may they be dearer to me than myself.
May their ill deeds bear fruit for me,
And all my virtues bear fruit for them.

“This refers to generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta, which I’ll talk about tomorrow.

“Sentient beings including even insects are all the same in wanting happiness and seeking to avoid suffering. There is no dispute about this. We tend to rely on physical and sensory sources of pleasure, but without peace of mind, we won’t be consistently happy. Material development has greatly improved our physical facilities, but peace of mind is not manufactured by machines in some factory, we have to create it within.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his live online teaching from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 16, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“I’m a human being, one of the seven billion on this earth, and I believe that if people were more at peace within, they would be happier. These days, scientists are looking into this too. Ancient Indian knowledge included a rich understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions. Buddhism is part of this. In addition to advice about love and compassion, ancient Indian tradition was accomplished in its cultivation of concentration and analytic meditation. However, there is no need for these skills to be confined to religious practice; we can all incorporate them into our own lives.”

His Holiness spoke about his three commitments. He explained how, as a human being, he’s committed to encouraging people to be happy—to helping them understand the importance of incorporating human values into their lives and securing peace of mind. Secondly, as a Buddhist monk, he has dedicated himself to encouraging harmony among the world's religious traditions. Thirdly, as a Tibetan, although he has retired and passed his political responsibility to an elected leadership, he remains committed to preserving Tibetan language and culture, while also speaking up for the protection of Tibet's natural environment.

He mentioned that in the 7th century, during the reign of Songtsen Gampo, a new Tibetan script was designed. Subsequently, the great abbot Shantarakshita advised Trisong Detsen to have Indian Buddhist literature translated primarily from Sanskrit into Tibetan. Since Sanskrit was a scholarly language, when Sanskrit works were translated into Tibetan new terms were coined and the language was deeply enriched.

Shantarakshita, an exemplar of the Nalanda Tradition, emphasised the study of philosophy and the use of logic and reason. This extended the range of knowledge from understanding what is empirically evident to matters that are slightly obscure, but can be understood through inference. A third class of objects of knowledge is wholly obscure and can be understood only in dependence on the testimony of a trusted authority, trust in whom is established through reason and logic.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the audience watching his live teaching from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 16, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness declared that it was this rational and logical approach that prepared him to enter into discussions with modern scientists. Consequently, because the knowledge contained in the Kangyur and Tengyur collections, especially a deep understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions, he feels a responsibility to preserve the Tibetan language.

His Holiness remarked that, drawing on ancient Indian knowledge, Mahatma Gandhi revealed how non-violence can be employed in contemporary circumstances. He noted that the Collection of Higher Knowledge, the Abhidharma, describes world eras dominated by famine and weapons. He lamented that one of the results of material development has been the focus on designing and producing ever more lethal weapons. Some people take pride in them and base their business on their production and sale.

At the same time, there are others who comprise a movement intent on disarmament. They understand that human problems are not resolved by employing more powerful weapons. Problems arising from attachment and hatred are not eliminated by resorting to the use of force. No one ever achieves complete victory; enemies are never completely vanquished. Because, ultimately, we have to live together, we have to settle our problems through dialogue and negotiation. And to achieve external disarmament requires that we first have a sense of inner disarmament.

“Children survive because their parents care for them,” His Holiness declared. “Even as adults, individuals survive in dependence on the community. This is because we are social creatures. In the past, people lived in small communities with little interaction between them. Today, we are economically interdependent and we are faced by challenges like climate change that we can only meet if we are united. We must think globally and work together. “As far as climate change is concerned, our own experience tells us it’s happening. When I first came here to Dharamsala we had far heavier snowfall than we ever see today. Flying over Afghanistan you can see areas now barren that look as if they were once lakes.

The Portuguese interpreter sitting outside the Main Temple translating His Holiness the Dalai Lama's live teaching in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 16, 2020. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“Many of our problems are rooted in the unruly state of our minds. We are attached to our friends and relatives and hostile to foes. We neglect the fact of our interdependence. As Shantideva makes clear,

“All those who suffer in the world do so because of their desire for their own happiness. All those happy in the world are so because of their desire for the happiness of others.

“For those who fail to exchange their own happiness for the suffering of others, Buddhahood is certainly impossible—how could there even be happiness in cyclic existence?

“Nagarjuna points out that action and negative emotions arise from mental fabrication,

“Through the elimination of karma and affliction there is nirvana.
Karma and affliction come from conceptual thought.
These come from mental fabrication.
Fabrication ceases through (realizing) emptiness.

“Since we are the same in wishing to find happiness and overcome suffering, we need to pay more attention to cultivating peace of mind and tackling our disturbing emotions.”

Switching from Tibetan to English, His Holiness observed,

“When I became a refugee in this country, from one point of view it was sad. From another, it provided me with opportunities. I was able to meet religious leaders, scientists and people from many walks of life, who I would never have encountered if I’d stayed in the Potala.

“As I mentioned before I’m committed to helping people be happy and I encourage them to think of the whole of humanity. As a Buddhist practitioner I believe interreligious harmony is really important, because the common message of all our traditions included compassion and self-discipline. Here in India we see all the major religious traditions living peaceably together. I believe harmony among our religious traditions can make a significant contribution to creating a happier more peaceful world.

“I’m also a Tibetan, someone in whom the majority of the six or seven million Tibetans place their trust. I am politically retired, but I feel a responsibility to work to preserve the most complete presentation of the Buddha’s teachings that has been kept alive in Tibet for more than a thousand years. I have many friends from countries that follow the Pali tradition. In general, when I encourage Buddhists to adopt a more studious logical approach that leads to understanding, I’m inspired by the Buddha’s advice: “As the wise test gold by burning, cutting and rubbing it, So, bhikshus, should you accept my words—after testing them, and not merely out of respect for me."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his live teaching to views around the world from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 16, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“In Tibet we kept the Nalanda Tradition alive and at Shantarakshita’s behest we translated Indian Buddhist literature into Tibetan—this is a body of knowledge worth preserving.

“Tibet is referred to as the ‘Roof of the World’, it’s where the major rivers of Asia rise that provide water for billions. So, I am also committed to preserving Tibet’s natural environment.”

Speaking in Tibetan once more, His Holiness began to read from the ‘Precious Garland’. He cited a verse by Nagarjuna’s chief disciple Aryadeva that summarizes the teaching.

First prevent what is lacking in merit,
Next prevent [ideas of a coarse] self;
Later prevent views of all kinds.
Whoever knows of this is wise.

The first verses of the ‘Precious Garland’ mention high status, a favourable life, which enables you to practise the dharma. Such a life is secured by gathering its causes—preventing ‘what is lacking in merit’. This entails thirteen activities to be avoided, the ten unwholesome deeds: killing, stealing and adultery; false, divisive, harsh, and senseless speech; covetousness, harmful intent, and wrong views. Three additional activities to be restrained include drunkenness, wrong livelihood and doing harm. There are three further activities to be adopted—respectful giving, honouring the honourable, and love.

His Holiness stressed that when we give to the poor, we should do so making every effort show them respect.

With regard to the second line of Aryadeva’s verse, ‘Next prevent [ideas of a coarse] self,’ His Holiness cited another verse from Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’.

Perceiving that all faults and all afflictions Flow from the idea of the transitory collection, And knowing that its focus is the very self,
This self is what the yogi will disprove.

He mentioned the fourfold expression of emptiness in the ‘Heart Sutra’:

Form is empty; emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form; form also is not other than emptiness.

He added that in the practice of tantra everything is purified by dissolution into emptiness and that nothing has any intrinsic existence. The self that depends on the body and mind cannot be found under investigation.

Before concluding the session, His Holiness reiterated that the climate crisis and consequent global warming is increasing decade by decade—we have to address it.

“This is the first time I’ve taught in this way,” His Holiness concluded. “I hope that in future we may be able to invite questions and have more interaction. Physically, at present, we have to remain apart, but by this means we can hold discussions together. Goodbye—see you tomorrow.”

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Vesak Message from His Holiness the Dalai Lama https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/vesak-message-from-his-holiness-the-dalai-lama Wed, 06 May 2020 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/vesak-message-from-his-holiness-the-dalai-lama It gives me great pleasure to offer greetings to Buddhist brothers and sisters across the world celebrating Vesak (Buddha Purnima) today.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama paying his respects before the statue of the Buddha inside the stupa at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 17, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Shakyamuni Buddha was born in Lumbini, attained enlightenment in Bodhgaya and passed away in Kushinagar 2600 years ago, yet I believe his teaching is universal and continues to be relevant today. Moved by a deep sense of concern to help others, following his enlightenment the Buddha spent the rest of his life as a monk, sharing his experience with everyone who wished to listen. Both his view of dependent arising and his advice not to harm anyone, but to help whoever you can, emphasize the practice of non-violence. This remains one of the most potent forces for good in the world today, for non-violence, motivated by compassion, is to be of service to our fellow beings.

In an increasingly interdependent world, our own welfare and happiness depend on many other people. Today, the challenges we face require us to accept the oneness of humanity. Despite superficial differences between us, people are equal in their basic wish for peace and happiness. Part of Buddhist practice involves training our minds through meditation. For our training in calming our minds, developing qualities such as love, compassion, generosity and patience, to be effective, we must put them into practice in day-to-day life.

Until relatively recently, the world's diverse Buddhist communities had only a distant understanding of each other's existence and no opportunity to appreciate how much we share in common. Today, almost the entire array of Buddhist traditions that evolved in different lands is accessible to anyone who is interested. What's more, those of us who practise and teach these various Buddhist traditions are now able to meet and learn from one another.

As a Tibetan Buddhist monk, I consider myself an heir to the Nalanda tradition. The way Buddhism was taught and studied at Nalanda University, rooted in reason and logic, represents the zenith of its development in India. If we are to be 21st century Buddhists, it is important that we engage in the study and analysis of Buddha's teachings, as so many did there, instead of simply relying on faith.

The world has changed substantially since the time of the Buddha. Modern science has developed a sophisticated understanding of the physical realm. Buddhist science on the other hand, has achieved a detailed, first-person understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions, areas still relatively new to modern science. Each therefore has crucial knowledge with which to complement the other. I believe that combining these two approaches has great potential to lead to discoveries that will enrich our physical, emotional and social well-being.

While as Buddhists it is we who uphold the Buddha's teaching, his message is relevant in our broader interaction with the rest of humanity. We need to promote inter-religious understanding by underlining the fact that all religions promote the happiness of all people.  Also, at a time when serious crises confront the world, when we face threats to our health and we feel saddened about the family and friends we have lost, we must focus on what unites us as members of one human family. Accordingly, we need to reach out to each other with compassion, for it is only by coming together in a coordinated, global effort that we will meet the unprecedented challenges we face.

Dalai Lama

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Announcement of Live Webcast of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Teaching on "Precious Garland" https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/announcement-of-live-webcast-of-his-holiness-the-dalai-lamas-teaching-on-precious-garland Wed, 06 May 2020 06:47:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/announcement-of-live-webcast-of-his-holiness-the-dalai-lamas-teaching-on-precious-garland At the request of individuals and groups from around the world, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has graciously consented to give a two-day teaching on Chapters 1 and 4 of Master Nagarjuna's "Precious Garland (rinchen trengwa)" from 8:00am to 9.30am (Indian Standard Time) on May 16 (Saturday) & May 17 (Sunday), 2020.

His Holiness has also been requested to provide general advice appropriate to these challenging times.

Those interested may watch the live webcast of the teachings and listen to them in Tibetan, English, Chinese and other languages on the official websites and Facebook pages of the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. (https://www.dalailama.com/live)

Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
6 May 2020

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His Holiness the Dalai Lama: World Should Unite for a Coordinated Global Response to COVID-19 https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/message-from-his-holiness-the-dalai-lama Sat, 02 May 2020 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/message-from-his-holiness-the-dalai-lama In this time of serious crisis, we face threats to our health and sadness for the family and friends we have lost. Economic disruption is posing a major challenge to governments and undermining the ability of so many people to make a living.

It is during times like this that we must focus on what unites us as members of one human family. Accordingly, we need to reach out to each other with compassion. As human beings, we are all the same. We experience the same fears, the same hopes, the same uncertainties, yet we are also united by a desire for happiness. Our human capacity to reason and to see things realistically gives us the ability to transform hardship into opportunity.

This crisis and its consequences serve as a warning that only by coming together in a coordinated, global response, will we meet the unprecedented magnitude of the challenges we face. I pray we all heed ‘The Call to Unite’.

Dalai Lama
May 1, 2020

Message requested by The Call to Unite

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His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Message for Earth Day https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/his-holiness-the-dalai-lamas-message-for-earth-day Tue, 21 Apr 2020 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/his-holiness-the-dalai-lamas-message-for-earth-day On this 50th anniversary of Earth Day, our planet is facing one of the greatest challenges to the health and well-being of its people. And yet, in the midst of this struggle, we are reminded of the value of compassion and mutual support. The current global pandemic threatens us all, without distinctions of race, culture or gender, and our response must be as one humanity, providing for the most essential needs of all.

Whether we like it or not, we have been born on this earth as part of one great family. Rich or poor, educated or uneducated, belonging to one nation or another, ultimately each of us is just a human being like everyone else. Furthermore, we all have the same right to pursue happiness and avoid suffering. When we recognize that all beings are equal in this respect, we automatically feel empathy and closeness towards others. Out of this comes a genuine sense of universal responsibility: the wish to actively help others overcome their problems.

Our mother earth is teaching us a lesson in universal responsibility. This blue planet is a delightful habitat. Its life is our life; its future, our future. Indeed, the earth acts like a mother to us all; as her children, we are dependent on her. In the face of the global problems we are going through it is important that we must all work together.

I came to appreciate the importance of environmental concern only after escaping from Tibet in 1959, where we always considered the environment to be pure. Whenever we saw a stream of water, for instance, there was no worry about whether it was safe to drink. Sadly, the mere availability of clean drinking water is a major problem throughout the world today.

We must ensure that the sick and the valiant health-care providers throughout the world have access to the fundamental necessities of clean water and proper sanitation to prevent the uncontrolled spread of disease. Hygiene is one of the bases of effective health care.

Sustainable access to properly equipped and staffed health-care facilities will help us meet the challenges of the current pandemic that ravages our planet. It will also offer one of the strongest defenses against future public health crises. I understand that these are precisely the objectives set forth in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that address challenges to global health.

As we face this crisis together, it is imperative that we act in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation in order to provide for the pressing needs, particularly of our less fortunate brothers and sisters around the world. I hope and pray that in the days ahead, each of us will do all we can to create a happier and healthier world.   

Dalai Lama
22 April 2020

(Message requested by Global Water 2020)

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Congratulating President Moon Jae-in on Election Victory https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/congratulating-president-moon-jae-in-on-election-victory Wed, 15 Apr 2020 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/congratulating-president-moon-jae-in-on-election-victory Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - His Holiness the Dalai Lama has written today to His Excellency Moon Jae-in, the President of the Republic of Korea, to congratulate him on his Party's success in the recent Parliamentary elections.

“I am deeply appreciative of your persistent efforts to secure lasting peace on the Korean peninsula,” he wrote, “and am confident that you will continue to seek to fulfil the trust placed in you by the Korean people.

“In recent months, the world has been confronted by the unprecedented challenge of the Coronavirus pandemic. May I take this opportunity to congratulate you on the leadership you have shown in taking the necessary steps to contain the spread of Covid-19 in your country. You have set an important example for others to follow.

“As you may be aware, we Tibetans count many Koreans among our friends. Traditionally, Korea has had a large Buddhist population. In recent years, a growing number of Korean Buddhists has shown interest in joining the centres of learning we have re-established in India. Meanwhile, I regularly meet Korean Buddhist brothers and sisters who visit India on pilgrimage.

His Holiness concluded by wishing President Moon Jae-in every success in meeting the challenges that lie ahead in fulfilling the aspirations of the people of South Korea

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