Dalai Lama https://www.dalailama.com/ en-us Sat, 17 Aug 2019 12:02:51 +0000 Sat, 17 Aug 2019 12:02:51 +0000 Second Day of Teachings in Manali https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/second-day-of-teachings-in-manali Tue, 13 Aug 2019 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/second-day-of-teachings-in-manali Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India - Before leaving for the teaching ground this morning, His Holiness gave an interview to Hakka Television from Taiwan. Among a range of topics touched on, the interviewer wanted to know if His Holiness is the most optimistic of the Dalai Lamas and how he is able to keep smiling.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama being interviewed by Hakka Television of Taiwan at Ön Ngari Monastery in Manali, HP, India on August 14, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“I’m a human being,” His Holiness replied, “and we human beings are social animals. The 7 billion of us alive today are emotionally, mentally and physically the same. We all have a right to live a happy life. The ability to smile is something only human beings can do—it comes naturally. However, I also remember that the 8th century Indian Buddhist master Shantideva advised that if you are a practitioner of bodhichitta, you should smile at everyone you meet.”

Asked if everyone can achieve peace of mind, His Holiness noted that whereas in the past education had largely been in the hands of religious institutions that instilled inner values in their students, modern education has materialistic goals and fosters a materialistic way of life. It does not equip students to tackle their emotional problems. He suggested that just as children are taught from kindergarten onwards about physical hygiene, they could also be taught how to tackle their emotions—a kind of emotional hygiene. That would make their education more complete.

Conceding that in a choice between faith and scientific findings he would be more inclined to accept what science said, His Holiness pointed out that the approach of the Nalanda Tradition based on reason and investigation is scientific. He added that destructive emotions are rooted in accepting appearances as real and that to reduce them it’s useful to understand reality.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama responding to a question during his interview for Hakka Television of Taiwan at Ön Ngari Monastery in Manali, HP, India on August 14, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Asked what is special about Tibetan culture, His Holiness responded:

“Tibetans are spread over a large expanse of land and yet all of them employ classical written Tibetan language, which was created at the behest of King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. It was modelled on the Indian Devanagari script. In the 8th century, Shantarakshita advised Tibetans that since they had their own language they should translated Indian Buddhist literature into that. Consequently, this language is used in Mongolia and throughout the Himalayan region too.

“Although the original Nalanda University is now in ruins, the knowledge that Shantarakshita brought with him has been kept alive in Tibet. Chinese Buddhists are aware of the Nalanda Tradition because the pilgrim Xuanzang studied there too, but they did not adopt Nalanda’s logical and epistemological approach. In the future, Chinese can give Tibetans support with their physical development and we can help them spiritually. Meanwhile, I am committed to trying to revive interest in ancient Indian knowledge of the workings of the mind and emotions here in India with a view to combining it with modern education. The more people learn to tackle their afflictive emotions, the more individuals will achieve peace of mind, and the more individuals achieve inner peace, the greater are the prospects for peace in the world.”

Very heavy rain overnight had left the teaching ground waterlogged, but by the time His Holiness arrived the worst of the water had been dispersed and the rain had let up. To begin the session, monks led a recitation of the first chapter of Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’.

Volunteers handing out books to members of the audience on the second day of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings in Manali, HP, India on August 14, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“Does everyone have a book?” His Holiness asked. “Then, today, we’ll go through the ‘Commentary on the Awakening Mind’ by Nagarjuna, the second Buddha, whose writings reveal his great qualities. In addition to his philosophical treatises, he also wrote about tantra, Guhyasamaja Tantra in particular, as did his followers Chandrakirti and Aryadeva. There is a story that Nagarjuna retrieved the Perfection of Wisdom teachings from the Nagas, but I wonder if that isn’t just a legend.

“This text, ‘Commentary on the Awakening Mind’ emphasizes the importance of ultimate bodhichitta, a direct understanding of emptiness, but also the need for it to be combined with the conventional awakening mind, the wish to become a Buddha for the sake of all sentient beings. This wish is preceded by the development of great compassion. Chandrakirti praised great compassion in the beginning, middle and end of the path. He describes it as the seed, the moisture that allows it to grow and the final harvest.

“Sentient beings are bound by ignorance, because afflictive emotions are rooted in distorted views. At the end of his ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’, Nagarjuna praises the Buddha saying:

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

“At the beginning of the same text he pays homage to the Buddha for teaching that

"Whatever is dependently arisen is
Unceasing, unborn,
Unannihilated, not permanent,
Not coming, not going,
Without distinction, without identity,
And peaceful-free from conceptual fabrication,

"In so doing he countered the eight extreme views.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on the second day of his teachings in Manali, HP, India on August 14, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

His Holiness opened the book that had been distributed and began reading the ‘Praise to the 17 Masters of Nalanda’ with which it began.

“The verses of praise begin with the Buddha, who because of his unique philosophical position is called unparalleled in speech. Next is Nagarjuna, who explained the perfection of wisdom teachings, elucidated dependent arising and was the trail blazer of the Middle Way School. Aryadeva was his disciple, as was Buddhapalita who clarified the Consequentialist or Prasangika view. After him comes Bhavaviveka, another student of Nagarjuna, who asserted that things have some objective existence within conventional truth.

“Chandrakirti’s innovation was that describing things as based on conditionality avoids the two extremes of nihilism and eternalism. It is the basis for understanding appearance and reality. He also explained the entire teaching of sutra and tantra.

“After Chandrakirti comes Shantideva. Although Nagarjuna and Aryadeva dealt with the awakening mind of bodhichitta, the most profound and extensive rendition of it is found in Shantideva’s ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’. There is no other text to rival it.

Nuns following the text during His Holiness the Dalai Lama's second day of teachings in Manali, HP, India on August 14, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“In my childhood,” His Holiness remarked, “I had some interest in bodhichitta, but I felt it would be very difficult to achieve. I admitted as much to my tutor Tagdrag Rinpoché. He advised me not to feel discouraged and confided in me that he had some experience of bodhichitta. In exile I received an explanation of the ‘Guide’ as a result of which, if I make an effort, I feel some closeness to bodhichitta.

“I composed this Praise to the 17 Masters’ because although there was already a praise to eight Indian masters, I realised there were still others whose writings we rely on, who were not included.

“Next is Shantarakshita to whom we are grateful for establishing the tradition of study based on reason and logic in Tibet. He’s followed by his student Kamalashila, who wrote the ‘Stages of Meditation’.

“Asanga was founder of the Mind Only School. Vasubandhu, his younger brother, was a master of Higher Knowledge (Abhidharma). His student, Dignaga was a master of logic, followed by another logician and epistemologist, Dharmakirti. Although Vimuktisena was Vasubandhu’s disciple, he explained the perfection of wisdom from a Middle Way point of view.

A view from the stage on the second day of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings in Manali, HP, India on August 14, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“Haribadra too was a celebrated commentator on the perfection of wisdom. Many students memorize his treatise, ‘Clear Meaning’. I remember a group of nuns from Kopan in Nepal who had memorized it and I told them they had surpassed me by doing so.

“Gunaprabha and Shakyaprabha were both masters of monastic discipline. Finally, Atisha was the kind lord who caused the Conqueror's teaching to flourish in the Land of Snows.

“The praise concludes, ‘May I be blessed that I may mature my mindstream and achieve liberation. May I be blessed to establish the root of the path to liberation, May I be blessed to perfect an uncontrived awakening mind of bodhichitta, and May I develop a quick and easy conviction about all the paths of the Perfection of Wisdom and the Vajrayana.’ In the colophon I stressed that we should examine the reasons for the Buddha’s teaching with an unbiased and inquisitive mind, analysing it closely. I composed this praise at the request, among others, of Trulshik Rinpoché.

“Don’t be satisfied with rituals and prayers. Try to understand what the Buddha taught on the basis of the Two Truths and the Four Noble Truths. If you follow the Nalanda Tradition and rely on reason and logic, the Buddha’s teachings may last long into the future.”

The Hindi interpreter translating His Holiness the Dalai Lama's comments on the second day of teachings in Manali, HP, India on August 14, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

His Holiness began to read the ‘Commentary on the Awakening Mind’ verse by verse. He remarked that we have a notion that things exist from their own side, but when we investigate and try to find what appears to us, we cannot pinpoint it. So, nothing exists objectively; it only exists by way of convention or designation. Even a moment of mind cannot be pinpointed.

Discussion of the ultimate awakening mind finished at verse 72 and from verse 73 began an explanation of the awakening mind of bodhichitta, the aspiration for enlightenment. The Tibetan word for enlightenment is in two parts—chang-chub. The first refers to purifying the mind of defilements by applying antidotes; the second indicates that once all the defilements have been overcome the nature of the mind as clarity and awareness becomes manifest. You are able to see everything as it is.

A commentary to ‘Ornament for Clear Realization’ mentions bodhisattvas observing sentient beings with compassion, a compassion that wishes to rid them all not just of the suffering of suffering or the suffering of change, but of pervasive suffering. This is explained in terms of the 12 links of dependent arising. Once the first link, ignorance, is overcome, the other 11 links cease. This depends on an understanding of emptiness.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama explaing Nagarjuna's "Commentary on the Awakening Mind" on the second day of his teachings in Manali, HP, India on August 14, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

In contrasting altruism and selfishness, His Holiness cited lines from Panchen Lobsang Chögyan’s ‘Offering to the Spiritual Master’:

This chronic disease of self-centredness
Is the cause of unwanted suffering...
Caring for my mothers and seeking to secure them in bliss
Is the gateway to infinite virtue.

Cultivating bodhichitta is to dedicate yourself solely to serving sentient beings.

When he completed his reading of the text, His Holiness announced that there would be a break in the teachings tomorrow and the following day. On Saturday, 17th August he will read the ‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’ and ‘The 37 Practices of Bodhisattvas’, in addition to giving an Avalokiteshvara empowerment.

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First Day of Teachings in Manali https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/first-day-of-teachings-in-manali Mon, 12 Aug 2019 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/first-day-of-teachings-in-manali Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India - The overnight rain relented as His Holiness the Dalai Lama set off from Ön Ngari Dratshang this morning. On the nearby Municipal Council Parking Ground a stage and a covered space for the audience had been set up. The Ngari Dratshang Abbot welcomed him and, with local leaders, escorted him to the stage from where he saluted the crowd and greeted lamas representing the various Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Among them was the young Dungsey Asanga Rinpoché from the Sakya Phuntsok Phodrang.

Monks debating in front of the stage as His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrives at the teaching venue in Manali, HP, India on August 13, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

As His Holiness arrived, monks were debating in front of the stage. Once he had taken his seat, prayers were recited, while tea and sweet rice were distributed.

“Today, we’re here in Manali at the invitation of Ön Ngari Monastery,” His Holiness began, “which has been re-established at the request of the former Abbot of Gomang Monastery in a building that had been given to the Three Seats of Learning. This is now a monastery where monks are not limited to memorizing texts. They study them too. Ngari Dratshang, Dakpo Shedrupling and Chö-khor Gyal were founded by the Second Dalai Lama.

“During the three month rainy season retreat, the monks would all gather at Chö-khor Gyal. However, that was a monastery primarily focused on performing rituals, much as Namgyal Monastery used to be, whereas the monks of Ngari Dratshang and Dakpo Shedrupling were dedicated to serious study. I was pleased to visit the re-established Dakpo Shedrupling near Patlikuhl and now I’m happy to be here.”

His Holiness remarked that there are many Buddhists in the Kullu Valley and reminded them that Buddhism is more than a matter of faith—it employs reason. He declared that he never says Buddhism is the best spiritual tradition, because just as medicine is prescribed according to the patient’s condition, the efficacy of a religious tradition depends on a person’s disposition.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on the first day of his teachings in Manali, HP, India on August 13, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“Today, we are gathered here to listen to a Dharma discourse, so both the teacher and audience should generate a proper motivation. There should be no wish for fame or good reputation because of the number of times you have attended a teaching. Think of this as part of your Dharma practice based on taking refuge in the Three Jewels and a determination to fulfil the wishes of all sentient beings.”

His Holiness led the crowd in repeating the verse for taking refuge and generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta. He mentioned that since Kullu is one of the 24 places sacred to Heruka or Chakrasamvara, there are many gods and other beings in the vicinity. He recited a verse calling on them too to pay attention to what was going to be taught.

“In the Buddhist tradition,” he continued, “we talk about mother sentient beings extended across the expanse of space. All of them, as sentient beings, are equal in not wanting suffering and in seeking happiness. This includes all the beings living on this earth, and in particular the 7 billion human beings.

“People follow religion because they have the power of thought, whereas animals and other beings depend primarily on sensory consciousness. There are believers, non-believers and agnostics. Those who have little interest in religion may sometimes find themselves overwhelmed in the face of trouble. Those who have some belief find solace in that.

Members of the audience listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the first day of his teachings in Manali, HP, India on August 13, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“In India the idea of Dharma arose and with it ‘ahimsa’ or non-violence. And when we think of non-violence, we also tend naturally to think of compassion. India has also nurtured the practice of single-pointed concentration and analytical thinking as ways of training the mind. Buddha Shakyamuni put all these practices into effect.

“Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam developed in West Asia, which have provided their followers with solace and hope. Analysis of the nature of things, as found in modern science, can present a challenge to religious belief, but the human mind has an ability and an inclination to undertake critical analysis. Accordingly, the Buddha advised, “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.”

“Taking a lead from this, Nalanda masters used reason and analysis to categorise the recorded teachings of the Buddha into those that were definitive and those open to interpretation. This is because the Buddha gave certain instructions in accordance with the disposition of the disciples before him. In other words, there was a purpose for what he taught in particular instances.

“Those teachings that deal with ultimate truth are regarded as definitive; those that deal with other things are considered to be subject to interpretation. In the Nalanda tradition such use of critical analysis was important.”

A view of the stage on the first day of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings in Manali, HP, India on August 13, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

His Holiness explained that the Buddha forsook his comfortable royal life and adopted the life of a homeless monk after encountering examples of birth, aging, sickness and death. He embarked on six years austere practice and eventually found enlightenment, whereupon he reflected: ‘Profound and peaceful, free from elaboration, uncompounded clear light, I have found a nectar-like Dharma. Yet if I were to teach it, no-one would understand what I said, so I shall remain here silent in the forest.'

When he met his five former companions, Kaundinya and so on, they prevailed on him to recount what he had experienced. He explained in terms of the Four Noble Truths, which Nagarjuna stated would be easily grasped by anyone who had understood dependent arising. This explanation of the truth of suffering, origin, cessation and path were part of the first round of teachings. These Truths, and especially the truth of cessation, the possibility of overcoming the origin of suffering, the Buddha elaborated on in his second round of teachings.

“The Four Noble Truths and their sixteen characteristics are the foundation of both the Pali and Sanskrit traditions,” His Holiness observed. “The perfection of wisdom teachings were given on Vulture’s Peak, above Rajgir, to beings with purer karma. One of the shorter scriptures reporting these is the perfection of wisdom in 25 verses, popularly known as the ‘Heart Sutra’. The content of the first two rounds of teachings reveal how profound was the Buddha’s insight.

Young monks reciting prayers during the first day of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings in Manali, HP, India on August 13, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“In Vaishali and other places he gave the third round of teachings, including the ‘Unravelling of Thought Sutra’ and the explanation of Buddha-nature that was the basis for Maitreya’s ‘Sublime Continuum’. Where the third round of teachings deals with subjective clear light or the luminous mind, the perfection of wisdom taught the object clear light or emptiness. The clear light mind is also taught in highest yoga tantra in terms of the union of clear light and illusory body.

“The Sanskrit tradition emphasizes investigation and analysis. As Nagarjuna says, the Buddha’s teaching is based on the two truths. Taking refuge and faith are conventional practices, whereas understanding true cessation requires understanding that the afflictive emotions are rooted in ignorance. As Aryadeva’s ‘400 Verses’ states, they are permeated by ignorance. To eliminate them we have to understand the nature of things—that they are dependently arisen. Ignorance is a distorted view that doesn’t accord with reality. But because it is a misconception, there is always an opposing factor to counter it.

“Afflictive emotions and disturbing conceptions are temporary and adventitious, whereas the true nature of the mind is of clear light and is not affected by them. This is made clear in the Buddha’s third round of teachings and in highest yoga tantras such as Guhyasamaja, where it is explained that destructive emotions arise on the basis of 80 different conceptions. When you stop the three phases of whitish appearance, reddish increase and blackish near attainment, the 80 different conceptions cease and the clear light mind is manifest. Because afflictive emotions can be overcome by wisdom, you can see that attaining Nirvana is possible.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama enjoying a cup of tea during a break on the first day of his teachings in Manali, HP, India on August 13, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“Non-Buddhist traditions discuss the two truths, but to understand them precisely you have to understand the perfection of wisdom teachings. The ‘Heart Sutra’ states that form is empty, emptiness is form; form is not other than emptiness and emptiness too is not other than form, which means that although things exist, when you search for their enduring identity, you can’t find it. Therefore, they only exist by way of designation. The Mind Only School says that when you search and cannot find something, it is because it doesn’t exist externally.

“Just as physical things cannot be found when searched for, neither can the mind be found. It has no physical presence, but exists as a continuity—a continuum of moments of consciousness. Physical things appear to have an objective existence, but can’t be found when sought. Likewise the mind cannot be found. Quantum physics observes that nothing has an objective existence, which I find useful in my own meditation on emptiness.

“The Middle Way School rejects things having any substantial existence. Chandrakirti, in his ‘Entering into the Middle Way’, proves that things have no objective existence. Although the Middle Way School rejects things having substantial or intrinsic existence, because they affect us, despite not being found under the sevenfold analysis, things, like a chariot, exist by way of designation. Form is emptiness and emptiness is form, because things exist by way of relationships. They do not exist the way they appear to us. Since they depend on other factors, they have no intrinsic existence, existing instead as dependent arisings.”

A view of the crowd of more than 5000 people attending the first day of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings in Manali, HP, India on August 13, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

His Holiness explained that when we see that mental defilements are adventitious and can be eliminated, we can see that the nature of the mind is pure and luminous. He pointed out that where followers of the Pali tradition rely on scriptural authority to understand impermanence, suffering and selflessness, the Nalanda tradition depends on reason. At the beginning of his ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’ Nagarjuna salutes the Buddha for teaching dependent arising. At the end he praises him again for teaching to rid us of all distorted views. Both Buddhapalita and Chandrakirti elaborated on the idea of existing by way of designation.

Dignaga and Dharmakirti used reason to demonstrate the truth of the Buddha’s teaching. In the second chapter of his ‘Commentary on Valid Cognition’ Dharmakirti uses reason to prove the Buddha to be a reliable authority. This use of reason sets Buddhism apart from many other traditions, but His Holiness observed that all religious traditions commend the practice of loving kindness. Christianity, for example, teaches that because we are all children of the one god, we are all brothers and sisters. However, His Holiness remarked that these days we see religion being used as an excuse for people to kill each other—sad and unthinkable. Nevertheless, because they offer a common message of love and compassion, it is crucial that different religious traditions should live in harmony with each other.

His Holiness announced that he would stop there for the day. Since books containing the texts he is to teach in Tibetan, Hindi, English and Chinese have been distributed among the audience, he encouraged his listeners to read them before tomorrow’s session. He told them that today he had given a general introduction to Buddhism, but when it comes to practice it’s important to have an understanding of the awakening mind of bodhichitta supported by an understanding of emptiness—and that’s what these texts explain.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama talking about the texts he will cover during his teachings in Manali, HP, India on August 13, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

He argued that a self-cherishing, selfish attitude makes us unhappy and afraid. We risk viewing the whole world as our enemy. When you can see the world as your friend, you can live at ease. He urged his listeners to adopt a threefold approach to knowledge—to study, reflect and meditate. That will equip them to proceed through the five paths as Avalokiteshvara describes when, in the ‘Heart Sutra’ he says, “Tadyata gaté gaté paragaté parasamgaté bodhi svaha” (“It is thus: Proceed, proceed, proceed beyond, thoroughly proceed beyond, be founded in enlightenment”).

His Holiness clarified what this means:

“Gaté gaté - proceed, proceed - indicates the paths of accumulation and preparation and the initial experience of bodhichitta and emptiness; paragaté - proceed beyond - indicates the path of seeing, the first insight into emptiness and achievement of the first bodhisattva ground; parasamgaté - thoroughly proceed beyond - indicates the path of meditation and the achievement of the subsequent bodhisattva grounds, while bodhi svaha - be founded in enlightenment -  indicates laying the foundation of complete enlightenment.”

Leaving the teaching ground for Ön Ngari Dratshang, His Holiness plans to continue teaching tomorrow.

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His Holiness the Dalai Lama Travels to Manali https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/his-holiness-the-dalai-lama-travels-to-manali Fri, 09 Aug 2019 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/his-holiness-the-dalai-lama-travels-to-manali Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India -   After a wet night, rain continued to fall as His Holiness the Dalai Lama set off for Manali yesterday morning. Tibetans lined the road down to Dharamsala and through the town to see him off. The heavy rain kept up as His Holiness’s convoy drove across the lower Kangra Valley. At Nadaun the River Beas was very full.

Students from Kinnaur, Lahoul & Spiti welcoming His Holiness the Dalai Lama on his arrival at Hamirpur on his way to Manali, HP, India on August 9, 2019. Photo by Jeremy Russell

Breaking the journey at Hamirpur His Holiness was welcomed by beaming students from Kinnaur, Lahoul & Spiti. Former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Prof Prem Kumar Dhumal, lives in Hamirpur and came to greet His Holiness, who regaled him and his companions with why he is committed to reviving aspects of ancient Indian knowledge for our modern world.

The road from Hamirpur climbs the hills to pass Rewalsar, the village and lake celebrated by Tibetans and people of the Himalayan region as Tso-Pema for its association with Guru Padmasambhava. People holding silk scarves and burning sticks of incense lined the road to greet His Holiness as he passed. After Tso-Pema, as the rain eased and the sun began to come out, there was a winding descent down to Mandi. His Holiness ate lunch and retired for the day in the palace of the erstwhile Raja of Mandi that is now a hotel.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama stopping to join an old friend for tea at his house in Mandi on his way to Manali, HP, India on August 10, 2019. Photo by Jeremy Russell

This morning, under brighter skies, a group of local Tibetan community leaders came to pay their respects to His Holiness before he set off for Manali. An old friend, who lives in Mandi, a former Deputy Superintendent of Police who served His Holiness in the ‘80s, invited him to visit his house on the way, which he did. His Holiness’s party then took the alternative route from Mandi into the Kullu Valley, climbing over the hills, through Kataula, past the turning off for Prashar Lake and down to Bajaura. Shortly after entering the Kullu Valley, His Holiness stopped for a rest and a cup of tea.

The road follows the course of the rushing Beas River. At several points on the way welcome gates had been put up and well-wishers, Tibetan and Indian, monks, nuns, lay-people and children gathered at the roadside to greet His Holiness and catch a glimpse of him as he passed.

Local people lining the road to catch a glimpse of His Holiness the Dalai Lama as his motorcade makes its way to Manali, HP, India on August 10, 2019. Photo by Jeremy Russell

Reaching Manali, His Holiness drove directly to Ön Ngari Monastery, where the Abbot, Gomang Khensur Lobsang Samten was ready to greet him. His Holiness hugged him close. The Tibetan Representative for the Kullu Valley, Ms Tenzin Nangwa offered a silk scarf. Children presented the ‘chema changpu’ traditional welcome offering, while Tashi Shölpa dancers performed on the forecourt and a group of Tibetan girls sang their welcome.

Inside the temple, His Holiness lit a lamp and saluted image of the Buddha, Avalokiteshvara and so forth. Once he had taken his seat, the Abbot offered a mandala and the threefold representation of the body, speech and mind of enlightenment.

The Abbot of Ön Ngari Monastery, Gomang Khensur Lobsang Samten, making traditional offerings to His Holiness the Dalai Lama during welcoming ceremonies at the monastery in Manali, HP, India on August 10, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“In Tibet there were three monasteries, ‘Nga, Dak and Gyal’” His Holiness explained, “that were founded by Gyalwa Gendun Gyatso, the Second Dalai Lama.” These were Ngari Tratsang, Dakpo Shedrup Ling and Chö-khor Gyal on the banks of Lhamo Latso.

“Rinpoché here, (the Abbot), expressed a wish to re-establish Ngari Tratsang in exile, so I suggested he do that here. I’m grateful to him for doing so and inviting me to visit. I would also like to thank the Lamas of other traditions who have joined us today.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at Ön Ngari Monastery during ceremonies to mark his arrival in Manali, HP, India on August 10, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“Although we have fewer monks these days, it’s still important to establish centres of learning, not only so monks and nuns can study, but so lay-people can too. Buddhism is not founded on faith but on reason. Immediately after his enlightenment, the Buddha felt that, although he had realized a nectar-like Dharma, if he were to try to teach it nobody else would understand what he said. It was through the use of reason that his followers’ understanding began to grow.”

His Holiness asked what texts the monks were memorizing and was pleased to hear that they were learning ‘Ornament for Clear Realization’, ‘Abhisamayalankara’. He mentioned how important it is to combine this explanation of the Perfection of Wisdom instructions with those of the Middle Way View (Madhyamaka).

His Holiness the Dalai Lama with Chief Justice V Ramasubramanian, to his right, and Justice Dharam Chand Chaudhary, to his left, of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, who visited him at Ön Ngari Monastery in Manali, HP, India on August 10, 2019. Photo by Jeremy Russell

His Holiness announced that he will teach the ‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’, the ‘37 Practices of Bodhisattvas’ and Nagarjuna’s ‘Commentary on Generating the Awakening Mind of Bodhichitta’ on 13th and 14th August. On 15th he will give the empowerment of Avalokiteshvara Lord of the World.

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Condolences Concerning the Death of Sushma Swaraj https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/condolences-concerning-the-death-of-sushma-swaraj Tue, 06 Aug 2019 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/condolences-concerning-the-death-of-sushma-swaraj Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, India - On receiving reports today of the passing away of veteran Indian politician and former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his sympathy in a letter to her husband Kaushal Swaraj.

“I offer my prayers and my condolences to you and your family at this difficult time,” he wrote. “Shrimati Swaraj enjoyed immense respect for her compassionate concern for people and her friendly demeanour. In devoting herself to the service of others, she led a very meaningful life.”

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Congratulations for the New Chief Minister of Karnataka https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/congratulations-for-the-new-chief-minister-of-karnataka Sun, 28 Jul 2019 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/congratulations-for-the-new-chief-minister-of-karnataka Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, India - Today, His Holiness the Dalai Lama conveyed his congratulations to B.S. Yediyurappa on his once again becoming the Chief Minister of Karnataka.

“I trust that under your leadership the people of Karnataka will see prosperity and progress,” he wrote. “I particularly hope that you will strive to improve the lives of the less privileged people in the State.

“Last April marked the 60th anniversary of our life in exile. As you know, over 30,000 Tibetans reside in Karnataka State, perhaps the largest number among Tibetans in exile. In fact I attended a special function in Bengaluru last year to thank the state of Karnataka and its people for their friendship and support. I am proud to state here that our main Centres of Learning, based on the Nalanda Tradition of Ancient Indian Wisdom, have been re-established in Karnataka.

“This has been made possible thanks largely due to the most generous response to an appeal by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru from then Chief Minister S. Nijalingappa, who I had first met when I came to India in 1956. May I, therefore, take this opportunity to express again, through you, our deep appreciation to the government and people of Karnataka, for the warm and friendly support shown Tibetans who have been settled there.”

His Holiness concluded his letter by wishing the Chief Minister every success in meeting whatever challenges may lie ahead.

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Congratulating the British Prime Minister https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/congratulating-the-british-prime-minister Wed, 24 Jul 2019 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/congratulating-the-british-prime-minister Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, India - In a letter to Boris Johnson, newly appointed Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, His Holiness the Dalai Lama offered his congratulations. He went on to observe that he has visited the UK regularly over the years and has been touched by the affection and friendship shown to him by people from all walks of life.
 
“I am also very appreciative of the strong interest and support that our British friends have expressed for the Tibetan people's aspirations for freedom and dignity,” he wrote. “Historically, Tibetans have enjoyed a long and unique relationship with Great Britain. To this day we maintain close contacts with members of the families of British Government officials who were posted in Tibet prior to 1959.

“These are very challenging times,” His Holiness continued, “and I have made public my view on the issue of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union (EU).

“I have long been an admirer of the spirit of the European Union, according to which the nations of Europe, after fighting each other for centuries, decided instead to work together for the common good. Nevertheless, I understand the choice made in the 2016 referendum and I respect it.”

His Holiness expressed the hope that, whatever the outcome of impending changes may be, the U.K. will continue to enjoy an influential position in our highly interdependent world. He concluded by offering his prayers and good wishes.

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Remembering Sheila Dikshit https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/remembering-sheila-dikshit Sat, 20 Jul 2019 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/remembering-sheila-dikshit Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, India - Following news of former Delhi Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit’s sudden death, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has written to her son, Mr Sandeep Dikshit, to express his condolences.

“I am sorry to learn about your mother’s passing away,” he wrote. “Your mother lived a meaningful life, devoted to the service of others. It was an honour to meet her over the years. She was a close friend of the Tibetan people.”

His Holiness offered his prayers for the departed and her family.

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Congratulating the Newly Elected President of the European Commission https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/congratulating-the-newly-elected-president-of-the-european-commission Wed, 17 Jul 2019 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/congratulating-the-newly-elected-president-of-the-european-commission Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, India - In a letter today congratulating Ursula Von der Leyen on her election as the next President of the European Commission, His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote:

“I take this opportunity to convey to you my great admiration for the spirit of the European Union that has preserved peace among its members and in the region for more than 60 years. As envisioned by its founders, in the spirit of reconciliation and cooperation that followed World War II, the European Union has put the common good ahead of the local interests of individual countries. This demonstrates wisdom and maturity in a world that has increasingly become interdependent. I have a dream that similar unions in Africa, Latin America and Asia would fortify global peace.

“I also congratulate you on being the first woman to serve as European commission president. It is my firm conviction that if more of our leaders were women, the world would be a more understanding, peaceful place.”

His Holiness wished Ms Von der Leyen every success in meeting the challenges that lie ahead in making the European Union strong and a model for others to follow.

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Thank You from His Holiness https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/thank-from-his-holiness Tue, 09 Jul 2019 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/thank-from-his-holiness I would like to thank you deeply for the warm greetings that many of you have sent me on my birthday, 6 July 2019. I am now 84 years old, but I hope to be able to celebrate the occasion with all of you for many more years to come.

I have said before that if you would like to make me a birthday gift, the best you can do would be to help in fulfilling my three commitments—promoting deeper human values based on a sense of the oneness of humanity, with the aim of creating a more compassionate society; encouraging harmony and understanding among the world’s major religious traditions: And preserving the Tibetan language and culture, the heritage Tibetans received from the masters of India's Nalanda University, while also working for the protection of Tibet's natural environment.

In addition, I am whole-heartedly committed to reviving an appreciation of ancient Indian knowledge among young Indians today. We need to incorporate compassion and warm-heartedness into our modern education system to make it more holistic. Much of the turmoil we witness across the world occurs because people are overwhelmed by disturbing emotions that can be difficult to tackle.

I believe that the rich understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions that we find in ancient Indian traditions remains relevant today. There would be great value in examining and applying this as a basic human discipline, and not from a religious point of view. Just as we teach physical hygiene to stay physically fit, we need to cultivate emotional hygiene, learning to tackle our destructive emotions, so as to better achieve peace of mind.

Wherever I am, I share these ideas with anyone who wishes to listen. If you would like to help, I would be grateful if you could do the same.

Dalai Lama

July 10

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Meeting with Educators Discussing ‘Human Education in the 3rd Millennium’ https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/meeting-with-educators-discussing-human-education-in-the-3rd-millennium Sun, 07 Jul 2019 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/meeting-with-educators-discussing-human-education-in-the-3rd-millennium Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, India - This morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with 15 educators from India, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Finland, USA, Australia, Bangladesh, Britain, and Russia, who are participating in an initial roundtable conference on the theme, ‘Human Education in the 3rd Millennium’.

Project Coordinato Margarita Kozhevnikova introducing the the conference on Human Education in the Third Millennium to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and observers at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 8, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

After His Holiness had entered the room and asked everyone present to relax, Project Coordinator, Margarita Kozhevnikova explained that the present conference was in preparation for a world forum about education. She outlined four areas of interest: education policy, being human, education for democracy and human oriented education. She introduced Scott Webster who was to moderate the morning session. He summarized what had been discussed so far.

He told His Holiness that as far as educators are concerned, things are getting worse. Schools and universities are increasingly focussing on training students in skills for jobs. Human flourishing is not addressed. If values come up, it’s only in relation to work and being a worker as opposed to being a human being. Education is being reduced to what can be measured. Teachers find they are unable to be creative so the opportunity to provide human education is lost. The policies that govern this are written by governments or by businessmen, not by professional educators.

There is a consensus among educators that there is more to being human than being an economic unit as a worker or consumer. Knowledge and skills have a role, but there is a need for values too. Following their discussions, participants in the meeting say there is a need to take action.

With regard to democracy, it seems to represent human freedom with dignity, justice and inclusiveness. It’s a moral way of living that is coming under attack in the face of rising populism and nationalism, which tend to be exclusionary. Teachers are eager to see democracy restored and strengthened.

Moderator Scott Webster summmarizing the previous sessions of the conference on Human Education in the Third Millennium to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and observers at His Holiness's residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 8, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

In terms of pedagogy and how students develop, participants have noted that questioning can help us become better human beings.

Webster asked His Holiness how education policy might be challenged, what it means to be human, whether he thinks democracy represents human flourishing and what it means to be an educator.

“If education is supposed to have produced individuals living a happy life, in happy communities, in a happy world, it seems to have failed,” His Holiness replied. “We all want to live a happy life and yet every day on the television we can see people facing problems. There are unthinkable conflicts in the name of religion.

“Before they enter the education system young children’s basic human nature is fresh. They don’t care about their playmates’ religious, racial or national background. Their basic outlook is compassionate.
“Children survive because of their mother’s kindness and concern, which gives them a lifelong sense of security. Because we are social creatures, individuals survive in dependence on a group. However, once children go to school not much attention is paid to basic human values.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to participants of the conference on Human Education in the Third Millennium at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 8, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“Modern education evolved in the West with the emergence of the industrial revolution and a greater need for people to understand maths and science. Its goals tend to be materialistic, with little concern for peace of mind. Students are not taught how to tackle their anger, fear or anxiety. In the absence of any other solution, they turn to drugs and alcohol for relief. We teach physical hygiene from an early age. There seems to be a need for a corresponding sense of emotional hygiene. You can make a simple beginning by asking children if they prefer to see smiles or frowns.

“Pursuing self-interest is legitimate, but we need to be wisely rather than foolishly self-interested. To be happy we need a positive attitude and the best way of doing this is to show concern for others—to take care of other members of the community. Education should explain how to develop peace of mind and maintain inner strength.

“In India we have the traditions of ‘ahimsa’ and ‘karuna’ and the practices for cultivating a calmly abiding mind and insight, ‘shamatha’ and ‘vipashyana’—mind is important. Not just on a sensory level but on the level of mental consciousness. Anger and fear arise on a mental level. If we had a map of the mind, a map of the emotions, we’d understand the workings of the mind much better and we’d be able to tackle our negative emotions.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to educators participating in the conference on Human Education in the Third Millennium duing their meeting at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 8, 2019.

“What destroys our peace of mind is anger, fear and self-centredness. The quantum physics observation that nothing exists as it appears, which corresponds to what Nagarjuna taught, can help loosen the grip of these negative emotions. I’m 84 now and I’ve thought about the wisdom understanding emptiness, compassion and cultivating infinite love for 70 years. I find this very helpful in securing peace of mind. And although instructions about these things are to be found in religious texts they can be regarded as means to better health and studied objectively in an academic way.

“When the education system is focussed on materialistic goals, as modern education too often is, those brought up under it tend to follow a materialistic way of life. In India I am trying to revive interest in the ancient understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions. I hope that in the long run India will be able to combine this ancient knowledge with modern education. If we can train teachers to promote ‘ahimsa’ and ‘karuna’, we can make a significant contribution to a more peaceful world. They can also learn that it’s possible to cultivate love and compassion through the application of intelligence based on scientific findings and common sense.

“This kind of meeting confirms that modern education is not sufficient. And for that reason I hope discussions will continue into the future.”

Responding to questions, His Holiness pointed out that democracy is rooted in having a sense of concern for others and respecting their views, similar to the concern a teacher has for her students. He confirmed that since human beings need to live together like brothers and sisters, the proper way to settle conflicts is to engage in dialogue and avoid violence and the use of force.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering questions from participants of the conference on Human Education in the Third Millennium at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 8, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Acknowledging how serious global heating and the climate crisis is, His Holiness reported that a Chinese ecologist had suggested to him that after another 80 years the world will be like a desert. He noted that water resources are already diminishing alarmingly. He confirmed that solutions will involve everybody modifying their life-style, abandoning fossil fuels and turning to renewable sources of energy.

“Humanity is one community,” he declared, “and we have to use our intelligence to take care of each other. For democracy to succeed will depend on our motivation and employing our brilliant intelligence with warm-heartedness.”

Bringing the session to a close, Margarita Kozhevnikova mentioned that many educators want to impart human values to their students, but find little room in the curriculum in the system as it is. They are prevailed upon instead to provide measurable results in the form of high test and exam results.

The Ven Samdhong Rinpoché was pleased to share with the gathering that permission has been given for the launch of a six month teacher training course in ancient Indian wisdom in conjunction with Dharamsala College. There will also be 2-3 days training workshops to make them more familiar with secular ethics. It is hoped that 2000 teachers will benefit. Plans are underway to introduce elements of ancient Indian wisdom in schools from KG up to class 8.

Ven Samdhong Rinpoche talking about the upcoming teacher training course in conjunction with Dharamsala College during the meeting with participants to the conference on Human Education in the Third Millennium at His Holiness the Dalai Lama's residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 8, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Margarita Kozhevnikova thanked His Holiness for taking time to speak to the conference participants. Thanking her in turn for organizing the meeting, he told her that he regards Russia as bridge between East and West. He concluded that to build a better more peaceful world, we need to use our intelligence for peaceful goals rather than for producing ever more sophisticated weapons.

His Holiness invited all the participants and observers to join him for lunch.

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Meeting with Community Representatives, Staff and Students of Tong-Len https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/meeting-with-community-representatives-staff-and-students-of-tong-len Sat, 06 Jul 2019 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/meeting-with-community-representatives-staff-and-students-of-tong-len Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, India - There was a brightness in the air after overnight rain this morning as His Holiness the Dalai Lama met Community Representatives, Staff and Students of Tong-Len, a small charity working with displaced Indian communities in the area around Dharamsala. Tong-Len aims to help these homeless communities gain access to basic human rights and to break the cycle of deprivation through education. To this end, the charity has established its own school and provides hostel accommodation for those children in most need.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama arriving for his meeting with community representatives, staff and students of Tong-Len at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 7, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

His Holiness greeted the two dozen visitors as he entered the room. He told them that as far he could remember Tong-Len was the initiative of Ven Jamyang, a Tibetan monk, who was visiting Dharamsala to attend teachings and meditate. He noticed that children from the slums begged and picked over rubbish, but received no education—he decided something should be done.

“We human beings have a special brain,” His Holiness explained, “and we need to be educated if it is to develop properly. However, sometimes education is motivated by selfishness, anger and fear. That just creates trouble. It’s clear that just educating the brain by itself does not necessarily bring peace of mind. Education needs to be combined with warm-heartedness, with a sincere, compassionate motivation. When intelligence and warm-heartedness are combined the individual will happier and more at peace with herself. Wherever she lives, her family will benefit and as a result the wider community will benefit too.

“Yesterday, I was given a large birthday cake and I’d like to share it with you today.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama sharing his birthday cake with community reprensentatives, staff and students of Tong-Len during their meeting at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 7, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“I see that (apart from one Australian supporter) you’re all Indian. I often reflect that among the three great ancient civilizations of Egypt, China and the Indus Valley, it was the Indus Valley culture that developed a thoroughgoing understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions. The practice of non-violence and compassion, ‘ahimsa’ and ‘karuna’, came about as a consequence. Buddha Shakyamuni was a product of this movement and gave rise to significant philosophical developments.

“Nevertheless, I never say that Buddhism is the best spiritual or philosophical tradition, for just as we can’t say that this or that medicine is the best in all cases—it depends on what the patient needs—so among our different spiritual and philosophical traditions, what suits one person’s mental disposition may not suit another’s. It depends on what they find helpful. However, what is true is that the great Buddhist masters like Nagarjuna, Arya Asanga, Dignaga, Dharmakirti, Buddhapalita and Chandrakirti were all Indian—so perhaps there is something special about the Indian brain.

“My friend, the nuclear physicist, Raja Ramana, pointed out that quantum physics is relatively new in the West, but that many of its ideas were anticipated in India 2000 years ago. Key to this are the Two Truths, conventional and ultimate truth and the idea that appearances don’t accord with reality. You young Indians have much to be proud of.”

Founder of Tong-Leng, Ven Jamyang, a small charity working with displaced Indian communities in the area around Dharamsala, listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during their meeting in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 7, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

His Holiness explained that while modern India tends to follow a Westernised, materialistic path, ancient India had a deep understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions, and a clear view of reality derived from logic and reasoning. Following the Buddha’s admonition not to accept what he said at face value, but to investigate it as thoroughly as a goldsmith tests gold, Nagarjuna, Dignaga and Dharmakirti scrutinized his teachings. Their approach was scientific.

His Holiness alluded to discussions he’s held with modern scientists over the last 40 years or so. He mentioned that he has also heard that professors in Chinese universities have been impressed by the contents of books prepared in Dharamsala dealing with science and philosophy in the Buddhist classics. He remarked that education bequeathed to India by the British looked to God, if anywhere, for moral guidance, but lacked any idea of how to achieve peace of mind.

Ancient India was well-versed in the practices for developing a calmly abiding mind and insight into reality, ‘shamatha’ and ‘vipashyana’, but these traditions are, by and large, neglected in modern India. This is why His Holiness is committed to reviving them if he can and encouraging Indians to combine ancient and modern skills on the basis of a secular approach. They can be relevant to everyone—peace of mind is a matter for the whole of humanity.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to community reprensentatives, staff and students of Tong-Len during their meeting at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 7, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“India has great potential to bring about a more peaceful world. Mahatma Gandhi was not a great philosopher, but he showed how practical non-violence, ‘ahimsa’, could be. I’m convinced that a combination of ‘ahimsa’ and the insights of quantum physics can contribute to a more peaceful world. This is a great opportunity, please think about it.

“As you probably know, ‘tong-len’ refers literally to giving and taking—to imagining exchanging whatever positive qualities you may have for the pain and suffering of others. I find it very helpful.

“In 2008, news reached us here of demonstrations taking place in Lhasa. I was apprehensive that the violent retribution unleashed in 1959 would be repeated, but felt helpless. There was nothing I could do. I practised ‘tong-len’. I imagined taking the Chinese officials’ anger and urge for retaliation away from them and giving them patience and compassion in return. The exercise had no practical effect on the ground, but it strengthened my peace of mind.

“Similarly, on another occasion, I fell ill in Bodhgaya and drove to Patna for treatment. On the outskirts of the city I saw a sick, old man, lying friendless and unattended on a simple bed. Again, I was unable to help directly, but later, in pain in my room, I visualized taking on his distress and loneliness and giving him solace, which helped me a lot.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to community reprensentatives, staff and students of Tong-Len during their meeting at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 7, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Tong-Len students greeted His Holiness with “Namaste, Tashi Delek and Happy Birthday”. They chanted an Indian prayer for him in Hindi, followed by a Tibetan prayer translated into English, the final line of which was, “May you stay until the end of existence, May you stay until the end of existence”.

“Since I was born in Tibet, I’m physically Tibetan,” His Holiness responded, “but every particle of my brain is filled with Indian thought, so mentally I’m really Indian. I try to promote non-violence and compassion, which I’m convinced is relevant in today’s world. Maintaining peace of mind means that you’ll be calm and undisturbed. It’s on this basis that I’m committed to reviving the knowledge of ancient India—and you can help me do this.

“I’m now 84 and I might live until I’m 94 or even to 100. But I’m old, while you are young. Introduce these ideas I’ve been talking about to the next generation and the generations after that, so that you who belong to the 21st century pass something on to the 22nd and 23rd centuries. It’s more than 2000 years since the Buddha lived in India but his teachings still survive. We Tibetans have kept the Nalanda tradition alive. It’s through study and practice that the Buddha’s thoughts are preserved.

“If the world were more compassionate, it could also become demilitarized. It depends on individuals developing inner disarmament, which gives rise to compassion, warm-heartedness and external disarmament. This is true ‘ahimsa’. Thank you”.

A representative senior student then read out a citation to His Holiness before presenting him with a framed copy.

A senior student reading out a citation of gratitude before presenting it to His Holiness the Dalai Lama during their meeting at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 7, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“Your Holiness, we are senior student and staff of Tong-len and representatives from the slum communities. We are here to express our gratitude for your philosophy and support and, on the occasion of your birthday, to wish you a long life.

“We were born in the slums. We had no basic resources, no rights, no respect. We had little or no food. Some of us were close to death. Some of our friends passed away due to simple disease, lack of medical care and exposure to the elements. Our friends and families are still living with these difficulties.

“Your philosophy of kindness and compassion inspired a monk to create Tong-len. Supported by you and the Dalai Lama Trust, Tong-len rescued us. We have been given health care, food, shelter, and an education. Because of your support 333 children are transforming their lives.

“We used to beg and pick through rubbish but through the support of you and Tong-len we have reached amazing feats such as completing tertiary degrees. We are grateful to you for your kindness, compassion, inspiration and vision. We are grateful to Tong-len for seeing our needs and giving us hope and a future. We are the example of change.

“Your Holiness, your vision of secular ethics has transformed our way of thinking and inspired us to be good human beings. Study through secular ethics has helped us to learn about our common humanity and how important respect for all is. The Tong-len family is a diverse group and all people within our community are equally respected no matter of religion, caste and gender. This concept has empowered us. We have self-acceptance, emotional maturity, tolerance and the courage to hold our heads up. The children of Tong-len have a positive future and would like to say a heartfelt thank you.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama waving good-bye after his meeting with community reprensentatives, staff and students of Tong-Len at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 7, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“Your vision of a global community is a gift to our generation and we feel a responsibility to spread the concepts and philosophy to the whole community. Under the support of the Dalai Lama Trust we work in the community to develop an ethical society through education and awareness. Through our kindness-projects we hope to make Dharamsala a kind city. We are also working in the slums to help with hygiene, education and shelter. The children of Tong-len are committed to live through your vision to take on universal responsibilities and reduce social issues.

“On the occasion of your birthday, on behalf of the slum communities in Kangra Valley, Tong-len children and staff, we wish to present to you this memento to express our gratitude for your inspiration and your undying commitment to making the world a better and harmonious place. For the support Your Holiness has given us to break the cycle of poverty and giving us hope and a future. We wish Your Holiness a long life to reduce poverty in the world and to create health and happiness for all humanity and that your vision of world harmony and compassion becomes a reality.” 

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Prayers for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Long Life Offered by Retired CTA Staff https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/prayers-for-his-holiness-the-dalai-lamas-long-life-offered-by-retired-cta-staff Thu, 04 Jul 2019 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/prayers-for-his-holiness-the-dalai-lamas-long-life-offered-by-retired-cta-staff Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, India - This morning, the day before his 84th birthday, about 300 retired staff of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and 200 members of their families offered prayers and an elaborate ritual for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s long life.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama affectionately greeting former Kalön Tripa, Tenzin Namgyal Tethong, as he makes his way from his residence to the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 5, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

The path through the middle of the yard to the Tsuglagkhang, the Main Tibetan Temple, had been decorated in bright ceremonial colours which contrasted with the grey sky of impending monsoon. His Holiness was escorted from his residence to the Temple by former Kalön Tripa, Tenzin Namgyal Tethong, Chairman of the Retired CTA Staff Committee, Lobsang Jinpa and the Disciplinarian of Namgyal Monastery, Ven Tenzin Norbu.

As is his wont, His Holiness stopped to greet friends and well-wishers on the way. On several occasions children from the Tibetan Children’s Village School were visibly thrilled that he had spoken to them. Inside the temple, His Holiness greeted the Sikyong with members of the present Kashag, the Chief Justice, and Speaker of the Parliament in Exile. He pressed through the several retired officials around the throne to welcome Garje Khamtrul Rinpoché, who is now confined to a wheel-chair.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting retired CTA officials as he arrives inside the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 5, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Once His Holiness had taken his seat on the throne, Chairman of the CTA Long Life Offering Committee Lobsang Jinpa offered the mandala and the threefold representation of the Buddha's body, speech and mind, and former Secretaries offered scarves as the prayers began. Following the recitation of a Praise by Trulshik Rinpoché, Recounting the Previous Lives of the Dalai Lamas, emanations of Avalokiteshvara, His Holiness intervened.

“Today, former staff of the CTA are offering this long life ceremony. Your faith, devotion and spiritual bond are strong. I thank you for praying that my life may be long. This morning, former Kalön Tripa, Tenzin Namgyal escorted me here. I’ve known him since he was a small boy when his father was a Tibetan official in Mussoorie.

“As refugees in exile we have left behind a lot of old customs, which for me was like breaking free. Some people have observed that before this I lived in a golden cage. Fortunately, due to the kindness of my Tutors I was able to study.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the gathering during the Long Life Offering ceremony at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 5, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“We lost our country and escaped into exile, but we have all worked hard to preserve our religion, our culture and our identity. It’s been 60 years since our country was lost and there’s still no freedom there, but we have longstanding links here in India. In exile, we’ve been able to study classic Buddhist texts by Nalanda masters that are indicative of the unique relations between India and Tibet.

“In the past, there were some who referred to Tibetan tradition as Lamaism, as if it were not a pure Buddhist tradition, but what we have kept alive is the genuine tradition of Nalanda. In losing our country we gained an opportunity to study, practise and share the vast and profound instructions of the Buddha’s teachings. These we can explain in our own language, Tibetan. We have been able preserve and promote our Buddhist traditions, not on the basis of blind faith, but using reason and logic. As a consequence, nowadays people from other Buddhist countries and countries that previously had no interest in Buddhism have taken an interest in what we know.

“Anyway as we say in one of the operas, ‘We old people should get together, have fun and celebrate.’

Retired CTA staff listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during the Long Life Offering ceremony at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 5, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“Tibet is a land that Avalokiteshvara takes care of. We can see this in history and the record of his incarnations in Tibet. He has 1000 eyes and 1000 arms, but since I can talk and relate directly with people, I think of myself as his messenger. Early in our days in exile, when I was still staying at Swarag Ashram, I dreamt that I was in the Jokhang in Lhasa before the statue known as the self-generated, five faced Avalokiteshvara. He beckoned me to him and we hugged. He told me to keep up my spirits and not to give up. Later, during the Cultural Revolution, that statue was destroyed, but some pieces of the faces were rescued and brought to me here. Some of them I placed inside the Thousand Arm Avalokiteshvara we have here; others are kept in a box next to him.

“Those of you who have worked hard for the CTA will be cared for by Avalokiteshvara in life after life. This isn’t a matter of empty faith, it’s based on reason. Consciousness has its own substantial cause. It’s because mind is preceded by mind in a continuity that we speak of life after life. And because you have a unique connection with him through your work, Avalokiteshvara will take care of you. Under these circumstances try to cultivate compassion, loving kindness and the wisdom understanding emptiness.

Abbot of Namgyal Monastery Thamtog Rinpoche leading the long life ritual at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 5, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“At this difficult time in our history, you have done your best, so pray to Avalokiteshvara to help you realize emptiness and the awakening mind of bodhichitta. Remember what Milarepa said about the bond between the patrons in the valley and the practitioners up on the hill working together so all may be enlightened.

“At a time when we see turmoil across the world because people are driven by disturbing emotions like anger and attachment, try to develop love and compassion and dedicate your work to peace in the world. We pray for the well-being of all sentient beings, but in reality those to whom we can actually be of practical benefit are the 7 billion human beings who are our companions on this earth. This is why wherever I go I encourage people to be more warm-hearted. If you are kind-hearted in your day to day life, you’ll definitely find more peace and satisfaction.

“We will all die, but when it happens you can go without regret. You can recall that you followed His Holiness’s advice and did your best—pray for Avalokiteshvara to take care of you in life after life.”

Namgyal Monks dressed in traditional costume taking part in the  Long Life Offering Cereony for His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 5, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Led by their Abbot, Thamtog Rinpoché, the monks of Namgyal Monastery proceeded to conduct a long life ritual based on the practice of Amitayus taken from the Secret Visions of the Fifth Dalai Lama. In the course of this, a long procession of former CTA officials carried a series of offerings through the temple. As the ceremony came to an end former Kalöns and officials of the CTA personally presented scarves to His Holiness, including Khamtrul Rinpoché who was lifted up to the throne.

Members of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, playing a mixture of modern and traditional Tibetan instruments, performed a song of praise and appreciation.

Members of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts performing a song of praise and appreciation at the end of the Long Life Offering ceremony for His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 5, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Before the offering of the thanksgiving mandala, His Holiness spoke again.

“Those of you who have dedicated your body, speech and mind to the cause of Tibet and the preservation of our spiritual heritage have led meaningful lives. On my part, I always make a determination to live long. Trulshik Rinpoché recommended emulating Thangtong Gyalpo, who lived to be 125. That may be hard to do. Other friends among the meditators I know have suggested that I could follow the example of Panchen Lobsang Chögyen and live to 108. I don’t know about that, but I feel I could live into my 90s or to 100. Anyway, I always make prayers on behalf of sentient beings and the flourishing of the Dharma:

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking near the end of the Long Life Offering ceremony at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 5, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

As long as space remains,
And as long as sentient beings remain,
Until then, may I too remain
And help dispel the misery of the world.

“I feel I have been able to be of some service and if I live longer I’ll be able to be of more help.

In regions where the supreme, precious teaching has not spread
Or where it has spread but then declined,
May I illumine that treasure of happiness and benefit
With a mind deeply moved by great compassion.

‘Otherwise to hope for a long life with no meaningful purpose makes no sense. Now you can offer the thanksgiving mandala.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama poses for a photo with former CTA officials at the conclusion of the Long Life Offering ceremony at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on July 5, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Many elderly Tibetans who have served His Holiness in various capacities down the years offered him a scarf, which he returned with an affectionate pat on the head. As he made his way from the temple down to the car waiting in the yard, many more members of the public offered His Holiness their good wishes and he responded with a smile, a few words or a handshake. Finally, he drove home to lunch.

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Clarification and Context of Remarks Made by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in a Recent BBC Interview https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/clarification-and-context-of-remarks-made-by-his-holiness-the-dalai-lama-in-a-recent-bbc-interview Mon, 01 Jul 2019 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/clarification-and-context-of-remarks-made-by-his-holiness-the-dalai-lama-in-a-recent-bbc-interview Remarks made by His Holiness the Dalai Lama during a recent BBC interview have caused disquiet that we felt it was important to address.

Firstly, in responding to a question about whether his own reincarnation could be a woman, and suggesting that if she were she should be attractive, His Holiness genuinely meant no offence. He is deeply sorry that people have been hurt by what he said and offers his sincere apologies.

His Holiness consistently emphasizes the need for people to connect with each other on a deeper human level, rather than getting caught up in preconceptions based on superficial appearances. This is something everyone who has the chance to meet with him recognizes and appreciates. The original context of his referring to the physical appearance of a female successor was a conversation with the then Paris editor of Vogue magazine, who had invited His Holiness in 1992 to guest-edit the next edition. She asked if a future Dalai Lama could be a woman. His Holiness replied, "Certainly, if that would be more helpful," adding, as a joke, that she should be attractive. He was at least partially responding to the unfamiliar ambience of working with a team whose prime focus was the world of high fashion.

His Holiness, a monk now in his mid-eighties, has a keen sense of the contradictions between the materialistic, globalized world he encounters on his travels and the complex, more esoteric ideas about reincarnation that are at the heart of Tibetan Buddhist tradition. However, it sometimes happens that off the cuff remarks, which might be amusing in one cultural context, lose their humour in translation when brought into another. He regrets any offence that may have been given.

For all his long life, His Holiness has opposed the objectification of women, has supported women and their rights and celebrated the growing international consensus in support of gender equality and respect for women. Under his leadership, Tibetan nuns in exile have earned Geshe-ma degrees, indicating a high level of scholarship previously reserved only for male monks. His Holiness has frequently suggested that if we had more women leaders, the world would be a more peaceful place.

In the same BBC interview His Holiness's views about the current refugee and migration crisis may have been misinterpreted. He certainly appreciates that many of those who leave their countries may not wish or be able to return, and that Tibetans, who cherish the idea of returning home, would find their country irrevocably altered. However, His Holiness also understands the uncertainties and difficulties of those in countries where refugees and migrants make their new homes. What His Holiness wrote in an op-ed piece for the Washington Post, June 13, 2016, captures the essence of his views on this important issue:

"It is encouraging that we have seen many ordinary people across the world displaying great compassion toward the plight of refugees, from those who have rescued them from the sea, to those who have taken them in and provided friendship and support. As a refugee myself, I feel a strong empathy for their situation, and when we see their anguish, we should do all we can to help them. I can also understand the fears of people in host countries, who may feel overwhelmed. The combination of circumstances draws attention to the vital importance of collective action toward restoring genuine peace to the lands these refugees are fleeing. Tibetan refugees have firsthand experience of living through such circumstances and, although we have not yet been able to return to our homeland, we are grateful for the humanitarian support we have received through the decades from friends, including the people of the United States."

Again, in Palermo, Sicily, in September 2017, he declared that the way migrants and refugees had been accepted by European countries demonstrated compassion in action. "We should help them now in their desperation," he clarified. "But, eventually they will want to return to their own lands. This is what we Tibetans have always had in mind. First of all we must see peace and development restored in the countries refugees have fled, but in the long run it is natural to want to live in the land where you were born."

His Holiness regularly cautions against allowing the divisive idea of "us" and "them" to flourish. He suggests that a solution to many of the problems we face in the world today is to remind ourselves that as human beings we are all brothers and sisters belonging to one human family, and that together we can take action to address the global challenges that confront us.

2 July 2019

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Celebrating Diversity in the Muslim World https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/celebrating-diversity-in-the-muslim-world Fri, 14 Jun 2019 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/celebrating-diversity-in-the-muslim-world New Delhi, India - Upwards of 350 people filled the auditorium at the India International Centre today to attend a conference focussed on the theme, ‘Celebrating Diversity in the Muslim World’. Inspired and encouraged by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the event was organized by the Muslims of Ladakh.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama arriving at the India International Centre to participate in the conference on "Celebrating Diversity in the Muslim World" in New Delhi, India on June 15, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

On arrival, His Holiness was welcomed by Dr Abdul Qayoom of the Anjuman Moin-ul-Islam and Ashraf Ali Barcha of the Anjuman Imamia Leh. In the auditorium he personally greeted the numerous Muslim clerics present, before taking his seat on the stage.

In his preliminary remarks he mentioned that Ladakhi Muslims came to Lhasa during the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama, who gave them a piece of land on which to construct a mosque. Subsequently, representatives of their community we always invited to Tibetan government functions.

Despite having heard no reports of disputes between Shiite and Sunni Muslims in India, elsewhere members of these different denominations are killing each other. His Holiness expressed dismay that this could happen between people of the same faith, who worship the same God, read the same Holy Scripture and follow the same pattern of praying five times a day.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the conference on "Celebrating Diversity in the Muslim World" at the India International Centre in New Delhi, India on June 15, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“I felt that Indian Muslims should be more active in promoting religious harmony,” he explained. “I thought that a meeting of Indian Muslims here in Delhi could be helpful and I really appreciate your having arranged it. I’m also happy to know that brothers and sisters from Iran are joining us here. We have to make clear to the eyes of the world how important it is to maintain religious harmony.”

Siddiq Wahid welcomed the guests and participants, explaining that the Guest of Honour, former Vice President Hamid Ansari had been unavoidably delayed, but would come later. He alluded to the longstanding interaction between Muslims and Tibet that dates back to the 8th century. He also noted that the Tibetan language is employed in four SAARC countries—India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bhutan. He requested Hafiz Ghulam Mohammad to recite the Tilawaat e Quran Sharief, the gist of which was to say—”Do not become divided; Allah brings you together; you are brothers.”

Siddiq Wahid welcoming guests and participants to the conference on "Celebrating Diversity in the Muslim World" at the India International Centre in New Delhi, India on June 15, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

A. Qayum Giri declared that the intent of the conference was to celebrate diversity in the Muslim world. Although the Muslims of Ladakh are few in number, they were providing this opportunity in anticipation that such meetings will continue and grow in the future. “We want to make the world aware of the harmony we maintain on the ‘roof of the world’ and ask how this can be applied elsewhere in this country and further afield. We intend to learn, to take home what we learn and spread it in the Muslim world.”

Ashraf A. Barcha observed that Ladakh is a remote region and Muslims are in a minority there, but are stable, calm and peaceful. He hoped that speakers would identify steps to avert any future problems that might arise and stimulate constructive dialogue.

Ashraf Ali Barcha of the Anjuman Imamia Leh addressing the conference on "Celebrating Diversity in the Muslim World" at the India International Centre in New Delhi, India on June 15, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

In his address His Holiness noted that of seven billion human beings alive today, one billion have no interest in religion, leaving six billion who follow one of several different religious traditions. He noted that the Indian practice for cultivating a calmly abiding mind, shamatha, gave rise to the traditions of non-violence and compassion (ahimsa and karuna). He suggested that, compared to the ancient civilizations of China and Egypt, that of the Indus Valley had resulted in particularly sophisticated philosophical developments.

“Today, everyone wants to live a happy life. No one wants to suffer. Indeed, happiness is part of the basis of our survival. Scientists have concluded that basic human nature is compassionate. This is linked to individuals’ survival being dependent on the rest of the community. Those who grow up in a more compassionate atmosphere tend to be happier and more successful. On the other hand, scientists suggest that living with constant anger or fear undermines our immune system. Interdependence means that all seven billion human beings belong to one human community.

“In today’s world, despite material development, many problems we face are of our own creation. They are provoked by our tendency to see others in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Children don’t make such distinctions. They don’t care what religion, race or nation their playmates belong to so long as they smile and play happily. We need to remember the oneness of humanity, that in being human we are all the same, and I am committed to letting people know this.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the conference on "Celebrating Diversity in the Muslim World" at the India International Centre in New Delhi, India on June 15, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“All our religious traditions convey a message of love. In Buddhist terms we talk about feeling that all sentient beings are as dear to us as our own mother. Muslims in Tibet were very peaceable. In Turtuk, the northernmost village in India, an Imam told me that a Muslim should love every member of Allah’s creation. Elsewhere another elder told me that someone who causes bloodshed is no longer a proper Muslim.

“We are peaceful here and now, but among our neighbours in Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen children are suffering deeply. Why is that? We have to make an effort to create a more peaceful world, by cultivating inner peace within ourselves. Of course, we follow different traditions, we have different philosophical points of view, but the underlying message is one of love.

“Theistic faiths suggest we are all creatures of a merciful God, like children of a single father. We have to think about what unites us rather than what makes us different. All religions have the same potential to create a happy human being; they convey the same message of love. There are wonderful people belonging to all these traditions.

Members of the audience listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama's address at the conference on "Celebrating Diversity in the Muslim World" at the India International Centre in New Delhi, India on June 15, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“Meanwhile, killing among Muslims and Buddhists in Bangladesh, Burma or Sri Lanka, among Muslims and Christians in Egypt, in the name of religion is unthinkable. If we have peace of mind within ourselves, peace in the world will come about. But religious harmony is essential. If you ask—”Is religious harmony possible?” the answer is—look at India. Look at the example of Zoroastrians or Parsees who barely number 100,000, but who live among millions of Hindus and Muslims in Mumbai completely without fear.

“It seems to me that Shias and Sunnis are brothers and sisters and yet in our neighbour Pakistan they are killing each other. I feel that Indian Muslims should show the rest of the world, especially people in other Muslim countries, that religious harmony is possible, which something else I’m committed to sharing with others.”

His Holiness explained that as a Tibetan in whom Tibetans inside and outside Tibet place their trust, he has a responsibility to consider their well-being. He is also concerned to protect Tibet’s natural environment, the source of so many of Asia’s great rivers. He warned that there is a real danger of a reduction in the amount of water available due to the climate crisis. He added that he tries to educate people about Tibet’s cultural heritage and the advanced centre of learning at Nalanda from which it is derived. Allied to this is his commitment to trying to revive interest in ancient Indian knowledge of the workings of the mind and emotions.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the conference on "Celebrating Diversity in the Muslim World" at the India International Centre in New Delhi, India on June 15, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

After a short break for tea, His Holiness answered questions from the audience. He expressed great sympathy for the Rohingya refugees from Burma along with his conviction that the Buddha would have protected such people. He reported that Aung San Suu Kyi had told him that due to military involvement the situation was difficult to deal with.

When asked to explain how to cultivate inner peace, His Holiness suggested that believing in ‘God, the father’ can help. Otherwise, recognising that things do not exist as they appear, and cultivating altruism, can counter the destructive emotions that disturb us. He added that both ‘ahimsa’ and ‘karuna’ involved training the mind.

His Holiness told a questioner who wanted to know about nirvana that it was complicated. Nirvana, he said, is a state of mind purified through a deep understanding of reality. He clarified that since ignorance is not part of the nature of the mind it can be dispelled from it. However, to achieve that requires study, reflection and meditation.

A member of the audience listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering his question during the conference on "Celebrating Diversity in the Muslim World" at the India International Centre in New Delhi, India on June 15, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

A teacher wanted to know how teach schoolchildren about love and compassion. His Holiness suggested pointing out that genuine friendship is not based on money and power, but on trust, which in turn develops as a result of showing concern for other people’s well-being. In other words, explain to schoolchildren that friendship is founded on warm-heartedness. His Holiness acknowledged that we have a natural sense of self-interest, but made clear that there is a difference between pursuing it wisely and foolishly.

Invited to suggest how to reconcile differences between Shias and Sunnis, or between Iran and Saudi Arabia, His Holiness pointed out that politicians make assertions in the name of religion which tend to provoke an emotional response. He remarked that some people view Iran with suspicion, which he doesn’t, describing it as a democratic country that follows a Shia tradition. On the other hand, he remarked, Bin Laden came from the Sunni side. He declared that we can’t generalize about Shias as a whole, nor about Sunnis as a whole. It’s not possible to generalize about a whole community on the basis of the misbehaviour of a few individuals.

A member of the audience listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering her question during the conference on "Celebrating Diversity in the Muslim World" at the India International Centre in New Delhi, India on June 15, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Finally, His Holiness answered an enquiry about meditation by making clear that there is a difference between mental consciousness and sensory awareness. He pointed out that we have clearer access to mental consciousness when we dream because at that time our sensory consciousnesses are dormant. Training the mind, cultivating compassion and an understanding of reality, all involve mental consciousness. Success in developing a calmly abiding mind and analysis depend on how much effort you exert and how well you understand the workings of the mind and emotions.

There followed contributions from representative Muslim clerics. Maulana Abdul Qadir Noorudin from the Bohra tradition in Mumbai spoke of the diversity that is India, but also of the harmony that prevails here. He mentioned that the Holy Quran encourages the finding of shared values with others, which serve as confidence building measures. The people of India, he suggested, are bound by a shared life-style. Nevertheless, people of ill-intent try to promote division, whereas those of good heart foster friendship. He concluded that all human beings need tolerance and forgiveness.

Maulana Syed Kalbi Jawad Naqavi, a Shia teacher from Lucknow, speaking at the conference on "Celebrating Diversity in the Muslim World" at the India International Centre in New Delhi, India on June 15, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Maulana Syed Kalbi Jawad Naqavi, a Shia teacher from Lucknow, confessed that using English he learned 40 years ago left him short of words. Of the three points he made, the first was that most of us are not real Muslims; we are not actual but artificial Muslims, because real Muslims are expected to help others, to work to serve all human beings. A Muslim is one who helps other human beings, whatever faith they follow.

His second point was to ask the meaning of victory in Islam. We tend to think that victory involves conquering or overcoming others, but victory is to establish peace among human beings. Thirdly, the Maulana asked, what is ‘jihad’? He explained that when darkness is dispelled by lighting a candle—that is ‘jihad’. When you work to eliminate illiteracy—that is ‘jihad’. When a mother feeds her child to allay its hunger—that is ‘jihad’. Shedding blood is not ‘jihad’.

He ended by remarking that it is a sorry state of affairs when it takes a non-Muslim like His Holiness to remind Muslims about the value of non-violence and reconciliation.

Maulana Mahmud Madani addressing the conference on "Celebrating Diversity in the Muslim World" at the India International Centre in New Delhi, India on June 15, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Maulana Mahmud Madani, from Deoband, spoke of visiting Ladakh and Turtuk. There he met Shias and Sunnis and came across some who prayed together. He noted that communal harmony exists when Muslims work not only for Muslims but for everyone. He agreed with His Holiness’s observation that very often it is not religious issues that underlie conflict but political considerations. Too often religion is used as a weapon for short term political gain. He recalled that it was ‘fakirs’ who captured the hearts and minds of people and who could be called their rulers more than kings or emperors.

Dr Mohammed Husain Mokhtari (Chancellor of University of Islamic Denomination or Madhaheb University, Tehran, Iran) told the audience that it is a religious duty to respect each other. He commended accepting diversity among followers of religions, but also that in following religion they are united. He said we have to recognise diversity as a fact and that to do so is beneficial for everyone.

Dr Mohammed Husain Mokhtari, Chancellor of University of Islamic Denomination or Madhaheb University in Tehran, Iran speaking at the conference on "Celebrating Diversity in the Muslim World" at the India International Centre in New Delhi, India on June 15, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Mutual respect is important. Acceptance and recognition of each other is the preliminary to dialogue and if the goal is unity, there has to be dialogue. He encouraged the recognition of similarities as well as the acceptance of differences. Ignorance and negligence are significant obstacles to the spirit of diversity. We cannot achieve unity if we view some groups of people with fear. Nor is it helpful to criticize others as non-believers.

Former Vice President of India, Hamid Ansari spoke of diversity as such a desirable and simple concept. He asked what we find in nature—no flowers, trees or human beings are exactly the same; there is diversity. He commended the efforts made to convene this conference, but wondered if it would have been necessary if we properly understood diversity.

Former Vice President of India, Hamid Ansar speaking on the concept of diversity at the conference on "Celebrating Diversity in the Muslim World" at the India International Centre in New Delhi, India on June 15, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Muslims are a global community, Mr Ansari said. They number 1.6 billion. Of those, 66% live in Asia; 15% live in West Asia or the Middle East; 20% live in Africa. India, with 190 million Muslims, has the second largest Muslim population after Indonesia. Muslims, he suggested are united in their belief and religious language, but diverse in their manners and customs. The unity of their faith is demonstrated during the annual pilgrimage of the Haj. Wherever they’re from the ritual is the same. There is unity in diversity and diversity in unity.

“Islam has been present in India for a long time and has shown not only diversity but also adaptability. It can be a model for others around the world to emulate. Living together in diversity as we see in India is as unique as it is rare; let’s take it further.”

Members of the audience listening to the speakers during the conference on "Celebrating Diversity in the Muslim World" at the India International Centre in New Delhi, India on June 15, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

In bringing the morning session to a close, Siddiq Wahid recalled something he learned from His Holiness long ago when he was about 13 years old—to practise one religion explicitly is practise them all implicitly. He thanked His Holiness for coming and expressed the hope that what was learned today may be impressed on Ladakh, J&K, India and South Asia. He went on to thank everyone who had contributed to making the conference a success.

The delegation from Iran presented gifts to His Holiness and to Mr Ansari. His Holiness ate lunch with the Muslim clerics, while the public ate on the patio.

In the afternoon, the conference was to hear from other members of the Iranian delegation, as well as from Prof Ali Khan speaking about Dialogue within the Muslim World; from Ms Farah Naqvi about Gender in the Muslim World and from Ms Seems Mustafa about Muslims and the Media.

His Holiness returned to his hotel and will return to Dharamsala tomorrow.

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Meeting Members of a Group from Iran https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/meeting-members-of-the-iranian-impacters-club Thu, 06 Jun 2019 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/meeting-members-of-the-iranian-impacters-club Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - At his residence this morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama met 58 members of Iranian  CEOs of small and medium sized enterprises who describe themselves as messengers of peace. As His Holiness entered the room they greeted him with friendly applause.

“I’m very happy to meet people from Iran,” he told them. “Some people are suspicious of Iranians, but I recall that there are reports of links between Tibet and Persia during the time of King Songtsen Gampo during the 7th century. And whereas Persians were described as rich, the Mongolians were referred to as war-like.

“I have certain commitments. As just one among 7 billion human beings, who all want to live a happy life, I’m committed to helping people understand that this can be achieved if they cultivate a calm, happy mind based on love and compassion. Simply put, if you can be compassionate and warm-hearted, you’ll be happy.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing members of a group from Iran during their meeting at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 7, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“Secondly, as a Buddhist monk I feel a moral responsibility to promote inter-religious harmony. On a philosophical level there are all sorts of differences between religious traditions, but the common message of them all is the importance of cultivating love. I’m convinced that religious harmony is possible—look at India where so many religious traditions have lived side by side for thousands of years. Because I value religious harmony I’m happy to meet members of other faiths, so it’s a real honour for me to meet you Shia brothers and sisters today.

“These days to see people fighting and killing each other in the name of religion, whether in Egypt, Burma or Afghanistan, is really unthinkable. Next week in Delhi I’ll be attending a meeting to celebrate diversity among Indian Muslims. I’ve heard no reports of friction between Sunnis and Shias in India, so I’ve encouraged my friends in Ladakh to take more active steps to reconcile differences between their brothers and sisters of different denominations.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing members of a group from Iran during their meeting at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 7, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“When I meet people of different spiritual traditions, I remember that at a fundamental level we’re all the same as human beings. In the part of Tibet where I was born, we had Muslim neighbours and as children we played together joyfully with no differences between us. Once I reached Lhasa, our capital city, with the name Dalai Lama, I found there was a small Muslim community there too. They’d been there since the time of the 5th Dalai Lama who gave them land on which to build a mosque. There were almost no reports of disputes between local Buddhists and these Muslims, who were peaceable, cooked delicious food and spoke with an impeccable Central Tibetan dialect.

“I’m looking forward to the coming meeting and hope that representatives of the embassies of various Muslim countries will also attend. I believe it will be an opportunity to promote religious harmony.”

A member of the audience asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his meeting with members of a group from Iran  at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 7, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Among the questions put to him, His Holiness was asked if Buddhists don’t believe in God, how do they account for creation? He replied that like Jains, Buddhists believe in life after life with no beginning. Whether you have a happy or difficult life depends on how you’ve conducted yourself before. Being kind and compassionate to others and avoiding doing them harm are good causes for a happy life in the future. The important thing is to make life meaningful—His Holiness mentioned that he appreciates how thinking of your fellow beings as children of a merciful God can help you do that.

Asked his response to the harassment of Muslims in Burma His Holiness explained that when he first heard about it he was in Washington DC. He expressed his sadness at what was happening and appealed to the Burmese Buddhists not only to remember the Buddha, but also to reflect that if he was there, he would have protected these Muslims. His Holiness explained that he had also expressed his dismay to Aung San Suu Kyi, who replied that the situation was very difficult and there wasn’t much she could do. As a mark of his sympathy and concern for the well-being of these displaced people, he directed the Gaden Phodrang Foundation of the Dalai Lama to make a donation towards their relief and rehabilitation through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The Iranians showed their appreciation with another burst of applause.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama signing one of his books to present to members of a group from Iran  at the conclusion of their meeting at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 7, 2019. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Before the occasion came to an end, the visitors gathered around His Holiness in smaller groups to have their photographs taken together—clearly very happy to have met him.

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