Lecture by the Dalai Lama at the Sathya Sai International Centre in Delhi
News from Sri Sathya Sai International Center
3rd January 2004
The Sri Sathya Sai International Centre in Delhi began the New Year with a lecture on 3rd January, by the Dalai Lama. Lt. Gen.Dr.M.L.Chibber, Director of the Centre welcomed the Guest of Honour and Dr. Karan Singh, eminent philosopher-statesman, who presided over the function. The auditorium was packed to capacity, even though it was one of the coldest days of this winter. His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke for 45 minutes, after which Dr. Karan Singh, delivered his presidential remarks.
The Dalai Lama opened with the remark that the key to peace lies in non-violence and tolerance, which is a 7000-year-old tradition in India.
We can have peace only if we are able to bring about an attitude of respect for religions, faiths and belief systems other than our own. There is an interesting fact to be noted about the great world religions. At the level of philosophy there might be apparent differences among them; but at the level of practice there is no difference.
When we study the ethics or the practice advocated by the various faiths, there is not much difference. They all believe in certain core human values like Truth, Non-violence, Compassion, Love and Peace. One of the important values is Truth. Truth lies in perceiving Reality as it is. Reality can be experienced in its fullness, only if one harbours positive emotions and not negative emotions.
It would not be correct to say that we should have no emotions. A person without emotions is a person without feeling. He is apt to be dry, distant, cold, friendless, negative and vicious. The important thing is not to harbour negative emotions.
Negative emotions are emotions that are immature, narrow and cloudy. For example, attachment and hatred are two such negative emotions. When a person sees the world through the prism of attachment, he would conclude that whatever he does is 100% right. And when he sees someone else through the prism of hate, he would conclude that whatever the other person does is 100% wrong. Nothing in Nature is 100% right or wrong. Such a perception is merely a mental projection, that distorts our appreciation of Reality, creating more problems.
Positive emotions are mature emotions because here emotion is combined with intelligence. The application of intelligence leads to analysis and investigation. Analysis leads to conviction. The disciplining of emotion leads to a holistic vision of Reality. Everything is interconnected. If one fails to see the interconnectedness and interdependence, then it is a distorted vision. Examples of positive emotions are faith and Compassion, which can be imbibed only through a training of emotions.
Knowledge leads to conviction. Conviction leads to determination. Determination leads to familiarization. Familiarization leads to change of emotion. The main attempt must be have a clear vision so that we can see Reality as it truly is. Only then can we solve the problems of life.
Cultivation of positive and noble emotions leads one towards Compassion, Contentment, Forgiveness and Self-discipline, in turn producing a calmness of Mind. When there are no ripples in the Mind, it remains clear in its vision of Reality. It sees a problem as it really is and is able to solve it easily. Problems would then be unable to disturb Peace of Mind. But if the Mind is weak, if it is assailed by fear and doubt or too much of unbridled emotion, it would find it difficult to face the arduous problems of life.
Life is bound to be full of problems. Even if there are no other problems, one’s own body suffers from the problems of illness, decay and death. If problems are an integral part of our existence, we have to be fully prepared to face these with calmness, placidity and fortitude.
In this process of nurturing your inner self, it helps if you continue to remain in the spiritual and religious tradition in which you have been born. I am happy to see that Sathya Sai Baba has said that his mission is not to convert people to other traditions. He would like a Buddhist to be a better Buddhist, a Muslim to be a better Muslim and a Hindu to be a better Hindu.
One should be serious and sincere towards one’s own faith. This generates a calm atmosphere both in the individual and the society. Our inner experiences reach a deeper dimension.
Quite often, I get the feeling that I am reciting verses that were taught to me by my mother and teacher in my childhood. On certain days, it seems to me that I am reciting the verses by rote and not with my full heart and soul in it. The recitation then becomes something of a burden. But later I realize that such daily practice, although it appears to be monotonous and repetitive, it silently and effortlessly builds my inner resources and strength and help me to become a true follower of the Buddha.
In this audience there is a plurality of faiths. This reality has to be accepted. India has always believed in ahimsa in terms of acceptance of other faiths. Gandhiji is a great example of inter-religious harmony. He was a staunch Hindu, but he had a deep respect for other faiths.
Buddha was also a true Indian in this sense. He studied the faiths prevalent in India in his time and practised a number of Hindu paths. After his enlightenment, he taught the four noble truths. Buddha’s philosophy of interdependence is his unique contribution to world philosophy. The concept of interdependence is equally true in the fields of economy, politics, defence and so on. This gives a wider, holistic picture of any problem and brings us closer to reality.
Buddha believed in the human value of truth. He exhorted his followers to follow the truth. When he enunciated the four noble truths, he also analyzed the cause of suffering. His conclusion was that all suffering was due to ignorance. He accepted the practice of Samadhi. He also innovated the vipassana system, which can be a very effective method for reducing attachment. He had great respect for the other traditions.
This ideal of religious tolerance is still alive in India at the village level. There the followers of different faiths have lived together in peace and harmony for the last several centuries. Multi- culturalism and religious tolerance is practised in their daily lives.
It is only in recent times that some politicians have created problems due to their low level of awareness. They have too much attachment, which leads to a narrowness of vision and a kind of shortsightedness. It is important that these few people are not allowed to destroy the rich 7000-year-old tradition of tolerance and harmony. We can all live together and work together at individual and community levels.
In his presidential address, Dr. Karan Singh described the Dalai Lama as a unique combination of a natural sense of humour, compassion, wisdom, and an infectious childlike laugh. He demonstrated by his living example that Spirituality did not necessarily mean a prissy, acidic outlook on life. On the other hand, Spiritually-advanced souls were full of Ananda, which often bubbled over into their conversation.
The Dalai Lama was also the epitome of Compassion. Compassion was the essence of Buddhism. He had deep insight into the nature of the world and man. He had nurtured Tibetan Diaspora all over the world and helped them to organize themselves into dynamic communities.
But apart from being the apostle of Tibetan Buddhism, he had taken the Message of Love, Compassion and Peace to the people of the world. He could be described as a great Warrior of Peace. His services to the world community had been recognized through the award of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Today the world was divided and split apart by fanaticism, hatred and war. Against these demonic forces, we were sorely in need of a countervailing coalition for Peace, led by personalities like Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and the Dalai Lama.
In order to strengthen the forces of Peace, it was necessary to first accept the fundamental fact that no religion could claim a monopoly on Truth. Nor could we wage wars, crusades and religious conflicts in the twenty-first century, in order to compel others to adopt our point of view. Today, war meant a nuclear conflict, which could easily result in the disappearance of humanity from the face of the globe. We find ourselves in an imperfect world and we have perforce to learn the art of living together in peace and harmony.
India had always nurtured religious harmony through the ages. Our seers had declared long ago that Truth was One and the sages simply called it by different names. We needed to remember these insights that had served this country through the millennia of its existence.
Describing the discourse of the Dalai Lama as illuminating, Dr. Karan Singh expressed his happiness at the large presence of young people in the audience. With so much of misinformation around, it was refreshing to drink from a healing spring of knowledge, insight and wisdom.
Dalai Lama giving a discourse on Human Values at a function organised by Sathya Sai International Centre for Study and Research in Human Values in the Capital on Saturday.
— Photo by Kamal Singh
The Dalai Lama’s Biography:
His Holiness the 14th the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, is the head of state and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He was born Lhamo Dhondrub on 6 July 1935, in a small village called Taktser in northeastern Tibet. Born to a peasant family, His Holiness was recognized at the age of two, in accordance with Tibetan tradition, as the reincarnation of his predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama, and thus an incarnation Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of Compassion.
The Dalai Lamas are the manifestations of the Bodhisattva (Buddha) of Compassion, who chose to reincarnate to serve the people. Lhamo Dhondrub was, as Dalai Lama, renamed Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso – Holy Lord, Gentle Glory, Compassionate, Defender of the Faith, Ocean of Wisdom. Tibetans normally refer to His Holiness as Yeshe Norbu, the Wishfulfilling Gem or simply Kundun – The Presence.
The enthronement ceremony took place on February 22, 1940 in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.
Education In Tibet:
He began his education at the age of six and completed the Geshe Lharampa Degree (Doctorate of Buddhist Philosophy) when he was 25 in 1959. At 24, he took the preliminary examinations at each of the three monastic universities: Drepung, Sera and Ganden. The final examination was conducted in the Jokhang, Lhasa during the annual Monlam Festival of Prayer, held in the first month of every year Tibetan calendar.
On November 17, 1950, His Holiness was called upon to assume full political power (head of the State and Government) after some 80,000 Peoples Liberation Army soldiers invaded Tibet. In 1954, he went to Beijing to talk peace with Mao Tse-tung and other Chinese leaders, including Chou En-lai and Deng Xiaoping. In 1956, while visiting India to attend the 2500th Buddha Jayanti Anniversary, he had a series of meetings with Prime Minister Nehru and Premier Chou about deteriorating conditions in Tibet.
His efforts to bring about a peaceful solution to Sino-Tibetan conflict were thwarted by Bejing’s ruthless policy in Eastern Tibet, which ignited a popular uprising and resistance. This resistance movement spread to other parts of the country. On 10 March 1959 the capital of Tibet, Lhasa, exploded with the largest demonstration in Tibetan history, calling on China to leave Tibet and reaffirming Tibet’s independence. The Tibetan National Uprising was brutally crushed by the Chinese army. His Holiness escaped to India where he was given political asylum. Some 80,000 Tibetan refugees followed His Holiness into exile. Today, there are more than 120,000 Tibetan in exile. Since 1960, he has resided in Dharamsala, India, known as “Little Lhasa,” the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-exile.
In the early years of exile, His Holiness appealed to the United Nations on the question of Tibet, resulting in three resolutions adopted by the General Assembly in 1959, 1961, and 1965, calling on China to respect the human rights of Tibetans and their desire for self-determination. With the newly constituted Tibetan Government-in-exile, His Holiness saw that his immediate and urgent task was to save the both the Tibetan exiles and their culture alike. Tibetan refugees were rehabilitated in agricultural settlements. Economic development was promoted and the creation of a Tibetan educational system was established to raise refugee children with full knowledge of their language, history, religion and culture. The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts was established in 1959, while the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies became a university for Tibetans in India. Over 200 monasteries have been re-established to preserve the vast corpus of Tibetan Buddhist teachings, the essence of the Tibetan way of life.
In 1963, His Holiness promulgated a democratic constitution, based on Buddhist principles and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a model for a future free Tibet. Today, members of the Tibetan parliament are elected directly by the people. The members of the Tibetan Cabinet are elected by the parliament, making the Cabinet answerable to the Parliament. His Holiness has continuously emphasized the need to further democratise the Tibetan administration and has publicly declared that once Tibet regains her independence he will not hold political office.
In Washington, D.C., at the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in 1987, he proposed a Five-Point Peace Plan as a first step toward resolving the future status of Tibet. This plan calls for the designation of Tibet as a zone of peace, an end to the massive transfer of ethnic Chinese into Tibet, restoration of fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms, and the abandonment of China’s use of Tibet for nuclear weapons production and the dumping of nuclear waste, as well as urging “earnest negotiations” on the future of Tibet.
In Strasbourg, France, on 15 June 1988, he elaborated the Five-Point Peace Plan and proposed the creation of a self-governing democratic Tibet, “in association with the People’s Republic of China.”
On 2 September 1991, the Tibetan Government-in-exile declared the Strasbourg Proposal invalid because of the closed and negative attitude of the present Chinese leadership towards the ideas expressed in the proposal.
On 9 October 1991, during an address at Yale University in the United States, His Holiness said that he wanted to visit Tibet to personally assess the political situation. He said, “I am extremely anxious that, in this explosive situation, violence may break out. I want to do what I can to prevent this…. My visit would be a new opportunity to promote understanding and create a basis for a negotiated solution.”
Contact with West and East:
Since 1967, His Holiness initiated a series of journeys which have taken him to some 46 nations. In autumn of 1991, he visited the Baltic States at the invitation of Lithuanian President Vytautas Landsbergis of Lithuania and became the first foreign leader to address the Lithuanian Parliament. His Holiness met with the late Pope Paul VI at the Vatican in 1973. At a press conference in Rome in 1980, he outlined his hopes for the meeting with John Paul II: “We live in a period of great crisis, a period of troubling world developments. It is not possible to find peace in the soul without security and harmony between peoples. For this reason, I look forward with faith and hope to my meeting with the Holy Father; to an exchange of ideas and feelings, and to his suggestions, so as to open the door to a progressive pacification between peoples.” His Holiness met Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 1980, 1982, 1986, 1988 and 1990. In 1981, His Holiness talked with Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Robert Runcie, and with other leaders of the Anglican Church in London. He also met with leaders of the Roman Catholic and Jewish communities and spoke at an interfaith service held in his honor by the World Congress of Faiths: “I always believe that it is much better to have a variety of religions, a variety of philosophies, rather than one single religion or philosophy. This is necessary because of the different mental dispositions of each human being. Each religion has certain unique ideas or techniques, and learning about them can only enrich one’s own faith.”
Recognition And Awards:
Since his first visit to the west in the early 1973, a number of western universities and institutions have conferred Peace Awards and honorary Doctorate Degrees in recognition of His Holiness’ distinguished writings in Buddhist philosophy and for his leadership in the solution of international conflicts, human rights issues and global environmental problems. In presenting the Raoul Wallenberg Congressional Human Rights Award in 1989, U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos said, “His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s courageous struggle has distinguished him as a leading proponent of human rights and world peace. His ongoing efforts to end the suffering of the Tibetan people through peaceful negotiations and reconciliation have required enormous courage and sacrifice.”
The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize:
The Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision to award the 1989 Peace Prize to His Holiness the Dalai Lama won worldwide praise and applause, with exception of China. The CommitteeÕs citation read, “The Committee wants to emphasize the fact that the Dalai Lama in his struggle for the liberation of Tibet consistently has opposed the use of violence. He has instead advocated peaceful solutions based upon tolerance and mutual respect in order to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of his people.”
On 10 December 1989, His Holiness accepted the prize on the behalf of oppressed everywhere and all those who struggle for freedom and work for world peace and the people of Tibet. In his remarks he said, “The prize reaffirms our conviction that with truth, courage and determination as our weapons, Tibet will be liberated. Our struggle must remain nonviolent and free of hatred.”
He also had a message of encouragement for the student-led democracy movement in China. “In China the popular movement for democracy was crushed by brutal force in June this year. But I do not believe the demonstrations were in vain, because the spirit of freedom was rekindled among the Chinese people and China cannot escape the impact of this spirit of freedom sweeping in many parts of the world. The brave students and their supporters showed the Chinese leadership and the world the human face of that great nations.”
A Simple Buddhist Monk:
His Holiness often says, “I am just a simple Buddhist monk – no more, nor less.”
His Holiness follows the life of Buddhist monk. Living in a small cottage in Dharamsala, he rises at 4 A.M. to meditate, pursues an ongoing schedule of administrative meetings, private audiences and religious teachings and ceremonies. He concludes each day with further prayer before retiring. In explaining his greatest sources of inspiration, he often cites a favorite verse, found in the writings of the renowned eighth century Buddhist saint Shantideva:
For as long as space endures
And for as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I too abide
To dispel the misery of the world.
For as long as space endures
And for as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I too abide
To dispel the misery of the world.
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