Apr 23, 2012

Tibet: Dalai Lama Speaks About Peace In Troubled Times

During the Dalai Lama’s visit to the United States’ West Coast, his Holiness spoke on the issue of peace in troubled times and bestowed the Yamantaka initiations. 

Below is an article published by the Official Website of the Dalai Lama:

On his last full day in Long Beach [California] during this visit, His Holiness bestowed the Yamantaka Initiations, addressed a group of Chinese & others, and spoke to more than 10,000 people on Peace in Troubled Times.

His Holiness left his hotel early in the morning to the Long Beach Arena to finish the preparatory ritual for the Yamantaka Initiations.

Before bestowing the actual empowerment, His Holiness emphasized on the importance of being serious on matters related to Highest Yoga Tantra class.  He said if you commit to a practice you have to be serious, he said. Referring to the way some Tibetan Buddhists’ attitude towards such initiations, His Holiness said there were signs of degeneration. He gave the case of conventional practice of merely having to do the Guru Yoga regarding another empowerment, Sangwa Dhuepa (Guhyasamaja) and said he insisted that the initiates should also commit to doing the Sadhanas, the daily practices related to it. Here His Holiness cited the experience of the late Trulshik Rinpoche, an eminent master who belongs to the Mindroling tradition of Nyingma, but who pursues a non-denominational practice.  Trulshik Rinpoche had received the Sangwa Dhuepa (Guhyasamaja) empowerment from him and subsequently wanted to do the practice upon his return (to Nepal). Since Rinpoche did not have the relevant textual document, he sent his assistant to a Geluk monastery in Kathmandu to get one. Apparently, the attendant was informed that they did not know anything about Sangwa Dhuepa and when questioned whether this was not a major meditational practice in the Geluk tradition, the response was that we only know of Guru Puja and Dorjee Neljorma (Vajra Yogini).  His Holiness said this is an indication of the degeneration of the tradition saying that from among the 18 volumes of writings by Tsongkhapa, five volumes were devoted to the subject of Sangwa Dhuepa. He said this clearly showed the interest that Tsongkhapa had in it.  His Holiness added that his insistence on the commitment to do the practice by initiates receiving the Sangwa Dhuepa empowerment from him was a sort of innovation. Similarly, he said people who are serious about Yamantaka should do the daily practices.

His Holiness also stressed on the need to have a proper understanding of the context and the significance of the portrayal of deities related to the empowerments. Given that the deities are portrayed in a form of embrace and erotic people may get confused since this does not compliment with the basic Buddhist teaching about morality of sexual conduct. His Holiness said that he had the occasion to tell some of the monasteries in India that had mural depicting such deities that these should not be on public display like this as they are seen not just by practitioners but also by the many tourists who may not comprehend the background.

As His Holiness took the time to give a very detailed commentary relating to the Yamantaka Initiations, his morning session extended way beyond its scheduled time.

In the afternoon, following a short lunch break, His Holiness went to address group of Chinese, including those who have come from the People’s Republic of China, Uyghurs, Mongols, Tibetans and others, numbering over one hundred. Many of them had come to participate in the Seventh Interethnic/Interfaith Leadership Conference convened by Initiatives for China.

Dr. Yang Jianli of Initiatives for China welcomed His Holiness and invited him to share his thoughts.

His Holiness began by saying that everyone had gathered here having mentally at ease, without an atmosphere of fear. However, if we think of our homeland, it is undergoing great problem. Following the Tiananmen incident, His Holiness said many Chinese came out of China.  Since we Tibetans were senior in terms of being refugees, His Holiness said he had advised these Chinese that their struggle would not be an easy one and that they should be able to confront the challenges.

His Holiness applauded the fact that these people were struggling for justice and said that truth cannot be erased.  He stressed the importance of continuing the just struggle.  He then suggested that they have a discussion.

One individual wanted to know what made the Tibetans continue with their Middle Way Approach.  His Holiness said that in 1974, when China was in the midst of the Cultural Revolution and the Tibetan refugees had more or less settled in the settlements, there was the discussion to find a mutually beneficial solution to the Tibetan issue. Then in 1979 direct contact was established with the Chinese leadership. Deng Xiaoping had sent a message saying that other than the independence of Tibet all other issues can be discussed and resolved. That message complemented the thinking of the Tibetan leadership then, he said.

Subsequently, when challenges arose in the dialogue process, a campaign was launched to ascertain the desire of the Tibetans in exile. Although the Tibetans in Tibet could not openly participate in the process, efforts were made to seek their views, too. Most of the people felt that the Middle Way Approach was mutually beneficial.

Since Ms. Rebiya Kadeer was present in the room, His Holiness said that the Uyghurs of Xinjiang are known for their struggle for independence. However, he said following their meetings, Ms. Kadeer also understood the significance of the Middle Way approach and supported it.  He said that the Chinese United Front authorities accuse His Holiness with conspiring with people like Ms. Kadeer, but in reality he said that their contact had the Uyghur adopt such a position.

He said for the past 11 years, since 2011 his position was that of semi-retirement following the election of Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche. After Rinpoche finished his two terms and a new leadership was elected in 2011, the new leader had also committed himself to supporting the Middle Way Approach as he saw it as a sound policy.

He said that since this approach was seen as a rational one it has received majority support and has been continuing.

Another person asked about the issue of “great Tibet” and how this fit into the Tibetan struggle. His Holiness responded that what the Tibetans were striving for was the same rights under the Chinese Constitution for all Tibetans. He said the decline of Tibetan language, tradition and environment affected all Tibetans wherever they were living. Since Tibet was economically backward, it was in the Tibetans’ own interest to remain within the People’s Republic of China.  What the Tibetans needed was protection for the distinct Tibetan language, environment, etc., and genuine autonomy.

He said that although the Tibetans have been adopting the same approach in line with the message of Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese United Front only called names such as separatists, counter-revolutionaries and recently even a Nazi.

His Holiness said that he was a little perturbed that the Chinese people were not getting to hear the truth. If there was freedom and democracy the people would be able to understand the truth, he said.  He added that with freedom and democracy in China, the Tibetan issue could be resolved easily, even within a week. Not only the Tibetan problem, but also the problems of the Uyghur people can be resolved with justice. To date, even though the Chinese claim to want stability and unity, the approach being used was one of force.  This can only exacerbate the problem.  He said in 2008 there were protests in Tibet, in 2009 the Uyghur people protested and in 2010, the Mongols protested. Even in China protests are being undertaken by the Chinese people themselves, he said, referring to the development in Guangdong.

His Holiness said when news came about the Charter ’08, he was in Warsaw in Poland and immediately announced his support to it.  He said change would definitely take place in China.  He referred to Premier Wen Jiabao’s repeated call for political reform, including following the session of the National People’s Congress this year, and the subsequent development concerning Bo Xilai. He felt there would be a big change in China. However, the important thing, he said, was that the change should be a gradual one. He said eventually the Chinese Communist Party, too, should retire similar to his own retirement.

Another person asked whether he would be able to visit Tibet as a spiritual and temporal leader. His Holiness responded that under the present situation where he was being considered a demon it was obvious that if he were to go eventually he would be in prison. He said he was concerned that the Chinese people do not have access to information.  He said first there was the need to be transparent about the truth. He repeated his assertion that the 1.3 billion Chinese people have every right to know the reality and that they also have the ability to judge what is right what is wrong. He also said it was important that the legal standard in China reach that of international standard.

Personally, he said, that he had devolved his political authority to the directly elected leader and his responsibility was on spiritual matters. He talked about his commitment to promote inter-religious harmony and human values and felt that he could make a contribution on these even to the People’s Republic of China.

However, if the Chinese authorities continue to hold on to falsehood, he said the issue will become worse and added that between 1951 and 1959 he learnt the art of hypocrisy when co-existing with the Chinese. It was only in April 1959 after he came over to India that he was liberated from having to be hypocritical, he said.  He said he had no desire to be hypocritical again.

When asked about a message to political prisoners, His Holiness said that political prisoners have not committed any crime but merely supported the truth. He said there could be temporary problems and setbacks but that a struggle for justice would have a positive outcome.

His Holiness advised that people should have determination, similar to the spirit that above adopted when he was in the caves in Yan'an. He said these days the flower of freedom and democracy was blooming throughout the world.

Talking about Liu Xiaobo, His Holiness said that he was now a Nobel laureate and if we look at another Nobel laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, she did have to spend much time under house arrest. Eventually change took place in her case. There was much international attention to Liu Xiaobo’s case and that there would be a change, he said.

Thereafter, he went back to Long Beach Arena to give a public talk entitled Peace of Mind in Troubled Times.

Prof. Tenzin Dorjee, on behalf of the Gaden Shartse Thubten Dhargye Ling, welcomed everyone and introduced Mr. Richard Gere who introduced His Holiness. Mr. Gere said His Holiness was recognized all over for his humanitarian effort and that he was one of the greatest on this planet.

His Holiness began by laying out who he was who he was not.  He said some of the more than ten thousand people gathered here might have come out of curiosity, which was okay. Some others might have come feeling that the Dalai Lama had some sort of healing power.  He said that was nonsense. He said he was skeptical of those who called themselves as healers and recalled a speech he made at the Royal Albert Hall many years back during which he had joked that if anyone had healing power, he would like to consult that person for a itching problem he had on his neck.

His Holiness said there are some who called him God King and some others who call him a demon. These were nonsense, too, he added.

His Holiness said he was simply another human being, same as the rest of humanity. He said like any human being he too experienced anger, jealousy and attachment.

He said everyone had the potential for compassion.  He talked about the significant impact of affection received by a child from the mother. Giving the example of his experience with his own mother (who gave birth to 15 or 16 children), he said the impact remain throughout the life. He talked of the kindness of his mother who would give anything in the kitchen to a poor person and how she never showed an angry face.

He said thus the seed for caring and kindness came from our mother.  He added that he was quite sure those who received maximum care at childhood had a positive attitude while growing up. On the other hand, those people who may be educated successful or wealth, but experienced a lack of compassion during their childhood have some kind of sense of insecurity. He said on account of this, they find it difficult to be open hearted, and always remain distant, which often creates distrust. He said such people may have beautiful house, best facility, plenty of money, etc., but deep inside something is lacking.

He said that his mother’s care when he was young has helped. His Holiness said that people are at a young age the human values are quite fresh in them. As one grew older and in an atmosphere where there was too much contradiction distrust could begin. Then these basic human values remain dormant with negative emotions, sense of competition, desire to cheat, etc. become dominant in our heart.

His Holiness said a majority of problems that we are facing is our own creation. He talked about violence that took place not only in 20th century, but in this century, too. He said there were issues of corruption, the gap between rich and poor, environmental problem like global warming, etc. that needed attention.

His Holiness talked about the potential of human intelligence saying technology itself was not the cause of problems. If used properly there is immense benefit, he said. Machines do not create problems, but if they are used the wrong way then they become source of the problem.

His Holiness said that we have potentials, but without using it properly we suffer. He added that the marvelous human intelligence must be used in the positive way. He said research and investigation were very important in this. In order to investigate effectively and properly we have to look from various angles, he said. We cannot see reality from one dimension, but have to look at four dimensions or even six dimension, etc. to get a better picture. To do that your mind must be calm.

He said human intelligence and will power have to be grown properly for happy life. He added that neither machine could produce happy life nor money could buy happy life. Ultimately a happy life is connected to mental attitude, he said.

His Holiness stressed on the importance of making a distinction between sensorial and mental levels of experience. He said sometimes physically one might feel very tired and exhausted, but might be mentally still fresh. On the other hand, even though at the physical level there is no illness, if mentally there is too much stress then there would not be any calmness.  Thus the mental level experience is more superior and stronger than physical level experience, he said.

He said that we are now in the 21st century and the world is generally comparatively peaceful. But there still are problems, he said, adding that the issue was how to deal with them.  He said if one developed proper mental attitude, one could keep peace of mind. He added that when doctor tells us to take rest, it means complete mental relaxation. Lying down on a comfortable bed, but mentally not being calm is not rest.

His Holiness said a calm mind is very much related to self-confidence.  He said it is very difficult to achieve mental peace with fear. He said it may be quite strange, but more concern for others brings self-confidence and inner strength.

He said the modern education system was very much oriented towards the material world, neglecting inner values. Previously the religious institutions took care of this.

If our approach of promoting inner values is based on religion there are difficulties, he said. Firstly no one religion, no matter how wonderful it may be, is universally accepted, he said. Then also there are the non-believers.

He said therefore there was the need to find a way to convey the message of love and compassion to everyone, even to non-believers. He then said we could follow the example of India’s secularism, which meant respect for all religions, as also non-believers.  We need to find a secular way to promote the inner values, he said.

His Holiness said this effort to promote a secular approach towards moral ethics is his first commitment. He said regarding his second commitment in 1956 when he came to India he had wide contact with people from different religious faiths. Through his interaction, it was very clear that in the philosophical field there were big differences not only between religions, but also even within Buddhists.  However, he said that because of so many mental dispositions among people, we need different philosophical views. He said all religious traditions provide inner strength. In spite of different philosophical views, all have the same message, the wellbeing of humanity.

His Holiness said he was committed to promoting genuine religious harmony for the rest of his life, whether it is for the next 10 years, 20 years or 30 years.  He urged everyone to make concerted effort to bring a happier, peaceful humanity, which is related to warm-heartedness.  He said we could start first at the individual level, and then expand it to family and neighbors. That is the way to change, he said.

At the same time, he said those involved in education could experiment on moral ethics in a secular way. He said there are some universities that are successfully experimenting on this in India and the USA.

He said through this process, if we can change the whole world, it is good. Even if we cannot achieve that we can have peace of mind, he said. We can be completely restful and relaxed, he added. He said that when he was young, around 20 or 30 years of age, he would become nervous when he had to speak in public because he wanted to be perfect.  He said he was nervous in 1954-55 while in China and in India in 1956 in India meeting leaders and addressing the public. He said he remember being nervous during his first official meeting with Mao Zedong. He added that his tutor, too, was very much nervous with perspiration on his head that was bald.

His Holiness said in 1954 when the Indian Ambassador in Beijing came to see him, there were some stern-looking Chinese officials in the room, too. He said that there were some fruits on the table and somehow the fruit plate toppled. It was then that His Holiness recalled seeing the stern-looking Chinese were kneeling on the ground picking up the fruits. He said there was a big contrast between these Chinese being stern and acting like human being when something happened.

He urged the people to think on these so that they can get ideas of promoting peace of mind.

During the Question & Answer session, His Holiness was asked as to the single most important thing to practice when developing compassion. He responded that if one was religious and believed in the concept of creator then trusting fully, and showing dedication to God is helpful to reduce one’s self-centered attitude. Through that way one can easily develop compassion, he said.

He said if one is a Buddhist then one should believe in oneself; that one’s future depends on one’s own action.  Accordingly, one should develop some kind of motivation to respect and concern for other’s well being.  One should bear in mind that one’s motivation should be to help wherever possible, and if not, then not to cause harm. He said that also is a source of development of compassion.

For those who are non-believers, His Holiness said one should think over doctors’ assertion that a calm mind is good for one’s health. He said too much disturbed mind spoils our body.

His Holiness said he usually did a combination of common sense, common experience according to secular way, and, on top of that, some Buddhist technique to increase compassion.

When asked how he saw the ancient Tibetan culture helping the modern world, His Holiness said if you study Tibetan Buddhist culture sufficiently, it would be very clear that Tibetan Buddhist tradition is pure tradition of Nalanda institution. That includes not only Buddhism as a religion, but also science of mind and logic, he said. He added that science of mind and logic are universal and academic and could be adapted to the education system.

But Buddhist religion should be of concern to Buddhists only, he said.

His Holiness answered a question about positive and negative aspect of living in the west.  He said he did not want to make a distinction between the east and the west.

America, he said, is a multi-culture and multi-religion country. He said he loved the American people’s open informal attitude, compared to Germans, English or Japanese.

He said Chin being the most populous country is very important. He added that a close society is in no one’s interest. Therefore, China must open and become true citizen of the world.

He said the world is changing. America has changed between the beginning of 20th century and latter part, he said, adding that even his hometown Dharamsala has changed much from the time of 1960s and 70s.  Nevertheless, he said unless we pay more attention to inner values material change could also contribute to negative attitude like corruption.

Another questioner asked about the most suitable way to handle intolerance by others. His Holiness said one should be clear that tolerance and forgiveness does not mean you accepting other’s wrong doing. As far as wrong action is concerned he said it is necessary to take counter measures to stop that for their own well-being and not because of ill feeling.  His Holiness talked about attitude of parents towards their children or some responsible teachers toward students. They may be harsh at times but that is not out of ill-will.  Here His Holiness recalled his tutor keeping two whips, one ordinary that was for his elder brother who studied with him, and the other one wrapped in yellow cloth, meant for him. He said he studied then on account of his fear of the whip and knew that his teacher was using it not out of negative feeling.

His Holiness said, the Communist totalitarian system was originally good, but nobody dared to criticize it subsequently because all criticism was suppressed. He recalled following the 1986-87 serious problems in Tibet, journalist Jonathan Mirsky from The Observer had asked him on why the Chinese are irritated by him. His Holiness said he had responded that this was because he did not say “Yes, Minister” to the Chinese. His Holiness said, actually Chairman Mao had said that Communists should receive criticism from others or else they would be like fish without water. He said the slogan was good but in 1957 Mao started Let hundred flowers bloom campaign and then all the flowers turned into weeds, he said. He said the Tibetans in India certainly sincerely follow Mao’s message.

Following his talk, the organizers, as per His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s call for transparency in financial matters, made a public statement.  They announced that the total gross income was $ 650,000 and the total estimated expense was $ 317,000 resulting in a surplus of $ 333,000.  They said His Holiness does not charge any fees nor benefit from this and that the money will be distributed to the following.  $ 133,000 to the Dalai Lama Trust for educational and cultural programs; $ 100,000 to the parent educational institution of the Center in India; $ 50,000 to the Gaden Shartse Thubten Dhargye Ling Center for six of its projects; and another $50,000 was being kept as seed money for a next visit of His Holiness to the region.

On April 22, 2012 morning, His Holiness departs for Rochester in the state of Minneapolis for the next leg of his current trip.  He will be having a routine medical checkup and also participate in a panel discussion on resilience through mindfulness on April 24, 2012.