Sankisa, UP, India – Before leaving for the teaching venue this morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with members of the local media on the lawn of his hotel. He opened the conversation:
“First, I want to greet you all. As I often tease my Indian friends, although I’m physically Tibetan, my mind may be more Indian than yours. You may not appreciate the ancient Indian knowledge in which I have trained. In ancient India practices for cultivating a calmly abiding mind and insight (shamatha and vipashyana) were pursued before the Buddha appeared. These practices continue to be relevant today.
“Today, we face many problems to which we have contributed. We place too much emphasis on secondary differences like nationality, religious faith and race, when fundamentally we are all the same as human beings. We are born the same way. We are nurtured by our mothers in the same way. But because of the materialistic goals of our education systems we don’t pay much attention to inner values. What we need to remember is that at a deeper level we are all the same. We all want to be happy not miserable. Since we can help our fellow human beings and can communicate with them, this is what I have dedicated my life to doing.
“As a Buddhist I admire the way different religious traditions live together in this country and I promote inter-religious harmony wherever I can, inspired by India’s example.
“With regard to Tibet, I retired from political responsibility in 2001 when the political leadership was first elected. Now, my main concern is the preservation of Tibetan culture and religion and the protection of Tibet’s natural environment, which is also of interest to all the people in Asia whose water-supply originates on the Tibetan Plateau.”
His Holiness answered a question about Indian foreign policy towards China by repeating what he told journalists during the Doklam crisis. Economically and in terms of the size of their populations both India and China are important. Neither can destroy the other. They have to live together. Asked how the issues of Kashmir and Tibet are different His Holiness quoted Foreign Minister MC Chagla’s telling him they were totally different. He observed that India today is a union of different states with different languages, written scripts and cultures that choose to live together. He recalled Vinoba Bhave’s idea for a South Asian union and speculated that if such a farsighted plan had been fulfilled it might have meant greater peace in the region. He reiterated his admiration for the European Union which has ensured peace in Europe for 70 years.
With reference to Tibet His Holiness reported Narasimha Rao’s telling him that India regarded Tibet as an autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China, rather than as a ‘part of China’. He noted that Chinese documents record that in the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries Mongolia, China and Tibet were independent empires. He added that historically the Great Wall marked the Chinese border and that Manchuria, Mongolia and Tibet were beyond it. In the 20th century China distinguished between Inner and Outer Tibet, regarding Inner Tibet, including His Holiness’s birth place in Amdo, as within China.
As to why the issue of Tibet has not come up in international forums, His Holiness recalled three occasions when the question was raised at the UN. However, India’s representative abstained from the vote. Nehru, who His Holiness described as a wise man, was of the view that the Tibet question could not be settled that way and Tibetans would have to negotiate directly with the Chinese.
His Holiness mentioned former Foreign Secretary Jagat S Mehta’s coming to see him in his old age and telling him that during a Cabinet meeting to discuss the Dalai Lama’s imminent arrival in India, Krishna Menon opposed his being granted asylum, while Nehru insisted he should be welcomed.
When the question of the difference between Kashmir and Tibet was repeated, His Holiness told the man who asked it that he should study Tibetan history and judge for himself.
At the teaching ground the crowd had grown. Today, it was estimated to be more than 40,000, most of whom came from within a 100kms radius of Sankisa. However, there were also parties from Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttarakhand. The majority of these people consider themselves to belong to the Shakya clan to which the Buddha belonged. Also joining the throng were 400 people from 35 other countries.
The session again commenced with school-children reciting the Mangala Sutta in Pali, following which His Holiness recited several verses of salutation as is his custom.
“Yesterday, we had a good introduction to the teachings of the Buddha.” His Holiness began, “Today, we’ll go through the book, although there isn’t time for us to go verse by verse. The Buddha said you are your own master; whether you experience pain or pleasure is in your own hands. The following verse sums up his advice:
“Commit no unwholesome deed,
Perform only perfect virtue,
Completely tame your mind,
This is the teaching of the Buddha.
“The key is completely taming your mind. If you have peace of mind, you’ll do no harm to others. Whatever problems you face it’s better to meet them with peace of mind. ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’ contains important advice on how to achieve this.
“I received a reading transmission and an explanation of this book in 1967 from the Kinnauri master, Khunu Lama Rinpoché. He requested me to teach it frequently. Consequently, I read it, I teach it and I carry it with me wherever I go. I have a similar relationship with Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’. These are two of the most important Indian treatises translated into Tibetan.
“Whether you practise Buddhism or not, you should be able to cultivate love and compassion. At root, religion is not about building places of worship, it’s about the discipline of transforming the mind, integrating the instructions you hear within you—which anybody can do.”
His Holiness began to read the text, starting with its title in Sanskrit and Tibetan, the salutation and author’s intention—‘I write this in order to acquaint it to my mind. If, however, these (words) are seen by others equal in fortune to myself, it may be meaningful (for them).’
“What this book explains is how to use intelligence and reason to the full to overcome mental afflictions like anger. It begins with chapters clarifying the benefits of the awakening mind of bodhichitta, confession of wrong doing, and accepting the awakening mind. ‘All the Buddhas, who have contemplated for many aeons, have seen (the awakening mind) alone to be beneficial.’”
Reaching the verse that states: ‘In brief, the awakening mind should be understood to be of two types—the mind that aspires to awaken and the mind that ventures to do so,’ His Holiness announced that he had thought of holding a ceremony to generate the aspiring awakening mind and take the bodhisattva vows. He mentioned that he uses a common verse to do this himself every day.
To Buddha, Dharma and Supreme Community
Until enlightenment I turn for refuge.
By the merit of my giving and so forth
May I attain enlightenment for the good of all beings.
He suggested that the audience join him in reciting Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 up to verse 22 as a preparatory rite. There were simultaneous recitations in Tibetan, Hindi and English, followed by the verses for giving birth to the awakening mind and pledging to follow the practices (verses 23&24 of Chapter 3). His Holiness concluded the session with the final verse of Chapter 3:
Today in the presence of all the Protectors
I invite the world to be guests
At (a festival of) temporary and ultimate delight,
May gods, demi-gods and all be joyful.
His Holiness ate lunch with the organizers of the event, members of the Youth Buddhist Society. He will continue to teach tomorrow.