Kargil, Ladakh, J&K, India – His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s departure from Zanskar was delayed this morning due to concerns about the weather en route. Eventually the skies cleared and the helicopter took off, flew up the Suru River, over Rangdum Monastery, to Kargil, landing after 1 o’clock. He was welcomed at the helipad by Chairman of the J&K Legislative Council, Haji Anayat Ali, Senior Superintendent of Police T Gyalpo, Kargil DC, Vikas Kundal, Kargil MLA, Asgar Ali Karbalaie, the LBA President Kargil, as well as representatives of the Islamist School and the IKMT Kargil, Socio-Religious leaders from Dras, leaders from Mulbekh village, and villagers from Dahanu.
His Holiness drove directly to Hussaini Park, in Kargil, where an estimated 8000 people, young and old from all the town’s communities awaited him. He saluted them as he took his seat on a covered stage in the company of local officials and Muslim clerics.
“All 7 billion human beings alive today are brothers and sisters,” he began. We are physically, mentally and emotionally the same. We all want to live a happy life and avoid suffering and we all have a right to fulfil that wish. Since we all belong to it, it’s important that we acknowledge the oneness of humanity. Despite the fact that we are all the same as human beings, on a secondary level there are differences between us of nationality, race, religious faith and so on. Here in India, for example, people may be Hindu, Muslim, Christian or Jewish, Zoroastrian, Jain, Buddhist or Sikh. When we over-emphasize such differences between us, we make problems for ourselves. How can we solve them? By recognising that on a fundamental level we’re all the same as human beings and on that basis avoid discord.
“I’m very happy to meet all of you, my brothers and sisters, and to be able to share some of my thoughts with you. If we are to achieve a peaceful world, we need to consider the oneness of humanity. As I said before, religious faith may be one of the ways in which are different from one another, but all the world’s religious traditions convey the same message of love, tolerance, forgiveness and self-discipline.
“All have the same potential to create peaceful individuals and happy communities. They may have different philosophical views, but these are necessary in the light of people’s different culture, different disposition and different outlook. They are in fact different approaches to a common goal of creating more compassionate individuals.
“The philosophical approaches of different religions are like medicines. We can’t say that one medicine is the best for everyone. We have to take into account the patient’s illness, age and disposition and select accordingly. Similarly, different people adopt different approaches to religious practice. Therefore, the idea that in other places like Syria and Afghanistan people are not only fighting, but killing each other in the name of religion is a contradiction. This is why we need to make an effort to cultivate inter-religious harmony.
“Is that possible? The example of India, where for more than a thousand years people of different faiths have lived together side by side in peace and harmony suggests it is. Occasional problems may arise, often whipped up by politicians, but in modern India good relations prevail between our different religious traditions—and as far as I know there are no reports of quarrels between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam.”
His Holiness appealed to the crowd, “Please keep in mind that in being human we are all the same and we have to live together in peace and friendship. Secondly, inter-religious harmony is something each of us can contribute to in our own lives.”
He added that another thing of his current concerns is climate change and global warming that decade by decade are getting worse. He pointed out that when you fly over Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia, you can see where there used to be lakes and now there’s only desert.
“Even in places like this, climate change is having an effect, so we have to take greater care of the environment. As rivers dry up the water supply will decline. I’m no expert, but over the last 60 years that I have lived in the Kangra Valley in Himachal Pradesh, we’ve seen less and less snowfall. Maybe it’s the same here, Things are changing rapidly and we have to take steps to address this change and protect the environment.
“Seeing these young students here also reminds me of the importance of education. Since Independence, education in India has greatly improved, but modern education seems inadequate to shape happy and fulfilled individuals. I know successful people who are angry, stressed, jealous and unhappy, and others who are less well-off but are happy and content.
“Material development by itself does not make us happy. We also need to understand the workings of our minds and emotions, which is something we can learn from ancient Indian sources. At a recent meeting of Indian Vice Chancellors we talked about the opportunity India has to combine modern education with the ancient Indian understanding of how to tackle our emotions. This is a significant contribution India can make to world peace by showing how to achieve peace of mind.
“I want to urge you young students and your teachers to pay more attention to how to tackle our negative emotions in the context of ahimsa or non-violence.”
His Holiness remarked that it was during a recent visit to a University in Jammu that he had been invited to come to Kargil. Delays due to bad weather today had made him late, but he felt that showing his face, meeting with people and sharing some of his thoughts with them was important, so he had come as soon as he landed.
Waving to the crowd as he left the stage, he proceeded to his hotel where he enjoyed a late lunch with local clerics and invited guests. Tomorrow, he will visit a school in the village of Mulbekh.