Shewatsel Phodrang, Leh, Ladakh, India – This morning His Holiness the Dalai Lama flew from Delhi and arrived in Leh at about 10:30am. He was received at the airport by Thiksey Rinpoché, Taglung Matrul Rinpoché, Taglung Tsetrul Rinpoché, Jhado Rinpoché and Drukpa Khamdrak Rinpoché, the leaders of the Ladakh Buddhist Association, as well as Hon CEC LAHDC Leh Adv Tashi Gyaltsen, Hon Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal and the Representative of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) Dhondup Tashi.
Members of the local community lining the streets to welcome His Holiness the Dalai Lama on his arrival in Leh, Ladakh, India on July 11, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
Tens of thousands of local people, Ladakhis and Tibetans, dressed in their best clothes and holding silk scarves in their hands lined both sides of the road from the airport all the way to the Shewatsel Phodrang to greet His Holiness.
When he reached the Phodrang after an hour and half, Thiksey Rinpoché, Thupten Tsewang of the LBA and Dhondup Tashi of the CTA offered him a mandala. His Holiness laughed and told them, “Down on the plains there’s so much cloud and rain, I missed the blue sky. So I flew up to Ladakh and the clear blue sky became visible again. It was so damp and humid under the overcast sky, I really wanted to come to Ladakh where the weather is different.
“Now I’m here and I can see many familiar faces among you. You all look bright and lively. I’m reminded of what Jé Rinpoché wrote:
Wherever the Buddha’s teaching has not spread
And wherever it has spread but has declined
May I, moved by great compassion, clearly elucidate
This treasury of excellent benefit and happiness for all.
“Here in Ladakh the Buddhist tradition shines as bright as the sun, but as time passes it may be that people become slack with regard to their education and meditation. You Ladakhis have strong faith, so, motivated by a wish to benefit others, I thought of coming here for a couple of weeks—but we’ll see how things go.
“Generally, I do an annual Jigjé retreat and I’m thinking of doing that here. But even if I can’t do that, I’ll continue to keep up my daily practice focussed on bodhichitta and emptiness. These two factors govern my day and under their influence I’ll continue my practice.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to the gathering of dignitaries and special guests at the welcome ceremony at his residence in Shewatsel, Leh, Ladakh, India on July 11, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
“Since Ladakhis have such single-pointed faith I’m thinking that I might give a teaching based around the Three Higher Trainings, the Four Noble Truths and the Two Truths. Given your faith and my motivation, I think this could be beneficial.
“I’ve observed indications in my dreams that I may yet live until I’m 100 or 110 years old.
“Meanwhile, if the weather treats me kindly, I may stay here more than three weeks—this is what I’m thinking of doing.
“As I’ve already said, you Ladakhis have strong faith and devotion; because of that when you see me you feel happy and then I’m happy too. I’m happy to see you all, monastics and lay-people.
“In China there’s also a growing number of people interested in Buddhism. And despite the Chinese government’s efforts to uproot Tibetan religion and culture, interest in Tibetan Buddhism continues to increase. A Professor from Lanzhou told me this.
“In the past, Chinese officials referred to me as the reactionary Dalai, but lately they seem to have stopped saying that. Apparently, the number of Chinese people with faith in the Dalai Lama is growing. It seems the Chinese government are inconsistent in the way they regard me.
“Consequently, it seems I may eventually be able to visit Lhasa. However, even if I am able to go, I don’t plan to stay there. I’d rather return to India and be able to visit Ladakh again.”
This is what His Holiness had to say having landed in Ladakh today.