Shewatsel, Leh, Ladakh, India – This morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama drove from Shewatsel Phodrang into Leh city, where he made a pilgrim’s visit to the Jokhang, the principal temple there. He was welcomed by officials at the gate and by Lamas inside the temple. He paid his respects before the sacred images, saluted the congregation and took his seat.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama waving to the crowd as he arrives at the Jokhang in Leh, Ladakh, India on July 14, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
“Having arrived in Ladakh,” His Holiness told the gathering, “today, I’ve come here to the Jokhang. We all rely on the following verse from ‘Entering the Bodhisattva Way’.
As long as space endures,
And as long as sentient beings remain,
Until then, may I too remain
To help dispel the misery of the world.
“I say this as a prayer every day out of a wish to be of service to others. The Buddha himself accumulated merit and wisdom for three countless aeons for the purpose of serving others. He was motivated by altruism and finally became enlightened.
“We all have Buddha-nature. Our true nature is to be free of defilements, and yet in the meantime we are subject to defilements that are temporary. The basic nature of the mind is clear light—clarity and awareness—and we all have it. It’s not something we achieve by making effort, we all possess it naturally. Our mind of clear light is obscured by adventitious defilements, but by relying on the words of the Buddha, we can clear them away.
“By eliminating the defilements in his mind, the Buddha achieve the Wisdom-truth Body. And the basic factor for attaining that is also within us. We all have this fundamental nature on the basis of which to attain enlightenment.
“When we say I take refuge in the Buddha, it’s not as if we are reaching out to someone somewhere else, because we all have a clear light mind within, which in its intrinsic nature is free of defilements. That natural purity is obscured by adventitious defilements that becoming steadily thinner as we engage in the practice of the Three Trainings. When we finally manage to remove the defilements obscuring the mind, we too can achieve the Truth Body that the Buddha has achieved. The real meaning of taking refuge in the Buddha, is to consider the resultant state we are going to attain.”
A member of the Muslim community greeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the start of his visit to the Jokhang in Leh, Ladakh, India on July 14, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
His Holiness mentioned that there are many religious traditions in the world. He recalled that back in Lhasa there was a community of Muslims who were not only recognized by the Tibetan government, but were also invited to government functions. Consequently, he said, he had many Muslim friends even then.
He noted that in the present time there are many people who have little personal interest in religion who nevertheless take an interest in the Tibetan tradition. In this context he quoted a verse from the end of Jé Tsongkhapa’s ‘Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path’.
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.
“Even in places where Buddhism has spread and declined it is appreciated because its very foundation is compassion. It’s admired even by those with no real interest in religion.
“Whether we’re talking about followers of Islam, Christianity, Hinduism or Jainism, all of us are human beings. Here on this earth, we are brothers and sisters. Therefore, we should cultivate a warm heart and an altruistic attitude to one another. This is how will build a peaceful world.
“Unfortunately, in today’s world we too often see prejudice and divisiveness arising between our religious traditions. Our various faiths may adopt contrasting philosophical points of view, but they all advise us to be kind and helpful to one another.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama leading prayers during his visit to the Jokhang in Leh, Ladakh, India on July 14, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
“When I travel to different places, I try to visit the local mosque, Hindu and Jain temple, church and so forth. Of course, I am a Buddhist, but I acknowledge that these various religious traditions all counsel the value of being kind and helpful to others. Even among our Buddhist traditions we have various schools of thought such as the Particularists—Vaibashika, the Followers of Sutra—Sautrantikas, the Differentiators—Vaisheshikas, the Practitioners of Yogic Conduct—Yogacharins,
the Proponents of Consciousness—Vijnaptivadins, followers of Mind Only—Chittamatrins, the Autonomists—Svatantrikas and the Consequentialists—Prasangikas, but all are the same in being Buddhist.
“It is very important that we work to maintain inter-religious harmony and keep in mind that those will little interest in religion can still benefit from adopting secular ethics.
“When we were born our mother took care of us and most of us were nurtured by her milk. This is the basis on which we grew up. It’s easy to see that our bodies have survived because of our mother’s kindness. Therefore, it’s also easy to see that we should employ our bodies in the service of others. We should help not harm each other motivated by love and compassion.
“The eight billion people alive today were not only given birth by their mothers, but also survived as a result of her care. Therefore, they should have a kind attitude to others. Bringing harm to others is completely inappropriate. It’s self-evident that if we laugh with each other and help each other, everyone can be happy. It’s important to have good heart and to help one another.
“We talk about world peace, but to achieve it we need to have a good heart and to have peace within. If, on the other hand, we are full of jealousy, pride, arrogance, competitiveness and anger there’s no way we’ll achieve peace of mind.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the congregation during his visit to the Jokhang in Leh, Ladakh, India on July 14, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
“Everyone, north, south, east and west, is interested in peace. We are all the same in this. No one really wants to kill, oppress and bully others. What we need to do is to cultivate a sense of equality and help each other. Then we’ll be at peace. And when we come to die, if we are surrounded by people who are affectionate towards us, we’ll feel at ease.
“We’re all gathered here before this statue of our supreme teacher Buddha Shakyamuni. Before him we should pledge to conduct ourselves with a good heart.
“Things are changing, even in China. And what we should do is to seek to create peace in the world, keeping in mind that to rely on weapons and violence is out of date.
“We have improved communications so that we are all better connected. We know much more about each other than we did before. And if we sincerely wish to ensure peace in the world, we can request our supreme teacher’s help. If we religious people could live in harmony like brothers and sisters dedicated to establishing peace in the world, we could achieve it. Engaging in warfare and deploying military force is completely out of date.
“I make a request again to the Buddha that we may cultivate love and compassion, help one another and establish peace in the world. Whether you follow Allah or God, I make the same prayer to them as well.
“Look, today the sky is blue and the land is clear. People living in such circumstances should think of each other as brothers and sisters and should avoid being disturbed by negative emotions. We should not be selfish. We shouldn’t look down on or disparage other people. We should work for their well-being. The more we cultivate an altruistic attitude, the more our negative emotions will subside. This is my approach to practice. It’s been my prayer over many lives to bring peace and joy to others—you compassionate Jowo are my witness. I seek the Jowo Chenmo’s blessing that I may continue to fulfil this prayer unwaveringly day and night.
Members of the local community and tourists visiting Ladakh crowd into the square outside the Jokhang hoping to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama as he departs at the conclusion of his visit to the Jokhang in Leh, Ladakh, India on July 14, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
Before setting off to return to Shewatsel, His Holiness met with a number of Muslims who used to live in Lhasa. After that, his pilgrimage at an end, he left the Jokhang for his local residence.