Manchester, 17th June 2012
Today, prior to his public engagements, His Holiness the Dalai Lama paid a visit to a group of Gurkha soldiers who are based in Manchester. He paid tribute to the longstanding historical relations between Tibet and Nepal, recalling the role of the Nepalese princess who married King Songtsen Gampo in bringing one of the first Buddha images to Tibet. He joked that as the main duty of a soldier is to shoot, there wasn’t much for him to say. However, he went on to advise that if they were always honest and truthful, showed others respect and tried whenever they could to help them, they would be good soldiers. He offered them a painting of the Seventeen Masters of Nalanda.
At the Manchester Arena once more, His Holiness was welcomed by the Bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev Nigel McCulloch, who then also introduced him to an audience of about 2500 people. Acknowledging the common themes in their respective religions and that England is a Christian country, His Holiness invited Bishop McCulloch to open the session with a Christian prayer. Then, he began his Dharma talk.
He explained that the Pali tradition, that delineates monastic discipline, is fundamental to all Buddhist traditions. The Sanskrit tradition encompasses the Bodhisattva vehicle and Tantrayana that deals with the mind in depth. He recounted several stories of Lamas who have remained in meditation for a number of days after exhibiting clinical death, their bodies remaining fresh and even more radiant than when alive. He said we could only make sense of this in the context of subtle levels of consciousness.
To answer the question “What is Buddhism?” His Holiness said he would like to quote one of the sutras:
Don’t engage in unwholesome action,
Engage in virtue,
And tame the mind,
This is the teaching of the Buddha.
He clarified that unwholesome deeds are those that bring harm to others, while virtue is to refrain from harm and to bring benefit, while taming the mind refers not to observing external rules, but to inner discipline and mental training. The second verse he quoted says,
The Buddhas do not wash away the karma of other beings,
Nor do they remove the consequences with their hands;
They do not transfer their own realizations to others,
But they reveal the truth that liberates beings.
Quoting a third verse His Holiness related it to the Four Noble Truths:
All things and events come into being due to causes and conditions
And these causes and conditions are taught by the Buddhas
The cessation of causes and conditions are also taught by the Buddhas
That is what the Buddha taught.
He explained this in terms of where cessation takes place, which is the mind; by what means cessation takes place, which is the mind; and because the mind is naturally pure, in the nature of clear light, what ceases is the adventitious afflictive emotions.
After lunch, His Holiness’s public talk on the theme Real Change Happens in the Heart, opened with music played by members of the Tibetan community in Britain and he was introduced by long time Tibet supporter, Hylton Murray-Philipson. His Holiness responded,
“I’m nothing special, just a simple Buddhist monk, although because people of my age have had a wide variety of experience, what we have to say might be of some use to young people who are just embarking on their adult lives.
“At the Royal Albert Hall some years ago I mentioned that some people come to listen to me purely out of curiosity; some come in the belief that the Dalai Lama has miraculous powers, which is nonsense. Others come in the belief that the Dalai Lama has some healing powers. Now, I am very sceptical about the existence of such healing powers, but, if they do exist, I need them right at this moment to relieve my knees.”
He affirmed that despite an array of minor secondary differences, as human beings we basically the same; mentally, physically, and emotionally we are the same. Problems arise when we make too much of the differences and overlook those circumstances that affect us all, like climate change and the crisis in the global economy.
While recent material and technological developments have brought remarkable benefits many people have begun to realise there’s more to happiness than that. We need a clear mind and a warm heart and scientific research is beginning to bear this out. His Holiness asked his listeners to think more about moral principles and inner values, which have the potential to improve mental and physical health, to think in a global context and to employ dialogue not violence in resolving disputes.