Leh Ladakh: Legion of well-wishers and devotees in Ladakh celebrated the 83rd birth anniversary of the Nobel peace laureate and Tibetan preeminent Buddhist leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama by presenting him a 113-spoke Golden wheel of Dharma and devout prayers for his long and healthy life.
The celebration held in the august presence of His Holiness was attended by renowned Tibetan spiritual masters, reincarnate lamas, abbots including Gaden Trisur Rizong Rinpoche, Thigtse Rinpoche, Drikung Chetsang Rinpoche, President Dr Lobsang Sangay, MP Thubten Tsewang, Leh MLA Rigzin Jora, Chief Executive Councillor of Ladakh Area Hill Development Council (CEC, LAHDC) Gyal P Wangyal, local officials, Chief Representative of Ladakh and thousands of Tibetans and Ladakhis.
Called upon to address the gathering, His Holiness alighted from his throne and proceeded towards the front of the stage to address the tens of thousand devotees who had gathered to celebrate his birthday.
“In Buddhist tradition, the best offering is the offering of practice and implementation of guru’s teachings. So all my friends present here, I ask each one of you to do something to contribute towards creating a happier, peaceful world and cultivate peace of mind within yourself.
“Change in the world,” he said, “starts with an individual. First of all, build peace of mind within yourself and then spread the message to ten friends and those 10 spreads to 10 each, then that would spread to 100, thousands, ten thousand and millions. Change begins when each one of us takes action. And this way, spread the message of love, compassion and peace.
“As you know, I am sincerely and wholeheartedly dedicated to the service of all sentient beings, and in particular the 7 billion human beings in whatever way I can.
“On this earth, there are animals, birds and countless sentient beings but we can’t do much for them. However those for whom we can do something are the 7 billion human beings,” said His Holiness.
“What unites us is that we all naturally seek happiness and try to avoid suffering on the physical, mental and emotional level. Therefore, we have a collective responsibility to try to bring about the well-being and happiness of all living beings and help them overcome their suffering.
“This is the basis of hope on which I make an appeal that we all work enthusiastically to promote love and compassion and that we do our best to reduce, if not eliminate, the conflicts and violence that currently beset many parts of the world.”
“Scientists say that basic human nature is compassionate. Other findings suggest that living in constant anger and hatred undermines our immune system, whereas cultivating a more compassionate attitude, in general, strengthens our physical and mental well-being.
“So there is real hope for peace and happiness on earth. Ofcourse if basic human nature is anger then we can’t do anything. Because our nature is compassionate, we can promote it further through education.
“My life is guided by four principal commitments — to contribute to bringing about a more compassionate world; to encourage inter-religious harmony, to work to preserve Tibet’s Buddhist culture, which is a culture of peace and non-violence, while also drawing attention to the need to protect the natural environment of Tibet and fourth commitment towards revival of Nalanda tradition in modern India”.
Despite differences in their philosophical views, all the world’s major religious traditions convey the same message of love and compassion. “This is why we must strive to foster inter-religious harmony for the good of all humanity”.
He remarked that religious harmony is very much alive and celebrated in Ladakh and asked to spread it further.
“My third commitment is towards Tibet. Although I have left the political responsibility, I have a responsibility towards Tibetan people at large, and Tibetan culture and religion.
“Most importantly the Tibetans inside Tibet. Even when they die, in their final words, they mention my name. Majority of Tibetans trust me. The Tibetan cause is a just cause and a cause for peace.
I have met with many scholars, religious leaders, and scientists. Having had discussions with them, I found that profound philosophical and logical traditions that we have in Nalanda are something very relevant in today’s world.
He described the Tibetan Language as the best language to explain this philosophical and local tradition of Nalanda. “Other languages like English and Hindi are not adequate”.
“This profound Nalanda tradition is among the Tibetans and this is also relevant to all the Buddhists. At a larger scale, it is something of benefit to the entire world. Therefore I am committed to preserving the cultural and religious heritage of Tibet.
“So the responsibility to preserve this knowledge lies on our shoulder. We have put our lives at stake to preserve it and the Himalayan people, you also have the Kagyur and tengyur literature, so you also have the responsibility.
Referring to a text by Vasubandhu, His Holiness said efforts to preserve this unique culture and religion should be reflected through study and training on the texts, not by building temples and statues.
His Holiness then congratulated the Himalayan Buddhists for their initiative to transform Buddhist monasteries into learning centres.
“On your initiative to turn monasteries into learning centres, I would like to congratulate you. For many years, I have been talking about this and now they are taking it into their hands to actually implement it.
Addressing the youth and children in the audience, His Holiness stressed the importance of studying psychology, philosophical ideas, logic and epistemology which are part of the Tibetan culture.
“So psychology, philosophical ideas, logic and epistemology which are part of our Tibetan culture, which used to be Nalanda university tradition is now extant and available in our language. So this vast profound deep tradition which is in our language makes us Tibetans the custodians of this rich tradition.
To his Muslim friends, His Holiness said, “In the future, my hope is that the Ladakhi Muslims could produce learned scholars in logic and philosophy of Nalanda tradition. You should keep your faith in Allah, but the logic and psychology found in Nalanda tradition, it would be good for you to pay attention to this”.
Paying tributes to His Holiness’ lifelong efforts to bring peace in the world, President Dr Lobsang Sangay, Central Tibetan Administration said, “Millions around the world listen to and attend His Holiness teachings from Alaska to Australia, from New Delhi to New York, from Brussels to Bangalore, His Holiness has become a symbol of peace and messenger of happiness.
“The beautiful place of Ladakh and kind people of Ladakh are very fortunate to have His Holiness celebrate his birthday here, not just this year but for several years now. For people of Tibet just to get 5 seconds or even 5 minutes of his blessings is their dream, is their lifetime goal. But His Holiness has come to see you, this beautiful place and the people of Ladakh on his most special day. His Holiness will spend not just three days which he normally spends in one country, but he will be spending 3 weeks in Ladakh so you all are truly very fortunate and very blessed.
He said, “This year calls for a double celebration, along with His Holiness’ birthday, CTA is also organising 2018 as a thank you year, thank you to the world, thank you to India for being the most steadfast supporter for the Tibetan people.
“His Holiness always says ‘remember to keep your old friends and then only make new friends’, because old friends are the ones who have been with us for the last 60 years. We are standing here because of supporter and friends like you.
“We urge you to be a little more patient. Because our destination, the return of His Holiness to Lhasa the capital city of Tibet is coming soon, so let us continue our journey a little longer,” the president said.
He further elaborated what His Holiness the Dalai Lama calls as ‘Secular ethics’ or ‘Emotional Hygiene’.
“The dark history tells us that the smartness, intelligence and IQ is not enough to become good leaders. Infact many leaders who were smart and intelligent have committed massacre and destruction.
“Hence secular ethics has to be taught in all schools around the world. Schools in America have already started, its time we do the same in Asia. What Delhi government recently did is a new initiative. I wish and hope that all the governments will take heed and introduce secular ethics in their own schools so that the future leaders will become more compassionate and kind,” he said, citing His Holiness’ recent participation in the launch of the Delhi government’s Happiness Curriculum.
CTA President further spoke at length about the extraordinary revival of Tibetan Buddhism under His Holiness’ leadership and his all-encompassing vision for the future of humanity.
“Buddhism as we know it, Nalanda tradition as we know it was completely destroyed in Tibet. But under the leadership of His Holiness, with his vision, brick by brick, stone by stone, exile Tibetans, we rebuilt all major monasteries destroyed in Tibet in exile, in India.
“Similarly Nalanda has spread all over, Buddhist centres were built around the world. Inside Tibet, under his leadership and the great works by nuns and monks of Tibet, Buddhism in private and social spaces have been revived in Tibet. Against all odds, Tibetans in Tibet are reviving Buddhism in Tibet.
Oddly but true, China has become the largest Buddhist country in the whole world, he said.
“If India wants to be number one in the whole world, it must go back to the pre-colonial era where India was number one in culture, India was number 1 in civilisation and in trade and economy from 2nd to 13th century.
“Nalanda was also no. 1 university in the whole world. If India wants to be number 1, then it needs to embrace the Nalanda tradition.
He argued that Buddhism is the no. 1 export of India “with the lowest investment and highest return”.
“To revive Nalanda tradition in India is to revive India as number one in culture and civilisation and that is the commitment of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
“Hence this is the gift of His Holiness and the Tibetan people to this great nation and loving people that Nalanda is yours, we have preserved it and now we want to revive it in India which will make India great again, which will make India the centre of peace, compassion and happiness.
“That is the vision of His Holiness, the contribution he would like to make. I hope the people of this great land will join with His Holiness to make India the land of peace and compassion.
Concluding his remarks, CTA President said, ”This world is blessed with the presence of His Holiness for last 83 years. The prayer form Tibetans inside Tibet, the wish of Tibetans in Tibet is to see His Holiness in Tibet.
“Let us all work together to make that dream a reality. From Ladakh, His Holiness will travel to Lhasa, the land of gods where Tibetan people would like to see him sooner than later.”
Other speakers at the occasion were President of the Ladakh Buddhist Association Tsewang Thinles, Ashraf Ali Barcha of the Anjuman Imamia, a Shia Muslim welfare organisation, Director of the Tawang Foundation, Maling Gonbo, Chief Executive Councillor of Ladakh Area Hill Development Council (CEC, LAHDC) Gyal P Wangyal and Woeser Rinpoche.
Dhondup Tsering, President of Local Tibetan Assembly read the statement from the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile.