As His Holiness the Dalai Lama turned 85 this year, the Central Tibetan Administration dedicated the year 2020-21 as…
Posted by TIBET TV on Friday, 4 December 2020
Dharamshala: As the Year of Gratitude celebrates the glorious 85 years His Holiness the Dalai Lama has spent and continues to spend in the service of humanity, the celebration is also a tribute to his four principal commitments. To celebrate the life and the still-unfolding legacy of His Holiness, the first panel of the talk series honouring his four major commitments commenced today.
The first panel of the talk series featured Dr Thupten Jinpa, Kalon Ven Karma Gelek Yuthok, Geshe Lhakdor, and Geshe Ngawang Samten each discussing the key aspects and contents of the four life-long commitments of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Dr Thupten Jinpa, adjunct professor at the School of Religious Studies at McGill University who was also a principal English translator of His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke on the first principal commitment of His Holiness the Dalai Lama-Promotion of Human values.
Dr Jinpa began who has worked closely with His Holiness for over 35 years as his personal English interpreter explained that from the beginning as early as the 70s, His Holiness was very firm about devising Buddhist teachings and practices for the benefit of the larger world.
“Every so often, many religious leaders are more inclined toward propagating teachings and serving their own community but in the case of His Holiness, it is the opposite. He has always been keen on devising Buddhism to serve the 7 billion human beings” he said.
Already in the 1970s, His Holiness has been propagating the need for developing a sense of universal responsibility. He was preaching about the need for a shift in human consciousness, and an ability to think collectively for the greater good of humanity.
One excellent example added Dr Jinpa that reflects His Holiness devotion to universal responsibility is when he received his Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. When His Holiness was conferred a Nobel Peace Prize, he was recognised as the first-ever to have his citation include a contribution to the environment indicating that the international community was inspired by His Holiness approach to universal responsibility.
As His Holiness teachings started to inspire more people, his commitment toward the promotion of human values began to gain momentum.
When it comes to promoting human values, Dr Jinpa added that one of the things His Holiness has always urged is to separate the discourse on human values from religious perspectives. To not use secular ethics and values to contradict the religion but to use them beyond the framework of religion.
In addition, Dr Jinpa also explained the key sources from which His Holiness develop a discourse on human values. He explained that His Holiness uses the shared common human experiences to make people realise that in every aspect, human irrespective of faith has the fundamental aspiration to seek happiness without suffering.
Secondly, His Holiness urges people to use common sense and finally, His Holiness urges the use of key scientific findings to show that living ethically begets lasting happiness. Through these three key sources, His Holiness has been able to develop a discourse on the promotion of human values, said Dr Jinpa.
For those desiring to learn more about His Holiness approach toward the promotion of human values, Dr Jinpa recommended reading the two books ‘Ethics for the new Millenium’ published in 1999 and ‘Ethics for the whole world’.
Speaking on the promotion of religious harmony which is the second commitment of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Ven Karma Gelek Yuthok, Kalon for Department of Religion and Culture, CTA said that the practice of love, kindness, and compassion are the only means to offer gratitude to His Holiness.
He said that when His Holiness first observed his retirement from administrative and political responsibility he then began his drive toward the promotion of his principal commitments.
“His Holiness the Dalai Lama has committed himself to continue his efforts in the promotion of four principal commitments even after handing over his political and administrative power to the elected leadership,” said Kalon Karma Yuthok.
Even though religions exist to solve the problems and suffering of mankind, Kalon noted that several cases involving religious issues have been on the rise lately and religious disharmony is not uncommon today. This is why he added, His Holiness has committed himself to dissolve religious discord and promote harmony among different religions and their traditions.
As Kalon spoke on the subject, he also explained the aspects involving the second commitment.
Enhancement of mutual respect amongst religions being the first aspect, His Holiness considers genuine mutual respect and understanding among different religions as the foundation of religious harmony.
“His Holiness vision for religious harmony goes far beyond forming diplomatic religious relations and friendship” added Kalon Yuthok and further elucidated the three principal grounds emphasised by His Holiness for developing respect.
The first and the foremost which His Holiness emphasises is that the basic teaching of all major religions is the same and identical that involves the teachings of love, kindness, compassion, tolerance, forgiveness, and all fundamental moral precepts.
Secondly, all major religions benefit millions of people and fulfill their spiritual needs depending on the spiritual aptitude and mental disposition of each person. Finally, enhancement of inter-religious understanding propagates that the philosophical differences among religions should be seen as the richness of the spiritual teachings and not as the basis for conflict and disharmony. These fundamental approaches are recommended for gaining a proper understanding of not only other religions but one’s own religion as well.
Geshe Lhakdor, Director, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (LTWA) spoke on the third commitment which is the preservation of Tibetan language and culture.
“No people can be identified as a separate entity from one’s language and culture. The very identity of the people and their nations are represented by their language and culture,” asserts Geshe Lhakdor, Director of Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (LTWA). Geshe Lhakdor was speaking on the third commitment of His Holiness the Dalai Lama-preservation of the Tibetan language and culture.
Geshe Lhakdor remarked that while material development is necessary to sustain one’s culture and civilisation, he attested it should not come at the cost of impacting the values and richness of the culture and civilisation.
In the case of Tibet, he noted that Tibet has a rich culture and civilisation. He mentioned that every facet of human knowledge is found in the five major and minor Tibetan studies of knowledge which has the potential to benefit humankind as attested by the findings of scientific studies.
Because of this reason, His Holiness has been earnest bout preserving the distinct language and culture of Tibet. Both culture and language cannot be sustained without the other.
However, the rich Tibetan culture and language observes Geshe Lhakdor is facing a serious threat of survival and emphasised it must be addressed strategically.
Commenting on the fourth and final commitment of His Holiness the Dalai Lama- Revival of ancient Indian wisdom, Geshe Ngawang Samten, Vice-Chancellor of Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS), Sarnath explained how His Holiness began the process of reviving Tibetan Buddhism in exile and his drive toward the promotion of ancient Indian knowledge.
Since His Holiness came into exile in India, explains Geshe Samten, he began the restoration of Tibetan Buddhism which had otherwise been completely destroyed by the Chinese Communist Party in the name of cultural revolution.
“His Holiness constructed monastic institutions and learning centers to revive Tibetan Buddhism and over the recent years, he has exponentially advocated the ancient Indian wisdom particularly the Nalanda tradition from which Tibetan Buddhism is derived. Given every talk and teachings, His Holiness has always lauded the ancient tradition of the Nalanda institution and expressed his earnest pursuit to restore and revive the ancient Indian knowledge” added Geshe Samten.
Commenting on His Holiness final commitment, Geshe Samten pointed out Holiness belief that ancient Indian knowledge is more than a study of religion and its relevance beyond the religious doctrine to contribute significantly to the well being of human beings. The Nalanda tradition, in particular, considers His Holiness a great potential of making a significant contribution in the fields of philosophy, epistemology, and logic, etc thus making it a highly intellectual and spiritual tradition.