On this auspicious occasion of His Holiness the Great Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s eighty-eighth birthday, the Kashag — on behalf of the Tibetan people inside and outside Tibet — would like to pay our deepest obeisance and greetings to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We also extend our warmest welcome to all the distinguished guests present here today and everyone across the world celebrating this momentous day.
Today is a special day to celebrate and also to reflect with gratitude and pride the unparalleled leadership and legacy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama towards creating a happier life and a more peaceful world.
Born in a small village in Kumbum in the Amdo region in Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama assumed the throne of the traditional seat of the Dalai Lamas of Tibet in Lhasa. His Holiness the Dalai Lama attained the highest doctorate in Buddhist philosophy amidst a great assembly of scholars. At the young age of sixteen, His Holiness the Dalai Lama shouldered Tibet’s spiritual and temporal leadership and undertook initiatives to bring about social reforms. However, the invasion and occupation by the People’s Republic of China brought Tibet on the verge of extermination, which compelled His Holiness the Dalai Lama to tread the path into exile.
The Kashag’s statement of last year provided a glimpse of the immeasurable leadership and legacy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, particularly towards the Tibetan people, including the establishment of the Central Tibetan Administration in exile for the realisation of the just cause of Tibet and the preservation of Tibetan national identity.
On this occasion, we have endeavoured to highlight a fraction of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s profound meritorious services at the global level. His Holiness the Dalai Lama made His maiden visit to the Buddhist countries of Japan and Thailand in 1967. During His first visits to 11 countries in Europe in 1973, His Holiness the Dalai Lama strongly emphasised that, along with material development, there is an urgent need to cultivate universal responsibility and develop a good heart irrespective of whether one is a believer or non-believer.
In 1979, His Holiness the Dalai Lama embarked on visits to 24 cities and more than 40 universities and religious centres in the US, thereby establishing direct contact with Western society. At that time, His Holiness the Dalai Lama stressed on the need to develop a common approach, maintain harmonious coexistence among the different religious traditions of the world and incorporate a non-violent approach that could combat global challenges and create a more compassionate world.
It is well-known that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has had a great interest in Western science which is evident from His deep curiosity in machines since His childhood. In 1979, His Holiness the Dalai Lama initiated dialogue with renowned physicists such as David Bohm in Europe, and more such engagements with experts from psychology, neurology, traditional medicine and ecology took place at Amherst College in 1984.
The meeting between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Western scientists at His residence in Dharamsala in 1987 led to 35 successive ground-breaking Mind and Life conferences until 2022. Based on the Buddhist science of dependent arising and the Buddhist tradition of nonviolence, His Holiness the Dalai Lama engaged with modern scientists for more than three decades on a comparative study of India’s Nalanda tradition of dependent arising and modern science, leading to an unprecedented enrichment of scientific knowledge.
The dialogues seek to find similarities between scientific logic and Buddhist metaphysics; similarities between Quantum physics and the Madhyamaka theory of all phenomena having no independent existence and Mind Only theory of negation of the existence of external reality; differences between the Buddhist view that the universe has neither beginning nor end and the scientific concept of Big Bang theory; explanation on the evolution of life based on Darwin’s theory of evolution and ecology by investigating whether plants and flowers possess the ability to sense and the positioning of objects as a basis for consciousness. Buddhism has offered significant contributions to modern science in neurology and psychology.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has emphasised that a compassionate motivation should be the cornerstone of any scientific research to ensure its results not become a cause of harm for sentient beings and environment. His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s interaction with scientists has not only resulted in a transformation of the scientific view of religion but also broadened the horizon of the scientific field of research worldwide. Similarly, the Mind and Life Dialogues have played a pivotal role in establishing contemplative practices as a legitimate area of study and have drawn the interest of millions of people in understanding the benefits of the practices to both physical and mental health.
In the last fifty years, Tibetan Buddhism flourished across the world not just as a religion but also as a repository of Buddhist science and culture that developed and flourished over the last 1,400 years. Some scientists are expressing the view that Buddhist science should be recognised as a branch of science along with natural science and social science.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s collaboration with Emory University on the education of heart and mind resulted in the Social, Emotional and Ethical Learning (SEE Learning), which is now being accessed in more than 130 countries and has paved a new direction for education in the present and future. As stated by Emory University, SEE Learning is an innovative education system being implemented at the individual and societal level, imparting the science of compassion, the cultivation of awareness and tools of engagement. This education system has offered a sacred method to a happier life for all humanity through developing universal human values not bound by state, nation and faith.
Travelling across the globe, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has visited around 60 countries in five continents over the years. Amongst these, His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited the US alone around 60 times; Germany 47 times; Japan 43 times; Switzerland 32 times; Italy 31 times and France 26 times. His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visits draw huge audiences filling auditoriums, stadiums and public parks. Till date, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has made around 500 international visits, constantly meeting with intellectuals, scientists and the general public. His Holiness the Dalai Lama also met with around 500 global political and religious leaders. In recognition of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s meritorious service to humanity, governments, parliaments, institutions and foundations have conferred over 200 honorary doctorates and awards, including around 73 awards in the US alone.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama proposed the Five-Point Peace Plan at the US Congress in 1987 and elaborated on His vision of the Middle-Way Approach at the European Parliament in Strasbourg in 1988. In 2008, a Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People was presented to the Chinese government. The Central Tibetan Administration remains fully committed to resolving the Sino-Tibet conflict through dialogue based on the Middle Way Policy.
The four principal commitments of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the cultivation of human values, promotion of religious harmony, protection of Tibetan religion, culture and environment, and revival of ancient Indian knowledge cannot be adequately elaborated in a few paragraphs. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the refuge and inspiration for the world in general and Tibetans in particular.
As per the propitious prescience of the guardian deities of Tibet and the repeated assurances of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, every Tibetan should consider it their sacred duty to work towards the realisation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s vision, ensure His long life and the flourishing of His meritorious services. Eschewing meaningless divisive regionalism and sectarianism, it is of paramount importance to forge unity among the Tibetan people and grasp the golden opportunity to realise the just cause of Tibet under the prevailing global situation. This will be a real offering and homage in honour of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s birthday. Therefore, the Kashag appeals to every Tibetan to be prudent in judging the opportunities and threats that confront our common cause.
Taking this opportunity, the Kashag would like to express our deep appreciation and thank the Central and State Governments of India for tirelessly taking the responsibility of looking after the security of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We also thank all those who have unwavering faith and devotion in the global vision and leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Finally, the Kashag prays for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the fulfilment of all His wishes. The Kashag also fervently prays for the swift return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Potala Palace and the reunion of Tibetans in and outside Tibet. May the truth of Tibet triumph soon and the light of peace prevail across the world.
6 July 2023
Note: This is a translation of the Tibetan statement. Should any discrepancies arise, please treat the Tibetan version as final and authoritative.