Wednesday October 24, 2018

Dalai Lama’s tête-à-tête with Tibetan diaspora in US

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Minneapolis, USA: His Holiness the Dalai Lama journeyed through a nearly 90-mile drive from Rochester to Minneapolis on February 21, where the local Tibetan community had invited him to teach and interact with the Tibetan diaspora in the city.

Welcomed by the Tibetan community representatives, Mayor of Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges and State Representative Carolyn Laine, he spoke to scores of the audience gathered at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Dr Tsewang Ngodup, President of the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota, while briefing the gathering, thanked the spiritual leader for accepting the Foundation’s invitation. Affirming the intention of Minnesotan Tibetans to be active members of the Tibetan diaspora, Dr Ngodup said they desire to contribute to their local communities and conduct themselves as global citizens.

Tibetan community members greeting and offering His Holiness the Dalai Lama a traditional welcome drink
Tibetan community members greeting and offering His Holiness the Dalai Lama a traditional welcome drink.

We give a brief view of Dalai Lama’s speech and other activities that enveloped the event:

  • Seated before thangkas of Chenrezig, the Medicine Buddha, and Guru Rinpoche, His Holiness began his talk by appreciating the efforts of the Tibetan diaspora who are trying to maintain their Tibetan values and ethics outside the country as well:

“I always start by greeting my brothers and sisters. That’s how I think of you and how I think of all 7 billion human beings, so I’m never lonely. Two years ago we celebrated Losar together and I’m happy to see you all again…”

“I’m glad to know that you are trying to preserve our traditional values. It’s 57 years now that we’ve been in exile while the turmoil in Tibet began 60 years ago. Nevertheless, you’ve kept your spirits up, which is praiseworthy, and maintained our cherished values, for which I’d like to thank you all. The Tibetan spirit is strong and we’ve kept our culture and religious traditions alive, which is important because they have a contribution to make to the world at large. That’s something to be proud of.”

  • He then spoke about his experience as a human being and not as a Buddhist or as Dalai Lama:

“The key is to develop a concern for others’ well-being; a sense of compassion. If, instead of anger, hatred and suspicion, we were moved by loving-kindness, we would naturally have greater respect for others and our actions would be non-violent.”

“In my experience, what we need is a calm mind and warm-heartedness provides a basis for that. I believe that if we can train those who are young today in these qualities the world will be a more peaceful place later in this century. This is not something we can hope the government or the UN can do, real change starts with individuals. We each have to make a contribution. I request you to do so too.”

Upon hearing this, the feedback from the 3000-strong audience was a heavy applause.

His Holiness speaking before the 3000-strong audience
His Holiness speaking before the 3000-strong audience.
  • The spiritual leader went on to explain his second commitment of promoting inter-religious harmony, declaring that all religions carry a common message of love, forgiveness and tolerance.

“Those of us who follow a religious practice ourselves have a responsibility to work to foster inter-religious harmony.”

  • Gratifying the nurturing he received from the Tibetan culture while growing up, His Holiness referred to the Tibetan culture as a culture of peace and non-violence:

“I’m also a Tibetan and since I’ve been nurtured by Tibetans since I was small, I can never give up the cause of Tibet. In 2001, I semi-retired from political responsibility and in 2011 completely retired. I did this to promote democracy. Still, Tibetans both in Tibet and outside have placed their hopes in me…”

“Tibetan culture can contribute to making the world a more peaceful, compassionate place.”

He further praised Tibet’s Buddhist traditions as a complete transmission of the traditions of India’s Nalanda University, including logic, psychology and a range of philosophical views.  Translated mostly from Sanskrit into Tibetan, the traditions are contained in the more than 300 volumes of Buddhist literature.

  • Continuing to speak about Nalanda’s tradition, he spoke of the great Nalanda scholar Shantarakshita. He told how Shantarakshita gave the first monastic ordination in Tibet, helped found the first monastery at Samye, and explained the great treatises. He also encouraged the translation of Buddhist literature into Tibetan.
  • Talking about the ‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’ by the disciple of Potowa, Geshe Langri Tangpa, His Holiness explained all the verses one by one:

The first verse is about altruism and the need for compassion and affection for others. The second is about humility. The third is about being mindful in daily life while the fourth verse is to not give in to anger but showing compassion upon encountering reckless and unruly people. The fifth suggests accepting defeat and giving the victory to others while the sixth verse recommends cultivating patience around people who mock or despise you. The seventh verse deals with the practice of giving and taking. The final of the eight verses advises not to give in to the eight worldly concerns and to see everything as an illusion, something which completely lacks independent existence.

  • Quoting the renowned Indian Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna, he said:

A person is not earth, not water,
Not fire, not wind, not space,
Not consciousness, and not all of them.
What person is there other than these?

He said that while a person is designated on the basis of the above six elements, these elements exist only as designations.

  • Dalai Lama then led the gathering, including around 2000 Tibetans, in reciting three verses meant to awaken the mind. He concluded his speech by explaining the ‘five paths’ which led him to the ‘Heart of Wisdom’ with the first ‘gate’ indicating the path of seeing and the last gate ‘bodhi svaha’- the attainment of enlightenment.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama accepting a gift of flowers at the conclusion of his teaching.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama accepting a gift of flowers at the conclusion of his teaching.
  • Being offered a white silk ‘katas’ as a token of respect, Dalai Lama left the stage smiling and waving to the happy crowd, and afterward was driven back to Rochester. (With picture courtesy and Inputs from tibet.net)

Also Watch this video about how Tibet is Burning:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ao5NxasryxA

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Spiritual Ideas Sore At The World Hindu Congress

A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new -- when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.

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Government invites entries for first National CSR Awards VOA

At its best, speeches at the recently concluded World Hindu Congress echoed the soaring spiritual ideals evoked by Swami Vivekananda in Chicago 125 years ago.

Even Mohan Bhagwat, Sarsangchanalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), focused essentially on the need for unity and patience among Hindus while fighting obstacles, of which, he said, there would be many. The burden of excavating implied accusations in Bhagwat’s speech fell to his critics.

At the plenary session, the moderator requested speakers to address issues of conflict without naming the speakers or their organisations in the interest of harmony. Other speakers sought to unite the followers of all the great religions that took birth in India — Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism.

Some of the speakers from Bhagwat to Swami Swaroopananda of the Chinmaya Mission, framed the issues before Hinduism in a moral paradigm. Ashwin Adhin, the Vice President of the Republic of Suriname, began his speech in chaste Hindi, later quoting cognitive scientist George Lakoff: “Facts matter immensely. But to be meaningful they have to be framed in terms of their moral importance.”

Hinduism
Buddhism relates sins to the characteristics one adopts. Pixabay

The dissonances, between the spiritual and the mundane, were to emerge later on the fringes of the seminars which were part of the Congress. Many of the delegates appropriated to themselves the mantle of a culture besieged by proselytising faiths. There were speakers who urged Hindus to have more children to combat their ‘dwindling population’. Posters warned Hindus of the dangers from ‘love jihad’ (Muslim men ‘enticing’ Hindu women).

In one of the sessions on the media, filmmaker Amit Khanna noted that religion had always played a prominent part in Indian cinema, starting with the earliest mythologicals. “Raja Harishchandra”, the first silent film, he said, was made by Dadasaheb Phalke in 1913. He sought to reassure the audience on the future of Hinduism. “Over 80 percent of Indians are Hindus,” he said adding: “Hinduism has survived many upheavals for thousands of years. Hinduism has never been endangered.”

Other speakers, lacking spiritual and academic pedigrees, drew on an arsenal of simulated anguish and simmering indignation.

The nuances of history pass lightly over the ferociously devout and it took little effort to pander to an aggravated sense of historical aggrievement.

Hinduism
Swami Vivekananda used to stress upon the universal brotherhood and self-awakening. Wikimedia Commons

At one of the debates, the mere mention of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, elicited sniggers and boos. The speaker hinted at ‘Nehruvian socialism’ which had made the Indian economy a non-starter. He concluded with a coup de grace, to a standing ovation: “Nehru did not like anything Indian.”

The poet Rabindranath Tagore, who composed the Indian national anthem, had spoken of his vision of a country where the “clear stream of reason had not lost its way”. At some of the discussions, even the most indulgent observer would have been hard put to discern the stream of reason.

The image of a once great civilisation suppressed by a century of British rule and repeated plunder by invaders captured the imagination of many in the audience. Hanging above it all, like a disembodied spirit, was the so-called malfeasance of Nehru, the leader who had won the trust of Hindus only to betray them in the vilest manner.

These tortured souls would have been well advised to adopt a more holistic approach to Hinduism, and history, looking no further than Swami Vivekananda, who once said: “The singleness of attachment (Nishtha) to a loved object, without which no genuine love can grow, is very often also the cause of denunciation of everything else.”

Hinduism
The Hindu population in Pakistan is about 1.8% according to the 2018 census, 0.2% more than that of the 1998 and the 1951 figures.

Historians have informed us that Nehru preferred his father’s intellect over his mother’s tradition but he was never contemptuous of religion. While he undoubtedly felt that organised religion had its flaws, he opined that it supplied a deeply felt inner need of human nature while also giving a set of values to human life.

In private conversations some delegates spoke of how their America-born children had helped persuade them to drop their pathological aversion to gays and lesbians. Despite their acute wariness of perceived cultural subjugation, the irony was obviously lost on them that Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code,(which criminalises gay sex) recently overturned by the Indian Supreme Court, is a hangover from the Victorian British era-embodied in the Buggery Act of 1533.

In the face of the upcoming elections in the US, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi’s decision to speak at the conference was a political risk. With a newly energised political Left, even the perception of being linked with “fascist” or sectarian forces could be political suicide in the critical November elections. Despite vociferous appeals to disassociate himself from the Congress, Krishnamoorthi chose to attend.

“I decided I had to be here because I wanted to reaffirm the highest and only form of Hinduism that I have ever known and been taught — namely one that welcomes all people, embraces all people, and accepts all people, regardless of their faith. I reject all other forms. In short, I reaffirm the teaching of Swami Vivekananda,” Krishnamoorthi said.

Given the almost pervasive abhorrence of anything remotely Nehruvian among a section of the delegates, it was a revelation to hear the opinion of Dattatrey Hosable, the joint general secretary and second-in-command in the RSS hierarchy. Speaking on the promise of a newly-resurgent India, Hosable said in an interview to Mayank Chhaya, a local journalist-author-filmmaker: “A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new — when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.”

Also Read: Triple Talaq Now Banned in India

The quote is from Nehru’s famous Tryst with Destiny speech delivered to the Indian Constituent Assembly on the midnight of August 14, 1947 — proof, if any is needed, that the force of Nehru’s ideas can transcend one’s disdain of him. (IANS)