Saturday September 21, 2019

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

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Dalai Lama

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

Next Story

India Today, Home to Many Tibetan, Afghans, Africans and Many Other Ethnic and Religious Minorities

There are many suburbs in Delhi where you find more foreign refugees than locals

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India, Tibetan, Afghans
Jews (also know as Yehudi) and Parsis (Zoroastrians) stand out in history. Pixabay

By: Surinder Jain

Hindus have been the most tolerant and accepting of people fleeing their homelands ever since people started fleeing their homes. Jews (also know as Yehudi) and Parsis (Zoroastrians) stand out in history. But India today, is also home to many Tibetan, Afghans, Africans and many other ethnic and religious minorities from al over the world. There are many suburbs in Delhi where you find more foreign refugees than locals. Local Hindus and every other Indian accepts them as a part of their family. India.

A very less known fact in Jewish history is the fact that India is the only country and Hindus are one community in the world where Jews have always been safe. The first dispersal of Jews happened with the destruction of their temple over 2,000 years ago and many Jews came to Chera dynasty kingdom on the ship of King Solomon. These Jews are known as Malabari Jews as they settled on the southern coast of India called Malabar coast.

They are also called Black Jews perhaps due to the evolution and adaptation of their skin colour to survive in hot temperate coastal climate of Kerala. Many evolutionary biologist believe that it takes not too many generations for any skin colour to adapt to black skin colour  in temperate climate. They also say that black skinned humans turn to white skin in a cold climate. As an aside, they also predict that human race when it settles on the planet Mars will evolve into pink skin humans to survive harsh Martian radiation.

Coming back to Jews, a second wave of Jew migrants came as refugees about 500 years ago to escape prosecution from Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions. These Jews were granted land to settle by a Hindu Chera king Bhaskar Ravi Varma who also granted them tax concessions and religious freedom. These Jews were white skinned and are known in India as Pardesi (foreign) Jews or White Jews as opposed to indigenous or Black Jews who had arrived 1500 years earlier. They established their own suburb on the land grant which even to this day is known as Jew Town in Kochi.

India, Tibetan, Afghans
Hindus have been the most tolerant and accepting of people fleeing their homelands ever since people started fleeing their homes. Hinducouncil

These white Jews as they preferred to call themselves built India’s oldest Jewish synagogue (temple)  called Kochangadi Synagogue in the year 1334. The temple stands and is in use by the remaining Jews. Another Synagogue of Jews which is in regular use can be found in the north western city of Ahmadabad.

Most younger Jews, after the founding of Israel, leave India for Israel. Many more are now calling, like other Indians, USA and UK as their new home. The number of Jews are dwindling fast in India and they may but remain in the history books of India one day. But as celebrated author Salman Rushdie has predicted this day in his novel The Moor’s Last Sigh, parts of which are based in Kochi. It is “an extinction to be mourned; not an extermination, such as (it) occurred elsewhere,” Rushdie wrote, in reference to the warm reception Jews got in Kochi, compared to the hostility they faced in many other places. It is, he added, “the end, nevertheless, of a story that took two thousand years to tell”.

India has another minority called Parsis (which means ‘Persian‘ in the Persian language) are a Zoroastrian community who migrated to the Indian subcontinent from Persia during the Muslim conquest of Persia of CE 636–651; one of two such groups (the other being Iranis). According to the Qissa-i Sanjan, Parsis migrated from Greater Iran to Gujarat, where they were given refuge, and given granted permission to stay by the local ruler, Jadi Rana between the 8th and 10th century CE. Parsi legends regarding their ancestors’ migration to India depict a beleaguered band of religious refugees escaping the new rule post the Muslim conquests in order to preserve their ancient faith.

Today Parsis consider themselves as much Indian as any Hindu of the land. Although there are only about 60,000 Parsis in India, the community is free to practice their religion and business. The numbers of Parsis are declining due to low fertility rate linked to inbreeding. Indian government has setup a Ministry dedicated to increasing Parsi population and subsidizes test tube conception.

Also Read- “I Know You’re Trying, but Just Not Hard Enough”, Teen Activist to Lawmakers

India is also home to Dalai Lama, a Tibetan in exile in India. After the annexation of Tibet by the Chinese communist forces, Buddhist monks were being butchered. A large number of Tibetan Buddhists along with their leader Dalai Lama fled to India. India, now a Hindu majority secular republic, welcomed them with open arms.

Tibetan refuge in India has three stages. The first stage was in 1959 following the 14th Dalai Lama‘s escape to Dharamshala in India, in fear of persecution from the People’s Liberation Army. The second stage occurred in the 1980s, when China partially opened Tibet to foreigners. The third stage began in 1996 and continues today although with less frequency. (Hinducouncil)