By Shyamal Sinha
well-wishers and devotees in Ladakh celebrated the 83rd birth anniversary of the Nobel peace laureate and preeminent Tibetan 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, MP, MLA, President of Ladakh Buddhist Association, Members of Ladakh Hill Development Council, Indian officials, Chief Representative of Ladakh and thousands of Tibetans and Buddhists.
His Holiness alighted from his throne and proceed towards the front of the stage to address the tens of thousand devotees gathered at the Shiwatsel teaching ground.
“In the Buddhist tradition, the best offering is the offering of practice and implementation of guru’s teachings. 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 all sentient beings 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 added that 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 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. 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 preserving the Himalayan culture and religion, should be reflected through the study and training on the texts, not by building temples and statues.
His Holiness then thanked and 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 our 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, “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. In the future, my hope is that the Ladakhi Muslims could produce learned scholars in logic and philosophy of Nalanda tradition.
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.