Advice for Tibetan Students and Interviews for Mongolian Television

December 5th 2013

New Delhi, India, 5 December 2013 - His Holiness the Dalai Lama is currently staying at the TCV Student Hostel complex in Delhi and had this morning agreed to pose for group photographs with the resident students. He also took the opportunity to speak to them about the value of education.

“The first thing we decided to do in exile was to set up schools, because a lack of modern education was one of the causes of our problems. We requested Pandit Nehru and the Government of India to support our appeal to the UN. However, Nehru told me it wouldn’t help. He said that to keep the Tibet issue alive what we needed to do was educate young Tibetans. That would prevent the issue from getting lost. The Indian government took responsibility for meeting the expenses of Tibetan education. If all we wanted was access to modern education, we wouldn’t have needed to set up separate schools. But we wanted Tibetan schools.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to resident students at the TCV Student Hostel Complex in New Delhi, India on December 5, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
“Shri Mali, the Minister of Education, was at a banquet when Nehru asked him to take care of this. On the same day, the Government of India and Nehru announced the setting up of the CTSA.”
He explained that the standard of education here is much better than is available in Tibet itself at present. There is almost no illiteracy here in exile. He asked the students sitting at his feet not to forget their compatriots in Tibet, especially the young people. He remarked that Tibetans in Tibet have no options to express their feelings, which is one of the factors contributing to the rash of self-immolations that have been taking place.

“When I visit other countries where there are indigenous people struggling to preserve their heritage, such as Peru and New Zealand,” he said. “I find that some of them do not have any means of writing to preserve their culture. I advise them in such circumstances to at least give their children traditional names.

“In Peru, the Mayans have a very strong desire to preserve their own culture and way of life, but I told them it is a mistake for them to isolate themselves from other parts of the world. Preserve your identity, I told them, but integrate, educate your children, use knowledge and intelligence to preserver your culture.

“In Norway, on the other hand, the Sami people have learnt Norwegian. They have a modern education and are able to maintain their traditional culture within that context. They present an example that others would profitably copy.”

He told the students that the Tibetan language, and crucially its written form, were developed to translate Buddhist literature. As a result, today, it is the optimal language for discussing Buddhist thought and ideas. Tibetans have studied Buddhism rigorously for more than a thousand years and are especially equipped to teach and discuss it as a result. This is something to be proud of. It’s necessary to pursue a modern education, but it’s necessary to maintain Tibetan studies too.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to resident students at the TCV Student Hostel Complex in New Delhi, India on December 5, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
“Scientists are taking more interest in what Buddhism has to say, although it hasn’t always been like this. I remember attending a meeting in California and encountering a woman scientist who was initially very sceptical. She looked as if she was thinking, ‘What has this monk got to do with science?’ As the conversation unfolded and we were able to explain that Buddhists don’t believe in a creator, or in an unchanging self, her attitude softened. Later, she asked questions derived from her own field of study.

“Similarly, during the Mind & Life conference in Drepung Monastery last winter, one of the scientists, who declared he is not a Buddhist, nevertheless expressed his sense of conviction about past and future lives. Ancient Indian thought, Buddhism in particular, has a great deal of light to shed on the mind and emotions. Likewise, scientists find the key Buddhist axiom of dependent arising attractive.

“Modern science focuses on sensory consciousness rather than on mental consciousness. Its understanding of the mind and emotions is still at quite an elementary level. Contrary to opinion in some quarters, Buddhism is not about frightening people; it’s about relieving suffering.”

His Holiness criticized the way we tend to see religion as a custom to follow, rather than as something to study. He pointed out that the Buddha had encouraged his followers to test his teaching as goldsmith tests gold. Experiment, investigation and analysis are the tools to use.

He said:

“When I listen to scientist’s presentations, I find there are inconsistencies and I challenge them. The study of logic has really helped me. Likewise, the scientists who have been teaching our monks have remarked that although many of them lack any training in English or mathematics, their logical outlook has proved very significant.

“When you’re studying, recite Om ara patsa nadhi - I do that - and seek Manjushri’s support. Maintain good conduct and keep up our good Tibetan reputation for honesty and reliability.”


Uranchimeg Nansal of Mongolian National Television interviewing His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi, India on December 5, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
His Holiness was then interviewed by three different Mongolians. For Mongolian National Television, Uranchimeg Nansal asked why he had decided against giving the Gyalwa Gyatso empowerment and had given Vajrabhairava instead. He told her that Vajrabhairava has both peaceful and wrathful aspects. In the past, many masters in India and Tibet have relied on aspects of Manjushri.  He said that when he first came to Mongolia in 1979, he gave this empowerment in Gaden Monastery to many elderly monks. He gave it to support the revival of the Buddhist tradition in Mongolia. “Now, you are free and can revive your practice, I thought it appropriate to give it again.

Gused Tserenpill for Buddha World asked His Holiness about the environment and His Holiness appreciates the need to take care of the environment because this planet is our only home. He said we need to work out new strategies in the face of climate change, pointing out that when it’s cold you don’t burn the furniture. To do this requires intelligence.

His Holiness gave Munkhabayar Dashzereg for Soyol a concise explanation of the role of women in Tibetan Buddhism. He explained the situation about introducing the Bhikshuni ordination, but also pointed out that it had been decided to grant qualified nuns a degree of Geshema. He told her that has been shown scientifically that women have greater sensitivity to the pain of others and that we live at a time when the qualities of female leadership are needed more than ever.
 

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