His Holiness the Dalai Lama Visits a School, Buddhist Centre and Temple in Osaka

April 9th 2014

Osaka, Japan, 9 April 2014 - His Holiness the Dalai Lama began his day in Osaka with a visit to the Seifu Gakuen Boys School. More than 2000 Middle and High School students assembled on the school ground applauded his arrival. As he took his place on the dais, they launched into a spirited recitation of the Heart Sutra, at the end of which he began his talk.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to students at the Seifu Gakuen Boys School in Osaka, Japan on April 9, 2014. Photo/Office of Tibet, Japan

“Greetings to my old friend Hiroko, staff and students. I am pleased to be here once more. It makes me very happy to hear you recite the Heart Sutra. I recite it myself every day and reflect on what it says. In fact, the first thing I do every morning is to think about emptiness. Indeed, the focus of the Heart Sutra is the fourfold explanation of emptiness: ‘Form is empty; emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form; form also is not other than emptiness.’ Is this just a matter of scholarly discussion? No, because it is relevant to our daily lives.”

He explained that some of the thoughts that arise in our minds are conducive to peace of mind, while others disturb it. This is why it is said that the disturbing emotions are a cause of suffering. Our disturbing emotions latch on to qualities that things appear to possess. Thinking about emptiness helps us understand that things don’t exist the way they appear. His Holiness mentioned the American psychiatrist Aaron Beck who told him that when we are angry about something or attached to something, the concerned object seems 100% negative or 100% attractive, whereas in fact 90% of the qualities we see in the object are a result of our own mental projection. We exaggerate. In reality, objects are empty of such exaggeration.

“One of human beings’ distinguishing characteristics is their intelligence. By studying, as you do here at school, you increase your wisdom. You belong to the 21st century and if you are Buddhists, you should be 21st century Buddhists. This means coming to understand the thought on the basis of which we develop faith. The Buddha encouraged his followers to analyse and investigate his teachings. All major religious traditions teach about love and compassion, but Buddhism also teaches wisdom; the ability to overcome ignorance.”

Over 2000 students listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the Seifu Gakuen Boys School in Osaka, Japan on April 9, 2014. Photo/Office of Tibet, Japan
His Holiness spoke of belonging to the 20th century, an era that is over. He told the students that belonging to the 21st century they had the opportunity to shape the future. Where the 20th century was marred by violence, it is still possible to ensure that the 21st century is an era of peace.

“Human beings are social animals living in communities. If you think only of yourself, ultimately you’ll be the loser. You’ll tend to be suspicious and anxious about others. Without trust, your mind will not be at peace. Scientists have shown that constant suspicion, fear and anger also undermine our physical well-being.”

Modern education tends to be focussed on material development, not on inner development, with little room for peace of mind. His Holiness suggested that just as we have encouraged physical hygiene to secure our physical health, we need a corresponding emotional hygiene to help us learn to deal with our emotions. He said that in addition to modern education, there is a need to learn how to achieve inner peace.

Among questions the students asked was an enquiry about war. His Holiness remarked that war results from a negligent attitude to problems; seeing resort to force and weapons as the solution. What is needed instead is dialogue and compromise.

A student asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question during his visit to the Seifu Gakuen Boys School in Osaka, Japan on April 9, 2014. Photo/Office of Tibet, Japan
In answer to another question he clarified that he is a Buddhist monk, a follower of the Nalanda tradition who makes the awakening mind of bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness his main practice. Asked what life is, he replied that as long as there is a link between body and consciousness, there is life. And as for the meaning of human life he said that human beings have language as well as intelligence. Ignorance is described as the source of suffering and we overcome it not through prayer, but by increasing our understanding. He said that in his own case, the key to happiness is getting enough sleep, eating a good breakfast and lunch, but no dinner, and remaining relaxed and peaceful.

Asked why Tibetans have faced such trouble, His Holiness replied that from a Buddhist point of view, part of the answer has to do with their creating negative karma in the past. Another factor is their failing to use their intelligence at the appropriate time by paying attention to what was going on elsewhere in the world. He said that Japan has a similar inward looking tendency, despite strong economic ties to the rest of the world, which is why he repeatedly encourages Japanese to learn English to improve their international relations.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama preforming a consecration ceremony at the Myodo-kai Lay Buddhist Centre in Osaka, Japan on April 9, 2014. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
At the Myodo-kai Lay Buddhist Centre His Holiness first performed a brief consecration ceremony before addressing the audience.

“We are all followers of the same Buddha Shakyamuni. We recite the Heart Sutra that includes the mantra ‘Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi svaha’, which outlines how we make progress in the spiritual path. Dharma brothers and sisters, you have given steady support to Gyumey Tantric College, which for the last 600 years or so has been upholding the practice of both Sutra and Tantra, and I’d like to thank you.

“I’ve just been talking to some school students and I told them one of human beings’ unique qualities is the ability to smile. Showing our teeth in this way is an attractive gesture, but if a tiger bears its teeth it fills everyone with fear.”

The one question His Holiness was asked was about the meaning of true existence. He said:

His Holiness the Dalai Lama with members of the Myodo-kai Lay Buddhist Centre in Osaka, Japan on April 9, 2014. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
“When you look at me you see the Dalai Lama. You see the Dalai Lama’s body and hear his voice and he seems to truly exist. And yet if you examine what you see and hear more carefully in the light of Nagarjuna’s observation that ‘The Tathagata is neither one with nor completely different from his psycho-physical aggregates; It is not the case that the Tathagata exists separately from the aggregates and he has no ultimate existence because he is not different from the aggregates,’ there is nothing you can pinpoint that is the Dalai Lama.

He went on to say that we can temper the exaggeration we tend to project onto things by thinking about dependent origination, which is the essence of the Buddha’s teaching.

His Holiness was entertained to lunch at Hidenobu Hirako’s residence, a traditional Japanese house with tatami floors and rice paper screens set amidst a traditional garden, where time seemed to have stood still.

The community of the Rinnanji Temple, which belongs to the Soto Zen tradition, were pleased to welcome His Holiness in the afternoon. He in turn began his talk by telling them how happy and honoured he was to have the opportunity to meet with them. He said:

His Holiness the Dalai Lama offering prayers on his arrival at the Rinnanji Temple in Osaka, Japan on April 9, 2014. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
“I am now nearly 79 years old. At the age of 16 I took responsibility for Tibet at a difficult time and in so doing I lost my freedom. At the age of 24 I lost my country and became a refugee. I have met all kinds of difficulties, but as the Tibetan saying goes: ‘Wherever you are happy, you can call home, and whoever is kind to you is like your parents.’ I lost my country, but I’ve been happy and at home in the world at large. Living a meaningful life is not about acquiring money and other facilities; it’s about dedicating you life to helping others as much as you can.

“If you think only of yourself, you’ll be anxious, suspicious and full of fear. Such feelings create a distance between you and others. On the other hand, the more you think about others and try to benefit them, the easier you feel. The more compassionate you are, the better your health. Since I became a refugee 55 years ago, I’ve met all kinds of people, from leaders to beggars. All of them were the same as human beings; none wanted suffering, all wanted to be happy. Of course, there are differences between us in relation to country, language and faith, but these are secondary. If we pay them too much attention we divide ourselves into ‘us’ and ‘them’. If each of the 7 billion alive today thought of themselves as members of the same human family there’d be no grounds to include some and exclude others.”

He suggested that if someone had survived the disappearance of the Malaysian aircraft MH370, when they met someone else, they wouldn’t care who they were or where they came from. They’d be simply happy to make contact with another human being.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the Rinnanji Temple in Osaka, Japan on April 9, 2014. Photo/Office of Tibet, Japan
He spoke of the positive results that have emerged from 30 years of dialogue between modern science and the Buddhist science of mind. He said we train the mind by transforming it and we do that by employing the mind itself. Knowledge of this is inspiring increasing interest among modern scientists.

Among questions from the audience, one related to the film ‘Seven Years in Tibet.’ His Holiness remarked that Heinrich Harrer told him that the years he spent in Tibet were the happiest days of his life, mostly because of the compassionate nature of Tibetan culture. Another questioner reported that his grandparents and other relations’ remains are interred at Rinnan-ji and requested prayers for them. His Holiness told him that Buddhism believes in rebirth, based on the fact that consciousness has no beginning or end. He added that those who have a karmic link to the deceased are in the best position to benefit them with prayers.

Finally, His Holiness reiterated that all human beings ultimately belong to the same family. He mentioned the Buddhist notion that all beings possess Buddha nature. Most important of all he drew attention to the notion that misconceptions and negative emotions are not actually part of the mind, which is why they can be overcome when the right conditions are met.

After a morning engagement tomorrow, His Holiness will travel on to further meetings in Kyoto.

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