His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Final Day in Pomaia

June 14th 2014

Pomaia, Tuscany, Italy, 13 June 2014 - This morning His Holiness the Dalai Lama blessed the five meter tall four-arm Chenrezig statue at Lama Tsong Khapa Institute. He praised the craftsmen who built the statue offering scarves in appreciation. Speaking to a gathering of around 1000 people, he said that it was more important to study the actual teachings rather than to just worship statues. Buddhists, he said, should take actual refuge in Buddha's teachings rather than statues.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa (ILTK) in Pomaia, Tuscany, Italy on June 13, 2014. Photo/FilmPRO
His Holiness said that there are three aspects to all major religious traditions - the aspect of religion, the aspect of philosophy and the aspect of culture.  He also said that the basic teachings of the practice of love and compassion is the same for all major religious traditions.

He said that there are differences in philosophies of various religious traditions, but the existence of these different philosophies was necessary, as they can satisfy the different mental dispositions of different people.

He said that the culture aspect of different religious traditions was very closely linked to the condition of the particular area and the local environment. For example, during the Buddha's lifetime, the practice of the caste system was well ingrained within the society, hence Buddha spoke against the caste system. Recalling his visit to Peking, China in 1954-55, His Holiness said that Chairman Mao had then remarked to him that Buddha was a revolutionary, against the caste system and fighting for rights of less privileged.

Speaking about the role of science His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that while science deals with physical comfort, spirituality deals with inner comfort and the two should go together.

His Holiness called for the promotion of religious harmony, for which we need mutual respect, that can come only when we love one another. He said that it was sad and unthinkable to see people killing each other in the name of religion, citing the examples of the Shia-Sunni conflict and the killing of Rohingya Muslims by Burmese Buddhists. He summed up by saying the basic religion of human beings is emphasizing the importance of love.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa (ILTK) in Pomaia, Tuscany, Italy on June 13, 2014. Photo/FilmPRO
Speaking about Tibetan method of studying of Buddhism, His Holiness said that as a child he had to first memorize the root text, and then learn about the meaning of each word based on commentaries, followed by intensive debate on each subject.

"Some Western writers have in the past described Tibetan Buddhism as Lamaism, but this is not so. Ours is based on the rich Nalanda tradition of India", he said. In this sense, he said, Tibetans have been reliable student of their teacher India. He expressed happiness that now more and more Indian youngsters were showing interest in the ancient knowledge.

His Holiness expressed his wish that the Institute be not just limited to learning Buddhist philosophy but also engage in inter-faith dialogue and discussions with scientists.

Replying to a question on the Middle-East conflict, his view of the prospect of peace there and the significance of holy places, His Holiness made a special mention regarding Pope Francis' recent visit to the Middle East and his meeting with both the presidents of Israel and Palestine, appreciating his efforts at peace, dialogue and reconciliation. He said that he always made it a point to go on pilgrimage to holy sites and religious places of different faiths whenever he manages there is time.

His Holiness announced that New Delhi will soon be host to a meeting of Indian religious leaders this coming September. He personally advocated for such a gathering and stressed the need for the group to set up small committees that could visit areas of religious conflicts to try to address problems. He cited the peaceful co-existence of Shia-Sunni Muslims in India and felt the need for a Muslim delegation from India to visit areas where Shia-Sunni conflicts occur to try to bring them together.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama with his old Fr. Laurence Freeman, Director of The World Community for Christian Meditation, during the program at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa (ILTK) in Pomaia, Tuscany, Italy on June 13, 2014. Photo/Olivier Adam
Going forward, His Holiness suggested that India could hold an international gathering of world's religious leaders, stating that India can take the lead in disseminating its ancient knowledge of ahimsa - non-violence - and contribute this to the world at large.

To a question about mind and science, His Holiness said that training of mind was crucial for ones well being. He explained the result of a studies by scientists that prove that constant fear actually eats into our immune system.

In the afternoon, His Holiness visited the future site of Lhungtok Choekorling Monastery where he blessed the grounds and took part in a formal program.

When it was his turn to speak His Holiness thanked the previous speakers and expressed his appreciation to the people of Italy for their warm welcome. He praised the efforts of Zopa Rinpoche, for his foresightedness in keeping the Nalanda tradition alive in his institutes.

Speaking about environmental protection, His Holiness said that unlike the effects of violent action that is visible for all to see, the effects of damage to our environment is gradual and not noticed until it's quite late to repair. He advised everyone to make environmental protection and caring for the environment a part of one's everyday life.

To beat the summer heat, His Holiness placed a wet towel over his head and jokingly mentioned that this was the white-hat sect, a reference to the Yellow-hat and Black-hat traditions in Tibet

He called on the people of Italy, who had suffered under a colonial past and who have now become industrialized and rich, to do their best to help poor nations. He asked Italy to contribute significantly towards creating a better world especially being a very important member of the European Union.


A view of the future site for Lhungtok Choekorling Monastery in Pomaia, Tuscany, Italy on June 13, 2014. Photo/FilmPRO
His Holiness urged everyone to look at problems in life from a wider perspective, and to approach difficulties from a holistic viewpoint.

He then spoke about his hopes for the youth of the 21st century. He urged them to make efforts and with a clear vision to shape the present century into a more peaceful one. He said three things - self-confidence, vision and expertise - were very important for young people to make the world and the current century more peaceful. He and others who are aged and elderly might not be able to witness and experience a peaceful 21st century but the youth through their efforts, will surely experience a more peaceful and compassionate century during their lifetime.

Speaking on the importance of transparency and moral ethics in daily life, His Holiness said that these are important to create trust that brings about genuine friendship. He said that as social animals we all need good friends, not friends who look at money or power, but friendships based on trust and respect.

His holiness then left for Livorno, where he will give teachings and participate in a pubic conference over the next two days.
 

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