Dalai Lama Says Many Buddhist Texts Yet to be Translated in Japan

June 22nd 2010

Kanazawa, Japan, 22nd June, 2010 (by Tsering Tsomo): Over 300 Buddhist texts written by great Indian masters of the ancient Nalanda University including Nagarjuna, Shantarakshita, Dhigna, Dharmakirti are available only in Tibetan language and not in Japanese and Chinese languages, said His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his teaching of the Heart Sutra at Ishikawa concert hall this afternoon in Kanazawa, the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture.


The Ishikawa concert hall, venue of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teaching in Kanazawa, Japan on June 22nd, 2010. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
His Holiness said translating these texts which are commentaries on Lord Buddha's original teachings would benefit many Buddhists in having a deeper and more thorough understanding of Buddhist teachings especially the concept of emptiness or shunyata. A Japanese Buddhist nun has already expressed her interests in translating these texts. His Holiness said he is hopeful that some Chinese Buddhists will also translate them into Chinese in future.

By using critical analysis, these great Nalanda masters had demonstrated that even Buddha's teachings can be questioned, examined and investigated. His Holiness said these great masters took the scientific approach of being sceptical and yet, like modern scientists were open to all ideas and possibilities. "Even Lord Buddha himself asked his disciples not to accept his word as the ultimate truth but to investigate them using their intelligence and cognitive ability," he said.

His Holiness said he would rather call them "great professors" of the ancient Buddhist university of Nalanda although Buddhists prefer to call them "great masters". Some scientists say Buddhism is not religion but science which, His Holiness said, is also true.

Explaining the Heart Sutra, also called Hannya Shingyo in Japanese, he advised the 1500-strong audience to study the teachings and understand their meanings, and not just to recite them. "Read it, think, and question it. Be a 21st century Buddhist." He also emphasized the daily practice of Buddhist teachings to serve others in need and the importance analytical meditation in generating infinite compassion. "Just closing your eyes and reflecting on these great ideas is just wishful thinking if you don't practice it."


His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting members of the audience at his teaching in Kanazawa, Japan on June 22nd, 2010. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
His Holiness shared his own experience as a child keenly interested in modern science although he has never received a single session of science education. However, for the last 30 years, he has engaged in dialogues and conversations with scientists on the subject of cosmology, neurology, atomic physics particularly quantum physics, etc, at international seminars and meetings.  In the process, he discovered that quantum physics is very similar to Nagarjuna's commentary on Buddhist philosophy.

A Japanese woman in the audience who had visited Tibet nine times in the past shared her experience of witnessing Tibetan Buddhists' deep respect for all living things. Once when she was travelling by a chartered bus, the Tibetan driver stopped the vehicle midway to spare a trapped fly. At a hotel in Lhasa, a Tibetan staff caught a mouse and released it through the window after being asked by a harried tourist to get rid of the animal. She said Japan has an annual suicide rate of 30,000 and wondered if this extraordinary respect for life was part of Buddhist teachings.

His Holiness replied that Tibetan culture is a culture of compassion and non-violence which inculcates in every Tibetan from early on the spirit of compassion and non-violence. "It is worthwhile to preserve Tibetan culture," he said.
 

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