His Holiness the Dalai Lama in California - Day 2

October 13th 2010

San Jose, California, USA, 12 October 2010 - His Holiness the Dalai Lama had two main public programs on his first full day in San Jose.  In the morning, he addressed the Tibetan and Himalayan communities in a special audience in the San Jose Convention Center, which is adjacent to his hotel.

Organized by the Tibetan Association of Northern California (TANC), His Holiness was greeted at the venue by representatives of the Association and offered the Doso Chema as a group of young artists performed the Tashi Sholpa.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to the Tibetan community in California on October 12th, 2010. Photo/Lobsang Wangdu
After His Holiness went up the stage, students of the Tibetan culture school led the singing of the Tibetan National Anthem.  Thereafter, TANC President Kaydor Aukatsang gave an abridged work report. He said the Association had around 2000 members and that they had found a place for the proposed community center. He requested His Holiness to kindly consecrate the Center during a visit to San Francisco. He also outlined some of the activities. He said for the ongoing Tibetan elections process 480 people had completed their voter registration and that 337 of them had participated in the primary voting that took place early in October.

In his remarks, His Holiness talked about the richness of the Tibetan spiritual and cultural tradition.  He said the Tibetan version of the Tengyur (commentary to the Buddha’s teachings) may be the most inclusive compared to, for example, the Chinese version. He said that in the past 50 years the Tibetan people have been generally successful.

He urged the Tibetan people to really try to understand their spiritual tradition and not to treat it merely as a ritual.  For example, His Holiness said they should look at the Buddhist scriptures like Kagyur and Tengyur as textbooks that need to be studied. He added that studying the scriptures was not something that only the clergy should be doing. His Holiness said even lay people can and should be well versed in the scriptures and mentioned the example of Barshee Pala, who he said could quote at length from the scriptures.   His Holiness said after repeated suggestions now there is the trend of lay people all over the Himalayas doing a more substantive study of the scriptures and talked about his experience during a recent visit to Ladakh when he found the lay Ladakhis participating in serious scriptural debates


His Holiness greeting an elderly member of the Tibetan community. Photo/Lobsang Wangdu
His Holiness said that in addition to the study of the Tibetan religious and scriptural tradition it is also essential that people really be educated in the modern sense. His Holiness said the absence of a modern education system was a baneof the past Tibetan society saying that the previous 13th Dalai Lama did make an effort by sending some Tibetans to study in England. His Holiness urged the people to think of specializing in subjects.

His Holiness also urged the people to be alert as there is the risk of declining moral character. He said our spiritual tradition played a useful role in making us morally strong. He recalled his conversations with officials in Spiti regions in India, where the people are traditionally Buddhists. He recalled the officials as saying that once the people became exposed to the mainstream life in India their moral character seem to be declining. His Holiness said he had discussed this issue with the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Talking about decline in the Tibetan character, His Holiness referred to some people who used devious means to go and stay in other countries and thinking only of the self while not caring for the implication to the community in the process.  He said there was a time when the Tibetan name had very high credibility. He said there was thus a risk and the people need to be alert to maintain their traditional characteristic that has been much admired by the outside world.  His Holiness recalled meeting Chinese who had visited Tibet and who talked about the very positive atmosphere in their interaction with Tibetans as compared to Chinese themselves.

His Holiness asked the Tibetan people to be always mindful of the hope that the Tibetans in Tibet place on us. He said he admired the determination and courage of the Tibetans in Tibet.

His Holiness said he will not expand on the political aspect of the Tibetan issue as the Kalon Tripa and the Kashag will be briefing the people regularly. He, however, talked about his concern about Tibetan environment and said he had heard reports about the negative impact to the environment of relocating Tibetan nomads.

Prior to the Tibetan audience, His Holiness attended an event where the Gyuto Vajrayana Center made a presentation of its project proposal of establishing a Tibetan monastery in the San Francisco area.

In brief remarks, His Holiness talked about the importance of such centers given the history of destruction of Tibetan spiritual and cultural institutions in Tibet. In addition to the physical destructions of 6000 temples and monasteries, His Holiness said two years ago, a Chinese Communist official had talked about plans to turn the Tibetan monasteries, which have traditionally been living learning centers, to mere museums with some caretakers. His Holiness said now the real learning centers for Tibetan spiritual culture was outside of Tibet. In India, His Holiness said there were 10,000 monks and around 3,000 nuns undergoing study in Tibetan institutions.

His Holiness suggested that the Gyuto Monastery project should be a learning center not just for Tibetan Buddhist culture but also act as a venue for serious dialogue within the Buddhist tradition as well as with other traditions.  His Holiness said while there were philosophical differences all religions shared the same practice in terms of promoting love and compassion. He said it should also try to conduct serious dialogues between Buddhists and scientists.

His Holiness thanked the supporters of the project but said they should also make sure that the money they provide is not wasted.

In the afternoon, His Holiness first addressed a gathering of Gyuto Center’s supporters. He told them about his three commitments of promoting human values, religious harmony and solution for the Tibetan issue.  His Holiness said that the first two commitments were messages of India that he was conveying. His Holiness also answered some questions.

Thereafter, His Holiness addressed a group of media personnel.  Here His Holiness talked about his three commitments. His Holiness said he talked about these three points wherever he went.  He said on his third issue of a solution for the Tibetan issue, since 2000 there was an elected political leadership and that he was in semi-retirement. He said now he was looking forward to complete retirement.

His Holiness first answered a question on cultivating compassion and explained the two levels of compassion.

To a question on his reaction to the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, His Holiness said that right from the beginning he had been sympathetic and supportive of those people who made some effort for more liberalization in the political field.  Specifically, when Liu Xiaobo announced Charter 08, His Holiness said he was in Poland and as soon as he heard the news he had expressed support.  He said this time, some Nobel Laureates, particularly Archbishop Tutu, had launched a signature appeal for the Nobel Prize to be given to Liu Xiaobo and he was invited to join. His Holiness that since he had made the worldwide appeal when the announcement to award the prize to Liu Xiaobo was made, he felt happy.

His Holiness recalled the time when he himself was awarded the prize. He said he had told the media some time back that the prize did not amount to much of a personal change as he was just a simple Buddhist monk. His Holiness said he saw the prize as recognition of his contribution to promoting nonviolence and compassion and this gave him some encouragement.

His Holiness said that this time, too, he felt that this prize is some recognition of Liu Xiaobo’s commitment of  promoting freedom and democracy and he should feel more encouraged to continue his work.

Asked to comment on the Chinese Government’s reaction to Liu Xiaobo’s prize, His Holiness said if he answered something, his opinion will not be of use and so he would keep quiet.

Toa question about the Gyuto Vajrayana Center’s activities here, His Holiness said California was a Multicultural state and so its project would be a small contribution to this culture. He said he hoped this Center’s project would be a learning center and a forum for dialogue between religious traditions as well as between Buddhists and scientists.

At the conclusion His Holiness reminded the media personnel that they too had a role in promoting human values and religious harmony and encouraged them to spread this message.

Thereafter, His Holiness entered the Convention Center to provide a commentary on the Eight Verses for Training the Mind, a text composed by Tibetan Buddhist Master Geshe Langri Tangpa. The Convention Center was filled with a capacity crowd of 12,000 people.


The Conventions Center in San Jose,site of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings on October 12th, 2010. Photo/Lobsang Wangdu
His Holiness began by giving a broad overview of Buddhism. He then explained the text by putting it in current context as well as in relation to other religious traditions.

He talked about the fourth stanza as being a message for people not to reject or isolate others, whether they are Aids patients or prisoners.  Rather, he said people need to see how they could include these individuals into the mainstream of the society.  Similarly, His Holiness said the messages of the 3rd and the 5th stanzas were similar to the messages in the Bible about the cardinal sins and the turning of the other cheek.  His Holiness also recalled an Islamic friend telling him that one of the meanings of the term Jihad was confronting inner mental afflictions.


A capacity crowd of 12,000 listened to His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Convention Center in San Jose on October 12th, 2010. Photo/Lobsang Wangdu
His Holiness said that the short text had messages that we should all be reminding ourselves on a daily basis to become better persons. He suggested that people should start experimenting by devoting a week to daily thoughts over the eight verses and implementing them. If they find some benefit by the end of the week, they could extend it. Eventually, when the mind is familiar with these points, His Holiness said that real change will come about.

At the end of the event, and as it has become a practice set by His Holiness with organizers of public events in which he participates, the Gyuto Vajrayana Center presented a financial report.  They announced that the event had a total estimated expense of $ 271,000 with total estimated income of $ 360,000. The difference of $ 89,000 will be distributed to three projects; Gyuto Vajrayana Center’s spiritual activities in the United States; promotion of health and education for the monks of the Gyuto Monastery in India; and projects devoted to health care of Tibetan refugees, particularly children and the elderly.

 

 

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