Blending mental development with material

October 31st 2011

Koyasan, Japan, 31 October 2011 - On the second day of his autumn tour in Japan, His Holiness walked out into a radiant Osaka morning, for the three-hour drive around ever more narrow mountain roads, up to the monk-filled mountain of Koyasan, set up by Kobo Daishi in the 9th century as the center of Shingon Buddhism, the esoteric Japanese practice that has much in common with Tibetan Buddhism. These days the mountain is given over to almost nothing but 117 Shingon temples, 250,000 graves, and high cedar trees that have been standing for 300 years.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is welcomed by well-wishers on his arrival at Kongobuji Temple in Koyasan, Japan, on October 31, 2011. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
Arriving in this grave and charged setting as the sunlight streamed in through the reddening maple-leaves, His Holiness was shown to a wing of Kongobuji temple last occupied by the Japanese Emperor, and then was officially greeted, over tea, by his host, the Reverend Yukei Matsunaga, who is in charge of the whole of Koyasan. As His Holiness walked from room to room, long lines of well-wishers from the general public gathered to greet him, many bursting into tears after a brief touch or blessing.

After lunch, the two Buddhist teachers traveled to the mountain’s main auditorium where, before a large group of monks, some in black robes, some in brown—eight monks from the Namgyal Temple in Dharamsala were also present, having built a mandala at the front of the room—they spoke about the possibilities before the young today.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Rev. Yukei Matsunaga speaking together at the Kongobuji Temple auditorium in Koyasan, Japan, on October 31, 2011. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
His Holiness stressed that he was very happy to be in Japan, “especially in this sacred place,” and that it was a great honor to be recalling Kobo Daishi, an important teacher in the same tradition as the Buddha. “Among Asian nations, Japan is the most industrialized,” he went on, “and at the same time it is a fully established democracy, so it is an important nation on the planet.” His other reason for coming, he said, with evident feeling, was to share “as your friend, and as your brother in Buddhism” in the tragedy of this March, when an earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear disaster hit Japan in quick succession.

Taking questions from the floor, the two teachers were mostly asked for the advice they’d give to the young, and for the causes of suffering (His Holiness again and again spoke of the “law of causation”). When a 17 year-old spoke about his many worries, His Holiness said, “You are full of enthusiasm, which is good, but maybe a little lacking in experience. So be patient. When I was your age, I was impatient, too, wanting to fix everything immediately.” Instead of thinking of yourself and your suffering, he told the audience, think of how you can make a better world.

An audience member asking a question of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Kongabuji Temple auditorium in Koyasan, Japan, on October 31, 2011. Photo/Kimimasa Mayama
The Eurozone economic crisis, he said, was caused by people thinking too much in terms of short-term gain and not enough of the long term; so, too, has been the environmental crisis, with people cutting down trees, and not thinking of future generations. We have to think more globally, he said, and in terms of our children’s future. Indeed, our happiness—and well-being—depend on it.

“Education should be more holistic,” he went on, “teaching about both the material world and peace of mind (which makes for compassion, which all sentient being need). And if you are looking for the cause of, say, the Japanese earthquake, you have to look beyond details, to something as deep as the collective karma of the whole global community.

“It’s clear,” His Holiness concluded, leaving the audience with both hope and heart, “that nearly all the problems in the world are caused by mankind—which means they can be solved by mankind. Your nation, Japan, built a new nation from the ashes of war; now you must summon the same strength and self-confidence to build a country that encourages both material development and inner peace.”

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