First day of Teachings in Klagenfurt

May 19th 2012

Klagenfurt, Austria, 18 May 2012 - From his hotel overlooking the beautiful Wörthersee Lake His Holiness was driven this morning into the city of Klagenfurt, where many people were waiting to welcome him in front of the City Hall. The Klagenfurt City Band was playing as children proffered him gifts. The Governor of Carinthia and Mayor Christian Scheider made welcoming speeches before presenting him with the Gold Medal of Klagenfurt. His Holiness then inscribed the city's guest book. 

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is presented with the Gold Medal of Klagenfurt by Mayor Christian Scheider in front of the Klagenfurt City Hall in Klagenfurt, Austria, on May 18, 2012.
Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

His Holiness said, “You have given me a very warm welcome, which I appreciate. Many members of the public have come here with warm hearts out of a sense of affection. Although there are many beautiful cities and pleasing environments in the world, the same kind of human beings live in them; on an emotional level there are no differences among them. On the other hand, the moment I start to think of myself as an Asian, a Tibetan, a Buddhist, it creates a kind of barrier between us.”

He went on to say that as he nears 77 years of age, what he has learned in his life is that a calm mind is the source of stable, lasting happiness. He explained that today and tomorrow he would be giving lectures on Buddhism, but that he always stresses to people who belong to different religious traditions that it is important, and often safer, to stick to the religion they were born to. At the same time it can also be useful to learn from other traditions, for example methods for developing tolerance and compassion, and to apply them within your own.

A group of children perform songs and dance for His Holiness the Dalai Lama in front of the Klagenfurt City Hall in Klagenfurt, Austria, on May 18, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
Before he left for the venue of his lecture, the Klagenfurt Hall, a group of children danced and sang, while His Holiness beamed with pleasure. At the hall he remarked that although some teachers like to sit on thrones like holy men, he prefers to sit on a chair. Before beginning his teaching, he invited a couple of Theravadin monks to recite the Mangalam Sutra in Pali.

His Holiness remarked that, whether they do so explicitly or not, all our major religious traditions deal with the mind, with the cultivation of tolerance, forgiveness and compassion. Theistic traditions tend to focus on God the creator, and submission to God has the effect of reducing self-centredness. Buddhism and other non-theistic traditions tend to rely on the law of causality as grounds for taking responsibility for your actions. Buddhism in particular addresses self-centredness and arrogance but questioning the nature of the self.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his teachings at Klagenfurt Hall in Klagenfurt, Austria, on May 18, 2012.
Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

A Sufi master His Holiness once met at a conference posed three questions to him. What is the self? Does the self have a beginning? And does the self have an end? His Holiness suggested that Buddhism offers answers different from those provided by other traditions, for example, only the Buddha's teaching says there is no separate, intrinsic self. He told his listeners that the text he would begin with, the Heart Sutra, or the Essence of Wisdom, belongs to the Perfection of Wisdom teachings.

After a lunch break, the Carinthian Governor accompanied His Holiness to a meeting with the press. Invited to make a statement, His Holiness said he had three things to say. “I am a human being, so are you. We are all part of the 7 billion human beings on this planet. All of us want to live a happy life, which I believe depends on cultivating our natural inner values, rather than money and power. The true source of happiness is within ourselves and I call on the media  to inform people about this.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to members of the
press in Klagenfurt, Austria, on May 18, 2012.
Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

His second point was that because all religious traditions carry essentially the same message about cultivating love, compassion, forgiveness and tolerance, we need to live together in an atmosphere of mutual respect. He cited India as a living example of a pluralistic society in which all the world's major religious traditions live peaceably side by side. Again, he urged the media to bring this to public attention. His third point referred to the importance of the media in a democratic society. Media need to investigate what is really going on and to be honest, truthful and impartial.

Back in the teaching hall, His Holiness began to explain the Heart Sutra line by line, his words being translated into German, Italian and English. He said that the Perfection of Wisdom teachings to which the Heart Sutra belongs were given near the Indian town of Rajgir as part of what is known as the second turning of the wheel of Dharma. He pointed out that the third of the Four Noble Truths, the truth of the cessation of suffering can only be achieved by realizing wisdom, which in this case is the wisdom understanding emptiness of inherent existence and dependent arising.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama meeting with religious leaders in Klagenfurt, Austria, on May 18, 2012.
Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

Back at his hotel, before retiring for the day, His Holiness held a meeting with several local Christian leaders and the President of the Austrian Buddhist Society. He repeated his conviction that inter-religious harmony is essential, because each of our religious traditions gives its followers a sense of how to lead a meaningful life. However, he also made it clear that we can make a distinction between developing respect for other traditions and faith in them. Considering the crisis of values in the world, we need to take action rather than sitting quietly by. The important thing is to make religion relevant to our daily life rather than simply maintaining old traditions.

Tomorrow, His Holiness will begin the second day of teaching in Klagenfurt by offering a Medicine Buddha empowerment before continuing his explanation of the The Heart Sutra, Atisha’s Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment and 7th Dalai Lama's Song of Four Mindfulnesses.

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