Buddhist Teachings and Public Talk in Manchester

June 18th 2012

Manchester, England, 17 June 2012 - Today, prior to his public engagements, His Holiness the Dalai Lama paid a visit to a group of Gurkha soldiers who are based in Manchester. He paid tribute to the longstanding historical relations between Tibet and Nepal, recalling the role of the Nepalese princess who married King Songtsen Gampo in bringing one of the first Buddha images to Tibet.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing a group of Gurkha soldiers in Manchester, England, on June 17, 2012. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
He joked that as the main duty of a soldier is to shoot, there wasn’t much for him to say. However, he went on to advise that if they were always honest and truthful, showed others respect and tried whenever they could to help them, they would be good soldiers. He offered them a painting of the Seventeen Masters of Nalanda.

At the Manchester Arena once more, His Holiness was welcomed by the Bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev Nigel McCulloch, who then also introduced him to an audience of about 2500 people. Acknowledging the common themes in their respective religions and that England is a Christian country, His Holiness invited Bishop McCulloch to open the session with a Christian prayer. Then, he began his Dharma talk.

He explained that the Pali tradition, that delineates monastic discipline, is fundamental to all Buddhist traditions. The Sanskrit tradition encompasses the Bodhisattva vehicle and Tantrayana that deals with the mind in depth. He recounted several stories of Lamas who have remained in meditation for a number of days after exhibiting clinical death, their bodies remaining fresh and even more radiant than when alive. He said we could only make sense of this in the context of subtle levels of consciousness.

To answer the question “What is Buddhism?” His Holiness said he would like to quote one of the sutras:

    Don’t engage in unwholesome action,
    Engage in virtue,
    And tame the mind,
    This is the teaching of the Buddha.

He clarified that unwholesome deeds are those that bring harm to others, while virtue is to refrain from harm and to bring benefit, while taming the mind refers not to observing external rules, but to inner discipline and mental training. The second verse he quoted says,

    The Buddhas do not wash away the karma of other beings,
    Nor do they remove the consequences with their hands;
    They do not transfer their own realizations to others,
    But they reveal the truth that liberates beings.
Quoting a third verse His Holiness related it to the Four Noble Truths:

    All things and events come into being due to causes and conditions
    And these causes and conditions are taught by the Buddhas
    The cessation of causes and conditions are also taught by the Buddhas
    That is what the Buddha taught.

The Bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev Nigel McCulloch, introduces His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the start of the teachings in Manchester, England, on June 17, 2012. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
He explained this in terms of where cessation takes place, which is the mind; by what means cessation takes place, which is the mind; and because the mind is naturally pure, in the nature of clear light, what ceases is the adventitious afflictive emotions.

After lunch, His Holiness’s public talk on the theme Real Change Happens in the Heart, opened with music played by members of the Tibetan community in Britain and he was introduced by long time Tibet supporter, Hylton Murray-Philipson. His Holiness responded,                               

“I’m nothing special, just a simple Buddhist monk, although because people of my age have had a wide variety of experience, what we have to say might be of some use to young people who are just embarking on their adult lives.

“At the Royal Albert Hall some years ago I mentioned that some people come to listen to me purely out of curiosity; some come in the belief that the Dalai Lama has miraculous powers, which is nonsense. Others come in the belief that the Dalai Lama has some healing powers. Now, I am very sceptical about the existence of such healing powers, but, if they do exist, I need them right at this moment to relieve my knees.”

He affirmed that despite an array of minor secondary differences, as human beings we basically the same; mentally, physically, and emotionally we are the same. Problems arise when we make too much of the differences and overlook those circumstances that affect us all, like climate change and the crisis in the global economy.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting young Tibetan children who performed at the opening of his public talk in Manchester, England, on June 17, 2012. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
While recent material and technological developments have brought remarkable benefits many people have begun to realise there’s more to happiness than that. We need a clear mind and a warm heart and scientific research is beginning to bear this out. His Holiness asked his listeners to think more about moral principles and inner values, which have the potential to improve mental and physical health, to think in a global context and to employ dialogue not violence in resolving disputes.       

His Holiness answered several questions from the audience and the last came from a Chinese student, who said she was sorry for what had happened in Tibet and was concerned for the survival of Tibetan culture, which attracted applause. Regarding His Holiness’s assertion that the future of the institution of the Dalai Lama would be for the Tibetan people to decide, she asked how the Tibetan people’s voice would be heard. He said,

“Some people think that the continuation of the institution of Dalai Lama is essential for the preservation of Tibetan culture, but it is not. The two key questions are, whether it should continue, and if it should, how the next Dalai Lama will be found. In a detailed statement about this last year, I said I would reconsider and consult Tibetan spiritual leaders about this when I’m about 89 years old. So, you’ll have to wait 12 years to find out - but I suspect other factors will have changed by then.

“China has made unprecedented economic progress, but remains a closed society constrained by censorship. China must open and censorship must stop. The 1.3 billion Chinese people have every right to know the reality of their situation and once they know the reality, they have the ability to distinguish right from wrong. Therefore, censorship, which is morally wrong, must stop.

Manchester Arena, venue for His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teaching and talk in Manchester, England, on June 17, 2012. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
“Likewise, the Chinese judicial system must be raised to an international standard. The world trend today is towards greater democracy, religious freedom and individual freedom. For the Chinese authorities to oppose this trend is impossible; change must come.

“I admire the Chinese people, a realistic, hard working people, and it’s only a question of time before things will change. Once the Chinese authorities heed Deng Xiaoping’s dictum, ‘seek truth from facts’ the Tibet issue can be solved in a matter of days. For reasons of economic development it is in our interests to remain with China, but we have our own language, our literature which contains the greatest resource of Buddhist knowledge that is of interest not only to Tibetans, but also to many of the 300 million Buddhists in China. To preserve Tibetan Buddhist culture, philosophy and practice, and to preserve and protect our natural environment, we seek meaningful autonomy.”
His Holiness concluded with an appeal to his listeners to think about what he had said earlier, suggesting that if they found something useful in it they should try it out, but if they felt it wasn’t relevant to them, they could just forget it.

Tomorrow, His Holiness will conclude his explanation of the Eight Verses for Training the Mind and Nagarjuna’s In Praise of Dharmadhatu before travelling to London.

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