His Holiness the Dalai Lama Interacts with Younger and Older Audiences in New Delhi

March 22nd 2013

New Delhi, India, 22 March 2013 - This morning His Holiness addressed a group of class 10-12 Indian students who attend nine different schools within the vicinity of Delhi. He greeted them warmly:

“Young brothers and sisters, I’m glad to meet all of you. I’m 78 years old and my life has had its ups and downs, but what I want to tell you is that so many of the problems we face are man-made. We created them and we have the opportunity to reduce them too.”


His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting class students before their interactive session in New Delhi, India, on March 22, 2013. Photo/Tenzin Phuntsog/NAVA
He spoke of belonging to the twentieth century, an era of great achievement, but also of great violence. If that violence had produced good results it might have been justified, but instead it brought untold suffering and fear to millions. The outbreaks of violence we witness today are symptoms of our past mistakes. He said:

“You young people, who belong to the twenty-first century, have the opportunity to create a more peaceful world. The potential for conflict remains, but despite our different views and interests it should be possible to maintain peace through dialogue rather than resorting to the use of force.”

He reminded his listeners that every one of the 7 billion human beings alive today wants to live a happy life and has a right to try to do so. We have to remember to respect those rights even in the face of conflict.

“Respect for others’ rights and for their lives is the basis of the ancient Indian tradition of ahimsa or non-violence. As the population grows, climate change increases and natural resources become scarcer there is great potential for conflicts of interest, but we have to find ways to meet such challenges in a non-violent way.”

The students paid close attention as His Holiness told them how happy he was to meet members of the new generation, who genuinely belong to the twenty-first century, and who are Indian. He recounted the great debt Tibetans owe to India, the source of so much Tibetan knowledge. Tibetans consider themselves disciples of Indian gurus, but have proved themselves reliable disciples because through the tribulations that Buddhism has faced in the land of its origin Tibetans have kept this knowledge intact. On a personal note, he added,

“I often describe myself as a Son of India because my brain is full of Indian thought, and my body has been sustained these last 50 years and more by Indian rice, dal and roti.”


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to a group of class 10-12 Indian students in New Delhi, India, on March 22, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
He advised that although nearly 70 years have passed since India regained its independence, there is still a need for the kind of selfless determination that marked the freedom-fighters’ spirit. In the face of widespread problems like corruption, there is an ever greater need for truth and honesty and the ability to speak out openly. There is a need for ethical values with a secular basis that are derived, for example, from our common experience of being born from a mother who showed us care and affection. Such early care and affection is the source of happiness later in life. It is evident that, no matter how well or poorly off they are families whose relations are full of trust and affection are happy. Whether we are happy or not depends on our attitude; compassion, for instance, leads to a calmer mind. Placing all our hope on material development is clearly mistaken; the ultimate source of happiness is within us.

His Holiness explained that while his first commitment is to promoting warm-heartedness in the interest of greater human happiness, his second, as a Buddhist monk, is to fostering inter-religious harmony. Theistic religions tend to believe in a creator, while non-theistic traditions like Jainism, a branch of the Samkhyas and Buddhism believe that we are the creators. Among them only Buddhism teaches about selflessness. Nevertheless, all religions teach about love, compassion and forgiveness and all are dedicated to creating happier more compassionate human beings. He mentioned that he used to observe a third commitment to the Tibetan struggle, but has now retired and transferred his political responsibilities to an elected leadership. Still, he acknowledged that he remains a Tibetan and the 6 million Tibetans inside and outside Tibet continue to repose their trust in him, so that responsibility remains. He told the students:

“You too have a responsibility to think of humanity’s welfare and those of you who are believers have a responsibility to build an understanding with people of other faiths.”


A student posing a question to His Holiness the Dalai Lama during an interactive session with class 10-12 Indian students in New Delhi, India, on March 22, 2013. Photo/Tenzin Phuntsog/NAVA
To a question about balancing progress with contentment, His Holiness replied that material facilities have limits so having a sense of contentment can be useful. On the other hand, becoming acquainted with inner values concerns the mind whose potential for development is limitless. He noted that, even at the age of 78, every day as he eats he reads, so day by day his knowledge increases. Therefore, as far as knowledge is concerned, he is neither complacent nor contented.

Asked about why China gets away with so much, His Holiness suggested that there is a gap between appearance and reality. In this case the question looks simple, but the reality is that it is very complicated. Young Tibetans may clamour for independence, but again there is a difference between appearance and reality, because today the Chinese communist party and its army are tough and strong. At the same time Chinese intellectuals who support the cause of Tibet agree that there needs to be a mutually beneficial solution and the Indian, US and EU governments support the Middle Way Approach.

Invited to define enlightenment, His Holiness said that the mind’s nature is knowing, but it is obstructed by ignorance. This distorted ignorance needs to be steadily removed, which we can do by addressing the gap between appearance and reality. When we see the world as illusory the power of the disturbing emotions that afflict our minds is reduced. In the waking state the mind is dominated by sensory consciousnesses, but in states like the dream state we can access the mind much more clearly. The subtle mind can be trained to become more aware, and from the Buddhist viewpoint, that is the essence of enlightenment.

Advising the students that we need warm-heartedness as well as a sharp intelligence, he also remarked that being honest and truthful leads to greater self-confidence and the ability to act in a positive way.

Addressing an older, more mature group, also organized by the Foundation for Universal Responsibility, in the afternoon - among them many old friends - His Holiness stated:


Members of the audience listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama during teachings organized by the Foundation for Universal Responsibility in New Delhi, India, on March 22, 2013. Photo/Tenzin Phuntsog/NAVA
“The purpose of our gathering here is to learn how to use our time properly. It’s important to make our lives meaningful. Bullying and cheating others may give a short-term return, but leaves a nagging sense of unease. Money doesn’t yield real satisfaction, whereas compassion does.”

He said all sentient beings have experience of pleasure and pain, and we are among them. What makes human beings different is that we have a powerful intelligence and a much greater ability to achieve happiness and avoid suffering. Real happiness and friendship comes not from money or even knowledge, but from warm-heartedness. Once we recognise this we will be more inclined to cultivate it.

Here in India, the concepts of secularism and secular ethics have evolved and from this springs ahimsa, the sense of doing others no harm. Such ancient values are very relevant in today’s world.

Turning to the text he proposed to teach, His Holiness unwrapped his copy of Dipamkara Atisha’s “Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment”. He explained that he had received the oral transmission of the text from a Kinnauri Lama, Rinzing Tenpa, who told him he had attended a conference in India in 1947 at which Mahatma Gandhi had asked him about texts he studied, and among them he mentioned this one. The “Lamp for the Path” is valued for the simplicity of its survey of the path to enlightenment and was requested by the King of the Western Tibet region of Guge.

After a break for tea, His Holiness answered questions like, “Can a civil servant reach enlightenment?” saying that everything depends on our motivation. And in response to an enquiry about why some people make more and some less progress on the spiritual path, he said that from a Buddhist point of view much depended on our actions from previous lives. He pointed out that the Buddha’s own spiritual career is said to have spanned three countless aeons, which prompted His Holiness to recite his favourite prayer by Shantideva:

For as long as space endures
And for as long as sentient beings remain,
Until then may I too abide
To dispel the misery of the world.

He said this prayer gives him purpose in life, and is a source of satisfaction, determination and inner strength.
 

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