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Dharamshala — The spiritual leader of Tibet His Holiness the Dalai Lama said Tuesday that "the best language for receiving teachings of the Buddha is Tibetan."

Thousands of Tibetans and devotees gathered early Tuesday morning, November 3, at the main Temple in McLeod Ganj to participate in a teaching and long life offering for His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

After the cancellation of several planned appearances and general concerns for His Holiness's health, the Tibetan community and other devotees came out in large numbers to receive the teaching and pray for his long life, with the total number of devotees at more than 7,000.

The long life offering was organized in collaboration by several organizations including the Barkham Tibetan communities; Sogshoe and Tridho, and the standing committee of Dhokham Chushi Gangdruk based in Dharamshala. The day was celebrated in accordance with Lhabab Duchen, a Buddhist festival celebrated to observe the descent of the Buddha from heaven back to Earth.

Prior to initiation of the long life offering ceremony, His Holiness conducted preparatory rituals for the Long-Life Empowerment he was to give. “Since it is an auspicious day, I thought I’d begin by making a reciprocal offering to you of a Long-Life Empowerment. We have groups of today’s sponsors, residents of Dharamshala, people from the Trans Himalayan regions and others who come from traditionally Christian countries gathered here today.”

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate began the event with a teaching and empowerment, revisiting the roots of Buddhism in Tibet which was spread by Indian masters who not only built monasteries and spread teachings, but encouraged the Tibetan language to grow into the spiritual depth it now commands.

"Particularly, Master Santaraksita advised Tibetans to study the Buddha Dharma in our own language, so since the 8th century when he came to Tibet, we have a Tibetan translation of over 100 volumes of the words of the Buddha," His Holiness said.

"Over 200 volumes of texts on these teachings. So today we can say that the complete teachings of the Buddha exists in Tibetan language," he added.

"The best language for receiving teachings of the Buddha is Tibetan. The reason is because before Buddhism came to Tibet, Tibetan language didn't used to have a vast vocabulary, but since we began to translate Indian literature into our own language, Tibetans began coining new words so in this way Tibetan has become very rich in vocabulary when it comes to understanding the philosophy of Buddhism. Tibetan words for the Sanskrit terms in philosophy are quite exact."

"We can think of Buddhism in terms of three main categories - philosophy, science and religion. The religious part involves principles and practices that are of concern to Buddhism alone, but the Buddhist philosophy of interdependence as well as the Buddha science of mind and human emotions are of great benefit to everyone," His Holiness added.

Following the teaching was a long life prayer for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and a short presentation in the yard below the temple by Barkham Tsogsho dedicated to the Tibetan leader including several offerings and a dance performance.

His Holiness spoke briefly on the issue of Dolgyal worship and Shugden followers who protest at many of his foreign events, urging the Tibetans to not criticise them but to sympathise them for their ignorance.

“These days Shugden people protest against me. They call me a false Dalai Lama. They say I’m a Muslim and that Tibetans shouldn’t believe in me. Those who instigated people to protest against me like this must have done it out of a personal grudge. However, I advise Tibetans not to be angry towards them. On my own part, every day I practice developing Bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness, so I don’t feel anger towards them either.”

His Holiness ended the day’s events by acknowledging the spiritual bond between him and the Tibetan people, saying, “that’s what counts. For a small boy from a village near Kumbum to become leader of Tibet, there must have been a strong karmic connection between us all.”

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