Mundgod, Karnataka, India: - 16 January 2013 - Yesterday, The spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama flew from Delhi to Goa and visited Ling Rinpoche, reincarnation of his Tutor, who is recuperating well after a recent road accident.
Early this morning, he left Goa to drive to the Tibetan settlement at Mundgod. As he reached the settlement, Tibetans young and old, monks, nuns, laypeople and schoolchildren lined the road, katas, flowers or incense in their hands, eager to greet him.
His Holiness was treated to a formal welcome at the Drepung Lachi gate, where the Ganden Tri Rinpoche, Sharpa Choje and Jangtse Choje along with members of the Mind & Life Institute received him. After paying his respects before the statue of the Buddha in the temple, he met briefly with senior monks and Lamas, as well as the scientists upstairs in the Ganden Phodrang.
First of all, he apprised the Lamas and monks of what he has done since they met when His Holiness was here last month to give a series of Lam Rim teachings. He joked that on that occasion he was explaining views outlined by Nagarjuna who in his time engaged in argument with ancient Indian materialists and this time he has brought representatives of contemporary materialism, the Mind & Life scientists, with him.
He informed them of his visit to Patna, capital of the State of Bihar, where he met the Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar, and attended the inauguration of an International Buddhist Sangha Conference. He also mentioned that the Chief Minister spoke of developing the recently completed Pataliputra Karuna Stupa as a learning centre. In Sarnath, Varanasi, he taught Shantideva's Guide the Bodhisattva's Way of Life and inaugurated an International Conference on Buddhism and Society. In Delhi, a couple of days ago, he participated in a stimulating dialogue at Delhi University with staff and students, as well as members of the Mind & Life Institute, which he hopes will lead to the creation of a curriculum to introduce secular ethics into modern education.
He assured the monks that he has known several of the Mind & Life scientists for many years and that they exemplify the qualities that Aryadeva outlined for true thinkers: objectivity and freedom from prejudice; critical intelligence and the ability to engage in deep inquiry; being motivated and interested in exploring how the future of science can serve humanity. Again he teased the monks,
Although Bodhisattvas are bound not to spend more than a week with Buddhists who do not follow the Mahayana in case their Bodhisattva aspiration declines, you should harbour no such fears about spending a week with these scientists."
He spoke of sentimental feelings as he was approaching Drepung Monastery this time, recalling that since the second Dalai Lama, Gendun Gyatso was abbot there, Drepung has been the monastery the Dalai Lamas belong to. The fifth Dalai Lama moved to the Potala Palace when he took responsibility for the spiritual and temporal leadership of Tibet and His Holiness reflected that if he had been in Tibet when he retired from political responsibility nearly two years ago, he would probably have left the Potala and Norbulingka and returned to Drepung.
Considering the thousands of scholars, writers and masters who belong to the Drepung community, His Holiness feels it is quite reasonable to think of Drepung as being like the Nalanda of Tibet. He explained,
"I started this dialogue with scientists out of my own curiosity, but when it became clear how helpful it could be for Buddhists already familiar with the inner world to learn more about physical reality, I wanted to open it up to them too. I wanted to bring scientific understanding to our Tibetan Nalanda. Our monks have heard about this dialogue and I thought it would be really meaningful for them to have a taste of it - and now they can."
The 26th Mind & Life dialogue begins at Drepung tomorrow morning and will continue for six days.