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skikkim-HHDLM-2013-2Dharamshala: On March 25, The spiritual leader of Tibet His Holiness the Dalai Lama consecrated a colossal 128 foot hammered copper statue of the Buddha, which he had earlier named Tathagata Tsal, at Ravangla Sikkim, India.

His Holiness was escorted to the base of the statue where he ceremonially cut the ribbon and opened the doors into the chamber beneath. He examined the chamber admiringly, which is elaborately decorated with fierce deities on the inner walls and scenes from the Buddha's life on the outer walls. He was accompanied by Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche while he conducted the ritual of consecration.

Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling and the Governor, H.E. BP Singh soon joined His Holiness at the statue. Final prayers were said and auspicious rice thrown outside in view of the statue, followed by a ritual circumambulation.

In the pavilion below the statue dignitaries gathered, high above them the Chief Secretary Mrs R Ongmu gave an exuberant welcome address, inviting His Holiness to release a book about the Tathagata Tsal.

The assembly was then addressed by the Chief Minister, Mr Pawan Chamling welcoming His Holiness and the Governor as well as all the other guests. Mr Chamling gave special thanks to His Holiness for taking the time to come and conduct the consecration.

The Chief Minister highlighted that his government is based on Buddhist values and is committed to supporting the states various religions and inculcating positive values in the people. He hopes that this new Buddha statue complex, which incorporates a library and a study centre, will attract pilgrims from far and wide.

The Governor of Sikkim, H.E. BP Singh then spoke, calling attention to His Holiness's fondness for Sikkim and its people. Comparing the Chief Minister to the great Indian Emperor Ashoka, who established Buddhism throughout India, he urged the public to remember the Buddha's teachings about non-violence and compassion.

His Holiness expressed his greetings to the crowd and said:

"I've come to consecrate this outstanding statue, which we did according to the rites of Vajrakilaya, because this locality has historical connections with that meditational deity. The place itself is quiet, open and peaceful and the statue adds to the natural beauty of the landscape, which I hope will inspire an inner transformation within the pilgrims who come here." His Holiness said that like the statue of Guru Padmasambhava this statue will last for many years to come

He added that he has known the Chief Minister for many years, admiring his projects to build on Sikkim's Buddhist heritage, "I pray that all his good wishes be fulfilled swiftly and without obstruction."

Recalling his own connections with Sikkim he said that although he has visited several times since 1959, he came first when passing through on his way to the Buddha Jayanti celebrations in Bodhgaya in 1956.

His Holiness said that twenty years ago, the Japanese World Peace Stupa was inaugurated in Rajgir in the presence of the President of India. He pointed out that the real stupa needs to be built within ourselves, saying that what we need is guidance about how to train our minds.

His Holiness talked about the Buddha's teachings, that they contain many methods for training the mind because of the wide variety of people's dispositions. We should study this in the collections of Buddhist scriptures, in the volumes of the Kangyur and Tengyur.

Books are not just to be treated as objects of respect, we need to open and read them, His Holiness pointed out. We need to find out how the mind works, how the emotions function. Prayer is not enough, we have to train ourselves. Buddhist literature is so rich in knowledge about the mind that it is now attracting the interest of modern scientists, who see these methods as authentic sources of inner peace.

The secretary of the Ecclesiastical Affairs Department, Tsechokling Rinpoche, offered the final words of thanks; expressing gratitude to His Holiness and all the other dignitaries and guests for attending the occasion.
In the afternoon, His Holiness returned to the pavilion to teach Ngulchu Thogme Sangpo's "37 Practices of Bodhisattvas". He explained that the word Dharma means holding back or saving you from something, which means saving you from suffering. It does so by training us to combat the destructive emotions that give rise to suffering, enabling us to transform ourselves so that we become free from it.

His Holiness discussed the differences between the theistic religions that tend to believe in a creator god and the non-theistic traditions that do not believe in a creator, but instead teach about the law of causality – karma. Buddhism teaches that if you do good, you achieve a happy result and if you do bad you create the causes for suffering and discomfort. From this point of view our experience of pain and pleasure is in our own hands. Today, all the world's major religious traditions flourish in India, where respect for other traditions and harmony among them is an ancient but living reality.

"Once we've gone over this text together, don't just forget it and let it gather dust on the shelf. Just having it in the house is of no help; you have to read, think about it, and become familiar with it. You have to apply the teaching in your daily life day by day."

His Holiness reiterated that the Bodhisattva paths have to be practised not merely remaining the object of prayers; just as the Buddha did, you have to practise and gather merit. This is how we will make our lives meaningful. The "37 Practices" teaches about the common paths, and then discusses ways to develop the awakening mind of enlightenment. After this come skilful means, wisdom and the Six Perfections, and finally dedication, this completes the 37 practices.

On March 26 His Holiness is to give a White Tara Long Life Empowerment, followed by the offering to him of prayers for his long life.

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