Dharamshala: - His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet was in Mumbai for 3 days at the invitation of the Nalanda Shiksha, a collection of Indian Buddhist groups from places such as Bangalore, Bir, Sankisa and Nasik. Having come to Dharamsala in 2012 and 2013 to listen to him, this was the first time they had gathered in Mumbai, where the teachings were hosted by Somaiya Vidyavihar, an eclectic education institution.
His Holiness was introduced by Mr Samir Somaiya, President of the Somaiya Trust. The motto of the trust is "Knowledge Alone Liberates".
His Holiness started off the session with a recitation in Pali of the 'Mangalam Sutta', followed by 'An Invocation of the Seventeen Great Sagacious Adepts of Glorious Nalanda,' recited simultaneously in Tibetan, Hindi and English.
"We should be 21st century Buddhists with a thorough knowledge of what the Buddha taught," he said. His Holiness explained that when we examine the teachings we should investigate them without bias. He said we need a degree of scepticism, which prompts questions, leading to an eagerness to investigate, which in turn will yield answers. This was the approach of the great masters of Nalanda who stressed on reason.
"Why do we need inner peace?" His Holiness asked. "Because, for one thing, a calm mind is important for our health. Constant fear, anger and stress can make us ill. All sentient beings want to live a happy life, but most, like animals and birds seek to do so only a sensory level. Their intelligence is limited and yet they respond to affection and kind words. We human beings have intelligence that allows us to project into the future and remember the past. We invented language and writing, but we also developed faith." His Holiness explained that in theistic terms there is faith in a creator god, but in non-theistic terms there is faith in causality. Both approaches have been of great benefit to humanity in the past and will continue to be so in the future.
With regard to the Buddha's teaching, he taught the Four Noble Truths, explaining them three times in terms of nature - that there is suffering, its cause, cessation and the path; in terms of function - that we should know suffering, overcome its causes, and attain cessation by following the path; and in terms of result - having eliminated the cause, suffering is overcome, having followed the path, we attain cessation. He said that suffering is based on ignorance. Ignorance of causality is rooted in ignorance about reality.
His Holiness also answered several questions from the audience including a request for advice about how to meditate.
On the second day, His Holiness emphasized that China was not yet a democracy, though he pointed out that things were changing. He also said that India must build a future based on its ancient values. His Holiness stressed the need to prevent our human intelligence being diverted by destructive emotions. The latter half of the day was spent fielding questions on vipasyana and teaching excerpts from Nagarjuna's 'Precious Garland'.
His Holiness started the final day's teaching session with an explanation taken from Shantideva's book, 'Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life'. He spoke about the relevant sections on anger and hatred, which stands as obstacles in the way of developing infinite altruism.
He said we can distinguish two kinds of compassion, one that wishes for others to be free from suffering and a second determination that says: "May I be able to free others from suffering." He said we could go about with this only by understanding determinate origination.
He also added that some of the problems we face may persist for another 30-40 years, but if take steps to amend them now, in the long run things will change. This is why he promotes the idea of secular ethics, the importance of warm-heartedness based on the notion that we all belong to one human family.
In the afternoon, His Holiness met several business leaders at Somaiya Bhavan. He suggested that business leaders can make a significant contribution to the betterment of society. He observed that there are still too many people living in poverty, that among our grand buildings are people living in slums, people who are still human beings like us. He said that the wealthy have some responsibility to help the poor by providing facilities for education and health, but that the poor also have a responsibility to build their own confidence and work hard.
His Holiness advised that faced with an ever increasing global population, the huge gap between rich and poor, and dwindling natural resources, concern for others is crucial. Asked about the purpose of life, he said it is in finding happiness and satisfaction.
His Holiness concluded the session by having his photograph by many of those present, and signing books for them.