New Delhi, India, 20 September 2014 - Stressing inter-religious harmony and urging all religious leaders to rise above dogmas for reaching out to everybody, the spiritual leader of Tibet His Holiness the Dalai Lama said killing in the name of faith is 'terrible'.
Spiritual leaders of nine major religions held discussions on the first day of the two-day, all-religion meeting on 'Diverse Spiritual Traditions in India' at the Hyatt Regency Delhi on Saturday.
This was a first-of-its-kind event organized by His Holiness. Speaking on the occasion, the Dalai Lama said India is the only country where religions co-exist. The welcome address was delivered by former ambassador Lalit Mansingh.
”I am just one human being among many. We human beings are social animals; we each depend for our existence on other people. Even the Buddha depended on begging for alms. Wherever I go, as I say, I just think of myself as another human being.
I don’t think of myself as a Tibetan, a Buddhist or as somebody special like His Holiness the Dalai Lama. All of us human beings are the same physically, mentally and emotionally. We all want to live a happy life and we have a right to do so. And yet many of the problems we face are our own creations. Why? Because we think only of ourselves and neglect others.
“If we were to think of others as our human brothers and sisters there’d be no room for quarrelling or killing each other. We’d remember that even the person we call our enemy is another human being. This means that our intelligence needs to be guided by warm-heartedness.”
He said that by some estimates 200 million people died as a result of violence and bloodshed in the 20th century, it is important that this century be a century of peace instead. We have to learn to resolve conflict through dialogue, the basis for which is a concern for the other’s well-being. This is borne out by the fact that if you are warm-hearted, you, your family and your neighbourhood will be happy, free from fear and anger. Such a secular basis for ethics may also appeal to those of the 1 billion who don’t believe in any spiritual tradition.
All the world’s major spiritual traditions convey a message of love and compassion, which is why we can view those who belong to them as spiritual brothers and sisters. However, His Holiness said, these days we hear repeatedly about conflict in the name of religion. This is very sad. The idea that people are killing others in the name of religion is unthinkable.
“India is the only country where all the major religious traditions live together side by side and have done so for more than 1000 years. This is an example from which the rest of the world can learn. And that is one of the reasons why I convened this conference.”
“This country’s thousands of years old tradition of religious harmony is very precious. In the past, when I have taken part in meetings of spiritual teachers like this I often describe myself as a student of ancient Indian knowledge, which means the Nalanda tradition," His Holiness said at the final day of a two-day meeting.
"We Tibetans regard ancient Indians as our gurus, while we are the chelas or disciples. But I often stress that we are reliable chelas because we have kept the knowledge we received from you intact. Religious harmony and ahimsa depend on karuna. I consider myself be a messenger of these qualities," he added.
His Holiness also expressed his concerns about the violence in Myanmar. His Holiness said beliefs of a religion are private and it was important to realize that people depend on each other for survival and therefore trust and harmony must be built.
Chief guest of the event and the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Najeeb Jung stressed the need to promote religious harmony while recalling Swami Vivekananda's address at the Parliament of World Religions.
Other religious leaders who spoke include Swami Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Prof Manjit Singh, His Excellency Gaden Tripa Rizong Sras-Trul Thupten Nyima, Acharya Shri Mahashraman, Nazneen Rowhani, Dadi E Mistry, Rabbi Ezekiel Isaac Malekar and Mufti Mohammad Sanaul Hoda Qasmi.
The Chief Guest, Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs and an MP from Arunachal Pradesh was invited to address the gathering. He observed that as Home Minister, if and when there is communal unrest in the country he can send in the police or if necessary the army to calm things down. However, he felt that a message from spiritual teachers might be more effective. He was full of praise for the way His Holiness the Dalai Lama had brought so many celebrated spiritual teachers together.