Upper Bhattu, HP, India –His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed that "Tibetan culture is unique in the many qualities it offers to the whole world" during a teaching led by him at Sherabling Monastery in upper Bhattu on March 11.
His Holiness was invited to Sherabling by the 12th Chamgon Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche to consecrate its statues and the shrine in its temple hall, as well as to receive a long life offering by Situ Rinpoche which will be preceded by the Long Life Initiation of Amitayus and the transmission of the Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment. His Holiness will also inaugurate the Lungrik Jamphel Ling Institute, the new learning centre of the monastery. These events will take place on March 12.
Addressing a congregation of over one thousand Tibetan and international guests — including Chief Justice Commissioner Mr Kagyu Dhondup, members of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile and representatives of Tibetan non-governmental organisations, schools and institutions — His Holiness underlined that "Tibetan culture is not only about religion; its values apply to both religious and non-religious people."
His Holiness paid tribute to Situ Rinpoche for his unceasing devotion to Tibetan Buddhism, especially for his focus on the educational development of monks: "There are many who build temples and monasteries but Situ Rinpoche is one of those few whose focus on education is exemplary."
The sentiment of His Holiness was echoed in the address of Mr Penpa Tsering — Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile — who said: "It is praiseworthy that under the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, many Tibetan spiritual leaders — like Situ Rinpoche — have created tremendous educational opportunities in exile and abroad."
"During the past 38 years, through many difficult circumstances, Situ Rinpoche has developed this institution that has facilities for all aspects of education, including medicine, dialectics, philosophy and advanced Tibetan language studies. At its completion, attended by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, this is a great time for all of us."
The sustained work of Situ Rinpoche and other monks was mentioned in the address of Kalon Pema Chinjor — Minister for the Department of Religion and Culture — who said: "Thanks to our great enlightened masters who managed to escape into exile, Tibetan culture has spread. In the past 56 years, people from around the world have found that Tibet's religion and culture is very precious."
Chinjor also honoured His Holiness, who he described as a "champion of peace".
While Chinjor commended the older generation of Tibet's community-in-exile, he highlighted concern for the future: "Today, big questions about Tibetan culture still remain. We need to see whether we have people in the [approximately 800] centres of Buddhism around the world who are really qualified to teach future generations.
"We need teachers who are learned and experienced in the teachings of Buddhism," he emphasised.
In recent years, the number of practicing monks and nuns in Tibetan Buddhist centres around the world has declined. Currently, 265 of the approximately 800 active Tibetan Buddhist monasteries outside of Tibet are in Bhutan or India. They contain 40,000 monks and nuns, of which 55.4% are from the Himalayan regions.
Chinjor emphasised that although he would like to see more practising monks and nuns, "in the words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama: 'we need quality rather than quantity.'"
Situ Rinpoche expressed his appreciation to His Holiness for consecrating Sherabling, for his teaching and for his efforts to promote global peace, non-violence and religious harmony. Situ Rinpoche also spoke about the lineage of relations between Situpas and Dalai Lamas, recalling a personal memory of a visit by His Holiness to Derge in 1955, where he bestowed a dharma name to Situ Rinpoche.