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24november20095Dharamshala: In broad strokes that touched upon the need for compassion in three spheres of society - medicine, politics, and religion - His Holiness the Dalai Lama this morning began a three-day teaching at the Tsuglagkhang main Buddhist temple of Dharamsala, at the request of the Russian Federation Buddhist community.

A total of 1,118 monks and nuns, 363 Tibetan laypeople, 705 Russians, 605 other foreigners hailing from over 50 countries, and over 2000 unregistered people attended this morning's teachings. The teachings were given in English, with Russian and Tibetan translations.

His Holiness opened by explaining the important roles that inner peace and human compassion play in maintaining our mental and physical well being on a personal, family and community level.

He stated, "In the 21st century, material development and modern science are highly developed, bringing an immense benefit to humanity, reducing disease, poverty, ignorance, illiteracy."

But at the same time, continued His Holiness, we are discovering that material improvements alone will not bring inner peace and mental comfort. He pointed to the examples of Russia, North America and Japan, which are materially highly developed, but whose citizens continue suffer from "mental unrest, depression, loneliness, too much stress; so as a result, suicide."

As more medical experts and "sensible people" around the world are realizing that mental peace is essential to physical health, they are beginning to explore methods to develop inner peace. According to Tibet's spiritual leader, this cannot be achieved through modern medicine, through surgery or medication; but only through the cultivation of human values, especially compassion.

24november20094"Our feeling or experience of affection is something very, very useful...biologically, affection is so important to properly shape our mind, body and physical condition," explained His Holiness, mentioning the crucial role that a mother's care plays in early childhood development. He spoke about an orphanage study which showed that among orphans who received the same level of shelter, food, clothing and basic education, those who had a mother figure (someone who took care of them for an extended period) demonstrated much higher mental and physical development than those who had no one to act as a mother.

His Holiness asserted that many basic and necessary human values such as genuine friendship, a sense of community and a sense of responsibility, are rooted in affection and compassion-essentially, a basic concern for others' well being. Therefore, he recommended that humans deliberately strengthen constructive emotions such as love, compassion and forgiveness, and minimize harmful feelings like anger and fear, in order to cultivate inner peace and practice human values.

He pointed out that on this level, "There's nothing to do with religion: we are not talking about the next life, about moksha or nirvana; we are just talking about how to be a happier human being, a more sensible human being."

"In the spirit of Dharma," His Holiness continued, in regards to diplomacy, "compassion brings respect." He stressed the profound power of engaging in nonviolent dialogue to reach solutions when conflict arises, and emphasized unity and solidarity among people of different groups. "The concept of we and they is outdated," he said, citing the example of the Berlin Wall. When demarcations are created and separation occurs, various sides may seem equal, but may not have "emotional equality." This, he claimed, is the "basis for fear, hatred, and anger."

From politics, His Holiness leapt to religion, praising nations that adopt secularist policies. "Secularism does not mean rejection of religion, but respect for all," he said, noting that, "all the important world religions talk about compassion, tolerance, and forgiveness."

He went on to commend the Indian constitution for its unbiased acceptance of all faiths. "Besides the homegrown religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism," he explained, "India embraces Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam," accepting all people, "including nonbelievers." He spoke about the importance of fostering "genuine harmony between religions on the basis of mutual respect."

Elucidating the close kinship between Tibetan and Russian Buddhists, which many people may not know about, His Holiness briefly traced the transmission of the Dharma from India, noting that Mahayana Buddhism spread through northern Asia, originally recorded in Sanskrit. The Dharma was translated into Chinese (which then entered Vietnam, Korean, and Japan), and also into Tibetan, which spread through Mongolia to Russia. His Holiness also said that Tibetan officials had historically maintained contact with the Russian czar in both political and spiritual matters.

"We are reviving a centuries-old tie, so I am very happy," he told the large group of Russians gathered in the audience.
Outlining the upcoming events of the teachings, His Holiness briefly introduced the texts and Tantric transmission to come in the next two days. He will be offering a commentary on Atisha's Lamp on the Path to Enlightenment, considered to be a seminal text on the practice of Lam Rim, and Tsongkapa's Three Principal Aspects of the Path and For Teaching the Profound Dependent Origination. His Holiness will also be giving an initiation of the Thirteen Deity Glorious Vajrabhairava.

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