Dharamshala — The spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama returned to Dharamshala Sunday to a warm welcome by Tibetans and devotees following a succesful five-day visit to Osaka, Japan, where he met separately with Chinese, Tibetans, Taiwanese and other devotees.
On his arrival at Gaggal Airport, His Holiness was received by top officials, including Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, Deputy Speaker of Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile Khenpo Sonam Tenphel and representatives of the Tibetan community.
His Holiness Friday concluded his four-day Buddhist teachings at the Osaka International Convention Center. During his visit to Japan from 9 – 13 May, His Holiness conducted a four-day teachings on Shantideva’s A Guide to the Bodhisatva’s Way of Life (Tib: Chodjug) at the request of his devotees from Japan, Taiwan, Mongolia, Singapore and Korea, at the Osaka International Convention Center, Japan.
His Holiness met a group of Taiwanese devotees and spoke to them for a few minutes. His Holiness urged them to develop warm heartedness and compassion, at the same time, speaking about his inability to visit Taiwan in the last few years.
“As followers of the Buddha and the Nalanda tradition, we should use what we learn to develop a calm mind and generate inner peace.
“You’re all from Taiwan,” he continued. “I’ve visited several times and been impressed by how well ordered the country is. You are heirs to ancient Chinese culture and taking an interest in Buddhism, which is very good," he said.
"For political reasons I have been unable to come again recently. Ma Ying-jeou was friendly when he was Mayor of Taipei, but became more aloof once he was President. It’s understandable and I don’t want to inconvenience anyone," His Holiness said, adding: "From my side I’m ready to come, however I don’t want to discomfit the government.”
Addressing a group of Tibetans in the audience, he described for them how in exile in India a Tibetan administration had been established early on and that it followed a democratic model. The steady progress of democracy meant that he had been able to semi-retire in 2001 and to fully retire in 2011 devolving his political responsibility to the elected leadership. He stressed that his retirement did not reflect any sense of discouragement and that he eagerly continues to talk about and work for the preservation of Tibetan language and culture as well as its natural environment.
“I’m not shy,” he said. “We Tibetans are sharp. I am from Domey like Je Tsongkhapa and I have a sharp mind too. Although I was quite lazy about my studies when I was young, the education and training I received in Tibet has equipped me to engage in fulfilling conversations with modern scientists over the last more than thirty years.
"People used to dismiss Tibetan Buddhism as Lamaism as if it was not an authentic Buddhist tradition. Now we declare that it is the heir of the Nalanda tradition and is the most comprehensive Buddhist tradition in the world today. In addition to studying classic treatises like Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom’ and Maitreya’s ‘Ornament for Clear Realization’, we have translations of all seven of Dharmakirti’s works on logic and epistemology. We not only have translations of these books, we have a living command of their contents.
“Recently, when I was receiving medical treatment in the US I heard that many Tibetans gathered to pray for me. I’d like to thank you and reassure you that I feel well. You don’t need to worry about me. Truth will prevail. China is changing. We will be together again. For now, study what you can. Improve your education and otherwise take things easily.”
Talking separately to some Chinese, His Holiness observed that wherever they are in the world, Chinese people preserve their identity and work hard. He said a sign of how China had changed over the last 40 years was the number of people who are again showing an interest in religion.
Now China has the largest Buddhist population in the world. As popular interests change the system will have to change too. He recalled that President Xi Jinping two years ago in Paris had clearly mentioned the important contribution Buddhism had to make to Chinese culture. He repeated it in Delhi, an unexpected remark from the leader of the Chinese Communist Party.
“I’ve lived the greater part of my life in exile,” he told them, “but my health and energy are still good. I’m nearly 81 now. If I live to be 90 or 100 I hope still to be of some service to China and the Chinese people. Please keep this in mind.
“I meet with quite a few Chinese these days. A few years ago I met with a group that included a poor farmer. I asked him about circumstances in his village. He told me things were very difficult, that there was a huge gap between rich and poor.
Those of you who are now better off should try to help those in need. For example, I’m quite worried about education in remote parts of the country. Meanwhile, Xi Jinping is trying to tackle corruption, but it is a big challenge.”
His Holiness gave the Upasaka vows on the lay people and Bodhisatva vows to members of the clergy in the audience. Conferring the vows, he urged the audience to refrain from the ten negative actions.
His Holiness then conferred the Manjushri permission to the public. His Holiness said that he received the Manjushri permission from his teachers including Khunu Rinpoche, Ling Ripoche, Trijang Rinpoche and Tagdra Rnpoche.
In the afternoon, a question and answer session was held, wherein, members of the public posed questions to His Holiness the Dalai Lama ranging from personal dilemmas to issues of politics, Buddhist doctrines, and philosophy.
Responding to a question about what is the best Buddhist tradition, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that it is better to study several traditions so that one would have a broader outlook. He also added that all Tibetan Buddhist traditions are based on the Nalanda tradition even though there are minor differences.
The spiritual leader further clarified that it was because of such narrow mindedness that has stirred the Shugden issue. Proponents of the Shugden spirit advocate that Gelugpas should not touch Nyingma texts, which is a divisive attitude. He said that although he had propitiated the spirit himself at one time, he gave it up when he realised its drawbacks particularly its harmful attitude to other traditions.
He also advised about the harmful effects of consuming alcohol in response to a question posed by a woman who couldn’t stop her drinking habits. “Drinking in itself is not bad. However, the effects of drinking such as intoxication could impel you to commit negative deeds. Moreover, its also unhealthy as well. So if you cannot stop it completely, you should at least reduce the consumption gradually,” His Holiness said.
Responding to another question, His Holiness emphasised the importance of the monastic community, repeating the Buddha’s advice that where the Vinaya is observed the Dharma will flourish. He mentioned that there are aspects of Buddhist science and philosophy, such as its understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions, as well as the view of dependent origination, that may be helpful even to those not interested in Buddhism.