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Tibet-Dalai-Lama-California-US-2016Westminster, CA, USA — Describing Tibetan people used only to quarrel among themselves to the detriment of the entire three provinces of Tibet, the spiritual leader of Tibet His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, but now Tibetans are facing "a life or death struggle" for their "culture and identity".

His Holiness the Dalai Lama was greeted by 400 members of the Tibetan community, in Anaheim, California, where he spoke to them about the history of Tibet, Tibetan freedom struggle, Buddhism and Tibetan culture and identity.

"We're passing through the most difficult period in the last 2000 years of our recorded history. We used only to quarrel among ourselves to the detriment of the entire three provinces of Tibet, but now we're facing a life or death struggle for our culture and identity," His Holiness the Dalai Lama told the Tibetan community, on June 19, 2016.

"This may be the fruit of our karma, yet among Tibetans in exile as well as those in Tibet, our spirit remains strong. Amongst other exiles we stand out due to the courage and dedication of our people. The report says you are teaching your children Tibetan. That's good and it's good to teach them about our religion too," His Holiness said.

"From an archaeological point of view, Tibetans are an ancient people. Stone Age tools found in Amdo are estimated to be 30,000 years old; artefacts in Chamdo are 7000 years old, while others found in Ngari are 10,000 years old. What matters now is that for more than 1000 years we've had our own writing. Today, it is the best vehicle for conveying the thoughts of the masters of Nalanda—something to be proud of.

"Trisong Detsen had a Chinese mother, so he could have brought Buddhism to Tibet from China. Instead he chose to go to the original source and invited Shantarakshita to come from India to Tibet. Despite his age, with the help of Guru Padmasambhava, who overcame inner and outer obstacles, he established Samye. The Chinese Hoshangs suggested that there was no need to study, but Kamalashila made clear the importance of study, reflection and meditation, an approach we've adopted for the last 1000 years.

"This is why we shouldn't just keep the Kangyur and Tengyur on the altar out of respect. There also used to be a custom of carrying the volumes on our shoulders round in procession around the fields to protect the harvest from calamity. But books are to be studied and read. I've been urging nunneries and ritual monasteries to engage in study of the classics for 40 years and this year we're going to award fully qualified nuns the Geshe degree.

I visited one of the settlements in Bhandara, Madhya Pradesh, where school children debated before me. They were good and I asked who had taught them. It turned out their teacher was a nun. She'd trained them well. So nuns will become Geshe-ma, but there is still work to do on the Gelongma question. Some Western feminists seem to think it is something I can decide, but it's beyond my authority. Matters of Vinaya can only be decided by scholars within the monastic community.

"In Dharamsala and Ladakh there are now Dharma study groups among lay-people. Earlier this year after my medical treatment in Rochester, I visited Deer Park in Madison. I recommended that it becomes a more broadly based centre of learning, where the knowledge of the workings of the mind and emotions that we have in our tradition can be combined with the work on emotions of people like Paul Ekman and his daughter to the wider benefit."

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