His Holiness the Dalai Lama walked out into the courtyard of the temple, smiling and greeting the audience that had gathered to welcome him, June 24, 2022. Photo: TPI

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Dharamshala — Five Tibetan groups offered a long life prayer for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet. "I will try to work for Tibet. I am healthy and my brain is clear, so I intend to live at least the next twenty years. The sun will shine again on Tibet, freedom will be restored," said His Holiness who addressed the gathering after the long life ceremony.

Five Tibetan groups offered a Long live prayer for His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Thekchen Chöling, the Main Tibetan Temple, Dharamsala, HP, India, on June 24, 2022. 1500 Tibetans representing five groups: Jöl-Kong-Gyel-sum, Yamdrok, Ngari, and Chang-ri, as well as Sera-jé Geshé Dölden Gyatso, congregated at the Main Tibetan Temple, for the Long Life Ceremony of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

His Holiness walked from the gate of his residence to the temple courtyard, while horns played to welcome him. He greeted the audience and dancers who had gathered to welcome him with smiles and waves.

Venerable Samdhong Rinpoché, supported by the Chant-master and monks of Namgyal Monastery, led the ceremony based on prayers to White Tara, the Wish-fulfilling Wheel. The prayers included ‘Clouds of Ambrosial Blessings' by Trulshik Rinpoché, which reviews the qualities of the line of incarnations of Avalokiteshvara which include the Dalai Lamas. 800 people bearing offerings to His Holiness partook in processions and made their way through the temple.

At the time of offering the mandala, as a reminder to gods and goddesses about His Holiness’s work throughout his life, Ven Samdhong Rinpoché stood before His Holiness and recited a eulogy and request. While doing so, he summarized the accomplishments of the lineage of Dalai Lamas and the Ganden Phodrang and their contribution to Tibet.

“You have been here among us to serve the Dharma and all humanity. You have taught us the value of ‘ahimsa’—doing no harm, and ‘karuna’—compassion, inter-religious harmony, and a sense of the oneness of humanity in the context that everyone wants to be happy and not to suffer,” said Ven Samdhong Rinpoché.

“You have encouraged us all to understand that conflicts and disputes should be solved through dialogue and diplomatic means. You have brought benefits to Tibet by strengthening the Tibetan identity, introducing democracy, and improving education in schools and monasteries. To settle the question of Tibet you have introduced the Middle Way Approach,” he continued.

“These are some of the ways you have contributed to the welfare of Tibet and humanity at large. These are things that everyone can see and which have been acknowledged when you were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Templeton Prize, and so forth. Please live long to be able to continue to benefit not only Tibetans, but for the whole of humanity,” he added.

At the conclusion of the Long Life Ceremony, His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressed the congregation. “We have done the White Tara Long Life Offering. We all have a strong karmic connection due to prayers we have made in the past. Because of this I also have a special connection with the people of Tibet. Although the affairs of Tibet have waxed and waned over the years, I think I have managed to do something to help,” said His Holiness.

“I am in my eighties now, but I am determined that even when I am in my nineties or past one hundred, I will strive to work for Tibet. I am in good health and my brain is clear, so I intend to live for at least the next twenty years. The sun will shine once more on Tibet. Freedom will recover,” he added.

“Many in China are paying attention to the significance of Tibet. People around the world, scientists among them, are taking an interest in Tibetan traditions. The just cause of Tibet will persist and Tibetan culture will contribute to the welfare of the world,” he said.

“I have retired from political responsibilities and remain a guest of the Government of India here in the Kangra Valley, a location chosen for me by Pandit Nehru. We have a Tibetan Parliament and an elected leadership capable of dealing with political affairs. I have worked as hard as I could and now this old monk can spend more time on promoting human values," he continues.

"In my daily practice I focus on bodhichitta and emptiness. I generate bodhichitta every day in order to fulfil the purpose of others and myself. I have a special link to Avalokiteshvara, but I also feel that I may have studied with the great master Chandrakirti. From chapter six of his treatise ‘Entering into the Middle Way’, I reflect on verses 34-38 every day,” the spiritual leader of Tibet added.

“The people of Tibet and the Buddhadharma of Tibet are constantly in my thoughts and the very least I can do is to make prayers for them—although today I have been able to rely on Samdhong Rinpoché to lead the prayers. You Tibetans must do your best. The worst times are past and now we have to look forward with hope. That’s all—thank you,” His Holiness concluded.

The Long Life Ceremony concluded with the chanting of several prayers culminating in the ‘Words of Truth’ that His Holiness composed in Dharamsala in late 1960.