Basic human nature is compassionate: Spiritual leader of Tibet to youth

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His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during the second day of his three day teaching for Tibetan youth at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 6, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

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Dharamshala — "We need to remind ourselves that basic human nature is compassionate," His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, adding: "We are open, friendly and cheerful as children, why do we become aggressive and violent when we grow up?"

Addressing the audience of 8200 people, including 2800 primarily Tibetan students and 1500 foreigners from 71 countries, His Holiness spoke on Tuesday of the Nalanda tradition, its inner values and the stress it puts on employing logic and reason as assets to be put to the service of all humanity.

"This is something worth trying," he said. "We may feel at peace here, but elsewhere murderous violence has broken out. There have been the recent savage attacks in Britain and in other places. Millions are on the verge of starvation. In all of these crises human beings are involved. We need to remind ourselves that basic human nature is compassionate. We are open, friendly and cheerful as children, why do we become aggressive and violent when we grow up?

"It will be good if we can spread the idea of warm-heartedness and love and limit those actions that lack compassion. Just as India is known as the land of ahimsa, we Tibetans are brought up not to harm creatures like insects unnecessarily. A former official of the Central Tibetan Administration told me that he found work in the USA cleaning vegetables for a university kitchen.

The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate used to set aside worms and insects he found in a glass jar and release them outside at the end of his shift. His colleagues watched and asked what he was doing. He explained that "in Tibetan culture people make an effort to preserve the lives of small creatures and before long he noticed that they had begun to follow his example."

He also mentioned that an American who had been involved in the project to resettle 1000 Tibetans in the US told him that he had done so because he felt Tibetans would make a positive contribution to society. He warned, however, that Tibetans could lose their good reputation if they're not careful.

The Tibetan leader reiterated that since Buddhist inner science is related not only to overcoming ignorance, but also to subduing the unruly mind and transforming it, it has practical value. He quoted from the colophon of 'Illuminating the Threefold Faith: An Invocation of the Seventeen Great Sagacious Adepts of Glorious Nalanda':

"At the present time, when in the ordinary world there is great advancement in the fields of science and technology, but we are also distracted by the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, it is extremely important that those of us who follow the Buddha should have faith based on knowledge of his teaching," he said, adding: "Therefore, we should examine the reasons for it with an unbiased and inquisitive mind, analyzing it closely."

He then read through the verses of the praise clarifying the qualities of the masters of the lineages of the profound and vast teachings.

Among several questions from Tibetan students, a young woman observed that it sometimes happens that you dream of a place you have not been to before and later recognise it when you go there. She wanted to know what is going on. His Holiness explained that people's different dream experiences can be connected to their particular physical disposition.

"There are people who have clear dreams in which they see the future. I have friends who dream of being here in Dharamshala while they were still in Tibet and recognised it when they got here. It seems the subtler mind has the power to see the future," His Holiness said.

"When I'm awake I don't remember anything about past lives, but in my dreams I do. I have one memory of being a prisoner in ancient Egypt and being brought before the king in chains. He sat high on his throne and looked down at me commanding that I be released. I also have dreams of being with Indian and Tibetan masters of the past," he said.

"My mother told me that when I was small I clearly had memories of my past life. She also told me that on the day the search party was to come to our house I was excited. When Keutshang Rinpoche arrived, apparently I recognised him and the rosary he had around his neck. I tugged on it, telling him it was mine and asking him to give it to me," he added.

The spiritual leader of Tibet asked if there was anyone among the students who was able to recognise that they were dreaming when they were in the dream state. He mentioned that there are ways to prompt yourself to do this and that it is a powerful opportunity to do spiritual practice.