India: Dalai Lama Celebrates 80th Birthday With Tributes From Indians


His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet has received tributes from a cross-section of Indians as he toured a number of Indian cities to mark his 80th birthday which fell on July 6th last year. In turn he has also emphasized the importance of ethics and compassion to craft a better 21st century.

H.H Dali Lama returned to Dharmasala on Januray 5th after a month long tour across India that took him to a number of cities and towns. During his final destination in New Delhi a number of dignitaries graced the occasion to pay tribute to His Holiness, among them was the former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and former Deputy Prime Minister A.K Advani of the Hindu nationalist BJP.

“My encounters with him have always left me more at peace with my life” Dr Singh told the gathering. “Ours is a land of rishis and he is one of them helping to guide the country in a righteous path. In these turbulent times he teaches us to combine our spiritual values with our use of science and technology for material development”.

Advani described the Dalai Lama as someone who did not think ill of anyone, while famous Bollywood actress Sharmila Tagore paid tribute to His Holiness as the voice of reason and common sense. She pointed out one of his often cited sayings: “There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness”.

“There’s goodness in you, there’s truth in you, because you don’t say one thing and do another,” social activist Aruna Roy said of His Holiness, adding that hope is as important to life as food, “May you keep giving us hope.”

Addressing the audience, H.H Dalai Lama said: “Some of you are among my oldest friends. I have spent the major portion of my life in India. Under difficult circumstances I have really come to value India’s freedom and I appreciate your warm feelings towards me. However, in the face of what may sound like too much praise, I have to remind myself, ‘I’m a monk, I’m a Buddhist monk.’

He reminded the audience that there are 7 billion people living on this earth and since our future depends on other people we need to think about them.

“Altruism doesn’t mean that you neglect yourself or your own welfare. But we all need friendship and friendship depends on trust. Showing concern for others is what gives rise to trust. It’s common sense, and something we can see for ourselves, that a wealthy man who trusts no one will never be happy, while a poor man who is surrounded by friends is full of joy. Therefore, caring for others is the best way to fulfil our own concerns,” he advised.

His Holiness spoke of the knowledge received from ancient India and kept alive in Tibet. He suggested that Tibetans have not only been chelas or disciples, but have been reliable chelas, because during the ups and downs of history they have kept this knowledge alive.

“This knowledge largely belongs to the Nalanda tradition. It is now time, my respected Indian brothers and sisters to pay more attention to your ancient heritage and combine its values with science and technology to ensure the greatest benefit. Ahimsa in not just a matter of being non- violent in our actions, but also of being compassionate in our hearts. Just as we observe physical hygiene to defend our bodily health, we need a sense of emotional hygiene to preserve our inner peace and overall well-being. A genuine sense of compassion is based on seeing all human beings as essentially the same,” said H.H Dalai Lama.

On behalf of the organizers, Dr Manmohan Singh presented His Holiness with a carved sandalwood replica of the Lion Capital that adorned the Ashokan Pillar in Sarnath. The four lions back to back represent power, courage, pride, and confidence and are now one of the emblems of India.

Earlier in his month long tour His Holiness has been to Bengaluru, Hunsur and Bylakuppe.

In an address to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) Association of Karnataka in Bengaluru, H.H Dalai Lama argued that whatever your faith or colour we are all part of one humanity. “Seeing each other in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and being motivated by a strong sense of self-centredness are the source of violence, killing and corruption in our world,” he pointed out.

“Instead we have to make an effort to promote a sense of the oneness of all human beings. We have to think about the welfare of the whole of humanity. If humanity is happy, as individuals we’ll all be happy. If humanity is wracked with fear and suspicion, we’ll be unhappy.”

Comparing ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Indian civilizations, His Holiness suggested that the Indus Valley culture had given rise to by far the greatest number of thinkers and teachers, such as the Buddha. He said that as members of the IAS, his listeners were in a position to help promote and preserve ancient Indian values. He said he didn’t mean performing pujas and rituals so much as values like ahimsa and the science of the mind.

Asked for his advice to Indian civil servants he replied: “Be honest, transparent and truthful; that way you’ll establish trust.”

Addresssing a congregation of Abbots, former Abbots, Tulkus, monks, nuns and lay-people at Tashi Lhunpo Assembly Hall in Bylakuppe after performing a traditional religious ceremony, H.H Dalai Lama emphasized the importance of cultivating ethics and compassion in the young generation to create a better 21st century.

“We all want happiness and to avoid suffering, and within ourselves that involves a greater sense of love and compassion. As far as the external world is concerned it will entail taking serious steps to preserve the environment and adapt to climate change. These days scientists are increasingly finding evidence that cultivating love and compassion has a positive effect on our physical health and general well-being. Humanity is made up of individuals and we will only achieve a happier more peaceful society if those individuals are happier and more peaceful within themselves,” he noted.

“By and large, modern education systems are inadequate because they are focused on material development and pay insufficient attention to inner development, to training in basic human values,” his holiness observed and pointed out that here are projects underway in the USA and Canada, in Europe and also in India to design curriculums that will incorporate secular ethics into standard education.

“Steps need to be taken now to implement such changes,” he argued. “If we can inculcate and nurture basic human values in those who are young today, I believe that by the end of the century we will have created a happier more peaceful world”.

* This Lotus News feature was compiled from material sourced from www.dalailama.com

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