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His Holiness the Dalai Lama Meets Foreign Visitors to Dharamsala

Dharamsala, HP, India   30 March 2015: His Holiness the Dalai Lama today met with an estimated 1100 people from 56 different countries in Asia, Australasia, Europe, North and South America and Africa. Among them were more than 100 Indians. He first posed for photographs with them arranged in groups according to nationality before sitting down below the Tsuglagkhang to speak to them.

“Some time ago I thought it would be good,” he said, “if, when there are quite a number of visitors here, I could meet with them and share with them some of my thoughts and experiences. So, you can not only see my face, but also hear about what I think.”

He mentioned that we are all the same as human beings. We all want to be happy and we all value each others’ affection. It is the experience of care and affection at the start of our lives that equips us to be able to show affection to others when we are older. He pointed out that scientists today have found that having constant feelings of anger and hatred is bad for our health, whereas showing affection does us good.

Addressing particularly the Indians in the audience, he said that Tibetans have historically regarded Indians as their gurus because it was from them that they gained their knowledge. He quoted a great Tibetan teacher of the 14/15th century who said that although Tibet is a Land of Snow and the colour of snow is white, until the light of wisdom came from India, Tibet had remained in the dark. His Holiness said that his own study of the philosophy and psychology as taught by masters of Nalanda University was the basis on which he has been able to converse with modern scientists over the last thirty years. It has been a mutually rewarding dialogue. He expressed appreciation of the growing numbers of educated Indians who are showing an interest in the science of mind and other aspects of the profound knowledge of ancient India, much of it still very relevant today.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting foreign and domestic tourists in Dharamshala, 30 March 2015.

He also spoke of his admiration for India’s longstanding tradition of secularism, its unbiased respect for all spiritual traditions and even for the individual’s right to adhere to none.

“We should adopt such a secular approach to inner values and moral principles, which should be taught in schools, where everyone can hear them, not just in temples, churches and mosques.”

His Holiness went on to discuss three aspects of religion: firstly the message of love, compassion, tolerance and contentment that all religions have in common. Secondly, there is the philosophical aspect on which they all differ. He compared those traditions that believe in a creator god with those that believe in principles of causality, the idea that good actions lead to happiness while unwholesomeness produces sorrow. He joked about how people lazily blame what happens on their ‘karma’ as if their destiny were beyond their control. They forget that ‘karma’ means action and that they are its agents.

Finally, he mentioned the cultural aspects of religion, customs that are subject to change. He cited the general principle of equal opportunity that the Buddha granted to men and to women and yet men are predominant.

“It’s time for this to change,” he said, “We should have more real equality. Similarly, the Buddha disregarded India’s caste system and today it’s time for an end to caste discrimination. This is a cultural aspect of religious tradition that spiritual teachers should speak out against.”

Lastly, His Holiness remarked that he is Tibetan with a deep concern to preserve Tibet’s culture of peace, non-violence and compassion, values that can be of benefit to everyone. He also spoke of his concern to preserve Tibet’s natural ecology, noting that in terms of its glaciers Tibet is like a Third Pole. From these sources flow the major rivers of Asia that are crucial to the water supply of a billion people.

At the end of his outline of his three commitments: the promotion of inner values as the source of real happiness, the fostering of inter-religious harmony, as exemplified in India, and the preservation of Tibet’s language, culture and environment, he appealed to his listeners:

“If anything I’ve said has been of any interest, think about it some more and discuss it with your family and friends. Thank you. The day after tomorrow I’m leaving for Japan. See you again.”