LADAKH: His Holiness the Dalai Lama graced a seminar titled ‘Communal Harmony – Foundation of World Peace’ at the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies in Choglamsar, Ladakh on 27 July.
The seminar and the occasion was a celebration of the centenary of the birth of the great 20th century Ladakhi spiritual leader Kushok Bakula Rinpoche. It was jointly organised by Youth Wings of the Ladakh Buddhist Association (YWLBA), the Anjuman Imamia and the Anjuman Moin-ul-Islam.
In his address at the seminar, His Holiness spoke about peace as the only way forward and urged everyone to shun violence and nurture and advocate a compassionate mindset.
“However, what’s past is past and now we have to look to the future. Generally, across the world, the beginning of the 21st century has been better than the 20th century. People have become fed up with violence and nurture a genuine desire for peace. I greatly appreciate the spirit of the European Union. At the end of the Second World War, the nations of Europe, after fighting each other for centuries, decided instead to work together for the common good. For sixty years since then, peace has prevailed.
“One of the big mistakes of the 20th century was the persistent attempt to solve problems by use of force. The world has become so interdependent, both in terms of our economies on the one hand and dealing with challenges like climate change that affect us all on the other, that such an approach is completely out of date. We need a new way of thinking to suit our new reality. We have to learn to live side by side.
“We all want to live a happy life, so we have to learn to live together in trust and mutual respect. We do have differences of race, nationality, religious faith and so on, but these differences are secondary in comparison to our equality in being human. When I heard scientists say they had evidence that basic human nature is compassionate, I thought, ‘There’s real hope.’
“Helping others brings deep satisfaction. No matter how powerful we may seem to be, our survival depends on the community. Clearly, the community is crucial to individual happiness, so if we make others happy, we too derive benefit. We need to take action. However, if we act out of self-centeredness, it will be difficult to be transparent, to earn others’ trust and friendship. By learning to be more warm-hearted we can create a more compassionate world. As members of Institutions like this, you can make a difference here in Ladakh, in Jammu & Kashmir and in India at large.
“We face a multitude of problems. But among them, conflict in the name of religion is unthinkable and shameful. Such narrow-minded, short-sighted thinking is out of step with the times. We have to work with the welfare of the whole of humanity in mind.
“These are the sort of things I talk about wherever I go. As a Buddhist I pray every day for the happiness of all sentient beings, but those on other planets or in other parts of the universe I can’t reach. Even on this planet, there are countless animals, birds and insects that we can do little for. Those who we can really help are our 7 billion fellow human beings, who can gain from learning the importance of inner peace. That’s what I wanted to share with you—now I’d like to hear your questions.”
Asked the meaning of unity in religion, His Holiness answered, “The sense of being brothers and sisters.” A question about whether there should be just one religion brought a swift response—“Impossible; even within Buddhism there are different points of view. All major religions convey a common message of love, but we need the variety they represent.”
Following the seminar, His Holiness was invited to lunch at Sindhu Darshan Complex near Shey organised by the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC). Dr Sonam Dawa, LAHDC CEC, paid tribute to His Holiness as the honoured guest at the luncheon ceremony.
After lunch, His Holiness returned to to Shiwatsel Phodrang. From 28 July, His Holiness will begin three days of teaching on Shantideva’s ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’.