HH the Dalai Lama of Tibet
"........the circle of people who can grasp and practise the whole corpus of the Buddha's teachings is limited even in the Land of Snows, which today is in a state of crisis......
the brunt of the responsibility therefore is on the ecumenical ( "Ri-May" ) religious centers and their subsidiary colleges in exile...... "
-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama
The Path to Enlightenment
With the right attitude, any journey to a sacred place becomes a pilgrimage,
writes the Dalai Lama in an exclusive essay for NEWSWEEK.
By The Dalai Lama
April 21, 2007 -
Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, has long been a major object
of pilgrimage. Even today, people from the farthest reaches of Tibet try to
pay a visit at least once in their lives. Often they undertake the journey
on foot, even barefoot. Some especially hardy pilgrims prostrate themselves,
pressing their body full-length upon the ground along the entire length of
their route. Once they reach the city, they often do not even stop to have a
cup of tea until they have been to the Jokhang, the main cathedral, to pay
their respects before the image of the Buddha, the Jowo Rinpoche.
Pilgrimages are a part of nearly every religion. The faithful set out in
hopes of finding virtue and gaining merit. Among Buddhists, they visit
places where a spiritual master once spent time meditating. His presence
makes the place seem somehow blessed or charged, as if there is some kind of
electricity around it. Pilgrims come to feel these mysterious vibrations.
They try to share in the visions of the master. Along their road, they
undertake hardship with no thought of material reward. Their every step,
every movement, becomes filled with a sense of spiritual progress. Many
intensify the sense of hardship along the way by going barefoot, or reciting
prayers or mantras, and so increase the spiritual merit they gain.
We Buddhists believe that merit is accumulated when you take part in
something religious, with discipline and faith, because in doing so you
shape a proper attitude within. With the right attitude, any journey to a
sacred place becomes a pilgrimage. In our tradition, the Buddha advised that
in times to come people interested in his teachings should be told about the
places associated with the major events of his life. His purpose was not to
ensure the aggrandizement of the person of the Buddha, but rather the
welfare of his followers. We believe that expressing respect and admiration
for the qualities of the Buddha-by making offerings or undertaking a
There is a strong nomadic strain in the Tibetans, which lends itself to the
rigors of pilgrimage. Our land itself is a source of spiritual inspiration,
not only because of the profusion of temples and monasteries, but because we
regard even the physical features of the land as sacred. Mount Kailash in
western Tibet is especially famous. Buddhists revere it as the sacred
location of the meditational deity Chakrasamvara. For Hindus, it is the
abode of the deities Shiva and Parvati. Jains and Sikhs have their own
special associations with it. Even for those without a specific faith, the
mountain's physical form and color make it a natural symbol of purity.
For Tibetans, India is also a holy land. It was the birthplace of the
founder of Buddhist culture and the source of the wisdom brought to our
mountains hundreds of years ago by Indian saints and seers. My first
opportunity to pay my respects there came in 1956, when I was invited to
attend celebrations of the 2,500th anniversary of the Buddha's birth. I was
overjoyed. I was to have a chance to visit Bodhgaya, the place that, like
every Buddhist, I associated with the highest achievements of the spiritual
path, the Buddha's attainment of perfect enlightenment.
When I finally stood in the presence of the seat of enlightenment, I was
profoundly moved. Reflecting on Shakyamuni Buddha's great accomplishment in
this place, I also could not fail to remember his overwhelming kindness to
all sentient beings. Not only did he achieve perfection himself, but also he
revealed that each of us has the potential to do so, too. I believed then,
as I do now, that the teachings of the Buddha could lead not only to inner
peace in the lives of individuals, but also to peace between nations. At
Bodhgaya, as at other Buddhist sites, I was also filled with admiration for
the masterpieces of Indian religious art, expressions of creative genius and
profound faith. I was reminded that sectarianism and communal conflict have
in the past harmed this great heritage. Yet ultimately, India's underlying
spirit of tolerance and religious freedom has always restored peace and
During that first visit to India, I also made a pilgrimage to Rajghat on the
banks of the Yamuna River, where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. It is a calm
and beautiful spot and I felt very grateful to be there, the guest of a
people who, like mine, had endured foreign domination. I was grateful, too,
to be in the country that had adopted Ahimsa, the Mahatma's doctrine of
nonviolence. As I stood praying, I experienced simultaneously great sadness
at not being able to meet Gandhi in person and great joy at the magnificent
example of his life. He was a man who put his belief in altruism and
nonviolence above any personal considerations. I was convinced that his
devotion to the cause of nonviolence was the only way to conduct politics.
Essentially, all religions teach us to discipline and transform ourselves so
that we can achieve inner peace and a kind heart. Yet today, in different
parts of the world, we see the flames of conflict being fanned in the name
of religion. People take up arms in the name of religion only because they
are too narrow-minded to grasp the true meaning of their respective faiths.
I firmly believe we can take steps to help nurture understanding and harmony
among religions, and thus promote peace and security. One of the important
ways of doing this is to encourage contacts among the faiths, perhaps by
visiting others' places of pilgrimage. If possible, they can pray together;
if not, they can just sit in silent meditation. Pilgrimages like this are an
immensely valuable and deep experience. On one occasion, for example, I
visited Lourdes, in southern France, not as a tourist but as a pilgrim. I
drank the holy water, stood in front of Mary's statue and thought that here,
in this place, millions of people find blessing or tranquility on this spot.
As I looked at the statue of Mary, a deep feeling of admiration and
appreciation for Christianity rose within me, simply because it provides so
much benefit to millions of people. Christianity may have a different
philosophy, but the practical value of the help and benefit it offers is
It was in this spirit that, in 1993, I went to Jerusalem, a site holy to
three of the world's great religions. I went to the Wailing Wall with Jewish
friends. I visited Christian places and prayed with Christian friends, and
then I visited the Mount Rock, the holy place of our Muslim friends and
prayed with them. I have also paid visits to various Hindu, Islamic, Jain
and Sikh shrines and places holy to Zoroastrians both in India and abroad.
Sometimes we prayed together and sometimes meditated together in silence.
More recently, I joined Christian and Buddhist leaders in a pilgrimage of
prayers, meditation and dialogue at Bodhgaya. Each morning under the Bodhi
Tree, we all sat together and meditated. Since the Buddha came more than
2,500 years ago, and since Jesus Christ came almost 2,000 years ago, I think
that this was the first time such a meeting had taken place.
There is one place that I have long wished to visit, but my wish has yet to
be fulfilled. The Five Peaked Mountain or Wu T'ai Shan in China is renowned
for its association with Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom. My
predecessor, the 13th Dalai Lama, was able to pay his respects there and,
since my first trip to China in 1954, I have cherished the hope that I might
follow in his footsteps. At that time, the Chinese authorities deflected my
request, saying that the roads were impassable. I am sure the route is clear
During the ongoing discussions we have had with Chinese authorities
concerning Tibetan autonomy, my envoys have reiterated my wish to visit.
There are many sacred places in China, a country where Buddhism long
flourished. I would like to visit some of them. And at the same time, while
I am there, I hope to be able to see for myself the changes and developments
that have taken place in the People's Republic of China.
Hindu priests pray for long life of
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
16 April 2007
Scores of Hindu priests, seated round sacred fires, offering
oblations to the chants of mantras, ardently invoked Goddess Gayatri for the
long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, here at the courtyard of
Tsuglakhang this morning.
A joint committee of eight associations, backed in turn by 50-odd other
fraternities, is organising the grand puja on behalf of Indians in and
The committee led by India Tibet Friendship Society (ITFS) has solicited the
service of Haridwar Gayatri Parivar for a two-day ritual of Akhanda Japa and
Gayatri Havan that began yesterday at 9 a.m.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama also graced today?s puja with his presence, in
addition to several hundreds of both Tibetans and non-Tibetans, who
enthusiastically followed the lead in reciting the mantras.
Addressing the crowd, the president of ITFS, Ajay Mankotia, said that
"although the Lord of Compassion, bestowed with divine power, has no need
for prayers, the puja was performed in conformity with the Hindu tradition,
wherein such pujas were performed for Lord Rama and Lord Krishna, for their
success, well being and victory."
Saying that His Holiness?presence has been a boon to the place, both
economically and spiritually, Mr Mankotia besieged His Holiness the Dalai
Lama to pledge that His Holiness would live a long, long life.
In order to live in peace and harmony in an increasingly materialistic
world, the local populace seek the continued guidance of His Holiness?
wisdom, Mr Mankotia added.
Appreciating the solidarity of Indian community, His Holiness underlined
that for nearly half a century Indian and Tibetan communities have lived in
His Holiness also said that the close affinity between Hinduism and Buddhism
is like that of twin brother/sister-
rituals of havan and fire puja are performed by Hindus and Buddhists
Tibetan dignitaries present at the puja were the Chief Justice Commissioner
and Justice Commissioners, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Parliament,
Kalon for Religion and Culture, members of the Tibetan Parliament and NGOs,
The associations in the organising committee also included Bharat Tibet
Sahyog Manch, taxi unions, auto rickshaw union, beopar mandal, Gorkha
association and local pradhans of village panchayats.
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