Something is hidden. Go, discover it.
Go and look at what’s beyond the mountains.
Something has been lost beyond the mountain range.
It has been lost and lies waiting there for you. Go!
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual leader of Tibet. On July 6, 1935, he was born to a farming family in a small hamlet located in Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet. At the age of two, the child named Lhamo Dhondup was recognised as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. The Dalai Lamas are believed to have a karmic connection with Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and patron saint of Tibet. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have postponed their nirvana and chosen to take rebirth to serve humanity.
His Holiness began his monastic education at the age of six. The curriculum consisted of five major and five minor subjects. The significant subjects were logic, Tibetan art and culture, Sanskrit, medicine, and Buddhist philosophy, which were further divided into a further five categories: Prajnaparamita, the perfection of wisdom; Madhyamika, the philosophy of the Middle Way; Vinaya, the canon of monastic discipline; Abhidharma, metaphysics; and Pramana, logic and epistemology. The five minor subjects were poetry, music and drama, astrology, motre and phrasing, and synonyms. At the age of 23, he appeared in his final examination in the Jokhang Temple, Lhasa, during the annual Monlam (prayer) Festival in 1959. He passed with honours and was awarded the Geshe Lharampa degree, the highest-level degree equivalent to a doctorate of Buddhist philosophy.
Leading from the front:
In 1950 His Holiness was called upon to assume full political power after China invaded Tibet in 1949. In 1954, he went to Beijing for peace talks with Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders, including Deng Xiaoping and Chou Enlai. However, finally, in 1959, with the brutal suppression of the Tibetan national uprising in Lhasa by Chinese troops, His Holiness was forced to escape into exile. Since then, he has lived in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India, and established the Tibetan political administration seat in exile. Since the Chinese invasion, His Holiness has appealed to the United Nations on the question of Tibet. The General Assembly adopted three resolutions on Tibet in 1959, 1961 and 1965.
Peace initiatives and resolution of Tibet issue.
He envisioned that Tibet would become a refuge of peace at the heart of Asia, where all human beings can co-exist in love and peace and preserve the delicate environment. In his address to members of the United States Congress in Washington, D.C. on September 21 1987, His Holiness proposed the following peace plan, which contains five essential components:
- Transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of peace.
- Abandonment of China’s population transfer policy threatens the very existence of the Tibetans as a people.
- Respect for the Tibetan people’s fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms.
- Restoration and protection of Tibet’s natural environment and the abandonment of China’s use of Tibet to produce nuclear weapons and dumping of nuclear waste.
- Commencement of earnest negotiations on the future status of Tibet and relations between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.
- Strasbourg Proposal. In his address to members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on June 15 1988, His Holiness made another detailed proposal elaborating on the last point of the Five Point Peace Plan. He proposed talks between the Chinese and Tibetans, leading to a self-governing democratic political entity for all three provinces of Tibet. This entity would be associated with the People’s Republic of China, and the Chinese Government would continue to remain responsible for Tibet’s foreign policy and defence.
- Universal Recognition. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, is a man of peace. In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent fight for the freedom of Tibet. He has consistently advocated policies of non-violence, even in the face of extreme aggression. His Holiness has travelled to more than sixty-two countries spanning six continents. Since 1959 His Holiness has received over 84 awards, honorary doctorates, prizes, etc., to recognise his message of peace, non-violence, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility and compassion. His Holiness has also authored more than 72 books. His Holiness describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk.
- Three Main Commitments. His Holiness has three main commitments in life.
Firstly, as a human being, His Holiness promotes human values such as compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline.
Secondly, as a religious practitioner, His Holiness is committed to promoting religious harmony and understanding among the world’s major religious traditions. Despite philosophical differences between them, all major world religions have the same potential to create good human beings. Therefore, all religious traditions need to respect one another and recognise the value of their respective traditions.
Thirdly, His Holiness is a Tibetan and as the ‘Dalai Lama’ is the focus of the Tibetan people’s hope and trust. Therefore, his third commitment is to preserve Tibet’s Buddhist culture, a culture of peace and non-violence and protect the natural environment of Tibet.
His Holiness has lately spoken of his commitment to reviving awareness of the value of ancient Indian knowledge among young Indians today. “We Tibetians owe a great debt to India. Longstanding spiritual and cultural links exist between the two countries.”(H.H. Dalai Lama).
His Holiness is convinced that the rich ancient Indian understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions and mental training techniques, such as meditation, developed by Indian traditions, is of great relevance today. Since India has a long history of logic and reasoning, he is confident that its ancient knowledge, viewed from a secular, academic perspective, can be combined with modern education. He considers that India is, in fact, specially placed to achieve this combination of ancient and modern modes of knowing in a fruitful way so that a more integrated and ethically grounded way of being in the world can be promoted within contemporary society.
It is ironic that India fast forgets the ancient glorified links with Tibet, but on the other hand, Tibetians still adore and propagate the valuable historical links with India. Tibet is the spirit of India.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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