His Holiness the Dalai Lama Gives a Public Talk at Souji Temple
Aprile 13th, 2015 by admin

2015-04-11-tokyo-n02His Holiness the Dalai Lama Gives a Public Talk at Souji Temple

Tokyo, Japan, 11 April 2015 – After two restful days with the Busshokai group in Kanazawa, His Holiness the Dalai Lama left this morning for Tokyo. He travelled by Kagayaki Shinkansen one of Japan’s newest, and most up-to-date bullet train services, which was only inaugurated last month. Passing through Nagano, the approximately 500 kms journey was completed in two and a half hours.

The drive from Tokyo station to Souji Temple in Yokahama on Tokyo’s congested roads was considerably slower. His Holiness was received by the Chief Priests of the temple and escorted into the main Buddha hall where he paid his respects before joining them for a traditional Japanese lunch. At their meeting afterwards, they explained that the temple is observing a memorial year to commemorate their founder, Taiso Josai Daishi. His Holiness inscribed two messages for the temple as a memento of his visit and gifts were exchanged.

The buildings of the temple complex are interconnected by covered wooden corridors that run through the picturesque gardens. His Holiness was escorted along them and welcomed with applause as he entered the assembly hall in which 1800 people were waiting to hear him. Speaking in Tibetan that was then translated into Japanese, he reminded them that as human beings we are all the same. We all want happiness and shun suffering. And although we may feel happy and content to sit and listen to a talk in the temple here, in other parts of the world there are people in misery.

All 7 billion people alive today want happiness,” His Holiness went on, “and yet because of anger and resentment we tend to see people in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’. This is the kind of attitude that encourages conflict and even the killing of other people. It’s especially sad when such conflict revolves around religion.”
He clarified that all religious traditions teach love and compassion, so when their followers give in to anger and hatred, it is because they are not sincere in their practice. It is said that 1 billion people today claim not follow any religion, but as human beings they share our common need for love and affection. Our mothers give birth to us and nurture us with love and affection and even when we grow up we need friends and affection to survive. If we regularly give into anger and suspicion, not only will we have no friends, but it will undermine our health. Whether we believe in religion or not, the need for affection is part of human nature.  “Historically Japan has been a Buddhist country. Buddhism includes the Pali tradition, which finds authority in scriptural citations and the Sanskrit tradition which depends on reasoning. Within the Sanskrit tradition, Japanese monks and lay people regularly recite the Heart Sutra. We can also distinguish between religious traditions that believe in a creator god and those that don’t. Among these non-theistic traditions, it is only Buddhism that asserts the lack of an independently existent self. Rather than a partless, permanent and independently existent self, existing from its own side, the self is said to be merely designated on the basis of the body and mind. If the body changes, the self changes. We say for example, as the body ages, ‘I have got older’.”
Holiness remarked that, like other Indian traditions, Buddhism aims to achieve liberation, which is to have overcome our disturbing emotions. When our minds are subject to disturbing emotions we continue to be caught in cyclic existence.
“Therefore,” he said, “if we want to be genuinely happy, we need to train our minds, even if we live somewhere as busy as Japan. In many advanced countries there has been great material development, and yet people are not necessarily happy. I’ve met billionaires who have all they could wish for, but who are still not happy. On the other hand, at Montserrat in Spain, I met a Catholic monk who had spent five years living as a hermit in the mountains, living on little more than bread and water. When I asked him what he’d been meditating on, he replied, ‘Love’, and his eyes sparkled with happiness. With almost no physical comfort, he was happy.”

His Holiness explained that if we are mentally disturbed, physical comfort alone will not set us at ease, but when we are in physical pain, we can cope if our minds are at peace. What this shows is the importance of developing a peaceful mind. While all religious traditions try to help us find happiness, most do so on the basis of faith, whereas Buddhism stresses the importance of reasoning. It teaches the perfection of wisdom, not the perfection of faith. The key to the three higher trainings – the discipline of ethics, the stability of concentration and the wisdom understanding reality is that because they are qualified by wisdom they lead to liberation.
He added that Tibetans were strongly influenced by the writings of the Indian masters Dignaga and Dharmakirti on logic and reasoning and he had heard that at one time Japan too had followed such an approach. If there was such a tradition, he urged them to revive it.
He teased the audience telling them that although some of them returned his smile, many of them remained grave faced. He told them that a Japanese scientist who is an old friend was only the other day telling him about the positive power of laughter; how it does us good physically and mentally.
The audience were invited to ask questions and the first man to come forward mentioned how impressive it is to see His Holiness always dressed in his monk’s robes wherever he goes. He asked how he copes with whatever difficulties he faces. His Holiness replied that it helps to see things in the broader context of the experience of all sentient beings. As another way of extending experience, he again encouraged young Japanese to learn English and volunteer overseas.     He told a man who wanted to know how to help his mother, who has fallen ill with leukaemia, to laugh again, that he would give him Tibetan medicine that could help and would that he would pray for her. When a woman who practises Zazen daily asked if doing so would be effective in spreading Buddhism, His Holiness said that spreading Buddhism is not his intention. He is more interested is making people aware of secular ethics on the basis of common sense, our common experience and scientific findings.
Someone whose work is to help people build and restore their confidence asked about the link between altruism and self-esteem. His Holiness said that if you only dwell on your own problems it will get you down, you have to think more broadly. He remarked that Japanese who travel abroad as volunteers are in a better position to appreciate how well developed Japan is.
Asked about the most important problem the world has to deal with, His Holiness mentioned the declaration of Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome last December that a timetable should be set and pursued for the elimination of nuclear weapons. He recalled that Japan, as the victim of two nuclear explosions, has been at the forefront of such a movement and urged them to keep it up.
A woman asked how to help a friend with cancer who has declined treatment and only has a year to live. His Holiness replied that if she is a Buddhist her friends could encourage her to develop a sense of love and compassion, along with the awakening mind of bodhichitta. He also recommended introducing her to the verse from Shantideva’s ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’ that says:
Why be unhappy about something
If it can be remedied?
And what is the use of being unhappy about something
If it cannot be remedied?

Another woman who spoke of how tiring today’s information overload can be was advised instead to learn about the workings of the mind. Similarly a woman, who said she worked as an artist, asked for advice to feel happy from day to day. His Holiness recommended that if the ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’ was available in Japanese, she should read it, paying particular attention to chapters 6 and 8, which deal with patience and meditation. Then, although it is tough, he advised her to tackle chapter 9, which deals with wisdom. He said:
“You’re young; you can take the time to study. Do so steadily and it will have an effect. And as for your painting and drawing, I remember a Japanese man who came to see me after visiting Tibet who told me how frightening he found all the fierce images. Try and create peaceful images, figures that induce a feeling of peace.”
As His Holiness left the temple, walking down the middle of the audience, many pressed forward to catch his attention and shake his hand. When he reached his hotel, representatives of several of the groups who have come from faraway places, among them Russians, Chinese and Mongolians, to attend tomorrow’s teachings on the Heart Sutra, Nagarjuna’s Commentary on Bodhichitta & The Middle Volume of the Stages of Meditation, were there to greet him.

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