H. H. Dalai Lama at Spituk Monastery
Luglio 30th, 2015 by admin

Inauguration of Summer Higher Buddhist Council at Spituk Monastery

Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India, 29 July 2015 – The Pegon Phagspa Nastan Bakula Institute Hostel stands at the foot of the rocky outcrop crowned by Spituk Monastery.  A short walk away amidst tall poplars stands a pavilion and a ground prepared for the inauguration this morning of Summer Higher Buddhist Council.

With Spituk Monastery in the backgroud, His Holiness the Dalai Lama inaugurates the Summer Higher Buddhist Council at Pegon Phagspa Nastan Bakula Institute in Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India on July 29, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

Once His Holiness the Dalai Lama had taken his seat, the young reincarnation of Bakula Rinpoche, the chief Lama of Spituk Monastery, offered him the mandala and three representations of the enlightened body, speech and mind.

Geshe Konchok Wangdu, Director of the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Ladakh introduced the occasion. He said that this summer debate session was dedicated to raising the level of religious education and promoting inter-religious harmony in Ladakh. The focus of the debates is the Perfection of Wisdom teachings because His Holiness stresses the need to understand what Buddhism means, how it is relevant today and how to put it into practice. He acknowledged that it is due to His Holiness’s guidance that Buddhist understanding in the region has greatly improved in recent years.

Geshe Thubten Rabgyey, who is Ling Rinpoche’s tutor, welcomed His Holiness, Ganden Tri Rinpoche, officials of the Ladakh administration, monks, scholars and all other guests. He noted that the Summer Debates held last year at Likir Monastery had set a fine example to be followed.

Young Bakula Rinpoche debating in front of His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the inauguration of the Summer Higher Buddhist Council at Pegon Phagspa Nastan Bakula Institute in Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India on July 29, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

Monks of Spituk Monastery opened the debates with an energetic discussion of whether beings exist inherently or not. They were followed by the young reincarnation of Bakula Rinpoche, who is still in the early stages of dialectical training, who, with grace and quiet confidence dealt with questions from the ‘collected topics’. His performance was greeted with warm applause. Several sets of local school children, girls as well as boys, then debated fundamental topics like the Four Noble Truths, the differences between the aspirational and engaging awakening minds and the methods for developing them.
J&K Minister of State Tsering Dorjee addressed the gathering noting that it was under His Holiness’s guidance that local monasteries have successfully introduced the study of Buddhist philosophy and debate. He commended these Summer Debates as a custom worth keeping alive. Chief Executive of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Rigzin Spalbar remarked that some Ladakhi youths are confused about the value of their local culture and traditions. In the past, he said, parents used to teach these things, but nowadays, young people tend to pay their parents less attention. This is why it is especially valuable when His Holiness helps them understand the relevance of Buddhist teaching in the present day.

Ganden Tri Rinpoche added that the old ways are changing and people lose interest in established traditions. However, he said, due to His Holiness’s efforts, interest in and understanding of Buddhism is being restored. It’s a tradition founded on reason not mere preconceptions and is the only spiritual tradition to propound the key concept of dependent arising.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during the inauguration of the Summer Higher Buddhist Council at Pegon Phagspa Nastan Bakula Institute in Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India on July 29, 2015.
Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

His Holiness began his address by greeting all present. He too noted the changes that have taken place in Ladakh, not all of them positive. He mentioned his concern at hearing that in a place where it used almost never to occur, there are increased reports of suicide in Ladakh. He sees this as a reflection of a wider moral crisis afflicting the world. Many of the problems faced by the 7 billion human beings alive today are man-made.

“We may pray for solutions to these problems,î he laughed, ìbut real solutions will only be found when we take action ourselves. The older people here belong to the 20th century, a time thatís past, which was an era of extraordinary bloodshed. How the 21st century turns out depends on those of you who are still young. It can be an era of peace and happiness if you work for that, but if you are angry and greedy it will turn into another period of conflict and suffering. When the British ruled India one positive thing they stressed was the value of education. We need to keep that up today, but also combine it with traditional inner values.

“To make the 21st century an era of peace we need to learn how to develop peace of mind and how to tackle our disturbing emotions. When we are physically ill we diagnose the ailment and find a remedy. We need a similar approach to create a healthy mind. Taking drugs or getting drunk will not put a stop to our disturbing emotions. We need to apply a kind of emotional hygiene based on a clearer understanding of reality and the workings of the mind.

“I make a distinction between Buddhist science, philosophy and religion. People who are not Buddhist needn’t pay attention to the religious aspects of the tradition, but there is no reason why the science and philosophy shouldn’t be openly accessible to whoever wishes to benefit from them. These days, eminent scientists are taking interest in the profound explanations of reality and the workings of the mind to be found in these sources.”

A view of the Summer Higher Buddhist Council grounds at Pegon Phagspa Nastan Bakula Institute in Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India on July 29, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

With regard to traditional modes of study, His Holiness explained that the past masters of India and Tibet took an approach in writing and debate in which they refuted others’ views, asserted their own and rebutted any consequent criticism. He remarked that this approach of Nagarjuna and his disciples, followed by Dharmakirti, Dignaga and Shantarakshita was conveyed to Tibet and rigorously preserved there. Scientists have been impressed and enquired whether such an approach could be applied to other topics. His Holiness mentioned that students in Tibetan schools and monasteries are now debating questions of science and maths. He added that traditionally it’s acceptable to cite authentic quotations to support your point, but the quotation has to be supported by logic, not the other way round.

“A positive sense of competitiveness can be very helpful in debate too, but only in the context of wishing that both you and your opponent are ultimately successful. There’s a final story I’d like to tell you of a Lama who introduced study and debate for monastics and lay people in Kardze, Kham. There was also a Ngagpa Monastery nearby and householders would invite the Ngagpas to perform rituals for them. Soon the Ngagpas began to complain that laypeople shouldn’t be taught to debate because when they came to do rituals for them they asked all sorts of questions that they couldn’t answer. Nevertheless, this mode of study, starting with ‘collected topics’ and working step by step up to the Perfection of Wisdom, is a source of progress.”

Members and guests of he Ladakh Autonomous Hill Council attending the event with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Sindhu Sanskriti Kendra auditorium in Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India on July 29, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

From the Spituk debate ground, His Holiness drove to the Sindhu Sanskriti Kendra, an auditorium and amphitheatre near the Shanti peace stupa. Rigzin Spalbar, Chief Executive Councillor (LAHDC) explained to about 500 invited guests that the Fourth Hill Council he headed has many achievements to its credit in terms of cleaning up Leh, reducing pollution, improving education facilities and reshaping development to positively influence infrastructure and agriculture. He announced that a book, ‘Achievements of the Fourth Hill Council’ had been prepared and he had requested His Holiness to release it, which he did.

Invited to address the gathering, His Holiness remarked that he only ever thinks of himself as just one among 7 billion human beings. He drew attention to the great ancient civilizations of Egypt, China and the Indus Valley saying that it is clear that the Indus Valley civilization produced by far the greater number of significant thinkers, philosophers and spiritual teachers. Now, here, in the 21st century it is still the case that ancient Indian concepts like ahimsa, non-violence, remain supremely relevant. Similarly, India sets an example to the rest of the world that it is possible for all the world’s religious traditions to live together side by side in harmony.

His Holiness referred to the importance for the 21st century of promoting a sense of secular ethics. These are values of universal appeal belonging to no particular religious tradition, but taught in a context of respect for all religious traditions and even the views of those who assert no faith. He encouraged tapping into the Nalanda tradition with its profound knowledge of the workings of the mind and the functioning of our emotions. He teased the audience saying:

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to a gathering of members and guests of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Council at the Sindhu Sanskriti Kendra auditorium in Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India on July 29, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

“Making prayers and offering money to Lamas and temples is not sufficient. If you have spare money, spend it on books and read them. I may be 80 years old, but I still study whenever I can. Whenever I get the opportunity, I read. As I tell all the Buddhists I meet, if you want to be a 21st century Buddhist, you have to understand what Buddhism is, that it involves more than chanting ‘Buddham saranam gacchami’ As I told a VHP meeting in Delhi last year, it’s important to find ways to combine modern development with traditional values. I first came to Ladakh in 1966 and since then there’s been huge development, both in infrastructure and education. I hope I’ll be able to continue to come over the next ten years, but once I’m 90, I don’t know.”

His Holiness joined all the invited guests for lunch in the amphitheatre behind the auditorium. As the meal came to an end, a local correspondent for All India Radio asked him his reflections on the passing away of former President APJ Abdul Kalam and he told him:

“When I heard that Dr Abdul Kalam had passed away I was sad. He was a very nice human being, a special person. First of all, I always appreciated his qualities as a good human being. On a secondary level, of course, he was a Muslim, a great scientist and someone who rose to become the President of this great nation. Even then his basic good human nature remained unchanged. He showed great interest in knowing more about Buddhist texts that teach compassion. He was a dear friend who I will remember until I die and I want to express my condolences to his family. I hear he has a brother who is 99 years old. I hope I too may live that long.”
Tomorrow, His Holiness will offer a short teaching and a Long-life empowerment. A Long-life Ceremony will then be offered to him at the Shiwatsel Teaching Ground beyond Choglamsar.

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