His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Conference at National Institute of Mental Health
Dicembre 8th, 2015 by admin

Addressing a Conference at National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences

Bengaluru, Karnataka, India, 7 December 2015 – This morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave interviews to Elizabeth Jane of the Trans Asia News Service and BD Narayankar of PTI. Ms Jane began by asking whether it was true that His Holiness has suggested the next Dalai Lama could be a woman. He agreed that it is possible and cited the established precedent of Samding Dorje Phagmo, a line of female reincarnations almost as old as the line of Karmapas, the first reincarnate Lama in Tibet.

When she asked if the violence and extreme behaviour of certain Buddhist monks in Burma and Sri Lanka could be justified, His Holiness straightforwardly replied: “No, never.” He compared these disturbances with the longstanding tolerance and harmony that has prevailed among religious traditions in India, those that originated in India as well as those that came from outside. She asked if he felt ISIS or Daesh is driven by religious or political motives and he told her that if their motives were religious, all Muslims would be killing each other, which they are not.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama responding to a question from Elizabeth Jane of the Trans Asia News Service during an interview in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India on December 7, 2015. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL

As to whether there are ways to counter the radicalization that is taking place, he suggested that generally speaking the human mind not only resists being told what to do, but is curious about what is forbidden. A better approach may be to explain that if people behave in one way, this will be the result, whereas cultivating harmony, another approach, will yield a different result.
“One of the features of Nalanda University,” he said, “was that a wide range of views were expressed and explored. People were able to study and compare them, drawing their own conclusions, without having to follow any rigid line of thought.”
Discussing relations between Tibet, China and India, His Holiness said that while there is no formal Sino-Tibetan dialogue currently taking place, informal links with informed businessmen, retired officials and so on exist. He said it is hard to say how things will work out. There have been reports that when President Xi Jinping seemed to be about to take a more conciliatory view of Tibet, hardliners strongly opposed it.
He regretted the fragmentation of Tibet that took place after the 9th century assassination of the Tibetan Emperor. He speculated that things might also have been different if the 13th Dalai Lama has remained in Lhasa when the Younghusband expedition reached there in 1904. He noted several other lost opportunities such as when the advice of a high Tibetan official, who visited India on pilgrimage in 1946 and witnessed the Indian drive for independence, was ignored. He had recommended making contact with Indian leaders, but nothing was done. Similarly, in 1948 the Government of India sent a message to the Government of Tibet warning of the impending Communist victory in China and its potential ramifications. This too was ignored. Once Chinese troops occupied parts Eastern Tibet in 1950/51, the Tibetan Government tried to raise the issue at the UN, without success.

“I don’t feel Nehru made big mistakes over Tibet. The Government of India tried to warn Tibetans, who didn’t respond. Narasimha Rao pointed out to me that India didn’t recognise Tibet as a part of China, but as an Autonomous Region of China. The Shimla agreement is regarded as valid.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama responding to a question from BD Narayankar of PTI during an interview in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India on December 7, 2015. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL

Asked whether the Middle Way Approach remained a practical option, His Holiness said:

“Let China build Tibet, but protect its ecology and natural resources. We should also be allowed to preserve our culture and language.”

Responding to questions from BD Narayankar His Holiness quoted President Obama as saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is honest, direct and has a clear vision for the country. Meanwhile, India’s image has improved and its prospects for economic development are growing. His Holiness contrasted the ability to freely express your views in India with the totalitarianism in China. He said the question of the Chinese launch of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is complicated and something he didn’t feel qualified to comment on.

Comparing China to the USA, His Holiness said that what he admires about the US is not its nuclear arsenal or military prowess, but its strong upholding of liberty, democracy and freedom. While he admires the Chinese people for their hard work, he noted that they have a right to accurate information that would enable them to assess reality and judge the difference between right and wrong. On that basis, the prevailing censorship in China, which amounts to the government’s fooling the people, is immoral.

His Holiness added that the Chinese judicial system needs to be raised to international standards so that ordinary people can also obtain protection. He mentioned Chinese writers he met a couple of years ago in New York saying that China was now at its lowest point, morally speaking, for 5000 years.

After lunch, His Holiness drove to the National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences (NIMHANS) where yesterday a conference on Integrating Scientific and Contemplative Approaches to Explore the Mind was held in conjunction with the Garden of Samadhi Mind Centre. He briefly viewed an exhibition of scientific findings about the effects of meditation in the lobby.

Richard Gere welcoming His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India on December 7, 2015.
Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL

In the auditorium Vice-Chancellor Prof Satish Chandra welcomed His Holiness and the members of the audience and gave a short report about NIMHANS’s work, particularly with regard to the integration of yoga in mental health. Dr Shivaram Varambally gave a similar report about the Garden of Samadhi Mind Centre’s activities. In his words of welcome to His Holiness, Richard Gere spoke of the contribution to an understanding of meditation in the USA made after 2nd World War by DT Suzuki.

He went on to cite the ground breaking work of the Mind & Life Institute in fostering an open exchange of contemplative and scientific ideas. He described this as “one of the most exciting things of our age”. He stepped aside to make space for “one of the giants of our time, His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”

“Respected brothers and sisters, it’s a great honour for me to come here to meet you teachers, students and guests,” His Holiness told the audience. “I always make clear that we all the same as human beings, physically, mentally and emotionally. I too am just a human being. I’d like to tell you about some things I’ve learned that are helpful for maintaining a calm mind. One is that the practice of altruism gives rise to inner strength. Another is that because of the dependent arising of all things, looking at them from different angles enables us to better assess reality, so our approach is realistic. Many of the problems we face are actually our own creation. This is not because any of us want problems, but because, despite our wish to live a happy life, we act out of ignorance and short-sightedness.

“We have a marvellous brain, but we have to use it properly. A scientific approach is to be sceptical, to research and experiment. This is a method I admire and which I believe accords with the stance of the Nalanda masters of the past. Ancient Indian psychology is highly developed, while modern psychology has not yet caught up. We need to examine and analyse this to see what is relevant for us today. Modern science has thoroughly examined the material world, while Buddhist science possesses profound understanding of the working of the mind and emotions.”

His Holiness drew an important distinction between appearance and reality and its role in combatting destructive emotions. He quoted his old friend Aaron Beck, who pointed out to him that when we are angry the object of our anger appears to be very negative, but 90% of that is mental projection.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama responding to questions from the audience during his talk at the National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India on December 7, 2015. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL

There were several interesting questions from the floor. The first concerned whether the Buddha had based his teaching on the Upanishads. His Holiness responded that Indian traditions like Hinduism and Buddhism have much in common like the Three Trainings – ethics, concentration and wisdom. The difference is, as he told a Swami friend, that “you believe in atman (an independently existent self), whereas I believe in anatman (the absence of any independently existent self). But that’s our own business.”

Another questioner challenged His Holiness’s remark that modern psychology didn’t measure up to ancient Indian psychology since modern psychology has been validated by scientific findings. He answered:

“Modern scientific research depends on the use of instruments to see and measure the object of investigation. This can’t easily be done with the mind. However, not being able to see something doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t exist. It is also the case that insufficient attention has been paid so far to the distinction between sensory consciousness and conceptual consciousness and the differing effects they have on the brain.”

To a young woman who wanted to know more about shunyata or emptiness of intrinsic existence, His Holiness quoted a verse from Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom’:

That which is dependent origination
Is explained to be emptiness.
That, being a dependent designation,
Is itself the middle way.

When someone else asked about past and future lives, His Holiness mentioned discussing this with another Swami he respects, who when pressed to say how he accounted for past lives, replied: “Memory of them.”

As the occasion came to a close, His Holiness appealed to the audience:

“We all have a responsibility to ensure the welfare of humanity, let’s all try to make this a happier more peaceful world. We have to find ways to promote an acceptable, universal approach to ethics or human values. Open hearts encourage a sense of security and trust that is the basis of genuine friendship, which is to everyone’s benefit. Thank you.”–neurosciences

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