H.H. Dalai Lama Attends Graduation Ceremony at the College for H.T.S. Sarah
Aprile 27th, 2016 by admin

His Holiness the Dalai Lama Attends Graduation Ceremony at the College for Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarah

Dharamsala, HP, India, 26 April 2016 – It was a bright spring morning today as His Holiness the Dalai Lama drove down through Dharamsala town and on through the neat tea gardens below Chilgari. Jacaranda trees were in bloom and flocks of brilliant green parakeets swooped across the road on the way to the College for Higher Tibetan Studies (CHTS) at Sarah. His Holiness was met on arrival by Institute of Buddhist Dialectics (IBD) Director, Ven Geshe Kalsang Damdul and Principal of the College, Ven Geshe Jampal Dakpa, who escorted him into the assembly hall.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama arriving at the College for Higher Tibetan Studies (CHTS) at Sarah’s assembly hall in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 26, 2016. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

After praises had been recited to Manjushri and the Seventeen Masters of Nalanda, Secretary Passang Tsering thanked His Holiness for acceding to the College’s request that he preside over this year’s convocation ceremony. Geshe Kalsang Damdul welcomed the guests and dignitaries and acknowledged His Holiness’s kind leadership of the Tibetan people. He noted that the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics was founded on His Holiness’s birthday 6th July in 1979 and proceeded to give a short report about what has happened since then.

To begin with 29 students began to study the Perfection of Wisdom and the view of the Middle Way in a course intended to last 10 years. Eventually this curriculum was extended to include aspects of the Nyingma, Sakya and Kagyu traditions as well. Teachers were invited from Namdroling Monastery in Bylakuppe. Meanwhile students also attend Dzongsar Institute in Chauntra and Palpung Sherabling in Bir. In addition to study of the classic Indian Buddhist texts, students also study tantra in a course that now lasts 16 years.
Having taken responsibility for preserving and promoting Tibetan culture with the establishment of the Institute, in 1991, Founding Director Gyen Lobsang Gyatso bought land here in Sarah to set up the College for Higher Tibetan Studies. His Holiness blessed the site and inaugurated the institution once it was built. The Department of Education of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) gave its recognition. Educational programmes include an undergraduate course in Tibetan Studies and graduate courses in Tibetan History and Tibetan Literature as well as an effective teacher training programme.

Minister for Religion & Culture in the CTA, Pema Chinjor awarding degrees of Rimey Geshe during the graduation ceremony at the College for Higher Tibetan Studies (CHTS) at Sarah in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 26, 2016. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

Minister for Religion & Culture in the CTA, Pema Chinjor was invited to award degrees of Rimey Geshe. Of 14 successful candidates only 11 were able to attend today. Minister for Education, Ngodup Tsering was then requested to award BA degrees in Tibetan Studies to 28 graduates, of whom 2 had taken the correspondence course, seven MA degrees in Tibetan History and six in Tibetan Literature. Those receiving academic degrees wore academic gowns and mortar boards. His Holiness was requested to release a journal of papers and articles translated into Tibetan and a science DVD. Finally, Kalon Pema Chinjor gave 9 members of staff tokens of appreciation for completing more than 20 years service.
When Education Kalon, Ngodup Tsering was invited to address the assembly he congratulated all the graduates on their achievements. He described these as going some way toward fulfilling His Holiness’s advice to Tibetans to develop real expertise. He said the Department of Education had supported the undergraduates and would continue to support those who wanted to study further. He compared what they had done to Jetsun Milarepa who told his Lama, Marpa, “I have no wealth to give you, but offer you instead my practice.” He added, “We should not be satisfied with what we’ve achieved so far, but should press on. As they say in English ‘the sky’s the limit’”.
He mentioned that Tibetan schools have taken up traditional debate since 2012 and that a handbook for teaching it is in preparation. He also noted that the secular ethics curriculum recently prepared in draft form at Emory University is being tried out at the Peton School. He ended his speech with a wish that His Holiness the Dalai Lama live long.
Setting the achievements of the IBD and CHTS in the context of Tibetans’ life in exile, His Holiness began his talk by recalling his departure from Lhasa in 1959.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during the graduation ceremony at the College for Higher Tibetan Studies (CHTS) at Sarah in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 26, 2016.
Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

It was 17th March when we fled Lhasa. I left the Norbulingka at 10 pm. We had to make it past the Chinese garrison and when we left we didn’t know if we would see the next day. It wasn’t until we reached the top of the Che-la pass that we began to feel out of immediate danger. Local people had brought us horses. We mounted them and then turned to take one last look at Lhasa. Then we left.
“A member of the Indian Cabinet later told me that when the Cabinet received news that I had left Lhasa, the then Defence Minister Krishna Menon expressed the view that the Dalai Lama should not be allowed to enter India for fear of upsetting relations with China. Nehru retorted that that would not be proper, saying, ‘We must let him come.’
“Once we reached Lhuntse Dzong we were out of danger, but we still didn’t know if we would be able to enter India. We decided that one group of us would approach the Bhutanese border and the other the Indian border. As we reached closer to India we came to know that Indian officials were waiting for us. We also heard that Lhasa was being shelled. We had no idea that we would be in India for decades; we thought we’d soon be going back. We were strangers for whom the only certainty was the sky above and the earth below. We requested the Indian government to help our people.
“I arrived in Mussoorie at the end of April 1959. Shortly afterwards Nehru came to see me. We’d known each other since we first met in Beijing in 1955. However, when I pointed out inconsistencies in what he said he would bang the table in irritation. We discussed not only how Tibetans could make a living, but the setting up of separate settlements and separate schools for Tibetans. Nehru took personal responsibility for seeing that this was done. Since then we Tibetans have kept alive that spirit of needing to survive.”

Members of the audience listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the graduation ceremony at the College for Higher Tibetan Studies (CHTS) at Sarah in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 26, 2016. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

His Holiness explained that from the start Tibetan exiles received a lot of help and support. They had a unique language and a Buddhist tradition that came from Nalanda, thanks to the efforts of Shantarakshita and Kamalashila, to keep alive. The classic Indian texts by Buddhist masters of Nalanda were available in Tibetan, again due to the kindness of Shantarakshita, who initiated their translation.

He remembered that when he was about to embark on his first visit to Europe in 1973, the BBC’s Mark Tully asked him why he was going and he replied that he considered himself a citizen of the world. He said he was interested to know more about different people and places. After all, Tibetans pray for the welfare of all sentient beings. He said he had made a lot of friends and had seen a great deal of material development, but despite that, not everyone was happy.
“As a child I was interested in science,” he went on. “I had a telescope that belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama. Through that I saw shadows cast by the mountains on the moon, from which I concluded that the moon was not self-illuminating. I first talked about science with Heinrich Harrer, but I’ve kept up discussions with scientists for more than the last 30 years. I was interested to know what scientists had to say about the world. I could have left it at satisfying my own curiosity, but I thought what they had to say could help others. Although scientists have mostly paid attention to the physical world, they knew little about the mind or the system of the emotions – an area about which ancient Indian psychology had a great deal to say.
“Like us, Chinese Buddhists follow the Nalanda tradition, but they don’t study logic and epistemology. They don’t have access to the works of Dignaga, Dharmakirti and Sakya Pandita as we Tibetans do. We study Buddhist philosophy with logic and reason. We also know about the mind and emotions. This is something we can share with others. Scientists have an interest in this and I have found my training has equipped me to hold my own in such discussions.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during the graduation ceremony at the College for Higher Tibetan Studies (CHTS) at Sarah in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 26, 2016.
Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

key point His Holiness clarified is that to achieve peace of mind we have to employ our minds, not rely on drugs or alcohol. He said that the traditions Tibetans have kept alive for 1000 years or more are not just to benefit Tibetans, but can be a source of other people’s welfare. He mentioned that Buddhist literature can be categorized into science, philosophy and religion. The religious part is a matter of personal interest, but the science and philosophy can be examined as academic subjects. They can be studied by anyone regardless of their personal beliefs. He remarked that volumes have been prepared containing such scientific and philosophical material from Buddhist sources that are being translated into English, Chinese, German and other languages.
His Holiness said those who have studied the classic texts can share what they know with others with no reference to past or future lives, strictly in the context of this life.
“I’ve asked the Abbots to pass on this message to others and when I’m in South India in July, we’ll discuss it further. By sharing this knowledge we can be of service to others. It seems there are monks at Sera jey who have learned other languages. We also have nuns who are about to become Geshe-mas. And about 50 years ago I urged monks of Namgyal monastery to extend their studies beyond rituals to include the study of Buddhist philosophy through logic and reason. This follows the Buddha’s own advice to his followers not to accept what he taught at face value, but to examine and test it as a goldsmith tests gold.
“We need to be 21st century Buddhists. We need to study and understand. If we do this Buddhism will go on for centuries more. We can do this in our own language, which is something to be proud of. Besides this, Tibetans are generally known for being honest, ethical and good mannered. Since IBD and CHTS are contributing to the preservation and promotion of Tibetan culture, there is no limit to the progress we can make. I congratulate those of you who have graduated today.
“We talk about the 3000 world systems, but it’s the 7 billion human beings in this world who are our brothers and sisters. As human beings we have a marvellous intelligence, but we have to use it constructively. We’re all at peace here, but elsewhere, right now, people are being killed and others are dying of starvation.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama with graduates after the College for Higher Tibetan Studies (CHTS) at Sarah’s graduation ceremony in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 26, 2016.
Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

His Holiness said that sometimes the way we use our human intelligence increases our negative emotions. Unlike tigers and lions with sharp fangs and claws we human beings have smooth round fingers, yet we can do great harm to others. He said that if we want peace in the world, we need to achieve peace within. If we’re filled with anger and fear we will not achieve world peace. He declared that if we would like to see global demilitarization, we first need inner disarmament.
“Knowledge of mind and emotions should be taught in secular schools. Understanding the workings of the mind and our system of emotions we can build healthy, happy individuals, families, communities and societies. Emory University has recently helped prepare a draft curriculum for teaching secular ethics. We are trying to develop activities on the basis of that draft.
“As I said, I congratulate those who have graduated today, but if your minds are not disciplined, mere knowledge will not be of much help. We need to use our intelligence to extend our basic compassionate nature. Children are good natured and open to others, but as they grow up they pay more attention to secondary differences between themselves and others and their self-centredness grows. On the other hand, with mental training we can help others sincerely and effectively. This gives rise to trust and trust is the basis of friendship, which as human beings is what we all need.”
Geshe Jampal Dakpa offered words of thanks, the ‘Prayer for the Flourishing of the Dharma’ was recited to conclude the occasion and His Holiness left to return to his residence

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