A Biased Mind cannot grasp Reality –The Dalai Lama
The valuable message given by the Dalai Lama at the inter faith seminar on the ‘Preservation of Religious Harmony, Coexistence and Universal Peace’ organised by the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF), Ladakh group. should be cherished by all peace loving and right thinking people.
The great religious leader venerated by all the peace loving people in the world stated thus: ‘As far as the Muslims are concerned it is appropriate for them to have complete devotion to Allah while praying in the mosques. This is also the same with Buddhists who are completely devoted to the Buddha when they pray in Buddhist temples. A society, which has many religions should also have many prophets and sources of refuge. In such a society it is very important to have harmony and respect amongst the different religions and their practitioners. We must distinguish between belief and respect. Belief refers to total faith, which you must have in your own religion. At the same time you should have respect for all other religions. This tradition of believing in one’s own religion and having respect for others is in existence in Ladakh since your forefathers. Therefore you do not have to invent it. The most important thing at the moment is to preserve and promote this tradition. I would like to thank all of you for working hard regarding this and request you to continue to do so in the future.
Speaking further on religious harmony His Holiness stated :’If a harmonious relationship is established amongst societies and religious beliefs in today’s multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural world, then it will surely set a very good example for others. However, if all the sides become careless, then there is a danger of imminent problems. In a multiethnic society the biggest problem is that of between the majority and the minority. For instance, in the capital Leh, Buddhists constitute the majority of the population whereas Muslims belong to the minority community. The majority must consider the minority as their invited guests. The minority, on the other hand, should be able to sensitise with the majority. In other words, both sides should live in harmony. In order to sustain this harmony, both sides should not take lightly the sensitive issues between themselves. Indeed, the majority should pay attention to and appreciate the views and opinion of the minority. Both sides should discuss and clearly express what they think about the other’s view and opinion. The minority, on the other hand, should be careful about where the sensitive issues of the majority lies and express whatever doubts they have in their minds. If problems are resolved in such a friendly manner; then both sides will gain. Suspicion of each other will only harm both communities. Therefore, it is very important to live in harmony and analyse where the opinion of the other lies. The best way to do this is to engage in dialogue, dialogue and dialogue
The Dalai Lama described himself as a religious practitioner, who follows Buddhism. He said that ‘More than a thousand years have passed since the great religions of the world flourished, including Buddhism. During those years, the world had witnessed a lot of conflicts, in which followers of different religions were also involved. As a religious practitioner, I acknowledge the fact that different religions of the world have provided many solutions about how to control an agitated mind. In spite of this, I still feel we have not been able to realise our full potential.I always say that every person on this earth has the freedom to practice or not practice religion. It is all right to do either. But once you accept religion, it is extremely important to be able to focus your mind on it and sincerely practice the teachings in your daily life. All of us can see that we tend to indulge in religious favouritism by saying, “I belong to this or that religion”, rather than making effort to control our agitated minds. This misuse of religion, due to our disturbed minds, also sometimes creates problems.’
Speaking about different faiths Dalai Lama stated that:’’For example, the concept of God in Christianity and Islam and that of wisdom truth body in Buddhism are metaphysical, which is not possible for an ordinary person like us to realise. This is a common difficulty faced by every religion. It is taught in every religion, including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, that the ultimate truth is driven by faith.I want to emphasise that it is extremely important for practitioners to sincerely believe in their respective religions. Usually, I say that it is very important to distinguish between “belief in one religion” and “belief in many religions”. The former directly contradicts the latter. Therefore, we should resolutely resolve these contradictions. This is possible only by thinking in contextual terms. A contradiction in one context might not be the same in the other. In the context of one person, a single truth is closely associated with a single source of refuge. This is of extreme necessity. However, in the context of society or more than one person it is necessary to have different sources of refuge, religions and truths.In the past it was not a major problem because nations remained aloof from each other with their own distinct religion. However, in today’s close and inter-connected world there are so many differences amongst various religions. We must obviously resolve these problems. For example, there have been a lot of religions in India for the past thousand years. Some of them were imported from outside whereas some have grown in India itself. Despite this, the fact is that these religions have been able to coexist with each other, and the principle of Ahimsa has really flourished in this country. Even today, this principle has a strong bearing on every religion. This is very precious and India should really take pride in it.’
Speaking of Happiness His Holiness said “According to Buddhist philosophy, happiness is the result of an enlightened mind whereas suffering is caused by a distorted mind. This is very important. A distorted mind, in contrast to an enlightened mind, is one that is not in tune with reality. Any issue, including political, economic and religious activities human beings pursue in this world, should be fully understood before we pass our judgement. Therefore, it is very important to know the causes. Whatever the issue, we should be able to see the complete picture. This will enable us to comprehend the whole story. The teachings offered in Buddhism are based on rationality, and I think are very fruitful.
The line of Dalai Lamas began as a lineage of spiritual teachers; the 5th Dalai Lama assumed a political authority over Tibet. For certain periods between the 17th century and 1959, the Dalai Lamas sometimes directed the Tibetan Government, which administered portions of Tibet from Lhasa. The 14th Dalai Lama remained the head of state for the Central Tibetan Administration (“Tibetan government in exile”) until his retirement on March 14, 2011. The Dalai Lamas have also functioned as the principal spiritual guide to many Himalayan kingdoms bordering Tibet, as well as western China, Mongolia and Ladakh. The literary works of the Dalai Lamas have, over the centuries, inspired more than fifty million people in these regions. Those writings, reflecting the fusion of Buddhist philosophy embodied in Tibetan Buddhism, have become one of the world’s great repositories of spiritual thought. The current Dalai Lama is often called “His Holiness” (HH) by Westerners (by analogy with the Pope), although this does not translate to a Tibetan title. “The Art of Happiness” published in 1998 described as an intriguing encounter between East and West by its narrator Howard C.Cutler contains narrations of interviews with the Dalai lama and became an international bestseller.
Particularly at the present time in Sri Lanka, when the ugly head of religious conflicts and dis-harmony seems to be raised in our country there are many lessons that the Sri Lankans could learn from the noble teachings of the Dalai Lama to avoid such conflicts among our people. The writer fervently hopes that all Sri Lankans would strive to live together in peace, harmony and happiness accepting the valuable advice given by the Dalai Lama as well as their own faiths as one family in time to come in our own beautiful motherland.