Sunday, July 6, 2008

Happy Birthday Kundun!

Today is the birthday of His Holiness, Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.

This Ocean of Wisdom and Compassion, reincarnated in a poor family in Tibet in 1935 to lead his people and to benefit all beings.

It turned out Tibet was to need all the blessing and inspiration HHDL could possibly give.
The Chinese occupation forced the Dalai Lama to cross over the Himalayas in 1959 to exile in India where he now lives.

He says one of his main heroes is Mahatma Gandhi and he continues to lead his people, both spiritually and politically, in the spirit of patience and non-violence.

The basic truth of this approach is at the very heart of the Buddha's teachings and cannot be compromised. Therefore, there can be no violent uprising in Tibet, according to HHDL. It is not even a priority that Tibet regain its independence if that means causing further bloodshed and suffering.

Anyone who has seen Kundun or Seven Years in Tibet is struck by the brutality of the Chinese invasion.

Anyone who has been following the plight of Tibet ever since, in the media and through pressure groups such as Amnesty International, knows that [despite the difficulty of gathering information from inside Tibet] things have steadily gone from bad to worse over the decades.

We are told that the situation inside Tibet is now worse than ever!
It is hardly imaginable, but the suppression of the Tibetan culture and religion and the imprisonment and torture of monastic and lay Tibetans has reached a hellish escalation.
This is partly due to the recent uprisings inside Tibet and the Chinese Government's determination to squash their spirit once and for all now that the world's media is focused on the Beijing Olympics.

However, the press is quite ambivalent to say the least in relation to Tibet [search for articles online with the Sunday Times or The Guardian, for example, or observe how quickly human rights violations in Tibet were dropped from TV news once something 'juicier' came along].

The annual celebrations of HHDL's birthday are usually a big big deal - especially in MacLeod Ganj, Dharamsala [India], where he resides in exile.
However, this year everything has been cancelled. This is largely due to Dalai Lama's own request in view of the enormous suffering the Tibetans are currently enduring.

Two special envoys of the Dalai Lama, who returned last Thursday from Beijing after two days of talks with Chinese government officials, termed the talks as "one of the most difficult so far."
Lodi Gyari Rinpoche, one of the Tibetan envoys told reporters in New Delhi that he did not expect a breakthrough in the negotiations anytime soon.

Dalai Lama continues to call for patience and understanding towards the Chinese.

He has trained his mind and opened his heart to such an extent that it is difficult for us, including many Tibetans, to take in this wider view.
Only a buddha could truly appreciate the Big Picture as he does.

To obtain even the most minuscule glimpse of the mind of an enlightened being such as HHDL let us look at two of his favourite daily prayers on this his 73rd birthday - we might even be so bold as to pray them ourselves, that we may reveal our True Nature for the benefit of all beings...

His Holiness often says, "I am just a simple Buddhist monk - no more, nor less."

His Holiness follows the life of a Buddhist monk. Living in a small cottage in Dharamsala, he rises at 4 A.M. to meditate, pursues an ongoing schedule of administrative meetings, private audiences and religious teachings and ceremonies. He concludes each day with further prayer before retiring. In explaining his greatest sources of inspiration, he often cites a favorite verse, found in the writings of the renowned eighth century Buddhist saint Shantideva:

For as long as space endures
And for as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I too abide
To dispel the misery of the world.

If you have actually seen the movie Kundun, you may well recall the young Dalai Lama as a child trying to memorise another prayer of Shantideva's.
This great prayer remains another favourite of His Holiness.

May we too come to embody its vast aspiration...

May I be a protector to those without protection,
A leader for those who journey,
And a boat, a bridge, a passage
For those desiring the other shore.

May the pain of every living creature
Be completely cleared away.
May I be the doctor and the medicine
And may I be the nurse
For all sick beings in the world
Until everyone is healed.

Just like space
And the great elements such as earth,
May I always support the life
Of all the boundless creatures.

And until they pass away from pain
May I also be the source of life
For all the realms of varied beings
That reach unto the ends of space.

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