Minneapolis, US — The spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness addressed the Tibetan community in Minneapolis, United States and said the middle way approach is approved and supported by many governments around the world including that of the USA.
On Saturday morning skies were a brilliant blue as His Holiness, the Dalai Lama drove to the Minneapolis Convention Centre to meet members belonging to the Tibetan Community of Minnesota.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate was received by the President of the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota (TAFM), Sonam Dhondup, who introduced him to the following: State senator, Carolyn Laine, Minneapolis Mayor, Betsy Hodges and Congresswoman, Betty McCollum. His Holiness had a brief meeting with them and others government representatives before they took to the stage.
TAFM President Dhondup introduced Congresswoman Betty McCollum, who reminded His Holiness that she was in Dharamshala a month ago with the Nancy Pelosi's bipartisan Congressional delegation.
"Please accept our strong support for Tibetans in Minnesota," she told him. "I was in Tibet in 2015. I saw the mountains, filled my lungs with the pure air and encountered the warmth of the Tibetan people—but they are not free," said McCollum.
"It's past time for the Chinese to lift restrictions on religious freedom and cease violations of human rights. I received a letter from the Chinese consulate pressuring me not to meet with you, Your Holiness. I urge Congress and the people of the USA to stand with the Tibetan people. China is a powerful country, no doubt, but the USA is powerful too and free," she added.
Mayor Hodges welcomed His Holiness back to Minnesota, saying, "We are proud to have you here." Mayor Hodges has proclaimed today, 24th June, 'His Holiness the Dalai Lama day of Peace and Compassion' in Minneapolis. Mayor Chris Coleman of St Paul has also proclaimed today as 'His Holiness the Dalai Lama Day' in his city. He expressed appreciation of what His Holiness had to say yesterday about compassion. Mayor Donna Schmitt of Columbia Heights, which has the largest Tibetan settlement, presented His Holiness with a book of prayers and good wishes people in that city had submitted.
State Senator Carolyn Laine, an old friend of Tibet, said, "It's an honour to be here. We're always glad to have His Holiness among us." Several local council members added their greetings. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, a strong supporter and long-term friend of Tibetans as well as Congressman Keith Ellison were unable to attend the meeting today, but sent representatives in their stead. His Holiness thanked all of them for their greetings, friendship and support.
"We need to see each other in this way. Today, we face problems in many parts of the world, many of which are of our own making. When we are born and just growing up we don't pay attention to differences of nationality, colour or faith. It is only when we are more grown up that we learn to see each other in terms of 'us' and 'them'. My first commitment is to raising awareness of the oneness of humanity. My second is to promoting religious harmony, of which India is a living example.
"My third commitment, as a Tibetan and someone in whom Tibetans inside and outside Tibet have placed their trust, is to them. Since 2011 I have fully retired from political responsibility, which is now in the hands of an elected leadership. What I still feel responsible for is expressing concern about the natural environment in Tibet. Since Asia's major rivers rise on the Tibetan Plateau and more than 1 billion people are dependent on their water, what happens to Tibet's ecology has a wide impact.
"I also have concern about the future of the Buddhist traditions that came to Tibet from Nalanda in India. Initial Buddhist contacts began in the 7th century when Songtsen Gampo married a Chinese and a Nepalese princess. Despite marital links to China, Trisong Detsen in the following century chose to invite Shantarakshita and Padmasambhava from India to establish Buddhism in Tibet. We remember them as the Abbot, the Adept and the King. Shantarakshita was a great philosopher and logician who pioneered the Nalanda Tradition in Tibet.
His Holiness went on to say that after decades of thinking about what Nagarjuna taught he can see how important it is. He also expressed his appreciation of Maitreya's approach to introducing the teachings by explaining the Two Truths, the Four Noble Truths, especially the truths of cessation and path, and the Three Jewels. He said that as a student of the Buddha, even at the age of 82, he continues to read and study the works of Nagarjuna. He urged his listeners not to regard what the Buddha taught as in the nature of blessing, but as something to study, something to which to apply your intelligence.
The spiritual leader led the audience through a brief ceremony for generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta, explaining that the purpose of life is to be of service to others. From that he went on to give the transmission of the Praise to Manjushri and his mantra.
Before leaving the stage, the Tibetan leader explained that he had recently attended the Mayo Clinic for a thorough check up following treatment he had last year. He reported his doctors satisfied.
With regard to the cause of Tibet, he made this clarification, saying: "We are not saying that Tibet was not a free country in the past. What we are saying is that we are not seeking independence at this time. We are taking a middle way approach. Many Chinese who I meet are apprehensive to begin with but relax when they understand that what we seek is genuine autonomy. Our middle way approach is approved and supported by many governments around the world including that of the USA."