Dharamshala, India — Explaining Tibet’s influence on global climate is reportedly equivalent to that of the North and South Poles, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that "almost a billion people across Asia depend on water from rivers in Tibet. If the snow on the mountains of Tibet disappears, millions of Indians will suffer the consequences.
Around 80 people from three different groups met His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 1, 2018. They included students and faculty members from Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, as well as participants in the Emory-Tibet Partnership from the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, and students involved with the Kurukul Program of the Foundation for Universal Responsibility, New Delhi.
Welcoming them to Dharamshala, which he described as his second home for the last 59 years, His Holiness outlined his four main commitments, explaining that the first is to promoting an understanding of the oneness that unites all 7 billion human beings alive today. He mentioned not only the interdependence of the global economy, but also how we are all affected by common concerns like climate change.
“We are emotionally, mentally and physically the same and we can help each other by sharing our experience of achieving peace of mind.”
Noting that the fundamental message of all major religious traditions includes the importance of cultivating friendship, love, tolerance and self discipline, His Holiness is committed to promoting inter-religious harmony. Consequently, he expressed regret at the level of religious conflict that can be seen today.
“Look at India,” he said, “where religious harmony has been thriving for thousands of years. In addition to indigenous traditions, there others from elsewhere. Followers of Zoroastrianism, for example, originally came from Persia and their community now numbers fewer than 100,000, mostly in Mumbai. But they live there completely without fear. That’s the Indian tradition."
“Then, as a Tibetan, someone in whom 6 million Tibetans have placed their trust, I have a moral responsibility to help them as best I can. I semi-retired from my political role in 2001 and completely retired and devolved those responsibilities to an elected leadership in 2011. Now I’m committed to working to encourage the protection of Tibet's fragile environment," His Holiness said.
"This involves more than the well-being of six million Tibetans because, as a Chinese ecologist has observed, Tibet’s influence on global climate is equivalent to that of the North and South Poles. That’s why he referred to the Tibetan Plateau as the Third Pole. Almost a billion people across Asia depend on water from rivers such as the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Salween and Mekong, all of which rise in Tibet. If the snow on the mountains of Tibet disappears, millions of Indians will suffer the consequences," he stressed.
The spiritual leader of Tibet also expressed his dedication to keeping Tibet’s language and its rich cultural and religious heritage alive. He explained how the Buddhist traditions of Tibet were drawn from those upheld at the Nalanda University in India. They included a strong reliance on reasoning and investigation, which corresponds to a scientific approach.
“The world is facing a crisis of emotions. Elements of the Nalanda Tradition derived from the longstanding Indian practices for developing a calmly abiding mind and deep insight (shamatha and vipashyana) have much to tell us about tackling our negative emotions and cultivating lasting peace of mind. This is why this knowledge remains relevant today, which is why I am also committed to trying to revive an appreciation of it. I believe that here in India it is possible to integrate ancient knowledge with a modern education.”
His Holiness answered several questions from the audience related to creating a more compassion society, dealing with adversity, making positive use of technology and coming to terms with death. He also advised the Buddhists in the room to take a 21st century approach to their faith by developing a reasoned understanding of who the Buddha was and what he taught.