His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the crowd of more than 16,000 during his teaching in Padum, Zanskar, J&K, India on July 22, 2018. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

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Zanskar, J&K, India — Explaining that the Tibetans in Tibet are going through a very sad situation, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said "the totalitarian system in China means that many people in China are ignorant about the proper status of Tibet."

“Wherever I go in the world, I explain that as human beings we are all the same. We all want happiness and don’t seek suffering. Therefore, we should aim to achieve peace of mind. And today, even scientists are paying attention to this. We need a warm heart that is the source of all well-being. Scientists say that it seems it’s basic human nature to be compassionate.So, my first commitment is to the extension of compassion among human beings.”

His Holiness explained that his second commitment is to foster harmony and friendship among the world’s various religious traditions because they are all potentially beneficial to their followers. He spoke of friends who are Jains, Hindus, Jews, Christians and Muslims. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world people are fighting and killing each other in the name of their faith.

The Nobel Peace Laureate mentioned that today all the world’s major religious traditions flourish in India. Since all these traditions teach love and compassion, tolerance and forgiveness, there should be friendship and respect among them. This is what His Holiness seeks to achieve.

He admonished violence and intolerance in the name of religion, and said this is unthinkable. “I know all religion teaches love, compassion, tolerance and peace. So, it is injudicious, stupid, illogical and short-sighted to fight against each other,” said His Holiness.

In Tibet, Nyingmas teaching the breakthrough practice of the Great Perfection, Kagyus teaching Mahamudra, and Sakyas pointing out the indivisibility of samsara and nirvana, represented different approaches to the same goal. Sometimes, sadly, there was antagonism among these traditions. His Holiness made clear that if there is such antagonism between spiritual traditions in Ladakh, it’s time to give it up.

The spiritual leader of Tibet clarified saying "as a Tibetan, someone who bears the name Dalai Lama, his third commitment is to Tibet and the six million Tibetans who place their hopes in him. "I have proudly and happily given up the political responsibilities that Dalai Lamas have held since the Fifth."

His Holiness said that "for the last 400 years, since the time of the 5th Dalai Lama, the successive Dalai Lamas have been both the temporal and spiritual leader of Tibet. It is the 14th Dalai Lama who put an end to the 400 year long rule by the Dalai Lamas as head of the State. This is done voluntarily with profound pride and joy."

"I have devolved them to an elected leadership. It’s not helpful for religious leaders to become too involved with political affairs. I am opposed to ‘Lama Politics’ that lead to a division of ‘us’ and ‘them’. If we meet again, I’ll repeat this to you—but if we don’t, this is my last wish to you," he said.

“As a Tibetan, I have a responsibility to preserve and promote Tibetan culture, not only in the interest of Tibetans, but to keep the Buddha’s teachings alive. This is something many Chinese are also interested in," he further said, adding: “The reason I’ve mentioned theses three commitments to you is in order that, devoted as you are, you might share them with me.”

“Then there is the question of protecting Tibet’s natural environment. It was a Chinese ecologist who recognised that the contribution of the Tibetan Plateau to the global climate was as significant as that of the North and South Poles.

He renamed Tibet the Third Pole. Reduced snow and receding glaciers on the mountains mean water supplies will dry up. The land will become like the deserts of Afghanistan that you see when you fly from India to Europe. Therefore, trying to preserve Tibetan ecology is significant.

“Relations between Tibet and China are not new. In 7th, 8th and 9th centuries there were close links between the Tibetan, Chinese and Mongolian Empires. Marriage alliances were formed. Later, during the time of Sakya rule, the Priest-Patron relationship was established.

Now, however, the totalitarian system in China means that many people in China are ignorant about the proper status of Tibet. Nevertheless, as more Chinese study and travel abroad they have greater opportunities to learn.

Taking up the booklet containing the text to be taught and others in Tibetan, Hindi and English, which had been distributed to the audience, His Holiness asked them to turn to the ‘Praise to the 17 Nalanda Masters’. He then read through it, commenting on the verses as he saw fit. The Praise begins with a celebration of the Buddha, then Nagarjuna.

Although he lived long ago, we can still see his qualities in the writings that have come down to us, such as the Six Collections of Reason. There are 16 volumes of Perfection of Wisdom teachings in the Kangyur and Nagarjuna illuminated their explicit import—emptiness. Maitreya, who may have been a human being or a deity, explained their implicit meaning.

Speaking about the rule by ‘Lamas’ (high ranking and revered Buddhist monks), His Holiness lamented that its disadvantages far outweigh its advantages, considering how such rule has contributed to the degeneration of Buddha Dharma in the Tibetan history.

“A fear of ‘Lama’ politics which seems to be prominent in Ladakh too has been thwarting the essence of Buddhism. This is unnecessary. I am totally against ‘Lama’ politics,” affirmed His Holiness. His Holiness advised his devotees in Ladakh to be wary and vigilant," he added.

The totalitarian regime in China began its invasion of Tibet in 1949, reaching complete occupation of the country in 1959. Since that time, more than 1.2 million people, 20% of the nation's population of six million, have died as a direct result of China's invasion and occupation. In addition, over 99% of Tibet's six thousand religious monasteries, temples, and shrines, have been looted or decimated resulting in the destruction of hundreds of thousands of sacred Buddhist scriptures.