His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in conversation with Pico Iyer
A huge crowd gathered in the front lawns of Diggi palace when his holiness the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso entered the lawns at Jaipur Literature Festival. The crowd ran out of the capacity of the lawns that the guards had to lock the main door to the front lawns. In conversation with the Pico Iyer, Dalai Lama spoke about his innumerable experiences and his association with the modern world. Pico Iyer, who has been associated with the 14th Dalai Lama for 34 years, is the author of the book 'The Open Road', drawing on 34 years of talk with the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso. The book was a huge success. It came out in different countries ans was a best-seller across the U.S.
H.H. Dalai Lama starts the conversation by saying that since the age of 5-6, he got the lessons of Buddhist study. He gives some light on the present scenario and the old age traditions of India. He talks about the beauty of India incorporating a number of religions and traditions in it. He says: "I think the harmony among the present tradition is wonderful. India is a wonderful example of different religions in harmony. In these things I find the importance of India - Ahinsa, Non-violence." He adds "young India pays very much attention to material achievements. They must pay attention on these thousand year old traditions."
The discussion moves on with his talking about the prevailing corruption in all the fields today. He adds to it saying "corruption is the cancer of the world." "In India we have this spiritual unity, offering prayers to statues of God, reciting prayers (here he gets humorous and says), that they recite these prayers without really knowing their meaning. We are not "chela' of Indian guru, but reliable 'chela' (everybody laughs).
Next he talks about his association with the modern science and says "Buddhist teachings give us integrity. My engagement with science is in these four fields: Cosmo-biology, microbiology, Quantum physics and Psychology." He moves on and talks about the present scenario and says, "Peace of mind is really important for the health of body. Younger generation is very eager to learn from science. We never discuss with scientists about 'moksha,' these are Buddhist forte" (laughs).
Pico Iyer puts a question and asks his holiness Dalai Lama to say something about religion and world, "You are the biggest religion, the biggest religious figure in the world." Dalai Lama says that, "Religion carries moral ethics. So my mind has secular ethics, no necessity of religious faith, not necessary to be religious. We are all same, emotionally and physically. I have friends in America and Europe. I talk to them and I find them unhappy even when they are rich that means money fails to bring inner peace. Just think of money and more greed comes. Unhealthy society comes from that, lack of morale." He says with emphasis: "I am trying to teach people that moral ethics are very important for happy humanity."
He talks about India's long tradition of secularism and says, "India's constitution is based on secularism. Our forefathers like Mahatma Gandhi, Rajendra Prasad, who participated in making of the constitution, did very wisely, making it based on secularism. About India's' understanding of secularism is to respect all traditions, religion and there is no preference."
Further he was asked to put some light on a person's believe on religion and he says, "Respect all religions, respect even non-believers. Ethics are based on secular faith in a religion and is very wonderful but if not that's okay. Whenever I go for talks in different countries I talk about the importance of inner peace, self- confidence, and positive physical and verbal action which should never be harming others, no negative action to others, no fear because it leads to distress and trust respect, with respect comes more trust that brings peace of mind." He says, "You have to investigate the 'fear' in you, know the reason for it."
Giving emphasis on Buddhist literature, he says, "In Buddhist literature, there is explanation about mind, emotion and a whole state of emotions. Take it as an academic subject, not just as a Buddhist religion. Concluding the discussion, Dalai Lama finally says that "we must find a matter which can be universal, should pay more attention to it (Buddhist Literature) as academic agenda. Unfortunately, in this country, those ancient thinkers, those religious leaders, carry the rituals. They just carry their rituals. I always criticize these practices. Those ancient traditions should be made relevant to the present world." With this his holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso ends his speech. Throughout the talk when Dalai Lama was speaking there was pin drop silence in the whole lawns with thousands of people present there. The way he speaks, with emphasis on every positive thing he talks about took the crowd so deeply engaged in listening to him as if there was some magic in his voice. In all, Dalai Lama is the symbol of faith, confidence, emotions, modernism, science, development, peace, spirituality, secularism and of a true religion.