(TibetanReview.net, Jul24’22) – Embarking on his initial public engagements since arriving in Ladakh on Jul 15 for rest and to give religious teachings as well as to be away from the high-level monsoon humidity of Dharamsala, the Dalai Lama on Jul 23 undertook pilgrimages to a Buddhist temple, two mosques of different sects and a Church in capital Leh. He is tentatively scheduled to stay in the Union Territory for around a month.
The spiritual leader of Tibet was welcomed at the Jokhang, the principal Buddhist Temple located in the centre of Leh, by Mr Thupten Chhewang, President of the Ladakh Buddhist Association and other local dignitaries. Apart from the Buddha, the temple contains statues of Manjushri, the Thousand Armed Avalokiteshvara, and Guru Padmasambhava.
Extending greetings to all those assembled in the Jokhang and in the courtyard outside as old friends with rock-solid bonds, the Dalai Lama spoke of his determination to continue contributing as much as he could to the flourishing of the Dharma for the benefit of all sentient beings. He advised the gathering that rather than going just by faith and prayers, it was very important that we study the Dharma, reflect on what we’ve learned and then put into practice what we’ve understood.
“We should study the Three Baskets, which comprise the words of the Buddha, and engage in the practice of the Three Trainings,” he told them.
Visiting the Jama Masjid, a Sunni Mosque, next, the Dalai Lama told the gathering there: “It is my practice to offer prayers at other people’s places of worship whenever I can. Since all religions convey a message of compassion (karuna), even though their philosophical views may differ, they are worthy of respect.”
He spoke of his association with people of Muslim faith since his childhood, saying: “I’ve been on friendly terms with Muslims since I was a child in Amdo. Later in Lhasa too I was friendly with the small community of Muslim traders who used to regularly attend official functions of the Tibetan Government. So here today I’m pleased to be meeting with Muslim brothers and sisters once again.”
At the Shia Mosque of Anjuman-e-Imamia next, his host recalled that it was His Holiness who inaugurated the Mosque in 2006, since which time the congregation had welcomed him back several times.
Different speakers praised His Holiness as a peace messiah and a harbinger of brotherhood. “Your presence here today,” one speaker declared, “sends a strong and much needed message of unity, peace and brotherhood among the different religious groups of Ladakh to the wider world.”
After that, His Holiness was welcomed at the Moravian Church with the singing of a song in appreciation of his contribution to peace and harmony in the world. The Dalai Lama said the warmth of the church’s welcome reminded him of “the many Christian brothers and sisters, scientists and religious leaders, such as the Polish Pope, John Paul II, among them, with whom I have made friends.”
He spoke of his admiration for the way Christians have shown kindness in helping poor and needy people the world over, as well as their contribution to world development, which he sees as reflecting a sense of the oneness of humanity.