A Tribute to Dalai Lama on His Birthday
Prof. Madhu Rajput* & Squadron Leader Toolika Rani (retd)**
The history of human existence has been dotted with conflict. Religion, nation, race, caste, gender, class; the outward reason may have differed but the underlying element remained the same- the struggle for dominance. War and violence became the persistent means for the subjugation of the other. However, in contrast to it, equally prominent has been the history of those who opposed it. The great souls who denounced the mantra of violence and domination and preached the importance of harmonized living were incarnated time and again. They created a strong ripple in the established system of ‘rule by might’ and advocated equality and peace. We all have grown up reading about such illuminated beings who transcended the narrow walls of self-centrism and embraced the humanity as a whole. Their ideas, philosophies and way of life surpassed the confines of time and space and became relevant across the geographical plains and ages. It is said that the truth is never created, it already exists; we only need to discover it. Personalities such as Buddha, Gandhi, and Vivekananda realized this and sought to spread the truth of equality of human beings, the significance of knowledge and wisdom that broods tolerance, and accommodation. We, in the present generation are fortunate to witness one such great soul amongst us, the aura of whose goodness is so resplendent that it has been acknowledged, valued and revered across the world. An epitome of Buddhist values His Holiness the Dalai Lama turns 85 on July 6, and it evokes a feeling of being blessed in many like us who have had the privilege of meeting and talking to him and those who have sought refuge in his guidance, for whom he has been an anchor in troubled times, whose inner conflicts have been resolved by his words, and those whom he has taught to laugh and live more heartily, even in the face of adversity. This article is a humble tribute to the man whose worldly status is that of a refugee but who, by his charismatic and loving persona, has given shelter to millions of troubled souls.
The ultimate goal of a human life is to add something beautiful and constructive to the already existing. In physical terms Nature in itself is perfect. All the components of an ecosystem are well balanced through the food web and an equilibrium is maintained. We as human beings can only add anything positive in terms of sublime values such as kindness, compassion, and feeling of oneness. Since the good and evil both coexist in every being, it becomes imperative to make a conscious decision to nurture the good over the evil. This is where our contribution as a human comes into picture. If conflict is a permanent feature of our existence, we shall choose our areas of battle wisely. The most important fight for dominance then shall be fought within our own selves, and we must take an active part in it in order to help the good in us win over the bad. That is when the lesser feelings of revenge, anger, envy, frustration will be replaced by the higher sentiments of love, compassion, peace and justice. Bodhisattva is none other than the one who succeeds in this inner battle and thereafter helps others in the same realisation. If domination cannot be avoided, let’s put all our forces behind the virtuous to make it win and rule us. This self- victory is the first lesson of Buddhism and this is what makes His Holiness so captivating. His persona radiates the purity of heart. Talking to him is like seeing your reflection in the crystal clear water of a lake; you instantly become aware of the impurities in your own heart. This awareness of what prevents us from laughing the way he does, then becomes the trigger to remove the bottlenecks, to open the valve and let go, to cleanse all the debris gathered inside and flush out all the junk, so that our inner space may shine the way he does. By presenting the ideal to us thinly wrapped in the maroon robes, he reveals all the malaise that plagues the world and all that needs to be sanitized. In his own words, “Peace must materialize and develop through inner peace. How can a heart full of anger and jealousy develop peace?”
The great philosopher Socrates said, “The secret of change is to put all your energy, not into fighting the old, but in building the new”. Depicting this in real life, His Holiness has shown a way which has the power to transform the world. His embrace of love and compassion extends even to those because of whom his own life and that of his countrymen was spent in exile. It seems incredulous to hear him wishing well for the Chinese, even though that nation inflicts indescribable torture upon those who even take the Dalai Lama’s name. He however, makes a clear distinction between what is acceptable and what needs to be protested against and defended. His Holiness’ approach is based on the Gandhian value, “Hate the sin, not the sinner”. This way we prevent the wrong without increasing the hatred.
In the words of Swami Vivekananda, “Anything that makes you weak physically, intellectually and spiritually, reject as poison”. The strength of His Holiness, even though he has nothing in terms of military power, wealth, not even his own land, comes from this self-discipline of not letting evil thoughts vitiate his inner purity. He touches a cord in millions of hearts irrespective of religion, nationality, gender or any other divisive identity, not because he owns a mega empire, not because he is a big business tycoon, or because he wields a mighty sword but because he owns a disarming smile, because he can approach another human without reservations, can feel empathy with their sorrows and can lend a reassuring hand to those drowning in their griefs, and all this despite facing the gravest tragedy of being forced into homelessness himself. We, sitting on high pedestals of ego and wailing in our self-created miseries may do well to learn from this monk the art of living. Even being a religious leader, is it so difficult to ask your followers to investigate the religion and seek for scientific reasons behind the teachings, to ask them to be flexible to imbibe the positivity from anywhere and discard the redundant? Is it necessary to establish your superiority in order to feel your worth over the other rather than acknowledge their strengths and learn from each other? Is it possible to retain your innocence despite the cruelties all around? One look at the laughing Buddha of modern times and you get all the answers.
May you keep purifying all those you touch through the warmth of your hands, the reassurance of your words, and the example of your life! Wishing the humanity many more cherished years of your presence and guidance His Holiness!
(Note: The Dalai Lama literally means the ‘Ocean of Wisdom’)
*Prof. Madhu Rajput is the former HoD, Department of Western History, University of Lucknow, U.P., India.
**Squadron Leader Toolika Rani is a retired Indian Air Force Officer and Research Scholar in Ambedkar University, Lucknow, U.P. India. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org