Exclusive Interview done by Russian Journalist Olga Lipich
Translated by Elena Shlychkov.
More than seven thousand pilgrims from Russia, China, India, Mongolia, Japan, USA and other countries came to learn religious teachings on the eve of 2012. This event was held by the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, XIV, at the request of Russian Buddhists in their Indian residence in the city Dharamsala (foothills of the Himalayas, Himachal Pradesh).
From Russia (mostly from Buryatia, Kalmykia, Tuva, as well as Moscow, St. Petersburg and other big cities) half a thousand people came to listen to “Ocean Teacher” (translated as The Dalai Lama), incarnation of Avalokitesvara Buddha of compassion. He spoke about relations with Russia, the renunciation of political power, on how to achieve harmony between people of different faiths and the root causes of the global crisis.
Your Holiness, this is the third consecutive year at the request of the Russian Buddhists that you spend for teaching. What are your impressions of communication with the pilgrims from Russia, who arrived in Dharamsala in this year? Why do you think their number is increasing every year?
The Dalai Lama:
First, I must say that in the last few centuries between the Buddhist republics of the Russian Federation and Tibet there have been very close ties. Many great Buddhist teachers and philosophers came from these places. Some of them were educated in Tibet, and became the major superiors of monasteries. For example, in 1959 the abbot of Drepung Gomang was Likden Corn. I also remember Thupten Nyima … They were distinguished scholars, philosophers, great teachers, who came to Tibet from Russia.
So between us, there has always been a special, very close relationship. In addition, before the revolution the Dalai Lama XIII was in contact with the Russian tsar. In Norbulingka [summer residence of Dalai Lamas in Lhasa] there are presents that the Russian Tsar gave to the Dalai Lama XIII. One of them is a ring. Not a good gift, because the Dalai Lama is a monk ─ and cannot wear such jewelry [laughs]. It was a very beautiful ring set with diamonds, and in the center is a portrait of the king himself.
There were other gifts. I remember a watch – a gold pocket watch decorated with the arms of Russia. I have warm feelings towards Russia. When I meet with the Russians, we immediately think of the previous Dalai Lama and to feel that there is a connection between us.
I always tell people of the Buddhist regions that Buddhism is the religion of our ancestors. [Meeting them], I do not try to convert them into a new religion, but I help make sure that they keep their own ancient spiritual heritage. I am very pleased that interest in Buddhism in traditionally Buddhist regions of Russia is growing. People find in Buddhism something that is consonant with their needs.
The Dalai Lama with pilgrims from Russia
The Dalai Lama urged the Russian Buddhists to develop compassion, to love enemies as “precious teachers” but watch out for charlatan mentors.
Commenting on one of the brightest essays calling for compassion – “Eight verses of mind training,” the famous Buddhist holy XI-XII centuries Geshe Tangpy Langres, the Dalai Lama said:
“Buddhism calls to refrain from violence, to refrain from doing evil. We must exercise compassion, to help other living beings, to take responsibility to bring others out of suffering”. (Dalai Lama to the Russian Buddhists at his residence in city of Dharamsala in northern India)
According to him, in compassion there is no “hard distinctions between people, animals and other living beings,” since “all sentient beings do not want to suffer, they want to be happy.”
To read the full version of the Interview in Russian click: http://dalailama.ru/news/938-interview.html