RETURN OF THE GLOBAL RATTNA:
HIS HOLINESS THE 14TH DALAI LAMA OF TIBET
A Prayerful Reflection: Kanwal Prakash Singh
WARM WELCOME AND REVERENTIAL EXCITEMENT
Indianapolis, Indiana USA
May 29, 2010
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet recently returned to Indiana for the sixth time since 1987 to another enthusiastic and warm welcome led by Venerable Arjia Rinpoche, President of the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center (TMBCC) in Bloomington. Buddhist monks from around the world, legions of admirers and friends in the thousands from across the USA, gathered in Indiana to greet His Holiness, attend his teachings sessions on the ancient Buddhist text, The Heart Sutra, and take part in a series of events in his honor in Bloomington and Indianapolis.
Elaine Mellencamp, Vice President of TMBCC Board and her husband, celebrated rocker John Mellencamp, played a key role in the latest visit of His Holiness to Indiana. Rev. Kent Millard, President of The Interfaith Hunger Initiative, The Buddhist Center of Indiana, and The Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Center in Bloomington jointly sponsored the Public Talk by His Holiness: “Facing Challenges with Wisdom and Compassion” at Conseco Field House in Indianapolis with nearly 10, 000 in the audience.
There was the usual pomp and ceremonies throughout The Dalai Lama’s visit: the dedication of a special sand Mandala featuring the sacred Lotus flower and Buddhist symbols and the newly installed prayer wheels. The Dalai Lama was given a welcome fit for a king; he was greeted by “Good Luck” dancers and blowing of traditional long horns; friends, devout followers, red and safforn-robed monks lined the drive through the beautiful grounds of the TMBCC with the world media recording every move.
At the teachings, a specially- commissioned music piece by renowned cellist, Michael Fitzpatrick, set the space and mood for the entry of His Holiness. At the direction of His Holiness, the seated monks chanted in Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Mongolian languages as the Dalai Lama seated on an elaborately gilded throne beddecked in brocaded silks and fresh flowers addressed the large gathering. A colorful tapestry with the image of Buddha and lit candles at the base formed the fascinating prayer backdrop.
The Dalai Lama delivered his teachings on The Heart Sutra in the Tibetan language with English translation provided by his trusted and amazing interpreter. His Holiness looked radiant and majestic in his simplicity, the audience in awe of his knowledge and engagging explanations of the sacred text; his strong voice and chanting of sacred hymns seemed to defy his age of 74 years.
The net proceeds from events surrounding the visit of His Holiness will be spent on various humanitarian projects. From all accounts, the Indiana visit was a resounding success, an immeasureable pride for Hoosiers to host a distinguished visitor and being a permanent home for the emerging worldclass pilgrimage and learning center amidst the rolling hills of southern Indiana. Thanks to the initiative and hardwork of the late Dr. Thubetan Norbu, the older brother of His Holiness and Founder of the TMBCC, the vision of the Kumbum Chamste Ling Monastery West is advancing magnificently under the leadership of Venerable Arjia Rinpoche.
PILGRIMAGE OF SPIRIT
As with each trip, it has been an honor and privilege to be in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, learn and discover reverberations of my Sikh spirituality and doctrine of unity, universality, and Oneness. We witness His Holiness carrying the Light of ancient wisdom and as a masterful mentor making it relevant to our times, highlighting our place in the journey of human civilization. He leads a renaissance of our collective spiritual and humanitarian mandate that touches us in ways that make the spirit of true faith manifest.
He embodies the sacred and transcendent and personifies God’s Grace among us. His inspiration invites us to action: to seek unifying perspectives in addressing our common concerns and to safeguard our threatened habitat and humanity. In an age of alienation, anxiety, intense confrontations, self-centeredness and indifference, it is amazing to see his unbound grace and the devotion and dedication of his followers and admirers who come from many faiths, cultural traditions, and distant continents.
His message resonates across spiritual and cultural landscapes and takes us on a pilgrimage. We see the faith commandments: “Recognize all humanity as One Brotherhood, One Race,” that “No one is outside the Circle of God’s unbound Benevolence,” and “Do unto the least among you,” and the Dalai Lama’s call for a Century of Peace and Compassion towards all beings seemlessly coverging, celebrating and elevating a universal hope and prayer for all Creation.
In the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, one experiences an incredible spiritual and humanitarian kinship that transcends culture, faith, ethnicity, national origin, status, or spirituality. His message of infinte compassion: unconditional love towards all God’s children and serving those who find themselves in difficult circumstances; seeking knowledge: respect for and learning from other faith traditions and building new bridges of understanding amidst our diverse perspectives; in solidarity, working for a universal right to happiness, freedom, human dignity, and peaceful pursuit of our indvidual and collective dreams receives friendly response and applause across nations, generations, spiritual and civic leaders, and among great visionaries of our times. His words exude an enlightened understanding, abiding faith in nurturing the common threads that connect the human universe at many levels and in profound ways, and urgency to harness the innate human goodness in making a difference.
We find this universal message, optimism and prayer enshrined and eloquently expressed in scriptures and sacred texts of other faith traditions. It is his presence, the moral authority of his deep conviction, scholarship, and exemplary testimony reflected in not just teaching but his living those truths that make his message incredibly significant and relevant for our lives. We see in him the extraordinary Messenger, Spiritual Teacher, Humanitarian and Mentor personally delivering the message of hope, unity, love, peace, and our intertwined humanity.
It is very powerful, since it comes from an all-embracing soul, Nobel-laureate, and a venerated statesman. We see him as a Living Light, an unassuming global rattna (precious jewel) in the darkness of our times. He provides comfort to a world facing immense frustrations, asking us to resolve conflicts peacefully. He grieves for his Tibetan brothers under Chinese occupation but advocates and insists on non-violence; advises us to strengthen our own faith foundation by respecting other faiths. He emphasises that learning is the key to dispelling darkness of spirit that if ignored, leads to unfounded prejudice, discrimination, and devastating conflicts.
One sees unmistakable echoes of universally-shared values and ideals in his teachings; witnesses deep anguish for human suffering anywhere, not just for the Tibetans in his lost nation; and a passionate challenge to communities, faiths, and international institutions to work for common good, solve critical problems, end human suffering, and restore dignity and pride in people’s lives. During his presentaions, The Dalai Lama’s humility and humanity is never far away; there are no pretences of his many honors and status; he laughs easily and often at his own expense.
He relates to his audiences, often multi-cultural, multi-generational, scientists or scholars, civic leaders and celebrities, Buddhist faithfuls or those who follow other religions or no faith tradition. One of the highly traveled spiritual leaders, His Holiness is at home with the world, and many embrace him as among the most beloved humanitarian icons of our times. For millions, he represents what is right, promising, and reassuring about our world.
A GLOBAL RATTNA
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet
The simple Buddhist Monk to himself,
An Enlightened Teacher to the world,
A venerated Spiritual Mentor and
A god-king to his Tibetan followers,
One of the most beloved icons of our times;
An extraordinary voice of conscience,
A true humanitarian and Man of Peace in our midst;
Living in exile in India, since his escape from Tibet
Following the Chinese takeover of his Kingdom in 1959:
With exemplary grace carries the awesome burden of his people,
Grieves the wanton destruction of Tibetan cultural heritage,
Suffering, denial of basic freedoms to Tibetans under occupation;
With a universal compassion and deep concern:
His Holiness shares the pain of countless millions
Caught in devastating conflicts, acts of moral outrage,
Inhumanity and unconscionable injustice around the world;
His message of compassion and peace, forgiveness and tolerance
Comforts and transcends the traditional divides of ethnic origin,
Faith, culture, community, gender, or nationality;
His Holiness tirelessly advocates peaceful means:
For the Tibetans, others, with the passion of a family elder;
With an uncommon grace and courage, he places human challenges
In the public square, at the thresholds of the free world -
Before friends, educators, media, the powerful and common folk,
World bodies with mandates to resolve global conflicts,
The just causes of humanity with deserved urgency.
His Holiness offers a testimony of higher grace among us:
He radiates the Sacred in Spirit,
His teachings affirm the Wisdom of Ages;
A saint-champion for universal human dignity,
His spirit reflects the moral courage and strength of a young lion;
A passionate advocate for justice and freedom,
Peaceful coexistence and unconditional forgiveness,
He carries no burdens of bitterness or malice, only sadness
Toward those over-running his beloved Tibet,
Unsettling an ancient culture, a noble way of life;
A blessed presence, an all-embracing spirit:
Resplendent in his familiar robes of orange and red,
His radiant persona, humility, message of compassion
Illuminate, resonate a sacred space, or an entire stadium,
An interfaith forum, or a global discourse;
He embraces the young, old, the powerful, or ordinary
With uncommon warmth and unimagined friendliness;
His laughter lightens the heart of a friend or stranger
In its beautiful and contagious invitation;
Sun of Tibet, now a ‘son’ of India, a frequent visitor to Indiana:
Friend to all people, at-home among all cultures,
In exile from his own country, a celebrated citizen in our world;
A Nobel Peace Laureate, a recipient of the
U.S. Congressional Gold Medal;
Showered with countless high honors by nations,
Admiration, unbounded affection from legions of ordinary;
His Holiness advocates a path of collective well-being:
He is an inspiration; a temple of graciousness;
He carries on his work of peace, unity, human dignity
All that is right and exemplary under the mighty heavens,
With legendary moral passion; mandates of a Spiritual Mentor,
Excitement and sparkle of a learned Teacher;
His Holiness sees and knows no strangers:
His enlightened words and sacred songs seamlessly thread
Faiths, cultures, and communities into a sacred circle
Where no one is outside his prayer and love,
Beyond understanding or thoughtful consideration;
Where no divisive elements intrude on our shared universe;
His life is a lesson, a living testimony:
A mirror of the Sacred and Divine in human affairs,
His spiritual scholarship and disarming exuberance
Makes this simple Buddhist Monk one of the beloved souls
Who walk and immeasurably brighten our world.
His discovery, journey since his birth in 1935, the legends
From humble Lhamo Thondup to Tenzin Gyatso the 14th Dalai Lama,
Herald a momentous and truly blessed event for the world, our times.
A venerated god-king and a spiritual ambassador:
His Holiness is a composite of rare blessings,
A true Global Rattna: A many-faceted brilliant gem
Radiating friendliness, Light, and an amazing grace,
Spreading, cultivating unity, optimism, compassion, and peace;
Praying, hoping that such a sacred legacy come true in our lifetime,
Reminding us all to shape and fulfill a long-awaited promise:
A world where there is justice, freedom, liberty, sacred rights,
Love and basic sustenance for all children in our Global Village,
Common good, not conflicts direct the course of human history
Kanwal Prakash “KP” Singh
Indianapolis, Indiana USA.
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