“The Dalai Lama Represents the Noble Indomitable spirit of Buddhism Towards World Peace.”
Address by Most Ven Dr Waskaduwe Mahindawansa Mahanayake Thero at Global Buddhist Summit 2023, New Delhi
I consider the last few decades and the several decades ahead as very significant in the annals of the two and half millennia history of Buddhism because Buddhist revival and deeper recognition of its lofty teachings among world nations, political and spiritual leaders and people of different beliefs have gained an unprecedented momentum in this particular era. Even though renowned Buddhist monks, Buddhist scholars, devotees and even princes and emperors had constantly played their significant role on Buddhist revival and its global expansion , the era I am referring to has to be considered more significant because the government of India, headed by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, a basically Hindu leader, together with leaders of several Buddhist countries of the South Asian region, His Holiness , the Dalai Lama, and many international Buddhist organizations have resolutely committed themselves towards the noble cause and continue their role on internationalizing the Buddhist concepts of peace – peace in the mind of people and peace in the world – brotherhood , compassion and loving kindness to fellow humans and all living beings, ‘ahimsa’ or non-violence, democracy and a war-free world.
My topic is to focus on the role that His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, the greatest contemporary Buddhist spiritual leader has played during the past six decades and still tirelessly continue to play his role towards that noble cause with internationally recognized and historically recorded achievements to his credit. It is in recognition of his immense contribution towards world peace, in terms of the noble Buddhist concepts, that he was bestowed the Noble Peace Prize in 1989, He has survived over six decades in exile, although he has been betrayed of his traditional and official position as the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan Buddhist population, under the tyrannical military invasion of China. But in spite of his unending worries and concerns for his motherland and his people, he remains calm and benign, serene and blissful at every even t and every occasion, demonstrating the true spirit of the Buddha nature. He has been described as one of the most joyful people in the world. Nearly every time you see him, he’s laughing, or at least smiling. And he makes everyone else around him feel like smiling. His followers and Buddhist devotees, crowd up in their thousands where ever he goes and they have admitted that even after spending only a few minutes in his presence they feel happier. His book, ‘The Art of Happiness’ published by him together with the other Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu was an instant success and is read by millions of people throughout the world. He has published many other books basically on happiness, peace and joy in terms of Buddhist concepts. So, the era in focus in relation to Buddhism is more significant than the past because the methods of fast tracking and internationalizing the lofty Buddhist concepts and reaching out to all people irrespective of their religious beliefs and nationality is because of the availability of the electronic, social and print media which the Dalai Lama takes proper advantage of. He has also focused on restoration of independence and democracy to his motherland but, as the world has observed, he focuses more on taking to every corner of the world the teachings of the Buddha. Today he is one world capital holding talks with its national and religious leader and tomorrow he is in another part of the world attending a religious function and meeting people’s representatives. He speaks very often in international forums on the importance of democratic governance, people’s rights and freedom. His contribution towards internationalizing Buddhist teachings and global peace is immeasurable. And consecutively for a number of days during the inauguration of the five-year International Bhikkhu Exchange Program launched in Bodhgaya he answered questions of media personnel and gave media interviews. And there were hundreds of thousands of his followers, including very affluent people from the West, crowding up at Bodh Gaya to hear him. In every act, he is proving over and again that he is an incarnation of a noble soul who came into this world for revival of the Buddha’s supreme goals of establishing peace , harmony and brotherhood in the world. When an invitation was extended to him by the Sri Lankan Maha Sangha at Bodh Gaya to visit Sri Lanka, China made every hue and cry, including diplomatic maneuverings in Colombo, to describe him as a ‘separatist’ and prevent his visit to Sri Lanka. But still he remained calm and serene, demonstrating the true Buddhist spirit.
In his speech after being honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, in clear demonstration of his indomitable commitment towards democracy and world peace, he stated “I accept the prize with profound gratitude on behalf of the oppressed everywhere and for all those who struggle for freedom and work for world peace. I accept it on behalf of the six million Tibetan people, my brave countrymen and women inside Tibet, who have suffered and continue to suffer so much. They confront a calculated and systematic strategy aimed at the destruction of their national and cultural identities. The prize reaffirms our conviction that with truth, courage and determination as our weapons, Tibet will be liberated.
“No matter what part of the world we come from, we are all basically the same human beings. We all seek happiness and try to avoid suffering. We have the same basic human needs and concerns. All of us human beings want freedom and the right to determine our own destiny as individuals and as peoples. That is human nature. The great changes that are taking place everywhere in the world, from Eastern Europe to Africa, are a clear indication of this. “
The Dalai Lama, amidst his uncasing activities towards promoting the noble Buddhist teachings as for global peace and a war-free world, also focused from the inception on the many threat posed by global warming, especially many parts of the world transforming into arid deserts and billions of people of mother earth getting deprived of drinking water, and has vehemently reiterated in virtually all international forums, including in the UN, on the need for prompt and effective action towards arresting this destructive trend . He has reiterated even as recently as last month on the planet earth’s downward trend towards ‘no green but all rock and sand’ in an interview to a popular international news magazine. He has over the years repeatedly insisted on the UN and other international environmental organizations, governments and government leaders to take tangible and meaningful steps to stop the world becoming gradually deserts all over, the sea level rising and people starving to elimination. Some of his efforts, of course, have had salutary results but more concentrated efforts by world leaders are immediate need and he is steadfastly working on it. Let us hope that that under the Buddha’s divine guidance, his efforts bear fruits before long.
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama is a very rare gift to Buddhism and also to the modern world. I wish to concede my speech by wishing him many more years of healthy life and every success in his endeavors towards global peace and human happiness.