Newark, New Jersey, USA, 13 May 2011 - On the morning of May 13th, His Holiness the Dalai Lama left for the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the venue of The Newark Peace Education Summit,a three-day conference focusing on peacemaking practices from around the world.
Panelists at the Newark Peace Education Summit in Newark, New Jersey, on May 13, 2011. Photo/AP
The morning session was on the theme of “Peace Within” and His Holiness’ co-panelists were Nobel Laureates Shirin Ebadiand Jody Williams; author and wellness proponent Dr. Deepak Chopra; Buddhist teacher Roshi Joan Halifax; activist and editor of Tikkun, a progressive Jewish interfaith magazine, Rabbi Michael Lerner; 93-year old yoga master Tao Porchon-Lynch; former death row inmate and writer Wilbert Rideau; and a 13-year old student activist Mahishan Gnanaseharan.
The panelists discussed the need for inner peace and the role of society in bringing about peace in the community. Expanding on his view that inner peace was a critical component in bringing about world peace His Holiness said that scientific findings indicate that individuals who are compassionate, truthful and sincere bring about a happy family atmosphere. He said warm-heartedness brings about trust and trust engenders happiness. He said there are negative outcomes when an individual lies or is hypocritical and that when a person is too polite, suspicion is created.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama with his interpreter Dr.Thupten Jinpa at the Newark Peace Education Summit in Newark , NewJersey, on May 13, 2011. Photo/AP
His Holiness said when there is too much anger and too much fear then there will not be a realistic approach. Without realistic approach there cannot be results, he said and added that this approach can only come about by seeing reality. His Holiness reality comes about through a holistic approach and that warm heartedness plays a role in this. He said only through a calm mind can there be an objective approach.
His Holiness joked to the audience of more than 1200 that they couldconsider him a “small Buddhist psychologist” explaining that mind and emotion have many varieties. He suggested that educational institutionsshould undertake more detailed study of the mind.
Emphasizing that peace of mind comes through individual action, His Holiness added, “You cannot buy peace of mind and wisdom in the super market. You cannot exploit others for wisdom.” He reiterated the need for internal disarmament and that only through this can there be external disarmament.
Participating in the discussions after hearing from those individuals who had direct experiences of social injustices as well as wrongdoing in the past, His Holiness said these indicated that the potential of doing negative and positive actions were present in everyone. He said through knowledge and education can positive thinking be inculcated and suggested that there was something lacking in modern education. He called for the incorporation of the teaching of inner values in the school education.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama in prayer in front of an Avalokitesvara sand mandala at the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey, on May 13, 2011. Photo/Raymond Adams
Followingthe morning session, His Holiness departed for the Newark Museum, whichis celebrating the 100th year of its internationally acclaimed Tibetan collection. According to the Museum, “Since the first 150 Tibetan objects were displayed here in 1911, the Newark Museum has become a steward of one of the foremost holdings of both secular and religious Tibetan art in the world. Today the collection numbers over 5,500 objects that range from the eleventh to the twenty-first century and is the largest and most important repository for Tibetan art in the Americas.” The Museum is currently in the midst of a nine-month Tibet Collection Centennial celebration, which began in March 2011, honoring Tibetan art, culture and history.
His Holiness said a prayers before an Avalokitesvara sand mandala that monks from the Drepung Gomang monastery had constructed in the museum and then went through the exhibits, which included statues, Tibetan painted scrolls, dress ornaments and other religious artifacts.
In the afternoon, His Holiness attended a luncheon where Newark Mayor Cory Booker made some introductory remarks. He praised His Holiness as “A Man who is from a specific cultural and geographic context and yet has transcended that.” The Mayor termed His Holiness’ visit to Newark was a pivotal achievement of his Mayorship. The Mayor talked about the need for persistence in achieving peace.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker (standing)speaking with His Holiness at a luncheon in Newark, New Jersey, on May 13, 2011. Photo/Raymond Adams
In his remarks His Holiness thanked the Mayor for his meaningful remarks. He suggested that there have been many such meetings on peace in the past and feels that there is something special this time. He, however, said speeches alone were not sufficient and urged the people to think of how the spirit of the summit could reach the masses saying educators could be involved in this. Such an approach will encourage the generation of conviction that we all have the potential to create a happy society.
Earlier, while conveying his feeling about meeting His Holiness, Mayor Booker told the media, “I wouldn’t call it nervous. I would call it a sense of anticipation. He is someone who’s books I have read and such an emissary of peace and justice. It’s just an extraordinary opportunity for Newark.”
His Holiness then went to participate in the afternoon session of the summit, which was on “Peace in the Home.” His co-panelists for this session were Nobel Laureates Shirin Ebadi and Nobel Laureate Jody Williams; Nancy Black, who provides training in child and adolescent psychiatry; David Kerr, who provide substance abuse treatment and support services in Newark; Somaly Mam from Cambodia who rescues women from brothrel; Marian Schreck who runs a therapeutic community for the prevention and treatment of substance abuse; Sam Tsemberis, who provide housing and support services to the homeless; Lavar Young, who runs a program to provide Newark residents with support to transform their neighborhoods; and Yvonna Wade, a youth representative.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama greets 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi,of Iran at the the Newark Peace Education Summit Friday, in Newark, New Jersey, on May 13, 2011. Photo/AP
Inhis remarks His Holiness emphasized the importance of affection in the family. He said that while establishing relationship people should learnto differentiate between external beauty and inner beauty. He said external beauty may be important but inner beauty was more important. Hesaid there is bound to be disagreement and quarreling but people shouldnot have any ill feelings.
His Holiness subsequently took part in the discussion. He said he was moved by the experience of people who have been in the forefront of campaign against such social problems. He said that it was important that more people know their stories in order to give them hope.
The summit is organized by Tibet House U.S. and a foundation run by Mr. Drew Katz, a philanthropist and longtime supporter of anti-crime efforts in Newark in New Jersey In a message about the summit, Prof. Robert A.F. Thurman, Summit Co-Convener, said, “When His Honor Mayor Cory Booker invited His Holiness to bring his inspiration to Newark, to empower the turnaround the Mayor is leading — from hopelessness to hope,from violence to dialogue, from confusion to education, and from oppression to opportunity — His Holiness was enthusiastic to make his contribution to that noble effort, while learning from the hard working people of Newark how they are struggling to better their lives and the lives of those around them.
His Holiness participates in two panel discussions at the summit on May 14, 2011.
As a child, my mother Enid often said to me, “There is no such thing as a silly question,” and then would add, “unless.” This latter word was left hanging, and I eventually realised that it was up to me to learn the depth of its meaning.
At the same time that Enid was planting seeds for reflection, my first spiritual teacher, Ven. Lama Senge Tashi, encouraged me to cultivate more skilful thoughts, speech and actions. Sometimes I would try to verbally assert “I” or “Me,” and Lama would respond with, “Who is speaking?” or “Who is asking?”
During the Covid-19 pandemic a dharma sister passed from this life. Her name was Robyn. Although she did not call herself a Buddhist, nevertheless, Robyn had a special connection with the deity Medicine Buddha.
Over the six years that I worked with her, in my role as a hospital chaplain, Robyn frequently asked me to chant the mantra of Medicine Buddha and guide her through the visualisation. During her many stays in hospital, this particular practice brought comfort to her while she was experiencing chronic pain, anxiety and fear of the unknown. The medications she took would sometimes cloud her memory, so I would guide her through the details of the visualisation and begin chanting:
Once, as I was about to hold a summer Dharma class on a beach, as the first students began to arrive for the session I picked up two rocks and carefully placed them, one on top of the other, on to a much larger rock base. Observing what I had just done, three students approached: a young married couple and their five year old son.
True Seeing (Ven. Shih Jingang) One day, while Little Pebble and his Master were walking through a garden, the old teacher stopped to look at a white rose in full bloom. He motioned for his young disciple to join him, and they both sat down near where the flower was growing.
‘Little Pebble,’ said the Master, ‘when you look at this object, tell me what you think about it.’
‘The flower is pretty,’ stated the boy. ‘I like it.’
‘’’Flower,” you say. “Pretty, like it,” you say,’ replied the Master, looking to see how his young disciple reacted. Then he added, ‘Mind creates names like flower, and thoughts of like and dislike, pretty and ugly. This mind is small and closed, but if you can see beyond it to the nature of mind, then all is vast like space, completely open to all things. In this state of awareness, there is neither a flower nor a non-flower. Understand?’
But the young disciple did not quite understand, so his Master continued, ‘Little one, come here each day,
One day, Little Pebble went to his teacher, and said, ‘Master, my friend’s dog Tiger died.’
The look on Little Pebble’s face told the old monk that he was troubled. ‘Little one, do you have any questions?’
‘Master, where did Tiger go?’
‘Where did you come from?’ asked the old monk.
‘From my mummy’s tummy.’
‘And where did Mummy come from?’
Little Pebble couldn’t think of an answer.
The Master regarded his young disciple for a moment, then said, ‘Remember, when you made shapes with mud and named them Mummy, Daddy, Master?’
“Calling forth the Great Compassion, we are one with our True Nature; that which is directly Buddha, also indirectly Buddha. Oneness with the Triple Treasure, endless, joyous, perfect being. Morning thought is Kuan-Shih-Yin, evening thought is Kuan-Shih-Yin. All present thoughts arise from Mind, no thought exists apart from Mind.”
These are the words of the Ten Verse Life-Prolonging Kuan-Yin Sutra. Who is reciting them?
A few blocks away, an old man is crying out for help and someone hears. He is a brother, sister, father, mother from a previous life. A phone is picked up and then there are footsteps running towards the sound, “Help me! Help...” Someone sees the old man sitting on the top step, near the front door of his house.
No past, no present, no future. All created things arise and pass away. All names and labels dissolve. You can observe this in meditation practice and, in experiencing impermanence in life and so-called death.
At the conclusion of the Diamond Sutra, it is said that, this is how we should view our conditioned existence: as a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream, a drop of dew, a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, a flickering lamp, a phantom and a dream.
Today I sit alone in a house. The government of the country in which I live has requested that I stay here in isolation for the health and safety of the community both here and abroad. Countless others are doing the same thing, except that some call it a forced lock down, or an obstacle to their free movement. I see this as an opportunity to practice.
The Buddha taught that the suffering connected with birth, sickness, old age and death is a fact of life for sentient beings in Samsara. But so is the possibility of transcendence from Samsaric suffering.
So, for a practitioner, the question is not just “Why?” but also “How?” Why do I/we suffer and, how do I/we overcome suffering? The answer to the former is found in intuitively recognizing (the 3 Poisons): harmful habits of attachment, anger and ignorance; and the answer to the latter lies in resolving to study and practice the Noble Eightfold Path (the antidote) and, fully realizing Buddhahood for the benefit of a
In the Dhammapada, the Buddha says, “What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: our life is the creation of our mind.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has given many millions of people worldwide time to reflect on their lives and habits of thought, speech and action.
I know quite a few who have found a refuge of peace in their gardens. Cultivating, planting seeds, adding water and nutrients all help in maintaining a healthy garden. They are also a necessary part in taking care of our bodies. But what about the mind? Generosity, ethics, loving-kindness, compassion, meditative concentration and wisdom are the food for our inner spiritual garden. Without them there is no harvest, no fruit of Awakening, Buddhahood.
As a child my parents encouraged questions, as did my Heart Lama. However, the latter person gave me two questions to ask before speaking: “will what I am wanting to say, and the way I say it, be helpful or harmful to myself/others? Also, does the question come from ‘I don’t know’ (beginner’s mind), or from a place of judgement and opinions?” The aim was/is to cultivate the mind to be like an empty vessel, not one filled to the brim and overflowing where nothing new can enter.