Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Dalai Lama and the Mantra

"Lord Buddha was himself a scientist in the way he taught about the way of bringing the mind under control for leading a healthy life. Mind is formless and beyond matters, yet it controls everything," (The Dalai Lama, December 18, 2009)

I've just received (and am happy to have received) the "Dalai Lama Mantra". It is a powerpoint presentation, begins:

This is a nice reading, but short. Enjoy. This is what the Dalai Lama has to say for 2009. All it takes is a few seconds to read and think over. Do not keep this message. The mantra must leave your hands within 96 hours. You will get a very pleasant surprise. This is true for all - even if you are not superstitious - of whatever religious belief.... faith.

There follows some very beautiful illustrations, each with a selected maxim, for example

Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
Follow the three Rs:
Respect for self
Respect for others and
Responsibility for all your actions.
Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

Unfortunately, it does not originate with the Dalai Lama.

Snopes (the site specialising in bogus emails and the like) notes that the same one has been going around for some time. In an earlier incarnation, it said:

This is what The Dalai Lama has to say on the millennium, all it takes is a few seconds to read and think. Do not keep this message. The mantra must leave your hands within 96 hours. You will get a very pleasant surprise. This is true even if you are not superstitious.

Snopes comments that:

Neither this chain message nor its "Instructions for Life" originated with His Holiness. The "Instructions for Life" are a truncated version of a much longer list that worked its way around the Internet in 1999 in conjunction with an ASCII art representation of a "Nepalese Good Luck Tantra Totem" (the list was also sometimes identified as being a "modern Japanese good luck tantra"):

One of the singular things about its maxims is that they are not specifically Buddhist. There is nothing on the Four Noble Truths, yet when the Dalai Lamai was speaking in India on 19th December 2009, he delivered a discourse on "The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism", and also made reference to Buddhism in his talk:

The Dalai Lama said that utilization of human intelligence and wisdom for attaining the purity of mind and for one's advancement was very important in Buddhism. He made it clear that his discourses are not mere ritualistic nor religious but the ocassion should be treated as an educational seminar. The Dalai Lama at the end of the discourse gave opportunity to the audience to ask questions. He replied to all the questions and invited even arguments on important issues.

The Dalai Lama said that the distinction of Buddhism from other religious cults was that it does  not believe in atma. This similarity could also be found in Jainsim. He said that there are certain cases of rebirth which he himself had come across and it was for the science to investigate these cases. He also asserted that the big bang theory of scientists goes very well with Buddhist phitlosophy as it doesn't believe in the theory of creation of something by someone.

In fact, on 1 September, 2009, the Dalai Lama was in Taiwan, and there was a mantra chanted:

Awaiting the spiritual leader's arrival, members of the audience chanted om mani padme hum - the most commonly recited Buddhist mantra - in unison...The leader led the audience in reciting Buddhist chants and commented on the teachings of the Buddha.

So there is a strong Buddhist theme running through his teachings, and it is from these roots that he finds the source of his wisdom, so that he can say:

In regard to this, there is a statement in the great Shantideva's Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds which says, As long as space exists, and as long as there are migrators in cyclic existence, may I remain removing their sufferings. I have that wish in this lifetime, and I know I had that wish in past lifetimes.

And from these roots, he speaks out to the shared humanity of all peoples. Here is an example from his question and answer session on his website www.dalailama.com, which is a good way to end this piece, and a good message for Christmas:

All human beings are the same. We all want happiness and do not want suffering. Even people who do not believe in religion recognize the importance of these human values in making their lives happier. I remain committed to talk about the importance of these human values and share them with everyone I meet. Secondly, on the level of a religious practitioner, my second commitment is the promotion of religious harmony and understanding amongst different religious traditions. Despite philosophical differences, all major world religions have the same potential to create better human beings. It is therefore important for all religious traditions to respect one another and recognize the value of each other's respective traditions.

Links
http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/hoaxes/dalai.asp 
http://www.dalailama.com/news/post/471-make-buddha-vihara-a-centre-of-learning-dalai-lama 
http://www.dalailama.com/biography/questions-and-answers

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