from Sri Sathya Sai International Center
The Sri Sathya Sai International Centre in Delhi began the
New Year with a lecture on 3rd January, by the Dalai Lama.
Lt. Gen.Dr.M.L.Chibber, Director of the Centre welcomed the
Guest of Honour and Dr. Karan Singh, eminent philosopher-statesman,
who presided over the function. The auditorium was packed
to capacity, even though it was one of the coldest days of
this winter. His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke for 45 minutes,
after which Dr. Karan Singh, delivered his presidential remarks.
Dalai Lama opened with the remark that the key to peace lies
in non-violence and tolerance, which is a 7000-year-old tradition
We can have peace only if we are able
to bring about an attitude of respect for religions, faiths
and belief systems other than our own. There is an interesting
fact to be noted about the great world religions. At the level
of philosophy there might be apparent differences among them;
but at the level of practice there is no difference.
When we study the ethics
or the practice advocated by the various faiths, there is
not much difference. They all believe in certain core human
values like Truth, Non-violence, Compassion, Love and Peace.
One of the important values is Truth. Truth lies in perceiving
Reality as it is. Reality can be experienced in its fullness,
only if one harbours positive emotions and not negative emotions.
It would not be correct
to say that we should have no emotions. A person without emotions
is a person without feeling. He is apt to be dry, distant,
cold, friendless, negative and vicious. The important thing
is not to harbour negative emotions.
Negative emotions are
emotions that are immature, narrow and cloudy. For example,
attachment and hatred are two such negative emotions. When
a person sees the world through the prism of attachment, he
would conclude that whatever he does is 100% right. And when
he sees someone else through the prism of hate, he would conclude
that whatever the other person does is 100% wrong. Nothing
in Nature is 100% right or wrong. Such a perception is merely
a mental projection, that distorts our appreciation of Reality,
creating more problems.
Positive emotions are
mature emotions because here emotion is combined with intelligence.
The application of intelligence leads to analysis and investigation.
Analysis leads to conviction. The disciplining of emotion
leads to a holistic vision of Reality. Everything is interconnected.
If one fails to see the interconnectedness and interdependence,
then it is a distorted vision. Examples of positive emotions
are faith and Compassion, which can be imbibed only through
a training of emotions.
Knowledge leads to
conviction. Conviction leads to determination. Determination
leads to familiarization. Familiarization leads to change
of emotion. The main attempt must be have a clear vision so
that we can see Reality as it truly is. Only then can we solve
the problems of life.
Cultivation of positive and noble emotions
leads one towards Compassion, Contentment, Forgiveness and
Self-discipline, in turn producing a calmness of Mind. When
there are no ripples in the Mind, it remains clear in its
vision of Reality. It sees a problem as it really is and is
able to solve it easily. Problems would then be unable to
disturb Peace of Mind. But if the Mind is weak, if it is assailed
by fear and doubt or too much of unbridled emotion, it would
find it difficult to face the arduous problems of life.
Life is bound to be
full of problems. Even if there are no other problems, one’s
own body suffers from the problems of illness, decay and death.
If problems are an integral part of our existence, we have
to be fully prepared to face these with calmness, placidity
In this process of
nurturing your inner self, it helps if you continue to remain
in the spiritual and religious tradition in which you have
been born. I am happy to see that Sathya Sai Baba has said
that his mission is not to convert people to other traditions.
He would like a Buddhist to be a better Buddhist, a Muslim
to be a better Muslim and a Hindu to be a better Hindu.
One should be serious
and sincere towards one’s own faith. This generates
a calm atmosphere both in the individual and the society.
Our inner experiences reach a deeper dimension.
Quite often, I get
the feeling that I am reciting verses that were taught to
me by my mother and teacher in my childhood. On certain days,
it seems to me that I am reciting the verses by rote and not
with my full heart and soul in it. The recitation then becomes
something of a burden. But later I realize that such daily
practice, although it appears to be monotonous and repetitive,
it silently and effortlessly builds my inner resources and
strength and help me to become a true follower of the Buddha.
In this audience there
is a plurality of faiths. This reality has to be accepted.
India has always believed in ahimsa in terms of acceptance
of other faiths. Gandhiji is a great example of inter-religious
harmony. He was a staunch Hindu, but he had a deep respect
for other faiths.
Buddha was also a true
Indian in this sense. He studied the faiths prevalent in India
in his time and practised a number of Hindu paths. After his
enlightenment, he taught the four noble truths. Buddha’s
philosophy of interdependence is his unique contribution to
world philosophy. The concept of interdependence is equally
true in the fields of economy, politics, defence and so on.
This gives a wider, holistic picture of any problem and brings
us closer to reality.
Buddha believed in
the human value of truth. He exhorted his followers to follow
the truth. When he enunciated the four noble truths, he also
analyzed the cause of suffering. His conclusion was that all
suffering was due to ignorance. He accepted the practice of
Samadhi. He also innovated the vipassana system, which can
be a very effective method for reducing attachment. He had
great respect for the other traditions.
This ideal of religious
tolerance is still alive in India at the village level. There
the followers of different faiths have lived together in peace
and harmony for the last several centuries. Multi-culturalism
and religious tolerance is practised in their daily lives.
It is only in recent
times that some politicians have created problems due to their
low level of awareness. They have too much attachment, which
leads to a narrowness of vision and a kind of shortsightedness.
It is important that these few people are not allowed to destroy
the rich 7000-year-old tradition of tolerance and harmony.
We can all live together and work together at individual and
In his presidential address, Dr. Karan described the Dalai
Lama as a unique combination of a natural sense of humour,
compassion, wisdom, and an infectious childlike laugh. He
demonstrated by his living example that Spirituality did not
necessarily mean a prissy, acidic outlook on life. On the
other hand, Spiritually-advanced souls were full of Ananda,
which often bubbled over into their conversation.
The Dalai Lama was also the epitome of Compassion. Compassion
was the essence of Buddhism. He had deep insight into the
nature of the world and man. He had nurtured Tibetan Diaspora
all over the world and helped them to organize themselves
into dynamic communities.
But apart from being the apostle of Tibetan Buddhism, he
had taken the Message of Love, Compassion and Peace to the
people of the world. He could be described as a great Warrior
of Peace. His services to the world community had been recognized
through the award of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Today the world was divided and split apart by fanaticism,
hatred and war. Against these demonic forces, we were sorely
in need of a countervailing coalition for Peace, led by personalities
like Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and the Dalai Lama.
In order to strengthen the forces of Peace, it was necessary
to first accept the fundamental fact that no religion could
claim a monopoly on Truth. Nor could we wage wars, crusades
and religious conflicts in the twenty-first century, in order
to compel others to adopt our point of view. Today, war meant
a nuclear conflict, which could easily result in the disappearance
of humanity from the face of the globe. We find ourselves
in an imperfect world and we have perforce to learn the art
of living together in peace and harmony.
India had always nurtured religious harmony through the ages.
Our seers had declared long ago that Truth was One and the
sages simply called it by different names. We needed to remember
these insights that had served this country through the millennia
of its existence.
Describing the discourse of the Dalai Lama
as illuminating, Dr. Karan Singh expressed his happiness at
the large presence of young people in the audience. With so
much of misinformation around, it was refreshing to drink
from a healing spring of knowledge, insight and wisdom.