From the Huffington Post:
The Dalai Lama will celebrate his 80th birthday this summer with a Global Compassion Summit in Southern California, the nonprofit Friends of the Dalai Lama announced Thursday.
The spiritual leader will kick off three days of events focusing on the role of compassion in the world by speaking July 5 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, according to the organizers. The Dalai Lama's birthday is July 6.
The next two days of events at the University of California, Irvine, will include discussions with the Dalai Lama’s friends, fellow Nobel laureates, and other leaders with whom he has collaborated or shares common values on working toward universal peace, according to the announcement.
“His Holiness has devoted his life's work to positively guide audiences all over the world to open their minds and hearts to peaceful and compassionate existence,” the Venerable Lama Tenzin Dhonden, the Dalai Lama's personal emissary for peace and the founder and chair of Friends of the Dalai Lama, said in a statement.
WHY the DALAI LAMA MATTERS - by Robert Thurman
Introduction: Imagine how it would be if environmentalism, tolerance, respect for diversity, generosity, and gentleness were taught every day to every child, in every home and place of worship. Imagine if we had a model of how to resolve conflict - personal or national - through respectful dialogue and peaceful coexistence. Imagine if these teachings were made widely available on television and the Internet, plentiful for all traditions. Imagine if people were thus taught widely and open-mindedly about the commonalities between their faiths and those of others, becoming immunized against religious prejudice and hatred.
Imagine these things happening worldwide and you are seeing the world the Dalai Lama leads us toward. To empower him here, to make his act of truth inspire more widely, the world needs his country and his people to be free. Not necessarily independent from China, but free to enjoy and preserve and develop their beautiful Tibetan culture, within their traditional homeland, and to share it openly with the world.
The Dalai Lama is a giant of spiritual development - a living exemplar of the best qualities of a Buddhist monk, an inspired practioner and teacher of the ethical, religious, and philosophical paths of the bodhisattva, a Sanskrit term suggesting a cross between a wise saint and compassionate messiah. He is believed to be a conscious reincarnation of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of universal compassion. As such, it might seem that his great attainments and vast deeds in this lifetime have spontaneously emerged from his practice in previous lives, as if he had done nothing special to develop himself during this life.
If we think that way, we might find feel he is so far beyond our capacity, though we might enjoy his presence, learn from his teaching, and thrive on devotion to him, there is nothing much we can do to emulate him. This would not please him at all. In relying on a Buddhist teacher or "spiritual friend," veneration through devotion and service through actions are important, but it is far more important to actualize his teachings by putting them into practice in our own lives.
Shakyamuni Buddha himself was not some sort of primal divinity or a buddha from the beginning. He was like us, even an animal, in many previous lives. He struggled with passions and flaws, misunderstandings and inabilities just as we do. Yet he practiced Dharma - the path to personal liberation and enlightenment - and finally overcame his inadequacies and ultimately became the shining, perfect Buddha who showed us the way to freedom, love, and happiness. Similarly, we must remember that while the Dalai Lama is a monumental spiritual force, he is still human like us and it is within our means to strive to emulate him.
What the Dalai Lama Represents Today
It is not merely that the Dalai lama represents Buddhism. He is much more than a nominal leader of an organization. He does not seek to convert anyone to Buddhism. "Buddhism" is not a world organization competing with other organized world religions, seeking strength in numbers. It is an age-old movement of education and conscious evolution. It seeks to educate people's hearts and minds for freedom and happiness, no matter what their ideology.
It is a teaching of the reality of selflessness and global interconnectedness. The Dalai Lama is a simple Buddhist monk, an adept mind scientist, a thorough scholar, a spiritual teacher, a diplomat, a Noble Peace Prize Laureate, an apostle of nonviolence, an advocate of intelligence and universal responsibility, and the living exemplar of what he calls "our common human religion of kindness."
In "being a good Buddhist" therefore, he thinks of secular humanism as another world religion; he brings it into dialogue with spirituality in his book "Ethics for the New Millennium."
Thus, the Dalai Lama has always considered secularism, with all its communist and capitalist forms, to be a kind of world religion, since he has observed that supposedly nonreligious ideology can also become fanatical and therefore powerfully intrusive in molding people's lives.
The Dalai Lama has caused an enormous amount of progress in developing dialogue, mutual understanding, and real tolerance between the various world religions.
The Dalai Lama should certainly be included in any international register of the ten most influencial people in the world, much more so than many heads of state. In addition to each of the many honors he has received, he has personally met, impressed, and touched the hearts of kings and queens, prime ministers, mayors, chancellors, university presidents, provosts, state governors, congresspeople, and senators.
During various award ceremonies, he has reached out heart-to-heart with the community - 32,000 at Rutgers University, 20,000 at Harvard, 26,000 at Emory, plus large crowds in Europe and Australia. The books he has written on many subjects have been read by millions of people in more than 30 languages, a number of them becoming best sellers in many countries. It can be evidently seen how the Dalai Lama, through his deep connectness to the minds and hearts of many beings around the world, has a truly oceanic influence.
The Vastness of the Dalai Lama's "Ocean"
The Dalai lama's international role, in his many books, his honors received all over the world, and his meetings with dignitaries and celebrities begins to give a sense of his impact around the globe. These accomplishments reveal him as the Dalai, the grand ocean of intelligence, kindness and responsibility.
The Dalai Lama has become a "network being," connected to many of the world's ruling and former presidents, ministers, intellectuals, executives, financiers, media celebrities, artists, actors, and private individuals of wealth and influence, as well as millions of ordinary people through his lectures, books, films, and media appearances.
The Dalai Lama leads in reconciling science and religion in a better partnership, especially in the context of restoring the environment. Besides his natural curiosity about modern science and his admiration of the technological achievements of the scientists, he would like to contribute from the sophisticated inner or spiritual science of Buddhism some perspectives to balance the materialistic reductionism that currently hampers Western scientific progress, especially in the areas of psychology and the subtler levels of the physical sciences.
The key point here is that the Buddhist religion does not consider blind faith a good thing, but considers reason a necessary complement to a healthy faith.
During the 1990s the Dalai Lama frequently gave his four reasons for optimism about the 21st century:
1.) People at large in all countries are less hopeful that war can ever solve any problem satisfactorily.
2.) People do not trust in big massive systems, such as communism and capitalism, so much any more, but think individual effort is more important.
3.) People are more interested in spiritual perspectives on life's meaning and values choices than in the dictates of materialistic science alone.
4.) People no longer take the environment for granted or just throw things away into it carelessly, but make a real effort to preserve the environment.
- from "Why the Dalai Lama Matters " - by Robert Thurman
DALAI LAMA ENDORSES VEGETARIANISM - from Ecorazzi
To celebrate World Compassion Day yesterday (Nov. 28) the Dalai Lama joined Wayne Pacelle, President of the Humane Society of the United States, for an event centered around animal welfare and vegetarianism. The conference, organized by HSI (the international branch of the HSUS) also marked the opening of the organization’s new India office.
While on stage, His Holiness explained why he initially decided to become a vegetarian – and why more must be done to educate youth on compassion towards all life.
“I was not vegetarian till about five decades ago, but when I saw hens being abused on an animal farm, I decided to become vegetarian,” he said. “The media must play an important role, and even the younger generation must be informed about moral ethics through education.”
When a student asked him for his views on meat, the 77-year-old said with a smile: “A vegetarian diet is the most healthy one for you. We must respect all forms of life.”
If you’ve followed this site for any length of time, you’ll know that while we’re big fans of the Dalai Lama and all that he does, we’re also often puzzled by his comments on the vegetarian lifestyle. Even Paul McCartney once wrote him when he discovered that he surprisingly was not a vegetarian.
“Then I found out he was not a vegetarian, so I wrote to him saying, ‘Forgive me for pointing this out, but if you eat animals then there is some suffering somewhere along the line’,” McCartney told Prospect Magazine in 2008. “He replied saying that his doctors had told him he needed it, so I wrote back saying they were wrong.”
In 2010, His Holiness expanded on his diet saying:
“In vinaya no prohibition in eating meat. So monks in Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, they take both veg and non veg food. One time I asked, discussed this subject with a monk from Sri Lanka about 40 years ago, he said Buddhist monks are neither veg nor non veg… he should accept whatever he gets, so that’s the principle. But vinaya clearly mentions that meat which was purposely killed for you was not to be eaten but in general was not prohibited, some books like langaavatarasutra prohibited any kind of meat, including fish etc but some other texts not prohibiting, so different case, I think practically in northern part of Tibet, no vegetables. Very difficult. So that’s practical reason.”
While some in the comments criticized the Dalai Lama as lazy, others wisely advised seeking a deeper understanding of Tibetan Buddhism.
“He means he didn’t chose an animal, and then have it killed specifically for him–rather it had been killed for someone else and who then offered it to him,” wrote one commenter. “It goes back to the Buddha traveling through northern India and accepting whatever was offered to him–and he did eat meat–dying from eating rotted pig.”
“Odd thing about all this is many Tibetans, even today, will have animals killed by the Muslims who live in Tibet, in order to avoid accumulating bad karma. Of course I have often wondered, in Buddhism, wouldn’t knowingly putting someone at risk for developing bad karma be equally as bad simply killing an animal yourself?”
In a blog on the HSUS site, Wayne Pacelle said the Dalai Lama is not currently a vegetarian, despite his belief that it’s the best diet.
“Today, in his extended public remarks on animal issues, he mentioned that he’s been back and forth on his vegetarianism through his eight decades, and is not a vegetarian now,” wrote Wayne. “But he condemned factory farming, and specifically the rearing of hens in battery cages. He said that being vegetarian is better for us and better for animals, and that South Indian vegetarian food is his favorite cuisine. Throughout his entire speech and in the question and answer session that followed, he wore a Humane Society International baseball cap, which delighted me even though it clashed with his Buddhist monastic robe.”
So – interesting. Of course, it’s this author’s opinion that the best kind of compassion is a vegan diet, but one step at a time.
“Animals deserve our compassion,” His Holiness said. “We must know their pain. We should nurture this compassion through education. Showing concern about animal rights is respecting their life.”
One of the world's most respected spiritual leaders - the 14th Dalai Lama - has repeatedly spoken in favor of vegetarianism, and he also favors animal rights causes.
A few years ago, the author of this blog mailed a letter to the Dalai Lama (to his Dharamsala, India address), and his personal secretary replied that His Holiness was very much in favor of vegetarianism. The information below was obtained from PETA's KFC website and other websites concerning the Dalai Lama.
In his appeal, His Holiness writes, “On behalf of my friends at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), I am writing to ask that KFC abandon its plan to open restaurants in Tibet, because your corporation’s support for cruelty and mass slaughter violate Tibetan values … I have been particularly concerned with the sufferings of chickens for many years. It was the death of a chicken that finally strengthened my resolve to become vegetarian. … These days, when I see a row of plucked chickens hanging in a meat shop it hurts. I find it unacceptable that violence is the basis of some of our food habits. … It is therefore quite natural for me to support those who are currently protesting against the introduction of industrial food practices into Tibet that will perpetuate the suffering of huge numbers of chickens."
In the mid 1960s, the Dalai Lama was impressed by ethically vegetarian Indian monks and adopted a vegetarian diet for about a year and a half. While he has eaten meat in moderation ever since, the Dalai Lama has repeatedly acknowledged that a vegetarian diet is a worthy expression of compassion and contributes to the cessation of the suffering of all living beings. However, he eats meat only on alternate days (six months a year). He is a semi- vegetarian, though he wishes to be a full one. By making an example of cutting his meat consumption in half, he is trying to gently influence his followers.
This Thanksgiving, staff of the Fund for Animals are thanking the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, for recent statements in support of animal rights. In an audience with representatives of The Fund for Animals earlier this month, the Dalai Lama commended the animal rights movement for working to end the suffering of animals, and urged everyone to consider a vegetarian diet. Speaking with The Fund for Animals' national director, Heidi Prescott, and program coordinator, Norm Phelps, the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize recipient said, "People think of animals as if they were vegetables, and that isn't right. We have to change the way people think about animals. I encourage the Tibetan people and all people to move toward a vegetarian diet that doesn't cause suffering."
His Holiness also condemned the abuse and killing of animals for entertainment purposes, such as the practice of hunting wild animals for sport. The Dalai Lama invited the Fund for Animals to work with his government in exile in India to help encourage people to become vegetarian and to protect animals from suffering.
GUIDANCE of LOVE - The Benefits of Being Vegetarian and Concern for the Living Being http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1SgntyIjlo
The Dalai Lama talks about the value of vegetarianism in this YouTube video: I wholeheartedly support and compliment you on your campaign for raising the awareness of the faults of consuming meat and for promoting a vegetarian lifestyle.
The Buddha Dharma is basically rooted in compassion. All living beings cherish their own lives. Therefore, it is extremely clear that one who is practicing Buddha Dharma must refrain from killing. Not only Buddhism but also many other religious traditions, including Western Christian traditions and particularly Jainism are well known for practicing a pure, non - violent vegetarian path. They gave up eating meat out of their concern for the rights of the animals themselves.
Nowadays, groups of people within countries like China are also purely vegetarian. Previously in Tibet, due to the high altitude, freezing weather and lack of vegetables, we Tibetans had to eat meat, especially the nomads who had no other means of sustenance. Accordingly, the great masters of the past did not restrict meat - eating in Tibet. However, in the biography of Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol, it is stated while he was in Lhasa he mentioned the prohibition of eating meat to the Dalai Lama and his teacher.
Tseley Ngatsok Rangdrol took 3 commitments which were: refraining from riding horses, abstaining from eating meat and not accepting offerings for teachings.
Nowadays, due to the ease of transportation and more favorable conditions, different varieties of vegetables and fruits are available. Since we ourselves have all the favorable conditions, we should try as much as possible to be vegetarian. For instance, I myself gave up meat and eggs completely at the age of 65 and became a pure vegetarian for more than 20 months . . .
The Gyalwang Karmapa is the 17th Karmapa - a great Bodhisattva - and he is considered to be the Dalai Lama's future successor. The Gyalwang Karmapa, himself a pure vegetarian, gave a discourse on vegetarianism:
“When I spoke about this, I was primarily thinking about the way I lead my own life. I can’t really do anything about how other people lead their lives, but in terms of thinking about myself there are some reasons for this.” He then explained two key reasons that he personally does not eat meat. The first reason is the intense suffering that the animals who are killed go through. Every single day millions of animals are killed to feed us, and many are subjected to terrible conditions to provide us with food. Just a few days previously the Gyalwang Karmapa had shared a story of how, as a child in Tibet, when animals were killed for his family’s food he felt unbearable, pure compassion for them.
The second reason he doesn’t eat meat, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued, is because of his Mahayana training in seeing all sentient beings as his mothers. “We say I am going to do everything I can to free sentient beings from suffering. We say I am going to do this. We make the commitment. We take the vow. Once we have taken this vow, if then, without thinking anything about it, we just go ahead and eat meat, then that is not okay. It is something that we need to think about very carefully.”
GUIDANCE of LOVE - The Benefits of Being Vegetarian and Concern for the Living Being http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1SgntyIjlo
From the Karmapa: " The Buddha forbade meat - eating in the Kalachakra, and also the Mahayana sutras such as the Lankavatara sutra, the Mahaparinirvana sutra and the Angulimala sutra. Thus there are proper reasons given to illustrate the need for us to give up eating meat. Moreover, if a vegetarian diet is implemented, it is beneficial from every angle; therefore there are very many arguments for it."
LAMA ZOPA RINPOCHE on WHY GREAT MASTERS EAT MEAT
Lama Zopa Rinpoche is one of the outstanding living Tibetan Buddhist masters. Regarding great masters who eat meat he said: "There are many persons—buddhas, bodhisattvas, dakas and dakinis—who benefit others, but aren’t vegetarian. Some bodhisattvas eat meat and some don’t eat meat—it is their choice, to do whatever is most beneficial for sentient beings. Their decision is made on the basis of benefiting sentient beings, not because they like to eat meat. They have a great purpose to benefit sentient beings, and some are vegetarian and some are not."
Lama Zopa continues: "Of course, individually we can’t say everyone who eats meat is bad. Many manifestations of buddhas, bodhisattvas and great yogis, who have very high tantric realizations on the basis of the three principals of the path, they eat meat, but they don’t eat it with the self-cherishing thought. They eat it to purify the animal’s negative karma, so that animal has a good rebirth, meets the Dharma in future lives, is reborn in a pure land, and achieves enlightenment as quickly as possible. So it is done to benefit the animals. When it comes to the individual person like that, it is a great, great, great blessing."
EXCERPTS from the DALAI LAMA'S BOOK "MIND in COMFORT and EASE":
Forward: His Holiness the Dalai Lama is one of the great spiritual leaders of our age. He has devoted his whole life to furthering the well-being of humanity for over 40 years and has traveled all over the world, sharing his message of human values, universal responsibility, and compassion. It is a message that grows more pertinent as each day goes by.
What His Holiness has shown, and so many people respond to with alacrity and joy, is that altruism and caring for others hold the very meaning of life and that by training the mind with compassion, we can become better human beings, we can treat others with love and respect, and we can find happiness and peace. With his sincerity and his humanity, for countless people His Holiness is the still center in a chaotic and violent world.
One dimension in which His Holiness the Dalai Lama has played a unique and critical role is the development of Buddhism in the West. He is a master scholar whose teachings are studied like those of the learned panditas of the past, but at the same time his knowledge and experience allow him to translate and relate the Buddhadharma to modern life in a persuasively immediate and accessible way. His brilliant and far-reaching dialogue with the world of science has demonstrated unequivocally the extraordinary depth and power of the Buddhist teachings and what they have to offer.
Dalai Lama: "Here we are basically all just human beings, and we are all the same. Our minds work in the same way, and we experience the same kind of emotions and feelings. There is one thing we have in common and which we need to be aware of: that we possess the capacity to become good human beings and to make our lives happy. It is up to us. Equally, we have the power to render our lives unhappy, and not only experience individual misfortune and sorrow but also to cause pain and misery to those around us and bring ruin to others. Looking at it like this, there is no difference between us.
Sometimes you might wonder: What is the point of having such a diversity of religions, metaphysical views and philosophies? Their aim is to tame this mind of ours and help us develop into good human beings. From the point of view of training the mind, all spiritual traditions are more or less the same and possess this same potential."
Dalai Lama: Holy Places Transmit Blessings
"And places can also transmit blessings to individuals. First, a place is made holy by a spiritually realized being who transmits his or her blessings there. Then, at some later date, when beginners like ourselves go to that place, we can receive the blessings from it. And because of the power with which the place has imbued, any virtuous actions we perform there become more powerful."
His Holiness has said: "I think the main point is to try to be a good human being. This is the way to give meaning to our present existence and to all the existences to come . . . At any rate, as the Buddha said, it is up to us to travel the path. It is entirely in our hands: we are our own guide and our own protector. So, be diligent in your practice.
Finding peace and happiness in our minds with the aide of some outside ingredients is highly unlikely."
Here is a verse from "The Way of the Bodhisattva":
Like the earth and other great elements,
And like space itself, may I remain forever,
To support the lives of boundless beings,
By providing all that they might need.
Further on in "The Way of the Bodhisattva" we find:
For as long as space exists
And sentient beings endure,
May I too remain,
To dispel the misery of the world.
To recite prayers of aspiration like these has an extraordinarily powerful effect on our minds.
- by the Dalai Lama
1.) LIFE RELEASE: A Buddhist Practice of Saving Animals' Lives
2.) DALAI LAMA: Buddhist Monks Reflections on Ecological Responsibility
3.) DHARMA VOICES for ANIMALS: GREAT CHATRAL RINPOCHE on BENEFITS of SAVING ANIMALS' LIVES
4.) PETA: THE DALAI LAMA CALLS for an end to ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS
5.) KARMAPA: LIKELY SUCCESSOR to the DALAI LAMA
6.) THE KARMAPA IS A STRICT VEGETARIAN
7.) THE HEART is NOBLE: KARMAPA'S WRITINGS on VEGETARIANISM, FEMINISM, ENVIRONMENT, COMPASSION
8.) LAMA ZOPA RINPOCHE: ON HELPING ANIMALS & VEGETARIANISM
9.) AN INSIGHTFUL VEGETARIAN ESSAY & MANIFESTO - by Supreme Master Ching Hai
10.) KILLING is BAD KARMA: EASTERN VS. WESTERN VIEWS of ANIMALS
11.) AUTOBIOGRAPHY of a SEEKER of SAINTS - A MUST READ