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Dalai Lama calls for embracing diversity, secular thoughts to foster tolerance

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GANGTOK, Dec 12: Tibetan spiritual guru the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, on Tuesday imparted Buddhist religious teachings to around 30,000 devotees at Gangtok’s Palzor stadium, calling to embrace diversity and secular thoughts to foster tolerance among people.

The Dalai Lama is on a four-day visit to the Himalayan state after a gap of 10 years.

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The 87-year-old Buddhist monk started his sermon by emphasising inner peace and happiness, promoting dialogue among different faiths, and addressing global issues through a compassionate lens.

“All religions are the same,” he said, adding that all faiths teach compassion and non-violence to the believers.

“Let us all embrace diversity and secular thoughts to foster better understanding, tolerance, and shared values among all people. By upholding these ideals, societies can strive for inclusivity, harmony, and collective well-being of all people,” the Tibetan spiritual guru said.

All major traditions preach love and kindness although there may be different methods and philosophies, he said.

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He recited a prayer, invoking Avalokiteshvara, for those who lost their lives in the recent floods in Sikkim and for the peace and happiness of the people of the region.

“Our religion teaches us to even forgive the perpetrators of atrocities on us,” the 14th Dalai Lama said while delivering the teaching on Gyalsey Thokme Sangpo’s 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva (‘Laklen Sodunma’) and the ceremony of generation of Bodhichitta (‘Semkye’).

The 37 Practices of Bodhisattva (‘Laklen Sodunma’) is an ancient text written in the 14th Century BCE by Tokme Sangpo, a Buddhist monk and an exponent of scripture and reasoning, who was born in Puljung, south-west of the Sakya monastery in Tibet.

It was composed by a monk in a cave in ‘Ngulchu Rinchen’ for the benefit of all sentient beings as a guideline for their day-to-day behaviour to achieve Bodhisattva, an enlightened being on his or her way to attain full Buddhahood.

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It serves as a practical guide for those people seeking to travel on the path of enlightenment.

The Dalai Lama said there is no better way to create merit, purify misdeeds or bring benefit to others than following the path of Bodhisattva.

“By examining the status of one’s mind with continuous mindfulness and alertness, one can bring about the good in other,” he said, adding that this is the practice of all Bodhisattvas.

“If you cultivate Bodhichitta on a daily basis, it will yield more benefits to yourself,” the Dalai Lama said.

The religious teachings by the Dalai Lama were followed by the prayers for his long and a healthy life, with the performing of a ceremony by representatives of the Sikkim government and the Tibetan community of the state.

Governor Lakshman Acharya and chief minister Prem Singh Tamang led the ceremony, praying for a long and healthy life to the Dalai Lama.

A colourful dance was performed by the troupes of the Tibetan and Sikkimese communities in the honour of the Dalai Lama.

The Tibetan spiritual guru also virtually laid the foundation of the Karmapa Park project at Rumtek, where a 52-feet copper statue of the 16th Karmapa will be installed at the cost of Rs 70 crore by 2026, and the Gyalwa Lhatsun Chenpo Statue Project at Simik in east Sikkim.

In his address, the CM extended a warm welcome to the Dalai Lama and said his divide words and blessings will serve as the guiding light for the Himalayan state.

The CM also offered a ‘khada’ (ceremonial stole) to the Dalai Lama as a mark of respect.

The Dalai Lama is scheduled to grace a state lunch hosted in his honour by the CM at Samman Bhawan on Wednesday.

He will leave Sikkim for Siliguri on Thursday, where he is scheduled to impart ‘Semkye’ teachings at Sed-Gued monastery in Salugara area.

Elaborate security and traffic arrangements were made in and around the state capital for the visit of the Dalai Lama.

Around 30,000 people from across the world, including dignitaries, officers, monks and people from all walks of life started making a beeline to the stadium since early in the morning in biting cold. Some traversed on foot, while others availed shuttle bus services arranged by the state government till the stadium.

Large LED screens were put up on MG Marg and Chintan Bhavan for those who could not make it to the venue of the programme. Traffic restrictions were in place and all shops, barring eateries and restaurants, remained closed till 1 pm.

The Dalai Lama’s scheduled visit to Sikkim in October had been cancelled due to a flash flood that claimed the lives of scores of people and displaced thousands.

He had last visited the Himalayan state in 2013, when he had come to consecrate the statue of Lord Buddha at the Buddha Park in Ravangla. (PTI)


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