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Relevance of Buddhism In Changing Times

The Dalai Lama, Times of India, May 2, 2007

New Delhi, India -- The 20th century witnessed great changes that took place as a result of experiments and developments in a broad range of human activities, in economics, politics, and science.

<< The 2,500-year-old Buddha Dharma has a special role to play because Buddhism uniquely propounds the concept of interdependence, which accords closely with the fundamental notions of modern science. - Dalai Lama

A century of experience has enabled us to appreciate the importance of freedom, and the significant contributions of individual and private enterprise in improving the economy and the way we live. We also began to recognise the importance of putting a stop to the production and proliferation of weapons of tremendous destructive power.

The difficulties and challenges we faced have helped us mature. Earlier, it was thought that human happiness could only be achieved through physical satisfaction. Tremendous human energy was directed into material development. However, the closing years of the century saw a widespread growth of awareness that material progress alone was insufficient. Also, more people are recognising the need to employ non-violence, to work for peace and the protection of the natural environment.

It is necessary to work on internal development by nurturing the ideals of non-violence, peace and the abolition of war from within. So the time is appropriate for all religious traditions to promote the positive qualities of compassion, tolerance, contentment, and self-discipline. Consequently our different religious traditions have an important role to play and there should be good understanding and harmony among the different religious traditions of the world; they should engage in a common effort to contribute to human welfare.

The 2,500-year-old Buddha Dharma has a special role to play because Buddhism uniquely propounds the concept of interdependence, which accords closely with the fundamental notions of modern science. There are those Buddhist traditions that look to the collection of scriptures preserved in Pali as their source and those who look to the Sanskrit tradition. This latter tradition reached its zenith at the renowned ancient university of Nalanda, where the literature and understanding of philosophy and logic were profoundly refined by Buddhist scholars of the time. This Sanskrit tradition is a crucial part of our Buddhist heritage.

Until relatively recently there has been a lack of contact and interaction among even Buddhists. In future we need to encourage and foster an exchange of knowledge and experience among our different traditions and improve communications amongst us. When i was young and studying in Tibet, like every Tibetan I regarded India as the Aryabhumi, the Holy Land, the source of our Buddhist religion and culture. Like every devout Buddhist I associated Bodhgaya with the highest achievements of the spiritual path, the Buddha’s attainment of perfect enlightenment. It was a place I longed to visit and fortunately an opportunity arose in 1956 with an invitation from the Mahabodhi Society to attend the Buddha Jayanti.

Reflecting on Shakyamuni Buddha’s great accomplishment in this place I also could not fail to remember his overwhelming kindness to all sentient beings. Not only did he achieve perfection himself, but also he revealed that each of us has such potential.

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