As the Dalai Lama’s 87th birthday is celebrated by Tibetans and their friends worldwide, it is a very good time to reflect on the Four Principal Commitments of this great moral leader and Champion of Peace, writes Tsering Passang, Founder & Chairman of the Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama turns 87 on July 6th, 2022. He was born in Taktser, Amdo, north-eastern Tibet, in 1935.
After the Grand Welcome Reception upon his arrival in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital, the young Dalai Lama’s Official Enthronement Ceremony was held in 1940. Many foreign dignitaries, including from Great Britain, attended the Grand Ceremony. This historical event affirms Tibet enjoying its independence status. Some decades earlier, Tibet had signed treaties with other countries. Archived in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Offices (FCDO), the ‘Simla Treaty’ of 1914, signed between the representatives of Great Britain and Tibet, is well-documented.
After Mao Tsetung came to power on 1st October, 1949, the communist leader declared the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. The illegal invasion of Tibet by Communist China soon followed through military force.
The young Dalai Lama had to assume Tibet’s Political Leadership when he was merely 16 years old. It was around this turbulent period in Tibet’s history when the Chinese government forced representatives of the Tibetan Government to sign the so-called ‘17-Point Agreement’ in May 1951. In Beijing, the Tibetan delegation had no choice but to sign the Agreement as the Chinese side were threatening to use further military force to destruct Tibet.
Despite the unfortunate and disadvantageous situation, the young Dalai Lama and his government ministers did their best to cooperate with the Chinese government over the following years until the Tibetan Leader was forced into exile, in March 1959.
After arriving in India, the Dalai Lama established the Tibetan Government-in-exile (formally known as the Central Tibetan Administration), which is based in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, northern India. With the generous assistance of the Government of India and some foreign aid organisations, the Dalai Lama and his administration started rehabilitation and educational programmes for tens of thousands of Tibetan refugees who followed him into exile. The major mission of the Central Tibetan Administration is to regain the political freedom of the Tibetan people, which is still to be achieved.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s long-term vision of reforming the old theocratic
Tibetan society into a modern-day democratic system gained great successes after bringing major structural changes. In 2011, the Dalai Lama voluntarily and proudly relinquished all his remaining Political Authority, which he inherited, to the directly elected Tibetan leadership.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has often said that he now enjoys full retirement. Tibetans in Tibet and those in exile’s devotion towards the Dalai Lama is unquestionable. The bond between the Tibetan people and His Holiness the Dalai Lama is very much intact.
At 87, His Holiness is very healthy, joyful, and very committed to serving the Tibetans and humanity at large.
On this special occasion of the Dalai Lama’s 87th birthday, the Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities extends very warm wishes to His Holiness. May Your Holiness live a long and healthy life.
As we celebrate a great moral leader and most principled human being in the world, it is a good time to make a reflection on His Four Principal Commitments.
The Four Principal Commitments of The Dalai Lama
- Firstly, as a human being, His Holiness is concerned with encouraging people to be happy – helping them understand that if their minds are upset mere physical comfort will not bring them peace, but if their minds are at peace even physical pain will not disturb their calm. He advocates the cultivation of warm-heartedness and human values such as compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline. He says that as human beings we are all the same. We all want happiness and do not want suffering. Even people who have no religious belief can benefit if they incorporate these human values into their lives. His Holiness refers to such human values as secular ethics or universal values. He is committed to talking about the importance of such values and sharing them with everyone he meets.
- Secondly, as a Buddhist monk, His Holiness is committed to encouraging harmony among the world’s religious traditions. Despite philosophical differences between them, all major world religions have the same potential to create good human beings. It is therefore important for all religious traditions to respect one another and recognise the value of their respective traditions. The idea that there is one truth and one religion is relevant to the individual practitioner. However, with regard to the wider community, he says, there is a need to recognise that human beings observe several religions and several aspects of the truth.
- Thirdly, His Holiness is a Tibetan and as the ‘Dalai Lama’ is the focus of the Tibetan people’s hope and trust. Therefore, he is committed to preserving Tibetan language and culture, the heritage Tibetans received from the masters of India’s Nalanda University, while also speaking up for the protection of Tibet’s natural environment.
- In addition, His Holiness has lately spoken of his commitment to reviving awareness of the value of ancient Indian knowledge among young Indians today. His Holiness is convinced that the rich ancient Indian understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions, as well as the techniques of mental training, such as meditation, developed by Indian traditions, are of great relevance today. Since India has a long history of logic and reasoning, he is confident that its ancient knowledge, viewed from a secular, academic perspective, can be combined with modern education. He considers that India is, in fact, specially placed to achieve this combination of ancient and modern modes of knowing in a fruitful way so that a more integrated and ethically grounded way of being in the world can be promoted within contemporary society.
[Photo caption: In this April 5, 2017, file photo, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama greets devotees at the Buddha Park in Bomdila, Arunachal Pradesh, India. More than 150 Tibetan religious leaders say their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, should have the sole authority to choose his successor. A resolution adopted by the leaders at a conference on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019, says the Tibetan people will not recognize a candidate chosen by the Chinese government for political ends. ( AP Photo/Tenzin Choejor, File)]