His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet
The Tibetan Buddhist Society’s Founder and Spiritual Head, Venerable Geshe Acharya Thubten Loden, always insisted that the Society’s newsletters should include a section on His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Why? Because Geshe-la said we should always remember the kindness and courage of His Holiness in bringing the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism from the Land of Snows, when His Holiness fled his country as a refugee in 1959.
It is a mark of a great mahayana practitioner that they can transform even the most adverse circumstances into the causes of inconceivable benefit to self and others. Despite the violence, destruction and suffering that accompanied China’s invasion of Tibet, His Holiness was able to transform this adversity and bring the great gift of his teachings to the wider world. His Holiness’ simple messages of kindness, compassion, tolerance and universal responsibility have had a major influence on many millions of people across the world, whether they are inclined to Buddhist practice or not.
Geshe Loden consulted with His Holiness before deciding to return to Australia and establish the Tibetan Buddhist Society in 1980 and would also meet His Holiness in India when Geshe-la visited there, or in Australia, during His Holiness’ tours to our country. We were all delighted when His Holiness accepted an invitation to officially open the Tibetan Buddhist Society’s traditional Tibetan temple in 2002.
On behalf of all directors, members, students and friends of the Tibetan Buddhist Society, we pray for His Holiness’ long life, excellent health and the flourishing of his Dharma teachings.
An inspiration for our times
Buddhism has flourished in the West in recent times. No one person has been as influential in this development as His Holiness, Tenzin Gyatso, the XIVth Dalai Lama. His Holiness is a great Buddhist teacher, scholar and writer. However, his most remarkable quality has been his ability to transcend the boundaries of his culture and religious training to connect with millions throughout our world.
When His Holiness speaks, he uses the universal language of human values, compassion and tolerance. To His Holiness, it is not important whether a person calls themselves a Buddhist, Christian or Muslim, or is a religious person at all. What is important is that we cultivate a good heart, help others and avoid harm to fellow living beings.
His Holiness is one of the most remarkable human beings of our era. Above all, it is the fact that His Holiness practises the methods of kindness, open-heartedness, compassion and skilful communication, that he teaches, that have made him the universally respected figure that he is today.
For the Tibetan Buddhist Society, His Holiness is a constant inspiration. We pray that he may bless us with his presence for many years into the future.
His Holiness and the Tibetan Buddhist Society
Venerable Geshe Acharya Thubten Loden
Before accepting his first invitation to come to Australia as a Buddhist teacher in 1976, the Tibetan Buddhist Society’s founder, the Venerable Geshe Acharya Thubten Loden, consulted with a number of Tibet’s highest lamas, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His Holiness advised Geshe-la to accept the post, stay in Australia for three years, and then return to his disciples in India. As the interview ended, His Holiness clasped Geshe-la’s hand and explained that he would need great perseverance to teach continuously for 3 years and great patience, telling him not to become disheartened, bored or ill during this task.
After Geshe-la returned to India in 1979 and following numerous requests from his Australian students to return, Geshe-la again consulted his teachers, including His Holiness. On the advice of his teachers Geshe-la agreed to return to Australia making it his home and dedicating himself to development of the Dharma in the West.
On his visits to India after settling in Australia, Geshe-la would visit His Holiness to consult with him and inform him about the Tibetan Buddhist Society’s development, as well as preparing regular reports so that His Holiness and the Tibetan Government were informed of the Society’s activities.
Continuously Geshe-la would remind his students how much the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism in Western countries owed to the wisdom, compassion and foresight of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government, and that we should always remember their kindness.
His Holiness’ guidance to the Tibetan Buddhist Society
Since Geshe-la’s passing away in 2011, the Tibetan Buddhist Society has continued to report regularly to His Holiness about our activities and programs.
During His Holiness’ visits to Australia in 2013 and 2015, several of the Society’s directors and students and friends had the opportunity of an audience with His Holiness, at which a report on the Society’s activities was presented.
His Holiness listened attentively and was especially pleased to hear about the centre’s program to support homeless and disadvantaged people, and that the meals provided through this program were free of charge.
His Holiness commented that he was very happy to hear that the Tibetan Buddhist Society was following the tradition and vision of the Spiritual Master so that even though Geshe-la was no longer present in person, the Dharma teaching program that Geshe-la created was continuing in the same form. His Holiness said that this was consistent with Lord Buddha’s tradition. He passed away 2500 years ago. Although he was no longer present, still his teachings were continued by his disciples.
His Holiness also emphasised the importance of study over ritual. He said that we need to practise 21st century Buddhism, and this means careful study and investigation.
His Holiness’ visit to the Tibetan Buddhist Society
For Australians generally, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 2002 visit to our country was a wonderful and memorable event. For the Tibetan Buddhist Society, the 2002 tour was particularly special and historic, with His Holiness visiting the Society’s holy traditional Tibetan temple at our Melbourne centre on 23 May and conducting a blessing ceremony.
His Holiness had expressed a personal wish to visit the Centre, especially to recognise the enormous amount of hard work and effort that Ven. Geshe Acharya Thubten Loden has devoted to supporting Tibetan Buddhism in Australia during his 26 years in this country.
Although only 20 minutes had been initially allocated to the visit, owing to His Holiness’ strict schedule, he and his entourage remained at the Centre for almost one hour. His Holiness took great interest in the traditional features of the temple – especially the Buddha statue and thangkas. After blessing the temple, His Holiness addressed the Tibetan Buddhist Society members, friends and supporters present, as well as numerous members of Melbourne’s Buddhist and Tibetan communities with characteristic good humour and practical advice. His Holiness congratulated Geshe-la and the Society for constructing the temple. He said that having built such a temple, students would obtain the most value from it if they use it as a place of study and learning, to develop a clear understanding of the teachings of the great Buddhist scholars and yogis of the past.
Geshe-la, the Society and a large number of students had contributed to make a $US10,000 offering to His Holiness. His Holiness, however, declined to accept the offering, confirming that it would be more beneficial if the Society were to use it to purchase complete sets of traditional Buddhist Kangyur and Tangyur texts for the temple. However, as the funds had been contributed for the specific purpose of making an offering to His Holiness, Geshe-la made sure that all contributions were immediately returned to those who had made them. Many students requested that the Society retain the offering however to fund the purchase of these texts for the temple.
For Tibetan Buddhist Society students and friends, as for all Australians, His Holiness’ 2002 visit is one that will give us wonderful memories for many years to come.
We join with many millions of Australians in wishing that His Holiness will continue his regular visits to our country, to bring us the benefit of his practical wisdom, good humour and compassionate kindness at the earliest opportunity.