Dalai Lama spreads message of religious unity

The Dalai Lama is greeted by Buddhist monks in New York/Tracy Simmons - CreedibleNEW YORK – The Dalai Lama believes the world’s religions can, and should, come together.

On Thursday, seminarians and Buddhists from across the map crowded into Radio City Music Hall to hear him speak about sacred Buddhist texts and discuss his message of religious unity.

The Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is both the head of the state and the spiritual leader of Tibet.

Actor Richard Gere and about 100 Buddhist monks sat cross-legged on the stage with the Dalai Lama as he delivered his fervent message.

There are 6 billion human beings on the earth, he began, and each of them has a feeling of “self.”

“Every single human being has had the experience of pain, pressure, sadness, anxiety – all these different emotions and feelings,” he said.

And each of these people, he added, deserves to feel joy and happiness but said it takes self-discipline.

“We human beings have this intelligence,” he said. “And we have to use that sophisticated intelligence to bring more joyfulness and happiness.”

The mind, he said, has the power to bring both bliss and misery, making one’s psyche much more powerful than one’s physical body.

And that, the Dalai Lama said, is where religion comes in. Faith, he said, brings mental calmness and happiness.

Whether one reveres God, Allah, Buddha or another spiritual head, he or she will learn to understand deeper human values, he explained.

“These things bring inner peace and calmness and things called moralities,” he said, adding that faith also allows one to live a compassionate, meaningful and healthy life.

India, where the Dalai Lama lives, is a country where religious diversity and religious tolerance is established in both law and custom. The Dalai Lama said India should be an example to all nations.

Growing up, children there become familiar with temples, churches and other places of worship, and grow to understand and respect all faith traditions.

“There is a harmony among traditions based on mental understanding and respect,” the Dalai Lama said.

Although a Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama made it clear that his purpose is not to convert people to Buddhism, and said it’s better for one to keep their own faith tradition unless they feel a strong, persistent calling to another denomination.

His message is simply to have a deep respect, admiration and adoration for all religions.

“All religious traditions practice love and compassion,” he said. “Our differences are in philosophy.”

On Friday the Dalai Lama also spoke about sacred Buddhist texts, Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life and Commentary on Bodhicitta. He will continue his teachings through Saturday and will conclude his visit to New York on Sunday with a public talk titled, “Awakening the Heart and Selflessness.” His final talk, which is sold out, will be at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, which is lead by former Connecticut pastor, Rev. James A. Kowalski.

The Dalai Lama has traveled across the U.S. and will continue traveling across the globe discussing his message of religious unity. He addresses the issue thoroughly in his new book Toward a True Kinship of Faiths: How the World’s Religions Can Come Together.

View photos of this event on our Flickr page here.

Check back soon for a video of this event.

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