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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Dalai Lama calls for harmony among world religions

September 24, 2010

By Christopher Szabo
Digital Journal (Canada)
September 22, 2010

Pretoria -- In the midst of religious wars and
intolerance worldwide, the Dalai Lama says the
world’s major religions should find common ground
to help people find their quest for happiness.
Digital Journal asked his representative for Africa to elaborate.

The Dalai Lama was speaking on the subject during
a visit to Hungary, linked to Tibet by the work
of Hungarian scholars starting in the Nineteenth
Century. The representative of the Tibetan
Government-in-exile, Sonam Tenzing, told Digital
Journal religions had common ground. Speaking on
the telephone from his office in Pretoria, South Africa, Tenzing said:

I think, Number One, is to understand
Inter-religious harmony. He is trying to focus on
inter-religious harmony that is essential in the modern century.

But with extremists calling for conflicts, wars,
banning of each other’s clothing, I wondered
whether harmony among religions was possible?

Inter-religious harmony is possible, because in
all the different faiths ad religions throughout
the world, what is most commonly found is love
and forgiveness. And all of these religions speak
of happiness. I think all of these religions
speak of discarding all the miseries and bringing
joy and happiness to the adherent of whichever
said religion it might be. I think that is really
the common ground where all religions
harmoniously promote all these human or ethical
and moral values. I think he (the Dalai Lama) was
referring to these moral values.

Tenzing stressed the Dalai Lama had done a great
deal to build bridges between religions:

"In the past years efforts were being made with
clergy of different other religions: Jewish,
Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, Muslims, I think
he has been in touch with most of the important
religious figures in the world. I think his
approach to meeting different leaders of
different faiths have been applauded and
appreciated. I am sure that you would not
disagree to the statement that His Holiness the
Dalai Lama is one of the leaders who makes a
definite effort to promote interreligious harmony."

He added the Dalai Lama’s appreciation of
Christian religious contemplatives who practice
something not dissimilar to Buddhist meditation. He said:

"In his books, he has made references to
Christian clergy, especially the late the late
Father Thomas Merton, who I think he appreciates very much."

During his visit to Hungary, Tenzing Gyatso, to
give the Dalai Lama’s name, paid homage to the
first Tibetologist, Sándor Csoma de Körösi, and
(1784-1842) who went to the east in to find the
ancestral homeland of the Hungarians. He was
Gottingen-trained linguistic genius who soon
spoke a dozen languages and planned to travel to
East Turkestan (now the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous
Republic of China) but was diverted by a local
war to British India. There he joined the Asiatic
Society and began his study of Tibetan language
and culture. He was the first to publish a
Tibetan-English dictionary and a grammar of
Tibetan. Throughout his journeys he identified
with local people and never lived like a "superior" European.

Sándor Csoma of Körös the Hungarian pioneer of Tibetan studies.

He lived in great poverty in Ladakh where he
studied Tibetan and planned to visit Lhasa in
1842, but contracted malaria and died. He is
buried in Darjeeling. The Dalai Lama described
the sum of his work as "a great act."

I asked Tenzing whether the Tibetan people knew of Körösi:

"The Hungarian scholar Körösi Csoma Sándor, or to
the Tibetans he may be known as Alexander Csoma
Körösi: What can be said, after they fled Tibet
in 1959, the first and second generation who
escaped, because of education, interaction with
cultures with different people (including)
scholars, have led to a knowledge of this pioneering scholar."

Religion and education often go hand in hand. Of
Ko"rösi possible conversion to Buddhism, Tenzing said:

"I would say he studied Buddhist culture and he
actually studied under Buddhist masters, so one
could say he made an effort to become a Buddhist through his learning."

Relations between Hungary and the Tibetans are very good. Tenzing said:

"The pioneering scholar has contributed to this
relationship. Today educated Tibetans, when they
want to refer to how relations between Tibetans
and Hungarians developed, would refer to this
scholar and I have seen articles by Tibetan
scholars and western scholars and the great
effort he made close to Tibet border studying
Buddhist culture and his effort to get it to outside world."

There is also a consistent rumour that Körösi was
made a Buddhist saint or bodhisattva, but if so,
this would only apply to a monastery in Japan and could be based on an error.
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