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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?"

An Open Letter To His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Dharamsala, India

July 8, 2010

www.ChenrezigProject.org
July 6, 2010

Good day, your Holiness:

Today we are  celebrating your life, which is
entering its 76th year.  Much  has happened since
you were born Llhamo  Dondrub on July 6, 1935 to
a family of  farmers in the small village of
Takster in (what saddens me to say used to be) northeastern Tibet.

Your figure has become ubiquitous worldwide, we
see your peaceful face in magazine and newspaper
articles, numerous films feature interviews with
you, your writings are indeed everywhere.  You
have become one of the most recognizable people on the planet.

Many of us have become comfortable with your
images, but not so much with your teachings. Why is that?

Perhaps it is because as wise as your teachings
are, they are not convenient. In fact, for many
of us they are mightily inconvenient.  And the
reason is simple . . . they require work, and there are no shortcuts.

We've read about how years ago in Central Park
(NYC) you told the crowd that you had recently
been at a peace rally where small white birds had
been released into the air.  "That is not how you
get peace," you said.  "You get peace by
transforming the individual human heart.  Letting
those birds go is just an empty gesture.  All it does is agitate them."

You do your work well, your Holiness.  You are of
hearty Tibetan stock and your life is one of
concentration and mindfulness.  You bear your
burdens well, remaining dedicated to bringing
every being to happiness, and you do it joyfully.

Alexander Berzin tells the story of how a Western
teacher commented to you that it must be
difficult being a bodhisattva and helping people
all the time, asking how you relax from
that.  And how you looked at him with great
surprise and said "A bodhisattva would never
think to take some time off.  How could one
take  time off from being a bodhisattva?"

Clearly, your life and reason for living it is
not an act, it is real, and completely
sincere.  You're not playing a role from which
you need some time off, time to relax and be yourself.

This is why I say your teachings, which are
natural, coming from how you live, are mightily
inconvenient.  They are supported and
demonstrated by your work, which is extremely
demanding, much more so than many of us are
willing to consider sharing in, or even
emulating, even though you so elegantly and
lovingly show us how and why to do so.

Such vastly hard work is terribly inconvenient for so many of us.

In our studies of Mahayana Buddhism, we learn
you're believed to be an emanation of Chenrezig,
the Buddha of Compassion, and this is a nice idea.

But for those of us who have been in your
presence, and at teachings for your beloved
Tibetan people in India, hard work to be sure;
where so much of what we've heard and seen has
caused us to cry in both joy and sadness, we know
this "Chenrezig-ness" is not some would-be-nice idea, but is so.

Through your life, through hard work, through
dedicating yourself to the dharma, you have
transformed.  And you have done it for us.

It is an incredible opportunity to even think to
use you as a role model, to consider you to be our teacher.

You are Chenrezig.  You are a Buddha.  You are so very precious.

***

In our 21st century American "me first" culture
it can be quite inconvenient -- and difficult --
to dig down past the feel good of the dharma
teachings and into the work of the practice
itself, to cultivate instinctive other-regarding
in place of obsessive self-cherishing.  But the
richness of life one finds upon just a little bit
of digging is utterly fantastic . . .

So, your Holiness, it is with a sense of
exquisite gratitude we take your teachings with
absorption and try our very best to do what you
suggest.   For those of us who can only begin to
understand what you do for us, it is the least we can do for you.

You famously call yourself a simple Buddhist
monk, and yes, that is your foundation, but to
many of us that's just part of who you are.

For millions around the planet, you are an
inspiration, a wonderful presence who can help us
begin to learn to experience how completely
worthwhile it is to be a human being simply by watching and listening to you..

 From all sentient beings, including us in tiny
Yalaha, Florida, thank you, we rejoice in you and
wish you an exceedingly long life!

Happy birthday Dear One.

-- From the people of the Chenrezig Project, Yalaha, FL
www.ChenrezigProject.org

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