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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

His Holiness in Japan: November 4, 2009

November 8, 2009

Tibet House in Japan
November 4, 2009

His Holiness's fifth day on this Japanese tour
found him traveling immediately after breakfast
to a hall in Matsuyama, around the corner from
his hotel, to address 400 members of the Japanese
Buddhist sangha. He began with a short
explanation of Buddhism and its different
schools, while highlighting its system of
reasoning, which distinguishes it from those
other spiritual traditions that stress only faith
and compassion. Ignorance, after all, cannot be
eliminated by just faith and compassion; the only
cure for it comes through wisdom.

Some say that Mahayana Buddhism does not reflect
the real words of the Buddha, he continued, but
Nagarjuna offered very strong arguments to the
contrary. Opening the event up very quickly to
discussion and dialogue, after these preliminary
remarks, His Holiness was visibly gratified at
the searching and philosophical questions that
came forth. He explained the different forms of
meditation and, again, stressed that the Buddha
and Buddhism place an emphasis on logic and
reasoning unique to their tradition. Embodying
the very rigor and scholarly precision he was
speaking for, he concluded, "So you should study more and do more research."

In the early 20th century, he went on, mind was
treated almost as if it were a part of the brain.
But in the past two or three decades, scientific
research has shown that meditation can actually
increase gamma rays. Scientists are therefore
concluding that there is something that can
influence the brain, which is called Mind. And
Mind has different levels--when we sleep, when we
dream, when we're awake, when we faint, when we die.

Asked again about suicide, so common in modern
Japan, His Holiness spoke with unusual force. "It
is a sign of a lack of patience," he said. "Of
short-sightedness. There is a Tibetan saying, `If
you fail nine times, you must try nine times
more.' You have to think about things in a
broader perspective. There are six billion human
beings and there is not a single one who does not
have difficulties." Finally, referring back to an
earlier question, he stressed that the "Tibetan
political issue" is not just political and does
not just concern Tibet. It is a matter of an
ancient culture and a rich ancient spiritual
tradition dying, and if it does die, it affects
not just Tibetans but 1 billion Chinese brothers
and sisters who may learn and gain from it. The
same is true with the environment. Clearly
delighted by the vigor and engagement of the
session, His Holiness expressed the wish that
even more such discussions could be held, and even longer.

After a quick lunch with his hosts at the Funaya
inn, His Holiness flew to the southern island of
Okinawa for his first visit there, and was
greeted at the airport by a group of local
dignitaries. He immediately drove off to the
Konpaku Stupa, a memorial to the 35,000 people
Okinawan citizens and military personnel who died
during the war and were buried in the area.
Joined by a Catholic priest and a Japanese
Buddhist priest, His Holiness led prayers before
the memorial, while a large crowd of Okinawans
gathered behind him, beside the fields of high
sugar cane, many of them sobbing and wiping away
tears as the three religious leaders offered their prayers for world peace.

Across the road, under the 80-degree tropical
skies, is a sapling of the Holy Maha Bodhi tree,
under which the Buddha attained enlightenment,
the rare seed to be sent overseas, to the
southern fields of the Battle of Okinawa, as a
token of peace, in 2003. His Holiness and his
monks prayed there, too, and then he planted a
tree in what is called Bodaiju-en, or Bodhi Tree
Park. He also wrote out a message expressing his
hope and prayer that world peace would continue
through the growth of holistic wisdom and compassion.

Asked to offer some words to the public, His
Holiness began by pointing out that his first
stop on his first hour on the island was the
memorial, and that those who died had a life as
dear as any of ours, and friends and family left
bereft by their deaths. "To hope for a world
without problems is unrealistic," he went on.
"There will always be problems. So the real
prayer of peace is to promite the solution of
peace through diaogue." As he was praying, he had
heard a bird singing in a tree that he was used
to hearing in India, too, and in Lhasa. This made
him think of Lhasa. "So," he concluded, "we all
have common birds as well as a common spiritual practice!"

Sometimes, he went on, taking questions from the
media clustered round, "suffering can have a good
effect, if it leads to greater determination."
Peace will not come if we just lie around. "We
must make an effort. Praying or wishing alone
will not help. And we must continue our effort
even though there is no guarantee of peace."

After the Catholic priest offered a welcome in
the Okinawan dialect--expressing the hope that
His Holiness lives to 120--His Holiness traveled
to a nearby hotel to spend the night.
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