Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama Visit the Tibetan Children’s Village
April 23, 2015
April 23, 2015
Dharamsala, HP, India, 23 April 2015 – The Upper Tibetan Children’s Village School was host to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, his good friend Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Team Joy this afternoon. As they drove there from His Holiness’s residence the streets were lined with smiling people eager to catch a glimpse of them.
On arrival at TCV His Holiness and the Archbishop were escorted into the small library adjacent to the basketball court. Amidst the neat bookshelves and displays of projects the children had done writing about ‘joy’, several students, girls and boys, recounted their own journeys from Tibet to the school. The first, who had come with her grandmother, leaving the rest of her family behind, broke down in sobs and tears. Archbishop Tutu’s daughter, Mpho, stepped forward to hug and comfort her. She completed her tale, but when the next student too was overcome with emotion His Holiness intervened, suggesting:
“You should think about how as a result of coming here you have been able to receive not only a modern education, but also to learn about our rich culture. You’ve been able to study our language. This is the best language for explaining the profound traditions of Nalanda University. This is something to be proud of. And yours may be the generation that can rebuild Tibet.”
The final student to make a presentation spoke of his appreciation for what he had received and how he tries to take joy in everything.
The children, who filled the basketball court, sang a song in Tibetan celebrating His Holiness’s 80th birthday as he and Archbishop Tutu emerged to take their seats in the middle of the throng. They then followed it up with a Tibetan rendition of ‘If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.’
When His Holiness was invited to address the gathering, he turned to the Archbishop and said that since he teases him so much about his English, on this occasion he would speak in Tibetan. He stated that although our various religious traditions have different philosophical viewpoints, they share a common message of love and compassion. This is clearly reflected in the Archbishop and is why he admires him.
Commenting on the hardships faced by the parents of the students who were present His Holiness said:
“We received immense help from the Indian government. The world helped us. Because of the kindness we have received you have the opportunity to study today. Please, work hard. We Tibetans are going through a very difficult time, but we still have our own language and culture. Please take full advantage of your educational opportunities.”
Archbishop Tutu acknowledged His Holiness, the beautiful children and those in the crowd who were not children.
“It’s a great honour and privilege to be here. You are beloved throughout the world and we want to say to you, young people, that it might not seem possible to you that you will one day return to a free Tibet. But we in South Africa lived for many years under a system of injustice and oppression. Many of our leaders and young people went into exile. It seemed as if the chains of oppression would never be broken, that our prisoners on Robben Island would never come home. And yet,” and he let out his characteristic high pitched chuckle, “it happened.”
“In 1995, our beloved Nelson Mandela and the others were released and the exiles came home. One day, you too, all of you, will see your beloved Tibet again. You’ll be free of the oppression that has driven you here. The Chinese government will discover that freedom is actually cheaper than oppression.”
He spoke of the deep honour he feels to count His Holiness as his friend and that the world feels the same way. He continued:
“I want to thank the Indian government and the Indian people who opened their arms to welcome you, because they preserved for us a great treasure that would otherwise have been lost.”
Looking round at the students, he exclaimed:
“Look how beautiful you are! One day you’ll be dancing and singing in the streets of Tibet.”
Students were then able to put questions to the two spiritual leaders starting with one to His Holiness asking whether we can ever hope to live in a violence free world. He replied that there are many different kinds of violence, including exploitation and corruption.
“If you are thinking about serious physical violence involving war and people killing each other, then yes, I think we can eliminate that if we make the right effort.”
Archbishop Tutu was asked his advice about the way people seek happiness in material things. He answered that more and more people are realizing that they will not get real satisfaction from things alone. He said you can have many possessions while your heart remains empty.
“I meet many young people from well-off homes who go out to help others and find a much greater satisfaction in that.”
When His Holiness was asked about how he controls his anger in daily life, he replied that when he’s angry he shouts. He told a story of an occasion in 1956 when he was watching the driver and mechanic who looked after one of the cars that had belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama. While working on it he accidentally banged his head on the car. In anger he then deliberately banged it against the car again and His Holiness wondered: “What’s the use of that?” He remarked that anger destroys our peace of mind.
“Reciting ‘manis’ won’t help, even reciting the refuge prayer won’t help. Training our minds is the only solution.”
Asked whether joy could really be a source of world peace, His Holiness replied:
“I think so and that’s why people should have a clear understanding of how to create joy. Doing to harm to others may bring some temporary satisfaction, but being helpful to them is the only real source of lasting joy.”
Archbishop Tutu was also asked how true joy and happiness can be achieved and he answered:
“If we think we want joy for ourselves that’s short-sighted and will only be short-lived. Real joy is the reward of acting to bring joy to others. Deep joy is what happens when you show love, care and compassion to others. You can’t get it any other way. You can’t buy it.”
In reply to a final question about the environment, the Archbishop said:
“We have to remind people that this is our only home and if we treat it badly we’re done for. The ice caps are melting. The summers and winters are too long. We need to say ‘Yes, something is wrong’. People are beginning to hear what many religious leaders are saying, that this is our only home and we have to care for it.”
A band on the stage led the whole crowd in singing, ‘We are the world’. Archbishop Tutu got to his feet, dancing and swaying to the music. At the end he took the microphone and led everyone in singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to His Holiness as a large cake ablaze with candles was placed before them. He called for children to come and help His Holiness blow the candles out. The cake was cut and as it was distributed among children and guests, His Holiness, the Archbishop and Team Joy returned to McLeod Ganj.
This article originally appeared on the Dalai Lama’s web site: http://www.dalailama.com/news/post/1268-his-holiness-the-dalai-lama–archbishop-tutu-at-tcv
Photos courtesy of Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL