Inter-Religious Understanding and Human Values

Pujya Swamiji speaking at India’s Diverse Spiritual Traditions with H.H. the Dala Lamaji

ॐ असतोमा सदगमय, तमसोमा ज्योतिर् गामय, मृत्योर्मामृतं गामय ।
ओं शांति, शांति, शांतिः ॥

Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya, Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya, Mrityor-Maa Amritam Gamaya| Om Shanti, Shanti, Shaantih ||

Most revered His Holiness the Dalai Lama ji, all of the most revered spiritual leaders, distinguished scholars, my sisters and brothers. A new history is being created today. This was a dream of our Param-Pawan Dalai Lama ji. Whenever we met, he always said we have to bring these spiritual leaders together. This should happen and this should keep happening very often, and today is the day he, himself, took the initiative and brought everyone together. He, himself, is a true embodiment of love, compassion and harmony.

When I was listening to the beautiful song that was presented by Tibetan boys and girls, it was amazing. That is the spirit of India. That shows the strength of this country. This spirit is needed today all over the world. India can do it; all of you can do it. You are the power. There is an amazing spirit here in India. People follow spiritual leaders from all religions and believe in them. You are the power, you are the peace and you can lead them toward new progress. You have the power to bring the song of peace to the world. You can create new innovative ways in our religions and our spirituality.

We need new innovative ways. I can go on and on about unity, diversity, oneness and togetherness, but I want to remind you that the time has come to take our Namaz out of our mosques, the time has come to take our Hanuman Chalisas and Rudra Abhishek out of our temples. I can see in our nation, Namaz is being performed in the mosques and Hanuman Chalisas, Kirtans, and spiritual religious discourses are being performed in the religious places. But look at the streets of those mosques and those temples… You will be amazed to see that the people dirtying our streets are the same people who are going to the temple and coming from the temple! We are talking about cleanliness, we are talking about purity, but look at the streets of our temples, our mosques and our religious places.

I think we all must come together. If we have Namaz on Friday, then let us take Raj, Samaj and Namaz together. Use that strength, that power you have gained through Namaz and clean the entire area where the mosque is situated. Take care of all temples and, at the same time, the areas outside the temples. We have worshipped the creator for so long, now let us take care of the creation also.

His Holiness said he is a humble human being. He truly is a humble and compassionate human being. I remember when he was in Rishikesh, on the banks of the Ganges. One small insect came while we all were sitting. It was Kumbh Mela, and we were all engrossed and involved in listening to speeches by religious leaders. Some photographers were walking back and forth, and immediately His Holiness’ focus went to that insect on the ground. He knew that if a photographer came that way, the insect would be killed. Immediately, His Holiness kneeled down and took the insect away.

Our religions talk about respecting all; we believe not only in human beings but we believe in all living beings. Yesterday, somebody said,

यह पहला सबक है किताबे खुदा को, कि मखलूक सारी है कुनबा खुदा का ।

“Yeh pehla sabak hai kitabe Khuda ka, ke makhlook saree hai kunba Khuda ka.”

If we all are one, then why is there this religious conflict? All these religious conflicts are because we see other as separate… when we see this person as separate from me, then conflict happens. Conflict happens when we only think about my agenda, my hidden agenda, my motives, whatever they are; conflict happens when I am thinking about myself. What about me? We become so selfish…when it comes to me, I am the centre. Spirituality was not to keep me at the centre, it was to remind us to keep the Divine in the centre.

Life should not be “what for me?” especially for religious people and people who are followers, but rather it should be about “what through me?” We have to understand that we are mere tools, an instrument in the Divine’s hands to perform our duties. There is a divine design. Things are happening, whether we believe it or not, things are happening. But in that divine design, how we can become divine? The only way to become divine is to just move away from these small issues and small selfish motives and see the other as the self. When this happens, then believe me, we won’t have to draw the line; the line will be drawn automatically.

किससे बंधू  बैर जगत में कोई नहीं पराया ।

“Kis se bandhu vair jagat mai, koi nahi paraya.”

This is a great message; it is not a small message. Being together, sitting together and thinking together itself is a message to the world. Yes, it can happen in India. It can happen in any city, any street in our nation and in the world. We never think about ourselves, anyway. We have always said, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.” We always talk about how the whole world is one family. This togetherness, this oneness is the key. This is the key.

There is a beautiful mantra:

ॐ आओ भद्राः क्रतवो यन्तु विश्वतः ।

Om Aano Bhadra Kratvo Yanto Vishwataha

“Let all the noble thoughts come from all directions.” When all the noble thoughts come from all directions, it means we respect all. This is the bottom line today: worship our own and respect all. If we respect all, believe me, there will be no conflict; there will always be solutions. Our own conflicts are becoming the problems. No one else is creating them. They are our responsibility.

There is a term CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility. The time has come not only for CSR, but the time has come for RSR also, that is: Religious Social Responsibility. We have to take people in that direction; before we take them in that direction we have to be honest with ourselves.

मेरी प्रार्थना है, कि इसके लिए हम सब एक होकर भारत से एक ऐसा सन्देश दें, एक ऐसी शुरुआत करें जो सदियों तक इतिहास बने । आइये एक इतिहास कायम करें । अंत में मैं आदरणीय हिज होलिनेस के लिए प्रार्थना करता हूँ कि उनका जीवन दीघायु हो और दिव्यायु हो ताकि लम्बे समय तक वे इसी तरह पुरे विश्व को दिशा देते रहें । धन्यवाद ।

I pray to all of you to come together, and let us give a historic message of peace and unity from India to the entire world. Let us create history for centuries to come. And lastly, I pray for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama so that he keeps guiding the society in the right direction. Thank you.

Swami Chidanand Saraswati:
Answer: The first thing is that resolutions can be passed, and many have been passed already, but now we have to move from resolution to revolution, and that revolution has to start from the self, not from any other person. You are talking about common things; there are so many common things. You can start anywhere. Most things are common, and only a few are uncommon. There are more similarities and fewer differences. Let us start from those common things. I think the time has come to respect each other and accept each other. I would like to cite a phrase in Urdu:

“Kaash aapne mulk me aisi fiza bane, mandir yadi gire to dard musalman ko bhi ho,
Napak hone paye na masid ki abru, ye dhyan mandiro ke nigahban ko bhi ho.”

That is what is required today. There are many types of faiths in our country. Today we need to put faith into action. We are talking about inter-faith; however without inner-faith all of our faiths will be in vain. So, inner-faith must be strengthened to sustain inter-faith harmony. The message of inter-faith harmony, of harmony, peace and compassion, is a great message.

As I often share, a donkey does not need to go to a university to remain a donkey. The donkey follows the values of a donkey, and the monkey follows the values of a monkey. A monkey does not have to go to university to become a monkey. A donkey does not have to do an MBA to become an MBA donkey. However, for us even after receiving so many degrees, going to all these universities, we still need these types of conferences. Why do we need this?

There is a need for these conferences because we study and then put it aside. The issue is not of developing a common agenda. This morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama ji has mentioned a very important point, just now Imam sahib has said so many beautiful things. Let us start from somewhere. We can start from compassion, kindness, patience. If we start with “my way is the only way,” or “my way or no way” then there is no way. We don’t have to start with a mindset that my way is the only way. Rather, we have to start with the realization that yours is also the right way, and mine is also the right way. As you respect your mother, I do mine. I respect my mother and will respect your mother as well. This is the spirit of this country. This is the beauty of this country.

Let me share with you, when I was eight years old, I was taken to the jungle for sadhana. I have never seen any hospital in the jungle. While in the jungle, I also noticed that there were so many beautiful flowers, but no flower was suffering from any depression. A jasmine has no depression, “Oh, why am I not a rose?” A rose doesn’t have depression either, “Why am I not a jasmine?” A rose is a rose, and a jasmine is jasmine. I have never seen them going to the hospital. Our problem is that the rose is trying to become a jasmine, and the jasmine is trying to become a rose. Neither can we become a rose, nor – in this case — can we fulfill our duty as a jasmine. We are humans, and the specialty of human beings is humanity, and this humanity does not depend on any temple or mosque.

When I returned from the jungle, my guru, Swamiji told me a very lovely thing. I thought Swamiji would tell me that what to do next, as I had just come back from the jungle. I thought he would say that I have to go for deeper meditation. You know, what he said was very amazing. He said two things: “Any moment you have spent in the service of a person is better than centuries of worship.” If that is not a common agenda then what is? The second thing he said was, “Do not go to the temple.” Imagine! A man sitting on the banks of the Ganga, having given his life for religion and spirituality, telling me not to go to the temple, not to go to a mosque, but to go to the person in pain and get him out of pain because that is the true house of God.

Now tell me, what more do we need? What kind of paths do we have to find? We will write so many books. The issue is not about writing books but writing about yourself, not about reading books but reading yourself. So my brother, if these things start the whole world will evolve. If we do not start, then, life will not begin. Therefore, we are talking about peace, peace, peace, because we only have two choices: either we can be in peace or we can be in pieces. The choice is ours what we want to be. Either we can stay together and better ourselves, or we can be bitter and turn ourselves to pieces. Whatever we want is in our hands.

Today everything is set but why are we upset? Because we have forgotten that I am here for some purpose, and for that we do not have to go far away, but just make a beginning with ourselves. Peace is necessary, as His Holiness constantly talks about.

Last but not least, why are there pieces like ISIS? It is there because they could not maintain that inner peace, they could not understand that inner peace, and that is why they are creating pieces. Otherwise, If I am in peace what I will share is only peace, but, if I am in pieces then I will share only pieces. That’s why you should not worry about a common agenda. Don’t worry about a new resolution being passed here. This will become merely a document without our dedication. We need to add dedication and commitment to things which we already have.

Let us begin this journey of Peace together because our youth are watching us.

Thank you.

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