Dalai Lama Decries “Racism, Discrimination” Behind the Killing of George Floyd
His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke out over the weekend against the deep-rooted conditions that led to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police personnel on 25 May. Speaking from his residence in Dharamsala at the beginning of a two-day online Avalokiteshvara empowerment, the Tibetan spiritual leader emphasized that the spread of hatred, racism, and discrimination in the world can be stemmed by compassion alone.
“Among the seven billion human beings, not one is looking for suffering; all of us seek happiness,” His Holiness said on 30 May. “And yet if we watch news on the television, we see reports of racial discrimination and [even] of people who seem to take a delight in killing.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
“Just yesterday I saw on the television news, somewhere in Minnesota or somewhere in America, one black person had actually fallen under a car, and the police came and he actually pushed his knee on the neck of that black person,” the Dalai Lama said. “So because of this racism, discrimination on the basis of race, such things are done.” (YouTube)
During the empowerment, the Dalai lama emphasized the practice’s focus on compassion, observing that negative emotions such as anger and jealousy only exacerbate the difficult circumstances encountered in society. “Every creature needs compassion and kindheartedness. It is not about religion. Anger makes any environment worse than necessary.”
Outrage has grown across the United Sates and internationally after a video emerged showing a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Floyd's neck while he was handcuffed and immobilized. By the time paramedics arrived minutes later, Floyd was already dead.
“Scientists declare that it is human nature to be compassionate, but even insects survive in dependence on compassion. All living beings who experience feelings of pleasure and pain ultimately survive as a result of love and compassion. If we human beings help each other, serve each other, with compassion, we’ll be happy. If, on the other hand, we let ourselves be carried away by anger and jealousy, we’ll be miserable.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
The empowerment, live-streamed globally over several platforms, was offered in Tibetan, with translations available in Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
His Holiness noted that he renewed his own bodhisattva and tantric vows on a daily basis. “Not carried away by selfish thoughts, I’m determined to serve all sentient beings—I will become enlightened for their sake,” he said. (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
If you follow such a practice, His Holiness remarked, then day by day, month by month, familiarity will grow. He then repeated several verses from Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life.
All those who suffer in the world do so because of their desire for their own happiness.
All those happy in the world are so because of their desire for the happiness of others.
On 29 May, the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama issued a statement
on the need to conduct empowerments and blessings online during the pandemic.
The empowerment is the second online public teaching His Holiness has given since a two-day live-streamed public teaching on 16–17 May that drew from the Precious Garland text by the Buddhist scholar Nagarjuna (c.150–c.250 CE), along with advice for people coping with difficult living conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The two online appearances follow a four-month break from all public engagements, which would normally be held in front of crowds of followers and visitors. A representative of the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama announced a suspension of all public audiences with His Holiness on 31 January, as a precaution in light of the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus.*
On 29 May, the office of the Dalai Lama issued a formal statement addressing a recent message by the lama Tulku Orgyen Tobgyal that was circulated online, criticizing His Holiness for conducting online empowerments and blessings. The office’s statement pointed out that virtual teachings had become necessary with so many people restricted by the pandemic, and cited examples from ancient teachings including those given during the life of Shakyamuni Buddha. Following a public outcry and official rebukes, Tulku Orgyen Tobgyal was reported to have issued an apology to the Dalai Lama on 30 May.
* Audiences with Dalai Lama Halted Over Coronavirus Risk (Buddhistdoor Global)
Preliminaries for an Avalokiteshvara Empowerment (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
Webcast of an Avalokiteshvara Empowerment (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
Preliminaries to the Avalokiteshvara Empowerment (YouTube)
Actual Avalokiteshvara Empowerment (YouTube)
Dalai Lama confers online Avalokiteshvara empowerment (Phayul)
Tulku Orgyen Tobgyal’s remarks “regrettable and wrong”: Kashag (Phayul)
Tulku Orgyen Tobgyal apologises to Dalai Lama for criticising online teachings (Tibet Sun)
Related news from Buddhistdoor Global
Dalai Lama Offers Simple Advice for Life in Isolation: Meditation and Compassion
Dalai Lama Returns to Public Teaching with Two-day Global Webcast
Dalai Lama Urges Greater Inter-religious Understanding in Vesak Message
Dalai Lama Lauds Hindu Priest’s Gesture of Equality for Bearing Dalit Man into Temple
Dalai Lama Urges India to Abandon Caste System
Related features from Buddhistdoor Global
Ignorance in the Era of COVID-19: Society’s Failure to Protect Black Communities in the US
Acknowledging Anger and Developing Compassion
Buddhistdoor View: Honoring the Lessons of Martin Luther King Jr. for Today’s World
Buddhistdoor View—Learning from Race Issues in the United States