His Holiness the Dalai Lama participated in the first interactive conversation with students from five Russian state universities from his residence in Dharamsala in northern India on Monday. The dialogue was held under the theme “Our World in the Time of Change,” and was live-streamed in several languages.
The program, which involved Moscow State University, St. Petersburg State University, Kalmyk State University, Buryat State University, and Tuvan State University, was organized by the Save Tibet Foundation (Moscow), and the Center of Tibetan Culture and Information (Moscow). The conversation was moderated by Prof. Nikolai Yankovski, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, instead of Prof. Tatiana Chernigovskaya, director of the Institute for Cognitive Research at St. Petersburg State University, who was unable to participate due to illness.
Earlier this month, Prof. Chernigovskaya stressed the importance of the dialogue with the Dalai Lama: “Meeting an intellectual leader of this caliber is an incredible experience. Considering that the world is at a civilizational and natural turning point, we need to think about who we are and where we are going, why we live, what will happen to the natural environment, and what responsibility we bear. After all, the novel coronavirus pandemic is just a catalyst, and the degree of tension is growing dangerously. It is very important to talk with a wise man.” (РИА Новости)
The meeting began with a short introduction by His Holiness, followed by intriguing questions from the Russian students. The Tibetan spiritual leader opened his talk by observing that all human beings are members of the same family, and emphasizing the need for people to live together without division: “The 20th century saw two world wars. We used our human intelligence and scientific knowledge for military purposes. We developed ever more destructive weapons, including nuclear bombs and missiles armed with nuclear warheads. We thought only of ourselves. Now, we have to think of the whole of humanity, not just this or that nation. Since we all have to live together on this one planet, there’s no room for fighting on the basis of a division into ‘us’ and ‘them’—that’s an old way of thinking.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
Responding to a student from St. Petersburg State University, who asked whether there is anything that is beautiful for everyone, His Holiness said: “Warmheartedness. Even animals appreciate it. If you are motivated by loving-kindness, it will be reflected in the happy expression on your face. Real beauty is inner beauty.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
The Dalai Lama noted that as a great nation, Russia has much potential to contribute to a happier world. He also reminded the audience that some Russian republics have traditionally been Buddhist. His Holiness advised Russian Buddhists to not only engage in prayer and rituals but also to study as much as they can and to compare what they learn with science. His final message to the students was to keep the Nalanda tradition alive.
Teachings by the Dalai Lama for Russian Buddhists have been held in India since 2009, at the request of Ven. Yelo Rinpoche, abbot of Datsang Rinpoche Bagsha, the shajin lama (head lama) of Kalmykia, and Telo Tulku Rinpoche, who is the Dalai Lama’s representative in Russia, Mongolia and CIS countries, with the support of the kamby lama, the most senior Buddhist monastic in the Tuvan Republic. Last year, from 5–7 November, the teaching for Buddhists in Russia was held online for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.*
The first dialogue between Russian scientists and Buddhist scholars was held in New Delhi from 5–8 August 2017 under the theme “The Nature of Consciousness.”** The historic dialogue initiated a series of meetings under the theme “Fundamental Knowledge” aimed at exploring various aspects of modern science and Buddhist contemplative studies for a deeper understanding of reality and human nature. In October of the same year, the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow hosted a roundtable titled “Buddhism and Science,” which was dedicated to the results of the New Delhi dialogue. His Holiness the Dalai Lama participated in a second dialogue between Russian scientists and Buddhist scholars in Dharamsala from 3–4 May 2018, under the theme “Understanding the World.”***
* Dalai Lama Begins Three-day Online Teaching for Russian Buddhists (Buddhistdoor Global)
** Dalai Lama Joins Russian and Buddhist Scholars for Historic Dialogue in New Delhi (Buddhistdoor Global)
*** Dalai Lama Joins Second Dialogue between Russian Scientists and Buddhist Scholars (Buddhistdoor Global)
Our World in a Time of Change (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
Далай-лама и российские студенты обсудят “Мир в эпоху перемен” (РИА Новости)