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Pavilion of Tibetan Culture Auroville
Patron: His Holiness the Dalai Lama
 

Newsletter
November 1999

Construction of the Pavilion

Since our last Newsletter the construction of the Pavilion has progressed fairly smoothly. Five rooms are nearly completed and for the first time, we have been able to start some activities such as medical consultations in the Pavilion itself.
The green stone for the floor, specially selected in the mines of Kaddaph in Andhra Pradesh, was brought in two full truck-load to Auroville. This should be enough to cover the ground floor (5000 sq./feet). Laying has already been completed in five rooms. The stone is light green and has beautiful moiré designs. For the final polishing, we will have to wait for the structure of the ground floor to be finished; with the Pavilion still being a construction site, the polished floor could be spoiled by the constant passage of workers and materials.
Two carpenters have been working for more than six months on all the doors and windows. Respecting the advice given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama that the Pavilion should be in harmony with nature, we have decided to only use wood from Auroville forests for the construction. The very hard and beautiful wood (acacia auriculiforma or 'work tree') is being used. We were lucky that a community in Auroville has offered the Pavilion enough wood to complete a couple of rooms while the rest has been purchased from the Green Belt at a very good price.
Unfortunately the construction is now slowing down due to the lack a funds. We had to borrow some money to continue (and complete) the structure for the exhibition hall and the video room as it was not possible to stop the construction team at this stage.

 

Visit of Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche

From August 23 to 25, we had Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, the Director of the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath near Varanasi visit Auroville.
Rinpoche is now recognised has the second most important personality in the Tibetan diaspora after the Dalai Lama specially after he assumed the function of the Chairman of the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies in Dharamsala.
His great scholarship as well as his high moral principles have made him the perfect ambassador of the Tibetan and Buddhist culture in the academic and even political milieu in India as well as abroad.
His visit to Auroville had been planned since a long time, though unfortunately it had not materialised mainly because of Rinpoche's very busy schedule. A few months ago, Rinpoche had expressed the wish to see for himself the experiments and the progress made by Auroville in the field of environment.
Rinpoche accepted to speak on the occasion to members of Auroville on "The Environment Crisis Within".
The lecture was given to a large audience in the Sri Aurobindo Auditorium of the Bharat Nivas (Pavilion of India). Everyone was captivated for the clarity of his presentation and the sincerity of Rinpoche's approach.
We are giving here the conclusions of Rinpoche's talk.

 

Conclusions of the "The Environment Crisis Within"

The outer environmental situation of the globe is extremely bad today, and the very survival of the earth is under threat. The direct overt cause of this situation has been the over-industrialisation of society, and the globalised spread of a consumeristic economic system. The deeper root cause of the malady however, is human avarice for wealth and power. Unless we begin to endeavour to eradicate selfishness and hatred, no enduing solution can be found to the global crisis.
Today, many sensitive, responsible citizens feel disheartened and think that an individual or a small segment of like-minded people cannot withstand the current process of globalisation, which is really a sort of organised and structured violence on an unprecedented scale. Therefore, they tend to resign themselves to merely feeling helpless. In my humble view, however, this is not the time for resignation or indifference. We must, individually and collectively, oppose this process, otherwise our silence will amount to an approval of misdeeds, and we ourselves will be a party to the violence being perpetrated. As I see it, every individual can at least practice the following in his or her life:

1. An individual can step out of the current processes of globalisation and consumerism, even if be cannot swim against the tide. This individual freedom can be preserved even today if one genuinely has the will for it.
2. An individual can learn to recognise his genuine needs for living a rational, reasonable and truly contented life, and must not confuse genuine needs with artificial needs imposed by the prevailing social set-up.
3. The collective interests of all sentient beings should be considered to be above the interests of any particular entity, race or group of beings. The order of significance of interests to be considered is global, regional, national community, family, and then the self; the lesser interest must be sacrificed for the larger interest.
A sense of universal responsibility, caring for others and for the coming generations must be inculcated.

During his two-day stay, Rinpoche had the occasion to get acquainted with the project of the Pavilion and the progress in the construction. He was shown the plans and explained the difficulty in raising sufficient funds to quickly complete the building.
Rinpoche also had the opportunity to visit the Centre for Scientific Research and see for himself the appropriate building technology techniques developed in Auroville as well as the research in renewable energies. He was particularly interested by the compressed earth blocks and the ferro-cement techniques which are already been used in the Tibetan settlements. We informed him more than fifty Tibetan masons have been trained in Auroville and are doing well in their respective settlements.
On the second day of his visit Rinpoche spoke to a large group of Aurovilians about a subject which is close to his heart: an economy without circulation of money. Recently, the topic has been being discussed in Auroville, especially after the stay in Auroville of Dr Kireet Joshi, the Chairman of Auroville Foundation who is strongly advocating such a solution for Auroville. The Mother herself had said "No money circulation in Auroville".
For Tibet, Rinpoche envisages a similar solution which is considered by many as utopic: he would like that Tibetans stop using money has a mean of exchange in future Tibet. His theory which is based on the highest Buddhist values is expounded in a small booklet entitled "The Future of Tibet". Rinpoche's talk provoked many questions from interested Aurovilians and also a hope and some comfort to know that many other people are thinking on the same lines to find a solution which will be far superior to capitalism and communism.
The last afternoon of Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche's visit was spent in the Pitchandikulam forest where a project to collect seeds and plants from the neighbouring region has been undertaken. This interesting project in collaboration with other NGO's and with Government of India funding is meant to collect data on plants of medicinal value from the local healers before this knowledge is completely lost.
Rinpoche was very impressed by the variety of the flora and the too-often forgotten healing value of the seeds.
During his stay Rinpoche had the occasion to have a long talk with Dr Joshi, the Chairman of Auroville Foundation. Dr Joshi pointed out to Rinpoche a very old Prayer of The Mother (December 1916) when she had an encounter with the Buddha. This is reported in the book "Prayers and Mediations".

 

Visit of the Representatives and Co-operative Society Secretaries

Beginning of August, we had the visit for two days of the Representatives and the Co-operative's Secretaries of several settlements of North India (Ladakh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, etc..)
Organised in collaboration with the Department of Home in the Central Tibetan Administration on Dharamsala, this 'awareness' visit was the follow-up of several workshops/seminars organised by the Pavilion to introduce the basic and practical concept of sustainable development to the officers of the Tibetan administration in exile.
After a general introduction on the sustainability of the planet by Alan Herbert, Deputy Pemba Tsering gave to the participants a briefing on the different project undertaken by Auroville in the field of environment. Later the Tibetan officials visited sites were they could have a look at different working systems for renewable energy and appropriate building technologies. They were also addressed on the theme of renewable energy by Dr C.L. Gupta, one of the top most solar scientists in India and a long-standing friend of the Tibetans.
The main participants were Mr. Lhakpa Tsering, Representative (Orissa), Mr. Wangdu Tsering (Madhya Pradesh), Mr. Norbu Tashi (Arunachal Pradesh) & M. Sonam Tsering, Chief Representative for Ladakh.
The unanimous conclusion was that two days were not enough to get a complete exposure on the new ways of thinking which were presented. Hopefully future workshops will last for a minimum 4 days.

 

Tibetan Medicine in Auroville

A few months back, the Tibetan Medical & Astro. Institute in Dharamsala had agreed to send a team with a doctor to Auroville on a regular basis.
Since August, Dr Dorjee Rabten ,Chief Medical Officer of the Bangalore Branch of the TMAI started visiting Auroville with a team including a compounder and two other staff to give consultation and dispense Tibetan herbal medicine.
Tibetan medicine was already very popular in Auroville, but now up to 50 patients come to the Pavilion for consultation during each visit.
The medical team which comes at the end of each month in their own car, bring a large stock of the famous pills made of various minerals and Himalayan herbs. Many patients from Pondicherry and even from more remote places of Tamil Nadu have come from treatment.
As already mentioned, the consultations are given in the Pavilion itself and for the time being we are using the reception and office rooms which are specially arranged for the occasion.
It is an excellent occasion for Aurovilians and friends from Pondicherry to discover this aspect of the Tibetan culture. It is also a positive development if the Pavilion can help Aurovilians to improve their health.
The patients can also buy healthy herbal tea and medicinal incense which is supposed to help in balancing the humours in the human body.

 

Release of "The Fate of Tibet"

We have the pleasure to inform you of the release of Claude Arpi's book: "The Fate of Tibet" published by Har-Anand Publications, New Delhi.
The book was released on August 6 at the prestigious India International Centre in Delhi by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
In his inaugural speech His Holiness insisted on his non-violent approach to the Tibetan problem and the important role that India can play in the search for a peaceful solution in the issue. He appealed to the Indian public to suggest constructive solutions in the spirit of Ahimsa. He reminded the public that it is in the interest of everyone to have Tibet as a Zone of Peace and Ahimsa in the heart of the Himalayas.
The launch of the book was followed by a panel discussion with some eminent Indian analysts. Mr. Chandan Mitra, Editor of The Pioneer, General VN Sharma, former Chief of Army Staff. Ms Jaya Jaitly, General Secretary of Samata Party and Prof. ML Sondhi, Chairman of the Indian Council of Social Sciences Research participated.
Though each panelist saw the problem from a different point of view, everyone agreed that India has an important role to play in the preservation of the Tibetan Culture and that the proposal of the Dalai Lama to have a Zone of Peace is in the interests of all.

 

Presentation of "the Fate of Tibet"

This book is an in depth study of the origins of the fate of a nation.
It begins from the time Buddhism was introduced in Tibet. It studies the evolution of the Priest-Patron Relationship with the Mongol Khans and later the Manchu Dynasty. It observes the effect of the appearance, in the eighteenth Century, of a new player on the stage: the British Empire with its 'large insect' expansionist policies and its rivalry with the Russian empire.
It looks at the conservative attitude of the Tibetan clergy that blocked all the efforts for modernisation by the Thirteenth Dalai Lama who in his prophetic Testament, warned his people of the impending avalanche: "and long and dark shall be the night".
It analyses why Tibet was caught sleeping in its nirvanic isolation when liberation movements were shaking the world.
In this unfolding drama, the year 1950 is perceived as a turning point -.a Fateful Year -for Tibet as also for the newly free India which did not realize that in refusing to stand for Tibet's right for self-determination, would forfeit not only her moral right to lead the decolonized world but would fatally weaken her own security.

 

The Book is available with Har-Anand Publishers
364-A Chirag Delhi, New Delhi 110017
Tel: 6443445, 3465051, Fax: 5124868
Email: haranand@del3.vsnl.net.in

Or Department of Information and International Relations
Central Tibetan Administration
Dharamsala - 176215 H.P. INDIA
Tel: 01892-22457/22510
Fax: 01892-24957


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