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Pavilion of Tibetan Culture


The Dalai Lama in Auroville

TalksOn Humanity  | Talks with the Teachers  |  Interview with Auroville Today

The visit


His Holiness the Dalai-Lama, spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people visited the International Township of Auroville on 23rd and 24th December 1993.
This was the Dalai Lama's second visit to Auroville. He first came some twenty years ago, in January 1973, after having met the Mother in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry.

In January 1993, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has consented to be the Patron of the Pavilion of Tibetan Culture in Auroville.

For five days before the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Auroville recorded the heaviest torrential rains it had witnessed for decades at this time of the year. Usually the SW monsoon is finished by early December and we thought that we would enough time to repare the roads.
During the last weeks before the 23rd December, Aurovillle saw more activities that it had seen for years as we tried to get everything ready for the visit in particular the Sri Aurobindo Auditorium in Bharat Nivas and the site of the Pavilion.

The first small miracle of the visit was that in the afternoon of the 23rd when His Holiness reached Auroville at around 3 p.m., the rain stopped. He was first taken to Forecomers, which was the first settlement in Auroville; it used to be a bare plateau of red laterite and it is now a forest with hundreds of different species of trees. Knowing the Dalai Lama's interest in environment, we had thought that he should first meet with the Aurovilians having worked on the regeneration of the life of the soil of Auroville.
He then proceeded to Pitanga Hall, the multipurpose cultural centre for Auroville near Samasti.
To coincide with the Dalai-Lama's visit an exhibit of the photographs of the renown Indian photographer Raghu Rai, taken from his book <169>Tibet In Exile<170>, was held for one month in Pitanga Hall where His Holiness took the opportunity to look at the Yoga and Dance class rooms.
The Dalai Lama next visited the Matrimandir, the <169>Soul of Auroville<170>. He could sit with his close entourage and meditate in the Inner Chamber for a few minutes.
Before retiring to his room, he was taken to the orchid section of the Matrimandir Nursery where his deep knowledge of flowers and in particular, orchids impressed everyone present.

On the 24th morning, after having given an interview to the Auroville' monthly newspaper Aurovile Today, His Holiness laid the Foundation Stone for the Pavilion of Tibetan Culture, under a cloudless sky, in Auroville's International Zone. It was a very intense moment, while he was laying the Foundation Stone (which had specially been brought from Tibet for the occasion), Tibetan monks from Ganden Monastery recited Tibetan prayers and later a group of children of Auroville sign Sanscrit Hymns to the Divine Mother.
Before leaving the site, His Holiness planted a Christmas tree to commemorate the occasion of his visit.

Before addressing Auroville in the Sri Aurobindo Auditorium, he paid a short visit to Auroville's Future, the Architecture and Planning Office of Auroville.
He could see the plans/maps of Auroville, in particular of the International zone and of the Tibetan Pavilion.

He then addressed a large gathering of Aurovilians and friends who had come from Pondicherry on one of His Holiness' favorite theme: the importance of Love, Compassion for a society.
Later we visited the Information & Reception Centre which is a large complex made of compressed earth blocks, where our visitor's information centre, a boutique, a cafetaria and multipurpose exhibition rooms are located.
His Holiness shown a lot of interest for the use of non-conventional sources of energies for the complex and in particular for the windmill.
At the time of His Holiness' visit, an exhibition was held in collaboration with the Italian Embassy in Neew Delhi. The team looking after the Italian Pavilion in Auroville had organized an Italian week in which artists from Italy are participating. This is part of the activities of the International Zone.
The Center for Scientific Research (CSR) is the place where many Tibetans have been trained in appropriate building technology (ferro-cement, mud bricks, chulas, etc...). It is also in collaboration with the CSR that the "Awareness Workshop for a Sustainable Future of Tibet" was held last July. Many of these training programs are made in collaboration with Aptt Trust of UK.
At the end of the morning His Holiness went to Transition School where he met some 35 teachers and some senior students of Auroville. An extremelly interesting debate followed on the different systems of education and in particular on non-formal education experiments attempted in Aurovillle schools. The transcript of the talk avalaible on this site.
Before leaving for Madras, His Holiness had a lunch in Dana Community with the team who had organized his visit to Auroville.
It is difficult to sum up with words such an event in the life of Auroville but it will be surely be remembered by all as the great moments in Auroville history.
This is due without doudt to the sincerity, the kindness, the compassion, the simplicity and humour to this man who like to say that he is just a simple monk.

Claude Arpi
January 1994


Talks: On Humanity                                                                             Return

Address by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Sri Aurobindo Auditorium, Bharat Nivas, Auroville
December 24, 1993

After introductory remarks by Maj. Gen. K.K. Tewari (Retd), His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressed the gathering in the Auditorium on the theme: "Humanity".

(speaking through his Secretary)
I'm extremely happy to be here again in Auroville to meet with all you people who are working in Auroville and are dedicated to your work and to achieving the goals of Auroville. I would like to thank you for asking me to come here and visit Auroville again, and I take this opportunity to especially thank Claude Arpi.

Now, I will try now to speak through my broken English.
(laughter and applause from the crowd)
Since my last visit, I have seen much progress and many developments have taken place and I'm extremely happy about it. You have done many, many things.
I had the impression from my last visit that in spite of a few trees and bushes, it was basically a barren land. Now, today, it has become almost like a forest, a jungle. This happened because of your dedication and your full involvement. You dedicated all your time and energy to certain principles and also you worked as a team with, I think, a very good sense of community. This is extremely important and very good, and therefore I would like to express my deep, deep appreciation to all of you , as a person who admired your late Founder.

I'm a person who does not believe in national boundaries. For me, all human beings are the same. If you look at the earth from outer space, national boundaries have no significance. Today, I think because of the increase in population, and also because of the modern economy and technology, the world has truly become just like one human family. Therefore we need some kind of sense of universal responsibility.
I am a person who believes in these principles and so I'm really impressed by Auroville and would like to express my deep appreciation.
I also noticed that there is a very good harmony, a good relationship with the local people, and many of the local Indians seem to fully participate and to enjoy working with Westerners. This is very good. You have the spirit of community, irrespective of religion, culture, race. We really need that.
Then, now, what else to say? (Laughter)
When you have some clear idea and certain objectives and these objectives are sustained by reason, by logic, then naturally there comes some kind of will or determination to aim for that goal. With that will, you can work even harder and your enthusiasm becomes stronger. All the difficulties and obstacles ? and there are difficulties, there are obstacles ? will be overcome by that! You gain even more courage. Therefore, ultimately, motivation is very important, it is of supreme importance.
I believe that today we human beings, in spite of many achievements and material development through science and technology, are still facing many problems. In fact, we are even facing some new problems. Generally speaking many people in the rich nations, in spite of a beautiful surface and comfort, have often some kind of mental unrest deep down, underneath. In the developed nations also, some kind of moral crisis is happening.
At the same time, although East and West used to be two separate blocs, both of them having nuclear weapons and each of them mainly based on an ideology or a system, now these blocs have disappeared. It is of course very good but then, lately, chaotic situations have developed, like in Bosnia or in some former Soviet Republics: there is some unrest, some killing and bloodshed, and this of course is very sad.
Still on the subject of humanity, there is the gap between the Southerners and the Northerners. One part of the world has a high living standard: in education and health, in everything the standard is quite high. They have more than they need, a lot of surplus. Then in another part of the same world, with the same human beings with the same human flesh, the same mind, living in similar situations, with an innate desire for a happy life, with every right to be happy people, to have a happy family.
So on one side you have millions of people enjoying a high standard of living, and on the other side, millions of people whose basic human necessities are not met; who face even starvation. Now this situation, this gap is not only morally wrong, but practically also it is a source of problems!
So long as that gap remains, humanity will face problems. For example, today developed nations are facing the problem of the new immigrants, of job seekers coming from poor countries.
In the long run, if this gap remains, naturally it will give rise to a very unhealthy situation. Distances today are hardly of much significance. Everyone depends on everyone else, and therefore we have to find ways and means to change this situation.
And another problem is the environment ? although, being a Tibetan, I only became aware of the environmental problem very recently. When we were in Tibet, we had a small population and the climate was dry, we did not face mamy problems with the environment. In fact we had hardly any problem. We could drink water from any river. So, when I first understood or heard of polluted water, that "this water can be drunk and this water is polluted and cannot be drunk", in the beginning I was a little bit surprised and I said "wait". Then I learned the importance of environment, and it really became very serious.
War, bloodshed, etc.. are things which strike us immediately. But pollution, environmental problems are not immediately visible, they are not so striking. But, invisibly, they spread. And once we realize what is happening, the problem has already become very serious, and then maybe it is too late. The environmental problem is now a very important, a serious matter.

Also when we think about humanity, when we think about the rights of every human individual, then we should not forget about the coming generations. Not only the next generation, but the ones after that, they are also human beings. These people are our own descendants, our own children and our children's children, so, as their forefathers, we have the responsibility to think of their rights, their lives!
When we think in these terms, then it is clear that not one or two individual nations can solve these problems. The entire humanity has to work as one team. When we talk about these things, of course they sound understandable, but when we want to put them into practise, to implement them, it becomes very difficult.
For that reason, I believe in these small individual institutions or organizations like Auroville which are actually working in that direction and taking practical initiatives.

So, you can see that your work, your dedication, in the long run is extremely beneficial for humanity. You should think in this line. Then, you will develop the inner force which moves you forward without a feeling of fatigue.

One more thing. It is important for a person to perform compassionate work. With some work you will immediately get a big salary, a big profit, so because of that, you may sometimes find it easier to work hard. But with compassionate work, which is of a more spiritual nature, you really need the inner force and full dedication, but in the end you will get more satisfaction.

Another factor which is an essential factor according to my own personal experience and the first-hand experience of some of my friends, is calmness of mind. When your mind is calm, then it automatically brings patience and also your health is also improved. Then you can engage in harder work.
I believe the basic factor in peace of mind is compassion, or human affection. If you think about your own experience, then the reason is quite clear: when your mind, your heart, has more of a compassionate nature, then automatically it opens what I call a kind of "inner door". Then through that door you can communicate with your fellow human beings, without any difficulties, whether you have known them before or not. Immediately when you see a fellow human being at once you feel: "Oh! another human being, just like my brother or my sister." You can communicate easily, you can communicate heart to heart. That immediately expells fear and doubt.
Take another case: if you feel here (pointing to his heart): hatred, jealousy, then it automatically closes your inner door. As a result, you find it difficult to communicate with your fellow human beings because of your own negative feelings here (again pointing to his heart). You also get the impression that other people also have some similar feeling. So, automatically you develop suspicion and doubt, and that suspicion and doubt brings fear, and then the fear fuels more frustration. Within your circle, you become more hesitant, and eventually your health will also suffer.
So peace of mind, human love and compassion, loving kindness to all and human affection are key factors.

When we think about peace of mind, when we think about a happy life, we should not forget about the value of human compassion. It is important to remember that the major religions also teach us the importance of compassion, love and forgiveness.
But, essentially, there can be two separate things ? religion and basic human values or the good qualities that you can call "secular moral ethics". Without being a religious believer, you can be a compassionate person. Therefore, if a person feels that in different religious traditions there is something effective or something useful, of course it is very good. But even if those people do not feel that religion is very relevant to their daily lives, it doesn't matter, they can remain non-believers, but at the same time they shouldn't neglect the basic human qualities such as human affection.

Obviously, I believe that the basis of human nature is gentleness. Many people feel that the basis of human nature is aggressive. Let us think about it, let us examine it. Yes, certainly anger, hatred, greed and aggression together with human intelligence are part of human nature.
If you look at human history, the aggressive human nature has played an important role, it has caused much wrong in human history. But, certainly, the dominant force in our mind is affection or gentleness. The dominant human force is human compassion and affection.

Now, let us reason, think about our lives. Our life begins with our mother, nourishing us with her milk ? it can be our mother or someone else. If we look at the child at birth, one sees that he naturally feels through his body, he has a very close physical feeling towards his mother or whoever is feeding him. It is a very intimate feeling! Without that feeling, the child would not suck the breast. It is a law of nature. And that is the most important period for the child. It is the beginning of his life. There is no room for anger at that time, only affection.

Now take education. When we are getting a lesson from a teacher, that person shows us compassion, love, and a sense of concern. The lesson that comes from the mouth of that person has real value! You can feel that it has value! And the lesson goes deep, not only in our brain, but also in our heart!
Take another case: if a very important lesson comes from a person who never shows affection or concern towards you as his student then, that lesson can of course go up here (pointing to his head), but not down here (pointing to his heart).

Now, when we get sick, we call for one doctor or another. But, according to my own experience, when I meet a really qualified doctor ? with sophisticated machines, but less than a smile, a doctor who acts like a robot without much human feeling ? then sometimes I have a little doubt about this doctor! But if the doctor (even if he has a less sophisticated equipment) is full of smiles and has a lot of human feeling, then I am much more comfortable (laughing). I start to think: "Oh! this doctor will do his best!" Here also human affection is very much involved.

Now, on to our last day, the day of our death. When a person is dying, even an ordinary doctor will usually advise people to keep a peaceful atmosphere around the person, to not disturb him. "Quiet!" The person, whether he is disturbed or not, will die!! In any case he is dying. You may think: "It does matter much!" But if in your state of mind there is more compassion, and the dying person is surrounded by silence or by close friends, then the dying person will feel happier.
It is the law of nature and the nature of our life.

Regarding your health: for every part of your body, it is very relevant to have a peaceful mind, rather than an agitated mind. When your mind remains calm and more compassionate, your blood circulation is always
normal. When your mind becomes more agitated, then it will eventually worsen. Everybody is very much healthier with a compassionate mind than with an angry mind.
That is human nature, basic human nature.

Thinking along these lines my conclusion is that basic human nature is gentleness or compassion. It is therefore much more logical if we act according to our basic nature, i.e. gentleness. Unfortunately we often act in a contradictory manner. There is potential, if we make efforts to remain aware, we can change. We can transform ourselves, just like in Auroville the barren land has been transformed and is full of life. Similarly, each individual human being, using his intelligence and determination, can change! According to my own experience, with effort I can change, and to a certain extent I have changed my mental attitude. And it has brought me much, much benefit. Therefore, to develop peace of mind, compassion and human affection are very, very important factors. There is no point in neglecting these basic and good human qualities.

Each individual human being has in himself the potential or seed of these good qualities. The only question is whether we want to make the effort or not, that is the question. Otherwise, we can change. We can change our minds through mental training, just like we can train our physical bodies.

Therefore, for individuals who really seek peace of mind, the method is there, the potential is there. They do not necessarily need to go to the market, or to some sophisticated hospital, and pay a lot of money, and try to get peace of mind or some kind of compassionate mind. Without paying anything, you can develop it! Even in the supermarket, you cannot buy peace of mind. You cannot buy a happy mind, a compassionate mind.
For the compassionate mind, the seed of these good things is in you from your birth, it is are already there. I feel that it is very important to realize this and to think about it.

Now concerning religion: when we talk about religion or religious traditions, we immediately get a picture of a temple or different customs or rituals. This is not truly speaking the real sense of religion: these are not necessarily religious things. Generally speaking, the real sense of religion has to do with a positive mind. A positive mind means that which ultimately brings us benefit or happiness, and the method by which these things are generated: this is the essence of religion.
The reason is quite clear: the external features of religion can be utilized in a negative way. They are therefore not essential, and not necessarily religious either. The essence of religion, like compassion, cannot be negative! For example, the recitation by mouth (Mantras), is of course part of religious practice, but while you are reciting some mantras, you can be thinking of hatred, of profit or how to cheat this gentleman or that one. You can think about these things while you are reciting your mantra, but that is not a true religious action.

Then, meditate on compassion. That is true religion! Because while you meditate on compassion, you cannot think about hatred. These two thoughts cannot go together. These two thoughts which oppose each other cannot go together. So, therefore, meditation on compassion is the essential religion.
If we can realize the essentials of the major religious traditions, then that is what is relevant to our modern daily lives. If we look at the superficial or the ritualistic level, these may not be relevant in our daily lives. If we think about the deeper level, all the major religious traditions carry the same message, ? although the presentation about love and compassion may differ because of different philosophies, but the general concept of compassion is the same. Once we realize the importance of this and we appreciate the deeper value of the human mind, then it automatically brings genuine respect towards all other religions. So, that also acts as a foundation for the development of harmony between different religious traditions. This is also very crucial.
Now, sometimes, religions also become yet one more instrument to divide humanity. So compassion, a compassionate mind has many, many important roles.
And according to my own little experience, we can change. We can transform ourselves. Therefore, those people who feel OK about what I just said, can try to experiment with it in their daily lives. At least, spend a few minutes every day, analyze these things and try to develop compassion, and eventually compassion will become a part of your life. Then you'll be a truly happy person.
If you find that my talk has not much relevance to your daily life, then just forget it. (Laughter) There is not much problem.
So, thank you very much. That's all. (Applause)

***

After His Holiness had spoken, an Aurovilian expressed the sentiment of the whole community when giving the vote of thanks: "Ever since the soil of Tibet was placed in the urn of Auroville in 1968, our contacts have been ongoing. Your laying of the Foundation Stone of the Tibetan Pavilion is like a confirmation, a Seal of Dharma on that relationship whose ties will be cemented further still in the years to come.
In 1954, the Mother had a Dream:
"There should be somewhere upon Earth a place that no nation could claim as its sole property, a place where all human beings of good-will, sincere in their aspiration could live freely as citizens of the world, obeying one single authority, that of the Supreme Truth."
Your Holiness, you have the Dream of a future Tibet that will be a Zone of Peace and a spiritual sanctuary for mankind.
May both those Dreams prevail.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama:
Thank you very much.
I would like to express my deep appreciation for these gifts. I specially very much appreciate that you mentioned about Tibet and particularly Claude my old friend who always shown deep concern about Tibet.
We, Tibetans are in this country [India] for more than 34 years. we are refugees. But not refugees from a natural disaster, but because of the political situation.
Tibet, even according to the Chinese has a civilization as old as the Chinese civilization and it had its unique environment. Later due to the introduction of Buddhism in Tibet, Tibet developed its own unique cultural heritage, its own culture with its own written language and it produced its own history.
So, Tibet is a separate country from China, there is no doubt about it!
Since the Chinese invasion, a lots of destruction and sufferings have happened, even the late Panchen Lama who often spoke on behalf of the Chinese ? obviously his inner person is very strongly Tibetan, but because of the circumstances, he was compelled to speak only according to the Chinese policy ? even him, just two days before his sudden death, he expressed that "since the Chinese have occupied Tibet" (Laughing), no, no he did not used the word "occupation" of course, he said "since the Chinese came to Tibet, there are many developments, but these developments can not match with the destruction."
I truly believe if the invaders had brought something good ? they themselves claimed to be the liberators ? if the liberators had brought good things, the history is the history, the past is the past, things will be different today. But in reality, the liberators brought on us misery and fear, therefore after more than 40 years of Chinese invasion, the gap between the Chinese and the Tibetan is still wide, it is even widen.
Now when we were in Tibet until early 1959, the crisis was not a racial crisis, the crisis was only due to the invasion, but since then, due to the Chinese behaviour the crisis has worsened. It now involves many different aspects and factors: on aspect is the environment, another one is the racial discrimination, there is also a cultural genocide and human rights violation and all this besides the invasion.
Therefore the Tibetan issue is something important.
To take the example of the environment issue, the major rivers which flow in the Asian continent have their source in Tibet: once Tibet is polluted or eroded or nuclear waste are damped there, if something happen, it will affect major area in Asia. [that is why it is an important issue].
For alll these reasons, I appreciate your concern, your understanding and your sympathy.
I really appreciate.
Today we are passing a difficult period, so we really need your help.
Thank you very much!
(Applause)

 


Talks with the Teachers                                                                             Return

His Holiness the Dalai Lama
meets
the Auroville teachers
Transition School, 24 December 1993.

His Holiness: Do you still have an education system without examinations, and if so, how do you evaluate the children?

Deepti: Here in Auroville you have to build your consciousness and education is meant to help you to find this consciousness. The only principle is that a child should up grow in contact with his soul. That's the difficulty: each human being has his own way, each child has to find his own way.

His Holiness: Yes, I understand. You have different nationalities, different cultures, different religions, ideologies of course, I understand all that. But from the educational point of view, do you see any advantages to this system?
With an examination system, every year, every time you examine the students, it creates a sense of competition, and without that sense of competition students may, sometimes, become less concerned about studying. Of course there is a positive and a negative aspect to the competition. So, what advantage does a system without exams have?
(Laughter)

Miriam: I grew up in a system without examinations and because there is no examination and there is no external push, you do have to find something to push you forward, you have to find your own individual push. And the students have to find that from a very early age.

His Holiness: It is when things become difficult, when you face the challenge, then the real examination takes place.

Miriam: Yes, yes, and that is happening to the Auroville children all the time.

Deepti: Your Holiness, Miriam grew up in Auroville. She is a product of our educational system and now she is teaching. Tashi also grew up in this system.

Jean: Having no syllabus, the teacher needs the plasticity to adapt to every batch of children who come to his class. All the children are different and we have to answer each one of them, on demand. When we are in front of a problem, it has to be solved. For me, the problem is not to have examinations or not.

His Holiness: What is the ratio of children to teachers here?

Deepti: It is much bigger, you have more teachers here than you would in a normal school. We have a happy situation.

His Holiness: Then how many students does a teacher have at one time?

Deepti: The largest class size could be twenty and the smallest could be on a one-to-one basis. It depends on the teacher and the subject.

His Holiness: After twenty years of experience, what difference do you find between children who have been to other schools and your students? For example, what is the difference in the educational standard of children who have finished from prestigious schools and those who finished from your school?

Jean: I think one of the main advantages of Auroville is the human contact, the focus on human development. And that does not have to be taught, it is in you. You have to master it and discover it throughout your life.
In Auroville you can learn all your life. Intellectually, you may have less knowledge here than in a normal school. But here you have a human knowledge, and the theoretical or intellectual knowledge you can learn anytime time during your life.

Ulla: One main difference is that youth who come from traditional schools have a clear concept about themselves or what has happened or what will happen. So this brings in, of course, an element of rigidity, of knowing exactly what to do. The advantage for me in Auroville is the unknown factor. We don't even know what the advantage will be, we cannot frame it, we cannot articulate it. So it's a risk, we are going from one experiment to the other, although we don't know where we are going. It is a more open flexible situation, where later on the grown-up will try to find out what he learned as a youth. So he is coming in contact with many aspects within himself. And this is necessary.

His Holiness: Now, if you take a different subject, e.g. history or mathematics, and suppose that a child is lagging behind in one subject. What do you do? Do you throw him out or leave him to work it out himself?

Deepti: You use the maximum pressure you have at your disposal which means you work with friendly persuasion. There are no exams and there are no external pressures. It is a sort of a persuasion from your side and a movement of wanting to learn from the child. That has to be awakened. Because the basic principle of Auroville is that what has to emerge has to emerge from within. We do not compromise on that principle. We want to create a human being that finds what has to emerge from within. So we have that chaos, while the being hasn't yet found the inner spirit and the freedom of the inner spirit that can control the outer; we are in a process, the children as much as the teachers.

His Holiness: In some ways this is quite profound.
(Laughter).
Did you make some kind of investigation or have you undertaken some studies and worked out any percentages to see how people who have been taken care of and who have grown up in Auroville's educational system, have fared in life? for example, in their marriages, in their family relationships, whether they've fared better than others?

Deepti: But your Holiness, that would depend on the measure that you use. Our measures are not the measures of normal society. We want the child to have a universal temperament so that he can see himself as a citizen of the world. Now how do you measure a human being? Because we are talking about inner qualities.
Our children tend to be survivors. They can manage in most life situations, perhaps not by the measures of worldly success, but as human beings they're different. Because to grow up in Auroville is to grow up among many cultures many attitudes and ideas which sometimes conflict with each other. You ARE different, you are a citizen of the world, you grow up with a sense of the world. And we think that is a success, even if the academic side is not measurable with what a normal education would be.

Secretary to His Holiness: His Holiness is also trying to find out the result on human relationships.

His Holiness: When a person is brought up in this education system, as you mentioned earlier, with a stronger accent on spiritual aspects and more human feelings, is he a happier person?
Now what is the main reason why we need more human feeling?
It is that this being should be a happier person. That is our aim, isn't it? He should also give less trouble to the society. Take a couple who has not gone through your education system, they love each other and marry. In that marriage, do you have less divorce? Now if this couple has children, do the children become healthier due to their parent's way of life?
If this study gives clear results, then of course, it is an achievement and it does not matter if others criticize or what they say about it.
Then, you mention about "culture", there is no one "culture", "different cultures"!
When we think in terms of "one humanity", when we think of this culture or that culture, then, I think, this culture is man-made. People live in different communities, and according to different environments and other circumstances, it creates a "culture". In this way, each place has a different culture.
Now suppose that "a citizen of the world" has all the "cultures", it is impossible!
"Culture" is quite a peculiar thing!
Forget about "culture"!
(gesture of rejecting)
Return to the Stone Age, was human nature was not yet sophisticated: man-made culture was not yet developed!
So at that time there is no demarcation of culture. (Gesture like a fence, a barrier).
Simply human beings require human feelings in order to be happy, in order to have a successful life.
What we need to find, is the way to feed our children, they may come from the East, the West, the South or the North, from a cultured or an uncultured nation, from an educated or an uneducated background, they are all the same, with the same genuine human affection, the same smile, the same spirit: when someone falls down, whether you have been introduced to him or not, whether you know him or not, you should go there and help him, that it is an act of basic human nature.
Perhaps in certain cases, if a person fell down a Hindu, a Muslim or a Buddhist, will feel that person has a different robe, he feels different, ("Oh, this is not my culture, it does not belongs to us"). There I think it is man-made culture which creates the clear divisions. But let it be.
(Gesture of dismissal).
Human beings are the same, but if we put more emphasis on artificial cultural heritage, if we forget that others may be suffering, then it becomes a problem. What should we do to solve the problem?
All "man-made culture" must be based on human feelings. Sometimes we emphasize artificial culture and we make these artificial cultures a top priority and we forget about human feeling, but on what basis? I don't know?
We have to feel both: basic human culture, human value, but artificial culture is also necessary sometimes. (Laughter)
It is almost impossible to make only one culture.

Jaci: Your Holiness, Mother and Sri Aurobindo spoke of the development of the psychic being, the soul as the real factor that could harmonize all the different contrasts of culture, personality, etc.

His Holiness: Right, right, right, absolutely right.

Jaci: The only possibility of harmonizing is to go from inside to outside, never the contrary. So, this could be the answer.

His Holiness: Yes, that's true.

Jill: I think that the more complicated a society becomes, the more structure is imposed on it from the outside, the more the people in that society forget the basis of their coming together. People come together because they've agreed that working and living together is more important than staying apart; that through coming together there's a strength, through help, through love, and what we do is, we use that as the basis of coming together. But then we build all these artificial things, it looks like we're going higher, we're progressing, but in fact at the same time we might also be losing the thing that we started with.

His Holiness: Yes, that's true.

Jill: What we would like to do here is to not forget why we came together. I think it's really important for people in Auroville to not forget the reason that brought us here in the first place.

His Holiness: That's absolutely true. (Pause) How many children have grown up in Auroville?

Deepti: I think perhaps a hundred. A lot of people have not gone to the end of their studies, they've spent a little bit of time in Auroville and have left.
Actually counting all the schools in Auroville which are run for the village as well as the other schools, it would be about 600/700 children. The Auroville children themselves are around 175. But now we have more young people growing up in Auroville. Earlier there were only a few, like Miriam and Tashi, but there were fewer children then.

Jean: We should consider also that our classes only go up to a certain level. But we observe that for levels beyond that children have to go outside to other schools or universities. From what we have seen, generally, they perform well and they fill in the missing links ? intellectually missing links! ? quite fast. And on the human level, they adapt very well, that's important.

His Holiness: Do you have any plans to go beyond the present level so that students do not have to go out to ordinary schools and later to colleges? Do you have any plan to go up to university level with the same system?

Deepti: Luc grew up in Auroville and he has a dream to open a center for higher learning.

Luc: It started a few years ago when I was doing my correspondence course. I think that is the equivalent of XIIth standard. As I was doing it all alone for 16 months I thought it would be nicer to do it together with other students so that we would help each other in studying and so forth. And then the idea came to me, together with the teacher with whom I was working, to create a place where students could come and study together after they leave "Last School". I was always studying in Auroville and never wanted to leave just to study, so I wanted to create more opportunities for those who want to stay in Auroville. And it's happening right now. The building is coming up, and we're thinking about how to set up a pattern for that type of education.

His Holiness: With the kind of education you are providing at the moment, what is the highest level that the students can reach? If children have to go into ordinary schools, what class would does one go into, or does it differ from child to child?

Deepti: It really differs from child to child, but one could go into the Xth or the XIIth standard depending on one's capacity. Luc, for instance, has finished the 12th. It is possible. It depends on the child himself, on how much he has worked, etc. Because he is free, the child has to make the effort and find the energy and the commitment within himself.

His Holiness: If they need, do they have a certificate so that they can go up to the highest level instead of going to university elsewhere?

Deepti: We recognize that

Jean: [To go to a higher level] We also need people who are able to teach. Up till now, we did it through correspondence courses, with the help of some teachers.
In fact, we are not professional teachers. We are good-willed people who are concerned about education and we give our time and the knowledge we have acquired, but we have no more than that. We research, we don't know, we are experimenting.

Ulla: We have to admit that there is often a sense of disappointment or frustration among the teachers with the results we see in front of us. We have read the books of Mother and Sri Aurobindo on their concept of education so we have a goal somewhere, we know where we would like to go.
The difficulty is how to bridge that gap. We are here (indicating here) right now, and we would like to be there, how to get there? It leaves us teachers often with a sense of frustration and the problem of how to transfer the things we want to the children? How to carry it over? My secret guess is that it is by living it yourself, by experiencing and then perhaps the children will notice it. It is one problem.
And also, because we have this goal for the future, our perception is often geared towards the future. But eventually, we might have to learn to make the best of our present potential. To look around us to see where we are, and how best we can use the situation. Because we're often looking there [the future], and not here [the present].

Claude: Once Dr. Tenzin Choedrak came to visit in Auroville and he took the pulse of more than 150 Aurovilians. He said the same thing as Ulla: Aurovilians are suffering from the same disorder, "too much wind in the brain". It was due, according to Dr. Choedrak, to the tension caused by the very high ideals aimed at by Aurovilians and the actual physical reality. (laughter) Most of the Aurovilians had the same problem.

His Holiness: It's sometimes good to have good ideas and vision. But of course it can be unrealistic. At the same time visions or ideas must progress with the day-to-day situation. It is difficult to judge, right from the beginning, "this much we can achieve, this much we cannot achieve", it is very difficult to judge. I don't know today how much can be achieved without examinations.
One of the basic aims is, as you mentioned, every effort should be made to cultivate in the child's mind a feeling of basic human values. It is essential that, under any circumstance, you keep up the effort.
But the ordinary system, as a whole, is not necessarily bad. Now in the present world crisis, we are certainly not lacking education, but we are facing a lot of problems because basic human feeling is lacking, education lacks a spiritual side, that is true.
So we have to fill up that lack.
But that lack does not necessarily come from the present educational system. I believe that in the present educational system, the teachers of each subject must first cultivate genuine human feeling in themselves, in each class they conduct; they must demonstrate and introduce, day by day, in the minds of children, what is the basic human value.
The teacher-student relation must be like a family relation, just like a family relation. So the student will eventually develop a complete trust in the teacher. He will think: "He is here not only to teach me, but he is really helping me to develop myself step by step". For that the teacher's attitude must be developed.
Then, on the other end, the family, each family must create that atmosphere. Then, the system, I don't know, I don't really know about systems . . .
If you have some complete plan up to university level, today that is not there, so it is still in the experimental stage and so it is very difficult, very difficult, I don't know!
Anyway the kind of human society which will come must develop on this basis, that's clear, because of your dissatisfaction with the present system. You carry on your work as an experiment, so it is wonderful, really wonderful. So, logically, as an experiment, you find a lot of problems (laughter). That's natural.
There are also a lot of problems because there are no other models to learn from.
Please, you should not discourage yourself. Carry on with your enthusiasm and your spirit.
Sometimes high ideals can also be impractical. So knowing that, you should make every effort, and if in spite of your efforts, you really feel that it is a problem, then you have to admit that the ideal was too high! No one can reach there.
Still you must make every effort. There are two kinds of effort: an effort in action, and a mental intellectual effort. Make every effort in thinking, planning, thinking, planning (gesture high, low, high, low) to the highest goal, and you should know there are many stages. Make clear in your mind what is the blueprint in order to reach there and make all the efforts, even physical efforts.
You do all these efforts and then, after all the efforts are over, if there is still some difficulty, you can say, "Well, that's impossible to achieve! (Laughter) We have to change our plans" or "We have to find other ways and means".
Therefore, we realize that just to insist on highest ideal now, is not practical. (Laughter) You have to take some different methods, different ways step by step and realize the failure of your goal. (Laughter)
So there is no reason to be discouraged when the motivation is sincere. You are dedicated and are making every effort with sincere motivation and a clear mind. But the ideal itself is not so easy to achieve. Yes, the reality itself is finally the big obstacle. And now, what to do? (laughter)

Claude: Could you tell us about your education? About your relationship with your teachers who were some of the highest lamas/teachers of Tibet?

His Holiness: (laughter) I can generally say that in the Tibetan system, in modern subjects, the course we was backward.
But in Buddhist studies, which include subjects like Sanskrit, medicine, etc generally our system is quite good. On the side of the teachers there is a sense of genuine concern, and generally from the students side, there is a sense of respect which, I think, creates some positive things.
In modern education this aspect is lacking.
Take, for example, our monastic institutions in India, even today, after 40 years in exile, still these genuine teachers don't get any salary for the amount of teaching they give. Not a single rupee.
The students eventually of course get some benefits [from these teachings]! (Laughter)
But for the teachers: no fixed salary, nothing. Their whole life is completely devoted to teaching.
Then about competition, as I mentioned earlier, there can be positive competition and negative competition. The sense of competition in which someone is gunning for another, that of course is negative competition. But the sense of competition, when a student thinks "he did this, it is good, I must catch up", that sense of competition is a positive action.
About human nature: the students need a challenge. Although students may not like exams, they have to start studying and it gives results. In my case, for example, till the time my final examination was fixed, I never paid serious attention to my studies. (Laughter)
My final exams were fixed in 1957 for 1959; then I really put in a lot of effort.

Martanda: Were they written or oral?

His Holiness: Oral examinations. In Buddhist study.

Martanda: How was it?

His Holiness: Mine? .. . not too bad. (Laughter) My name, of course, helped me a great deal.

Jill: Were your teachers afraid to fail you?

His Holiness: I think so, I really think so. But what made me proud and encouraged me was that after my examination some of the best scholars told me (His Holiness interrupting the translator to clarify: "they did not say to me directly, but to some other people), they said "Did he really study? So if His Holiness had really studied as much as other students, then he would have done wonderfully". (Laugher)
But, you see, I had a good excuse, I didn't have a lot of time. I had some other responsibilities. (Laughter)
Thirty four years ago, we became refugees in India. Pandit Nehru was there at that time and he fully supported us. We told the Indian government that we wanted separate schools. The main reason was that we wanted not only to keep our Tibetan identity, but also the spirit of Tibetan Buddhist culture. We knew very well we were lacking normal education, that we should fill up that lack, and at the same time we did not want to lose our traditional values.
Therefore, we are now in separate schools, but following the Indian government curriculum. The medium of instruction, following Pandit Nehru's advice, is English, but it always goes together with the Tibetan language. So more than 30 years after we started this school system, (I think after 32 years), the results still are not very clear; although, broadly speaking, they are good.
Our basic aim was to combine a modern educational system with a complete form of our own cultural system in Tibetan, but we've not been able to achieve what we expected. It is not easy. The situation is always found to be difficult. You must depend on other people.

Akash: But what do you learn, traditionally, in Tibet?

His Holiness: Of course, mainly the Buddhist philosophy in my case.
Generally speaking, in order to produce a good scholar, you need at least 20 to 30 years of study. There are many texts to learn by heart, and then debated: each word should be understood precisely.

Deepti: Your Holiness, we wanted to present to you some books that were written and produced in Auroville, and Tashi will give them to you, and also a book that we published on "Tibet". And "Mother on Education" containing some texts of Mother on education.

(Books are presented by Tashi Dolma, an Aurovilian)

Deepti: I want to express, on behalf of all the teachers, and though all of Auroville has already said it, but we teachers, feel it even more deeply, that Tibet must be free and soon.
(Pause)

His Holiness: Thank you. Yes. I feel very strongly, if Tibet survives, then Tibet can play two important roles. First Tibet lays between China and India, the two most populous nations, so if Tibet is free and at least, free from weapons, that is the best guarantee, the best security for India and China. The two most powerful nations can have a genuine friendship.
So this is one reason. And of course, from Tibet the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, the Yellow River and some other rivers reach China, Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. These waters should really remain pure.
That's one of the reasons why Tibet should be free.
If the ecology of Tibet is really spoiled, then the monsoon in the above countries will be affected. It will not remain normal. If the current situation is not changed inside Tibet, it can be a very severe threat for the coming monsoons in the Himalayas.
Another role that a free Tibet can play with the Tibetan culture: the Buddhist culture is a peaceful culture and can contribute something to the whole Himalayan region, from Arunachal Pradesh to Bhutan and Ladakh, then to Inner and Outer Mongolia and also to the three republics of the Russian Federation, the Buriat Republic, who are traditionally Buddhist, (they practise the same tradition of Buddhism as Tibetan Buddhism).
Even in China, Buddhism is certainly not alien to the Chinese mind. So today as a result of the so-called Marxist tradition, the mind and the morale of young Chinese are very low and they are going through a moral crisis. So here also Tibet can make a contribution, in all these areas.
Therefore, if Tibet survives under this threat, Tibet can be a useful nation, a useful human community for the betterment of humanity. Thank you! Thank you!



Interview with Auroville Today
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 Auroville Today
interviews
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
at Kottakarai Guest House on 24.12.93.

 

 

Auroville Today: In 1973 you met The Mother in Pondicherry. What are your recollections of that meeting?

His Holiness: Yes, I remember that meeting quite clearly. She was sitting in her chair - it seemed it was difficult for her to speak - but the atmosphere around her was not only nice, but meaningful. There were two or three persons with me and I asked about the future. I can't remember her exact words but the meaning was that the future was hopeful and positive.

Auroville Today: For Tibet or the whole world?

His Holiness: For the whole world, for humanity.

Auroville Today: Yesterday you visited the chamber of Matrimandir. What were your impressions?

His Holiness: It's difficult to reach (Laughter).
The main hall which you have completed is very nice and inside it's very calm, very peaceful. I spent a few minutes in meditation.

Auroville Today: Have you noticed any changes in Auroville since you were last here?

His Holiness: One thing that has surprised me very much was that when I first came the land was barren. I remember the sun was out that day and I was wondering where the best place was to find some shade. Today you needn't worry about that!
(Laughter)
It's full of trees, it's almost like a jungle! Now you're probably worried about snakes, and yesterday I even asked if there were any elephants here!(Laughter) Today in many parts of the world
we're very concerned about deforestation. This type of project of restoration is really marvellous. If the people involved in this work here could use whatever experience they have gained, and find the opportunity to extend their work to a high altitude place like Ladakh, if it works there, we could adopt it in a future Tibet.
Also, I have found here a very good sense of community; you are a determined people, you have an objective, will and determination. I've also found you have an incredible relation with the local people and they participate fully. I feel this type of teamwork should spread to other places.

Auroville Today: Do you see that we can help you in a future Tibet?

His Holiness: Certainly. Your spirit of dedication, your vision and sense of community and your clear acceptance and realization of the value of spiritual things are very important. You see, there are many projects that are very good for material development but are often lacking in spiritual value or realization. In other cases, there is an emphasis on spirtual things but with a neglect of practical progress. Here I found a combination of the two. Certainly we can learn many things from you and the members of the community here can help us in many fields.

Auroville Today: Do you feel that there is a new consciousness, a new force at work in the world?

His Holiness: That's a difficult question. On the mysterious level sometimes I feel there may be some energies or forces, but it is difficult to be definite about it. One thing I believe is that if our mind remains calm when we are facing serious problems and difficulties, we have the ability to find different alternatives. We have such a wonderful human intelligence and imaginative power. So, therefore, when things become really desperate, it helps to open our mind. And today I think we are passing through exactly that kind of period of difficulty.

Auroville Today: Is humanity at a crossroads?

His Holiness: I think so, I think so.

Auroville Today: What is the path that we should take?

His Holiness: My basic belief lies in a combination of material and spiritual development. It is not necessary to be religeous-minded, for even without religion there are many secular moral ethics and, I think, a secular spirituality. That means the basic human values such as compassion, love and a willingness to forgive. These I usually call the human spiritual qualities. I believe we learn these basic qualities from our parents, particularly from our mother, or anyone who shows love and compassion to you. We learn these deeper human values from that period, from birth. Religion comes later. Of course religion has a great potential to help humanity and these basic human qualities can be strengthened by religious belief, but if we go deeper, even without religion there can be genuine spirituality.

Auroville Today: Will traditional religions still have a role to play in the future?

His Holiness: Sometimes I've described religion as a luxury item. Now for the survival of the individual or the survival of humanity or the world, religion has an important role to play. But we can also survive without religion, provided that the basic human qualities are there. Without these basic human qualities we cannot survive. Our whole future must be dependent on what I call these secular moral ethics. These are the foundations of human existence. In order to make clear these basic values and their importance I described religion as a luxury item. Many people consider that religion is not very relevant to their day-to-day life. Their attitude to religion is indifferent. Simultaneously these people don't care about human values such as love, compassion and forgiveness, and they confuse these values with religion. This is absolutely wrong. You can be a believer or an unbeliever, that is up to the individual, that's each person's right, but there is no choice between being a compassionate or non-compassionate person, as I believe that compassionate moderation is the basis of our happiness, our mental stability. And for our daily life as well as the world's future, mental stability and calmness of mind is a crucial factor for a good life, a positive life. World peace - peace with our fellow human beings, peace with animals, and peace with the environment - is much dependent on that kind of mental state.

Auroville Today: How would you define the essence of Tibetan culture?

His Holiness: Tibetan culture has developed due to many factors - environmental, climatic and others - but Buddhism is the major factor in the development of Tibet's unique culture, which I call a Buddhist culture. Even non-Buddhist Tibetans have adopted the mental attitudes and way of life of Buddhist culture. That culture is based on the practice of compassion and tolerance.

Auroville Today : Is that culture under threat?

His Holiness: Yes, of course. Quite strangely, outside Tibet, although we are not in our own country and are in a different environment, I think we've kept our Tibetan spiritual identity. Inside Tibet, because of the overall situation in Tibet which is very tense - but where of course the Buddhist faith as well as the feeling for freedom is very strong - the Tibetan people's behaviour sometimes seems less tolerant, they immediately lose their temper and their emotional control over small incidents. This I feel is a clear indication of how much damage is happening inside of Tibet.

Auroville Today: Can you retransplant that essential Tibetan culture back into Tibet?

His Holiness: Yes, of course, of that there is no doubt. Of course, unless the situation changes and becomes positive it is difficult to think of returning. At the moment in the bigger towns such as Lhasa the majority of the population is Chinese. So one major factor is the Chinese population influx. Because of the majority Chinese population the Tibetan minority is compelled to speak Chinese and act like Chinese. This is the major negative factor. When in the future things change, we can of course retransplant. I keep saying that one of the main tasks for Tibetans outside is to keep the Tibetan deeper spiritual values, no matter what the difficulties. So that when things change and we return with freedom, then it is our responsibility to restart.

Auroville Today: Your Holiness, your main reason for coming today is to lay the foundation stone of the Tibetan pavilion. What for you is the significance of a pavilion of Tibetan culture in Auroville?

His Holiness: I think we have some potential to make a little contribution for the betterment of human beings. We have a legitimate right to participate with you! (Laughter)

Auroville Today: Do you see this Pavilion as having a significance stretching beyond the boundaries of Auroville?

His Holiness: A symbolic significance, yes. I was very moved, very happy, when I was told that some earth from Tibet was brought here.

Auroville Today : It was an eight kilo brick! (Laughter)

His Holiness: Sometimes this works on a mysterious level.
For the human mind, when you know that there's something from Tibet here, you feel a special relation.
I feel that Tibetan culture with its unique heritage - born of the effort of many human beings of good spirit, of its contacts with Chinese, Indian, Nepalese and Persian culture, and due to its natural environment - has developed some kind of energy which is useful, and very helpful, towards cultivating peace of mind and a joyful life. I feel that there is a potential for Tibet to help humanity, and particularly our Eastern neighbour, where millions of young Chinese have lost their spiritual values.
In this way I feel very strongly that Tibetan culture will have a future role to play in humanity. So therefore, wherever there are spiritual centres like Auroville, if Tibet can participate it can be a way or a channel to communicate Tibetan culture to other people.
I have dedicated the rest of my life to demilitarization on a global level. As a first step, Tibet should be a zone of peace and completely demilitarized, so that in the future we can help not only China and India but also the world community. This is my vision and hope for the future.

 

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