January 6, 2012 - Bodhgaya.

In Bodhgaya yesterday, His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa spoke to a large group of 8,000 Tibetans, urging them to unite and preserve Tibetan culture and religion within Tibet. Newly arrived from Tibet, the Tibetans are in Bodhgaya to attend the Kalachakra initiation puja, presided over by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Speaking warmly to the huge gathering, the Gyalwang Karmapa acknowledged the arduous journey the Tibetans had undertaken to reach India. "We received the Buddha dharma that is so precious to us directly from India," he said. "Now, many of us have settled here in exile. Therefore I do not need to tell you how close and profound this relationship between Tibet and India is. From the hardships you yourselves were willing to undertake to come here to this holy place of Bodhgaya, you can perceive this directly. This alone shows very clearly the deep sense of devotion and affection that we Tibetans feel for India."

With reverence, the Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, described His Holiness the Dalai Lama's pivotal role in uniting the Tibetan people. He warmly praised His Holiness the Dalai Lama for his activities and the vast scope of his vision in leading the Tibetan people.

"The main job of you Tibetans within Tibet is to guard and preserve Tibetan culture and religion," the Gyalwang Karmapa said. "It is the job of us Tibetans in India and other free countries to let the world know what is going on within Tibet."

He went on to stress, "I want you to know that we here in exile are well aware of the sufferings and problems you face in Tibet. Do not despair, please think long term and seek out skillful means to guard the Tibetan religion and culture."

Turning to history for lessons on how to do so, he described how Tibetans have safeguarded the Buddhadharma, since the time they received it from India in the 7th century. He observed, "We Tibetans have guarded and handed it down from generation to generation as our most valued inheritance from India. Today the Buddhadharma, with its teachings of non-violence and altruism, remains in the world as a common treasure for all the world to use and enjoy."

In contrast to the flourishing of Buddhism during the earlier period when Tibet was united, the gradual growth of internal squabbling and sectarianism led to decline and landed Tibetans in their current situation, the Gyalwang Karmapa said. However, today, Tibetans are able to overcome internal divisions and unite under the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, their supreme guide, he added.

Going forward, the Gyalwang Karmapa said, "the main condition that will allow Tibetans to preserve our religion and culture will be to pull together and to stand united." As such, regional and sectarian prejudice and partisanship are grave obstacles. He called on Tibetans to set aside sectarian divisions.

"We all share a common identity as Tibetans," he said. "If that can be kept in mind, then together we can face whatever situations occur."

As his speech drew to a close, the Gyalwang Karmapa spoke of the longing that all Tibetans share to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama return to Tibet, saying he too shared that wish with then. "I always hold you Tibetans in my heart and am continually praying to be able to return and to be able to serve you in Tibet," the Gyalwang Karmapa said.

After speaking to the gathering for over an hour, the Gyalwang Karmapa stood for two hours, giving an individual blessing to each and every member of the 8,000-strong crowd. Many in the crowd were seen weeping, as they experienced what for most is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see one of the most highly revered leaders of their faith. The newly arrived Tibetans had earlier been received by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in similar fashion.


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