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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

In a first for Dalai Lama, only virtual audience, no crowds

In February-end, all his public and private audiences were canceled due to the pandemic.

Written by Varinder Bhatia | Chandigarh | Updated: May 15, 2020 11:10:03 am
In a first for Dalai Lama, only virtual audience, no crowds The Dalai Lama will deliver his teachings on May 16-17, which will be telecast live on his official website. File

For the first time in over six decades since Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama came to India, he will be delivering Buddhist teachings without a gathering in front of him.

After almost a five-month hiatus, the Dalai Lama will resume his teachings on May 16-17. Besides the theme of teachings based on the revered Tibetan philosopher Nagarjuna’s ‘Precious Garland’ chapters, he will “also be providing general advice appropriate to these challenging times”.

Considering the coronavirus lockdown, millions of his followers who used to throng Himachal Pradesh’s town of McLeodganj in Dharamshala to see him, will be able to catch a glimpse of the Dalai Lama, live, after a gap of nearly five months. The Dalai Lama gave his last teachings to a public gathering in January. In February-end, all his public and private audiences were canceled due to the pandemic.

While the Dalai Lama will be delivering the teachings from his residence in McLeodganj, for two days, the same shall be telecast live on his official website. The teaching sessions for two days will be delivered in Tibetan language, but will simultaneously be translated in 13 languages to be broadcast globally.

“While five translators who will be translating the teachings in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Portuguese and Korean are based in Dharamshala, there are translators based in Taiwan, Moscow, Frankfurt, Toulouse etc. Another based in Portland, USA, will translate the teachings in Japanese, while one in New Delhi will translate in Hindi,” Tseten S Chhoekyapa, Secretary, Dalai Lama’s private office, told The Indian Express.

Tseten added, “His Holiness has also asked all his followers to maintain social distancing and adhere to norms prescribed by their respective countries…while watching the teaching sessions. It will be the first time His Holiness will not have a public audience in front of him”.

“We had requests from many Tibetan Buddhist centres, Tibetan monasteries, people who admire His Holiness, journalists from across the globe, individuals and organisations, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist. So the teachings shall also be webcast without a second’s delay with the video live in 13 languages,” Tseten further said.

“The appeal was made by Kashag on behalf of Tibetans and millions of Buddhists around the world who would benefit and take renewed strength from His Holiness’ teachings,” said Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay.

Talking about health of the Dalai Lama, who is now aged 84, and his routine during the ongoing lockdown period, Tseten said, “You will see his health on the 16th. He is in extremely good health. He gets up at around 3.30–4 am and says his prayers. He takes his breakfast around 6.30 am and then gets into meditation and prayers. He goes to bed around 6.30 pm so that he can get a good 8-9 hours of sleep. It is very important for him so that when he wakes up next morning, he feels very rested and relaxed. His Holiness is a very active person. He does a lot of exercise, walking these days”.

In his May 1 message regarding the ongoing pandemic, the Dalai Lama had said, “In this time of serious crisis, we face threats to our health and sadness for the family and friends we have lost. Economic disruption is posing a major challenge to governments and undermining the ability of so many people to make a living. It is during times like this that we must focus on what unites us as members of one human family. Accordingly, we need to reach out to each other with compassion. As human beings, we are all the same. We experience the same fears, the same hopes, the same uncertainties, yet we are also united by a desire for happiness. Our human capacity to reason and to see things realistically gives us the ability to transform hardship into opportunity. This crisis and its consequences serve as a warning that only by coming together in a coordinated, global response, will we meet the unprecedented magnitude of the challenges we face. I pray we all heed ‘The Call to Unite’.”

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