His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Kalachakra in 2006.

The Dalai Lama opened the Kalachakra teachings this week in Amravati, India, with a powerful statement urging Tibetans from inside Tibet to tell Tibetans when they return about the importance of the ‘Middle Path’ approach towards a genuine autonomy for Tibet. He stated that it would be natural to consider the newcomers from Tibet as the main audience for this Kalachakra, saying: “Tibetans living in Tibet are less fortunate than their counterparts living in India. They have to suffer a lot in their own motherland from repressive forces.” When he asked those coming from Tibet to raise their hands, hundreds of Tibetans did so, and the Dalai Lama said: “Probably there would be a story of an untimely death in almost every [Tibetan] family.”

The Dalai Lama also said that if there were Chinese informers present at the major Buddhist ceremony which is being held in the state of Andhra Pradesh, they should be informed about the Middle Path approach and pay attention to the teachings. During his address to more than 100,000 Tibetans who have traveled from Tibet and from exile communities worldwide to attend the teachings, as well as nearly 200 international and Indian journalists, the Dalai Lama said that the future of Tibet would depend on the initiative of the people living in Tibet.

The Kalachakra (‘Wheel of Time’) ceremony in Amravati holds a special significance as the Indian holy town is believed to be the place where the historic Buddha Shakyamuni gave the Kalachakra initiations. In his opening address, the Dalai Lama said: “I feel fortunate to be able to initiate the Kalachakra here in Amravati. More Kalachakras will take place but this place (Amravati) is especially important as Buddha gave his Kalachakra sermons here.” He called on Tibetans in Tibet (as well as Buddhists from the Himalayan region) who were not able to be physically present at Amravati to join in prayers and visualize and generate compassion on the three days of the actual empowerment on January 13, 14 and 15, wherever they may be on those days. He said the receiving of blessings does not depend on the distance but on one’s devotion and dedication.

Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy told journalists on Monday that the government was not displeasing the Chinese government in any way by extending hospitality to the Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetans and other pilgrims. “The Dalai Lama has been a revered guest of the Government of India for almost five decades,” said Mr. Reddy. “As a refugees’ leader, he is entitled to the hospitality. He is not a political adversary of the Chinese, but only a religious head.” Mr. Reddy also said that the state government would now develop Amravati as an international Buddhist learning and tourist center. The Dalai Lama said that he was encouraged by what appeared to be a revival of interest in Buddhism in Amravati in the 21st century.

During his teachings on the Indian teacher Nagarjuna, who stayed at Amravati to write and teach, the Dalai Lama gave a strong message to Tibetans from Tibet about the importance of science, telling them not to rely on superstition: “Those parts in Buddhism that explain cosmology are not necessarily to be taken literally, although I think that Buddhism has a lot of profound teachings to contribute to an understanding of quantum physics. We should seek to have not just mere faith in Buddhism, but to understand Buddhism through logic.” He also spoke about the importance of preserving Tibet’s wildlife heritage, saying that he had heard about and seen pictures of Tibetans wearing elaborate costumes adorned with banned animal furs and skins, and that he was proud of those Tibetans who were campaigning for animal welfare and seeking to encourage vegetarianism.

The Dalai Lama said that it was important that the Kalachakra teachings were also translated into the Amdo and Kham dialects, which are different to those of central Tibet (U-Tsang, now located in the present-day Tibet Autonomous Region). The Dalai Lama has dedicated the Kalachakra 2006 to world peace and to those suffering in Tibet. He said the Tibetan issue has remained alive because of the steadfastness with which the Tibetans in Tibet have remained so far, and that it was important for them to be unwavering in their dedication while striving for their rights.

A Tibetan in his thirties who left Tibet for fear of arrest for political reasons told ICT at Amravati: “It means so much for Tibetans to be here for this ceremony. Tibet is changing so fast, and the Chinese are now so dominant, that it is easy for us to forget our own identity as Tibetans. Being here, and hearing the Dalai Lama speak, reminds us of who we are.”