of Tibetan Culture
The Dalai Lama in Auroville
On Humanity | Talks with the
Teachers | Interview with Auroville
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
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
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
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.
by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Sri Aurobindo Auditorium, Bharat Nivas, Auroville
December 24, 1993
introductory remarks by Maj. Gen. K.K. Tewari (Retd), His Holiness
the Dalai Lama addressed the gathering in the Auditorium on the theme:
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.
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,
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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,
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
Now, sometimes, religions also become yet one more instrument to divide
humanity. So compassion, a compassionate mind has many, many important
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)
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
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.
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
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
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!
Talks with the Teachers
His Holiness the Dalai
the Auroville teachers
Transition School, 24 December 1993.
Do you still have an education system without examinations, and if
so, how do you evaluate the children?
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.
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?
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.
It is when things become difficult, when you face the challenge, then
the real examination takes place.
yes, and that is happening to the Auroville children all the time.
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.
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.
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.
Then how many students does a teacher have at one time?
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
In some ways this is quite profound.
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?
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
Secretary to His
Holiness: His Holiness is also trying to find out the result on
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
Then, you mention about "culture", there is no one "culture",
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.
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.
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.
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.
That's absolutely true. (Pause) How many children have grown up in
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
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.
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?
grew up in Auroville and he has a dream to open a center for higher
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.
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.
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
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
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].
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.
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.
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)
you tell us about your education? About your relationship with your
teachers who were some of the highest lamas/teachers of Tibet?
(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
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]!
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
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.
they written or oral?
Oral examinations. In Buddhist study.
Mine? .. . not too bad. (Laughter) My name, of course, helped me a
Jill: Were your
teachers afraid to fail you?
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?
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
at Kottakarai Guest House on 24.12.93.
Today: In 1973 you met The
Mother in Pondicherry. What are your recollections of that meeting?
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.
Today: For Tibet or the whole
For the whole world, for humanity.
Today: Yesterday you visited
the chamber of Matrimandir. What were your impressions?
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.
Today: Have you noticed any
changes in Auroville since you were last here?
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!
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.
Today: Do you see that we
can help you in a future Tibet?
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.
Today: Do you feel that there
is a new consciousness, a new force at work in the world?
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.
Today: Is humanity at a crossroads?
I think so, I think so.
Today: What is the path that
we should take?
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.
Today: Will traditional religions
still have a role to play in the future?
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.
Today: How would you define
the essence of Tibetan culture?
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.
Today : Is that culture under
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.
Today: Can you retransplant
that essential Tibetan culture back into Tibet?
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.
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?
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)
Today: Do you see this Pavilion
as having a significance stretching beyond the boundaries of Auroville?
A symbolic significance, yes. I was very moved, very happy, when I
was told that some earth from Tibet was brought here.
Today : It was an eight kilo
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
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