Engaged Buddhism the Dalai Lama’s Way: Tibetan Leader’s Exceptional Energy for Japan’s Tsunami Victims (summary and analysis of the Dalai Lama’s year in Japan 2011)
Dalai Lama does more than mourn;
Challenges Japan to work for a sustainable future
April 29, 2011 – His Holiness the Dalai Lama presided over a special memorial service today at Gokoku-ji Temple in Tokyo for those that perished in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster in northern Japan. The 40-minute service included about 15 Tibetan monks and 100 Japanese priests and nuns from a variety of sects, including the abbot of Soto Zen’s main temple Sojo-ji and the abbot of Gokoku-ji which is a head temple of the Shingon Koyasan sect. They chanted for extended periods in both Tibetan and Japanese the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra, which His Holiness had recommended just after the March 11 disaster for the repose of the dead and to guard against further disasters. A gathering public from a wide variety of backgrounds numbering around 3,000 stuffed into the main hall and also filled the compound outside, watching the service on three large television monitors.
After the ceremony, His Holiness gave an address in Tibetan in which he offered his deepest condolences to the Japanese people over the suffering caused from the March 11 events. He then gave another address in English in which he first encouraged the Japanese:
During World War II, there was a lot of destruction and many Japanese were killed. Two nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but our Japanese brothers and sisters never lost their self-confidence … Now you are passing through some difficulties, including economic difficulties, but you must keep your self-confidence. Instead of remembering this tragedy and the loss of friends and always being reminded of the sad situation, now move forward. You have the potential. So work hard.
He then offered a more nuanced message on this way forward:
Now due to global warming this kind of natural disaster may come often so you must work to prevent it. But there is no guarantee. Things are changing. You must look at the new reality and act according to that reality, for example about your lifestyle. Sometimes in much developed countries they live a very luxurious life. According to our new situation and obviously on this planet, that is silly. Millions and millions of people live in extreme lifestyles under poverty. The last few years when I have the opportunity to be with Japanese friends, particularly the students, I urge them to learn English so you can use your potential in different parts of the world for more constructive purposes in the educational field, the health field, and the development or technology fields. The Japanese people have a big population and a small amount of land so every piece of land you utilize fully, whereas in some other big countries there is a lot of empty land. You must utilize your experience and expertise for how to utilize wasted land and wasted resources without damaging the ecology. That is what I want to share with you.
After concluding this address, he proceeded out of the main hall and toward to the temple’s main bell in the main courtyard. Ascending into the bell tower, he rang the bell numerous times himself in a sign of traditional mourning. Finally, he slowly waded through the crowd stopping to talk to various people on the way to his vehicle and finally departed into the afternoon sun. The event was special in that not only was it covered well by the mass media, which usually shows no interest in Buddhist ceremonies in Japan but also was attended by a wide variety of people offering an uncommon feeling of non-sectarian and public outpouring of religiosity in this very secularized country. His Holiness’ visit served not only to support the healing of Japan after the disaster but, as always, offered a point of common humanity and spirituality to bond people of various backgrounds together.
Jonathan Watts – Japan Network of Engaged Buddhists (JNEB)
Media and support provided by Rev. Yuzuki Matsushita and Yuko Kumamaru of Higan-ji
Special Memorial and Consoling Service on the 49th Day
since the Eastern Japan Earthquake Disaster
with His Holiness the Dalai Lama
April 29, 2011
His Holiness the Dalai Lama would like to express his heartfelt condolences to the victims of the unprecedented Eastern Japan Earthquake Disaster of March 11 as well as pray for the peaceful transmigration of those whose precious lives were sacrificed in this time.
April 28th will mark the 49th day since the earthquake and tsunami of March 11th, and Buddhists attach great importance to memorial services on this day for the consciousness of the deceased as they conclude their period in the intermediate bardo state of transmigration. Before the tragedy of March 11th occurred, His Holiness had made a plan to visit the United States in late April. Thus, on his transit through Japan on the way to America, he considered the opportunity to participate in such a ceremony.
The situation in Japan continues to be unstable, which creates a burden on various people these days. However, through the cooperation of Rev. Eishi Okamoto, Chief Abbot of Gokoku-ji, a main temple of the Koya-san Shingon denomination, we would like to express our prayers for the peaceful transmigration of those whose lives were sacrificed and for the speedy restoration of secure lives for the victims of the disaster.
As we believe this is an especially important service, we would feel fortunate to have your participation.
Time: April 29, 2011 (Friday, national holiday) 14：00～16：00
Place: The Head Temple of Gokoku-ji
Tokyo Metro Subway, Yurakucho Line, Gokoku-ji Station, Exit 1
Sponsor: Tibet House (The Liaison Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Japan and East Asia)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama Expresses His Sadness
Over the Recent Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan
March 12, 2011
Dharamsala, H.P., India, 12 March 2011 – In a letter sent on 12 March to H.E. Naoto Kan, the Prime Minister of Japan, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his shock and sadness on hearing the news of yesterday’s earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. His Holiness offered his prayers for those who have lost their lives and offered his sympathy and condolences to their families and others affected by it. He expressed that we must all be grateful that the Japanese Government’s disaster preparedness measures have prevented the death and destruction from being much worse. Finally, as a Buddhist monk who daily recites the Heart Sutra, His Holiness felt it would be very good if Japanese Buddhists were to recite the Heart Sutra on this occasion. Such recitation may not only be helpful for those who have lost their precious lives, but may also help prevent further disasters in the future. Prayers to recite the Heart Sutra one hundred thousand times were being organized in Dharamsala for this purpose.