The Jakarta Post
His Holiness Sakya Trizin, a preeminent master of Tibetan Buddhism and only second to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, arrived in Jakarta on Tuesday for a five-day visit at the invitation of Indonesian Buddhist Association (Walubi) head Tony Antonius to celebrate the 2,559th Waisak (Buddha's Day of Enlightment). The Jakarta Post's Tama Salim caught up with His Holiness on Thursday, a day before the 66-year-old Buddhist leader embarked on a trip to visit Indonesia's foremost Buddhist site, the Borobudur Temple in Magelang, Central Java, to carry out religious activities. The following are excerpts from their conversation.
Question: I have heard that Your Holiness will visit Borobudur to commemorate this year's celebration of Waisak? What activities does Your Holiness have planned during the stay in Indonesia?
Answer: The last time [I was here] in 1984 I also went to Borobudur. From the Tibetan Buddhist point of view, it [Borobudur] is one of the holy places. Moreover, Buddhism came from India to Tibet, and one of the most famous and great Indian masters, Atisha ' he's actually from Bangkok [Thailand], but I believe his master lives in Sumatra. [From] what we read in his biography, he traveled [there] at a time when journeys were very difficult. It took 13 months [to venture from] Bangkok to Sumatra, with so many difficulties encountered. From that point of view, ['¦] we have a historically strong connection. So I'm very happy to visit this time again.
What message do you bring to the people of Indonesia?
My specific message is that I believe that all the religions ' major religions of the world ' each one of them has its own beauties and its own way to help mankind. And now we are in a world which is in the 21st century, where the technology and the sciences have developed so much that it's almost reached a zenith. But we still cannot find peace and happiness.
So, making progress is to find peace and happiness. Although these scientific developments have helped us a lot in many ways ' for instance, medically, in transportation, communications and many things like that ' we still lack the real peace and happiness.
The only way to find true peace and happiness is through spiritual practice. And so, the need of the hour is that all the spiritual traditions we have, each with its own important role to play in the world, the need of the hour is for all the spiritual traditions to reunite efforts to help the world and make it more peaceful, harmonious and happy.
We have also been hearing about the fate of the thousands of the Rohingya who have fled their homes in Buddhist-majority Myanmar to avoid persecution. How do you think we've done in handling this issue? What should we do?
I have read very little on the subject, so I cannot really give my opinion.
The Rohingya suffer most from the debacle. What do you think?
Yes, I have full sympathy for the poor and downtrodden people who are suffering, in any part of the world.
We have heard that His Holiness the Dalai Lama concedes that he may perhaps be 'the last one', so this has to do with the process of succession. What are your thoughts on that, with China actively intervening in the process?
Actually, the Dalai Lama didn't say that he is the last one. He said he 'could' be the last one, because he said it all depends on the Tibetan people. If the people feel that the continuation of the Dalai Lama is necessary, then definitely there will be Dalai Lamas in the future. But if the situation has changed and somehow they feel they no longer need anyone, then he said he 'could' be the last. So many people have interpreted this as saying that he is the last one. He never said that.
But why does he concede that he 'may' become the last Dalai Lama?
Because things are changing. Tibet is a country that has a long history, and Tibetan Buddhism had flourished there long before the Dalai Lama existed. And so, things keep changing.
What other message do you want to relay to the people of Indonesia?
I find every faith emphasizes the importance of loving kindness, compassion, tolerance and forgiveness. So in that sense ' though there may be fundamental differences ' we should not look at it from the differing points of view but from the similarities, so that we all come together to help. It is because the purpose of every religion is to make individuals become better persons so the world will be happier, more harmonious and more peaceful. So why don't we all join together through unified efforts to do this?
If you put it in another way, what are your hopes for humanity in this period of adversity?
I think it is very encouraging to see that in the world, now people are more aware of health and environmental problems, and also in spirituality, especially emphasizing the importance of love and compassion. In that way, it is very encouraging to see a lot of people interested in these things. I think this is a positive sign in the right direction.