Julay no nomogun,

By Sonam Wangchuk Leh, May 19, 2014
Leh :
Normally it is the elders of the society who advise the younger generation about their conduct and character, but today in this age of confusions and contradictions, it seems to be the youth that needs to rise to the occasion and save the elders of Ladakh from doom in this life and beyond. In this edition I want to draw the attention of the younger generation towards an important role they could play in rescuing current Ladakhi society.

Yes, this is an age of contradictions, while on one hand we see a huge increase in religious activities year by year, yet in the same society we see rising corruption, nepotism, robbery, rape, murder and suicide as never before. I fail to understand how these ills can co-exist with the growing numbers of Dharma Teaching Centres, meditation meetings, the Maney Tungchur tsogspas and all the Kachos by great Lamas and Rinpocheys. And this summer, Ladakh will see the biggest ever religious congregation where almost the entire Buddhist population of Ladakh and more are expected to gather to receive the Kalachakra empowerment from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

I am told that Kala Chakra initiation is the empowerment to undertake one of the most advanced Buddhist practices in the Vajrayana tradition. If I am not wrong I understand that Vajrayana is considered a higher form of Buddhist practice than the Mahayana tradition and Mahayana is considered a higher form of practice than the Hinayana tradition!

But my simple question is how qualified are we for these vows and empowerments of the highest order when we our real lives are neck deep in corruption and other social ills. Is our society ready for or worthy of such a compassionate offering from HH the Dalai Lama if we do not even assure HH that we will also work to eliminate these other ills in our society?

Leave aside practicing the highest levels of Buddhism or belonging to the highest order, I want to ask what level of Buddhism do we fall in when our government servants who are entrusted with (and well-paid) for the welfare of our society attend their offices one hour late in the morning and leave one hour early in the evening? Do we know or care that this causes untold sufferings to poor villagers who travel long distances to get their work done in the city? How can we practice high forms of Buddhism when we cannot even feel the simplest sufferings of our fellow citizens?

When our traffic Policemen and transport authorities earn from fake driving licenses which then causes the death of bus-loads of people, which level of Buddhism do we practice? When our doctors cause the death of patients due to sheer negligence, when our NGOs misuse the funds collected for the poor, when our engineers trade safety standards for commissions and percentages, which level of Buddhism do we fall in?

Similarly when our teachers and education authorities cause the failure of hundreds of students, some of whom even commit suicide in despair, which level of Buddhism do we fall in? In job interviews when the entrusted officers and politicians select their own friends and relatives and drive the deserving competent candidates to suicide what kind of Buddhists are we? When our leaders thoughtlessly help the relatives of their party workers with cushy posts and transfers while leaving others to rot in harsh places, which level of Buddhism do we practice?

I have seen many countries in my life where people do not follow Buddhism or any religion for that matter, but they do their duty with utmost sincerity, they never steal public money, nor cause any inconvenience to their beneficiaries. They do not chant mantras like we do, they do not attend Dharma teachings and empowerment ‘Wangs’. They do not even believe in the Buddha or his Buddhahood, yet I have a strange feeling that if there was a Buddha sitting above the clouds looking at all this, he would smile at these ‘non-believers’ and shed a few tears at our ‘super high order’ Buddhists.

Therefore my friends, before taking a Buddhist vow or empowerment of the highest order could we take a simple pledge to become normal human beings first? Just as normal as people in most countries of the world, nothing special or Buddhist about it! Could we at least pledge to His Holiness the Dalai Lama to say that ‘we shall make Ladakh a Corruption Free Zone’?

I know we cannot change the world outside Ladakh immediately but at least within Ladakh could we pledge that we shall neither engage in corruption nor remain silent spectators? And yes, I know it might be difficult to change decades old work-culture abruptly, but can we pledge to do it in say the next three years? In other words can we pledge to say that ‘I shall reduce my unwholesome actions by half each year and make Ladakh free of them in the next three years’?

I have a feeling that if we do at least this much, then we will be in the right frame of mind to say that an empowerment like Kalachakra will be helpful to us, if not now then in some future lifetime, since our intentions are in the right direction for an initiation into a high forms of Buddhist practice!

During my meetings with roughly 5000 youths in roughly 10 Indian cities this winter, I have seen immense interest in most of them towards taking such an initiative and pledging in front of HH Dalai Lama this summer. Therefore I think the youth of Ladakh have an unparalleled opportunity this time to clean Ladakh of all these unwholesome practices that we often talk about but do very little about.

Could various youth organisations whether religious or secular, Buddhist or Muslim take a collective initiative this year. Could it be time for the youth to show the way to the older generation this time round?