We had just successfully completed our sixth pad yatra in the beautiful country of Sri Lanka. As you know, happy time passes away so quickly. Our pad yatra was so enjoyable that it went by so fast. I was not even expecting this pad yatra to end so soon. Therefore as I have said many times, we should appreciate every connection that we have made and try our best to enjoy each other’s company. After all, we will have to part one day, one way or another.
In each pad yatra, we would experience different difficulties, or rather challenges. Some are related to the weather, altitude, food and many other situations. Some are related to relationships with others, with nature and some with yourself. What I want to say is, “please mind your own business” because you alone have a lot to deal with in every part of your own life. It’s a pad yatra, you must be having a lot of individual problems to keep yourself busy with, whether it is within yourself or outside of yourself. When your attention is not on yourself, but others, then you are asking for trouble. Happiness or suffering is all within, no one except yourself can make you happy, sad, angry or emotional.
Being a busybody and getting on others’ nerves are what most of us are pretty good at doing. As a result, we have issues with people, which is a small scale of disharmony, or in a more serious situation, we fight with each other. In the worst case, we may just decide to have a war. A certain degree of self-control or discipine is definitely needed, whether we wish for individual peace or collective harmony. One of the causes of this I think is talking too much, myself included. I used to be a very angry little boy, in my eyes, no monks were good enough, no monasteries were good enough, everything was in bad shape. My father always reminded me that I had to improve myself, change my attitude, and this sort of inner improvement would make me happier and less angry, because my perception would be more positive.
I definitely saw many things that I didn’t agree during the pad yatra. For example, nuns were using too much water and were always addicted to washing whenever they had the chance; monks were eating too much; foreigners were chatting too much; group 2 of all our Rinpoches were never walking in one line and lacking in some kinds of discipline. If I let these get on my nerves, I think it would be a horrible pad yatra for me. I said to myself, “Come on, leave them alone, if it is not too much, let them have a bit of fun too.” Otherwise, I might even check how they cut their potatoes, tomatoes and vegetables and how they cooked their food or how they pitched their tents. Everything would be my business. I would be so busy, I would have no time to do anything. In a way, it’s because we care so much about others that we go around checking on them. In another way, we can call this self-sought headaches.
Out of kindness and concerns for others, we sometimes tell others what to do and what not to do, normally we tend to do this too much, even when it’s not a part of our role to do so. Therefore, we always have to check ourselves, whether we are over reacting so much that we are becoming a pain in the neck for others. I am trying my best not to be a pain in the neck for others. It’s a practice many of us have to do. “Do not judge. Let me mind my own business.”
Minding our own business is different from being indifferent or being ignorant. We mind our own business when it comes to judging others, but we should be helping whenever our help is needed. In one way, we all are like parents for others. We have to watch a child from a corner when he or she learns how to walk, let the child fully use his or her own potentials, without interfering. But when he or she falls, we as parents are always there to support. For example, we were not minding our own business when a monkey needed help. Below the rock of Sigiriya, the holy place of Tara, a wounded monkey came to me when I was sitting under a tree. She had a chain tied on her waist but she had outgrown it, so the chain cut into her flesh creating some serious infections with pus and blood. It must be the job of those ignorant people who trained monkeys to perform for their living. I guess the monkey must have suffered so much that she couldn’t take it, so she ran away. I couldn’t mind my own business because the monkey was helpless and needed help. We are normally busybody when others do not need our help, but when they need our help, we would say, “Sorry, it’s none of our business, we cannot do anything to help.” So this time, I requested His Eminence Thuksey Rinpoche to take charge of this mission, to look for the injured money who ran away when all of us tried to catch her for her sake. He did a brilliant job going back to Sigiriya everyday for a few days until he found the monkey with the help of the members of Wild Life Department and the Sri Lanka Youth. The poor monkey was taken to hospital for diagnosis and treatment. Apparently her kidneys were failing, she could not control her bladder and bowel, Because she had been suffering for very bad blood circulation for two years, doctor said that she would soon die within two weeks if we didn’t save her. She was kept at the hospital for two weeks and His Eminence went to receive her when she was discharged and took her back to Sigiriya. In fact, I was very proud to be able to do it, to set an example about appreciating and saving lives whenever there is a chance.
The first step for us to have peace, is to look inward and to avoid looking outward. In a way, we can say that “minding our own business” is the first step to have peace. This is a short reminder for myself that I would like to share with you.
The success of the Sri Lanka Peace Pad Yatra would not have been possible without the full support from the Sri Lankan government and people. With deep appreciation, I have offered them our most priceless treasures, three of the Buddha’s bone relics, at the end of the ceremony. This set of relics are quite unusual. There are relics which do not multiply, but these are the ones who multiply according to the positive circumstances or energy. I myself had only expected the multiplying effect to happen one year or two years later. But one extra relic was born on the day we handed over them to the President. I believe that this is a good omen for future of this country.
Besides the warm hospitality that we received throughout our one month walk from the south to the north of Sri Lanka, we were moved to witness the harmony among different religions and races. Whenever we passed through pockets of Muslim and Hindu areas, we were offered shelters, food, drinks and prayers. No one came with a black and angry face whenever hundreds of us walked through their towns, villages and holy places. For a country that had gone through three decades of violent war, it was very difficult for me to believe that the people could continue their life with smiles and forgiveness. We walked from south to north and it wouldn’t be easy for the government or the people to hide any negative happening from us. We were free to interact with anyone. I asked many people why were they able to keep themselves free of pain after what they had gone through. Most of them gave credit to the Buddhist monks who gave teaching on karma, appreciation, tolerance and forgiveness. I know that many of my friends and students have doubts in Dharma, and especially in karma, but we all could see in Sri Lanka how important Dharma was for the people who were going through 30 years of war. Parents had to tell their children every morning before going to work that they might not return, they could be killed in terrorist attacks. They told their children that they had to follow the teachings of the Buddha and continued living with love, patience and understanding, because it would come a time when the negative karma is exhausted, peace would prevail again. This is the effect of putting Dharma into practice.
In fact, we Buddhists owe a lot to the Buddhists and monks of Sri Lanka. While in India, the birthplace of Buddha and Buddha Dharma, we had lost almost all the Buddhist heritages until Anagarika Dharmapala from Sri Lanka came to restore our pilgrimage sites. I am therefore happy that we are able to present Buddha’s bone relics as our small token of appreciation. The President will be building a stupa in a holy place to house the relics. On behalf of our lineage, I thank him, the government and the people of Sri Lanka from the depth of my heart. Last but not least, my appreciation goes to the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan for sending so many senior monks to assist us in the official handover ceremony.