Vivek frequently writes articles for the newspaper Reach Ladakh Bulletin. The primary audience is the people of Ladakh, but still there is many points in the articles that have global aspects and can be applied to all countries and cultures in the world.
Spirituality vis-à-vis Religion
Published 2nd half of July 2015
Whenever we talk about religion our discussion hover around the almighty God, beliefs, faith, believers or followers, temples, monasteries or places of worship, monastic, objects of veneration, sin, kamma, heaven, hell etc. and when we talk about religious people we are kind of skeptical to be honest. Ironically we often hear people complain about those who are very religious becoming more egoistic, intolerant, fanatic or fundamentalist while they should be more understanding, humbling and liberal. This category of individuals also includes some of the monastic of all major world religions.
I am sure most of us must be wondering and curious why this happens with practitioners. In order to better understand this we need to first recognize the differences between spirituality and religion. Many of us seem to understand religion but don’t seem to really comprehend spirituality; it is taken for some mysterious, abstract and supernatural attainment, whereas it is the core of every religion. Religion can also be explained as the conventional reality and spirituality the ultimate truth. Ultimate goal of every religion is more or less the same to reach true spirituality or to the ultimate reality in their own perspective and it’s often identified as – enlightenment, ultimate wisdom, bliss, altruistic joy, unconditional love, compassion and tolerance.
Religion as laid down by various Prophets, messengers, and teachers basically are the stepping stones to spiritual enlightenment. Religion is often described in words and we are familiar with its terminologies whereas spirituality is indescribable as it is beyond words. It is connected with our deeper experiences of our inner consciousness or awakening to the light or wisdom, nevertheless both are interconnected. One cannot exist without the other
Since religions are based on the discovery of the truth by different enlightened master or revelation by god or its messengers and as each religion is based on different principles, beliefs and languages, it often divides people into different factions, creating misconception and prejudice against each other. Due to our different temperament, choice, conditions and taste, not everyone can be a follower of one particular religion or a common path. No wonder apart from different religions, within every faith we have different approaches to the same goal whether it is Buddhist, Christian, Muslims, Hindus, and Jainism etc.
We might be born in a family that practices a certain religion but in fact it doesn’t mean anything in our personal life. One can never be born a Buddhist, Christian, Muslim or any other religious person but our religion is automatically determined by birth and is taken for granted. We are then groomed by our family and community and we start strongly identifying with the particular religion so much so that we can’t bear or tolerate anyone saying things against our religion and we feel offended and we are even ready to protect it at the cost of our life. Many of us don’t make any effort to really study, think, explore and experience the teachings. Religion is always a sensitive topic to talk about or write as it is based on strong beliefs, and emotions, and more often than not it is misunderstood leading to unnecessary communal conflicts.
One has to discover for oneself which is the faith one would like to embrace depending on one’s temperaments. This is something the fanatics or fundamentalist can never accept. But the fact is that we can convert someone into one religious fold but we can never convert someone into spirituality as it is an experience that each and every one of us has to experience, nobody else can do it for us.
Religious practices are often taught right from childhood with all dos and don’ts. We grow up learning to bow, pay our respect to the founders and other saints and sages, making regular offerings, visiting monasteries, chanting mantras or scriptures, performing rites and rituals, and we are expected to live according to the laid down rules, disobeying it leads to punishment in hell and description is so horrendous, unthinkable and beyond our imagination, thus most of us follow religion out of fear but if we are a good follower, pursuing it according to the set principles then it also promises a reward after death of heaven which is very tempting and so wonderfully described. Those who want to dedicate their whole life in pursuance of the faith and to be a serious practitioner we are expected to don certain robes or uniforms that again creates differences between the holy and normal followers.
Spirituality is a quality that goes beyond religious affiliation that strives for inspiration, reverence, awe, meaning and purpose, even in those who do not believe in God. Unlike religion it calls for inner transformation through finding, awakening, realizing and living the truth for oneself. It is living the experience of emancipation based on noble principles’ and once we discover the truth for ourselves there is no place for division. True spirituality unites all faiths and practitioners. We can be spiritual without being religious and we can be religious without being spiritual or we can be both.
Buddhism does not fit into the definition of religion and therefore it is considered a way of life but for many practitioners Buddhism has become a mere religion. Let us examine ourselves and see where we stand in our faith. Are we practicing Buddhist or a believer? A practicing Buddhist cherishes the values of love, compassion and tolerance, living a meaningful and positive life whereas a mere believer can be blindly pursuing the path without understanding.
If we look into the history of most religion, usually when the teacher, the messiah or the prophets passes away, schools or sects are born and usually they are created by their half-baked disciples. They misinterpret the teachings to the general public who out of faith or lack of understanding follows them blindly and as a result religions become more important than spirituality and soon the essence of the religion is lost. This has happened in the past and it’s still going on which is a grave concern for humanity. This very religion that is based on peace and tolerance has become the source of hate and distrust in every society.
If we really want to have a peaceful co-existence then ultimately we all need to transcend our respective religious practices and attain to true spirituality through analytical exploration and let’s be pragmatic while choosing our greater path in life. All our differences and prejudices will disappear and we can appreciate, accept, acknowledge, and respect every approach as an alternate path to enlightenment or inner freedom.
Isn’t it time to slow down? – Speed-up life leads to stress, slowing down brings peace
Published July, 1-15
Just imagine, you are in the middle of nowhere in the wilderness, surrounded by the grand Himalayan mountains. The only thing you can see in the distance is a lonely giant tree with its branches stretched out in every direction. You run to the tree for its cool shade to escape from the scorching sun. You sit leaning against this tree with your leg stretch out in the sun; the only sound you hear is the silence. As you look up you see the clear blue sky with not a speck cloud.
Spending time alone in the nature is synonymous to meditation. There is some sort of introspection and meditation naturally happening without any effort. No wonder people in the past were much more peaceful and stress-free. Can you recall your last experience where you, having fulfilled your conventional duties, were absolutely one with the nature with no worries of work, family or anything, just sitting silently, living the moment.
This sort of experience in the past was quite obvious after a daylong work in the field. It was so comforting, reassuring, and rewarding. In the past there was a good balance between work and leisure. People had a lot of time for themselves and their families. As there weren’t much past time, they spent their time, pursuing their hobbies, spending quality time with neighbors, friends and relatives, grazing the animals, weaving, knitting, relaxing etc. There wasn’t any pressure or deadline. In summer people preferred sleeping on the roof, as it was soothing, looking at the stunning night sky, the natural planetarium, with all the beautiful stars and the galaxies enriched their sleep.
Today our lifestyle has dramatically changed; we are living in extreme conditions. There is no balance between our work and leisure. It’s hard to even imagine slowing down. In the morning as the alarm goes out, there is chaos in the family. Everybody gets into a rushing mood. Children rushing to school, parents running to office, we barely get time to sit together and enjoy the breakfast. The day starts with a lot of stress. In this fast faced society everything is calculated with time and target. There is a lot competition and to live upto the growing expectations we stress ourselves so much both physically and mentally that we often become sick and lethargic. We have lost our patience, endurance and most importantly the meaning and purpose of life.
Many of us experience problems like forgetting things easily, diarrhea, constipation, frequent body aches and pains, headaches, lack of energy or focus, sexual problems, tiredness, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, upset stomach, use of alcohol or drugs to relax, and many of us also suffer from high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, anxiety, and menstrual problems etc.
We are moving to the city with the hope of finding a better livelihood only to end up miserably stressed up and engulfed in the intense race that never ends and also get immersed into the system. We blindly keep racing from one work to the other, not even realizing how days pass, and looking back we realize we haven’t achieved except more pressure.
Do we continue living like this or should we do something to change remains for all of us to seriously consider. How many of us critically think about the preciousness of human life and how to make best use of this life to understand the true meaning and purpose of our life? If we are to live a healthy lifestyle the first and foremost thing is to slow down our actions so that we become more focused on what we are thinking, saying and doing.
Whenever there is public gathering there is often discussion about this extreme speed-up lifestyle. People keep complaining of how busy and frustrated they are but why most of us are hesitant or afraid to slow down?
In most developed countries people are resorting to meditation to slow down and it’s benefiting thousands of people around the world. What about us? We are born in the land of meditation and spirituality but it seems that we haven’t been able to take full advantage of this precious gift.
If we are serious about life, then instead of rushing and running meaninglessly it’s high time to start meditating. Here are some tips for beginners to start meditation and enjoy its benefits. First thing in the morning, as you wake up, stretch out, look into the mirror give yourself a big smile, take a walk, look up to the sky, the valleys, and the sun rise, acknowledge and appreciate their natural beauty.
Come home, sit down quietly and meditate for a while in the shrine room, start with five to ten minutes each day and slowly try and increase it until you can sit for an hour. It allows you to look into yourself, your ego and understand the complexities of the mind and body and slowly helps to heal many of our physical and psychosomatic diseases and develop positive thinking.
Meditation is very simple; all it takes is commitment to begin and once you start and see the results you can’t do without it. This is how you can begin meditating,
- Sit in a comfortable posture, preferably crossed leg
- Keep your back straight
- Gently close your eyes
- Relax your body muscles from the tip of the head to the toes
- Once relaxed focus your mind on the in breath and out breath, known as Anapanasati, in Pali, the language of the Buddha, meaning breathing in and breathing out
- As you breathe in and breathe out you can feel the soft touch of the air either on the upper lip or the nostrils, keep your mind focused on this small area between the upper lip and the nostrils
- Soon you will discover how restless the mind is, it keeps wondering in past or future; your duty is to gently bring it back to the awareness of the breath flowing in and out.
Ladakh is the most congenial place for meditation; we are blessed to be born in this spiritual land. If we practice regularly, it’s an amazing exercise to calm down our mind and helps develop right understanding in life. This practice is adopted by many institutions, like schools, corporate and psychologist around the world also known as mindfulness meditation and discovered enormous results.
The time has for us to run to the lonely tree, embrace its cool shade, take a deep breath and slow down before stress and tension take an upper hand in our life.
Social freedom vis-à-vis social responsibility
Published 2nd half of June 2015
Social freedom from my perspective can be defined as the individual freedom to want what one desires and the freedom to live without fear, and also the freedom to agree to disagree. Many in the world are denied freedom and their lives are repressed by religious and political fundamentalist and thus there is constant conflict both within and outside. It is also the freedom to choose our lifestyle based on our aptitude and interest without having to be dictated by others.
Social responsibility on the other hand is the actions of an individual that must benefit the whole society. Whatever we do for our living, there must be a balance between economic growth and the welfare of society and the environment. If this equilibrium is maintained, then social responsibility is accomplished.
Social freedom if accompanied with social responsibility can help create an ideal place where we can still live in a healthy environment, breathing fresh air, drinking fresh water, eating organic food, and thus maintaining good health and wellbeing.
Ladakh for centuries enjoyed this equilibrium until the dawn of the so called development that brought about social irresponsibility and led to so much of imbalance in our society. In the name of development we are recklessly in the process of destroying our fields and building more shops, hotels, guesthouses, resorts etc. we are also buying new cars, buses, trucks and so on. Can you imagine today we have rush hour and it’s crazy. We bought the vehicles but our infrastructure is so poor that it’s unmanageable. There is hardly any space for parking. Air is polluted and the city is so crowded, there is hardly any space to breathe. It seems that we haven’t been able to utilize our freedom wisely and the choice we are making today is undoubtedly leading for a disastrous end.
The government seems to be lost. They are in a fix whether to break all Leh and rebuilt it or just sit and relax and enjoy the chaos and the best way to rid off their responsibility is to blame it on the other political party.
Due to our irresponsibility, in this past decades, our traditional join family changed into nuclear family thus neglecting our elders, most of our valuable rites and rituals are disappearing, our respect for the religious objects are becoming very superficial, our faith and devotion are dwindling, centuries old stable and self-reliant agricultural economy, growing barley, wheat and peas and keeping livestock seemed obsolete, love marriage is overtaking the well thought and planned arranged marriages. All the agricultural produce were used and reused, there was hardly any wastage, and today we have so much of garbage everywhere. It has become a big concern both for the community as well as for the government regarding waste management. Today our biggest concern for the environment is the growing number of dumping centers and its ill-management. The fresh glacier water that fed the whole village today has become undrinkable and at times even unfit to wash clothes.
Human and animal wastes made excellent natural fertilizers that added in improving the agricultural produce and today that is being replaced by harmful chemical fertilizers and preservatives. Traditional way of life was purely ecological and eco-friendly. Today we are ready to sacrifice the whole environment in order to fulfill our greed and unlike our ancestors we have become very shortsighted.
The freedom to start new business has led to opening of many wine shops and bars apart from other business thus leading to unhappiness and destroying many families. Moreover importing all industrial products packed in plastics has replaced our staple organic fresh food. The upcoming generations are fed with all these adulterated and processed food and that day is not far when our kids would think milk is produced from cans and not cows.
The value based education is being replaced by tummy based education thus producing qualified but greedy and frustrated youths. In this fast-paced society we are already paying the price for the so called progress. Some of our own inventions have become a threat to humanity. We are living in constant fear of our irresponsible creation.
We are already experiencing a lot of stress in the mad race for excellence as there is high expectation be it education, profession, relationships, marriages, etc.
In the past Ladakh community was like a closely knit family. Everyone took the responsibility to make sure that whatever they thought, said or did was based on collective brainstorming. Everyone kept an eye on the behavior of the kids; every now and then they would get valuable suggestions and advises. But today they are so free and as they grow they don’t bother to listen to their parents forget about the community elders. Busy parents hardly have quality time with their children and many resorts to unhealthy habits and ruin their career.
In early times, all ages of people actively participated in the overall development of the village. Students were not just school going, they were true students in every aspect of life in the society. They didn’t have to bother caring loads of books and this mad competition for excellence. They spent much time grazing the cows; helping in the fields, helped built their houses and participated in every development activities. Thus they remained physically and mentally fit and thus kept the heritage of Ladakh alive.
Today it’s hard to see dedicated responsible citizens who care for the community. With a few exceptions, today’s politicians, bureaucrats, and all other professionals merely fulfill their personal wellbeing and are least bothered for the overall development.
We are lucky that at least we have the awareness of the responsibility, let’s be positive and consider it’s never too late to realize and change wisely. Realization is the key to improvement and change for the better.
We are only at the at the transition period from a traditional to a very modern society. Transition in any culture is the most difficult part as there is lot of confusion. If Ladakh wants to survive and maintain a balance between the economy and the ecosystem, we must all realize our obligation of social responsibility to act for the benefit of our society at large and be a good example for others.
Are we ethically going bankrupt? – Economic development vis-à-vis upholding moral and spiritual values
Published 1st half of June 2015
Ladakh over the past three decade has emerged as one of India’s leading tourist destinations, attracting visitors across the globe. Westerners when they first discovered and came to Ladakh, they had a strong feeling of Déjà vu. Initially they couldn’t understand what was going on but soon they realized that they had come back to a civilization that they had long lost.
Apart from pinning for adventure, and natural beauty, many come in search of spirituality, peace and the essence of life for which Ladakh still has a lot to offer. They go back home much lighter recharging themselves with all the values, leaving behind their metropolitan stress, tensions, fears, and worries. They realize what they have sacrificed for pursuit of capitalism, materialism and consumerism. Materially they seemed to have everything and yet they not satisfied as they lack something deeper.
For centuries we have enjoyed the serenity, the ancient social, cultural and ethical values of this land and its strong spiritual energy that is deeply rooted in our psyche. Though our lives were simple but we were rich in faith and devotion, simplicity, contentment, and forgiving which kept alive the heritage of peace and co-existence.
With the influx of tourism things changed drastically. With the cash coming in we recklessly invested in building hotels, guest houses, restaurants, and bigger houses, buying bigger cars, washing machines, music systems, and refrigerators etc. and stressed ourselves so much that it has gravely affected both our body and mind resulting in an unhealthy lifestyle. Easy Loans and government subsidies further fueled our greed with false promises of profit and also planted a lot of fear, anxieties and worries.
Today our hospitals and clinics are more crowded than ever before and many diseases remained undiagnosed. Today we are perhaps moving in the direction of the west acquiring all the materialistic things but at the cost of our wellbeing and happiness.
All kinds of psychosomatic diseases or problems unheard off before have plagued us. Stress, tensions, depressions and other metropolitan diseases were alien to us. Today though we have managed to acquire almost all the basic necessities of life, we are at the brink of forgetting the very the very essence of our life.
Let us go through some of our so called progress and see if that has changed our life from good to better. Let us analyze and ensure if our life today is more progressive than before.
In the earlier times whomever we meet on the way we always greeted each other and there was a strong human connection. Today we seem to have lost human connection. If today someone is standing by the roadside, helplessly asking for a left standing in the hot sun, we don’t bother to stop and give a lift. We seem to have forgotten the taste of human connection.
Even when we get together during some functions or celebration, many of us don’t have the time to get down to a serious thoughtful discussion; everyone takes out his or her latest mobile gadgets, and engaged in some meaningless social networking and chatting. We have lost our focus and we have become very restless and agitated. Just imagine what would be our state of mind if for a day we are left with no mobile phones, I am sure we would go crazy as we are so addicted and dependent on this latest technologies. We are moving from a community to individualism which would eventually lead to loneliness, frustration and depression.
Today our biggest investment is the house. We have managed to build a big house and decorate it with large glass rooms, expensive marbles, granites and imported furniture, but are we also creating quality time to enjoy the house with our family members or is it just lying there wearing away?
We have managed to furnish our bedrooms with luxurious mattresses, but are we also creating the right conditions to have a sound sleep on it?
We have somehow managed to afford fancy and luxurious cars, but are we learning the car culture to drive safely and comfortably?
We have managed to increase our savings in the bank, but are we also developing and maintaining our altruism to share with others?
We have managed to upgrade our marital system from arranged to so call love marriage, but are we trying to understand the sacredness and responsibility of living together happily as life partners or do we soon get bored and engaged in all kinds of illicit relationship?
We have managed to get the highest professional degrees, pass the highest state exams, get placement in highest government offices as well as corporate sectors, but are we also becoming more humble for our achievement and win respect of the masses?
We have managed to build the biggest temples, monasteries, Buddhas and Stupas, but are we also developing the right faith and devotion to get their blessings?
Holiest of monks, nuns and lay teachers are visiting and teaching us but are we also cultivating the right focus, concentration and positive approach to receive their valuable teachings and live accordingly?
It’s high time to understand that human greed is like a bottomless bucket, no matter how much we fill it never fills. If we don’t think and live wisely today with contentment, we might soon go ethically bankrupt. With better economic condition, we should also uphold higher ethical values then our life will have real meaning and purpose. If we merely focus on extreme materialism then probably very soon in the near future we could find ourselves bag packing in search of peace, happiness and the essence of life, not realizing that it’s at our threshold.
We have to have a livelihood, but livelihood should not become the life per se. We should aim to be rich not merely materially but also morally and spiritually, then certainly we can enjoy and celebrate whatever we accumulate in our lifetime.
2559th BUDDHA JAYANTI –The Significance of the thrice blessed day
Published 2nd half of May 2015
Buddha Jayanti, Buddha Purnima or “Vesak”, the Day of the Full Moon in the month of May, is the most sacred day to millions of Buddhists around the world. It was on the Day of Vesak two and a half millennia ago, in the year 623 B.C. in Lumbini, situated at the foothills of the Himalayas in modern Nepal, that the Buddha was born. It was also on this day that the Buddha attained enlightenment at the age of 35, in the year 588, B.C. at Buddhagaya in modern day Bihar state, and on this day the Buddha passed into Mahaparinibbana (the great demise) at the ripe age of 80 in the year 543 B.C. at Kusinara (a district of the eastern Uttar Pradesh). Therefore, this day is also known as the thrice blessed day.
According to the above mentioned dates, to be precise this year it is the 2639th Birthday, 2604th Enlightenment and 2559th Mahaparinibbana of the Buddha.
Buddhism is a world universal religion for the religionist, a philosophy for the philosophers and for practitioners a way of life. This has been acknowledged and appreciated by millions of followers around the world. Even the most prestigious world organization like the UN has acknowledged the Buddha’s greatest contribution for humankind. His teachings are timeless and universal in nature based on unconditional love, compassion and altruism.
On 15th December 1999, at 54th conference of the United Nations General Assembly, acknowledged the great contribution of the Buddha to the whole humanity, and Vesak Day was officially recognized as United Nations (UN) holiday and was called the UN day of Vesak celebration and considered as the UN day of religious cultural festival and all the UN offices were told to observe this day.
Whenever the Buddha spoke, his words were full of practical wisdom. At all the main events of his Birth, Englightenment and Mahaparinibbana (the great demise), the Buddha made important proclamation. Reading and understanding them enlightens us to the greatness of his discovery of the truth. It is said, the Buddha, just after his birth took seven steps and made this proclamation.
- Supreme am I in the world;
- Greatest am I in the world;
- Noblest am I in the world;
- This is my last birth;
- Never shall I be reborn.
From this we can understand that the Buddha for aeons has been fulfilling his Paramis or perfections and that he has come to the end of his search.
Again after his great Enlightenment the Buddha spoke his first word as follows
Through many a birth in existence wandered I,
Seeking, but not finding, the builder of this house.
Sorrowful is repeated birth.
O housebuilder (Craving), thou art seen.
Thou shalt build no house (Body) again.
All thy rafters (Passions) are broken.
Thy ridge-pole (Ignorance) is shattered.
Mind Attains the Unconditioned.
Achieved is the End of Craving.
What a powerful statement of his Enlightenment. This clearly indicates that he has shattered all the fetters that bind us to Samsara, the conditioned world of suffering bounded by the three poisons of greed, hatred and ignorance.
At the end of his 45 years of rigorous teachings, the Buddha while passing into Mahaparinibbana at Kusinara gave two valuable advices to his disciples.
The Buddha spoke to Venerable Ananda, his personal attendant and cousin. “It may be, Ananda, that some of you will say, ‘without the Buddha, the Sublime Teacher, there is no teacher for us’. No, Ananda, you should not think in this way. Dhamma and Vinaya (the doctrine and discipline) taught and made known by me will be your teacher when I am gone.”
Then the Buddha addressed all the monks once more, and these were the very last words he spoke:
“Behold, O monks, this is my last advice to you. All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own liberation (enlightenment).”
After the Buddha passed into Mahaparinibbana, his teachings spread throughout the world in every direction. After the third Buddhist Council, the emperor Ashoka sent nine Buddhist missionaries to nine directions. To the south till Sri-Lanka, to the west till Greece, Eastern Europe and Southern Russia and to the north upto the Himalayas and China, to the east upto Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Today the Buddha Dhamma is practiced in various denominations under various teachers and traditions.
According to the current statistics published in Buddha.net (the first Buddhist e-library), 56% (185,000,000 adherents) of the Buddhist population practices Mahayana Buddhism, 38% (124,000,000 adherents) practices Theravada Buddhism and 6% (20,000,000 adherents) practices Vajrayana Buddhism.
Today it is estimated that Buddhists population in the world is at around 350 million (6% of the world’s population). This makes Buddhism the world’s fourth largest (in terms of number of adherents) religion.
On this important day, Buddhist devotees visit temples, light candles and incense sticks, make offerings of sweets and fruits and pray before a statue of Lord Buddha. One can hear prayers, sermons and chanting of Buddhist scriptures throughout the day.
Birds are freed from cages at many places; people give alms, fruits, food and clothes to the Sangha, the poor and needy. People reaffirm their belief in the five principles which is called Panchsheel, the five basic principles, 1. Not to take life, 2. Not to steal, 3. Not to engage in sexual misconduct, 4. Not to tell lie, and 5. Not to consume liquor, or any other intoxicants.
The Buddha truly was destined to be one the most prominent personalities in the history of mankind. His life was the teaching and his teaching was his life. No wonder the Buddha said “I teach what I practice and I practice what I teach”. On this Vesak day it’s time to take a moment and think seriously, revisit the Buddha’s life and teachings and analyze them and examine if we are truly walking on the path as shown by the supremely Enlightened Buddha and are we really benefiting from his teachings. Are we really trying to live the teachings or are we using Buddhism as labels?
If we are really living the teachings, then each passing day our three poisons should become lesser and lesser and our wisdom or right understanding of the impermanence, suffering and non-self should be become deeper and deeper. If this is not happening, then probably we haven’t yet understood the Dhamma. We need to critically study, analyze and practice it in our day to day life.
Buddhism over the years has become very rich in its approach to the practice. The Buddha himself taught using various methods and wisdom depending on each and every individual state of mind and levels of understanding. In every school or approach there are all the four Ariyas, the noble ones. It is our moral duty and responsibility to respect each school and just choose whatever style of practice fits our temperaments, maintaining utmost respect for the other approaches; after all we are the Buddha’s family members.
Buddha always advised saying that the each individual must thoroughly learn, cultivate, develop, and frequently practice the Dhamma that the life of purity may be established and may long endure, for the welfare and happiness of all sentient beings, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well being, and happiness of gods and men.
If we really want to make Ladakh a true heaven on earth, progress in life, live happily, helping and respecting each other, then search for the Buddha amongst people, not in the Gompa, statue, or in the mountains. You will never find him. He is very much amongst us, and we never know in which disguise he is, so the best thing is respect each other because any one of us could be the Buddha, who knows! We might not have the eye to see, but we have the mind to at-least think and act positively.
Let the Buddha Jayanti be an awakening of Buddha-hood in all of us and pledge to respect all.