|His Holiness The 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje gives his insight into the life and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti|
HH: In the history of the world, Gandhiji is a very unique and extremely rare individual. From a Buddhist practitioner's point of view, we are always looking for examples in our lives. We are always looking for examples that will bring inspiration, hope and courage. So, in worldly life, that is something really rare.
I remember one of my teachers used to say there are actually two well known individuals who chose the path of non-violence and lead people by example, one through a purely spiritual path and the other from the basic worldly path, but still expressing the non-violence path. The spiritual example would be that of Milarepa. He was an individual who chose that path and at the same time wore nothing but a very simple piece of clothing. So, one was that of Milarepa and the other was that of Gandhiji.
I think it's true that without examples we are all lost and non-violence is extremely important in a humane society. Without such examples, though we have our innate kind nature, without examples it is very difficult to give rise to these qualities. That's why, only through example it is possible I think. There are of course various other ways to inspire people. There are many means and truths to offer people but there is nothing better than an example. Because, you live through it and your whole life from beginning to end is lived through example. That is why, I have the greatest utmost respect for the courage he has shown. I think it was not just benefiting one nation but the entire world. I hope that because of his example we are going to see countless more such examples.
Q: You mentioned the similarities between Gandhi and Milarepa, such as their simplicity. Could you speak more on what makes these two individuals alike?
HH: I think the similarities are simplicity, of course, and I also think courage because, within any society, the general integrity of a society and its mechanism makes it that much harder for a person to deal with that kind of courage. Of course, the qualities are there innately but still it is very difficult. That's why it's so rare, I think.
Q: Would You say that Gandhi was a Bodhisattva?
HH: I would certainly like to refer to him as a Bodhisattva, yes. Of course, the non-violence example is commonly known but on top of that without differentiating between caste or race, religion or culture, breaking through all of those boundaries and simply focusing on basic human qualities. In any other culture or history, again, such examples are extremely rare.
Q: Non-Violence or Ahimsa, as it is called here in India, I suppose in each culture has its own connotations. What would Your definition of Non-Violence be?
HH: Due to the nature of the individual and collective ignorance, let's say, in some ways lack of knowing, essentially not knowing the truth, this brings actually all kinds of problems in any individual's life. So, when the truth of ignorance is not well known, on such terms, violence and non-violence both come into the picture. So, from my personal perspective, yes, it is the path of non-violence but basically it is more than that, I think. One has to use certain terminology such as non-violence but basically it is emphasizing, from my personal understanding or personal interpretation, it's emphasizing what in Buddhism is known as Buddha Nature. It's a very unconditioned genuine kind nature, let's say. So it is emphasizing that and practicing that. When we practice that, our gestures, our speech and our thoughts become visible in such a way as what was shown by him (Gandhi).
Q: Any concluding words Your Holiness would like to convey about Gandhiji, his life and his message of non-violence?
Project Manager: Khenpo Mriti
Reporter: Derek Hanger
Camera man: Norbu Zangpo
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