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article imageDalai Lama calls for harmony among world religions Special

By Christopher Szabo     Sep 22, 2010 in World
Pretoria - In the midst of religious wars and intolerance worldwide, the Dalai Lama says the world’s major religions should find common ground to help people find their quest for happiness. I asked his representative for Africa to elaborate.
The Dalai Lama was speaking on the subject during a visit to Hungary, linked to Tibet by the work of Hungarian scholars starting in the Nineteenth Century. The representative of the Tibetan Government-in-exile, Sonam Tenzing, said in an interview religions had common ground. Speaking on the telephone from his office in Pretoria, South Africa, Tenzing said:
I think, Number One, is to understand Inter-religious harmony. He is trying to focus on inter-religious harmony that is essential in the modern century.
But with extremists calling for conflicts, wars, banning of each other’s clothing, I wondered whether harmony among religions was possible?
Inter-religious harmony is possible, because in all the different faiths ad religions throughout the world, what is most commonly found is love and forgiveness. And all of these religions speak of happiness. I think all of these religions speak of discarding all the miseries and bringing joy and happiness to the adherent of whichever said religion it might be. I think that is really the common ground where all religions harmoniously promote all these human or ethical and moral values. I think he (the Dalai Lama) was referring to these moral values.
Tenzing stressed the Dalai Lama had done a great deal to build bridges between religions:
In the past years efforts were being made with clergy of different other religions: Jewish, Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, Muslims, I think he has been in touch with most of the important religious figures in the world. I think his approach to meeting different leaders of different faiths have been applauded and appreciated. I am sure that you would not disagree to the statement that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is one of the leaders who makes a definite effort to promote interreligious harmony.
He added the Dalai Lama’s appreciation of Christian religious contemplatives who practice something not dissimilar to Buddhist meditation. He said:
In his books, he has made references to Christian clergy, especially the late the late Father Thomas Merton, who I think he appreciates very much.
During his visit to Hungary, Tenzing Gyatso, to give the Dalai Lama’s name, paid homage to the first Tibetologist, Sándor Csoma de Kőrösi, and (1784-1842) who went to the east in to find the ancestral homeland of the Hungarians. He was Gottingen-trained linguistic genius who soon spoke a dozen languages and planned to travel to East Turkestan (now the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Republic of China) but was diverted by a local war to British India. There he joined the Asiatic Society and began his study of Tibetan language and culture. He was the first to publish a Tibetan-English dictionary and a grammar of Tibetan. Throughout his journeys he identified with local people and never lived like a “superior” European.
Sándor Csoma of Kőrös  the Hungarian pioneer of Tibetan studies.
Sándor Csoma of Kőrös, the Hungarian pioneer of Tibetan studies.
Wikimedia Commons
He lived in great poverty in Ladakh where he studied Tibetan and planned to visit Lhasa in 1842, but contracted malaria and died. He is buried in Darjeeling. The Dalai Lama described the sum of his work as “a great act.” I asked Tenzing whether the Tibetan people knew of Kőrösi:
The Hungarian scholar Kőrösi Csoma Sándor, or to the Tibetans he may be known as Alexander Csoma Kőrösi: What can be said, after they fled Tibet in 1959, the first and second generation who escaped, because of education, interaction with cultures with different people (including) scholars, have led to a knowledge of this pioneering scholar.
Religion and education often go hand in hand. Of Kőrösi possible conversion to Buddhism, Tenzing said:
I would say he studied Buddhist culture and he actually studied under Buddhist masters, so one could say he made an effort to become a Buddhist through his learning.
Relations between Hungary and the Tibetans are very good. Tenzing said:
The pioneering scholar has contributed to this relationship. Today educated Tibetans, when they want to refer to how relations between Tibetans and Hungarians developed, would refer to this scholar and I have seen articles by Tibetan scholars and western scholars and the great effort he made close to Tibet border studying Buddhist culture and his effort to get it to outside world.
There is also a consistent rumour that Kőrösi was made a Buddhist saint or bodhisattva, but if so, this would only apply to a monastery in Japan and could be based on an error.
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