His Holiness Gyalwa Karmapa gives a dharma talk at Hua-fan University
On May 7, 2012, His Holiness was invited to visit Hua-fan University to give a dharma talk in front of staff members, teachers and students.
Hua-fan University is an institute of higher education founded by the Venerable Hiu Wan and located in Shiding District, New Taipei City.
Before her ordination, the Venerable Hiu Wan was one of the most acclaimed female Chinese brush painters of the 20th century. Education was always her primary concern, and she is reported to once have said, “Education is my life. I will be with it as long as I can breathe.” Thus, in 1990, she founded Hua-fan University in fulfillment of her ideal – the “Education of Enlightenment”, which involves self-awakening, self-development, and human-oriented education based on Chinese ethics and Buddhist compassion. Through this path of education, Hua-fan University’s objectives are to promote its students’ academic competency and personal integrity, to help them achieve wisdom and compassion, and ultimately to benefit humankind as a whole. As His Holiness Karmapa Himself has sometimes put it: “The first goal of any spiritual path is to help us become decent human beings.” The “Education of Enlightenment” adopted by Hua-fan University strives to achieve this goal by integrating both Hua (Chinese culture) and Fan (Buddhism) into its educational approach.
When His Holiness Karmapa arrived on the premises He was led to the auditorium where staff members and students were already gathered. Venerable Ven. Hsiu Tzu, Director of the Lotus Buddhist Ashram, the successor of Ven. Hiu Wan (who passed away in 2008), addressed His Holiness and the assembled gathering in a speech in which she succinctly summed up the differences and common points of the Mahayana and Vajrayana paths. When asked to take the floor Gyalwa Karmapa talked about his own experience that the more you learn about Buddhism the more it helps you to see the value of other religions, to understand why there are so many of them and why they continue to spread even in our own day and age. He said that all religions had great value for human beings alive today, not in terms of outer but in terms of inner wealth. Just as our body needs to be sustained by appropriate food our consciousness needs spiritual nourishment. “In that regard all religions are the same: food for the mind.”
At the end of His dharma talk He invited the audience to ask any questions they might have, and they didn’t have to be asked twice. A lively exchange ensued, in which a great variety of topics were addressed. Not for the first time, the question of whether the world is going to end in December 2012 came up.
His Holiness’ response addressed the question from different angles:
“They (the Mayas) had great astrologers, great minds, great intelligence, and so they knew many things. Some of the arts and abilities they had gained over the centuries are really amazing. But I think that at that time, just like on our side of the world we didn’t know that the Americas existed, in the same way they also didn’t know that Asia and the West existed. So therefore I think that when they were performing their astrology, they were only doing it for their nation, for their continent… because that is their world – whatever they can see is their world, whatever they cannot see is not their world. So probably while doing astrology they might have seen something, but I think it only applies to their own culture. I think that it doesn’t apply to all of us…”
Having said that, His Holiness moved on to a more ultimate level of looking at the question:
“The world might end tomorrow, but if we have a composed and collected mind it does not matter. It does not matter, because what we need to know is that our consciousness, our mind is timeless, and therefore is the most indestructible force in entire existence… So therefore, the world ending is actually nothing at all…”
His Holiness Karmapa then went on to express His appreciation of the combined efforts of teachers and students, “You all have a great responsibility, because the teachers and students will shape tomorrow’s world.”