H.H The XIVth Dalai Lama’s speech during the Foundation-Stone laying ceremony of the LTWA on 11 June, 1971
Culture and spiritual learning belong to the whole of mankind, in spite of the fact that these are associated with the individual character and ethnic identity of a particular people. When a people of common ethnic identity adopt all possible measures to safeguard its culture and philosophy, it not only fosters their own interests but also secures the preservation and continuation of the common heritage of humankind. It is with such a valid cause that we Tibetan people have embarked on a project to save our culture and philosophy. Our effort to safeguard our cultural heritage is a part of that eternal process whereby the people of different nationalities are making strenuous efforts to safeguard their culture and philosophy.
The main characteristics of our culture are based on Buddhism. Buddhism was born in India and in the course of time, it emerged as one of the greatest religions in the world. It is a corporate body of scientific doctrine and teachings. The meanings of its “source, path and goal” are profound and subtle. Millions in Asia follow Buddhism, and perhaps, Tibet is the only country in the world which could explain in detail and carry into real practice the subtle and profound meanings of Buddhist philosophy and culture. By dint of having acquired this privilege, the great responsibility of the preservation, dissemination and continuation of this unique culture and philosophy of Tibet has devolved upon the shoulders of the Tibetan people. It is to the partial fulfillment of this great responsibility that the establishment and functioning of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives assumes a work of utmost importance.
Some may question the usefulness of having a cultural centre on Tibetology in Dharamsala when there are already in existence several similar institutions such as the library in the Tibet House in New Delhi and the Sikkim Research Institute at Gangtok, of which Panchen Rimpoche and I had the honour to lay the foundation-stone. Likewise, there are several institutions of this nature in different parts of India. In as much as there are already in existence several centres on Tibetology, the more the number of cultural repositories, the better. More cultural centres implies the further spreading out of a culture and learning, in the process of which it enriches itself and accelerates the pace of healthy development. A tree without branches is unthinkable.
Others may say that we are too naive and do not realise the futility of undertaking such a venture knowing well that we suffer from lack of funds. It may be so. However, there is nothing impossible when one has the indomitable will to achieve. We are aware of the difficulties created by the absence of any meaningful facilities, and adequate funds. But, we are still making a concentrated effort for realising a cultural centre at Dharamsala. There are some pertinent reasons behind this. In the cultural centres and libraries existing in India and other parts of the world, Tibetan books, manuscripts and publications are collected and preserved.
These offer facilities for study and research in the acquisition of knowledge in the specific subject, and spiritual quest is not knowledge alone. If spiritual wisdom consists only in the acquisition of knowledge, reading books, listening to explanations from the learned ones and carrying on of discussion, this may be sufficient. But it is not a proper definition of religion. Religion implies that we have not only to study and understand its implications, but also to practice it. And mere cultivation of the implication of religion is not enough. One must proceed by gaining practical experiences. Looking from this angle, there is a gulf of difference between the cultural centre being set up at Dharamsala and that of those existing in other parts of India. For instance, we have a Tibet House in New Delhi with a library containing a sizable number of books, and a person to explain the books. However, this library is useful to the extent that it can satisfy the interest and curiosity of those evanescent visitors who have only a limited time to spend.
Knowledge of religion is not spiritual learning. One must have a complete cognition of its essence. Mere readings of the books alone will not do, let alone seeing and throwing a cursory glance over the pages. One has to study, understand, cultivate and gain experiences by diligent application for months and years, and by discussion and benefit from ones who are experienced and learned on the subject. In this respect, Dharamsala, where there is a sizable concentration of Tibetans, is amply suited. Apart from having a cool, amiable climate, this place can claim to have a good many highly experienced Tibetan scholars. Therefore, when the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives starts functioning, people can come to Dharamsala and study the books housed in the Library. If one is earnest in their quest, they can avail the knowledge and experiences of the many learned ones staying nearby. One need not get confused nor overtax one’s brain. They will always have a quiet atmosphere and there will always be some learned ones to help and guide them. In this way, they will be able to obtain the fullest knowledge and wisdom of Tibetan culture and philosophy. It was primarily these objectives that motivated me to plan the establishment of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives at Dharamsala.
The project to establish the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives is a big scheme. In the past, we launched several big projects but not all of them succeeded. It was because the planning was defective, and the venture itself was of vast magnitude. It would be a sad day if this project of ours also meets with the same fate. But I am confident that if we all work hard and strive with all our might, the Library project will surely achieve success. So far, our efforts and its resulting progress have been reasonable and satisfactory. In this context, I wish to express my deep sense of gratitude to the several organisations and individuals who have helped us in the construction of the Library building.
Our work is in conformity with the basic aims of religion. It is a meritorious work. So is the help and assistance given us by well meaning organisations and individuals. This work of ours is aimed at bringing maximum benefit to the promotion of Tibetan culture and philosophy for the benefit of all sentient beings. When the motive is pure and noble, success will always follow. It is my sincere hope that through the vehicle of Tibetan culture and Buddhist doctrine, the world will be benefited at large.