Q & A with Trinley Thaye Dorje
Before Trinley Thaye Dorje’s arrival, Inquirer sent him a questionnaire specific to certain Philippine situations, put together by a panel of mostly Inquirer writers—social anthropologist and columnist Michael Tan, author and columnist Jaime T. Licauco; world-renowned entertainer Lea Salonga; award-winning filmmaker Ferdinand Balanag, a practicing Buddhist; and animal rights activist Nice Rodriguez.
PDI: The Philippines is a very religious country, with most of its citizens practicing Catholicism. There are clashes between the religious and secular/political sectors over a bill on Reproductive Health whose centerpiece is family planning. Its passage could positively impact a huge part of the population but the Catholic church leaders are vehement, saying birth control goes against basic tenets of the religion. Should one religion have such a strong say in how secular society operates, or should the two be completely and absolutely separate?
Thaye: At any given time, there is always some scorching issue. The government, the people and all religions should work together to find a solution. That’s how it works.
PDI: How do compassion and the other tenets of Buddhism come to play in territorial disputes between countries—like the Philippines-China row over Scarborough Shoal?
Thaye: The Buddhist approach to any dispute is to first observe, then observe, and then observe some more. Finally, when there is nothing more to observe and we have a good collection of information, then we can see if the problem is worth acting on or not.
Very often, after thorough observation, we can see that it is not worth acting on-that the best way to deal with the dispute is to let go of it, but nevertheless offer support and bring peace and happiness to anyone who is affected by it.
PDI: Is there such a thing as collective/national karma? Would this explain the problems of the Philippines?
Thaye: There is collective karma in the sense that when a multitude follows a particular way of thinking and also acts on it, then similar karma is accumulated. When beings have similar karma, then no matter where they are, they will have very similar experiences.
PDI: How compassionate should others be towards homosexuals and lesbians?
Thaye: When we generate bodhicitta (a mind—including thought, action, feeling and speech—totally dedicated to others and to achieving full enlightenment in order to benefit all) there are no distinctions with regard to caste, creed or sexual orientation. These categories do not apply when it comes to bodhicitta. As long as we have a consciousness, we have the capacity to cultivate bodhicitta.
PDI: What Buddhist principle is the most profoundly violated by human beings in this day and age?
Thaye: In Buddhism, there is really nothing to violate. If we do have to name something, it will have to be disturbing one’s mind.
PDI: Is there time for human beings to reform before a predicted world destruction comes to pass? How should they do this, and what can they expect to happen if they mend their ways?
Thaye: The world is not going to end. Everyone has kindness within them and expresses this kindness in times of need. This is what we should pay attention to, more than “reforming”?
(Karmapa Thaye Trinley Dorje visited cancer patients and sick children at the Philippine General Hospital on Saturday. Starting Sunday till Wednesday, he will conduct lectures and initiations and dispense spiritual blessings at the SMX Convention Center. All activities are open to the public.)