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Posted at: Feb 25, 2017, 12:30 AM; last updated: Feb 25, 2017, 12:30 AM (IST)

Women make better leaders, says Dalai Lama

Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, February 24

If more countries are led by women, the world will probably be a more peaceful place. This was stated by the Dalai Lama while addressing the 300 delegates who came here to participate in the Tibetan women empowerment conference.

He said women were more sensitive to the sufferings of others in addition to great affection they provided as mothers. Human society had developed from a time when hunter gatherers simply shared what they had to the emergence of agriculture and a sense of property. This led to a need for leadership and since the criterion was largely physical strength, male dominance emerged. “Education has restored a degree of equality between men and women”, he said.

Alluding to the position of women in Buddhism, the Dalai Lama said the Buddha had described men and women as having equal potential and had provided full ordination for both. He discussed the as-yet-unresolved difficulties in introducing or restoring the Bhikshuni tradition, but pointed out that a specific Vajrayana precept encourages respect for women in forbidding looking down on them. Further, in Tibet there was an established tradition for recognising female reincarnations such as Samding Dorje Phagmo, he said.

“We are all part of the 7 billion human beings alive today, but some of us are very well off, while elsewhere others are starving. I believe we can address this disparity if we work hard and develop self-confidence. That, in turn, depends on cultivating inner strength and the root of inner strength is developing compassion for others,” he said

Noting that Tibetans have been in exile for almost 58 years, the Dalai Lama recalled meeting Indian leaders like Rajendra Prasad and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who, in addition to being the President and the Vice-President of the country, respectively, impressed him with their scholarship. Listening to Radhakrishnan elegantly declaim verses from Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti in Sanskrit brought tears to my eyes, he said. However, he said that he also secretly suspected that he both understood and could explain better what the verses meant. He attributed this confidence to the rigorous training he had undertaken in Tibet, which was founded on the system originally established in the 8th century by Shantarakshita. This combined an exploration of philosophy with a strict command of reason and logic. This approach encourages investigating the topic in hand from different angles, something that can be useful in any branch of education.

The Dalai Lama mentioned how he had encouraged monasteries that traditionally focussed on rituals to introduce study and education. Similarly, he had encouraged nunneries to do the same. One result, he proudly declared, was the recent award of the first Geshe-ma degrees to 20 fully qualified nuns. Addressing the three Geshe-mas in the room, he advised that it was now their responsibility to teach in their nunneries and schools.

He touched on recent proposals for the Dalai Lama Institute for Higher Education in conjunction with the University of Mysore to offer PhD programmes for the laymn to study Buddhism and the inner science of the mind.

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