Last year, I had the pleasure and honour to meet His Eminence Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche, first via the platform Clubhouse, then via WhatsApp and phone calls. Finally, last September, H. E. Rinpoche stopped in the UK after touring the US.
He was very kind to let me know of his presence in London. He visited us in our house and we chatted about life and the Universal Peace Sanctuary Project over empanadas and mote con huesillos (typical Chilean food, as it was the anniversary of Chile’s Independence). I was delighted to know that he had visited my birth country many years ago and had fond memories of his visit.
Our honest conversation led me to really understand the transcendental vision behind the construction of a peace sanctuary in Lumbini, Nepal, and this comprehension reignited my desire to help towards the accomplishment of such a luminous project.
However, before diving into Rinpoche’s words of wisdom, let me shed some light on the project.
In 2013, the Nepalese government entrusted Rinpoche and his charity organisations in the US and Asia with the mission of building a Peace Sanctuary in Lumbini, Nepal, the birthplace of Buddha. During all these years, His Eminence Rinpoche has raised awareness and collected donations from all over the world to build the Sanctuary. Construction on the site has already started, but much more help from people of the world is still needed.
I will let Rinpoche tell you a bit more now.
Veronica: What is peace for you and how do you live it?
Rinpoche: Peace is the natural state of unconditional mind. This basic goodness is universal in all beings. We need to realize that peace is not only possible; it is our birthright. When we recognize that our nature is fundamentally pure, we find that peace is always possible and we can actualize it.
To live peacefully you have to begin to understand and recognize what is obscuring your natural goodness. The sun is always shining, even when hidden by clouds. The clouds are temporary; your true nature shines eternally, like the sun. Defilements are momentary, like the clouds. When your true nature shines, you don’t need a method for living peacefully; peace just happens naturally.
Veronica: You are constantly talking about “unconditional love,” could you please enlighten us with a deeper meaning of this concept?
Rinpoche: Unconditional love is love that is not conditioned. In other words, to love without any agenda and without expecting anything in return. As my Western friends like to say, there are no strings attached. When you recognize that your life is truly worthwhile you feel sincere love for all living beings. To love others without expecting anything in return is unconditional love. This all-embracing love will never let you down; it only brings true harmony and peace.
Veronica: Why is it important to build a Universal Peace Sanctuary and what is the inspiration behind this wonderful project?
Rinpoche: When there is much conflict, violence, and intolerance in the world, people begin to doubt that peace is actually possible. We begin to feel hopeless; there is more stress, fear and mistrust. Now, perhaps more than ever, the world needs a beacon of peace.
The Universal Peace Sanctuary will serve as a lighthouse that signals a safe path for ships lost at sea.
The Universal Peace Sanctuary can inspire confidence and trust that peace is always possible, because we always have the potential to know the peace that is fundamental to our nature. I envision the Universal Peace Sanctuary as a sacred oasis where world leaders can be invited to find conflict resolution through peaceful dialogue.
Veronica: How can people contribute to the Peace Sanctuary Project?
Rinpoche: Generosity is the virtue that brings peace to oneself and peace to others. The more one is attached to what one perceives as “me” and “mine,” the more one feels the need to acquire things for oneself. This is the cause of all the conflict in the world. When there is freedom from attachment, the more one has to give to others for the common good.
The way to contribute to the peace project is to practice generosity as much as you can. There are many ways to be generous. You can offer your resources, you can offer your time, you can offer your inspirational support, or you can offer your prayers for peace. The purpose of this project is not just to build a sanctuary in Lumbini; the greater purpose is to foster the virtue of generosity and build a sanctuary of peace within each and every one’s heart.
Veronica: What is your message to people for this year 2022?
Rinpoche: Spirituality is not blind faith or following religious dogma. It is practicing a way of life that brings greater clarity, deeper understanding, compassionate intelligence, and genuine well-being. This is not something we have to acquire or accomplish; it is what we need to activate and reveal, as it is the fundamental essence of our being. This includes the spiritual practice of meditation. Otherwise, it is so easy to be taken in by our habits, our mental afflictions of attachment, aversion, jealousy, arrogance and delusion.
We need to practice less self-orientation and more other-orientation. When we care more for others we are naturally taking care of ourselves. This is a win-win proposition. The peace we know inside begins to manifest outside, within our family, among our friends, our community, and even with those we perceive as enemies.
Make this New Year a time to value your precious life. The passing years remind us of how short our life is, and the pandemic has made us realize how vulnerable we are. As I always like to say, seize the moment as if there were no next moment; make the most of this precious human life, here and now!