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Tenzin Khenrab Rinpoche. Saving our planet is our main responsibility

Venerable Lama Tenzin Khenrab Rinpoche has spoken to us about migrations and the importance of interdependence between humans and nature, in view of His Holiness Dalai Lama’s visit to Milan in October.

The first time we had the pleasure to interview you, in 2010, you had just arrived in Milan. What has changed for you over 6 years and what do you think about Italy?
The personal change I experienced over the past 6 years is linked to the growth of the Ghe Pel Ling Institute, where I teach the Buddhist philosophy and psychology, and meditation. Personally, I learnt more than I taught. I learnt people’s personalities, what they think, their characteristics. The role of teacher is also understanding all these things about others. I learnt so many things from them. I’m having a really nice time in Italy, even if Milan is a very busy city, but still I found myself, my calm and peace.

What kind of people did you meet?
I met many different kinds of people, with different mentalities and motivations. At the beginning, finding a point in common between different cultures was not easy. But, fortunately, I managed to meet people’s needs.

Ven. Lama of Milan, Thenzin Khenrab Rinpoche
Ven. Lama of Milan, Thenzin Khenrab Rinpoche

Why is the dissemination of Buddhist teachings and culture so important even in a – often chaotic – context like the city of Milan? What kind of activities does the Ghe Pel Ling Institute carry out?
We usually don’t use the word dissemination, because our purpose to have a Buddhist institute in Milan is not to disseminate the Buddhist teachings. Our aims are participation and drawing attention to philosophy, which is really useful in a context like that of Milan. People are agitated and they wake up in the morning thinking about all the things they have to do during the day, they’re always in a rush. I always use the traffic light as an example. It only takes 5 minutes after the green light appears to have someone honking behind you. This shows how people are frustrated and agitated. So when we talk about the teachings, they’re more related to stabilising our mind and how to bring more calm. We really need this kind of teachings, not only in Milan, but everywhere in the world.

Humanity is going through harsh moments made of migrations, millions of people fleeing catastrophes, conflicts and walls built to stop them. What do you think about it and how should we act in the face of this phenomenon that involves us all?
I think it’s a very difficult situation for all of us. Disasters are happening all around the world. Migrants are desperate people and the most important thing for us is helping them once they enter a new country, when they’re in need. But I think that the best solution is to make something to stabilise the situation in their country, solve what forces them to escape and help them not to leave their homes. But of course, we must help those people who have arrived here. They can’t be ignored.

Un tram di Milano annuncia l'arrivo di Sua Santità il Dalai Lama
A tram in Milano announces the arrival of His Holiness Dalai Lama

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, will be in Milan on the 21st and 22nd of October to bring his teachings. This year’s theme is Praise to Interdependence. Why is it so important?
His Holiness will teach about interdependence considering it as a need of establishing relationships with others. We cannot live by ourselves. People can do many things on their own, but positive changes in the world depend on the relationships we establish with other peoples. Interdependence cannot be explained in brief, it’s very profound. For this, I invite you all to follow His Holiness’ teachings.

Your teachings are becoming ever more popular. What message would you like to give to our readers, which have sustainability themes close to their heart?
When I had the honour of giving an interview for LifeGate, I said that saving the environment is one of the most important issues. Interdependence is not only between people, but also between humanity and nature. I think that for us to live peacefully in this world, we need to respect each other and save the environment. I think that even natural disasters are our own reflection. They depend on what we do. My idea is that earthquakes for example take place because of us, to draw our attention. Everything is a consequence of our actions. This is why I think that each and every of us must take care of Mother Nature. Our main responsibility is saving our planet.

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