His Holiness the Dalai Lama has returned to Dharamsala from Ladakh after giving a teaching to local Buddhists on the fundamental precepts and philosophical underpinnings of all the schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He said: ‘'the four traditional schools of Buddhism in Tibet may superficially seem to differ in the way they explain the [Buddhist] view, but ultimately what they refer to is the same [thing]''.
The Tibetan spiritual leader spent four days in Ladakh, a region in Northern India sometime called ‘little Tibet' due to its strong linguistic, cultural and religious ties with Tibet, and, as he has does many times in the past, His Holiness stressed the importance of the authenticity of Buddhist teachings, and being true to the historical Buddha's words.
He stressed, "In fact the Buddha counseled his followers to examine what he taught and to adopt it only if they felt it was worthwhile, not simply out of respect for him''.
On the second day of the teachings His Holiness talked of Dolgyal (or Shugden). He said that he stopped propitiating the spirit many years ago after extensive investigations had revealed it was improper to do so.
His Holiness encapsulated his thinking on the subject of Dolgyal by saying, "anyone who has kept up the practice of Dolgyal out of ignorance should not have any fear about giving it up if they heed his advice.
On the other hand, he said, whatever fierce spirit you choose is up to you, all His Holiness asks is that such persons do not take vows or empowerments from him.''
Turning to other themes, he reiterated his long standing conviction that Buddhism must not just rely on tradition and handed down conventions based on out dated thinking. For example, in reply to some Korean Buddhists a few years His Holiness said, ‘'that he didn't think the Buddha appeared in the world to give cosmic measurements, but to show the way to liberation from cyclic existence''.
Moreover, the pertinent point he made was that if you take refuge in the three Jewels of Buddhism-The Buddha, Sangha and Dharma- it is because you have consciously tried to "overcome all faults and [ripen] all qualities''.
On the third day, in order to cultivate compassion, and altruism, His Holiness said that an altruistic attitude-to all living beings-is essential if we wish to achieve Buddhahood. His Holiness went through important Buddhist initiations with the congregation for instance the ‘rite to aspire to develop Boddhichitta'. Boddhichitta: meaning the awakened mind that strives for compassion and solidarity with all humans and all other sentient beings.
On the fourth and final day His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave the long life empowerment associated with White Tara (a female deity in Tibetan Buddhism), and symbolically, she is regarded as the feminine aspect of Avalokitesvara.
Amongst other things, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama went onto discuss the importance of religious tolerance in all parts of the world-not least within the different Tibetan Buddhist traditions and his hope that current tolerance would prevail everywhere.
Finally, His Holiness thanked the congregation and the organizers for making his visit a successful one. His Holiness then conferred the long life empowerment of White Tara and subsequent prayers were conducted in relation to White Tara for his long life. At one point in proceedings, after the sun had come out, he stopped to remark:
"The 13th Dalai Lama was once giving a teaching at Norbulingka on a very hot day and there are reports that you could tell who had attended them by their sunburnt faces. It looks like it'll be the same today."
By Mark Kernan, Tibet Post International - August 17, 2012