Monday, August 15, 2016

Dalai Lama Teaches The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment

Thiksey, Ladakh, J&K, India, 11 August 2016 - This morning, the sky was cloudy as His Holiness the Dalai Lama drove to the teaching ground at Thiksey, where thousands of people had gathered to hear the teaching, receive the Long Life Empowerment and participate in the Offerings and Prayers for His Holiness’s Long Life. His Holiness began by announcing the presence among them of a Thai Bhikkhu who he met the day before.

“He follows the Pali tradition which first recorded the Four Noble Truths and the 37 Factors of Enlightenment—the foundation of all Buddhist teachings. We also have the Vinaya, the code of monastic discipline in common. Indeed, both the Pali and Sanskrit traditions of Buddhism uphold the Three Collections of the Teachings and the practice of the Three Higher Trainings: morality, concentration, and wisdom.

"Although these are fundamental to our tradition too, we somehow overlook them in favour of deity yoga practice. Yet they are the foundations necessary for doing tantric deity practice. Deity yoga will only be effective if we cultivate the practices of the awakening mind of bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness.”

His Holiness went on to say that having faith is not enough, following the teachings of the Buddha requires reason and understanding, without which Buddhism will not last long in the world. He added that he is inclined to change the order of the Stages of the Path approach and begin with Special Insight rather than the importance of Reliance on Spiritual Teacher. Following the traditional order and suggesting that if you do not follow the Lama’s instruction you will go to hell risks filling the students with fear instead of enthusiasm. His Holiness said the Buddha’s teaching about suffering and its origin is not intended to cause fear and anxiety. His explanation of true cessation achieved by following the true path is a source of joy.

His Holiness was forthright:

"I am being sincere and straightforward with you. With regard to the cause of Tibet and keeping the Buddhadharma alive, we are at a critical juncture. Since you show your devotion to the teaching of the Buddha, I insist that you study it.”

His Holiness remarked that by cultivating the awakening mind of bodhichitta and the wisdom understanding emptiness we can counter our extreme self-cherishing attitude and misconceptions of true existence. He observed that he finds it helpful to engage the four establishments of mindfulness in connection with the four noble truths such that the mindfulnesses of body, feeling, mind and phenomena lead respectively to an awareness of true suffering, true origin, true cessation and true path.

Alignment of mindfulness of phenomena with the true path yields a direct realisation of emptiness, which he said Nagarjuna alludes to when he says, "Fabrication is ceased by emptiness". Khunnu Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen clarified this as, "Fabrication ceases within emptiness". Je Tsongkhapa also writes that when a yogi attains total absorption in emptiness all the defilements in his or her mind are said to dissolve within the empty nature of his or her mind itself; they do not go anywhere else, but simply disappear within the sphere of emptiness. His Holiness concluded:

“Meditating on the emptiness of your own mind is more powerful and significant than meditating on the emptiness of an external object like a pot. It counters your own fundamentally distorted conception of reality. If your realisation of emptiness is coupled with bodhichitta, you can achieve Buddhahood. And we need both bodhichitta and wisdom understanding emptiness in order to make the practice of deity yoga effective.”

His Holiness resumed his reading of the ‘Lamp for the Path’ at the point where it explains developing the aspiration for enlightenment. In preparation for the rite for generating the awakening mind he lead a recitation of the seven-limb prayer with a verse from the ‘Prayer of Samantabhadra's Noble Conduct’:

Whatever little wholesome energies I have collected 
By prostrating, making offering, confession, rejoicing, 
Requesting to give teaching, and requesting not to pass away
I dedicate all of them to attain full awakening.

Prior to the ceremony for generating aspiring and engaging bodhichitta His Holiness gave Upasaka/Upasaki precepts to those interested among the lay people. He gave the bodhisattva vows, asking those assembled to repeat the following verses three times after him:

I seek refuge in the Three Jewels.
I confess all misdeeds individually.
I rejoice in the virtues of all beings.
I take to heart the Buddha’s enlightenment....

He encouraged his listeners to consider the great significance of the bodhisattva vows as they repeated:

Having developed the intention for highest enlightenment
I shall invite all sentient beings as my guests
And I shall engage in the delightful practices of bodhisattvas ….     

He reminded them that they should know the 18 Root Downfalls and 46 Secondary Infractions avoiding which constitute the bodhisattva’s vows, but stressed that the essence of them all is to restrain selfishness. He told them how fortunate he felt to be able to encourage thousands of people to generate the aspiring bodhichitta, to take the bodhisattva vows and venture into the great practices of the bodhisattvas.

His Holiness conferred the Long Life Empowerment—the Wish-fulfilling Wheel of White Tara. He advised that on a practical level living a long life depends on maintaining hygiene and good health. From a spiritual point of view, however, the practice of bodhichitta and wisdom understanding emptiness protect us from obstacles and help create favourable conditions for spiritual progress.

"If you wish to have more friends,” he said, “you should cultivate bodhichitta. You will attract friends without having to seek them out. If you prefer to make enemies of people, harbour malicious thoughts towards them and they will naturally become hostile to you.

"What is of utmost importance is to feel determined to achieve a transformation of your mind. This is what the teachings I have given over these two days are meant for."

To conclude the day’s events, Thiksey Rinpoche led the community of monks, nuns and Ladakhi lay people in making prayers that His Holiness lives long based on the rite related to the Sixteen Arhats.

original link with photos http://www.dalailama.com/news/post/1433-teaching-the-lamp-for-the-path-to-enlightenment-a-longevity-empowerment-and-a-long-life-offering

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