Monday, December 17, 2018

Dalai Lama's Pilgrimage to the Mahabodhi Temple

Pilgrimage to the Mahabodhi Temple

Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - On arrival in Bodhgaya yesterday, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was given a brief formal welcome at the Main Tibetan Monastery, Gaden Phelgyeling. This morning he chose, as a priority, to make a pilgrimage to the Mahabodhi Temple. He also decided to walk, which he did at a brisk pace, greeting friends and well-wishers lining the street on the way.

His Holiness was welcomed at the gate to the temple by Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee Secretary (BTMC) Nangzey Dorje, Divisional Commissioner, Magadh, Tenzin Nima Bindhyeshwari, Senior Superintendent of Police, Rajiv Mishra and District Magistrate, Abhishek Singh. They accompanied him into the complex. Once inside, His Holiness paused to salute the Vajra-asana, the Seat of Enlightenment, beneath the Bodhi Tree, with the Mahabodhi Temple behind it. Monks, nuns and lay devotees attending a Kagyu Monlam turned to greet him as he descended the stairs.

His Holiness walked the inner circumambulatory path, smiling and waving to people gathered beyond the stone railings that are reputed to have originally been erected by Nagarjuna to protect the Bodhi Tree from elephants. Reaching the temple entrance he paused to pay his respects. Within the inner sanctum, he lit a lamp before the celebrated statue of Buddha Shakyamuni prior to sitting down in front of it.

Indian monks belonging to the BTMC first recited the Mangala Sutta in Pali. His Holiness then joined the Abbot and Löbpön of Namgyal Monastery, Thamtog Rinpoché and Ngawang Topgyal, in reciting the Praise to the Buddha known as the ‘Three Continuums’, the ‘Heart Sutra’, Tsongkhapa’s ‘Praise to the Buddha for Teaching Dependent Arising’, the ‘Drumbeat of Truth’, the ‘Praise to the 17 Masters of Nalanda’, a ‘Prayer for the Ecumenical Spread of the Buddha’s Teachings’ and dedication prayers.

Members of the BTMC presented His Holiness with their calendar illustrated by images of the Buddha. Expressing his gratitude he told them that in addition to acknowledging the Buddha as the founder of Buddhism, he regards him as a scientist and great thinker. He is especially struck by the Buddha’s advice to his followers: “As the wise test gold by burning, cutting and rubbing it, so, bhikshus, should you accept my words---after testing them, and not merely out of respect for me.”

As His Holiness left the Temple, members of the press were eager to question him. He gave them a succinct summary of what the Buddha taught—advising his followers to observe ‘ahimsa’ or non-violence in their conduct, ‘karuna’ or compassion as their motivation and dependent arising as their view of reality.

His Holiness completed his circumambulation of the Temple, walked up the steps to the gate, where he climbed into a car to drive back to Gaden Phelgyeling. This monastery began as a temple constructed by a Ladakhi Lama named Ngawang Samten in 1938. Returning to Tibet, he offered it to the Tibetan Government. In 1951, Dhardo Rinpoché was appointed Abbot and under his supervision monastic quarters were constructed in 1952, at which time His Holiness gave the monastery the name Gaden Phelgyeling. In 1965, when he was appointed Gaden Tripa, Ling Rinpoché also became Abbot of this monastery. In 2002, the monastery was given into the care of Namgyal Monastery and eight or nine monks from there look after it throughout the year.

original link & photos:

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Dalai Lama Teaches from "A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life"

Sankisa, UP, India - Mist rose from the fields that extend as far as the eye can see and the sun shone low as His Holiness the Dalai Lama drove to the Archaeological site at Sankisa this morning. He said brief prayers before the hillock that is presumed to have been a stupa and returned local people's greetings.

Reaching the grounds of the Youth Buddhist Society of India (YBSI) he again climbed out of his car to cut a ribbon and inaugurate an exhibition of paintings on Buddhist themes. Next, he unveiled the foundation stone for a proposed clinic and expressed his appreciation of their work to several medical volunteers who were introduced to him. Lastly, he unveiled a foundation plaque for a proposed school and took time to pay his respects before the image of the Buddha in an already established chapel.

Arriving at the teaching venue, His Holiness was given a traditional Tibetan musical welcome by a group from the Tibetan Institute for Performing Arts. They included performers from Tibet and Arunachal Pradesh, who were happy when he posed for photographs with them.

Welcomed to the stage inside a huge marquee by YBSI President, Suresh Chandra Baudhh, His Holiness lit an auspicious lamp and paid his respects before a statue of the Buddha prior to taking his seat. A group of local children in school uniform filed onto the stage and knelt down to recite the Mangala Sutta in Pali.

"First I must thank these students for their clear recitation," he said as he began to address a crowd estimated to number 15,000. "You belong to the generation of the 21st century while many of the rest of us belong to the 20th century. Looking back, we can see that there was too much violence at that time. So many lives were sacrificed. If their loss had contributed to the creation of a better world, it might have been justified. But that was not the case.

"At the start of this 21st century violence persists because too many people still believe that the solution to problems lies in the use of force. This way of thinking is out of date. It's clear that India's longstanding tradition of ahimsa or non-violence is as relevant today as ever and young students like these represent our hope for a better future.

"Today, in this sacred place I've been requested to explain the Dharma. The organizers have worked hard to make this possible and I'd like to thank all of them.

"Whenever I meet monks, nuns and other religious people these days, I put a question to them. In this day and age when there has been great technological and material development, is religion something we still need. We see that in advanced countries, where there has been the most material development, people continue to be in mental turmoil. At such a time, when so many face emotional crises, people easily turn to violence. The arms industry thrives. Widespread sale of weapons increases the risk of devastating violence.

"Scientists declare on the basis of infant responses to different situations that basic human nature is compassionate. This makes sense since a mother gave birth to every one of us and then showered us with love and affection. Without her care we'd have died. It's easy to see that the kinder and more affectionate we are to others, the more peaceful we are in ourselves and the more peaceful is the atmosphere in which we live and work.

"Anger, anxiety and jealousy ruin our well-being. We need calm and affection, but if we were to seek them in the market or shopping mall people would laugh at us. Religions are concerned with human beings and human activity. They all teach the value of love and compassion, with support from different philosophical points of view.

"Theistic traditions teach about a creator god full of love and wisdom, whose children we all are, which makes it easy to see our fellow beings as brothers and sisters. Our purpose is to be harmonious, compassionate and affectionate to each other. Non-theistic traditions make no reference to a creator. What happens is in our hands. As long as we have love and compassion, we have peace of mind, which we lose when we are overcome by anger."

His Holiness spoke of the futility of seeking satisfaction only in sensory experience, neglecting the role of mental consciousness in peace of mind. He noted that for hundreds of years, not only has India cultivated ahimsa, it has also adopted a secular stance of respect for religious traditions without bias and with additional regard for the views of those who have no interest in religion. He remarked that such an approach is particularly relevant when we see people fighting and killing each other in the name of religion. He mentioned his commitments both to helping people find peace of mind and to maintaining inter-religious harmony.

Taking up a 'Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life' His Holiness remarked:

"Of course, I'm a Buddhist and I've studied Buddhist philosophy and psychology extensively, but I believe it is quite possible to look at their concepts and instructions from a purely academic point of view. This book can be very helpful to people. As sentient beings we easily fall under the influence of desire, hatred and ignorance. And when they overwhelm our intelligence it can be really unfortunate. As I've said above, the powerful weapons that are products of our intelligence can only be used to destroy others. We can create joy or wreak havoc depending on our motivation.

"Chapter 6 of this book explains patience, while Chapter 8 describes the development of altruism. We don't have time to go through the entire book, but I can give you a succinct account of what it says.

"Chapter 9 is about wisdom and begins 'The Sage propounded all these branches [of teachings] for the sake of wisdom. Therefore, those who wish to pacify suffering should generate wisdom'. The Buddhas don't wash negative deeds away with water, nor do they remove the sufferings of beings with their hands, neither do they transplant their own realization into others. It is through teaching the truth of suchness that they help beings find freedom.

"Right from the start Buddhas are intent on overcoming suffering. They teach from their own experience that the suffering of suffering, the suffering of change and the suffering of pervasive conditioning all arise from destructive emotions. These are rooted in ignorance—a misconception of reality—the final antidote to which is the wisdom understanding emptiness."

His Holiness explained how the trainings in morality, single-pointed concentration and insight converge in wisdom. He noted that in ancient India there was a consensus that the pleasures of the desire realm finally result in dissatisfaction, however for some the solution was to seek the greater peace of higher realms of absorption. The Buddha focused instead on refuting the idea of a single, permanent, independent self. The selflessness he taught is an antidote not only to the mental afflictions, but also to their residual stains, the obscurations to knowledge. And for it to be effective it needs to be combined with the awakening mind of bodhichitta.

His Holiness cited Nagarjuna's observation that what the Buddha taught was based on the two truths-conventional and ultimate. He also recalled that the Buddha hesitated to teach what he had realised after his enlightenment because no one would understand what he had to say.

"Profound and peaceful, free from elaboration, uncompounded clear light
I have found a nectar-like Dharma.
Yet if I were to teach it, no one would understand,
So I shall remain silent here in the forest.

"The first words of the first line 'profound and peaceful' refer to the true cessation that was the focus of the first turning of the wheel of dharma. 'Free from elaboration' alludes to what he eventually taught in the second turning of the wheel and 'uncompounded clear light' pertains to the third turning of the wheel. The first turning laid out the Four Noble Truths, the second revealed the perfection of wisdom that things have no essential independent existence.

"During the third turning of the wheel, the Buddha explained that he taught that things have no independent existence because of their three natures: their imputed nature implies they have no intrinsic existence; their dependent nature shows they are not self-created and their perfect nature is that they have no ultimate, independent existence. In the 'Tathagata-garbha Sutra' the Tathagata described Buddha-nature, referring to the objective clear light as the nature of the mind and the subjective clear light as Buddha-nature."

"In the course of the first turning of the wheel, the Buddha explained the nature, function and result of each of the Four Noble Truths. He made clear that suffering is undesired, but that it has compatible causes and conditions. Cessation was taught on the basis of an insight into emptiness that counters the ignorance of clinging to intrinsic existence."

His Holiness observed that just as Maitreya's 'Sublime Continuum' states that appearance is not reality, quantum physicists declare that nothing has any objective existence because things are dependent on the observer. They seem not to have questioned the observer's objective existence.

Remarking that when the second verse states 'The Ultimate is not the object of mind' it indicates that it is not a dualistic mind. When the third verse says 'The world of common people is undermined by the world of the yogis' it also refers to the non-dualistic mind.

He clarified that emptiness is only established on some basis. The 'Heart Sutra' states 'Form is empty; emptiness is form'. It goes on to declare 'Likewise are feeling, discrimination, compositional factors and consciousness empty.' His Holiness stressed that it is necessary to understand what ignorance grasps at and that it is a misconception. This is understood in the context of the deeds of a Bodhisattva, the six perfections.

Finally, His Holiness pointed out that because of its use of reason and logic the Nalanda Tradition introduced to Tibet by Shantarakshita was scientific. These days, he advises followers of the Buddha to be 21st century Buddhists, understanding what the Buddha taught and therefore what it means to go for refuge to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

Read the book!

original link & photos:

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Staying Spiritually Safe From The Enemy

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season so far. It’s just now starting to cool down here in Florida. 48° is cold for us here. Lol. My heart goes out to the victims from the California fires. Let’s please keep them in our thoughts. I can’t imagine over 10,000 homes and businesses are burned down.

Christians are responsible to test words of teaching and prophecy. The Bereans were considered noble for hearing the teaching of Paul and Silas, receiving them with eagerness and “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). These believers tested the words of the apostles, examining the Scriptures to see if what they were being taught was consistent with what they knew of God’s revelation of Himself. In doing this they modeled the task of all believers. Christians are ultimately responsible for what they choose to believe, no matter whether or not they have been gifted with the spiritual gift of discernment.

When a person becomes converted and receives God's spirit they immediately enter into a war-like struggle against two large opponents and a lot of it consists in the mind. It’s satans most tool to attack! They will have to fight these two powerful enemies every day of their life until they die. The first major opponent Christians face is themselves. They must battle their own human nature with its self-defeating, sinful and destructive tendencies. The apostle Paul referred to this constant battle of the mind Christians face in his book to the Romans. The second lifelong opponent true believers must face is the devil and the world he has deceived into thinking and acting like he does (Ephesians 2:2, 1John 5:19, Revelation 12:9, etc.). Jesus, in his prayer to the Father before his crucifixion, reveals the ultimate attitude of those who do not believe God against those who do. I have given them (the disciples and all Christians by extension) Your words, and the world has hated them. . . (John 17)

Paul tells us, in no uncertain terms, that believers do not fight a carnal war that is so familiar to the world but rather one that is on a spiritual plane. A battle in the mind as I said above. Because “we are not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against principalities and against powers, against the world rulers of the darkness of this age, against the spiritual power of wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6)

We must create the armor of God to protect ourselves, what other ways can we stop the enemy from influencing us? We have to avoid all evil influences in our life. We can find these influences through music that we listen to, the TV shows and movies that we watch, and activities that are tied to the occult that we can find ourselves silently drawn towards or introduced to via our acquaintances and friends. We don't realize how the little things we do can open up doors and allow legal rights for demonic influence in our life. I'm so guilty of this myself. None of us are perfect nor are we expected to be. Remember Jesus Christ died for our sins. We can repent and be forgiven.

While the fallen angels have no control over your Free Will, they do have some preternatural abilities to influence your thoughts. They will silently tempt you, often to impure thoughts, or into dissuading you from some good effort. Construct a mental picture of Our Lord Jesus Christ during His Passion. Focus on His pierced hands or feet, or maybe His carrying of the Cross, or concentrate on His crowning with thorns or scourging at the pillar. You will be amazed at how fast the evil thoughts will flee.

The dark forces pull out all the stops to trick us out of our good intentions, and it is only by our soul's determination to succeed and by the grace of God's assistance that we can get back on track. The last thing Christ said after revealing his self to a certain amount of people after he rose from the dead was “I leave you with the power of the Holy Spirit So that you may cast demons out in my name.” Without your spiritual armor on tight (the light of God sealed around you), it's easy to fall prey to a spiritual attack. Satan is God of this world.

These so-called attacks don't have to be very in-your-face. As a matter of fact, they work better when they aren't obvious, because you're less likely to do anything about it. Cunning and subtle methods cause us to accept an intrusion into our world as 'the way things are' or 'just part of our personality'. We have no clue we are receiving or are under demonic influence. They never stop. It’s their job here on earth. It’s a constant struggle.

It's important to recognize when we need to call to God to take care of that negative energy. Praying for discernment is key, as well as just simply practicing. I always like to pray for his protection and favor every day I wake up and every night before I go to bed. The power of prayer is very much stronger than what many people realize I believe.

Spiritual warfare is really one of the greatest blessings we have. We don't have to wallow in the darkness, we can call for spiritual protection from the forces of light and they will fight back and raise us out of whatever negative state of mind or being we are in. Praise God we have these ways of protection.

Written By Jennifer L Auld

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Dalai Lama Says "We are One Family"

One - We are One Family

Tokyo, Japan - This morning, under bright sunshine and a high blue sky scattered with thin clouds, His Holiness the Dalai Lama left Yokohama. He drove directly to the Hibiya Open-Air Concert Hall in Tokyo, a ninety year old theatre surrounded by trees. Half the 2800 strong audience sat in the sun, the other half in the shade.

The event was presented as an opportunity for young Japanese to get to know His Holiness better and to hear what he has to say. Two other special guests were introduced. Actor, film director and event producer Kenji Kohashi told the audience how moved he had been by a visit to Tibet. It compelled him to visit Dharamsala and meet His Holiness. He declared that he feels he must have been a Tibetan in a previous life.

Ai Tominaga started her career as a model at the age of 17 in New York and worked there for the next ten years. She returned to Tokyo and participates in activities that contribute to social welfare and convey the traditional culture of Japan. She has visited Mongolia. She told the audience how struck she had been by His Holiness’s warmth.

“Brothers and sisters,” His Holiness began, “it’s a great honour for me to have the opportunity to share my views and experiences with you. Wherever I go I emphasize that all 7 billion human beings are physically, mentally and emotionally the same. Everybody wants to live a happy life free from problems. Even insects, birds and animals want to be happy.

“What distinguishes us human beings is our intelligence. However, there are occasions when we use it improperly, as, for example, when we use it to design weapons. Animals like lions and tigers that live by attacking and eating other animals have sharp teeth and claws, but human beings’ nature and teeth are more like those of a deer. We use our intelligence to fulfil our desires, to which, compared to those of other animals, there seems to be no limit.

“Right here and now we are sitting together in peace and pleasure, but at this very moment, in other parts of the world people are killing each other.

“As I said, devising ever more lethal arms is a poor use of human intelligence and the worst are nuclear weapons. You Japanese have actually been victims of nuclear attack and know what the consequent suffering is like. I’ve been to both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On my first visit to Hiroshima I met a woman who had been through it and survived and I saw the watch in the museum that had stopped at the instant of the explosion and was half melted by the heat. So, instead of using our intelligence to create joy, the result has sometimes been fear.

“Here in the 21st century we should make an effort not to repeat the errors of the last century with its endless series of wars. Historians suggest that 200 million people died of violence during this period. It’s time to say, ‘Enough’. Let’s make the 21st a century of peace and compassion on the basis of the oneness of all 7 billion human beings alive today.

“Over-emphasizing difference of nationality, religion or race culminates in feelings of ‘us’ and ‘them’—division. We must remind ourselves that at a deeper level all human beings are the same. We all want to live a happy life and to be happy is our right. Throughout the universe are sentient beings seeking peace and happiness. What distinguishes the human beings on our planet is that we can communicate with each other—we can convey a sense of the oneness of humanity. If we develop peace of mind within ourselves, I believe we can make the 21st century an era of peace. We must heed the ways of achieving inner peace.

“There are no natural boundaries between human beings on this earth, we are one family. At a time of increasing natural disasters, climate change and global warming affect us all. We have to learn to live together, to work together and to share what we have together. The way we make problems for ourselves is senseless. We will achieve genuine peace in the world if we pursue demilitarization, but we need a sense of inner disarmament, a reduction of hostility and anger, to start with.

“A mother gave birth to each one of us and lavished us with care and affection, but once we go to school our education system fails to nurture this sense of loving-kindness. It’s aimed instead at fulfilling material goals. We need to re-introduce to education such inner values as warm-heartedness. If we could be more warm-hearted we’d be happier as individuals, contributing to happier families and wider communities too.

“Human beings are social animals. What brings us together is love and affection—anger drives us apart. Just as we employ physical hygiene to protect our health, we need emotional hygiene, the means to tackle our destructive emotions, if we are to achieve peace of mind.

“I belong to the 20th century, an era that is past. But this is what I want to share with you young people—if you start to collect the causes now, you’ll live to see a happier, more peaceful world. Don’t be content with the present circumstances, take a more far-sighted view.”

His Holiness added that when the heart is closed it leads to fear, stress and anger. Nurturing the idea of the oneness of humanity has the effect of opening the heart. When you think of all other human beings as your brothers and sisters it’s easy to communicate with them all. It makes it easier to smile, to be warm and friendly. He said this is what he tries to do. For him, whether they are beggars or leaders, all human beings are the same. If he tells himself he’s a Buddhist, a Tibetan, the Dalai Lama, it just increases his sense of isolation.

He observed that Japan has historically been a Buddhist country, yet all religions convey a message of love, compassion and self-discipline. Their philosophical differences arose to suit people of different dispositions, at different times and in different places and conditions. The fundamental message of love remains the same. Buddhism, especially the Nalanda Tradition, with its emphasis on reasoned investigation, takes a realistic stance that accords with the approach of science. His Holiness recommended that to become a 21st century Buddhist, simply having faith and reciting the sutras is not enough, far more important is understanding and implementing what the Buddha taught.

Ai Tominaga told His Holiness that in her experience young people today have a desire for fashion, but it’s in the context of a concern for freedom, human rights and protecting the environment. She thanked him for giving encouraging advice to the next generation.

Kenji Kohashi told him that when he plans musical and other events he wants young people to develop greater self-awareness. “We have to take the initiative to connect with each other, otherwise we remain apart. For me, a near death experience while mountain climbing and meditation have been a source of inspiration.”

A young man who works for a NGO caring for orphans asked His Holiness to comment on leadership and optimism.

“According to my observation,” His Holiness replied, “NGOs are sometimes more effective than governments agencies, so I appreciate their contribution. Since our existing culture tends to be materialistic, we look to external sources for fulfilment. But that can change. Look at how popular attitudes to war have changed. In the early 20th century if a nation declared war, people joined up proudly without question. Compare that to resistance in America to the Vietnam War or to the millions of people around the world who marched to protest against going to war with Iraq.

“Certainly I’m optimistic, because giving in to pessimism leads to defeat. I’m committed to trying to revive interest in what ancient Indian knowledge has to tell us about the workings of our minds and emotions—the goal is to achieve peace of mind.”

As words of thanks were pronounced, the organizers of the event from Sherab Kyetsel Ling Institute presented bouquets of flowers to His Holiness and the other guests. A member of the audience ran to the front of the stage and offered His Holiness a knitted hat resembling a sunflower. With a look of amusement he put it on.

Tomorrow, he will visit Sherab Kyetsel Ling Institute where he will teach the ‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’.

link & photos:

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Dalai Lama is Interviewed in Yokohama, Japan

His Holiness the Dalai Lama Interviewed in Yokohama

Yokohama, Japan - His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived in Yokohama from India yesterday on his 25th visit to Japan. Although the views over the bay from his hotel window were grey, His Holiness was bright and refreshed by a good night’s sleep after his journey. He opened his conversation with Rina Yamasawa of NHK with a recollection of his first visit in 1967. His elder brother, Taktser Rinpoche, was here and over lunch teased His Holiness, who had become a vegetarian, that he had the tastier bowl of udon noodles.

His Holiness answered a first question about how he sees the situation in Tibet today by reviewing his three commitments.

“First I consider myself just one among 7 billion human beings. While we pray for the welfare of all sentient beings, there’s nothing we can do but pray for those in other galaxies. On this planet there are countless animals, birds, fish and insects, but they have no language so we can’t really communicate with them. On a practical level, it’s our fellow human beings who we can do something for. In a materialistic world where many don’t know the value of peace of mind, I try to help them become happier by showing them how to find inner peace.

“I’m also a Buddhist and it saddens me to see conflict in the name of religion. In India, where different religions live together side by side, we see that religious harmony is possible.

“Thirdly, I’m a Tibetan and, although since 2001 I have retired from political responsibility, I remain concerned about Tibet’s natural environment. What’s also important is the preservation of our culture and the knowledge we obtained from India.

“Since 1974 we haven’t been seeking independence for Tibet, being prepared instead to remain within the People’s Republic of China. Much has changed in China over the last 40 years. The number of Buddhists has grown to more than 300 million, many with an interest in Tibetan Buddhism. Meanwhile, even hardliners among the officials are in a dilemma about how to deal with Tibet. They see that 70 years of suppression and attempted brainwashing haven’t diminished the Tibetan spirit.

“Instead of independence we are seeking mutual benefit. The Chinese can help us with infrastructural development and we can help them with Buddhist psychology. So, our Middle Way Approach is an attempt to reach mutual agreement for mutual improvement. Some Tibetans exercise their freedom to remain set on independence such as we enjoyed in 7th, 8th and 9th centuries. However, I am a great admirer of the spirit of the European Union that places the common interest of all its members above individual nation’s concerns. India too is a federation of states with different languages, cultures and religious traditions that are part of a union. I venture to imagine some kind of future union prevailing between India, China and Japan.”

His Holiness went on to clarify that Tibetans in what were historically the three provinces of Tibet have a right, according to the Chinese constitution, to a high degree of autonomy. That would allow them to preserve their language and culture. He pointed out that his own birthplace and that of Je Tsongkhapa are now part of Qinghai. He looked forward to genuine autonomy being granted in Uighur, Mongol and Tibetan regions.

Ms Yamasawa asked His Holiness how his successor would be chosen. He explained that as far back as 1969 he had made it clear that the choice of whether another Dalai Lama would be recognised rested with the Tibetan people. That choice precedes any decision about how a successor may be chosen. It could be that the traditional way of identifying a reincarnation will be followed, but there have also been cases of Lamas nominating an already living person as their successor.

He noted that at the end of this month a convening of Tibet’s spiritual leaders will take place, primarily focussed on raising the quality of Buddhist knowledge and practice. The question of a future Dalai Lama may also be on the agenda.

His Holiness observed that when he was recently in Europe a group of women met him to complain about the sexual misconduct of some Tibetan spiritual teachers. He told them that when such complaints were first brought to his attention he asked if such individuals had disregard for the rules the Buddha laid down, why they would listen to anything he had to say. He’d suggested that the shame of publicity might be more effective. He advised the group to forward their complaints to the meeting of spiritual leaders in a letter.

When Yamasawa steered the conversation back to the topic of his successor, His Holiness told her that some years ago, faced with similar questions from a journalist in New York he had taken off his glasses, as he did again today, and asked playfully, “Look at my face, is the need to address the question of my reincarnation urgent?” He told her that what happens after his death is of little interest to him compared to being a good Buddhist practitioner here and now. He repeated for her Shantideva’s verse, which he takes as his motivating prayer: ‘For as long as space endures and for as long as living beings remain, until then may I too abide to dispel the misery of the world.’

In his additional replies, His Holiness stressed that he advises followers of the Buddha today to be 21st century Buddhists, which he defines as driven by knowledge and understanding of what the Buddha taught rather than blind faith. He also discussed his admiration for democracy, his attempts to introduce reform in Tibet and his determination to do so once he and 80,000 Tibetans came into exile.

A second interview with Ms Yoshiko Sakurai, president of the think tank known as the Japan Institute of National Fundamentals, touched on several similar themes. As to how Tibetan traditions had been preserved, His Holiness emphasized how generous the government of India and Prime Minister Nehru had been in their support. It was Nehru who personally encouraged efforts to educate Tibetan children in separate Tibetan schools and to re-establish the monastic seats of learning. As a result of the latter, there are now more than 10,000 monks and 1000 nuns well-trained in the Nalanda Tradition.

Referring to education in the wider world, His Holiness noted that it tends to have materialistic goals, whereas it would be better if it addressed the needs of both the heart and the brain. Specifically he recommended teaching people how to tackle their destructive emotions.

When Ms Sakurai lamented that the Chinese authorities seem to be doing little for Tibetans and Uighurs, His Holiness replied that he saw the past 70 years in terms of four eras affected by Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Xi Jinping. Although the same party remained in power, guided by the same constitution, nevertheless great changes had taken place. He noted that there still remained room for further change. He also remarked that 1.2 billion Chinese have a right to know what is really going on and when they know that, he expressed confidence in their ability to judge what’s right from what’s wrong.

His Holiness mentioned that in Tibet, even as suppression has increased, Tibetans have continued to pursue non-violence. He highlighted the cases of the more than 150 people who have committed self-immolation as examples, saying that they were very sad on the one hand, but on the other were worthy of admiration because they remained non-violent, at least in relation to others.

Asked how Japanese and Tibetans can contribute to the welfare of humanity His Holiness expressed his admiration for the Shinto Tradition due to its appreciation of the natural environment. He commended the possibility of combining technological development with a deep understanding of the workings of the mind to enable more people to find inner peace. He also expressed the hope that Japan, as the one country that has been subject to nuclear attack, will not let up on its leadership of the movement to eliminate nuclear weapons.

He reiterated that his cherished goals of a world not only free of nuclear weapons, but also demilitarized in general, will only come about when more people have achieved a sense of inner disarmament in their own hearts and minds. This, he suggested, is something to which Japanese brothers and sisters can contribute.

original link & photos:

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Salvation in Roman Catholicism and Bible: Short Summary

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

I love my Roman Catholic (RC) friends, and I was raised RC, and it is because of my love that I earnestly desire to share this information. Teaching on this subject has not changed since Vatican 2—and it cannot change because it was made an irreformable, de fide dogma at Council of Trent in 1500’s.

Let met state clearly that many Roman Catholics have saving faith, but it is in spite of the teaching of their church and not because of it. The true gospel was ‘anthatamized’ at the Council of Trent. And so I would urge all Catholics to consider leaving their church and to attend a loving, bible believing church. I also have a segment on Mary and the Rosary. Please see video list.

This will be a very brief summary of Roman Catholic teaching on salvation (justification) versus what God says—(I did a more in-depth study earlier). I am using justification and salvation as synonyms, but biblically, justification is more precise term. I have a video of this if you prefer to listen while driving, etc.           
In RC, salvation is mediated through the sacraments of the church—particularly Baptism and Penance.

Baptism begins the justification/salvation process. They believe in baptismal regeneration in which baptism erases Original sin and infuses the grace of justification in the person’s soul. The baptized person is immediately infused with the righteousness of Christ, or justifying grace, and God sees that person as being inherently or personally righteous inside themselves. Thus, they are justified/saved in His sight. To maintain this justification/salvation is a lifelong process. (in bible, justification is instantaneous, irreversible and is a legal declaration outside of us…where ungodly are DECLARED righteous—see Romans 4). 5 And to the one who does not work but believes ina him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, (Rom. 4:5)

As the child grows older they will go through the sacrament of Confirmation, which is like a spiritual booster shot. It confirms and strengthens the grace of justification (salvation) in the soul.

Throughout life, two things are absolutely needed to be remain justified/saved: they have to continue to have faith in Christ and live a holy life in submission to Mother Church. The latter (holy life) consists of two things: regular involvement in sacraments of church, especially Mass/Confession; and adherence to Ten Commandments. So, you can see that though faith is a necessary condition for salvation, it is not a sufficient condition for salvation—they have to add their good works. This is the error so severely condemned in Galatians 1:6ff. For RC   faith + good works = salvation/justification—bible teaches: faith alone in Christ = salvation/justification  (good works flow naturally from a genuine faith as expression of love and gratitude).

In RC there are two kinds of sin: venial and mortal sin. Venial sin is ‘regular sin’ but mortal sin, as the name suggests, kills the grace of justification in the soul. It un-saves the person, and if they died in this state they would go to hell. Things like adultery, murder, missing Mass, Ten Commandments, etc., are examples of this kind of mortal sin, but the list is vague.

How is justification/salvation restored? Through the sacrament of Penance (RC has 7 sacraments instead of 2). RC states that: “Penance is the second plank of justification for those who have made shipwreck of their souls.” (Council of Trent) After confessing ones mortal sin, and going trough prescribed steps, the ‘shipwrecked’ believer then has saving grace re-infused back into their soul. Thus going to Confession is a vital part of a pious Roman Catholic believers lifestyle.

This is the RC system of salvation/justification. Assurance of salvation is actually deemed a sin or frowned upon—I was told it led to presumption. So, we see that salvation in RC a lifelong mediating of God’s grace through the church, and the sacrament of Penance. The vast majority of believers will die with the stain of sin on their souls, and will need to spend some time in Purgatory having their sins purged until they are ready to enter holy heaven.

To sum up summary, in RC the grace of justification is INFUSED into the soul where the person actually IS righteous enough in themselves for God to deem them as justified/saved. God deems righteous what actually IS righteous. But all that can be lost in an instant, over and over again.

In reality, whoever gets to that point of personal righteousness? Certainly not me—all I can see is the massive amount of indwelling left residing inside of me. So, this ‘gospel’ is horrible news for someone like me who is keenly aware of my sinfulness.

Thank God, the bible says that saving/justifying grace is IMPUTED to us; It is a legal declaration which happens outside of us. It is the only aspect of salvation which occurs totally outside of us. Many Protestants have never heard this from the pulpit. If you were in a courtroom and judge declared you ‘not guilty,’ it would change your legal status but would it change your character? No, not at all. Justification is God as Judge declaring people who are personally ungodly, to be ‘not guilty and righteous’ in His holy eyes—but it does not affect us internally. Sanctification instantaneously follows justification, which does begin the inside/out change of our character by the indwelling Holy Spirit. But we MUST distinguish (not separate) justification from sanctification or we will slip into error of RC. Justification in RC is inside…… but the bible sees justification as outside of us.

Hence, Romans 4 says that ‘God justifies the ungodly.’ RC confuses justification with sanctification. In biblical justification there is a double transfer: our sins are transferred to Christ, and His perfect righteousness is imputed to us. (2 Cor. 5:21) Jesus garments of His holiness cover us, so that the Father sees Jesus’ righteousness and not our sinfulness. We are simultaneously saved and sinful—THAT is good news! The BEST news!

Hence, we are simultaneously justified and sinful. ‘Simul Justus et peccator’ as Luther said. By experience, we know that to be true, and if I have to wait until I am inherently righteous enough for God to declare me righteous, then I will NEVER be righteous enough to be declared justified—too much indwelling sin remains in us. Praise God for CHRIST'S righteousness, which is in heaven—and our union with Christ unites us with all He is and has done! He sees us as perfect, in Christ!

1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, wea have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1; 8:1)

Though outside of us, justification brings deep internal healing and peace of mind. Praise God!

Mark Hunnemann is the author of Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits. It's also available in eBook format.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Dalai Lama Discusses Quantum Effects with Chinese Scientists

Dialogue with Chinese Scientists about Quantum Effects - First Day

Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, India - The first discussions between Chinese, mostly Taiwanese, scientists and His Holiness the Dalai Lama took place in the Tsuglagkhang, the Main Tibetan Temple adjacent to his residence today. His Holiness walked to the temple, greeting members of the public who were waiting to see him in the yard. Once he reached the temple he acknowledged the assembled monks and paid his respects before the statue of the Buddha. After warmly greeting the nine Chinese presenters, he made a point of reaching out to old friends among the assembled guests. He then joined the presenters seated around a long table.

Among the monks at the head of the temple were six Tibetan presenters, graduates of the Emory Science program, who will participate in discussions with the Chinese scientists in the afternoons. Approximately fifty guests sat in the back of the temple, including many who came with the Taiwanese group. About 270 Tibetans joined the audience: researchers from His Holiness’s office, as well as students from the Men-tsee-khang, the College for Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarah, the Tibetan Children’s Village and neighbouring schools. The meeting was conducted in English with simultaneous translation into Chinese and Tibetan being made available over FM radio. Proceedings were web-cast live.

His Holiness opened the conversation. “Firstly, I would like to welcome all of you here. This is the first time we’ve held discussions with mainly Chinese scientists. I’ve taken part in dialogues with scientists for more than 30 years, but they have mostly involved Western scientists, Americans and Europeans, as well as one or two meetings with Japanese and Indians.

“These meetings have two purposes. The first is to expand our knowledge. Until the late 20th century the focus of scientific research was mostly on external things. There was little interest in the mind, only investigations of the brain. The discovery of neuroplasticity, the recognition that changes can be seen in the brains of people who, for example, develop firm concentration, changed that way of thinking. Some scientists are now showing greater interest in the mind, even subtle consciousness.

“There are cases of people who are declared clinically dead—their hearts have stopped, circulation has ceased and their brains are dead—and yet their bodies remain fresh. This was the case with my own teacher, who remained in this state for 13 days. Others remain for anything up to two or three weeks. This is a something to investigate. In the Buddhist tradition we have an explanation that concerns subtle consciousness remaining in the body during this period, but scientists haven’t been able to explain it yet.

“So, one purpose of these meetings is to expand our knowledge, to include the mind as well as external phenomena, in order to achieve a fuller understanding. The second purpose of such discussions concerns the use to which knowledge is put. Despite the useful progress that has resulted from scientific research and technological advancement, there have also been destructive developments that provoke fear. Clear examples are nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. Their development may have been a remarkable achievement, but their only purpose is to kill.

“Scientists have discovered that constant fear and anger are damaging to our health. They undermine our immune system. On the other hand, cultivating a more compassionate attitude brings peace of mind that reinforces our overall good health. Here’s a simple example: most people prefer a smile to a frown. It’s human nature. Even dogs respond with wagging tails to a smile and other shows of affection.

“Our major religious traditions convey a common message of love, forgiveness and tolerance, but today religious influence is declining. Consequently, in our education programs, in addition to advice about physical hygiene and its benefits for physical health, we need to teach about emotional hygiene—how to tackle our destructive emotions. It should be our aim to be both physically and mentally fit. Promoting inner values on the basis of religious belief has only a limited effect today. However, people are more responsive to evidence based on scientific research.”

His Holiness explained that all 7 billion human beings share a common experience—their mothers give birth to them and nurture them with affection. Consequently, young children care little about differences of nationality, religion or race; they play happily with others who respond with a smile. He observed that as we grow up our education is oriented towards materialistic goals with little time for inner values. He recommended that education should include advice on how to achieve peace of mind.

His Holiness mentioned that he had found his own Buddhist practice useful, but declared that he is no more able to say this or that religious tradition is the best, than he could say that this or that medicine is best in all cases. Just as the effectiveness of medicine depends on the need and condition of the patient, so different religious traditions with the different approaches are suitable for different people according to their disposition, culture and so forth. He suggested that at the present time ethics can be most effectively presented from a secular point of view on the basis of scientific findings. Looking over to Susan Bauer-Wu and Amy Cohen Varela, His Holiness praised the contributions the Mind & Life Institute has made in this direction.

“A few months ago I was teaching a group of Taiwanese Buddhists when a quantum physicist among them introduced himself to me. This meeting was convened as a result of our conversation. I’m very happy to be meeting with you, Chinese scientists, including this Nobel Laureate, Prof Yuan Tseh Lee.”

His Holiness mentioned that he sometimes feels a reluctance to discuss quantum physics with Westerners whose cultural background is based on Judeo-Christian in case it leads to a conflict of faith. He feels less difficulty in relation to Asians, particularly Chinese. He recalled that when the Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang came to India in the 7th century he studied at Nalanda University. He is reputed to have met Nagabodhi a direct disciple of Nagarjuna. Evidently, Chinese Buddhists are familiar with the name Nagarjuna and the Nalanda Tradition.

Noting that relations between Chinese and Tibetans are thousands of years old, he conceded that they have sometimes quarrelled. At other times, such as in the 7th century, their ruling families have intermarried. Since 1974, it was decided not to seek independence for Tibet, provided Tibetans were granted all the rights they are entitled to under the Chinese constitution, including the preservation of their language and culture, as well as the protection of Tibet’s environment. His Holiness remarked that Tibetans can benefit from Chinese help in terms of material development, while Tibetans can share their knowledge of the Nalanda Tradition with Chinese Buddhists.

On behalf of the group of presenters Prof Yuan Tseh Lee thanked His Holiness for inviting them. He described science as a language to communicate with nature, a language that we need to learn. Science is based on evidence. He added that since human population and consumption of resources are growing, causing us to recognise that we live in a finite system, science also has a social responsibility. He told His Holiness they would like to hear from him how science, religion, humanity and nature should interact. His Holiness replied that when he first expressed interest in science, an American Buddhist friend warned that science is a killer of religion. He considered this and decided that since science is a method for coming to terms with reality, it is not a threat to the Buddha’s teachings.

Dr Shih Chang Lee opened the scientific presentations with an explanation of space-time symmetry and quantum physics. He talked about Newton’s law of inertia and Einstein’s observation that massless particles move with the velocity of light, leading to his conclusion that velocity is relative, which is described as special relativity.

Dr Chii Dong Chen opened his account of the entangled world by asking what we learn from nature and showing a video clip that compared the activities of foraging ants with a robot vacuum cleaner. He went on to discuss how birds navigate with particular reference to the Bar-tailed Godwit that flies across the Pacific Ocean to breed. He suggested that unique features of quantum mechanics, superimposition and entanglement, can help us understand birds use of magnetoreception. He introduced the contrast between a conventional computer that calculates serially and a quantum computer that can conduct a series of calculations simultaneously.

Dr Chen’s pointing out that things look different from different angles prompted His Holiness to observe that from a Madhyamaka standpoint there is a difference between our perception of the world and its reality. He mentioned the quantum physicist from China who told him that in his experience some of his colleagues with deep understanding of quantum physics were less subject to emotional disturbance. He also recalled American founder of cognitive therapy, Aaron Beck’s description of an angry peoples’ sense that the object of their rage is completely negative as 90% mental projection. Dr Chen agreed that the observer is important because he or she is part of the perception.

Dr Yueh-Nan Chen’s presentation was entitled ‘From Quantum Physics to Quantum Biology’. He discussed Schrodinger’s cat and jokingly reported that when he tried to explain it to his wife she asked why he wanted to kill a cat when to do so would be completely against Buddhist precepts. Everyone laughed. He also discussed the Leggett-Garg inequality which defies our intuition on macrorealism.

Finally, Dr Shawn Y Lin described a modern photonic revolution. He observed that sunlight is the engine of life on earth. Max Planck postulated that light was only emitted in quantized form, an insight that has contributed to powerful lasers, LEDs and solar panels. He described ongoing research to improve solar panels to maximize their absorption and predicted that the next generation will be super thin, super absorptive and super effective. Nano-technology will allow for a film that is 98% absorptive of sunlight and only 10 microns thick.

Invited to offer concluding remarks His Holiness described what he had heard as really wonderful, praising the depth of research. “However, we also need further research into how to reduce anger. At present in the world the role of anger seems to be stronger than that of compassion. In day to day life our emotions cause us trouble. We are at peace here, but elsewhere in the world human beings are being killed or dying of starvation—some of them innocent children. So, in addition to physical discoveries we need to consider how to build a happier humanity.”

Concluding the morning’s discussions Prof Yuan Tseh Lee remarked that teachers encourage creativity and innovation, but such qualities derive from simple curiosity.

His Holiness left the temple to return to his residence, interacting with people who lined the way. Lunch was offered to everyone attending the proceedings in the temple yard. In the afternoon, there were discussions between Tibetan monastics who have received scientific training and the visiting scientists. The dialogue will resume tomorrow morning.

Original link & photos:

Monday, October 29, 2018

Dalai Lama in Discussions with Youth Leaders from Conflict Zones

His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Discussions with Youth Leaders from Conflict Zones

Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - For the third year in a row the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) has brought a group of youth leaders from conflict zones to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama. USIP is a nonpartisan and independent institution tasked with promoting national security and global stability by reducing violent conflicts abroad.

Led by USIP President Nancy Lindborg, the 27 youth leaders, and three who came last year but who are now assisting as trainers, came from 12 different countries: Afghanistan, Burma, the Central African Republic, Colombia, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Venezuela.

When His Holiness entered the room today he bid them all, "Good morning," and shook hands with members of the morning's first panel.

"I really enjoy this kind of meeting," he told them. "My main practice is to dedicate my body, speech and mind to the benefit of others. I can't help any of you by cleaning your houses, but at least I can smile. Usually one smile invokes another. It's quite rare for a smile to be met with a frown. And just as I dedicate my physical actions to the benefit of others, so do I direct my speech, but the main thing is that I dedicate my mind to fulfilling others' well-being—not just today, but for as long as space remains. However, when I sit in meditation I'm by myself, but when I'm with people like you I can smile and use my voice too. Thank you for giving me this opportunity."

Nancy Lindborg guided the conversation by calling on youth leaders to introduce themselves and put their questions to His Holiness. The first, posed by a delegate from Venezuela, was about whether it is possible to achieve peace when you have no freedom.

"There are different levels of peace," His Holiness told her, describing his own experience of life in a conflict zone. "When Chinese Communists first invaded Tibet their control of the country was not so tight. In 1954 I went to Beijing to attend the People's Congress. I met Chairman Mao several times. He didn't conduct himself like a political leader. He behaved like an old farmer who'd become a revolutionary. I developed some respect for him and the other party leaders I met. We discussed the history of the revolution and Marx's ideas. I was attracted then as now to his socio-economic theories, especially the notion of equal distribution.

"However, during the Bolshevik Revolution, Lenin spoiled things with his war-time mentality and the perpetuation of secrecy, suspicion and suppression. These attitudes led directly to totalitarianism. Eventually Stalin made things worse. Nevertheless, I found that in the early years, Chinese revolutionary leaders were really dedicated, but once they tasted power it seems exercising it became more important than ideology. This is what produced the Cultural Revolution. Good, straightforward, honest people were dismissed, while cunning individuals like Zhou Enlai survived.

"As I returned home in 1955 I met General Zhang Guohua on the way and told him that when I set out the previous year I had been apprehensive, but I was returning full of confidence. Yet from 1956 onwards it seems the Chinese officials grew more suspicious of me. At the same time, reform was ruthlessly imposed, starting in Eastern Tibet, which caused the people to revolt. However, the former servants of Tibetan feudal landlords showed them kindness by letting them know when they were about to be subjected to class-struggle sessions enabling some of them to escape to India.

"Many people fled Eastern Tibet and congregated in Lhasa. In 1959, when the Chinese invited me to attend some dance performance, the public were very suspicious and surrounded the Norbulingka Palace to protect me. I tried to reassure them and wrote letters to the Chinese to no avail. I received a message from a former high Tibetan official asking me to identify where I was staying in the Norbulingka, but it wasn't clear whether the purpose was to protect or target me. On 17th March we decided to leave. On 20th March Chinese forces bombarded Lhasa and incidentally shelled my residence at Norbulingka. It seems the decision to escape was correct and here in India I've been able to contribute to a greater sense of peace of mind."

His Holiness went on to explain how in exile the focus had been on preserving Tibetan culture and identity by educating Tibetan children. He called this a realistic approach mentioning that resorting to anger and violence is self-destructive and leads to harsher suppression. He stressed that violence is the wrong method to bring about change. Nancy Lindborg added that USIP has evidence to that non-violence is consistently more effective in the long run.

His Holiness noted that there are now estimated to be 400 million Buddhists in China, many of whom appreciate the value of Tibetan Buddhism. He remarked that while the Chinese could bring material development and physical comfort to Tibet, Tibetans can offer China spiritual development and peace of mind. The key, he said, is to remain determined, to be realistic and to take action.

"We have recorded ancient Indian knowledge of the workings of the mind and emotions in the books we translated from Sanskrit. We address problems by tackling the mind and emotions and building inner strength. After 70 years, employing all kinds of methods, the Chinese have failed to dent the Tibetan spirit."

Responding to a question about the role of women, His Holiness observed that women have been shown to be more sensitive to others' suffering. Conversely, heroes celebrated for killing their opponents are almost always men. In a Buddhist context, he said, we refer to other beings as ‘all mother sentient beings' in acknowledgment of their kindness. He reiterated advice he often gives about the need to see more women in leadership roles and more closely involved in education about compassion. He quoted former President of Ireland and human rights campaigner, Mary Robinson, as referring to him as a ‘feminist Dalai Lama'.

His Holiness confirmed the importance of using technology wherever possible to overcome a lack of knowledge. He recalled that in Tibet the primary source of news from the outside world was the Muslim traders who travelled to and from India. He observed that people in more isolated countries are more likely to think in terms of one truth, one religion. This approach is fine on a personal level, he said, but the reality of the world we live in is that there are several major religions and truth can have many aspects.

Noting that many problems we face arise from a basic lack of moral principles, His Holiness recommended training the mind, cultivating a deeper concern for the well-being of others. Such concern arises naturally when we regard other people as brothers and sisters.

“We have to remember that each and every one of us is a part of humanity. We need to be determined to achieve positive change, but also need to be able to take a long view of what needs to be done. What is important is not to become demoralized. Optimism leads to success; pessimism leads to defeat. One person can be the source of inspiration for many others. Those of us who practise Buddhism aim to achieve Buddhahood, which is almost impossible for most of us, but the very aspiration gives us inner strength.

“This kind of meeting gives me confidence that we are waking up. We can achieve change in the world. We can cause the seeds of good to grow. We need to be firm in our aims and tackle them together. Some years ago, a meeting of Nobel Peace Laureates agreed on the urgent need to eliminate nuclear weapons, but if such a goal is to be achieved we need set a timetable and stick to it, attracting others to the cause.”

A youth leader from South Sudan who came to Dharamsala last year and who has returned this year as a trainer gave a brief appraisal of the two meetings she had attended with His Holiness.

“I was here last year and I’m so happy to have been able to come back again. I feel you live by what you say. You are a world leader we can relate to. Your peace of mind is an inspiration. I see all of us going back like Dalai Lamas to bring peace to our own places. I’m happy to know that you are a feminist Dalai Lama. Thank you for sparing some of your time for us here.”

Answering a final question about peace-building His Holiness declared,

“Ideas may travel from the top down, but the movements that will put them into effect have to work from the bottom up. I am very encouraged to see how young people like you are trying to bring about positive change. We have good grounds to be confident because our efforts are based on truth and reason—therefore we will succeed. 

“We are working for the good of humanity. I don’t think of myself just as a Tibetan or a Buddhist, but as a human being. We have to think of the whole of humanity. Being human is the common ground in our efforts to create a better world. Remember, we all survive in dependence on others.”

Nancy Lindborg expressed thanks to everyone who had contributed to making the meetings fruitful including the staff of His Holiness’s Office, of USIP and Radio Free Asia. She offered His Holiness a USIP peace cap, which he put on with a smile. His parting advice was that this kind of meeting comes about as a result of the co-operation of individuals.

“Everyone wants to live a happy life, but many don’t know how it’s to be done. In time, and with effort, we can change that.”

original link & photos:

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Who is the Holy Spirit and What does He Do?

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

Many Christians can relate easily to Jesus because He is human, as well as God—and also being called the ‘Son’ is easily grasped on an emotional level. But the Holy Spirit, not to mention the Holy ‘Ghost’ (due to cold, paranormal connotations for some), seems to be less understood.

But once we are saved (through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit), what happens between our salvation and the time of our death? That is a long time…and the Holy Spirit is indispensable for the living of the Christian life. It is imperative that we understand what He does during our stay on earth. And certainly one of the greatest gifts of the New Covenant is the full indwelling of the Holy Spirit in all believers—I say ‘full’ because, in order to be saved in the OT, they had to have some measure of the Holy Spirit.

In our discussion of the Trinity, we talked about the full deity and personality of the Holy Spirit. What I want to focus on in this segment is what He does. I am going to put His work under four headings: empowerment, purifying, reveals, and unifies.

1. Empowerment: The great Cappadocian Father, Basil (330-379) stated that the Holy Spirit was ‘Christ’s inseparable companion.’ When Mary wondered aloud as to how she might get pregnant the Lord said: 35And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be borne will be called holy—the Son of God. (Luke 2:35) His virginal conception is accomplished through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit empowered Jesus throughout His entire ministry and life.

As we shall see, from womb to tomb, the Holy Spirit was indeed Jesus’ constant companion. During the ‘hidden years’ we may assume that the Holy Spirit was with Jesus always. From the same psalm in which we have the terrible cry of dereliction, which Jesus screamed from the cross are these words, “Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.” (Ps 22) We see a continuity of intimacy with God (through the Holy Spirit) throughout His life.
When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit came upon Him in the form of a dove, and then Mark tells us that the Spirit ‘drove’ Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted. But the Spirit did not leave Him alone during this trial. And when He had defeated Satan, Luke says that He came out from this ordeal in the power of the Spirit and began His public ministry. (4:14)
Indeed, at Jesus’ first sermon He quoted from Isaiah 61: 1The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;a
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” 

So, a defining trait of the coming Messiah, as foretold by Isaiah, would be that He was anointed by the Holy Spirit. We are told in the gospels that He drove demons out by the Spirit of God, revealing that the Kingdom had arrived. Finally, when Jesus rose from the dead we are told that the Spirit played a significant part in this as well.(Rom.1:4) And in His discourse in John 14-17, the coming of the Holy Spirit in His fullness was to be viewed as a gift. Jesus was the original Paraclete but He would send another, and He told His disciple (and us) that it was to our advantage that He leave, in order for the Holy Spirit to come in fullness—which occurred at Pentecost. I once had a case in which there was a mighty rushing of wind which shook the house but it was an unholy mimicry of Pentecost in my view.

If Jesus’ life was empowered by the Holy Spirit, then how much more does our life need to be empowered by Him! As Jesus said in John 15, without Him we can do nothing—nothing to please God that is.

“but be filled with the Spirit”, (Eph.5:18) This present participle indicates that though we receive the Holy Spirit definitely at conversion, there is an absolute need to continually keep being ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ to be empowered to bear fruit.

We need to remember that the Holy Spirit is a Person (who can be grieved or pleased). That He empowers us does not mean that He is a celestial battery from which we gather energy—He is intensely Personal because he is the third Person of the Trinity. We commune with Him existentially (moment by moment).

Christ has baptized us by the Spirit into the Body of Christ in which we celebrate the diversity of Spirit given gifts because we need each other.(1 Cor. 12:13) And we too have access to the power of God in our lives and ministries. Through the Spirit and the work of Christ we have power over the demonic and Satan himself. God Himself dwells within believers! Do you consciously rely upon the Holy Spirit?

2. Second, the Holy Spirit purifies us. He makes us increasingly holy. Surely it is very significant that His name is the HOLY Spirit! He Himself is utterly morally pure, as well as being transcendent or set apart.

But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.(John 16:8-11)

In John 3:3-6 (Eph. 1-2) the Spirit awakens dead sinners to see their need of a Savior. He regenerates them and gives us the ability and desire to believe and repent. Without the work of the Holy Spirit applying the work of Christ, there would be no believers. But after initially purifying us through faith, He continues His role of sanctifier by changing us from one degree of glory to the next. (2 Cor. 3:18) Becoming more Jesus-like is the Spirit’s goal in our lives.

Over a period of time we should see change in our character. The fruit of the Spirit should become increasingly evident in our lives—an observable love which testifies to the Holy Spirit within. Problems with anger and bitterness should gradually be broken.

It is important that we pray before we make decisions, even for ministry opportunities or we may get there and a sense a deadness. Suppose you are in a situation in which you have made a commitment but something else important comes  up and you are confused as to what to do. Instead of stressing out, say something like: ‘Father, I know that you have some resolution to this problem. Please reveal it to me.’ And wait to see what happens. It is easy to get stressed out and this one single bit of advice could change your life. Discerning the Spirit is a habit that takes trial and error for us to learn over time. I have made quick decisions which I wished later I had prayed more about. Is there anything in your life that needs purifying? We will all be ‘under construction’ until the Holy Spirit brings us home—He is the seal and guarantee of our glorification.

3. Thirdly, the work of the Holy Spirit is to reveal. “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”(2 Pet.1:21) Peter is saying that the OT prophets were guided by the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s mind and purposes to us. Many Christians are canonically challenged: meaning that they do not read the OT much. But every major doctrine in the NT finds its origin and foundation in OT, and probably within first 3 chapters of Genesis—and then expounded in more detail as OT progressed. I think we grieve the Holy Spirit when we do not read these books which is said to have been written by men ‘carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

Regarding the revealing of God in NT Jesus says: 12“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:12-14)

This is sometimes misapplied by Christians because clearly the primary meaning of this text is Jesus preparing His apostles for their foundational role in the church as being agents of revelation. Meaning that the primary focus of this text is the prediction of the coming NT—God’s written revelation.
So, to be empowered by the Holy Spirit we need to be men and women of the Word because the Holy Spirit speaks to us primarily to us through His Word.

When it comes to personal guidance by the Holy Spirit there are two opposite errors to avoid. The first is to be too subjective: ‘The Holy Spirit told me to do this, and He told me to do that.” There is a strong over-reliance on feelings to the neglect of the brain God gave us, and His Word (along with counsel of other people) I have seen the craziest things said and done all in the name of what people felt God had told them to do. It is interesting in the council of Acts 15 that there was a lot of discussion first, before coming to a conclusion: and they said that it ‘seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” The Holy Spirit usually does not bypass the brain in guiding us in specific situations.

The other error is to be too rational—relying too much on the brain to the neglect of the feelings/emotions and the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit. Often after spending time in the Word and praying for a matter, and then waiting on God, a solution will come that ‘feels right’ and from the Lord. It is difficult to express this in words, but if we pray and wait upon the Lord, and not flip out when problems arise, then He will guide us. But this often comes in the form of advice from godly friends. Again, if you find yourself in a mess of a situation, then pray: ”Lord,  I believe that You have a good solution to this.” And wait to see what happens—perhaps some new factor will arise or God will make it clear though His providence.

4. The Holy Spirit works to bring unity to believers. In the High Priestly prayer in John 17 Jesus actually says that the loving unity of believers is the final apologetic: an observable, costly love from Christians (especially to other believers) will testify to the truth of our faith. The world often separates over differences, but the diversity in the Body is God ordained and we need each other. God gives different passions and gifts to us as individuals, all within the unity of the Body.

Some evangelical leaders are compromising on the gospel by allying with Roman Catholics (whose view of salvation is seriously wrong) or rejecting penal substitution. The point is that in seeking unity, it must not be done at the expense of truth and the holiness and purity of the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, we have to set aside non-essential differences in order to give glory to God through the unity of believers. Some folks will call anyone ‘heretic’ who does not believe in every jot and tittle of their belief system. We have to rely on common sense and the leading of the Holy Spirit to know when to say ‘when’. Certain issues are non-negotiable and God the Holy Spirit does not want us to waffle on those in an attempt to have a shallow unity. Grace and truth, holiness and love—we need both to be bold and effective witnesses and to please the Holy Spirit.

Of all the Persons of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is the most intimate with believers because He actually indwells us (and through Him, the Trinity). It should be our passion to walk moment by moment, keeping in step with the Spirit.

Mark Hunnemann is the author of Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits. It's also available in eBook format.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Dalai Lama Meets with Students in India

Conversation with Students from Woodstock School

Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - The happy chatter that filled the meeting room next to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s office fell silent when he walked into the room and scanned the faces of the students waiting for him. He smiled broadly, wished them “Good morning”, and sat down. There were 51 students belonging to classes 11 and 12 from Woodstock School, who are visiting Dharamsala during their extra-curricular ‘activity week’. His Holiness first made friends with Woodstock School at the beginning of his life in exile when he lived in Mussoorie, the hill-station where the school is based.

After asking how many Tibetans and Bhutanese there were in the group, His Holiness wanted to know where the rest of the students came from. The majority were Indian, but among a total of seven nationalities there were also students from Palestine, Syria and Afghanistan.

His Holiness reported that he had just been talking to a group from Indonesia about how sad he feels to witness friction between Shia and Sunni Muslims. To him it is unthinkable that people who worship the same Allah and follow the same Quran should fall out as they seem to do.

“However, I’ve never heard of such quarrels between Sunni and Shia adherents here in India,” he told them. “Indeed India is unique in that all the world’s major religions, those indigenous to the country, as well as those that came from abroad, all live here happily together. India’s long-standing tradition of inter-religious harmony is exemplary and now the time has come to share this practice with the rest of the world.”

The first of several questions from the students concerned His Holiness’s pastimes.

“When I was a boy I used to enjoy taking things apart,” he replied with a laugh, “I examined my toys and watches to see how they worked. I dismantled and reassembled a movie projector that had belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama to make it work. Since I was young I’ve also enjoyed growing plants. I grew beautiful tulips in the Norbulingka garden in Lhasa. These days, however, as I get older, I have less interest in these things.”

Another student wanted to know who decides what’s moral. His Holiness told her that all the world’s major religions teach about love, compassion, tolerance and self-discipline. Some traditions, like Judaism, Christianity and Islam, believe in a creator God and regard us all as children of that God. Other Indian traditions like Jainism and Buddhism see beings themselves participating in creation, so responsibility for change rests on our shoulders.

“We should not let ourselves be dominated only by sensory awareness,” His Holiness advised, “we should also pay attention to mental consciousness, develop a single-pointed mind and use it to analyse the nature of self and the nature of reality.

“What we experience is the result of our own actions. If it brings joy, we regard what we’ve done as positive; if it leads to misery we think of our action as negative. Just as we can’t say that one particular medicine is the best on all occasions, we cannot say that one religious tradition is best. We need our different traditions because of people’s different dispositions and therefore we need to treat all religious traditions with respect.

“Many problems we face we bring on ourselves because we are prey to destructive emotions. We tend to think in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’ with little sense of the oneness of humanity. And yet, climate change, for example, because it affects us all, means we have to take a more global view. We can’t neglect it. We are interdependent. Consider how Tibet and its rivers are the source of much of Asia’s water. But snowfall has been drastically reduced as a result of global warming.”

His Holiness told a student who asked how to overcome apathy and be more inspired that there’s a need to improve our education systems. We’re used to instructions about observing physical hygiene to preserve our health, but we need to add to it a sense of emotional hygiene. This means learning to tackle destructive emotions like anger, fear and hatred. By training our minds, rather than turning to drugs or alcohol, we can change our emotions.”

Ancient Indian psychology has much to say about this and although he says modern India is quite materialistic, His Holiness considers India to be the only country that could pioneer a combination of modern education with ancient Indian understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions

Asked if he’d ever had doubts about the Buddha’s teachings, His Holiness replied that the Buddha advised his followers not to take what he taught at face value but to question and investigate it. Consequently, Buddhism in general and the Nalanda Tradition in particular take a realistic approach grounded in reason and logic. He explained that it’s on such a basis that he has been able to engage in dialogue with scientists for almost forty years.

“Nalanda University is now in ruins, but the traditions of study that flourished there Shantarakshita established in Tibet in 8th century. He was a great scholar and logician, as well as a pure monk, and we have kept alive what he taught us.”

Before the meeting came to an end, His Holiness drew a distinction between the generations of the 20th and 21st centuries. “I belong to the 20th century, a time that has gone. You, however, all belong to the 21st century and you need to think about how to avoid repeating the errors of the past. Where the 20th century was filled with violent conflict, there is now a need to disarm.

“At a meeting of Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome several years ago, we discussed the importance of eliminating nuclear weapons. I suggested that just talking about it isn’t enough. We need to set a timetable and stick to it. I believe it can be done because in general people are fed up with violence.

“In addition to eliminating nuclear weapons, we need a broader sense of demilitarization. Key to this is making the determination to resolve conflict and other problems through dialogue. Following such steps, you who belong to the 21st century have the opportunity to build a better, more peaceful world. Thank you.”

The students posed eagerly for photographs with His Holiness, following which he walked back to his residence for lunch.     

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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Dalai Lama Teaches the Middle Way

Teaching of Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ Resumes

Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - The majestic Dhauladhar Mountains stood resolute against the clear blue, post-monsoon sky as His Holiness the Dalai Lama walked from his residence to the Tsuglagkhang, the main Tibetan temple, this morning. The temple yard was thronged with people eager to see him, smiles on their faces and hands folded in welcome. Inside the temple His Holiness waved to the crowd, greeted the Lamas seated around the throne and took his seat.

Among the 6500 people in attendance, 1000 were Taiwanese, most of them belonging to 18 cultural organizations participating in the International Association of Tibetan Buddhist Dharma, Taiwan. In addition, there were 500 Indians, 1800 people from 66 countries abroad and 3200 Tibetans.

Monks from Thailand made an auspicious beginning to the proceedings as they recited the Mangala Sutta in Pali. Taiwanese disciples then chanted the Heart Sutra in Chinese. His Holiness completed the preliminary formalities by reciting the verses of salutation to the Buddha from ‘Ornament for Clear Realization’ and Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’. He welcomed everyone in the audience:

“Those of you from Taiwan have been coming for many years now and today there are people from many other places too—I greet you all. I’m going to begin with an introduction to the teachings of the Buddha. Many of you may be familiar with it, but there may also be some who haven’t heard it before.

“The following verse sums up the Buddha’s advice:

“Commit no unwholesome deed,
Perform only perfect virtue,
Completely tame your mind,
This is the teaching of the Buddha.

“All religions teach us not to do harm, but to have a kind heart. There are theistic traditions that believe in a creator god and non-theistic traditions that teach about karma. All of them encourage us to help others not harm them.

“How do you tame your mind? The Buddhas do not wash unwholesome deeds away with water, nor do they remove beings’ sufferings with their hands and they do not transplant their own realization into others. It is by teaching the truth of suchness that they liberate beings.

“A rich tradition of philosophy and psychology already existed in India at the time of the Buddha. A general belief in past and future lives was supported by the reports of individuals who had memories of their previous lives. Since the body doesn’t travel from one life to another, the question was what does? Many schools of thought posited a self separate from the mind/body combination that they called atman. Taming the mind relied on training in ethics and concentration on the basis of which wisdom could be cultivated.

“Many Indian spiritual practitioners aspired to transcend the desire realm and the attachment it involves, which they considered fraught with problems. Through meditative absorption they sought to reach the subtler and more peaceful form and formless realms.

“Born into a royal family, the Buddha renounced his comfortable way of life when he realized the suffering involved in birth, sickness, aging and death. He entered instead into the homeless life of an ascetic. As a result of his cultivating ethics and concentration he recognised that far from there being a single, autonomous, permanent self, the self is merely a designation. He further acknowledged that belief in a single, autonomous, permanent self reinforces clinging to it. There is a notion of a self that functions like a master over the other aspects of the mind/body combination, which operate like its servants. Therefore, the self is seen as separate from the mind/body combination.

“In his enlightenment the Buddha realized a sense of selflessness diametrically opposed to the idea of a single, autonomous, permanent self. Therefore, he is reported to have reflected, ‘Profound and peaceful, free from complexity, uncompounded luminosity—I have found a nectar-like Dharma. Yet if I were to teach it, no-one would understand what I said, so I shall remain silent here in the forest.’

His Holiness explained that when, in due course, the Buddha encountered his five former companions in the Deer Park outside Varanasi, they recognised a change in his demeanour and asked him to teach what he had realized. Consequently he taught them the Four Noble Truths—the truth of suffering, the truth of its origin, the truth of its cessation and the truth of the path to that. In terms of what they needed to do, he explained that suffering must be known; its origin must be overcome; its cessation must be achieved and the path to it must be cultivated.

However, in terms of a result, he clarified that although suffering must be known, there is nothing to be known. Though its origin must be overcome, there is nothing to overcome. While cessation must be achieved, there is nothing to be achieved and despite the need to cultivate the path, there is nothing to be cultivated.

His Holiness observed that the Buddha identified 16 characteristics of the Four Noble Truths, four pertaining to each truth. The four characteristics of the truth of suffering are that it is impermanent, in the nature of suffering, empty and selfless. His Holiness made clear that on one level we can understand impermanence to mean that life ends in death. At a subtler level this means that things arise, abide, decay and end in destruction. Subtler still is the understanding that the disintegration of a phenomenon is brought about by its very cause. Thus, change to our psycho-physical aggregates, our mind/body combination, derives from their cause which is karma and mental afflictions.

“What is important to recognise” His Holiness went on, “is that suffering is rooted in ignorance. We will not overcome it until we counter the ignorance that is a distorted view of reality. We remain subject to that ignorance so long as we think of the ‘I’ as an independent self. Yet when we search for such a self as an entity independent of the mind/body combination, we find nothing. We cannot find such a self among the five psycho-physical aggregates that make up the mind/body combination, nor can it be identified with consciousness.

“Just as cart is designated on the basis of its parts, so a person is designated on the basis of the psycho-physical aggregates. Nagarjuna explains that cessation comes about through the elimination of karma and mental afflictions. Karma and afflictions arise from conceptual thoughts, which come from mental exaggeration or fabrication.

Fabrication ceases through (understanding) emptiness. We can gain experience of emptiness if we make a steady effort. If we read Nagarjuna and his followers’ works we can see how they thoroughly explain that there is no independent self.

“The defilements of the mind associated with a distorted view of reality are not of the mind’s intrinsic nature because the nature of the mind is clarity and awareness. Cessation is that state of mind in which the defilements have been overcome. Therefore, liberation is attained by thoroughly purifying the mind.”

In responding to questions from the audience His Holiness discussed which is realized first, the selflessness of persons or the selflessness of phenomena. He quoted Nagarjuna’s ‘Precious Garland’ that says that as long as there is grasping for the psycho-physical aggregates, there is grasping for a self of persons. However, in his medium and great presentations of the ‘Stages of the Path’, Je Tsongkhapa presents the selflessness of persons first and the selflessness of phenomena later. His Holiness remarked that since the Buddha was thorough in his teachings, we need to be thorough in our studies.

“I first heard about emptiness 70 years ago, but I’ve been thinking about it for 60 years,” His Holiness recalled. “It’s good to be curious. As a child when I saw different insects I wanted to know where they came from. I also wanted to know why there are so many different kinds of flowers. For the last 50 years, I’ve also given deep thought to the awakening mind of bodhichitta. Today, I heard a report that elderly people are increasingly experiencing loneliness, which reminded me that if you cultivate compassion and bodhichitta you’ll never feel lonely.”

His Holiness concluded that in addition to the need to completely tame the mind it is also necessary to sustain the body and it had reached time for lunch. He will continue his teachings tomorrow morning.

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