Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Dalai Lama Discusses the Diamond Cutter Sutra

Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - When His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived at the Kalachakra Maidan this morning, he was greeted as usual by thousands of smiling faces and folded hands. He returned the smiles and saluted some old friends. From the edge of the stage he waved to more distant members of the audience and they waved back, some even jumping up and down for joy. After greeting old friends among the Lamas on the stage, His Holiness took his seat on the throne. The ‘Heart Sutra’ was recited in Chinese.

“Today, I’m going to explain the ‘Diamond Cutter Sutra’ primarily for Chinese students as I have done once before,” His Holiness announced. “I’m also thinking of explaining the ‘Heart Sutra’. I have generally been giving teachings annually to Chinese in Dharamsala, but on this occasion we’ve been able to gather here in this sacred place. At the beginning of this series of teachings I taught a group of Indian Buddhists, recalling that Buddhism originated in India before spreading across Asia.

“The Pali tradition, with its exemplary Vinaya traditions, spread to countries like Sri Lanka, Burma and Thailand. The Sanskrit tradition in the way it was followed at Nalanda spread to China and from there to Korea, Japan and Vietnam. Later it was carried to Tibet and on to Mongolia. China was therefore among the earlier countries to which Buddhism spread. Nowadays, wherever in the world there are Chinese, they set up a Buddhist temple, which shows how close Buddhism is to the Chinese heart—it is China’s traditional religion.

“In 1954 I visited Beijing and other parts of China where I was shown many Buddhist temples. In particular I remember a stupa in Beijing that reflected the links between Tibetan Buddhist Masters and the Chinese Emperors, which contained a statue of Vajrabhairava. Later, during the Cultural Revolution all religions were considered aspects of blind faith and efforts were made destroy them. However, it seems that it takes more than that to uproot long ingrained faith and after Deng Xiao Ping relaxed restrictions, Buddhism has revived. A university survey some years ago found evidence of 300 million Buddhists in China, which friends tell me has grown to 400 million. President Xi Jinping observed in Paris and Delhi that Buddhism has an important role in Chinese culture.”

His Holiness expressed his admiration of the fact that all the world’s major religions flourish in India. What’s more, these different religious traditions, indigenous and from abroad, theistic and non-theistic, live together in respectful harmony.

“I’m a Buddhist monk,” he said, “but I respect all religious traditions. The key thing is to be sincere and to put what you believe into practice. All these different traditions teach love, compassion and tolerance even if they hold different philosophical views. While I have immense respect for Buddhist philosophical positions, I never say that Buddhism is the best tradition. To do so would be as mistaken as saying that one particular medicine was the best for everyone in all circumstances.

“The Buddha encouraged his followers to be sceptical and to examine what they heard in the light of reason. He said,

O monks and scholars,
As gold is tested by burning, cutting and rubbing,
Examine my words thoroughly
And accept them only then—not just out of respect for me.

His Holiness discussed his childhood interest in mechanical toys and how, when he visited China in 1954, he visited factories and power plants and burned with curiosity to know how they worked. Mao Zedong observed that he had a scientific mind. In exile he thought of holding discussions with scientists. When warned that science is a killer of religion he considered the role of reason and logic in the Nalanda Tradition and decided there was no danger. In fact, the interaction led to mutual benefit and one result is that science is now part of the standard curriculum in many Tibetan monastic institutions. Scientific knowledge has extended Buddhist understanding.

“The crucial point is that we have to study. Paying homage to Amitabha and simply reciting sutras is not sufficient. I have heard that there are many temples and monasteries in China. They would do well to become centres of learning. As a result of our efforts to extend opportunities to study amongst Tibetans, we now have nuns qualified as Geshemas after almost 20 years of rigorous study. It requires a change of focus. I remember visiting Singapore in 1965 or 66 and being very moved to hear the ‘Heart Sutra’ chanted in Chinese. However, the monks who were alert when I gave empowerments and permissions dozed off when I explained more general teachings. Westerners, people who are not traditionally Buddhist, take notes when they come to teachings.”

As he took up the text of the ‘Diamond Cutter Sutra’, His Holiness explained how after attaining enlightenment the Buddha declared ‘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, so I shall remain silent here in the forest.’ However, when they met again, Kaundinya and his former companions requested him to teach. He explained the Four Noble Truths in terms of the four characteristics of each truth, as well as the 37 Factors of Enlightenment. These are clearly recorded in the Three Baskets of the Pali Tradition. Pali was the language of the first council at Rajgir during which the Vinaya was compiled.

Later, the Buddha gave the Perfection of Wisdom teachings on Vulture’s Peak that came to be recorded in Sanskrit. His Holiness clarified that the teachings found in the Pali tradition were those that had been given openly in public, whereas those of the Sanskrit tradition were given before a more select gathering. Where the teachings of the Pali Tradition form the very foundation of Buddhism, the Perfection of Wisdom teachings are the Buddha’s supreme instructions.

With regard to the ‘Diamond Cutter Sutra’, His Holiness mentioned that the former Ganden Throne-holder, Rizong Rinpoche, had given it to him, although there is no ‘explanatory transmission’. Like other works in the Kangyur and Tengyur collections its Sanskrit title ‘The Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra’ is given to show that it was not composed in Tibetan. The sutra deals with wisdom and what it cuts through is ignorance. It begins with the Venerable Subhuti asking the Buddha the following question, "World-Honoured One, if sons and daughters of good families want to give rise to the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind, what should they rely on and what should they do to master their thinking?"

In explaining that the highest Madhyamaka view is that things can only be said to exist by way of designation, His Holiness quoted Nagarjuna’s observation that bodhisattvas aspiring to omniscience cannot be fully qualified if they continue to cling to an idea of independent objective existence. He was further prompted to remark that Nagarjuna’s key work ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’ is very precious and is available in Chinese. “I read it,” he said, “and I repeat and think about verses from it every day.”

He explained that of the ‘Fundamental Wisdom’s’ 27 chapters, if you were to read chapters 26,18, 24 and 22 you would come to understand how we fall into cyclic existence, how there is no independently existent self, and how things have no objective existence, but are interdependent. He also commended his Chinese listeners to make themselves aware of the Chinese translations of Aryadeva’s ‘400 Verses’, ‘Buddhapalita’ and Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ and ‘Clear Words’.

His Holiness noted that during the first turning of the wheel of dharma, the Buddha explained that there is no permanent, single, autonomous self. During the second turning, he elaborated on this and made clear that form, shape and colour, for example, have no independent existence at all—therefore the ‘Heart Sutra’ famously says, “Form is empty, emptiness is form”. Among the Two Truths, conventional truth is what is designated by worldly convention. Not only is the person a mere designation, empty of independent existence, but the psycho-physical aggregates that are the basis of designation are also empty of any independent existence.

Recalling what he had been saying earlier about his experience of the way Vinaya is observed in Thailand, His Holiness noted that a monk is to eat before midday. He brought the session to an end in expectation of continuing tomorrow. Members of the audience expressed their enthusiasm by smiling, clapping and waving as His Holiness left the stage.

original link & photo: https://www.dalailama.com/news/2018/the-diamond-cutter-sutra

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Dalai Lama Discusses Universal Ethics for the Modern Age

Relevance of Universal Ethics for the Modern Age at Tumkur University
December 26, 2017

Bengaluru, Karnataka, India - A misty start turned into a bright morning as His Holiness the Dalai Lama drove out of Bengaluru to Tumkur University today. He was welcomed on arrival by the Vice-Chancellor and Registrar as well as the Abbot of Sera-Jey Monastic University. Resonant drummers and horn players preceded them into the Dr Sree Sree Shivakumara Maha Swamiji Auditorium. After the auspicious lighting of the lamp, invocation prayers were chanted first by a mixed group of Indian singers and then by monks from Sera-Jey. His Holiness, the Vice Chancellor, Registrar and Abbot were formally made welcome.

In his introduction Vice Chancellor Prof Jayasheela remarked that everyone present was looking forward to hearing what His Holiness had to say. He reviewed the partnership that Tumkur has with Sera-Jey and mentioned projects they are co-operating on, including student exchanges and the translation of several of His Holiness’s books into Kannada.

Sera-Jey Abbot Tenzin Choesang Rinpoche read a report outlining his Monastery’s relations with Tumkur University. The memoir of understanding between the two institutions first signed in 2012 was renewed this year. He listed the conferences and workshops that they have held together during the initial period of their agreement.

His Holiness was requested to release five books produced and published by Sera Jey Monastery. They included an account of Buddhist Tenets translated from Tibetan into English and produced as a bi-lingual edition; a record of the history and culture of the Mahayana translated from English into Tibetan; a magazine containing essays and papers translated from English into Tibetan; the Seventy Topics related to ‘Ornament for Clear Realization’ in Chinese and Notes on Avalokiteshvara translated into Chinese.

His Holiness began his talk by saluting the audience as his respected brothers and sisters, young and old.

“Indeed, I’m very happy to be here once more. I’m now more than 82 years old and during my time I’ve learned many things and noticed many others. Some say the ‘Big Bang’ took place 12 billion years ago, others assert it was 25 billion years ago. Whichever it was, our sun is said to have appeared about 5 billion years ago, after which life appeared in our solar system and in due course human beings evolved.

“Human beings developed language. Our brains are something quite special, they give us the ability to change and develop in ways that other mammals are unable to do. However, this power also involves a capacity for wanton destruction. We may think of powerful predatory animals like lions and tigers as aggressive and violent, but I was once surprised to learn how peaceful they can be. If they are well fed, they have no drive to hunt and kill.

“Human beings, on the other hand, are intelligent, but if their intelligence is controlled by disturbing emotions, they have the potential make a great deal of trouble. Does this mean that human nature is good or bad? Scientists say the evidence is that human nature is essentially compassionate. Experience shows that by using our intelligence we can nurture this seed and extend it to become infinite compassion.

“We can also use our intelligence to distinguish which of our emotions are disturbing and which are constructive. Scientists have observed that constant fear and anger, for example, have the effect of undermining our immune system, whereas having a warm heart and peace of mind are good for our physical health. This is why we need to adopt a code of emotional hygiene.

“Emotions are part of our mind. Anger may have some defensive function, but if it becomes extreme and out of control, it disturbs our own peace of mind and upsets the atmosphere wherever we are.”

His Holiness explained that religious traditions have customarily carried a message of tolerance and forgiveness, but today the education system is more influential. Unfortunately, although modern education is highly developed in terms of the knowledge it conveys, it fails to produce a healthy, happy society because of its lack of attention to inner values and peace of mind. There is a need for it to become more holistic and impart universal values.

His Holiness observed that suffering is rife in different parts of the world with innocent people being killed and children dying of starvation. He lamented that if things go on in this way, the 21st century will be no different from the violent century that preceded it. He noted no slackening in the manufacture and acquisition of powerful weapons, whose only use is violent.

“We are now more interdependent than ever before. We also face common challenges like the threat of climate change. We have to take others’ interests into account. In this country, the world’s most populous democracy, there are a multitude of different languages and cultures in different places and yet they all belong to the union that is India. I have great admiration for the spirit of the European Union. After the Second World War historic adversaries decided to put their common interest ahead of narrower local concerns.

“Our education system should take an unbiased secular attitude and include instructions about the advantages of love and warm-heartedness. In India there is a longstanding tradition of ahimsa, non-violence, which is rooted in karuna or compassionate thought. However, in today’s India there is a strong inclination to look to the West, which is oriented towards a materialistic outlook. There is an urgent need to combine modern education with the ancient Indian understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions and the use of logic. Only India has the potential to be able to do this. This is a project that Tumkur University and Sera-Jey Monastic University could profitably explore together.

“We Tibetans consider ourselves chelas or disciples of Indian gurus. What we know we learned from you. However, over time some of this has become neglected in India and now the chelas are better informed about certain aspects of ancient Indian knowledge. I regularly appeal to young Indians to pay more attention to their ancient heritage of psychology and philosophy, because peace in the world has to start with peace of mind. This is an area in which India can lead by example.”

Many of the young students had questions for His Holiness. One wanted to know about the status of Buddhism in China and he told her that historically China has been a Buddhist country. He observed that wherever Chinese have settled in the world they set up ‘China Town’, where there is almost always a Buddhist temple. He added that, familiar with the works of Nagarjuna, the Chinese also follow the Nalanda Tradition. During the Cultural Revolution there was widespread destruction in relation to all religion, but there has since been a recovery. President Xi Jinping has stated publicly that Buddhism occupies an important place in Chinese culture. Research suggests there are now more than 300 million Buddhists in China, many of them well-educated people.

Another young student asked about wisdom and His Holiness told her it concerned the ability to understand reality. It involves knowledge at a deeper rather than a superficial level based on the observation that appearances do not reflect reality.

When a member of the audience asked about the purpose of life, His Holiness replied that it is to be happy and joyful. Another wanted to know if he feared death and His Holiness told him that death is a part of life. As a Buddhist he thinks in terms of there being life after life, and the importance therefore of leading a meaningful life, which is the context for his favourite prayer:

And now as long as space endures,
As long as there are beings to be found,
May I continue likewise to remain
To drive away the sorrows of the world.

The Tumkur Registrar concluded the meeting by expressing gratitude to His Holiness for coming and speaking at the University once more.

Lunch was provided in the Guest House that commemorates Madan Mohan Malviya the freedom fighter, contemporary and companion to Gandhi and founder of the Banaras Hindu University. Following that, His Holiness returned to Bengaluru. Tomorrow morning he will travel to Delhi.

Original link & photos: https://www.dalailama.com/news/2017/relevance-of-universal-ethics-for-the-modern-age-at-tumkur-university

Saturday, January 20, 2018

End Of Times: Vision of the World's End

Revelations can be a very intimidating book out of all 66 in the bible. Is very difficult to understand...all we can do is pray to God and ask him to reveal to us what he would like us to know.

Now let's discuss the book of Revelations and the end times in general.

This is a summary in the best format I can offer. Or rather bits and pieces so it's not so overwhelming or puts the brain on overload. From my point of view. I am certainly not stating this is it, no o other views are correct. This is just my humble opinion. The name of the book, Revelation, is a translation of the title in the original New Testament Greek, Apocalypsis the origin of the other name by which the book is now known, the Apocalypse. The Greek term denotes an unveiling or uncovering—thus, a revelation. A very interesting title with very interesting events to come as we are warned.

Many ask why was this book written? Well, as I mentioned above, the book's very name means to reveal —to unveil, to open to understanding what otherwise could not be comprehended. Yet most people believe that this final book of the Bible cannot be understood at all, that its language and symbols are too confusing to make sense. I can understand why. It's very intimidating.

The author of the Book of Revelation is John, who is an exile living on the island of Patmos. Many of the early church fathers believe that he was the same person as the apostle John. However, some believe the writing style of Revelation suggests that the two are not in fact the same, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, although it is possible that the author of Revelation was an apostle of John.

The Book of Revelation's apocalyptic and symbolic language has resulted in a vast array of interpretations. The events depicted are often considered to be an illustration of the early Christian persecutions, but the symbolism is also interpreted quite literally, suggesting that the Book is really about the end of the world, and that the events it describes will occur. Some Christians do not accept the Book of Revelation as canonical, and the decision to accept it in the final list of canonical books was highly controversial, according to the article "Meander Travel: Book of Revelation."

The Vision Of The World's End

Revelation is a book written to reveal the future, and Jesus Christ is the One who does the revealing: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place … Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because. of Him” (Revelation 1:1,7).
Here is the theme of Revelation—the time of the end of the age and the return of Jesus Christ to establish God’s Kingdom on earth.

John explains where he was when he received this vision of the end time: “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet” (Revelation 1:9-10).

The Lord’s day (also known as “the day of the Lord” or “the day of Christ” throughout Scripture) is the time of God’s intervention in human affairs when He establishes His Kingdom. (Plainly in this context it does not refer to a particular day of the week for worshipping God. To better understand which day God has set aside for rest and worship, please download or request our free booklet Sunset to Sunset: God’s Sabbath Rest. )
The apostle Paul, referring to this same time, says: “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3).

In another epistle Paul calls it “the day of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:2). The reason is that Jesus Christ, the Lord, intervenes in a powerful way at this time to take over the world. This is why this end-time period is called the Lord’s day.

John’s vision of the Lord’s day begins in Revelation 4: “Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne” (verse 2). After describing the scene in heaven, John focuses on a scroll God holds that lists end-time events. “And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals” (Revelation 5:1).

Only Jesus Christ, called the Lamb, is worthy to open the seals and unleash these end-time events. When God the Father determines the time is ready, He authorizes Jesus to initiate the events written on the scroll. They include the terrifying end-time occurrences prophesied throughout the Scriptures to take place during the 3 1⁄2 year period.
The seven seals describe the events before and during Christ’s return to rule the earth. “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels …saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!’” (Revelation 5:11-12). Here Jesus Christ is being authorized to unleash the final events and then establish His Kingdom.

The first seal (Revelation 6:1-2) represents widespread deception by a false Christianity that began in the days of the apostles (Matthew 24:4 – 5). The second seal (Revelation 6:3-4) refers to the increasing devastation caused by war as the end approaches (Matthew 24:6-7). The third seal (Revelation 6:5-6) represents increasing hunger and famines (Matthew 24:7). Other consequences of war and famine are represented by the fourth seal (Revelation 6:7-8)—such things as disease, plagues and civil unrest that kill many people (Matthew 24:7).

All of the events in the first four seals have been occurring, with varying frequency and intensity, from Christ’s time to our day. But they have greatly intensified over the last century and will grow even worse in the suffering mankind will have to endure nearer the end.

The fifth seal (Revelation 6:9-11) brings us directly to the time of the end. It acknowledges the past persecution and martyrdom of God’s servants and announces they will have to wait “a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed,” before God avenges their deaths.

In The book of Matthew 24:9 Jesus tells His followers this will be a time when “they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.” He also describes it as a time of “great tribulation

THE SIXTH SEAL

The next seal describes how “powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Matthew 24:29) after the end-time tribulation and martyrdom of the saints has begun but before God’s wrath is unleashed in “the day of the Lord” (Joel 2:31). These heavenly signs announce the beginning of the Day of the Lord.
Terrifying heavenly signs announce Jesus Christ’s direct intervention in world events to save mankind from itself. This shows that, while God has permitted the previous end-time disasters, Satan has been their driving force. Now God begins to demolish Satan’s kingdom, pouring out His wrath on a rebellious and insolent world.

“I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.

“And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’” (Revelation 6:12-17).

Jesus described this sixth sign in His Olivet Prophecy: “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption [rescue] draws near” (Luke 21:25-28).

Consequently, in the latter part of the 3 1⁄2 years of Satan’s wrath, God will intervene, first with signs and wonders in the heavens, then by orchestrating His final punishments before Jesus Christ’s return.

Finally the seventh seal is opened (Revelation 8). It describes seven other aspects of end-time events, each announced with a trumpet blast. In the first four of these plagues God strikes the earth and mankind’s environmental support systems. The fifth trumpet’s plague inflicts great pain on those refusing to serve God. In the sixth trumpet plague, God permits an unimaginably destructive and all-out worldwide war to begin (Revelation 8-9).

With the sounding of the seventh trumpet, the Bible reveals that “the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets” (Revelation 10:7).

This mystery of the end time was briefly alluded to in the Garden of Eden and its meaning glimpsed by the patriarchs and prophets. John writes: “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’” (Revelation 11:15).

God is in control. Every prophetic detail will be carried out according to His time frame.

As Christ concluded His Olivet Prophecy in Luke 21:34-36, He warned His disciples who would live during the end time: “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Please keep in mind you know how this ends. Jesus Christ prevails and satan loses so we should feel a lot of peace and cling to the Father and His Word. It is truth. Satan's time is limited and he knows this. Like I said in my last blog fear is not of God just keep rebuking Satan and his entire Kingdom. They have absolutely no authority over your mind, body, soul and spirit and repeat that daily with authority. Only Jesus Christ resides in you and what you stand for. Just keep Jesus number one in your life and you will be okay my friends. God bless.

Written By Jennifer L Auld

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Dalai Lama Discusses How to Awaken Your Mind

Nagarjuna’s ‘Commentary on the Awakening Mind’
January 14, 2018

Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - The sky was cold and foggy this morning as His Holiness the Dalai Lama drove the short distance from the Tibetan Temple to the Kalachakra Maidan, but the sun came out shortly afterwards. An estimated 30,000 people, including 10,000 monks and nuns awaited His Holiness. He greeted people as he walked to the stage from where he saluted the crowd to the front, left and right. He was soon seated on the throne.

Students from the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, young men and women, lay-people and monastics, recited the Mangala Sutta in Pali. They were followed by a group from the Tibetan Institute for Performing Arts who sang the verse of refuge and the salutation from Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’ to a musical accompaniment.

Finally, a group of Taiwanese chanted the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Chinese. They were among 3300 foreigners from 70 different countries attending this teaching. To meet their needs His Holiness’s words are being simultaneously translated and broadcast locally over FM bands into English, Chinese, Hindi, Russian, Mongolian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, French, Spanish, Romanian and the Amdo and Tawo Tibetan dialects.

“The last teaching was mostly for an Indian audience and was publicly translated into Hindi,” His Holiness explained by way of introduction. “This time there are many Mongolians among the faithful monastics and lay-people who’ve come to hear the teaching of the Buddha. What’s important to start with is to have a perfect motivation. On the part of the Lama that means not teaching out of any expectation of wealth or fame. Turning the Dharma into a business is very negative. When I learned about Tulku Tsullo’s three commitments—not to eat non-vegetarian food, not to ride animals and not to take any payment for teaching—I was very impressed.


“If there are people who wonder what the Dharma is about, there is no restriction, we have nothing to hide, and everyone is welcome. It’s something we’ve been familiar with for more than a thousand years. At the end of their recitation of the ‘Heart Sutra’ the Chinese add a verse that goes as follows:

May the three poisons be eliminated,
May the light of wisdom shine forth,
May we face no inner or outer obstacles
And may we train in the bodhisattva path.

“This tells us that the Chinese are traditionally Buddhist. The wisdom celebrated here isn’t just any knowledge, but the wisdom realizing selflessness. After the ravages of the cultural revolution the Buddhist population in China is growing again.

“In Mongolia too there have been three phases of Buddhism. At the beginning it travelled up the Silk Road and through Mongolia. Then there was the era when Mongolians had relations with the Sakyas and finally the Third Dalai Lama engaged with them. In return they gave him the name Dalai Bakshi. Buddhism mostly spread into Mongolia from Tibet. When I first went there in 1979 there were old monks who couldn’t actually speak to me, but were able to communicate through written Tibetan. They were permitted to practise inside the Ganden Thekchenling Monastery but not outside it.

“Their intense chanting at the top of their voices was very moving. It made me think back to the time of Sonam Gyatso, the Third Dalai Lama, to Yönten Gyatso, the Fourth Dalai Lama, who was born there, and to the Fifth Dalai Lama with whom they had close relations.

“Today, Buddhism is being revived and we still have access to the writings of many great Mongolian masters. It was one of my debate assistants, Ngödrup Tsognyi, a Mongolian, who stimulated my interest in the Middle Way (Madhyamaka) School of Thought. Several hundred Mongolian monks are now studying in the monasteries is South India and I’ve advised them how important it is that they keep up their studies.

“We also have here many people from the Himalayan region and there are many monks and nuns from their communities in our monasteries and nunneries. They have made up the numbers since the flow of monks and nuns out of Tibet has declined, something we can be mutually grateful for.

“There are people here too who are not traditionally Buddhist, who come from Judeo-Christian backgrounds. With improved communications and travel facilities many more people have taken an interest in Tibetan religion and culture, have offered us support and have been inspired by the teachings of the Buddha. You are new Buddhists and we old Buddhists of Tibet and the Himalayan Region bid you welcome.”

His Holiness explained that he was going to teach the ‘Commentary on the Awakening Mind’ and that the introductory verse derives from the Guhyasamaja Tantra. He mentioned that he had received Nagarjuna’s six texts on reasoning from Serkhong Tsenshab Rinpoche and his ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’ from Khunu Lama Rinpoche, who was able to compare the Sanskrit and Tibetan editions. He also vouchsafed that he received the ‘Hymn to the Absolute Reality’ from former Ganden Throne-holder, Rizong Rinpoche in the place where he observed his three year retreat.

His Holiness noted that he would, in addition, teach the ‘Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas’ by Ngulchu Thogme Sangpo, someone celebrated in his life as a bodhisattva. A book containing the ‘Commentary on the Awakening Mind’ and the ‘Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas’ in Tibetan, Hindi, Chinese, English and Spanish had been prepared for free distribution by the Organizing Committee of the Mongolian Sungchoe Organization. The Tibetan section included His Holiness’s own composition, ‘Praise to the 17 Masters of Nalanda’, and he elected to read that first.

He read the verses in praise of Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Buddhapalita, Bhavaviveka, Chandrakirti, Shantideva, Shantarakshita and Kamalashila. He noted that Shantideva composed the ‘Compendium of Trainings’ and ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’, both of which were among the six texts favoured by the Kadampa masters. He also remarked that it was due to the efforts of the Abbot - Shantarakshita, the Adept - Padmasambhava and the King - Trisong Detsen that Tibetans today are proud to be custodians of the Nalanda Tradition.

His Holiness recalled that under their auspices Samye Monastery was established with sections concerned with translation, discipline, meditation and so forth. Some Chinese teachers in the meditation section contended that meditation pre-empted study. Shantarakshita’s principal disciple Kamalashila was invited from India to challenge them in debate. He won the contest and composed the three volume ‘Stages of Meditation’ as a result.

His Holiness continued to read the verses applauding the masters of the vast lineage—Asanga, Vasubandhu, Dignaga, Dharmakirti, Vimuktisena, Haribhadra, Gunaprabha, Shakyaprabha and Atisha. He again extolled the kindness of Atisha, Yeshe Ö and Jangchub Ö for their exertions to restore Buddhism in Tibet in the eleventh century. As he completed his reading of the ‘Praise to the 17 Masters of Nalanda’ he observed that there used to be those who dismissed Tibetan Buddhism as Lamaism. Now he has no hesitation in asserting that Tibetans are followers of the pure Nalanda Tradition. He lamented that Nalanda itself lies in ruins and acknowledged in passing the British role in identifying and unearthing most of the Buddhist sacred sites in India.

Taking up Nagarjuna’s text, His Holiness read every verse of the ‘Commentary on the Awakening Mind’. He read briskly with occasional pause to comment and explain. When he was done he read another concise text with a similar title that was a commentary to the introductory verse from Guhyasamaja.

His Holiness announced that tomorrow he will give the lay-person’s vows, lead a ceremony for generating the awakening mind and perform the preparatory ritual for an Avalokiteshvara empowerment that he will bestow the following day. He also undertook to read ‘Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas’.

He returned to Ganden Phelgyeling in warm sunshine.

original link & photos: https://www.dalailama.com/news/2018/nagarjunas-commentary-on-the-awakening-mind

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Dalai Lama Says, "Be a Good Human Being."

The Sutra of the Wheel of Dharma and the Rice Seedling Sutra

Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - Heavy fog and bitterly cold conditions in Bodhgaya this morning did nothing to subdue the enthusiasm of the more than 50,000 people gathered on the Kalachakra Maidan to listen to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. After a short drive from the Tibetan Temple to the top end of a huge marquee, His Holiness too was in a buoyant mood. He smiled, shook outstretched hands and waved to the crowd as he walked up to the front of the stage.

He greeted several of the distinguished Lamas seated around the throne, among whom were the Ganden Tri Rinpoche, the former Ganden Tripa, the Shartse and Jangtse Chöjeys, the Sakya Gongma Trizin Rinpoche, and Ling Rinpoche, as well as Abbots, former Abbots and Tulkus.

“Indians are the main disciples today,” His Holiness announced, “and we’ll begin with their recitations in Pali and Sanskrit.”

Adults chanted a series of prayers and praises, including the Mangala Sutta, first in Pali. They were followed by a group of schoolgirls and schoolboys who recited the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Sanskrit.

“After the Buddha had attained enlightenment, he declared, ‘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, so I shall remain silent here in the forest.’ One reason for this is that existing Indian spiritual traditions asserted the existence of an independent self, a permanent agent going from one life to the next. The Buddha saw that clinging to the notion of an independent self is the root of all other mental afflictions. After realizing selflessness, he saw that it would be incomprehensible to most people if he were to teach about it.

“Nevertheless, in due course he did teach in Sarnath. Later, on Vulture’s Peak in Rajgriha, he taught that things lack intrinsic existence. During the first turning of the wheel of Dharma he explained the truth of suffering and its origins. Then during the second he elaborated in detail on emptiness. The Unravelling of Thought Sutra records that during the third turning of the wheel, he taught about dependent nature, imputed nature and perfect nature. The absence of imputed nature from dependent nature indicates the perfect nature of emptiness. Also, during the third turning of the wheel, the Buddha touched on Buddha nature and the subjective mind of clear light that is the basis for practice of highest yoga tantra.

“Mahakassapa and his followers preserved the teachings including Vinaya and Abhidhamma that became the Pali tradition. Later, when understanding had grown, Nagarjuna and other disciples examined the teachings in the light of reasoning giving rise to what became the Nalanda Tradition. The teaching of the Buddha has faced its ups and downs, and yet, relying on scriptural authority as well as reasoning and analysis, it still survives today.”

His Holiness discussed how the Buddha gave different teachings according to beings’ mental disposition, inclination and capacity. Sometimes he taught that the person carries the aggregates, much as a porter bears a load as if they were separate from each other. Elsewhere he explained that objects that appear to exist externally are not different from the subjective perception of them. At other times he taught that nothing has any inherent existence. The ‘Heart Sutra’ refers to form as emptiness and emptiness as form.

Having taught different things on different occasions, the Buddha admonished his followers, ‘O monks, just as the wise test gold by burning, cutting and rubbing, Examine my words thoroughly and accept them only after you have investigated them—not just out of respect for me’. His Holiness pointed out that modern scientists do not rely on anything like scriptural authority, they observe and conduct research themselves. Then they verify what they have discovered by comparing it to the findings of others and seek a consensus. Today, scientists are taking interest in what Buddhism has to say, much as Einstein predicted.

His Holiness emphasized that Buddhism originated in India, not in China or Tibet, and that masters of Nalanda like Nagarjuna were Indian too. Therefore, His Holiness said, it was propitious that the main disciples today were Indian. For more than 2000 years Buddhism has spread across Asia, so it would be appropriate if the Nalanda Tradition that has been kept alive in Tibet were to be re-established today in India.

His Holiness observed that India has the distinction of being the one place where all the world’s major religions flourish. Some of these traditions like Brahmanism are theistic and posit a creator; others like some Samkhyas and Jains are non-theistic and are based instead on the principle of causality. Among them, only Buddhism does not assert the existence of an independent self. From West Asia came Judaism, Christianity and Islam, which all believe in a creator god. All these traditions commend love and compassion, tolerance and forgiveness, contentment and self-discipline.

For Buddhism, the conduct of non-violence is important. It also teaches that suffering, pain and pleasure are in our own hands. Action which helps others and makes them happy is regarded as positive. Actions that harm others are negative.

“The various religious traditions have long flourished in India and lived alongside one another in harmony,” His Holiness added. “A secular view according equal regard to all faiths prevails here. We must preserve it. Meanwhile, I am doing my best to revive awareness of ancient Indian knowledge in this country. However, in the long run, the most important thing is to be a good human being.

“Among 7 billion human beings alive today, 1 billion have no interest in religious practice. But even among those who remain, some use religion as grounds for division. For religion to become a source of conflict is really very sad.

“We human beings are social animals, we rely on each other. We are not self-sufficient. We are at peace with one another here, but elsewhere conflict abounds. People are bullying and killing each other. Others are neglected to die of starvation. How can we put up with this when we regularly pray for all beings to be free from suffering? As followers of the Buddha we should ask ourselves every day how we can help others, since we all want happiness and don’t want suffering.

“Because modern education currently has little time for human values, we need to augment it with discussion of love and compassion. Common sense tells us, for example, that an affectionate, compassionate family is happy, whereas a family riven by jealousy and competitiveness is not.”

Turning to the two texts he was to read, the ‘Sutra of the Wheel of Dharma’ and the ‘Rice Seedling Sutra’, His Holiness observed that they both deal with ideas common to all Buddhist teachings. He remarked that the word Dharma has a connotation of holding back as in transforming or reshaping the mind, which is clearly illustrated by this verse:

Commit not a single unwholesome action,
Cultivate a wealth of virtue,
To tame this mind of ours
Is the teaching of all the buddhas.

Whether what we do is unwholesome or counts as virtue depends on the motivation.

His Holiness noted that the Buddha’s teachings can be categorized in terms of scripture and realization. Scriptural instructions are preserved by reading and study, whereas teachings related to realization depend on our engaging in the Three Trainings—ethics, concentration and wisdom.

His Holiness remarked that the Buddha left his family behind when he became a monk, which was not just a matter of changing how he dressed, but of his adopting and putting prevailing teachings into practice. He examined what he heard, contemplated and then meditated on it. This meant, for example, that he engaged in critical analysis of the nature of suffering until he understood it. He pursued the shamatha, a calmly abiding mind, and vipashyana, special insight, that are common to many traditions. Subsequently, the Buddha’s companions when he was engaging in such practice and observing strict austerities became his first disciples.

In the ‘Sutra of the Wheel of Dharma’, the Buddha speaks of having first comprehended suffering and then relinquished it. His Holiness quoted a verse by Nagarjuna,

Through the elimination of karma and mental afflictions there is liberation;
Karma and mental afflictions come from conceptual thoughts;
These come from mental exaggeration;
Exaggeration ceases through emptiness.

He clarified that it is due to our misconception of true existence that suffering arises, but we will not overcome this by offering lamps or performing rituals. It’s analysing and thinking about dependent arising that enables us to overturn these misconceptions. Nagarjuna praised the Buddha for teaching how to overcome wrong views. Je Tsongkhapa praised him for teaching about dependent arising.

In mentioning that the ‘Rice Seedling Sutra’ belongs to the Sanskrit tradition, His Holiness noted once more that he prefers to refer to the Pali and Sanskrit traditions because the terms Mahayana and Hinayana tend to lead to one set of people looking down on another. After all, he remarked, the Sanskrit tradition is built upon the foundations of the Pali tradition.

Beginning to read the ‘Rice Seedling Sutra’, His Holiness made two observations. The sutra concerns a conversation between Shariputra and Maitreya, who sat down together on a huge flat rock, which he appreciates for its down to earth quality. Secondly, a remark in a commentary to the Perfection of Wisdom teachings by the Korean Abbot Wen-tsig suggested that Maitreya’s mother was also called Maitreya, which establishes him as a human being, as well as a celestial bodhisattva, explaining dependent arising.

original link & photos: https://www.dalailama.com/news/2018/the-sutra-of-the-wheel-of-dharma-and-the-rice-seedling-sutra

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Dalai Lama Visits the Bodhi Tree

His Holiness the Dalai Lama Makes a Pilgrimage to the Mahabodhi Temple
January 2, 2018

Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - Having arrived in Bodhgaya after dark yesterday, one of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s first wishes today was to visit the Mahabodhi Temple as a pilgrim to pay his respects. He rode in a car the short distance from the Tibetan Temple to the western gate of the Mahabodhi Temple complex. He was welcomed by members of the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee, as well as the Sakya Gongma Trizin Rinpoche, who is here participating in the 26th Sakya Monlam.

His Holiness made his way down the steps and exchanged his shoes for a pair of white slippers. He then approached the western side of the Temple where the Bodhi Tree stands over the Vajra-asana. This is where Buddha Shakyamuni sat as he attained enlightenment more than 2500 years ago. His Holiness lit a lamp amongst an array of offerings set up as part of the Sakya Monlam. He then walked around the temple on the inner circuit, smiling and waving to people peeking through the stone railings.

At the door to the Mahabodhi Temple His Holiness stopped and made three prostrations to the Buddha before entering. He inspected the renowned statue of the Awakened One inside, made further salutations before it and sat down in the company of a number of monks. Together they recited prayers and praises including the ‘Sutra Remembering the Three Jewels ’, ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising’, the ‘Praise of the 17 Nalanda Masters’, the 'Supplication to the Buddha known as Drumbeat of Truth', the ‘Prayer for the Ecumenical Spread of the Buddha's Teachings’, the dharani of Dependent Arising, the ‘Words of Truth’ and verses of dedication.

As he emerged from the Temple, His Holiness smiled and waved to the crowds who filled the surrounding garden. He turned and paid tribute to the Buddha once more before continuing his circumambulation. Greeting fellow pilgrims on the way, he reached the western side, saluted the Seat of Enlightenment again, ascended the steps to the gate, waved to the crowd, and climbed into his car to return to the Ganden Phelgyey Ling—the Tibetan Temple.

original link & photos: https://www.dalailama.com/news/2018/his-holiness-the-dalai-lama-makes-a-pilgrimage-to-the-mahabodhi-temple

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