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.

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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