Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Dalai Lama on Generating the Awakening Mind

Generating the Awakening Mind

Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, India - Before His Holiness the Dalai Lama reached the Main Temple this morning, the ‘Heart Sutra’ was recited three times in the languages of the Buddhist Republics of the Russian Federation, Kalmykia, Buryatia and Tuva. Once he had arrived, greeted the eminent Lamas and the audience and taken his seat on the throne, the ‘Heart Sutra’ was chanted once more in Russian.

“So to conclude this series of teachings, today we’ll conduct a ceremony for generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta,” His Holiness announced. “As far as the awakening mind is concerned we need to understand that we are seeking to attain a state in which all defilements and faults have been eliminated and in which perfect realization—omniscience—has been achieved. Unsurpassed enlightenment is the goal you seek when you generate the awakening mind. You aspire to become a Buddha for the benefit of all sentient beings.

“In his ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ Chandrakirti wrote:

“Even those abiding in the first mind of complete enlightenment (bodhichitta)
Overcome those born from the speech of the Subduer Kings
And Solitary Realizers through their own merit's increase.
On the (ground called) Gone Afar he surpasses them with his intelligence.

“And at the end of the sixth chapter of the same work, he wrote:

“And like the king of swans, ahead of lesser birds they soar,
On broad white wings of conventional and ultimate (bodhichitta) full spread.
And on the strength of virtue's mighty wind they fly
To gain the far and supreme shore, the oceanic qualities of Victory.

“These powerful lines from ‘Entering into the Middle Way' echo the praise of compassion in the words of salutation.

“The mind of compassion, non-dual understanding,
And the altruistic mind of enlightenment (bodhichitta)
Are the causes of Children of the Conquerors (bodhisattvas).

“In terms of practice, compassion is important in the beginning, middle and end. The ‘Prayer of Maitreya’ states that bodhichitta is the factor that leads you away from the lower realms, to higher realms and finally to that deathless state where you are free from aging and death. Since the time of the Buddha, the great Indian masters who followed him cultivated bodhichitta. This is why we refer to the Buddha as the teacher, the Dharma as the actual refuge and the Sangha, like Nagarjuna and so forth, as companions on the path to enlightenment.

“To achieve Buddhahood we also need to realize emptiness. The Middle Way propounded by Nagarjuna is important, so much so that Bhavaviveka criticized what he called Asanga’s and Vasubandhu’s recklessness in neglecting to accept and follow it. However, if we only read Nagarjuna, we won’t reach a very deep understanding. Addressing the challenges posed by other points of view has the effect of broadening and enriching our sense of discernment. Studying a variety of treatises has a clarifying effect.”

His Holiness explained that to conduct the ceremony for generating the awakening mind you can follow the extensive rite described in Asanga’s work the ‘Bodhisattva Grounds’, or the shorter version in Shantideva’s ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’. He suggested that today he would use the verses that begin, ‘With a wish to free all beings ...’

He observed that the Buddha is someone who has travelled the path and teaches from his own experience how to overcome afflictive emotions, ignorance and their residual stains. By following his teaching we can eliminate all mental defilements, because of which he can be seen as the highest teacher.

His Holiness called on the audience to imagine the Buddha in the space before them as a living person surrounded by his Eight Close Disciples, Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri and so forth; the Seven Patriarchs like Kashyapa who came after him; the Seventeen Nalanda Masters, Nagarjuna and Asanga and their followers; the 84 Great Adepts (Mahasiddhas) such as Saraha and so forth.

His Holiness digressed to mention the distinction drawn by an 18th century Lama called Nyengön Sungrab between teachings that constitute the general structure of Buddhism and specialized teachings. Teachings belonging to the Sutras and works like Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’ constitute the general structure that anyone can follow. Tantras, such as Kalachakra, that involve working with channels, winds and drops are specialized teachings intended for specific disciples.

Continuing to describe those imagined gathered around the Buddha His Holiness mentioned Tibetan masters as well as their Indian mentors: Nyingma masters like the 25 disciples of Guru Padmasambhava; Sakya masters of the LamDre tradition; masters belonging to the three Kadampa lineages; masters from the four major and eight minor Kagyu traditions and masters of the Renewed Kadampa tradition, the Gandenpas, Jé Tsongkhapa and his disciples.

“These figures are role models for us in terms of practice of the profound and extensive paths. Taking them as witness to your generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta you generate much merit and wholesome energy. Shantideva summarizes the benefits of generating the awakening mind,

“Whatever joy there is in this world
All comes from desiring others to be happy,
And whatever suffering there is in this world,
All comes from desiring myself to be happy.

If I do not actually exchange my happiness
For the sufferings of others,
Not only shall I not attain the state of a Buddha
Even in cyclic existence I shall have no joy.

“We have to make bodhichitta our main practice. When I was about 13 years old, with Ngodup Tsognyi’s active encouragement, I took great interest in emptiness, but bodhichitta seemed remote to me. However, after I came into exile and especially after I received an explanation of ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’ from Khunu Lama Rinpoché, I began to integrate bodhichitta into my practice. Over time, as a result of effort, it has become close to me. You should do the same. Generate bodhichitta, pursue the practice and what happened to me can happen to you.”

His Holiness asked the congregation to kneel on their right knees and, keeping the visualization he had described vividly before them, to recite the Seven Limb Prayer—prostration, offering, confession—taking the Buddha and so forth as witness, rejoicing in their manifest qualities, requesting them to teach, beseeching them not to pass into the state of peace, and dedication. Following that, he led them in reciting these verses three times.

With a wish to free all beings
I shall always go for refuge
to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha
until I reach full enlightenment.

Enthused by wisdom and compassion,
today in the Buddha’s presence
I generate the mind for full awakening
for the benefit of all sentient beings.

As long as space endures,
as long as sentient being remain,
until then, may I too remain
and dispel the miseries of the world.

At the end His Holiness encouraged those gathered before him to recite these verses three times every day after they wake in the morning and three times again in the evening. He explained how cultivating bodhichitta and setting an aspiration for enlightenment at the beginning can set the tone for the whole day, enabling you to spend your time meaningfully in the service of others. Then, at the end of the day, you’ll be happy to dedicate the virtue for the benefit of all.

In conclusion His Holiness recited verses of dedication from the Samantabhadra Prayer followed by lines from the end of the Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment.

Likewise may I dedicate
Just as the skilful Samantabhadra,
With pure body, speech, and mind,
Pure actions and pure buddha-fields.

I shall give rise to the aspirations of Manjushri
For this bodhisattva practice of all-embracing good,
To perfect these practices
Without discouragement or pause in all future eons.

In regions where the supreme, precious teaching has not spread
Or where it has spread but then declined,
May I illumine that treasure of happiness and benefit
With a mind deeply moved by great compassion.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Dalai Lama at the Inauguration of the First Scholarly Conference on Kalachakra

Inauguration of the First Scholarly Conference on Kalachakra

Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala - In the cool, clear morning air, as the sun rose over the mountains into a cloudless blue sky, His Holiness the Dalai Lama walked from his residence to the Kalachakra Temple early today. Smiling faces, many of them from Russia, greeted him as walked through the garden. He saluted the statue of the Buddha in the main temple before entering the Kalachakra Temple and taking his seat.

The Secretary of Namgyal Monastery welcomed everyone to the start of the First Conference on Kalachakra for Scholars of all Tibetan Traditions. Monks of the Monastery sitting in orderly rows chanted verses in praise of the Buddha followed by the Praise to the 17 Masters of Nalanda. Tea and sweet rice were served.
               
“How many scholars have come from elsewhere?” His Holiness wanted to know. The answer was twenty.

“I’ve been quite unwell,” he said. “I came back from Delhi on 8th April feeling fit, but on 9th I was out of sorts, so I returned to Delhi for treatment. It turned out that my illness was not so bad, but I found the treatment tiresome. Now I’m well again, but I need to rest and relax. My staff keep telling me I need to reduce my schedule, so generally I’ll only meet people every other day.”

The Abbot of Namgyal Monastery, Thomtog Rinpoché, who is also Chairman of the Namgyal Monastery Education Society, introduced the occasion. He welcomed His Holiness and Samdhong Rinpoché to this First Conference on Kalachakra. He clarified that the name Shri Kalachakra refers to the union of bliss and emptiness arisen in the form of a deity. Shakyamuni Buddha first taught about this in the form of Kalachakra. The teaching was then taken to Shambhala.

“Scholars from all Tibetan Buddhist traditions, Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu, Geluk, Jonang and Butön have written extensively about Kalachakra,” he explained. “The tradition is alive. Jé Tsongkhapa regarded the Kalachakra as an authentic tradition and practised the Six Yogas. Jamyang Chöjé, founder of Drepung Monastery, records that Jé Rinpoché had a vision of Kalachakra. Later, the 7th Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Kalsang Gyatso, composed an extensive sadhana and instigated its practice in Namgyal Monastery. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has given the Kalachakra Empowerment to hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Consequently the complete practice remains intact.

“As followers of Jé Rinpoché it is our responsibility to practise the teachings of the Buddha as he and his followers have done. We regard this conference as an offering of practice.

“In a Prayer he composed for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s long life called ‘The Melody of the Nectar of Immortality’, Jamyang Khyentsé Chökyi Lodrö referred to him as a human manifestation of Kalachakra:

Kulika Pundarika, skilled and perfect exponent of the Kalachakra,
With its inseparable outer, inner and alternative cycles,
Has appeared in the land of Tibet in the form of a spiritual friend:
You who are in essence the original Buddha, Kalachakra—I pray for your long life!

“I too pray that His Holiness may live long, that his propitious wishes may be fulfilled and that the Tibetan people may once again be reunited. May all attain the state of Kalachakra.”

The Principal of the Namgyal Monastery School then outlined the procedure whereby representatives of various traditions, Nyingma, Sakya and Geluk, the Bokar Kagyus, Jonangpas, and a Geshé from Zhalu Monastery, as well as a representative of the Astro Department of the MenTseeKhang will make their presentations over three days.

His Holiness was invited to speak:

“I regularly say how important it is for us to be 21st century Buddhists. In the past in Tibet, people of all three provinces were Buddhist. Even the Bönpos studied Buddhist texts. Buddhism spread right across the land and people placed great faith in rituals and prayers. But what are the true characteristics of the Buddha’s teachings? In India there were the practices of concentration and insight or analysis (shamatha and vipashyana), in addition to which the Buddha taught about causality and dependent arising. He taught how to transform the mind on the basis that a disciplined or calm mind is happy whereas an unruly mind is not.

“Explanation of the Four Noble Truths with their 16 characteristics and the 37 factors of enlightenment is common to the Foundational and Great Vehicles. They were laid out in the first round of teachings and explained more elaborately in the second.

“Yesterday, I met with some Indian scholars who asked in the course of our conversation why it is that although the harmful effects of smoking are well-established, some people persist in doing it. I suggested that it is because we have different levels of understanding. To start with you may hear or read about something, but you’ll only really begin to understand it if you think about it. Reflection generates a deeper understanding, but only by focussing on what you’ve understood will you reach conviction. At that point you’ll be able to explain to others what you’ve understood on the basis of your own experience. This is why in terms of Buddhist practice we stress the importance of study, critical reflection, and meditative practice.

“We take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha without really knowing what the Buddha is. We need to think about how enlightenment is gained on the basis of the Two Truths, on overcoming the misconception of true existence. All religious traditions teach about love and compassion from different point of view, but the Buddha taught us to use reason and to think about dependent arising. This is how to uproot the causes of suffering. He taught that the more you exercise reason, the more you’ll understand and the deeper your conviction will be. This is what Nagarjuna did and consequently what he wrote attracts the admiration of scientists today.”

His Holiness noted that there is a practice of maintaining a pure vision of the Lama, but Jé Rinpoché stated that if the Lama teaches something that is at variance with the classical texts, you should challenge it. According to the Nalanda Tradition even the words of the Buddha are subject to analysis. For example, when we come across the Buddha’s advice that the five psycho-physical aggregates are like a load borne by the self, we have to ask why he taught that. The Buddha himself counselled, "As the wise test gold by burning, cutting and rubbing it, so, Bhikshus, should you accept my words—only after testing them and not merely out of respect."

“When I give someone a statue of the Buddha I describe him as a thinker and scientist of ancient India, someone whose teaching can be understood through reason, investigation and experiment—and by setting it against our own experience.

“Here in exile I encouraged nuns to study and to seek the highest qualification, which prompted some surprise among older monks in the monasteries in the South. However, I reminded them that the Buddha offered full ordination equally to monks and nuns, so why should they not also study to the same level? Consequently we now have Geshé-mas and even lay people are showing an interest in study.

“As far as the Kalachakra is concerned, one question that has to be asked,” and His Holiness laughed, “is where is Shambhala? It seems it may not be in this world, but we have to read the texts carefully. I have to admit I sometimes find what is written in the Jataka Tales hard to believe. Maybe some of them exaggerate. However, I don’t have such doubts about what we find in the Heart Sutra—‘Form is empty, but emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than forms and forms are not other than emptiness.’

“Quantum physicists talk about the observer effect—that the mere observation of a phenomenon inevitably changes that phenomenon. The Mind Only School states that phenomena are the creation of consciousness. The Middle Way School declare that just because something is not found under analysis that doesn’t mean it does not exist; it can still exist in conventional terms.

“Disturbing emotions arise from our exaggerated outlook, our distorted view of reality that conceives of true existence.

“If we can explain the Buddha’s teachings in terms of the ground reality and the path that culminates in the resultant state they will survive for centuries.”
As far as the Kalachakra tradition is concerned, His Holiness stated that the monks of Jonang Monastery and the followers of Butön Rinpoché were the main upholders of the tradition. In Tibet, Panchen Palden Yeshé was said to have visited Shambhala and brought a huge grain back to Tashi Lhunpo. There were Indian masters who did not accept the Kalachakra tradition and it seems Rendawa did not either. His Holiness emphasised that it’s necessary to study and put what you understand into practice and see whether you have a genuine experience.

With regard to the Six Branch Practice of Kalachakra, the Jonangpas still maintain the practices for day and night and gain the signs in relation to them. His Holiness mentioned a special practice for fixing the gaze on the mid-brow that Kalu Rinpoché showed him. He alluded to the practice of bliss and empty-form in relation to Kalachakra, as well as the four empty states of which the fourth is the empty state of clear light. He recalled that where the Buddha’s second round of teachings explains in detail about cessation, in the third round he spoke of the mind of clear light.

Finally, His Holiness remarked that whereas some people claim that building temples and monasteries amounts to building the Dharma, Vasubandhu was straightforward in stating that the survival of the Buddha’s teaching depends on study and practice.

“It’s one thing to study the scriptural teaching, but it has to be augmented by realization within yourself. That’s the only way to ensure the teaching will survive—keep up what you’re doing and explain this to others.”

His Holiness was escorted from the temple by the Abbot and Disciplinarian of Namgyal Monastery. At the bottom of the temple steps he climbed into a car and drove back to his residence.

original link & photos:  https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/inauguration-of-the-first-scholarly-conference-on-kalachakra

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Dalai Lama Interacts with Youth Global Leaders

Interacting with Youth Global Leaders

New Delhi, India - When American philanthropist Bobby Sager first met His Holiness the Dalai Lama 19 years ago he asked for a project to undertake and His Holiness suggested he help facilitate science education in Tibetan monasteries. This morning they met again when Sager accompanied 47 Youth Global Leaders to meet him.

Addressing them as respected brothers and sisters, His Holiness told them he was honoured to meet people committed to the common goal of human happiness.

“Yesterday, I mentioned that things change. It’s part of nature. Things that are bad don’t stay that way, but neither do things that are good. Things change due to the causes that brought them about, as well as other factors. No matter how serious things are, if we use our intelligence and think properly about them, not letting our intelligence come under the sway of our destructive emotions, our intelligence has the ability to see reality. When emotions interfere, we see only one aspect. When our minds are calm, our intelligence can see the whole reality.

“I am just one of the 7 billion human beings alive today and as such I try to promote human compassion based on a sense that all human beings are one. This way of thinking is of immense benefit to me. When I meet someone, with two eyes, one nose and so forth, I recognise them as physically, mentally and emotionally the same as me. I feel they are my sister or brother.

“As a Buddhist monk, I feel a responsibility to promote religious harmony. Killing each other in the name of religion, as we see these days, is unthinkable. All religious traditions convey a message of love, taking different approaches to suit people’s different dispositions. Their aim is for people to become more honest and more truthful. In India we see harmony prevail among all the religious traditions that flourish here. I’ve never heard, for example, of conflict between Sunnis and Shias in this country and in June Indian Muslims are convening a meeting to make that clear.

“I’m also a Tibetan, someone in whom the Tibetan people place their hope. But as far as political responsibility is concerned, I retired in 2001. Since I was a child, I’ve been aware that leaving all power in the hands of a regent or the Dalai Lama was wrong. After I accepted political responsibility in 1950 I set up a reform committee, but its success was limited because the Chinese wanted any changes that were made to be done their way. In 1960, after we arrived in India, we started to work to establish a democratic system and our first entirely elected leadership was achieved in 2001.

“Meanwhile, I speak up for the protection of the Tibetan environment, which, because so many great rivers rise on the Tibetan plateau, is important to the peoples of South and South-east Asia. But what most concerns me is the preservation of Tibetan culture, which essentially preserves the Indian Nalanda Tradition established in Tibet in the 8th century at the behest of the Tibetan King, Trisong Detsen. We have kept this tradition, with its focus on philosophy, psychology and logic, alive for more than one thousand years. This is an approach not found in other Buddhist countries.

“The 13th century Tibetan master, Sakya Pandita wrote about logic and we Tibetans studied this and the works of Dignaga and Dharmakirti. I attribute my present sharpness of mind to my training in logic.

“I am committed to trying to revive ancient Indian knowledge in modern India, because I believe this is the only country that could combine this learning with modern education. In the monastic universities re-established in South India we have about 10,000 monks and 1000 nuns trained in this age-old understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions.

“Science as we know it was not studied at Nalanda, but today it has assumed a great significance. Meetings between scientists and Tibetan Buddhist scholars and practitioners have been mutually beneficial. The Buddha taught two truths, conventional and ultimate truth, that scientists accept. Within the more than 300 volumes of translated Buddhist literature there is much more that scientists find of interest.”

When a member of the audience mentioned karma in her question, His Holiness responded that to blame what happens on karma, as if nothing can be done about it, is a lazy attitude. He told her, we should ask who makes this karma—the answer is, we do.

“Even if we’ve made bad karma, we can change it by creating good karma. We tend to make problems by being short-sighted. Human beings have a marvellous intelligence that enables us to change as a result of education. We need to look at things from different angles. We understand things by taking a scientific approach and investigating and analysing how they arise. People adopt different philosophical viewpoints because of their different dispositions. Even within Buddhism there are an array of philosophical point of view.

“These days, in democratic societies, people have a right to choose what religious tradition to follow. We can’t say that Buddhism or any other tradition is best any more than we can say that a particular medicine is the best.”

His Holiness was asked about artificial intelligence and he replied that there are many applications in which it is very helpful. However, since artificial intelligence is ultimately created by human intelligence he doesn’t envisage it taking over as some people fear. Consciousness is not limited to sensory functions; mental consciousness is sophisticated, subtle and powerful.

Finally, His Holiness was asked how to nurture kindness and gentleness.

“We can strengthen and enhance natural human qualities like these through education and training so that ultimately we develop the altruistic awakening mind of bodhichitta. As Shantideva writes in his ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’:

“Whatever joy there is in this world
All comes from desiring others to be happy,
And whatever suffering there is in this world
All comes from desiring myself to be happy.

“If I do not actually exchange my happiness
For the sufferings of others,
I shall not attain the state of Buddhahood
And even in cyclic existence shall have no joy.

“Altruism is the ultimate source of happiness; self-centredness only yields anxiety and stress. Think of enemies as potentially your friends; think of all 7 billion human beings as part of one community.”

link to original article & photos: https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/interacting-with-youth-global-leaders

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Dalai Lama at Press Conference for Global Launch of SEE Learning

Press Conference for the Global Launch of SEE Learning
April 4, 2019

New Delhi, India - His Holiness the Dalai Lama is in Delhi for the Global Launch of the Social, Emotional and Ethical Learning (SEEL) program developed at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. However, to begin with today, he met with Venkat Krishnan the founder of Daan Utsav - Festival of Giving - who requested him to give a message to all who will participate in the Joy of Giving Week 2-8 October this year. Krishnan told him, “We want people to realize that having compassion for others doesn’t make you sad, it makes you happy.” His Holiness replied, “We are social animals who biologically need karuna or compassion and as long as we have compassion, we’ll be physically and mentally fit. This is something scientists now recognize. Encouraging more people to experience this is the best way to create happy individuals, families, communities and in fact a happier humanity.

“The Joy of Giving Festival is important because during that time we are reminded of karuna; but actually we need to keep it up the whole year round.”

Next he met with about 80 students and teachers from South Asian countries, who represent 300 students who have been taking part in workshops about universal values and secular ethics. Rajiv Mehrotra, Secretary of the Foundation for Universal Responsibility, which has organized the workshops, gave an introduction.

He said the aim had been to strengthen young people’s capacity to develop compassion, universal responsibility and a respect for diversity. Students from South Asia were encouraged to embrace positions that were acceptable to faith traditions and agnostics alike, engaging with issues across religious and ethnic divides. He pointed out that because of differences in individuals’ receptivity immersion programs were necessary to enhance transformative change.

Mehrotra described education in inner values as a lifelong process and suggested that schools and colleges can function as places of healing that can prevent the growth of hatred and fear. They can instead become places of true development.

“When I received the Nobel Peace Prize,” His Holiness responded, “I gave half the prize money to Baba Amte to support the excellent work he was doing to help lepers in his ashram. The other half I gave to the Foundation for Universal Responsibility and asked Rajiv to take action—with this program, among others, he has. Young children don’t care about differences of religion or nationality. But once they enter the education system they learn to emphasise such differences. Meanwhile, education today doesn’t have much to say about inner values.

“Nevertheless, this country has longstanding traditions of ahimsa and karuna, non-violence and compassion. And the practices of shamatha and vipashyana have given rise to an understanding of how to train the mind. Modern education does a wonderful job of providing for material development, but neglects this other aspect of human knowledge.

“Much of the suffering in the world today is of our own creation. Everybody wants to be happy and no one wants to be miserable. Having a few people exercising power and exploiting the majority is a hangover from feudal times, and yet we live in a largely democratic world in which power belongs to the people. In such a world it’s immoral to order others to go and fight. Differences between people need to be solved through dialogue because we live in a global community. We take part in a global economy and we all face the challenge of climate change.

“Discarding weapons, we must adopt a non-violent approach following the Indian traditions of ahimsa and karuna. We need to learn from kindergarten onwards how to tackle destructive emotions and how to combine an understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions with modern education. If this can be achieved in India, others may follow.”

His Holiness told a young Afghan woman who wanted to know how religion can help us work for peace that the key lies in education; that is what will be most effective. A young man from Kathmandu, Nepal heard that acting with compassion counters loneliness and makes you happy. A Bangladeshi student learned that since negative emotions are based on ignorance, the remedy is to develop wisdom understanding reality. His Holiness advised a young Sri Lankan woman that sometimes following secular values is the most effective course.

When a young Kashmiri asked the spiritual meaning of freedom, His Holiness noted that the problems in Kashmir arose out of the partition of the country. He recalled historical links between Tibet and Kashmir. “Keep up your determination,” he advised, “but don’t get too bogged down in emotions. Be realistic. Look at problems you face from different angles. Try to distinguish appearance from reality.’

His Holiness advised a young woman from Manipur, North-east India, who wanted to know how cultivate peace within herself, to read Shantideva’s ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’. He told her to pay attention to the instruction to exchange selfish attitudes for concern for others because if you remain selfish, others will seem like adversaries, whereas it’s much better to see them as friends. The meeting concluded with a representative from Sikkim making an offering to His Holiness on behalf of the group.

Shortly after he entered the room where members of the press were assembled, His Holiness’s old friend Richard Moore arrived. Referring to him as ‘his hero’, His Holiness explained that Moore is a living example that human nature is compassionate. He recounted that as a young boy in Northern Ireland Moore had been struck by a rubber bullet and rendered blind. In due course he found the British soldier who had shot him and forgave him. As friends the two have worked to help other children caught in crossfire.

Answering questions in Tibetan from Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and Voice of Tibet correspondents, His Holiness told them that the practices of loving kindness and wisdom that are part of the Nalanda Tradition are something to be proud of. They are kept alive through study and practice as can be seen in the Seats of Learning re-established in South India.

Dr Brenda Ozawa de Silva, moderator of the press meeting, gave an introduction in lieu of Dr Lobsang Tenzin Negi. He mentioned that His Holiness’s relationship with Emory University goes back to 1998 and the launch of Cognitive Based Compassion Training (CBCT). Later, there was collaboration is developing science training for Tibetan monasteries. SEE Learning is the latest program which seeks to provide a comprehensive approach to holistic education. He invited His Holiness to make his remarks.

“The existing education system is inadequate,” His Holiness replied, “with no guarantees that it will bring happiness. Education should include ways to reinforce warm-heartedness. All religious traditions convey such a message, but in today’s world at least 1 billion have no interest in religion.

“From kindergarten upwards we need education to strengthen inner values not just pursue material goals. We need to introduce steps towards emotional hygiene, much as we teach physical hygiene. This way we can address some of the problems we face, in the hope of making this a century of non-violence.”

A key advisor, Dr Daniel Goleman, addressed the gathering via a videolink. “I’m sad not to be there with you,” he began. “When I wrote ‘Emotional Intelligence’ I discussed self-management, in SEEL this has become cultivating emotional hygiene, reducing negative emotions and boosting positive ones. This involves education of the heart, attention training and the development of compassion.

“I recently was struck to see a group of young children each of whom had a toy animal, who at a given point in their class time lay down with the animal on their abdomens. They watched and counted as the animal rose and fell with their breathing and so developed calm and control. This kind of technique has far-reaching effects on the children’s ability to learn and equalizes their potential.

“A combination of wisdom and compassion is what the world urgently needs right now. For the human species to survive will require a mixture of compassion and teamwork. I congratulate Your Holiness on achieving SEE Learning after 20 years work.”

Next, Ms Linda Lantieri from Columbia University addressed the meeting by videolink. “I have had a long involvement with the SEEL program that goes towards an education of the heart. We need such a non-violent approach in the world today. We are going to see a transformation in children being able to develop their hearts as well as their minds. They will have inner resilience enabling them to prepare for challenges and opportunities.”

To illustrate this she told a story about a group of teenagers she’d been working with in a poor part of New York. All of them had lost a friend or relative to violence. Their teacher asked them to share a goal for when they were 21 and she remembered one, Eugene, who said, “To be alive at 21". Not long afterwards the teacher called her with sad news about Eugene. He’d been shot from a passing car and would never walk again.

When she went to visit him in a care facility she found him in a corner talking to a group of other wheelchair users. “I was telling some of the guys what you taught me,” he informed her. She asked how he was and he replied, “I’m good. When I woke up today, I decided to forgive the shooter and I’m feeling much better for it.”  Self-regulation begins with the urge to make a difference. This gathering for the launch of SEEL will help the world, which will be so much the richer for it.”

Prof Dr Kimberly Schonert-Reichl turned to His Holiness, saying, “Your dream of an education of the heart is coming to fruition. These programs can make a difference. I started out as a teacher before I became a researcher and found I had nothing to depend on. I didn’t know what to do. Then I discovered that with SEL students are more likely to graduate and go on to other achievements. Richie Davidson has shown that these skills can be taught and can be seen to be effective in neuroplasticity. Now, SEEL with its education of the heart, compassion, systems training and attention training fills a gap—it’ll be so valuable.”

Among questions from the floor, the first was about why India had been chosen for the Global Launch of SEEL. Brendan Ozawa de Silva replied that the program was the result of a 20 year collaboration with His Holiness and this is where he lives. His Holiness added,

“Among the ancient civilizations such as those in Egypt and China, the Indus Valley civilization gave rise to a rich knowledge of the workings of the mind and views of reality. The Buddha as a product of Indian tradition. Nowadays, India has the potential to help humanity by combining ancient learning with modern education.”

Regarding devices like mobile phones, His Holiness stated that by itself technology is wonderful, but it depends how people use it. He observed that leaders tend to reflect the communities they come from. Since education today tends to focus on material development, it’s not surprising if that’s what motivates contemporary leaders. He suggested it can take a whole generation to change a community’s way of thinking.

“We are social animals—anger pushes us apart, but compassion brings us together. It’s such a shame that our wonderful human intelligence is squandered on developing and then marketing weapons that can only be used for destruction.”

His Holiness mentioned his admiration for Jacinda Ardern and her skilful handling of the situation after the recent attack in New Zealand. He appreciated her stance of non-violence and mutual respect, something everyone can learn from.

A questioner who wondered if interreligious harmony was as well-founded as His Holiness seems to think was told that he prefers to look at things from a wider perspective. He conceded that there are mischievous people everywhere and untoward incidents do occur, but they are infrequent. His Holiness cited the example of the Parsee community, Zoroastrians from Persia, who now number fewer than 100,000, but who live among millions of Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs in Bombay completely without fear—illustrating India’s tolerant pluralism.

With regard to his own reincarnation His Holiness suggested that if he lives another 10-15 years, the political situation in China will have changed. If, on the other hand, he dies next year the Chinese government may recognise their own candidate to succeed him. He expressed appreciation for the 1st Dalai Lama’s wish to be born wherever he could help relieve the suffering of others.

Tomorrow will see the formal launch of the Social, Emotional and Ethical Learning program.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Dalai Lama Observes the Day of Miracles

Observing the Day of Miracles
February 19, 2019

Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - The skies were clearing this morning after continuous overnight rain had left the ground wet underfoot and deposited fresh snow on the mountains and hills behind Dharamsala.

A sharp fresh breeze blew as His Holiness the Dalai Lama was escorted by yellow hatted monks playing horns, swinging censers and bearing a ceremonial yellow umbrella from his residence to the Tsuglagkhang. The yard and areas around the temple were packed with people and His Holiness returned their greetings as he walked through. Seated inside the temple were monks as well as retired and serving members of the Central Tibetan Administration.

His Holiness took his seat on the throne and the burly chantmaster declaimed the Heart Sutra and the long prayer to the Lam Rim lineage lamas, including the Kadampa masters, in deeply resonant tones.

“We’re gathered on this special day on which we celebrate the Buddha’s having performed miracles at Shravasti in response to a challenge from six rival spiritual teachers,” His Holiness explained. “In Tibet Je Tsongkhapa established this celebration as part of the Great Prayer Festival or Mönlam Chenmo. After some time it lapsed, but was revived once more during the time of Gendun Gyatso, the 2nd Dalai Lama.

“We weren’t able to celebrate these occasions during our first couple of years in exile, but re-established the custom as soon as we could after that. I decided to hold today’s teaching in the temple rather than down in the yard because it’s so cold today and because we’ll be meeting here to listen to the ‘Essence of the Middle Way’ over the coming days.”

Reading the Jataka Tales, accounts of the Buddha’s former lives, is part of the Great Prayer Festival. Yesterday, the reading had reached the story of Maitribala. Today, His Holiness began to read the story of Vishvantara, Prince of the Sibis, the life that preceded his birth as a Prince of the Shakyas. An accomplished exponent of generosity, the Prince is described as follows: “Though a youth, he possessed the lovely placidity of mind proper to old age; though he was full of ardour, his natural disposition was inclined to forbearance; though learned, he was free from conceit of knowledge; though mighty and illustrious, he was void of pride.”

His Holiness remarked that although the Buddha lived and taught more than 2500 years ago, there is still interest in his teachings. As do all other religious traditions, Buddhism encourages the practices of love and compassion, patience and tolerance. Different traditions propound different philosophical points of view to support such practice. Theistic traditions speak of a creator God embodying infinite love, qualities the faithful are inspired to emulate.

Non-theistic traditions observe the law of causality that to give help brings happiness and doing harm brings trouble. As social animals dependent on the communities in which they live human beings need to cultivate compassion. Followers of religion, His Holiness observed, should respect each other’s traditions while maintaining faith in their own.

“Buddhist teaching, like other traditions, commends us to take care of others, but what is different is that it expounds selflessness—that there is no independent self. Traditions that speak of an atman, a self independent of the aggregates or body/mind combination, explain that that is what goes from life to life. Buddhism rejects this and states that what goes from one life to the next is the subtle mind.

“In his first round of teachings the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths. In the second round, as part of the Perfection of Wisdom, he explained that things are empty of intrinsic existence because they are dependently arisen. The self has no intrinsic existence because it is merely designated on the basis of the aggregates.

“During the third round, because there were people who could not yet accept the import of the perfection of wisdom and were at risk of falling into nihilistic views, the Buddha taught the sutra known as the ‘Unravelling of the Thought’. He also explained Buddha nature. Whereas in the second round of teachings he had referred to the objective clear light, during the third round he mentioned the subjective clear light that is also the basis of tantric practice.”

His Holiness quoted a verse that expresses the Buddha’s thought after enlightenment. '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.' He clarified that ‘profound and peaceful’ refers to the first round of the Buddha’s teachings; ‘free from complexity’ refers to content of the second round, while ‘uncompounded luminosity’ refers to the third round.

The Buddha rejected the idea of an atman, a single, autonomous, permanent self. Nagarjuna elucidated this in his ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’, as can be seen in the first chapter. Chapter 26 explains the 12 links of dependent arising, beginning with ignorance. How things lack intrinsic existence is revealed in chapter 18 and chapter 24 shows that this is because they are all dependently arisen.

That which is dependently arisen
Is explained to be emptiness.
That, being a dependent designation,
Is itself the middle way.

There does not exist anything
That is not dependently arisen.
Therefore, there does not exist anything
That is not empty.

Through the elimination of karma and mental afflictions there is nirvana.
Karma and mental afflictions come from conceptual thoughts.
These come from mental fabrication.
Fabrication ceases through emptiness.

His Holiness pointed out that understanding things to be empty of intrinsic existence loosens our anger and attachment towards them. He reported that Indian nuclear physicist Raja Ramana had told him that the quantum physics notion that nothing has any objective existence seems to be new, but was anticipated long ago by Buddhist and other Indian thinkers. He added that American psychiatrist Aaron Beck’s observation that the negative light in which we hold someone or something with which we are angry is 90% mental projection—this also complies with Nagarjuna’s thought.

“It’s not enough just to cultivate the awakening mind of bodhichitta,” His Holiness said, “you also need the wisdom that understands that things have no independent or intrinsic existence. In this connection, Je Tsongkhapa made the request, ‘May I overcome all doubts by employing the fourfold reasoning’. To overcome wrong views, we need to study books like Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom’, Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ and Bhavaviveka’s ‘Essence of the Middle Way’. Then analyse and compare what they have to say. This is why faith is not enough, we need to use reasoned analysis.

“In Tibet we acknowledged a group of Indian masters known as the Six Ornaments and Two Supremes, but since such masters as Chandrakirti and Shantideva were left out, I composed a Praise to the Seventeen Nalanda Masters to include them.”

Resuming the story of Prince Vishvantara, His Holiness told of his great generosity and how a neighbouring king decided to test and take advantage of it by asking him to give away his majestic white elephant. Ministers were sent to make the request. Prince Vishvantara suspected that this was the ‘miserable trick of some king’, but ‘his attachment to righteousness did not allow him to be frightened by the lie of political wisdom’. He dismounted from the elephant and agreed to give it away. His own father’s ministers, angered by the loss this represented to their kingdom, complained to the prince’s father the king, resulting in the prince’s banishment.

His Holiness mentioned that the Kadampa tradition consisted of three lineages. Of these the Scriptural Lineage focussed on six texts—the Jataka Tales and the Tibetan equivalent of the Dhammapada, the Udanavarga. Also included were Shantideva's ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life' and ‘Compendium of Training', Asanga's ‘Bodhisattva Grounds' and Maitreya's ‘Ornament of Sutras'. Of these, the first two, the Jataka Tales and the Udanavarga provided the basis for faith. He went on to cite Haribhadra’s description of two kinds of practitioner, those who start with faith and the more intelligent who start with reason.

As he took up the ‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’ His Holiness remarked that bodhichitta is cultivated on the basis of reason. This short text contains instructions not only for cultivating bodhichitta, but also for developing a view of reality. His Holiness stated that he first received an explanation of it from Tagdrag Rinpoché and later from Kyabjé Trijang Rinpoché. As he read through the verses, he commented that when we give to the poor we should do so respectfully; we should treasure ill-natured trouble-makers and give the victory to others, regarding enemies as precious teachers. We should cultivate the practice of ‘giving and taking’ and regard all things as like illusions, asking ourselves whether things really exist the way they appear.

Turning to Je Tsongkhapa’s ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising’ His Holiness stressed that the root of all suffering is ignorance. In the course of reading through the verses, he recounted the story of Je Rinpoché’s having a vision of Manjushri who gave him instructions. When Je Rinpoché told him he had difficulty understanding them, Manjushri told him to study the classic texts and to engage in practices of purification and accumulation of merit. To do this he recommended he go into retreat.

Because Je Rinpoché was teaching a large group of students at the time, some friends told him that to break off and go into isolated retreat might attract criticism. When this was reported to him, Manjushri retorted, “I know what’s best for you to help other beings.” Consequently, with eight close disciples, Tsongkhapa entered a long retreat at Chadrel Hermitage in 1392. He had a dream of Nagarjuna and his disciples. One of them, who he identified as Buddhapalita, came forward and touched a book to his head. Next day, while reading ‘Buddhapalita’ Je Rinpoché gained a subtle insight into emptiness and dependent arising’s being simultaneous and concurrent. As a result he developed the special respect for the Buddha that is expressed in this text.

Next, His Holiness gave a reading of his Praise to the 17 Masters of Nalanda. He gave particular emphasis to the kindness of Shantarakshita and Kamalashila who were responsible for establishing the Nalanda Tradition with its combination of logic and philosophy in Tibet.

“In the past we Tibetans lived in isolation,” His Holiness observed, “but coming into exile has enabled us to share the Nalanda Tradition and its basis in reason with others. This is an inspiration to Tibetans in Tibet, who rejoice that our traditions will not die out. Meanwhile, we in exile take inspiration from those Tibetans’ unflinchingly determined spirit.

“Keeping our knowledge and traditions alive is a source of pride and those from the CTA who have contributed to this can feel they have made their lives meaningful. There will be a sunny day for Tibet and the time when it will come is not far off. There are no reports that the great masters who wrote the Thirteen Classic Texts that we study sat chanting in deep voices—they employed analysis and wrote about what they understood. Monks of the seats of learning in South India belong to this tradition and should keep it up.”

His Holiness concluded by reciting the following verses from Nagarjuna’s ‘Precious Garland’:

May I always be an object of enjoyment
For all sentient beings according to their wish
And without interference, as are the earth,
Water, fire, wind, herbs, and wild forests.

May sentient beings be as dear to me as my own life,
And may they be dearer to me than myself.
May their ill deeds bear fruit for me,
And all my virtues bear fruit for them.

As long as any sentient being
Anywhere has not been liberated,
May I remain [in the world] for the sake of that being
Though I have attained highest enlightenment.

From the temple His Holiness walked back to his residence smiling and waving to members of the crowd as he went, stopping here and there to have a word with an old friend.

photos and original text: https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/observing-the-day-of-miracles

Friday, February 15, 2019

Union with Christ and Abiding in Him; the Lost Gem

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

Have you ever been frustrated with the gap between your head knowledge of God and your heart experience of the Living God? Of course you have; and so have I. I can speak with such certainty because I have never met a person who was completely satisfied with their experience of God moment by moment. The Gap, as I’m calling it, is ubiquitous and in a sense will always be with us before we see God face to face. When you understand the biblical tension between the now and not yet, then so much of the bible will become intelligible. However, I think that the gap does not need to be nearly as large as it usually is for most of us.  How do we overcome it?

May I ask another question: how would you define the gospel or what a Christian is? There is more than one way to answer that, but Paul never used the term ‘Christian’, and when it is used in the NT (3 Times) it is probably not a term of endearment. For Paul, by far his favorite way of referring to Christians are those who are ‘in Christ.’ About 160 times in his writings that or a similar phrase is used. That little prepositional phrase is sooooo easy to overlook when reading the bible, but once you see its significance you begin to see it almost everywhere! When Paul is addressing people in an epistle, he will often refer to them as so and so ‘in Christ.’ The church of (blank) in Christ Jesus. What is being referred to is our union with Christ. ‘In Christ’ is shorthand for the most central motif in all the bible—our union with the Triune God through Christ. We are in Christ, and Christ is in us (John 14)—and as a result, we are to abide in the Lord. It is interesting how Pauline John sounds in his gospel, or the reverse.

I actually delayed doing this segment because it is so rich, and so crucial, that I never felt that I was ready or adequate to explain it. I still don’t..but am plunging ahead. We NEED to grasp this teaching.

We live as pilgrims in a foreign land. Nevertheless, I am convinced that knowing our union with Christ is the key to substantially decreasing the size of the The Gap. Yet many Christians are ignorant of this notion of union with Christ. Union with Christ—what is that?

Satan is the great identity thief; he confuses Christians as to who they are in Christ; to close our eyes to being ‘in Christ.’ He wants us to struggle and see ourselves as ‘in me.’..which is terrible news and recipe for anxiety ridden life. Satan muddles our essential identity as people who are no longer ‘in Adam’ and are now ‘in Christ’. It answers the age old question: who am I? Identity!  Being in Christ includes being forgiven of our sins but it is so much more.

 To say that we are in union with Christ contains two elements: we are in Christ, and Christ indwells us. Our union is unchangeable, unalterable (cannot be increased or decreased) instantaneous and irreversible. But our abiding in Christ is what we do; it is our active communing with the Christ with whom we are in union.  I am not going to exegete this text in Ephesians, but I chose it to show how prevalent this notion of ‘in Christ’ is. But being in union with Christ is like having an indissoluble umbilical cord between you and the Lord Jesus in heaven.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 (full stop—all of our spiritual blessings find their origin in our union with Christ) even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world (union with Christ is from eternity past to eternity future), that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5he predestined usb for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9making knownc to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guaranteed of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,e to the praise of his glory.

11 times in 13 verses he speaks of us being’ In Christ’! This is picked almost at random because it so common that it is a phrase that one easily passes over without ever really seeing it. But for Paul it was everything! Some have said that both in the OT and NT union with Christ is the central motif. And the apostle John was so similar in his assertions to Paul, using pictures of our union, like the vine in Jn 15.

1If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is youra life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.(Col.3:1-4)

The first thing to note about our union with Christ is that it extends from eternity past to eternity future.

And that Christ is our very life.

The Colossian Christians were under attack. It seems that false teachers were preying on new converts, who are so susceptible. They have come to Christ and freed from occult bondage in mighty way, but as time passes they inevitably discover that this sin is still in them; bondage broken but they still wrestle with the world, the flesh and the devil. So, they are ripe for false teachers who come along and say: “Are you frustrated? Well, what Paul said is all well and good but to get fullness, you need to do x,y and z.” The key word of these false teachers seems to have been ‘fullness/pleroma’—and this seems to be a proto-gnostic type heresy. The key to false teachers was that they sought to add to Christ to bring them to fullness of spiritual reality. But in reality, in Christ is all the fullness and to be in Christ is to have all the fullness. That is why it says in Eph 1 all spiritual riches are found in Him. Same in Col.

30 And because of hime you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor.1:30-31)

This is why in chapters 1 and 2 of Col. Paul stresses how all the fullness of deity dwells in Christ bodily. To be united with Him who is fullness of deity is to experience full fullness; why seek angels (as we do today as well) to round out or top off Jesus Christ, when angels are infinitely inferior to Christ—He made them! But more importantly, why look to angels and (supernatural experiences) or human traditions to make you more spiritual when you already have all you need in Christ? How many believers hop from one conference, video, experience or book to the next because they are restless—seeking some something that will add to ‘just having Jesus.’ We do not need more; what we need is to understand more fully what it is that we have already, as Paul prays in Eph 1 and 3. As I said, few Christians have even begun to plumb the depths of the meaning of our union with Christ. It is not talked about very much from pulpits, which is odd given how often it is mentioned.

What does it mean to be saved than to be united with our savior? So, the eminent theologian John Murray asserted: ‘Nothing is more central or more basic than union with Christ…it is the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation.” The accomplishment and application of redemption is brought to our experience via our union with Christ.

Elsewhere he likens it to the hub of a bicycle wheel—all the salvation blessings flow out like spokes from this central core. We come to experience all of Christ and all He did by our union with Him. Christ came, lived, died, rose and ascended so that He might bring us into vital union with Him. He speaks of this in His High Priestly prayer in John 17.

We must not separate what Christ has done FOR us from the person of Christ who indwells us. We must not separate the benefits from the Benefactor. Union with Christ first brings us into vital union with the Person of Jesus Christ, and His death and resurrection FOR US.

1. Let us first look at our being ‘in Christ’. In Rom. 5 we are born into the world ‘in Adam’ as our representative, and when he sinned, we sinned with him. It is as if we were there with him because he was our federal head/representative. When Adam sinned, we inherited his guilt and corrupted spiritual nature which has darkened every aspect of our humanity and left us spiritually dead (Eph 2:1). Guilty and totally corrupted and darkened.There are only two kinds of people in the world: those who are still ‘in Adam,’ and thus spiritually dead and under God's wrath, and those who are ‘in Christ’ and have been regenerated and baptized with the Holy Spirit, which water baptism represents—and united with all our new Adam accomplished for us.

But being united to Christ by faith, our new representative is Jesus Christ. Everything He did He did as our representative. Now the astonishing thing is that, starting with the Incarnation, if we are in Christ, then we were with Him in all these salvation events. Since we are in Christ and He is our very life, then we can say: that we were united with Him in His incarnation; His 33 years of perfect obedience to the law and to the Father, it is as if we were living that perfect life. His righteousness is imputed to us.

 And, we were crucified and died with Him (Gal, 2:20; 2 Cor 5:21; Rom. 6:1ff)

 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

There is a very real sense in which when Jesus hung on the cross, we were with Him. As our substitutionary penal atonement, Jesus died for our sins. ‘Huper’ is Greek word ‘for us’ and since we are united with the whole Christ then we are united with the whole of what He did. He died for us and He accomplished what He set out to do.

Next, we were with Christ when He was entombed.(Rom. 6:4) The Holy Spirit was perfectly united with the corpse of Jesus in the grave, just as Christ is united through the Holy Spirit with our dead bodies. We were raised with Him, ascended and glorified with Him, and now in some wonderfully mysterious/mystical way, our life is now hidden in heaven with Christ (Col. 3:1ff) and we reign with Him; that is eternal security. Even our dead, rotting bodies in the grave are in union with Christ because our bodies matter to God—and they will be raised incorruptible on the Last day. 1 Cor 15; 2 Cor 5. And it is as if Jesus considers Himself incomplete as long as all those whom the  Father has given Him are not with Him.

And the dead in Christ will rise first (1 Thess 4) 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,d that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

Dead in Christ? What can that mean since glorified saints have never been more alive.

Paul cannot be talking about glorified souls because they are not dead—they are in Christs presence. He is referring to our bodies, which are ‘sleeping.’ What a lovely truth that even our corpses are precious to our Lord and are in Him! And at the Second Coming He will raise our bodies from the grave and make them wonderfully glorified bodies, such His own is now.

I have thought about this and the decaying bodies of believers are holy to God, so I do not think the demonic can mess with them but I do think that demons inhabit cemeteries because of the bodies of unbelievers, which are unholy. Why do so many foolish folks seek to have experiences in cemeteries? There are many sad tales of people being followed home by unclean spirits because of doing this.

These realities are so amazing Paul actually invented new words to convey our being crucified and raised with (Greek-syn)Christ. And we read in Rom 8:11 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

We can rest in Christ and cease anxiously striving and trying to prove ourselves through our looks, actions, ministries ect. We are in union with Christ NOW, and this union is unbreakable.

Christ has so closely identified Himself with us that He asked Saul why was he persecuting Him?! To touch those ‘in Christ’ is to touch Him. This is a union of extraordinary closeness.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.b The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Cor.5:17)

We have a new identity in Christ. Many speak of the battle of the old man and the new man, but this is confusion. The old man (identity) is gone forever—that would be like Adam and Jesus  fighting inside us!! But indwelling sin does remain. So, the new man does battle with sin, world and devil—but not with old self/man. I have heard even the finest theologians get confused on this point. With Christ, we have died to old identity and to tyranny of sin. In heaven the very presence of sin will be evacuated.

When we are baptized (as children or adults—there are good arguments for both) we are given a new name. When I was born my parents named me Mark Andrew Hunnemann, which is quite a mouthful! It became what I responded to as it represented me. It was/is my name…its me. Someone says ‘Mark Hunnemann’ I know who they are talking about.

 In baptism the old name of Adam is replaced by the name of the Triune God (Jesus said baptize them in the Name….), in whose name we are baptized. Paul refers to this in Romans 6. So, our baptism and the Lord’s Supper both celebrate our union with Christ and each other. It certainly is a devilish thing that we fuss and fume over amount of water to baptize with when the focus is on being ‘immersed’ (if you will) into the new identity of being in Christ. We have placed on us the mark of our union with the Triune God. That is why Luther, when troubled, would often say to himself-“I have been baptized.” We have a new identity. So many today are on an unconscious quest to discover who they really are. But being ‘in Christ’ is our new identity. It is a glorious new identity which entails all that Jesus accomplished and the Holy Spirit applied to us.

2. Not only are we in Christ, but through the Holy Spirit, He is in us--Christ indwells us. So He not only gives us a new identity but new power to live holy lives. Union with Christ is of the most intimate nature. Christ comes into our entire beings as a homemaker (John 14) 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him (John 14)

Christ was telling His disciples that it was to their benefit that He ascend and send the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the agent of the Trinity, so when He indwells us, then the entire Trinity indwells us. Indeed, in a lovely reality, the Triune God comes into us as a homemaker. Those of you ladies who are homemakers know what this entails and think of the dignity this homemaking of God gives to your calling, as it patterns after God’s own crowning work in us. But let us focus on God and His indwelling of us and how we not only have a new identity, but because the Trinity indwells us we have a new power. There was a massive change inside of us at regeneration and then we were united to Christ by faith and this power of the omnipotent God now indwells our feeble and frail bodies. Regardless of whether you feel His presence is not the issue—His presence is more certain than our fluctuating feelings.

What Christ did for us on the cross in defeating sin and becoming a curse for us, He now indwells us to give us the power to live in a way pleasing to God. In Col. we are then told to put off the old man and put on the new man. Some communions still have the practice of providing new and clean clothes for all those who undergo baptism. We are to become who we are in fact. The imperitives are grounded in the indicatives of our union with Christ. An indicative is a statement of fact and imperative is a command. So, before we are TOLD to be like Christ, we are filled with Christ, so that we have the power to become in practice what we are in fact.

Remember that the pattern for Christ was suffering and then glory, so we who are in union with Christ are to follow that same pattern: we shall suffer here but it shall prepare us for glory.

The beauty of union with Christ is that the guilt and power of sin are both dealt with.

“How few of us are experimentally (experientially) acquainted with this privilege of holding immediate communion with the Father in love.” So said the great Puritan, John Owen. The Trinity now has made His home in us and we are to abide in the Vine. How is this done? Union is a fact, but abiding is something that we do. It was George Mueller of Bristol England who stated that he made it his first priority of the day to get his heart happy in the Lord; which is another way of talking of abiding. I think that is a helpful way to view reading/prayer as a means of abiding. God has given us His means of grace by which we abide in Him. The temptation is always there to drift. May the Lord put a short leash on us and gently but quickly pull us back when we begin to drift away from sweet communion with Christ.

See this lovely quote from Calvin:

“We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ. We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is of Him. If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in His anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in His dominion; if purity, in His conception; if gentleness, it appears in His birth. For by His birth He was made like us in all respects, that He might learn to feel our pain. If we seek redemption, it lies in His passion; if acquittal, in His condemnation; if remission of the curse, in His cross; if satisfaction, in His sacrifice; if purification, in His blood; if reconciliation, in His descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in His tomb; if newness of life, in His resurrection; if immortality, in the same; if inheritance of the Heavenly Kingdom, in His entrance into heaven; if protection, if security, if abundant supply of all blessings, in His Kingdom; if untroubled expectation of judgment, in the power given to Him to judge. In short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in Him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other.”  Institutes of Christian Religion

Our part-Abiding. What is the first thing you think of upon awakening? What must I do today?…I do..I..I…I?  Instead we should ask: Lord, what shall WE do today? I have an 87 year old friend and prayer warrior who says every morning: ‘Lord, what shall we do today?” In addition to that, I frequently add: I am in union with You, please help me to abide in You as intimately as is possible this side of heaven. God desires deep intimacy with us, and abiding in Christ is the key to bridging the gap between our head knowledge and heart knowledge. 4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15)

I heard recently the experience of Hudson Taylor, the founder of China Inland Mission which touched countless lives. He died in 1905 but  not before seeing extraordinary fruit in China. But he labored for a number of years and suffered terrible trials before he had a life altering experience of discovering union with Christ. It is not that he got something he did not have before, but as Paul prayed in Eph that we would understand more fully the extent of God’s love for us; to more fully possess our possessions, as one man put it; to know more fully what we already know. Any good pastor knows that a big part of pastoral work is patiently explaining to people what Paul was praying for in Eph 3—a deeper awareness of the depth of God’s love. One day as Taylor was laboring under immense weight, he received a letter from a friend which outlined the freedom of knowing and resting in our union with Christ and learning to abide and rest in that union. (this is not passive rest because we must fight) Learning that apart from abiding in Christ we can do nothing. Nothing! Notice the dual emphasis on us in Christ, and He in us, and then the call to ABIDE. Another word might be communion with…walking intimately with.

His son wrote a few decades later that this event was no ephemeral passing fad—his dad was forever changed, and he never seemed perturbed amidst the most stressful situations. He knew in his heart the beauty of his union with Christ—with the whole Christ and all He did. When Taylor understood the implications of being in Christ it melted his heart and he was a changed man. He saw God’s sovereignty and He released his anxieties into the arms of Him whom he was in intimate union with. He learned to abide in his union amidst the terrible tragedies he suffered.

Extravagant grace and radical discipleship are often presented as two opposite ways of pursuing the Christian life; but both are drawn together in union with Christ. While some fall prey to hyper-grace and others to heavy burden of striving for radical discipleshsip, both the beauty of grace and the call to mirror holiness are wed together in our union with Christ. Union with Christ is the key to balance in the Christian life.

But Christ is always greater than our experience of Him, and cannot be reduced to our experience.

My prayer is that by understanding our union with Christ, and the utter security that entails, that we would be forever changed as well. Our anxiety ridden striving would cease. We are accepted in the Beloved , now-we do not have to prove ourselves to God or anyone. Yes, we strive against the world, flesh and devil until we die BUT we now know how much God loves us and that the power of sin to enslave us has been broken. We view ourselves as being in Christ and united to every aspect of His saving life and death, resurrection and ascension. The immense security and sense of significance that should flow from this awareness is staggering. We have a new identity and a new power.

Apart from Christ we can do nothing but sin, but in Christ we can begin to drink deeply from the wells of Living Water. May you begin to experience a depth of communion with the Triune God that you’ve never known, and experience joy unspeakable, IN CHRIST.


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

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Dalai Lama Meets with Deepak Chopra and Friends

Deepak Chopra and Friends Meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - Indian-born American author and public speaker Deepak Chopra and 45 close friends met His Holiness the Dalai Lama this morning. His Holiness welcomed them saying:

“We’ve met a few times before, but now I’m happy to be able to welcome you here, my spiritual brothers and sisters, to what has been my home for the last nearly 60 years.

“In today’s world, despite extensive material development, we face all kinds of problems. Natural disasters are beyond our control, but fighting and killing are things we could put a stop to. However, we pay too much attention to material goals and not enough to human values like love. Many of the problems we face are of our own creation and yet scientists tell us that basic human nature is compassionate. They also tell us that cultivating a compassionate attitude is good for our physical health, while constant anger and fear undermine our immune systems.

“We don’t give enough weight to inner values. We see other people in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Even religious practitioners do this. We distinguish between our country and their country. Young children don’t care about such distinctions. If other children smile and play, they’re happy to be with them. It’s only when we get older that we begin to stress secondary differences between us. We need to look deeper and appreciate that we are all the same in being human. And I believe we have a responsibility to share the importance of warm-heartedness.”

“Since we last met in New Jersey,” Deepak Chopra interpolated, “it has become clear that many ailments are a result of inner inflammation and that meditation is a means of calming it down.”

“I appreciate the work you do.” His Holiness responded, “We all belong to the 7 billion human beings. Mentally, emotionally and physically we are the same, so we should each contribute as best we can to making humanity better and happier. We should try to make this 21st century different from the 20th century, a period spoiled by violence, a time when brilliant scientists dedicated themselves to improving weapons. The outbursts of fighting and killing we see here and there today are a consequence of that old way of thinking that problems can be solved through the use of force. Instead, we should acknowledge our different interests and ideas and make this a century of dialogue.”

In answering questions from the group, His Holiness explained that just as we can’t assert that one medicine is best for everyone, because what is required will depend on the patient’s age, condition and ailment, we can’t state that a particular religious tradition is best. Different people may find different traditions and practices more effective for them. Tibetans follow the Nalanda Tradition which means they study the works of various masters and he indicated the figures depicted in paintings hanging around the room. They analyze and investigate contrasting points of view, which deepens their understanding. For the individual, His Holiness added, the important thing is to find a practice that helps tackle the destructive emotions.

Asked to name a world leader he admired, His Holiness mentioned Mahatma Gandhi, who, despite his sophisticated education, returned to India where he dressed like an ordinary Indian and promoted ahimsa or non-violence during the freedom struggle. He also acknowledged Rajendra Prasad, first President of India and Willy Brandt who maintained contact with the Soviet Union even during the Cold War.

Invited to explain how to be compassionate while being wronged, His Holiness recommended recognizing that we are all just human beings. He declared that he’d found such an approach of immense help in his own life. Whoever he meets he feels is just like him, someone he can regard as a brother or sister. When he thinks of Chinese officials in Tibet who have imposed hardship on Tibetans, he reminds himself that they too are human beings. As social animals, human beings depend on the community in which they live, which is why His Holiness emphasizes the importance of remembering the oneness of humanity.

He went on to discuss non-violence and what a waste it is to dedicate talent and resources to developing, manufacturing and selling weapons. He recounted a meeting of Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome and being shocked by a description of the consequences should nuclear weapons be used. He immediately suggested that a timetable be set for their elimination, but nothing happened. Nevertheless, he said, it is essential not to give up the effort, not only on the level of leaders and organizations like the UN, but on an ordinary public level too.

“As brothers and sisters we must take action,” he said, “to bring about a peaceful world step by step.”

In the face of modern education’s predominantly material goals His Holiness recommended adding to instructions about physical hygiene advice about emotional hygiene and ways to tackle destructive emotions. Children can be taught to recognize that anger and fear ruin our peace of mind, while other destructive emotions disrupt family harmony. He noted that the ancient Indian understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions remains relevant and helpful on a practical level today.

“In the early 20th century,” His Holiness added, “scientists only showed interest in learning about the brain as distinct from the mind. Gradually, some of them have come to recognize that there are different levels of mind—sensory waking consciousness, the consciousness of the dream state, the subtler awareness of deep sleep and so forth. Some meditators have experienced these different levels of mind in meditation, while scientists have begun to see how they affect the brain.

“In schools we need to teach not only about physical fitness, but about mental fitness too. In general, modern India pays too little attention to this kind of understanding, but I am committed to encouraging a revival of ancient Indian knowledge in this country. I am convinced that India is the only country that can combine modern education with ancient Indian knowledge of the mind and emotions and share it with the wider world.”

original link & photos: https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/deepak-chopra-and-friends-meet-his-holiness-the-dalai-lama