Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Dalai Lama & the Practice of Patience

Teachings at Shewatsel

Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India - The sun was already bright and warm when His Holiness the Dalai Lama left his residence at the Shewatsel Phodrang to walk to the teaching pavilion on the adjacent teaching ground. Thiksey Rinpoche and LBA President Tsewang Thinles walked with him. All along the way members of the public pressed against the fence in hope of getting closer to His Holiness. Here and there he stopped to pat a child’s cheek or place his hand on the head of an older man or woman.

In his efforts to be as inclusive as possible His Holiness walked to the furthest corners of the front of the stage to wave to people nearby as well as those in distant parts of the crowd of an estimated 20,000. Meanwhile, nuns from the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies engaged in a dynamic debate in front of the stage. They were followed by students from Ladakh Public School.

After taking his seat on the throne, His Holiness remarked that he was tickled to see that the debating school students included an enthusiastic Sikh boy. He noted how important debate can be in sharpening understanding of the topic under study and thanked the schoolchildren for their contribution. Introductory prayers included the ‘Three Continuums’, which praises the qualities of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and the ‘Heart Sutra’.

“Last year we read up to the end of Chapter 6 of the ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’,” His Holiness explained, “so we’ll go on from there. Shantideva is reported to have composed this text in the 8th century. It draws on the teachings of the extensive path lineage which Maitreya passed to Asanga and the profound view lineage that comes from Nagarjuna, sometimes referred to as the second Buddha. This teaching can be referred to as representing the great conduct lineage.

“Maitreya’s ‘Ornament for Clear Realization’ explains the implicit content of the perfection of wisdom teachings; Nagarjuna clarifies the explicit content, which is the theory of emptiness. Maitreya’s ‘Sublime Continuum’ explains Buddha nature, while his five treatises as a whole outline the bodhisattva path.”

Alluding to the various schools of Buddhist philosophy, His Holiness observed that the Vaibhashikas (Particularists) and Sautrantikas (Sutra Followers) teach the selflessness of persons, whereas the Chittamatrins (Mind Only School) and Madhyamakas (Middle Way School) teach the selflessness of phenomena as well. While asserting the true existence of consciousness, Chittamatrins deny the external existence of things, which they say are the result of imprints on our minds. His Holiness added that there are quantum physicists who suggest that the conviction that nothing exists objectively tempers emotional response such as attachment.

The Madhyamaka School is primarily divided into the Svatantrika (Autonomist) and the Prasangika (Consequentialist) Schools, although there is a branch of the former which incorporates Yogachara (Practitioners of Yogic Conduct) ideas. Where the Svatantrikas allow some kind of objective existence, the Prasangikas refute any objective or independent existence of things or experiences.

Turning back to the ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’, His Holiness told the crowd, “I received transmission and explanation of this work from Khunu Lama Rinpoche, Tenzin Gyaltsen. He was a dedicated practitioner of what it has to say. At one time, as he cultivated practice of the awakening mind of bodhichitta, he would compose an appreciative verse every day. These verses were eventually compiled as the ‘Jewel Lamp’ and it was transmission of this that I sought first. I received the ‘Guide’ afterwards. Because he felt the practice of the awakening mind is so helpful, Khunu Lama Rinpoche asked me to teach it as much as I could.

“‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’ can be summarized into three parts—conduct by which you enter into the practice; the actual practice and accomplishment of the practice. It deals with the path leading to enlightenment rooted in the development of wisdom, on the basis of which you cultivate the conduct of a bodhisattva.”

His Holiness reviewed the titles and contents of the chapters of the book in relation to practice of the six perfections. He observed that there is no chapter dedicated to generosity, but the fact that the whole work deals with giving body, resources and virtues makes up for it.

“Of the ten chapters, the most important are Chapter 6 dealing with patience and Chapter 8 entitled meditation,” His Holiness continued. “If we are to cherish others more than ourselves, we need to overcome anger, and patience is the anti-dote to it. Chapter 8 shows that cherishing self alone leads to our ruin. What it primarily teaches is the practice of equalizing and exchanging self with others.”

After reading the first lines of Chapter 7, ‘Having patience I should develop enthusiasm, for awakening will dwell only in those who exert themselves,’ His Holiness mentioned that progress on the path doesn’t depend only on bodhichitta, wisdom is necessary too. The moment you have a genuine experience of bodhichitta, you enter the bodhisattva path, but you still need to train further. After the path of accumulation, the path of preparation involves the combination of a calmly abiding mind and insight focussing on emptiness. You progress to the path of seeing, where you realize emptiness directly and eliminate mental afflictions.

After developing the path of seeing and achieving cessation, you enter into the path of meditation and progress from the second bodhisattva ground to the tenth. Finally, you develop the path of no more learning that is the antidote to the residual stains left by mental afflictions. When all these defilements, including the imprints of negative emotions are cleared, you attain Buddhahood. This five tiered path is reflected in the mantra from the ‘Heart Sutra’.

When the Buddha says, “Tadyata gateh gateh paragateh parasamgateh bodhi svaha” (“It is thus: Proceed, proceed, proceed beyond, thoroughly proceed beyond, be founded in enlightenment”), he is telling his followers to proceed through the five paths:

gateh—the path of accumulation;
gateh—the path of preparation;
paragateh—the path of seeing;
parasamgateh—the path of meditation;
bodhi svaha—the path of no more learning.

“To follow the path requires enthusiasm and effort, but you need to understand the advantages of these qualities. Their opponents are, for example, laziness and low self-esteem. Until you understand that laziness is an obstacle, you won’t be motivated to overcome it.

“Reflecting on impermanence is helpful, as the early verses of Chapter 7 indicate. We are healthy and happy here now, but whether we will all meet again tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Should death come, fame and wealth, friends and family will be of no help. Our only support will be the positive imprints of the virtuous actions we’ve done.

“Today, there are 7 billion human beings in the world and most of them think only of material gain. Very few think about the inner world of the mind. Many of us who look to the Buddha for inspiration neglect to consider that whether we make progress in the path depends on whether we make the effort. We also tend to think of our opponents as outside us, whereas the real enemy is within. The second kind of laziness is attraction to wrong-doing, while the third is low self-esteem, defeatism, thinking, ‘I can’t really do it’. Coming to understand the equality of self and others generates enthusiasm for the path.

“So, having mounted the horse of the awakening mind
That dispels all discouragement and weariness,
Who, when they know of this mind that proceeds from joy to joy,
Would ever lapse into despondency?”

As he read on, His Holiness pointed out that verses 43 & 44 indicate the results of virtue and wrong-doing. He explained that the mention of Vajradhvaja relates to a chapter in the ‘Array of Stalks’ or Avatamsaka Sutra. Shantideva’s advice to dispel despondency is to recall the advice in the chapter on conscientiousness and then joyfully rise to the task.

Having completed his reading of Chapter 7, His Holiness went straight on to Chapter 8, which begins by discussing how to develop concentration and how to surmount what obstructs it. He read briskly up to verse 89 & 90 which is where instruction on developing the awakening mind of bodhichitta and meditating on the equality between self and others begins.

I should protect all beings as I do myself
Because we are all equal in (wanting) pleasure and (not wanting) pain.

The discussion of the advantages of developing and putting compassion into practice and the disadvantages of not doing so culminate at verse 104 with the question----‘But since this compassion will bring me much misery, why should I exert myself to develop it?’—The retort is, ‘Should you contemplate the suffering of living creatures, how could the misery of compassion be more?’

Highlighting the advice that if you’re selfish, you’ll never be happy, His Holiness noted the powerful impact of verse 130.

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.

Verse 140 begins an exercise in exchanging self and others involving reflection on envy, competitiveness and self importance. You are jealous of someone higher than you thinking---he’s honoured, but I am not. You are competitive and wish to excel someone who is your equal and look forward to humiliating someone inferior to you. From verse 155 the faults of self-cherishing are explained.

“The practice of exchanging self and others brings home to us the disadvantages of cherishing yourself instead of others. If you cherish others more than yourself in this life and the next, great benefits will accrue.”

His Holiness looked at his watch and announced, “It’s time for lunch. See you tomorrow.” Waving to the crowd as he left, he drove back to the Phodrang.

original link & photos: https://www.dalailama.com/news/2018/teachings-at-shewatsel

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Introduction to Systematic Theology: Why Knowing God & Solid Biblical Content is Especially Important in a Pagan Culture

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

Theology is applying the whole of the bible to the whole of life. For example, when we study God’s omnipotence, we will ask what does the entire bible say about it, and try to apply it.

My name is Mark Hunnemann and in 1973 I became a Christian, and it was quite a change. I immediately was introduced to JI Packer, John Stott, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, RC Sproul and other wonderful writers who had profound influence upon me…their theology and love for the Lord. Kept me from slipping back into old lifestyle.

I went to seminary and was a pastor for many years and had the honor of preaching the whole counsel of God. I am sitting because this is not church, and I am teaching—not preaching.. I invite you to fact check everything I say. I’ve written a book entitled Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes and working on a second one. I have been deeply involved in helping folks who are struggling with demonic oppression—passion of mine.

 We live a pagan culture in which mind-less experience is the key to spiritualty, but it leads to delusion and oppression. We and our children need as much biblical content as possible, and the most loving thing you can do as a parent and grandparent is to grow in your knowledge and love of God.
In a sense, every Christian is a theologian—for better or for worse—and the ‘for worse’  aspect is no small matter. The epistles and Jesus warn us that heresies are destructive attacks by wolves against God’s sheep; and wolves are not very kind to sheep. Therein lies my passion for this series. Gallop recently did a poll and it left me speechless—the amount of biblical theological ignorance amongst professing Christians is astonishingly high. Breaks my heart. And my passion is to take profound truth and make it understandable and catch on fire! So, I invite you on a journey of discovery together—to delve deeply into the meat of God’s Word. I believe there are many Christians hungering for solid meat and I want to do my humble part to help in that regard.

The bible says that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. The ideas that don’t just flit around our brains momentarily, but the ones that penetrate the heart, are the ideas that shape our lives. And ideas have legs. We are what we think. Sound theology is required for a godly life because we have to first know the truth before we can do the truth. So, no Christian can avoid theology. Some may strenuously deny it, but every Christian has a theology.  The issue is do we have a sound theology? Do we embrace true or false doctrine? You may be surprised to hear this but every wrong belief I embrace is sin due to not loving God with all of my mind.

Before giving a more concrete basis for studying theology let me address several common misconceptions or concerns—with brief replies.

1. First, does not Jesus teaching about embracing the Kingdom with child-like faith (Mark 10:15) imply a simple faith? Yes, but there is world of difference between child-like faith and child-ish faith. The latter is obstinate and refuses to bow before authority and settles for a diet of spiritual milk. The implicit trust of a child is something we never grow out of but we are to grow to into maturity—solid meat. 11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

2. Many Christians have developed an aversion to theology because of their distrust of theologians. I understand…and have experience first hand of the devastating effects of higher-critical methods of ‘scholarship’ which is just a mask for unbelief and often shoddy scholarship. Most seriously, they have vandalized God’s holy Word, and caused serious damage to people. Academia is filled with wolves who are unregenerate pagans who are intellectually arrogant. But please remember that we must not throw out the baby with the bath water; to reject theology is to commit spiritual suicide.

3. The false pietism of our day denigrates the mind. But the pattern in scripture is deep doctrine and then application. EG But we are told in Romans 12:1-2 to be transformed through the renewing of our minds. some emphasize a direct experience with the Holy Spirit, which bypasses the mind,

4. Theology breeds arguments and controversy. Yes, it does because truth implies error, and error must be confronted or we accommodate it by our silence. What kind of world do you want our grandkids to live in? Jesus’s life was a storm cloud of controversy, as was Paul's because truth matters. It is godless controversy we are to avoid, not godly controversy, which is needed. To avoid controversy is to avoid Christ. We are not to argue about non-important issues, and the THE mark of a Christian is love.

5. We have unconsciously been influenced by the relativization and subjectivism of the truth. The concept of truth has changed and this has belittled the importance of the content of truth and the intellect. One of the glories of our faith is that it is a system of coherent, rational truth. It is much more than a system of truth, but not less. We should rejoice in this in light of the content-less spirituality of pagan, New Age. One hand clapping may sound profound but it means nothing rational.  I recently did a video on the  “Cosmic Christ” and I chose this title carefully because I wanted to catch the attention of New Agers and I wanted to accent the cosmic dimension of the atonement-Christus victor. But it was mainly to show the CONTENT of the true Christ vs the myth of the pagan conception of Christ. I next want to do one entitled the Cosmic Christ and His alien, extra-terrestrial righteousness! Hehe  Actually, I am not kidding because the term ‘alien righteousness’ is a theological term for the righteousness of Christ which is extra-terrestrial—outside the earth, and reserved in heaven. See if I can work ET in the title too! His righteousness is imputed to us in justification.

Suppose someone says: why theology? All I need is to love to Jesus. First, which Jesus? (New Age, Jehovas Witness, etc.) Who is He and what did He do? What happened on the cross?  Second, ‘love’ can be defined and expressed in a thousand different ways. And Jesus Himself said: “teaching them ALL that I commanded you.”

Positive role of theology: just as we get to know a person better as we know more about them, so our knowledge of and love for God should grow as we study about His Person and work---in creation and redemption. For our soul to be inflamed with a passion for God then it first has to pass through our minds.  (CS Lewis quote)

I am at a point in life at age 62 where I wish to record the truths of God’s Word. Knowledge without devotion is cold, dead orthodoxy. But devotion without knowledge is irrational instability; one is left vulnerable to being undiscerning to the wiles of the devil…and I see people falling left and right. How can people believe in earthbound spirits? Recently a friend went back to being a witch. 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherdsc and teachers,d 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,e to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Avoid syncretism which is blending of non-Christian thought with bible. Solid theology helps avoid that..become discerning. Like eg of bank teller and counterfeit.

Growing in the knowledge of God is a great joy and honor. It is a delight to the soul. Takes effort and discipline, but this is a matter of life and death—even eternal life and death. And this series is designed, by God’s grace, to enable us to love Him more and be more effective in your witness to a lost and broken world. Dig in!

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

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Dalai Lama Gives Introductory Talk on Buddhism

Dharamsala, HP, India, 27 May 2015 - His Holiness the Dalai Lama was given a traditional Tibetan welcome when he arrived at the Upper Tibetan Children’s Village School this morning. A large group of female students sang a traditional welcoming song. As His Holiness walked from his car to the stage he greeted people in the crowd who caught his eye. Approximately 4500 students from Upper and Lower TCV Schools, Gopalpur, Suja and Chauntra TCVs, Sherab Gatsel Lobling, students at various universities and others currently attending a Teacher Training organized by the Education Department of the CTA, were seated under an awning on the Upper TCV basketball court.

Once His Holiness had taken his seat, several groups of lay-people performed exemplary debates directly in front of the stage discussing the three kinds of knowledge, the two methods for generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta, definitions of the Three Jewels, the Four Noble Truths and so forth.

“Today, people from a variety of places have gathered here to listen to an introduction to Buddhism,” His Holiness began. “This is the ninth occasion that we’ve done this and it looks like this might be the biggest yet. Students and teachers from different schools, my greetings to you all - Tashi delek. I’d especially like to greet those who have just debated in front of us and congratulate them for taking an interest in logic and philosophy.

“In Tibet in the past almost no one from the lay community or even from among the nuns engaged in debate. This was one of our shortcomings. In the 56 years we’ve been in exile, I’ve urged people, even those belonging to monasteries and nunneries that had no tradition of study to take it up. Phende Lekshe Ling, Namgyal Monastery, is an example. When it was established by the 7th Dalai Lama he asked the monks of Zhalu Monastery to give the monks of the new monastery training in performing rituals. Like those at Gyumey and Gyut√∂ Tantric Colleges, they were adept, but followed no course of study. That has changed. Similarly, study in the nunneries has succeeded to the point that we will shortly have nuns who have become Geshes or Geshemas.”

He said that the excellent Nalanda tradition had spread across the length and breadth of Tibet and yet the majority of the people did not properly appreciate it. It is a tradition that relies on investigation and analysis, not just scriptural quotation. He cited the Buddha’s advice to his followers not to accept what he taught at face value, but to test it the way a goldsmith satisfies himself of the value of gold.

His Holiness remarked that the psychology and philosophy explained in the Nalanda tradition are of great interest to contemporary scholars and scientists. They are sufficiently impressed to enquire whether its dialectical approach can be applied to other academic disciplines. He feels it can. He mentioned that while Buddhist traditions identify 49 or 51 emotions, the American psychologist Paul Ekman has done extensive research into facial expressions that enable him to identify 15.

When, 40 years ago, His Holiness was thinking of opening a conversation with modern scientists, a Western Buddhist friend cautioned him to be careful saying that science is the killer of religion. He considered this carefully and concluded that, as a tradition based on reason, Buddhism was not vulnerable to this threat. He went ahead and is confident that the results have been mutually beneficial. One result is that monks in the great monasteries re-established in South India now study science as part of their curriculum.

“When I reached Mussoorie in April 1959, most of you were not born. Now I’m in my 81st year and I will definitely not live for another 80 years, but judging by my present physical health I might live another 10 or 20 years. You Tibetans who are young today will have to shoulder the responsibility of preserving our religion and culture. Our brothers and sisters in Tibet are not free to do so. We who have such freedom should exercise it.

“Conditions in Tibet in the past were ripe for change,” His Holiness said. “In retrospect I can see that many things could have been done differently. The 13th Dalai Lama tried to strengthen links between different parts of Tibet because the country was politically fragmented. But what bound all Tibetans together was their Buddhist culture, their respect for and study of the Kangyur and Tengyur. This was also true of the Himalayan and Mongolian regions too.”

His Holiness pointed out that every one of the 7 billion human beings alive today wants to be happy. He clarified that the Bodhisattva ideal is not about abandoning our own happiness, but about giving priority to the happiness of others.

“However,” he asked, “how can you help others if you can’t help yourself? We pray that all beings be free from suffering, but for the prayer to be fulfilled we need to do something about it.”

Recalling his recent discussions with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who also visited TCV, he said that their conclusion was that we need to find happiness without violence, which is something everyone can try to do. He said that it’s clear that if humanity is happy, each of us as individuals will be happy too. He repeated that as human beings we are all responsible for each other; we all have the potential to be kind and affectionate. He also spoke about his commitment as a Buddhist monk to promoting harmony among the world’s religious traditions.

Finally, His Holiness spoke of his commitment to preserving the natural environment of Tibet, something of importance not only to Tibetans but also to maybe 1 billion other people in Asia who depend on the waters of rivers that rise in Tibet.

He also voiced his concern to preserve Tibetan culture, a culture of peace and non-violence, which can make a positive contribution in the wider world. He told the story of a former Tibetan official who had emigrated to the USA and was working cleaning vegetables in a university kitchen. His colleagues noticed that he was carefully rescuing worms and bugs he found on the vegetables, setting them aside and taking them outside to release them at the end of his shift. They asked what he was doing and he told them that Tibetans try not to kill small creatures, but to protect life wherever they can. Shortly afterwards he noticed that several of them were following his example. His Holiness concluded:

“I’ve done what I can to preserve Tibet’s ecology and its compassionate, non-violent culture. Now I’m passing this responsibility to you.”

He announced that he will give a further introduction to Buddhism tomorrow. He will also lead a ceremony for generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta and make time to answer students’ questions. The day after that, he will give an Avalokiteshvara empowerment.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Longevity Empowerment & Long-Life Offering for the Dalai Lama

Longevity Empowerment and Long-Life Offering

Sumur, Ladakh, J&K, India - For the third day in a row, His Holiness the Dalai Lama walked down from his quarters on top of Samstanling Monastery to the teaching ground below. In the monastery courtyard and again below the gate groups of people had gathered in hope of catching his attention. He smiled, waved and exchanged a few words with as many as he could. Similarly, when he reached the front of the stage above the teaching ground, his gaze took in the faces before him as he smiled and waved to the crowd. Once he had sat down, he began the preparatory procedures for the Longevity Empowerment he was going to give. In the meantime, the chant-master led the audience in chanting the mantra of Arya Tara.

When he was ready, His Holiness addressed the congregation. “Over the last few days I’ve met members of the public, inaugurated the Great Summer Debate and yesterday I gave teachings. So, today, by way of an auspicious conclusion, I’m going to give a Longevity Empowerment according to Wish-fulfilling Wheel of White Tara.

“Have a good heart and remember that things do not exist inherently. Try to transform adverse circumstances into positive opportunities. If you keep bodhichitta and the view of emptiness in mind, whatever you do will be beneficial.

“As I explained yesterday, the essence of the teaching of the Buddha is the practice of altruism. This is something all religions teach, but in the Buddhist approach it’s important to consider the altruistic action, agent and the beneficiary as lacking intrinsic existence. As we begin this Longevity Empowerment, set an intention to live a long life with a warm heart. Of course, this empowerment involves Tantra, but from a Sutrayana point of view our practice should focus on generating merit, which ultimately gives rise to the form body of a Buddha and accumulating wisdom that gives rise to the truth body.”

As part of the empowerment, His Holiness led the congregation in taking the bodhisattva vows. Once the ritual was complete, a ceremony of offerings and prayers for His Holiness’s long life began. It was led by the monks, but also involved local people who processed past His Holiness at key points, while others offered song and dance performances below the stage. Proceedings concluded with the recitation of the ‘Song of Immortality’, a prayer for His Holiness’s long life by his two tutors, the ‘Prayer to the Sixteen Arhats’, a ‘Prayer to Amitayus’ and so forth.

After returning to his quarters in the monastery, His Holiness had lunch with Ganden Trisur, Rizong Rinpoche and former Rajya Sabha Member, Thiksey Rinpoche. He is expected to return to Leh tomorrow.

original link & photos: https://www.dalailama.com/news/2018/longevity-empowerment-and-long-life-offering

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Historical Fall & It’s Radically Comprehensive Consequences

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

(Genesis 1-4)
After the Creation of the universe and  Adam and Eve, the Fall occurred. I will return next time to what it means to be made in God’s image. You know the story—which I insist occurred in space and time because the Bible does,—not some mythological fairy tale. Adam and Eve disobeyed the direct command of God. We have no idea of how long they remained in garden before being tempted and sinning I want to focus on the consequences of the Fall more than of the event itself.

1, This event occurred in real space/ time history as Adam and Eve were real people. Jesus affirmed Adam as historical as did prophets and apostles. Jesus is second man and last Adam, and just as his sin was imputed to us, so our sins are imputed to Jesus.

2. We do not speak nearly as often as we should of the reality and comprehensive extent of the effects of the Fall. We basically pay it lip service and let it go. It altered everything about the world—not just spiritually. The curse of the Fall has extended its tendrils into every nook and cranny of the universe, on macro and micro level. Indeed the very cosmos itself groans as a result of the their sin—Romans 8. But I maintain that your experience of the exterior world and your experience of your interior world (your own self, psyche) will remain largely mysterious and obtuse if you lose sight of the full ramifications of the Fall. Literally it bent everything. We live in a Fallen world friends. What does that mean? For one, it means that absolutely nothing is perfect; everything is imperfect. It has enormous explanatory power.

Frankly what we sometimes blame Satan for is simply due to living in a Fallen world. If we ever consciously or unconsciously set up and either/or between perfection or nothing, we always get nothing. Whether a perfect church, potential marriage partner, work environment, ect EVERYTHNG has been bent to some degree..and thorns and thistles of some kind are present.

Specifically, what are the consequences of the Fall?

1. Man was separated from God—origin of spiritual death. What was threatened in 2:17 became reality in 3:8. 9 in where we see them hiding from the very God who they used to walk with intimately. This was/is worst consequence bc in Romans 5 and elsewhere we see that Adams sin, as the federal head of human race, was imputed to all of his posterity. Since the Fall, all people enter this world united with Adam and are spiritually dead. Spiritual zombies—biologically alive and spiritually dead. Eph 2:1 Find salvation as it speaks of in protoevngelion. 3:15. We need to speak more of the nature of this sin—how it was imputed to us, and the radical corruption that ensued. and its affect on us spiritually and well do that soon.

2. Physical death—2:17, 3”19 Instead of killing them immediately as God said and they desrved, he graciously extended their lives. Yet this explains the origin of human death…as well as suffering, disease…

We must remember that death is abnormal. Not as most people think today—death is an unfortunate but inevitable fact of life. There is a discontinuity between the world as God created it and the world we live in now. This is tremendously important bc of how it explains the origin of death and how God and can be good in the case of death and suffering. Let me use a story from Albert Camus, the French Existentialist, to illustrate this issue—The Plague. There was a priest who lived in a village. One day a terrible plague broke out. There was enormous suffering and death. The priest felt and agonizing dilemma bc since God made the world as it is, then if he helped those who were suffering, then He would be fighting against God. But if obeyed God by letting God’s nature run its course, then he would be obeying God but betraying his beloved villagers who needed him, who were suffering. He ended up helping them…

Do you feel the dilemma? If this world in all its death and suffering is normal, if it is as God made it, then we have no basis for fighting against it…and we have no way of explaining how God can be good in light of this awful suffering we experience. But the Fall gives us a titanic answer! It explains that the world we live in is abnormal; death is abnormal. Jesus could weep and express anger, as Greek shows, when he confronted the death of his friend Lazarus. Death is the violent disruption of the vibrant flow of life—the ripping asunder what God had joined together—the soul and body. So, the Fall gives us an explanation for the problem of evil.  The original creation was deathless and perfect but we messed it up.

What about God’s knowledge of the Fall prior to it? Well, I have to stop there, all I can do is deal with the reality we all live in and not jump into abstractions.

3. Man was separated from himself-origin of psychological problems. Do you really think that perfect humans had deep psychological issues? 3:7,10 Prior to Fall they were naked and unashamed but after they were naked and ashamed. Nakedness in the bible is a profound motif which expresses how the entry of sin introduced shame and guilt feelings. Since the Fall, everyone born (not Jesus) was born with cracks in their psyches. We all have psychological issues—some worse than others. We can be unintentionally cruel to people, like Jobs counselors, if we try to attribute all emotional/psychological issues with demonic. Some deliverance ministers need a refresher course on the comprehensive effects of the Fall so that they will not be trying to toss out a demon which is simply caused by imbalance in brain chemistry. I do not know about you, but not a day goes by that I am not acutely aware of my psychological brokenness—some inherited and some caused by life’s battering ram. All of us, without exception, have broken places but we have become so accustomed to them that we think they are normal. Or, the circles we hang out in may look down on us for not being 'victorious'.

I don’t have time to develop this but the gospel can bring substantial healing to some psychological issues—especially guilt feelings. Justification deals directly with forgiving our guilt before God…and the guilty feelings that ensue. There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Rom. 8:1

4. Man separated from other men—origin of sociological problems or mans inhumanity to man, See Adam accusing Eve…3:12…and Cain killing Abel.4:8 God’s very good creation in 1:31 has degenerated terribly due to Fall. The lovely fields of Edenic Paradise have turned into killing fields.

5. Man separated from nature—origin of environmental problems, and fear. 3:17ff. The original cultural mandate has been abused and we’ve raped creation. And instead of the animals coming to Adam to be named they now have instinct to flee from us…sad.

6. Nature separated from nature-origin of violence and decay in creation.1:29, 30—Romans 8. Nature is red in tooth and claw. Carniverous activity…survival of the strongest.

7. Man separated from evil angels and conflict between folowers of Christ and Satan—spiruatal warfare  3:15.
Note how comprehsnsive these effects are. Do you see that now? And how life and this world is inexplicable apart from accurate understanding of the Fall.

We usually focus on Adams sin and how it effects us spiritually and that is primary. It is what plunged us into radical ruin…spiritual death.
It has enormous explanatory power.
Man separated from God-origin of spiritual problems, spiritul death
Origin of physical death, disease
Man separated from others--origin of relational confict and violence
Man separated from himself—origin psychological problems
Man separated from nature—origin of pollution, and fear between us and animals
Separation of nature from nature—origin of violence in nature.

Do you see how the Fall sheds so much light on us as well the world we live in? Let us recapture a deeper understanding of the reality and effects of the Fall—and how that accents the beauty of the cosmic scope of Christ’s redemption.

The goal of the drama of redemption is to not just restore pristine glory of Eden, but much further…Paradise will be here on earth. A renewed heaven and earth. Rev. 21, 22

Still, very very lovely. Not just as proof of existence of God but it is beautiful.

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

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Dalai Lama Makes Pilgrimage to Ladakh

Pilgrimage to Leh Jokhang
July 4, 2018

Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India - Following his arrival in Ladakh yesterday, His Holiness the Dalai Lama began the day today with a pilgrimage to the Leh Jokhang. Smiling people lined the streets to greet him as he approached the city of Leh. He was welcomed on arrival at the Jokhang by Tsewang Thinles, President of the Ladakh Buddhist Association and his staff. Led by monks playing horns, they escorted His Holiness to the temple while traditional Ladakhi musicians played in the temple yard.

Once inside the temple, which was packed with local people, monks and nuns, as well as laymen and women, His Holiness paid his respects before the statues of Manjushri, Thousand Armed Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha and Guru Padmasambhava. He warmly greeted Ganden Trisur, Rizong Rinpoche, Thiksey Rinpoche and other Lamas before taking his seat facing the statue of the Buddha that emulates the Lhasa Jowo.

In his introductory speech Tsewang Thinles saluted His Holiness and other eminent Lamas. He reported that, taking His Holiness’s guidance to heart, the Ladakh Buddhist Association has decided to transform the Jokhang into a centre of learning. They are providing opportunities for people to improve their command of literary Tibetan and study Buddhist teachings with the aim of becoming 21st century Buddhists—people whose faith is based on a sound understanding.

His Holiness began his remarks with the closing and opening verses of homage from Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’:

I prostrate to Gautama
Who, through compassion,
Taught the exalted Dharma,
Which leads to the relinquishing of all views.

I prostrate to the perfect Buddha,
The best of all teachers, who taught that
That which is dependent origination is
Without cessation, without arising;
Without annihilation, without permanence;
Without coming; without going;
Without distinction, without identity
And peaceful - free from fabrications.

“There have been many founding teachers of religious traditions, Mahavira, Jesus Christ and Muhammad for example, who have conveyed a common message of love, compassion and tolerance. It’s on this basis that in India there is respect for all religious traditions. Inter-religious harmony has been strong here for more than 3000 years. And yet sadly elsewhere today, we see people fighting and killing each other in the name of religion.

“In terms of philosophical views, the Buddha taught how to overcome ignorance; how to eliminate the misconceptions we have about reality. In explaining dependent origination he showed that things exist in dependence on other factors. This unique point of view is today admired even by scientists.”

His Holiness reminded his listeners that Buddhism consists of the Pali and Sanskrit traditions and that the Pali tradition focuses on the explanation of the Four Noble Truths, the Vinaya and so forth. Meanwhile, the core of the Sanskrit tradition is the Perfection of Wisdom teachings that were given on Vulture’s Peak and which emphasize emptiness of intrinsic existence. In elaborating on these teachings Nagarjuna clarified dependent origination, declaring that since there is nothing that is not dependent, there is nothing that is not empty.

“I received the ‘Six Treatises on Reason’ by Nagarjuna, as well as several from his Collection of Praises, such as the ‘Praise for the Awakening Mind of Bodhichitta’, from Geshe Rigzin Tempa,” His Holiness acknowledged. “Besides these I have received several transmissions and explanations of rare texts from Khunu Lama Rinpoche and Ganden Trisur, Rizong Rinpoche.

“I remember when I was young in Lhasa seeing people in white chubas wearing boots that turned up at the toe who were clearly not well off. They came from the Himalayan Regions and Tibetans were inclined to look down on them. However, these three great masters, who have been kind teachers to me, came from among such people.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have a rich collection of literature, the Kangyur and Tengyur, more than 100 volumes of the translated words of the Buddha and more than 200 volumes of works of subsequent, mostly Indian, masters. As a follower of the Buddha, a monk, rather than just reciting the verses of refuge, it is thinking critically about works such as the ‘Five Treatises of Maitreya’ and Nagarjuna’s ‘Six Treatises on Reason’ that has had a transformative impact on my mind. When we critically appraise such texts, we use a logical approach that derives from Dignaga and Dharmakirti, which is a profound means of gaining insight.

“The Buddha himself advised his followers not to accept what he taught at face value, but to examine it, much as a goldsmith tests gold, and accept it only after rigorous investigation has shown it to be logical and of benefit. Therefore, it’s very good that you have announced your intention to make this Jokhang and other temples and monasteries centres of learning.”

The temple was filled with applause.

“The reasoned Nalanda Tradition is now only preserved among Tibetan and Himalayan Buddhists. Today, I’m talking about reviving ancient Indian wisdom in India. The Principal of the Government College in Dharamsala has spoken to me about taking the initiative to do this in an academic way. The other day at the launch of a ‘Happiness Curriculum’ by the Government of Delhi I talked about the need to combine modern education with insight and understanding derived from ancient India. I also had the chance to discuss with Abbots from Drepung and Sera how scholars from our great monastic universities can share this knowledge with Indian educators. In March, I was able to discuss this option with 150 Vice-Chancellors of Indian universities. You Ladakhis can take part too.

“We all follow the Mahayana, the Sanskrit Tradition. The explicit content of the Perfection of Wisdom teachings at its heart were explained by Nagarjuna in his ‘Six Treatises on Reason’. The implicit content was explained in Maitreya’s ‘Ornament for Clear Realization’. What this entails is cultivating an understanding of emptiness and the altruistic awakening mind of bodhichitta.”

His Holiness explained that just as we train children to be physically fit, teaching them about exercise, diet and hygiene, we also need to teach them how to be mentally fit by training the mind and learning to tackle destructive emotions. He recommended that we all try to understand what disturbs our peace of mind and what brings calm, but stressed that it can be learned not in a religious but an academic context. He further suggested that once India responds to this initiative, China will take interest too. Once that happens 2.5 billion people could be involved, which would be of significance for the world. This, he declared, would be using knowledge preserved in the Nalanda Tradition in a secular way for universal benefit.

“The world today is facing a serious crisis of emotions. People think destructive emotions are a natural part of the mind. Advice from ancient Indian psychology can show us they are not and that we can tackle and eliminate them. We need to ask ourselves how to find happiness—it’s not in money and power. As I mentioned before, we need to discover not only what disturbs our minds, but also what the antidotes to those factors are.

“As Buddhists we regularly pray to attain enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. However, the fact is that it is the human beings on this earth with whom we can communicate and share this understanding. It involves logic and reason. Suicide rates are increasing in a highly developed country like Japan. Even here in Ladakh I hear incidents of suicide are growing, perhaps as a result of jealousy and competitiveness. Something has to be done. We need to call on ancient Indian psychology in a secular way, relying on our common sense, common experience and scientific findings. And that’s all for today.”

Stopping to interact playfully with members of the crowd, old people and young children, His Holiness made his way out of the temple to his car. He then drove from Leh back to the Shewatsel Phodrang for lunch.

original link & photos: https://www.dalailama.com/news/2018/pilgrimage-to-leh-jokhang

Friday, July 6, 2018

Discovering God’s Will/s for your Life

By Revereand Mark Hunnemann

I can remember it vividly. I was looking at a chart (back in ‘70’s) which had a diagram of how to follow God’s ‘perfect will’ for my life—major, marriage partner, vocation, where to live, every detail of life. More than one para-church organizations used this approach with zest. Then the anxiety set in: what happens if I blow it? Am I consigned for God’s second best for the rest of my life? Such was my introduction to ‘God’s Will.’ But  I have grown a bit (older and waist size) since then and realized that there is more than one will of God, and what had been taught as ‘gospel’ regarding the perfect will of God would itself come under intense scrutiny. A book was published which finally brought some sanity to the situation, but it sure stirred up a hornets nest!

I hope this discussion, coming on the heels of our dealing with God’s sovereign decrees, will maximally benefit and edify you. I have seen that there are at least three ‘wills of God’ in the Word of God. God’s sovereign/decretive will, preceptive will, and His will of wisdom. Perhaps that we experience different kinds of wills, desires and pleasures ourselves are analogous. Theologians distinguish between God’s antecedent and consequent will but that does not serve our purpose, and His affective will.

God’s sovereign will, or decretive will (decrees) is His eternal purposes by which God foreordains everything that comes to pass. This focuses on His Lordship attribute of control, where His preceptive will accents His attribute of authority. For the most part, God’s decretive will is hidden (Deut, 29:29) until it happens. 1.20As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many peopleb should be kept alive, as they are today. 21So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Gen. 50:20) I included the next verse because this ‘will’ reminds us that God is our final situation/environment because he decrees all that happens to us (Rom. 8:28), and this helped Joseph to not be bitter and to calm his brothers fears. We can learn from this.

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.(Matt. 11:25-27) (Ps. 51:18; 115:3; Is. 46:10; Jer. 49:20; 50:45; Dan 4:17; Acts 2:32; Rom 9:18-19; Eph 1:11; James 1:18; Rev 4:11)

These two verses explicitly refer to God’s decretive will, as well as the cited texts) Since we spent an entire segment last time on God’s decretive will I think we can leave it at that. Except to compare it briefly later. It just helps us to see that there are more than one will of God, though they are united in His mind.

2.21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven (Matt. 7:21)
7 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Eph. 5:17) b
2 Do not be conformed to this world,c but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.d    (Rom. 12:2)
34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. (John 4:34)

3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification:b that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4that each one of you know how to control his own bodyc in holiness and honor, (1 Thess. 4:3-4)

16 Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. (1 Thess. 5:16-19)

We see in these texts, which could be multiplied many fold, reveal the purpose of God’s preceptive will—God’s words on how to live in a way pleasing to Him. And as we have noted, God’s sovereign will can never be broken, but God’s preceptive or moral will is broken all the time.
We are to meditate on God’s moral law (Ps. 1) and the entire 119th psalm is an eloquent appeal to obey to God’s glorious and lovely moral law. As we noted, God’s decretive will accents His control, and His moral law His authority. He has the right to elicit absolute obligation and obedience from His creatures, and especially those creatures whom he has ransomed. God’s preceptive will is His revealed law or commandments, which we have the power but not the right to break. If we are seeking God’s will, this is primarily it.

We see from the language of the preceptive texts above that their purpose is to show us God’s will for our lives. As a rule, God’s moral law is what we are to seek as God’s will. What is God’s will for you at any given moment? Love Him with all your being; be filled with the Spirit; flee from idolatry and sexual sin; all the 1,050 commands in New Testament in addition to moral law of Old Testament. If we obey His moral law, then 90 % of our guidance problems are solved.

3. However, speaking as a retired pastor, what if someone asks: “How can I find God’s will for my life regarding this job, marriage (fill in blank)?” It seems to me that it would unkind of me to speak in terms of God’s decree: ‘Whatever happens is God’s will for you.” And to speak preceptively, may miss his point entirely. He wants specific guidance regarding a specific issue: who to marry, if to marry, which vocation to choose, what city to move to, etc? Hard to find moral laws explicitly pertaining to those, except, for example, marry only a Christian.

We spoke of the sufficiency of God’s Word but there are situations where folks need help in applying that Word. Only Scripture can provide conscience binding norms for decision making but there are ways of seeking wisdom. Indeed Proverbs and James speak of wisdom relating to decision making. (James 1:5) The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7). Seeking wisdom given by the Holy Spirit, we can apply the precepts of the Lord to life. The notion that the will of God is ONLY ONE COURSE OF ACTION, as I was taught (God’s perfect will) causes confusion and anxiety. If I have a choice to move to Chicago or Atlanta, the reality is that either possibility may be equally acceptable to God. If our motives are right and no moral law is broken in moving to either city, then we can assume that either decision is within the will of God.

But we can refine our wisdom decision further. Though nothing obvious is against God’s moral law in moving to Chicago, after prayer and meditating, it becomes apparent that my ‘motivated abilities’ in work would be better tapped into an Atlanta job—then I should pursue it. Or, knowing myself, Atlanta would present some overwhelming temptation situations, then I should consider Chicago. These pluses and minuses need to be weighed. And all along bathed in prayer….seeking the Lord.

According to Proverbs, wisdom is often found via intelligence, prayer, skills, feelings, imagination, understanding circumstances and other people, self knowledge, and possible consequences of an action. Scripture wants us to make decisions as wisely as possible. If it is clear that analyzing the pluses and minuses yields a clear result, then we can assume that is God’s moral will. God’s preceptive will includes primarily the Word of God itself but also ‘good and necessary consequences’ of Scripture. If something can be clearly deduced from the Word of God, then it is the Word of God in application (must be careful here, WCF 1:6—see below). Chapter 1: Of The Holy Scriptures, Section 6: VI. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture:

But if after doing a prayerful weighing of pros and cons, and both are equally wise, then either decision is within the will of God—contrary to the ‘perfect will of God’ notion, which has caused much anxiety and constant worry: did that one wrong turn consign me God’s Plan B for the rest of my life? That is awful and yet it reigned supreme for a long time as THE paradigm for discerning Gods will. I remember the brouhaha that ensued when a book was written that challenged it and thoroughly demolished the notion as contrary to God’s Word and harmful.

Let us summarize this discussion by seeing the connection of the various decrees and how it leads to wise decision making. God guides us through His decrees, His written Word/preceptive will, and Spirit given wisdom.

By God’s sovereign decrees He opens and closes doors—presenting some options and preventing others. If a house is sold then it is not for you. If a person is 3,000 miles away, then they are not for you as a potential marriage partner! Second, by His preceptive will He shows us how to respond to these circumstances. If a job requires you to work 90 hours a week, and wreck relationships, then it is not good/moral. Lastly, Spirit given wisdom through prayer enables us to apply the Word of God and other important factors (e.g. how close do you want to be to your aging mother?) to our circumstances.

I think it is this process that Paul has in mind in Romans 12:1-2 and Eph. 5:10 where we grow in maturity by reading God’s Word and constantly and prayerfully applying it to our lives. The more we read the better we can apply God’s Word, and the more we apply the Word, the better we understand God’s Word, and this leads to deeper understanding of application/circumstances, etc. The hermeneutical circle I mentioned before.

Again, when we make unwise decisions, we have not missed out forever on God’s will for our lives. After we have made an unwise decision, we should turn to God’s wisdom again, confident that we will be led in the path of blessing.

These three categories: decree, precept, and wisdom, are perspectivally related. God decrees to act according to His precepts and wisdom. His precepts includes bowing before God’s sovereign decrees and seeking wisdom. And His wisdom is displayed both in His decrees and in His Word.

May I quickly apply this to singles seeking to be married. Some would tell this to  singles: trust solely in the Lord, and when you give that desire over to  God, then He will bring the perfect man of His choice (applying this now to women). Usually some person will testify that they, too, wanted to get married but once they ‘gave that urge up to God’, then God brought a husband to her. Just pray, surrender your urges and He will bring the man of His choice your way.

First, it was in the perfect garden when GOD uttered the first malediction—it was not good for man to be alone. Here is perfect Adam with deep longing for suitable companion and God did not tell him that when he ‘gets over it’, then I will provide for you. No, it is a God-given desire…not to be sublimated. It is one thing to surrender the desire to God and wait assertively (see below), but it is quite another to imply you need to basically deny the very urge God implanted within us—mirroring Trinity. Bring that urge to God and honestly acknowledge it before Him as psalmist expressed his honest emotions.

Second, this is changing, but many Christian women still think they have to be entirely passive in their search for a husband. Would you be passive in a search for a job? Then why be passive here? It is okay to visit churches to worship AND to seek suitable singles ministries/people. I led a singles bible study years ago, and I knew that a big motive was to meet others, and that was fine with me. We could learn God’s Word and folks meet too. Numerous marriages came out of the bible study! Dating sites are a possibility.

Third, perhaps most controversial, I do not know if God has the ‘man of His perfect choice’ for you. I am certain there are no perfect men or women! We live in fallen world, and if you ever say: perfect marriage or none, then you will always get none.But I am convinced that if you follow principles above, then there are possibly numerous different guys/gals you could marry happily, if you are both walking in the Spirit. And it would be within God’s will for you to marry either Jim or Bob (or Jill or Lisa), if they both know the Lord, and everything else being equal—using wisdom regarding compatibility. Perhaps I should have done separate blog on this subject but these are the basic principles of wisdom. I’ll stop there but I hope this helped in your understanding and discerning God’s will for you.

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

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Dalai Lama on Happiness

Launch of Happiness Curriculum for Delhi Schools

New Delhi, India - To start the day, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave an interview to Adriaan van Dis for Dutch television in connection with his prospective visit to the Netherlands in September. Van Dis opened by asking if His Holiness is ever angry and he told him that occasionally he is, but it doesn’t last. They talked about other people who may be angry and the gap between rich and poor. His Holiness remarked that historically the wealthy upper classes have exploited the poor, who, even when they enjoy equal rights, find it difficult to build self-confidence.

Van Dis mentioned the anger expressed by young Tibetan writers he’s read. His Holiness explained that Tibet is not only physically occupied, but also that hardliners among Chinese officials view any distinguishing Tibetan quality, such as Tibetan culture and language, as an expression of separatism. Consequently, study of Buddhism and Tibetan is restricted.

“There are also some who are angry with me because since 1974 I haven’t campaigned for independence. In terms of physical development we can benefit from remaining with the People’s Republic of China, but we must be able to preserve our language and culture and protect the natural environment of our homeland. This last point is not only a matter of interest to Tibetans since Asia’s major rivers rise on the Tibetan plateau and more than a billion people depend on their waters.”

The conversation turned to scientific interest in the mind and the brain.

“We have two kinds of emotion,” His Holiness explained, “those that are destructive, like anger and jealousy, which destroy our peace of mind and damage our health. But we also have other constructive emotions, like compassion, that bring us inner strength.”

Asked how we get rid of negative emotions, His Holiness replied, “Analyse them. Develop a general understanding of our system of emotions, how self-centredness and anxiety give rise to anger, for example. People need a better understanding of how things really are, the role of mental projection and the need for secular ethics.”

In connection with his own reincarnation His Holiness conceded that there have been no recognised reincarnations of the Buddha or Nagarjuna. He suggested that in some cases the system is enmeshed in feudal practices in which a Lama’s attendants are more concerned with their continuing to enjoy his property and privilege. He reiterated that as early as 1969 he made it clear that whether or not there is a 15th Dalai Lama will depend on the Tibetan people. He noted that there will be a meeting of Tibetan religious leaders to discuss the question again towards the end of the year. He pointed out that one option that has been followed in some cases is for a candidate for successor to be nominated before the predecessor has died. His Holiness also expressed approval of the way a Pope is elected from among qualified individuals.

Recommending how to create a better world, His Holiness declared that a key factor was a more general recognition of the oneness of humanity—understanding that the 7 billion human beings alive today really are brothers and sisters.

A short drive across South Delhi brought His Holiness to the Tyagaraj Stadium where more than 5000 principals and teachers from Delhi’s public schools awaited the launch of a newly configured ‘Happiness Curriculum’. He was welcomed by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and escorted into the building, where they were soon joined by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Warm applause greeted all of them when they entered the hall and took to the stage.

Once brief introductions had been made, His Holiness and his hosts were requested to light a traditional lamp indicative of the way the light of wisdom overcomes the darkness of ignorance. A group of music teachers sang a welcome song they had composed themselves and students presented potted plants to each of the dignitaries.

In his address, Mr Sisodia thanked His Holiness for the inspiration to draw up the ‘Happiness Curriculum’. He said that after improving infrastructure and curtailing the clerical work expected of teachers, he and his colleagues had wanted to ensure better education by helping students to be happier. He cited His Holiness’s advice that India is uniquely placed to combine modern education with ancient knowledge of how to tackle negative emotions. The new ‘Happiness Curriculum’ will involve periods of meditation, mindfulness and training in universal human values. He told His Holiness that teachers were excited to be able to listen to what he had to say. He mentioned one teacher who today decided to come to listen to him rather than sit an exam required for promotion.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal criticized the system of education left by the British as just preparation for the passing of exams. He said that what he wanted to do was to educate students so they would be capable of taking the country forward. On that basis, he added, the Delhi Government has doubled the education budget.

He described the new curriculum as a firm step towards shaping better, happier  human beings with improved values.

Mr Kejriwal declared that there was no better person to inaugurate the ‘Happiness Curriculum’ than His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He thanked him personally for accepting the Delhi Government’s invitation. He, Sisodia and His Holiness each unwrapped a packet given to them and formally released the books related to the project.

Objectives of the new program include developing self-awareness and mindfulness in students; inculcating critical thinking; enhancing communications skills; encouraging greater empathy with others; helping students learn to deal with stress; and developing a greater sense of social awareness and human values.

In response to requests to speak, His Holiness approached the podium and began by greeting all present. “My dear respected friends the Delhi Chief Minister and his Deputy, elder brothers and sisters, as well as younger brothers and sisters, I feel this is a really meaningful occasion. I appreciate the efforts you have made and I am truly honoured that you invited me to come today. I’m convinced that it is possible to combine what’s good in modern education with ancient Indian knowledge.

“I myself am a student of ancient Indian thought. In the 8th century, despite longstanding relations with the Chinese, the Tibetan Emperor chose to develop Tibetan writing on the basis of the Indian Devanagari script. He also chose to invite qualified teachers of Buddhism from India---Shantarakshita, a pure monk, a great scholar, a philosopher and logician and his student Kamalashila came from Nalanda and established Buddhism in Tibet. These masters’ approach to study was characterized by scepticism and the use of reason. It’s a system involving 30 years of study.

“I learned to study this way too and, although I was lazy and reluctant when I was young, later I came to appreciate how useful it is. One Tibetan scholar mentioned that although it was known as the Land of Snow, until the light of knowledge came from India, Tibet was dark.

“We Tibetans think of ourselves not only as chelas or disciples of Indian gurus, but as reliable chelas because we have kept what we learned alive for more than 1000 years.

“I’ve observed that many of the problems we face are our own creation. We are afflicted by anger, hatred, jealousy and suspicion and yet modern education has little to offer in terms of achieving peace of mind. It is oriented towards material goals. Wherever I go I draw attention to the inadequacy of modern education and its failure to foster inner values. I point out that just we teach about physical hygiene, we also need to cultivate emotional hygiene, since as well as being physically fit, we need to be mentally fit too.

“The ancient Indian practices for cultivating a calmly abiding mind (shamatha) and insight (vipashyana) gave rise to a deep and subtle understanding of the workings of the mind. In addition, ancient Indian knowledge encouraged compassion and non-violence (karuna and ahimsa). These are the basis of India’s remarkable sense of religious pluralism, with many religious traditions living together in harmony—demonstrating vividly that it is possible to do so.

“The purpose of our lives is to be happy. We constantly live in hope. Pleasure based on sensory experience is short-lived, whereas the ultimate source of lasting happiness is in the mind.

“Although accounts of this and ways to tackle our destructive emotions are laid out in Buddhist texts, there is no reason why we can’t extract that knowledge and examine it in a secular academic way. Methods for tackling our destructive emotions are very relevant in today’s world. They don’t involve temples, rituals or prayers, but a rational education on a secular basis.

“Once this country has developed a more integrated education system, incorporating what is best from modern and ancient sources, I believe China will take an interest too. This could involve more than 2.5 billion people and have a far-reaching impact across the world. In this context the efforts you are making here in India’s capital take on greater significance.”

In his replies to questions from the audience His Holiness agreed that being well-off does not guarantee you’ll be happy. He mentioned an American Vice-Chancellor who was well paid and had a good reputation and yet stress and anxiety left him unhappy. By way of contrast His Holiness mentioned a Christian monk he met in Spain who had spent five years in seclusion as a hermit meditating on love. He had only the most basic facilities and yet the sparkle in his eyes revealed his experience of genuine happiness.

Finally, asked what enlightenment is and how to achieve it, His Holiness clarified that it is accomplished less by prayer than by training the mind. By study and contemplation day by day it’s possible to overcome ignorance. Combining that with altruism, it’s possible to make a start on the path to enlightenment.

As the event came to a close, His Holiness was presented with a portrait executed by an art teacher. He offered auspicious emblems and white scarves to the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister. Following a vote of thanks by the Education Secretary, everyone stood for the national anthem. His Holiness then enjoyed lunch with the Chief Minister and members of his cabinet, after which Chief Minister Kejriwal and Dy CM Sisodia walked with him to his car to see him off.

original link & photos: https://www.dalailama.com/news/2018/launch-of-happiness-curriculum-for-delhi-schools