Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Dalai Lama on Happiness & Responsibility

Happiness and Responsibility
September 20, 2018

Zurich, Switzerland - This morning, leaving the tranquillity of Darmstadt, where the bicycle is a favoured mode of transport, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was driven rapidly to Heidelberg. Reaching this picturesque city on the River Neckar he was taken directly to the City Hall where he was received by Mayor Wolfgang Erichson. After greeting well-wishers gathered on the pavement, His Holiness turned to wave to people watching from surrounding windows.

Inside City Hall His Holiness was given an official welcome and invited to sign the Golden Book inscribed by honoured visitors to the city. This was followed by an exchange of gifts. As His Holiness entered the auditorium and took the stage he received warm applause from the 1500 people in the audience.

In his welcoming speech Mayor Wolfgang Erichson extolled the virtues of the beautiful city of Heidelberg. The University of Heidelberg attracts an open-minded student body and is among the 50 top universities in the world. People from 160 nations live in the city, which sees diversity not as a threat but an asset. The Mayor noted that it is possible to learn how cultivate and achieve happiness and he was pleased to report that at least one pioneering school in the city is teaching just that.

During a short musical interlude a wind and string quintet played a delightful piece by Mozart.

Director of the German American Institute, Jakob Kollhofer told His Holiness it was a great honour to welcome him to Heidelberg, describing him as living reminder of peace and compassion, known for his warm smile. He observed that His Holiness has been a refugee for 60 years during which time his appearance and conduct have been consistent. Welcoming him to a festival of science in what has come to be known as a city of science, Kollhofer invited His Holiness to share his thoughts about happiness and responsibility.

“Good morning, dear brothers and sisters. I make a point of clarifying that the 7 billion human beings living on this planet today are emotionally, mentally and physically the same. We all want to live a happy life and don’t want to suffer. We have a marvellous brain which is very helpful when it comes to analysing and investigating reality. Our intelligence can bring us peace of mind, or it can destroy it. Using our intelligence to understand moral principles we can learn to cultivate warm-heartedness and infinite altruism.

“As scientists have discovered, basic human nature is compassionate. Our mother gave birth to us, then cared for us with maximum affection. If she’d neglected us instead, we would likely have died.

“Anger and fear undermine our immune system, while warm-heartedness brings peace of mind. Therefore, just as we teach children to comply with physical hygiene for the good of their health, we should also counsel them in a kind of hygiene of the emotions. If they are to be both physically and mentally fit, they need to know how to tackle negative emotions and maintain their peace of mind. And to tackle the emotions it’s useful to have something like a map of the emotions, a map of the mind.

“This is something we can learn from research conducted in ancient India through meditative practices to cultivate single-pointed concentration and analysis. The Buddha practised both, and although these practices are described in religious literature, they can be examined and employed in an academic context.

“I am a student of such ancient Indian knowledge as preserved in the Nalanda Tradition, which relies on reason and logic. The great Nalanda scholar Shantarakshita, who was invited to Tibet by the Emperor in the 8th century, established a mode of Buddhist training and practice in which reason and logic play an integral part.

“After I came to India I had opportunities to meet and hold discussions with scientists. I was inspired by the Buddha’s advice not to accept what he taught on the basis of faith alone, but to test and investigate it through reason. Consequently, the dialogue I’ve been conducting with scientists for more than thirty years has been mutually beneficial.”

Kollhofer introduced three scientists to take part in discussions with His Holiness this morning—neurobiologist Dr Hannah Monyer, gerontologist Dr Andreas Kruse, and astrophysicist Dr Matthias Bartelman.

Dr Monyer raised something she sees as a problem. “You emphasise that we are social animals and we are, but we are not so different from rats. Like them human beings naturally prefer to help members of their close family rather than others.”

“We are intelligent,” His Holiness replied, “we have seed of compassion from birth. Using reason and intelligence we can enhance our sense of compassion and come to understand how its opposite, anger, is harmful. Our biological compassionate instincts tend to be coloured by attachment. Such a biased attitude cannot be transformed into great compassion. That’s why we first develop equanimity. We can learn to extend loving kindness to the whole of humanity.

“One thing that needs to be clearly understood is that both compassion and anger are part of the mind, they belong to our mental consciousness. Some consciousnesses depend on our sense organs. In the dream state, the sense organs are dormant. In deep sleep, consciousness is subtler, while the subtlest consciousness manifests at the time of death, unrelated to the brain.”

“That’s a dualistic view,” was Dr Monyer’s response.

“In the early 20th century scientists considered consciousness was entirely dependent on the brain,” reported His Holiness. By the end of the century, neuroplasticity showed that changes in the brain could be attributed to changes in consciousness.”

Dr Matthias Bartelman asked if humility was important in the study of science. His Holiness answered “Yes”, and went on to discuss how we are all dependent on others; we depend on the community in which we live.

Gerontologist Dr Andreas Kruse told His Holiness he had three questions for him. “Do you think that the link between happiness and responsibility is meaning. His Holiness retorted that this sounded like a philosophical question like ‘why are we here?’ he said the religious answer would either be because it’s God’s will or because of karma.

Dr Kruse reported findings that older people derive meaning from being able to take care of younger members of the family. However, when they suffer degenerative conditions, such as dementia, they are excluded from such activities and younger people feel a responsibility to take care of them. Dr Kruse raised the notion of ‘border situations’ first mooted by Karl Jaspers a German-Swiss psychiatrist and philosopher educated at Heidelberg.

His Holiness retorted that it seemed to be a complicated philosophical observation. Everything is relative; nothing has independent existence. He cited the example of time. “Does time exist? Where is the present when it is always moving on?”

Answering questions from the public His Holiness touched on the need to ensure that the 21st century does not repeat the experience of the 20th century, which was overwhelmingly violent. The 21st century should be an era of dialogue. Problems should be solved by talking them over, not through the use of force.

Challenged to say why he had not intervened in the Rohingya crisis in Burma, he replied that he is an outsider to that conflict. He reported having spoken and written to Aung San Suu Kyi, who could have done more. He counselled Burmese Buddhists when moved by anger to recall the face of the Buddha.

Kollhofer brought the session to an end telling His Holiness that everyone listening had been inspired by what he told them. He thanked him once again for coming to Heidelberg. His Holiness responded, “To bring about a happier, more peaceful world, we have to start on an individual level. Change begins with individuals and spreads out into the community.”

His Holiness was invited to lunch in the vaulted foyer of the City Hall at the end of which he drove to Mannheim from where he flew to Zurich. Tibetans had mounted a traditional welcome outside the hotel, whose driveway was lined with Tibetan flags. There were Tashi Shölpa dancers and Tibetan youngsters offering the ‘Chema Changpu’.

His Holiness interacted with all who had come to greet him, happily spotting several old friends among them. In the lobby he was greeted by the Abbot, President, and Director of the Tibet Institute Rikon as well as other monks and Lamas.

Original link & photos: https://www.dalailama.com/news/2018/happiness-and-responsibility

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Dalai Lama on Eight Verses for Training the Mind

‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’

When His Holiness the Dalai Lama met six Dutch Parliamentarians this morning he was swift to tell them how much he appreciates their concern for Tibet. As time goes on more and more people come to appreciate that Tibetan culture is sophisticated and useful, while it is being steadily destroyed in Tibet. He pointed out that Tibet has always been politically significant as a buffer between India and China.

“We’re not seeking independence because it would likely be difficult to achieve, but if we did, we would remain poor. Tibetans are no more averse to prosperity than anyone else. If we remain with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) we can benefit from China’s powerful economy.

“The Chinese constitution recognises various Tibetan areas and we should have the freedom to preserve our language and culture in those regions. We can work together, the Chinese can provide us with material benefit, and we can offer them spiritual support. I greatly admire the spirit of the European Union which gives more importance to the common good than narrow national sovereignty. We could enter into a similar union with China.

“Historically Tibet was an independent state. Chinese documents record the existence in the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries of three independent empires—China, Mongolia and Tibet. Subsequently, no Chinese records from the Tang dynasty until the Manchu dynasty refer to Tibet as part of China. However, the past is past and I note that members of the European Union remain sovereign states.

“In 1951 we raised the issue of Tibet at the UN—nothing happened. Again in 1959 and 1965 we appealed to the world body over India’s objections, but again nothing happened. Pandit Nehru told me that the USA would not go to war with China to liberate Tibet. He said we could only talk to the Chinese authorities. On one occasion he came to see me, bringing a copy of the 17 Point Agreement that refers to ‘the peaceful liberation of Tibet’ and pointed out which points we could usefully discuss.

“In 1956 Nehru insisted I return to Tibet after visiting India and I did. I tried to accommodate Chinese demands until the situation ran out of control. 6 million Tibetans are tough. The Chinese have used all kinds of means to crush the Tibetan spirit without success. Meanwhile, 340,000 have been killed, died of starvation or committed suicide.

“To begin with there was no racial animosity involved, but that changed after 1959 as tensions grew between Tibetans and Han. Throughout, Tibetan spirits remained strong. Now, it seems Chinese leaders can see that their policy of suppression has failed, so they are beginning to take a more realistic approach. Indeed, the Tibetan issue will not just go away until they address it realistically. It seems top leaders have started to realise it doesn’t help them to push the Dalai Lama away—we’ll see.”

One of the Parliamentarians asked how educational systems could be made less materialistically oriented and His Holiness told him he thought it was more important to inculcate inner values and explain how to cultivate peace of mind. It should be possible for education to enhance the positive qualities students have from birth.

“Peace will only be established on the basis of individuals achieving peace of mind. Peace will not be achieved through anger or the use of weapons. We’ve already seen enough violence in the world; the 21st century should be an era of peace—a smile giving rise to a smiling response.”

Back in the Ahoy Arena for a second day, Paula de Wijs welcomed His Holiness, the members of the Sangha and everyone else in the hall. “Compassion is discussed in all religious traditions,” she said, “not just Buddhism. Everyone needs compassion, so these teachings will be useful for all of us. They will be an inspiration.”

His Holiness took up the theme. “Today, I’ll be teaching this small text, the ‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’, which is mainly about altruism. As Paula has just said, everyone can find it useful, not just Buddhists. Whether you’re Jewish, Christian or Muslim, genuine practitioners all value the practice of loving kindness. Sometimes if the book we’re looking at is thick it can become boring, but this one is small enough to slip into your pocket. I received this teaching when I was about 15 or 16 years old. I memorized the text, recite it daily and have found it useful.

“First of all I’ll go over the basic structure of the dharma. Buddhism is one of the major spiritual traditions to originate in India. Like Jainism and one of the branches of the Samkhya School, there is no place for a creator god. The founders of these traditions, such as Mahavira and the Buddha, were human beings who attained enlightenment. They employed practices prevalent in India such as methods for cultivating a calmly abiding mind and special insight (shamatha and vipashyana). In the case of the Buddha, as he delved deeper into the nature of the mind and investigated the nature of self, he concluded that there was no self independent of the body/mind combination.

“The sutras say if you search for the self it turns out to be just a view. There is nothing more than the body/mind combination. Just as we see a combination of parts as a cart, so the conventional self is based on the body/mind combination—there is no independent self. In his ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’ Nagarjuna says:

“Through the elimination of karma and disturbing emotions there is cessation.
Karma and affliction come from conceptual thought.
These come from mental exaggeration or fabrication.
Fabrication ceases through emptiness.

“And in his ‘400 Verses’ Aryadeva states:

“As the tactile sense [pervades] the body
Confusion is present in all [disturbing emotions].
By overcoming confusion you will also
Overcome all disturbing emotions.

"To overcome this ignorance requires making an effort to understand dependent origination."

His Holiness remarked that after attaining enlightenment the Buddha expressed a reluctance to teach. He is quoted as saying:

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

Here, ‘profound and peaceful’ can refer to the cause and effect of suffering and its origin within the cycle of existence, as well as the cause and effect of cessation and the path that are factors of liberation—in other words the Four Noble Truths of the first turning of the wheel of dharma. ‘Free from complexity’ refers to emptiness and the Perfection of Wisdom teachings of the second turning of the wheel. ‘Uncompounded luminosity’ refers to the subjective clear light explained in the third turning of the wheel. This subjective mind of clear light is essential to Highest Yoga Tantra.

“In this first statement after attaining enlightenment, the Buddha refers to what he would teach in the future. Subsequently, at the request of his disciple Kaundinya and non-human agents he did teach. The first teaching that took place in the Deer Park outside Varanasi entailed an explanation of the Four Noble Truths. The cause and effect of suffering and its origin is described as afflictive cause and effect, while the cause and effect of cessation and the path is non-afflictive cause and effect.

“Each of the Four Noble Truths can be understood in relation to four characteristics. The truth of suffering, for example, can be understood as being impermanent, in the nature of suffering, empty and selfless. The characteristics of the truth of the cause of suffering are causes, origin, strong production and recurrence. The truth of cessation can be understood in terms of cessation, pacification, being superb and definite release, while the truth of the path is characterized in terms of path, awareness, achievement and deliverance. Reflecting on these is a powerful practice.

“No matter how strong afflictive emotions may be,” His Holiness remarked, “so long as they are rooted in a distorted view of reality they have no solid support and can be removed.”

His Holiness observed that ignorance and wisdom are states of mind that are opposed to each other. Just as when there is light, darkness is gone, so the wisdom of no-self and emptiness utterly uproot ignorance. The Perfection of Wisdom teachings explain the Four Noble Truths thoroughly, especially the truth of cessation and the truth of the path. Nagarjuna says it’s by understanding dependent arising that we really come to grips with the Four Noble Truths.

When the Heart Sutra says, ‘Form is empty; emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form; form also is not other than emptiness,’ it is not asserting that nothing exists; rather that things don’t exist as they appear. Form exists, but only as a designation. Aspects of the mind too only exist by way of designation. Nagarjuna asserts that the Buddha taught:

That which is dependent origination
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.

If you understand this, you will understand the importance of the Two Truths, the conventional reality that things exist, and their ultimate reality in emptiness.

His Holiness went on to discuss the explicit and implicit content of the Perfection of Wisdom teachings as outlined in the ‘Ornament for Clear Realization’ of Maitreya/Asanga. The explicit content is the explanation of emptiness, but what is implicit is the stages of the path. According to the latter, the path begins with the Two Truths, goes on to explore the Four Noble Truths, leading to a proper understanding of the Three Jewels, who the Buddha is, what he taught and the role of the Sangha.

He explained that the style and order of the ‘Lamp for the Path’ that Atisha taught, and which was the pattern for the subsequent Stages of the Path genre, presupposes that readers already have some understanding of the dharma.

In the context of practice, His Holiness referred to the need for high status or a good rebirth in order to be able to keep it up. Nagarjuna’s ‘Precious Garland’ lists sixteen causes of high status. Thirteen are activities to be stopped. Of the ten unwholesome deeds to be avoided, three are physical - killing, stealing and adultery; four are verbal - false, divisive, harsh, and senseless speech; and three are mental - covetousness, harmful intent, and wrong views. Three additional activities to be restrained include drinking alcohol, wrong livelihood and doing harm. There are three further activities to be adopted - respectful giving, honouring the honourable, and love.
Aryadeva advises:

First prevent the demeritorious,
Next prevent [conceptions of] self;
Later prevent views of all kinds.
Whoever knows of this is wise.

Taking up the text of the ‘Eight Verses’, His Holiness began to read. He explained that the first verse highlights how we are all dependent on others and shows how to cultivate the awakening mind. There are two principal methods: the Seven Point Cause and Effect and Equalizing and Exchanging of Self with Others.

The second verse advises regarding others as superior to you. The third counsels being wary of disturbing emotions, while the fourth speaks of the value of holding troublesome beings dear. The fifth verse recommends offering the victory to others, and the sixth recommends seeing enemies as spiritual friends. The seventh verse explicitly expounds the practice of giving and taking in which imagining taking on others' suffering accords with great compassion, while giving happiness in return accords with loving kindness. Referring to this practice as secret indicates that it may not be appropriate for everyone.

Finally, the first two lines of the eighth verse warn against giving in to the eight worldly concerns for praise and blame and so forth. Noting that the last two lines refer to seeing all things as like an illusion, His Holiness mentioned that you don’t have to be a Buddhist to understand emptiness.

“Training the mind makes a difference,” he declared. “Until I was about 13 years old, I had little interest in what I was studying. Gradually I developed an appreciation that it could be useful. After I reached India I reviewed what I had studied before, but my target was now the attainment of enlightenment not just passing an exam. I’ve found that trying to understand emptiness and extending a sense of altruism has the effect of loosening the grip of self-centredness. I believe that if I have benefited from doing this, if you study and practise, you can benefit from it too.”

For the Dalai Lama Foundation, Reinier Tilanus announced that 21,000 people had participated in the public talk and teachings, 400,000 had viewed the live stream and 250 volunteers had been of great help. The account for the last three days’ events in the Netherlands had produced a surplus of 70,000 Euros. His Holiness requested that 20,000 be donated to supporting teaching Tibetan language to Tibetan children in the Netherlands. The balance will be donated to the work being developed at Emory University to promote social, emotional, and ethical development.

original link & photos: https://www.dalailama.com/news/2018/eight-verses-for-training-the-mind

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Foundation of the Atonement: Propitiation and Penal Substitution

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

We need to fix in our minds that the atonement was an objective, historical event that first, made a change in God, and then (as a consequence) in our relationship to Him. Penal (relating to penalty) substitution means that Christ bore in substitutionary way, the penalty/punishment for our sin. This was an objective event that occurred outside of us, and is foundation for all the blessings of the atonement that flow to/in us:  reconciliation, ransom, redemption, ect. It must be first seen as God-ward event, satisfying God’s need to deal justly with His wrath towards sin/sinners. (Romans 3:25)

This aspect of the atonement has been, and is, hated by critics as being ‘primitive and obscene’. "How can you preach a wrathful God in our day and age?" Because He IS a wrathful and holy God, in every age. ..and it is a horrible thing to fall into the Hands of a wrathful God.That is because they do not understand: God’s holiness, His wrath, the sinfulness of sin, God’s jealousy, and His desire to see His Name  magnified above all else.  This aspect of the cross makes justification possible.

The cross is about our salvation. What is the number one danger we are saved from by the cross? God Himself—His wrath. “flee from the wrath to come.” If someone casts doubt on propitiation, then they are preaching ‘another gospel’ because this is the heart of the gospel—the good news. Some see hell as ‘Christless eternity’ but He is omnipresent, and His eternal presence as a judge will be the real hellishness of hell.

8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Gal. 1:8-10)

Had you been an eye-witness of this event, the spiritual aspect of cross would not have been self evident—it was hidden from onlookers. Gospels, and especially epistles, explain the theology of cross. God interprets His saving event, but in form of several images to capture full riches of what happened on cross.

What atonement is NOT: payment of ransom to Satan (e.g. Origen)—payment made to God; merely moral influence/heroic theory; moral government. First is wrong, and others are partial truths presented as whole truths. Being re-recycled today.

The suffering experienced on the cross by Jesus:

1. Physical—Mark, crucifixion— 23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24And they crucified him…. (Mark 14)   That is all the text says. To first century audience, that is all that was needed to say…the specifics and horrors of it were well known and observed regularly. Thousands of people were being crucified as capital punishment. But Roman citizens not crucified because it was deemed too awful and undignified way to die.
I don’t think we have to say that Jesus suffered more than anyone, physically….though it was exceedingly awful. Others suffered just as bad, in this regard.

2. Psychological pain: due to bearing our sin was unprecedented—contradicted all He was and hated most deeply. Is. 53:6; 2Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 2:24  (we have no sense of this, multiplied by millions) He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter) 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

3. Most painful was propitiation, sacrifice that bears God’s wrath to make God favorable or propitious to us. 4 texts. Mean? Holy anger of God was poured on Christ. Hilasterion/hilasmos Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10 He was cursed for us…the lights were turned off.

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

We know a little bit of pain of other person venting anger at us even when innocent, which is difficult, but wrath of infinitely holy God poured out on His Son, wave after wave. Cries out. As the wooden cross has vertical and horizontal dimension, this was vertical part of atonement. It is finished !John 10:17. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)

Father was satisfied by payment Is 53:11

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makesh an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall seei and be satisfied;by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

Abandonment. Father Matt 26: 45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the landg until the ninth hour.h 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Why have you forsaken Me? One of the most puzzling, troubling comments in bible. Bearing sin and wrath, Jesus is quoting Ps 22. As a man, not have understood the full extent beforehand—though in garden, He had a clear and horrible sense of it. Touching His human nature, He died. His divine nature could not die-the notion is heretical because God cannot die. Mystery of the Person of Christ as one Person, with two natures. Nobody knows the full meaning of the cry of dereliction on the cross and how it relates to both natures.
( Rom 8:1 result)

Some prominent theologians denying penal substitution in UK and USA.

Washed over liberal lie from 1920 liberalism. No wrath because divine love overcomes it all.
Next steps? Hell is not eternal. Hell gone. All are saved. IVP and Zondervan  have both published books attacking the penal substitution and propitiatory nature of atonement. One man even called it—“divine Child abuse.”

Don’t retreat just because  folks don’t like something. Not understanding, or even liking a doctrine (at least initially), may be good reason to believe it. Wrestling with unsettling truths can be time of accelerated spiritual growth.

God not punish believers but consequences and discipline. (Heb. Loves us…)
Ultimately cross was work of God Father who inflicted suffering, not man (Acts 2 and 4) 53:10 Is. Will we ever understand this? Human analogies fail us. Righteous burning anger poured out on innocent Son. Troubling and awe-inspiring.

Jesus’ blood represents His propitiatory death. We should not think of blood in superstitious way. John Guest once asked, “if Jesus had accidentally cut his finger, would that blood have cleansed people of sin?” Surely not-- because the blood of Jesus that cleanses us and makes demons tremble, is the cross of Christ and His propitiatory death—His penal substitution which was victorious over His enemies. (Col. 2:15) His ‘blood’ is synonymous with His atoning death on the cross—that is why the blood of Christ is often referred to, as ‘shorthand’ for atonement. It signifies His death, as did blood of animal sacrifice in OT signified it had died. The sprinkled blood was evidence that sacrifice had been killed. Need to avoid popular notions that border on superstition regarding Christ’s blood, that are disconnected from His finished work on the cross. It was His death, which the blood signifies, which makes atonement for us—reconciling, redeeming, and ransoming us. “The blood of Jesus” is precious to believers precisely because of all the benefits that His atoning death purchased for us (e.g. peace with God, victory over evil one, bold access to throne of grace, etc).

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water Trust Him and be at peace  10:19 think of Jewish person being told they could come boldly into Holy of Holies!!

Blood of Christ? Pouring out ones life/death. Here is proof that sacrifice or death occurred. Evidence of Christ paying price  Rom 3:25 blood/death.

Cleanses conscience 9:14; access to God in worship and prayer 10:19 sees blood or death, 1 John 1:7 cleanses us from ongoing sin. . Rescued from futile ways of life. 1 Peter. 1:18-19

7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothersb has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (Rev 12….Lamb reference to finished work of cross—Lamb of God)

Fix your minds and hearts on the objective, historical nature of the propitiatory atonement.

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, September 11, 2018

Dalai Lama on the Buddhapalita Teachings

Second Set of Buddhapalita Teachings - First Day

Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - This morning, under skies that are beginning to clear as the monsoon recedes, His Holiness the Dalai Lama walked from his residence to the Tsuglagkhang, smiling, waving and greeting people as he went. An estimated 6000 people awaited him in the Main Temple, its surroundings and in the yard below. Of these, 1200 were from East and South-east Asian countries---Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore, including ordained and lay-people. Of an estimated 1700 people from 71 countries in other parts of the world, the largest contingent was from Israel.

Inside the temple, His Holiness waved to the audience, greeted senior Thai and Korean monks, as well as the Ganden Throne-holder, before taking his seat on the throne. The Mangala Sutta was recited first in Pali by a group of Thai monks, after which the ‘Heart Sutra’ was chanted in Chinese, concluding with the following verse:

May we dispel the three poisons.
And light the lamp of wisdom.
May all obstacles be overcome and
May we engage in the deeds of bodhisattvas.

His Holiness recited verses of salutation to the Buddha from ‘Ornament for Clear Realization’ and Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’.

“Many people have gathered here from East and South-east Asia for this teaching,” he began as he looked out over the audience, “amongst whom are monks from countries who traditionally follow the Pali tradition. I greet you all.

“Now, what I usually talk about, wherever I am in the world, is that I am a human being; just one among many. If the people of the world are happy, I’m happy. When the world is in turmoil, I’m sad. We human beings are all the same in wanting to be happy and not wanting to suffer and yet many of the problems we face are of our own making. We seek happiness in external things without realizing that they don’t help when we have problems within. We need to focus instead on the joy that comes with peace of mind that allows us to remain happy whatever happens.

“At the monastery of Montserrat, near Barcelona, I met a monk who had asked to see me. He had been living the life of a hermit in the mountains, surviving only on tea and bread. I asked him about his practice and he told me he’d been meditating on love. As he said this, I could see from the sparkle in his eyes that, despite renouncing physical comfort, he was full of joy.

“Among Tibetans too there were some imprisoned during the ‘cultural revolution’, who valued the opportunity to do their practice. One who I knew well told me that there were times he felt in danger and I asked him to explain, thinking he meant his life was at risk. Instead he told me there were times he was in danger of losing compassion for his tormentors.

“We have made great physical progress in many areas, but this hasn’t necessarily translated into greater peace of mind. However, scientists have lately found evidence to assert that basic human nature is compassionate, which I take as a sign of hope. Meanwhile they have also found that constant anger, fear and anxiety deplete our immune system.”

His Holiness noted that a mother gave birth to each and every one of us. During our early years we survived due to her kindness. Right from the beginning of our lives the love and affection we received from her empowered us to feel calm and secure. He suggested that the innate sense of love and compassion we have as a result can be strengthened and extended by training.

He reiterated that love and compassion are the root of all happiness as we can see when we compare a poor family, who are happy because they love and care for each other, with a wealthy family who are unhappy because they are full of suspicion.

“Whoever I meet, I think of them as another human being just like me. We are physically, mentally and emotionally the same. If we remember that other people are essentially like us, we won’t view them with hostility. As social animals we are dependent on the community in which we live. While love and compassion bring peace of mind and attract friends to us, anger drives people away. So, not only do I advise others to cultivate these qualities, because they are so important, I try to put them into practice myself.

“As a Buddhist practitioner I invite all sentient beings to be my guests at a feast of happiness. I cultivate the four immeasurable wishes—generating equanimity, love, compassion, and joy towards an immeasurable number of sentient beings—every day. We pray that sentient beings experience no suffering, yet the only beings we can really help directly are the human beings with whom we share this earth. We can only pray for beings in other galaxies and can do little to help the animals, insects and fish around us achieve liberation.”

His Holiness remarked that as a Buddhist practitioner he also seeks to promote inter-religious harmony. He explained that religious traditions are concerned with human behaviour. They convey a common message of love and yet today we hear repeatedly of fighting and killing in the name of religion. He pointed out that here in India over the last 3000 years and more, traditions have emerged that counsel love, compassion, self-discipline and tolerance. They adopt different philosophical positions because people have different dispositions.

“Whether or not you observe religious belief and practice is a personal matter, but if make such a choice it’s better to be sincere about it. If someone follows a religion based on love sincerely, how could they kill in the name of religion?”

During a short comfort break, His Holiness answered several questions from the audience, advising that Chapter Six of ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’ gives explicit instructions on how to deal with anger. He also touched on the understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions that has evolved in India in the pursuit of calm abiding (shamatha) and penetrative insight (vipashyana). He stated his belief that in India it should be possible to combine modern education with such ancient knowledge.

His Holiness recalled that Buddhism originated in India and that the Pali tradition spread to Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Laos and Cambodia, where the Vinaya continues to be strictly upheld. The Sanskrit tradition, meanwhile, which was fostered in the universities of Takshashila, Nalanda and Vikramashila spread to China and from there to Korea, Japan and Vietnam. His Holiness mentioned that when the Chinese monk and scholar Xuanzang came to India, Nagabodhi, a disciple of Nagarjuna, was still alive. The Chinese adopted Nagarjuna’s ideas, but not the system of logic and reason that supported them.

In the 8th century, the great scholar, logician and philosopher, Shantarakshita established the Nalanda Tradition in Tibet. From Tibet this approach to study and training spread to Mongolia and the Mongolian Russian Republics. Crucial to this tradition were the Perfection of Wisdom teachings of the second turning of the wheel of dharma that assert that things have no objective existence, contrary to the way they appear to us.

His Holiness cited a resolution the Buddha made shortly after his enlightenment that is recorded in the ‘Extensive Sport Sutra’ (Lalitavistara Sutra):

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

His Holiness explained that the first words ‘profound and peaceful’ could be interpreted as referring to the true cessation that was the focus of the first turning of the wheel of dharma. ‘Free from elaboration’ could be seen as referring to what he eventually taught in the second turning of the wheel and ‘uncompounded clear light’ could refer to the third turning of the wheel. The first turning lays the foundation, the second shows that things are free from elaboration and the third reveals Buddha nature.

Taking up Buddhapalita’s commentary, His Holiness mentioned that Buddhapalita was a disciple of Nagarjuna and Aryadeva. He remarked that he had received explanation of this text and Chandrakirti’s ‘Clear Words’ from the former Ganden Throne-holder, Rizong Rinpoche. This text, Buddhapalitavrtti, is an explanatory commentary on Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’. He observed that although monks in Tibetan monastic universities study the commentary, they pay less attention to the root text, ‘Fundamental Wisdom’. Noting that Chapters 18 and 24 are the most important, he recommended that a student might begin by reading Chapter 26 which discusses the Twelve Links of Dependent Arising which in forward and reverse processes show how ignorance binds us in the cycle of existence. To put an end to that, Chapter 18 explains how to overcome karma and mental afflictions, while Chapter 24 reveals how to understand emptiness.

Nagarjuna explains that through the elimination of karma and mental afflictions there is liberation; karma and mental afflictions come from conceptual thoughts and these come from mental fabrications. Fabrication ceases through emptiness. The point is to eliminate distorted views that give rise to mental afflictions.

As Nagarjuna observes elsewhere in ‘Fundamental Wisdom':

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

Having completed Chapter 6 of ‘Buddhapalitavrtti’ last year, His Holiness began to read from Chapter 7, which touches on the characteristics of phenomena and the difficulty of pinpointing the present moment. His Holiness remarked that the different modes of reasoning for demonstrating emptiness such as the Diamond Slivers are all based on dependent arising. In the verse of salutation in ‘Fundamental Wisdom’ Nagarjuna praises the Buddha for teaching dependent arising. Je Tsongkhapa praises the Buddha likewise.

As he brought the morning’s session to an end, His Holiness recounted a dream Je Tsongkhapa had of Nagarjuna and his disciples and how Buddhapalita touched his head with this book. The next day Tsongkhapa realized emptiness on the basis of what he had understood from reading this treatise. His Holiness’s final remark was that it seems as if Buddhapalita, who declared that dependent arising is the main cause for gaining insight into emptiness, received both the explanation and transmission of this doctrine, whereas his co-disciple Bhavaviveka seems only to have been given the transmission.

His Holiness will continue to read and explain ‘Buddhapalitavrtti’ tomorrow.

original link & photos; https://www.dalailama.com/news/2018/second-set-of-buddhapalita-teachings-first-day

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Absolute Necessity of the Atonement: Cur Deus Homo? A Plea to Come to Jesus

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

Now we consider the work of Christ, and His atonement—the cross of Christ. The universal symbol of our faith from the first century onwards has been a symbol of execution-the cross. It is in the cross that all of our hopes and comfort, in life and death, are to be found.

As Paul said 1 And I, when I came to you, brothers,a did not come proclaiming to you the testimonyb of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Cor. 2:2)

We have looked at who Jesus is, and now it is time to look at what He did; the person and work of Christ can be distinguished, but not separated.

Definition—"the atonement is the work that Christ did in His life and death to earn our salvation.” (Wayne Grudem) Usually we think only of the cross but I will explain later why the entire 33 years or so of Christ’s life should be considered as part of this event known as the atonement.

 For first 1,000 years of Church, there was no clear explanation of the atonement. Many saw it primarily as a ransom paid to the Satan…and to make matters worse, it was thought of as being done via trickery…like a mouse-trap! I was taught this in grade school. Anselm the archbishop of Canterbury (c 1,000-1,100 AD), wrote a short book entitled: Cur Deus Homo? Why the God man? Monumental work which I recently re-read. Why did God take on human nature, why become incarnate, why the cross and atonement? To satisfy the demands of Gods justice. He does this in the form of a dialogue with Boso. Seeing the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice to satisfy the demands of God’s justice and his holy wrath by means of substitution; from then on that became dominant view of atonement.

Why didn’t God just forgive us and get it done with? As He told us to forgive others, why didn’t God just do what He told us to do, and just forgive us? As it has been said: “It is the purpose of divinity to forgive—that’s His job.” Really?

Frist, we are supplied with the answer of Anslem. He wrote: if anyone imagines that God simply forgives us as we forgive others, that person has ‘not yet considered the seriousness of sin—heavy a weight sin is.’ And he supplied the second answer as well: you have not yet considered the majesty/justice of God. When we have deficient views of God’s holiness and our sinfulness, then we will have deficient views of the atonement and its necessity. We are not God, and so, as we shall see, when we sin we sin against Him and the His laws. Therefore to expect the Creator to act like a creature we are doing violence to this vital distinction…as well as His righteous nature. He always does what is right and fair—always.

The crucial question is not just why God finds it difficult to forgive, but how He finds it possible to do so at all. As one man put it: “forgiveness is to man the plainest of duties; to God is the profoundest of problems.” There is a collision between divine perfection and human rebellion; between God as He is and us as we are. The real problem is this: God is holy and we are not. Something radical had to happen, IF He was to forgive us.

Deficient views of the cross, which abound today amongst theologians and laity alike, stem from either a shallow view of God’s holiness and/or shallow views of the gravity of sin…sinfulness of sin.

Cause of atonement—usually we think of the mercy, grace and love of God. John 3:16 true. But as Anselm reminds us, the primary cause of the cross is God’s justice. His righteousness. We must not be selfish and think first of us—God is concerned for the His own glory above all else. His love is holy love. How can God save us in a manner consistent with and true to His internal character which cannot bear to even look upon sin? Yes God is love but it is a holy love. But before we move on we must ask the painful question: would God have been unfair, unjust in damning all sinners to eternity in hell? The only acceptable answer is: no, God would have been just in damning all of us. That is what we deserve. He did not save lost angels, who are rational beings as we are. After years of knowing the Lord, I think it is good to remind ourselves of this very basic fact, lest we unconsciously drift into entitlement mode of thinking.

In this regard, there are three views of atonement: it was not necessary, it was hypothetically necessary, it was absolutely necessary. The first is the view of liberals and other unbelievers. Others say that once Christ freely and graciously decided to save us, He could have chosen other means, but once He chose this route He was bound to it. Lastly, and what I am convinced the bible teaches, is the absolute necessity of the cross. Once God did freely and graciously decide to save us, there was no other way. The Gethsemane prayer-Matt. 26:30, the words of Christ about the necessity of the Christ to suffer—Lk 24, Romans 3:26, need to become man—Heb. 2:17; and the Temple patterned after heavenly sanctuary-Heb. 9:23—all point to absolute necessity of atonement.

To bring home nature of this problem more clearly, I want us to see sin from three perspectives, but before we do that, notice how often righteousness of God is mentioned. God ALWAYS does what is right and just. On the cross, God’s infinite justice and righteousness was satisfied. On the cross He bore the judgement we deserve in order to bring us the forgiveness we do not deserve. On the cross justice and mercy kiss.

16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,e as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
(thematic statement of Romans—v. 17)

God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth…..on and on for 3 chapters!

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26, emphasis added)

Paul had spent 3 chapters relentlessly driving home the wrath of God against God hating sinners, and now He is anxious to show how He has gloriously forgiven us in way consistent with His holy wrath. If modern man, including theologians detest anything, it is the need to assuage God’s wrath. They are blind and lost in arrogance, for this is clear on every page of scripture. Penal substitution challenges any/all human pride, which is why it is detested so fiercely.

Now, to express this need for an atonement more clearly let me take just three of the many images of sin in scripture. Sin as: a crime…a crime of cosmic treason; sin considered as an unpayable debt; sin as enmity requiring reconciliation.

To the extent that we understand the gravity, seriousness of sin-sin’s sinfulness, to that extent we will understand, appreciate, and stand in awe of God’s tender love, mercy, and grace to hell-deserving sinners.

Here is a fuller list we shall address as we move along: we are alienated from God/reconciled; under God’s holy wrath/through propitiation God’s wrath is satisfied/quenched; we are enslaved/we are set free through redemption; we are guilty and condemned/pardoned and counted as righteous through justification; we are under control of dreadful enemies/God delivers and rescues us so that we are triumphant in Christ.

First, let us see that sin is a crime. As our Creator, God has the absolute right to impose obligations upon us. Most companies will not employ someone who has been convicted of a felony. Yet, we are all guilty of a felonious assault on the Holy One—cosmic treason. Treason on human level is considered a capital crime, but we have committed treason on a cosmic scale. One sin is enough to send us to hell for eternity because of the infinite dignity of the Person whom we have offended. Treason against one’s country is bad enough, but we have committed treason against the King and Lawgiver of the cosmos.We are criminals in God’s sight in desperate need of being declared not guilty/justified.

We live in a culture in which folks say: everyone deserves a second chance. That is fine on horizontal level, even if we grant that for arguments sake before God, how long ago did you use up your second chance?! All spiritual Benedict Arnolds—treason. God almighty sees our sin as cosmic treason because we have conspired and rebelled against His Lawful authority over us, and sought autonomy—seeking to throw off His control, we’ve broken His holy law—which is a mortal sin in His eyes. In a sense, all sin is mortal sin. None of this ‘boys will be boys’ attitude. What we may consider peccadillos (little sins) are crimes against the Holy God of law and the holy law of God. Lawbreaking is a crime. We are to love God with all of our being, and nobody has done that for five seconds. So unclean has this crime made us that the OT says it vomits people out of the land—it gags on our depravity.

Regarding our status as guilty criminals before God, He justifies us in Christ—declaring us not guilty and forgiving our crimes and counting us as righteous in God’s eyes. Our most urgent need is to be justified because our most fundamental problem is objective guilt before God’s law.

2. Sin as enmity. Eph, 2—by nature children of wrath, and Romans 5 sees us as at enmity with God--enemies, and that goes both ways. We are not just indifferent to God, but unbelievers hate God. And God is infinitely angry with sinners. The notion of reconciliation assumes what? That there is estrangement. If husband and wife seek counseling and mediation for reconciliation, that assumes hostility. I’m sure you have heard of Jonathan Edward’s sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” That is true…most certainly so. But I also know that it is also true that when Jesus came to His own, it was “God in the Hands of Angry Sinners.” Such is the intensity of our hostility to God that a sinless God/man was murdered because we were traumatized by His holiness.

Folks say that essence of hell is the absence of God—they wish. The essence of hell will be the stern presence of God as judge. The wrath of the Lamb. I cannot bear to think of this. Have you ever been bopping along and suddenly an awful possibility popped into your mind? Perhaps you are driving down the road to work and cannot remember if you turned the stove off? In a flash, your peace goes to utter panic in a second, and actually feel the horror in your stomach. I sometimes think of unbelievers standing before the throne of God, loved ones, and the sinking, nauseating feeling that they will certainly feel as they face a horror of unspeakable magnitude for eternity. I have almost vomited myself thinking of this and how it grips my heart with anguish, as when Paul spoke in Romans 9…wishing to be damned himself if it would save his beloved countrymen.

Yes God is loving but He also is holy and wrathful. The first fruit of justification is peace with God-Rom. 5:1. The atonement brings reconciliation.

3. Sin as a debt. There is a difference between a monetary debt and a moral debt. If I owe you 10,000 dollars, then I may get a loan and pay bank back through a loan program. Speaking of debt, on human level many people live under crushing weight of monetary weight indebtedness due to various reasons.

However, if I owe you 10 million dollars tomorrow, there is no way I can pay you back—crushing weight. I don’t know the President or Bill Gates. I suppose it is hypothetically possible, but not probable. With God how much is our indebtedness? Infinite. That is purpose of the parables Jesus taught regarding repaying debt. It is infinite debt. After all that God has done for us. And the bible speaks of this as wracking up an unpayable moral indebtedness.

What can you or I do to repay this debt? What moral merit can you claim for yourself? If you have sinned but once, you have wracked up an infinite debt before your infinitely holy God. He does not grade on a curve. Unlike Islam which says that we shall go to heaven if the scales of justice, indicates that our good deeds outweigh our bad. If that is so, then why did Jesus die the horrific death He did? But the most common notion of salvation or justification is justification by death. All we have to do is die and the loving arms of God will bring us home. This is terrible demonic lie.

God is called our surety and we are redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb (1 Peter 1:18-19).  18knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. Freed from all moral/spiritual debt. Biblically, this is called redemption/ransom.

The cross answers the need for God to satisfy His justice.

1. Do you see your sins as a crime—as an act of cosmic treason? Which the cross satisfied…

2. Do you see your sins as a debt…a debt which you absolutely owe but absolutely cannot pay? That the cross satisfied.

3. Do you see you your sins as enmity, which required reconciliation, which only the cross could satisfy?

I beg of you to examine your heart to make sure you are truly ‘in the faith…in Jesus.’

If folks en masse saw God’s burning holiness and their sinfulness, they would be kicking down the doors to the churches and crying out in anguish: what must I do to be saved!

What agonizes my heart are the vast number of people who say that they do not need a savior—no need of the cross. Indifferent. Dear friends, since God is utterly holy and we are unholy, then our most profound need is for a savior—the cross. Amen.

Rom. 3:23—admit you are sinner   “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Rom. 6:23—admit that you deserve eternal death, but God has provided forgiveness based on finished work of Christ on the Cross. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Rom. 5:8) 8but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Rom. 10:9-10 9because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved

Repent of your sin and believe in Jesus as your savior and Lord…and you will be saved and have eternal life.

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, September 4, 2018

Dalai Lama on the Natural World

If there is one area in which both education and the media have a special responsibility, it is, I believe, our natural environment. This responsibility has less to do with questions of right or wrong than with the question of survival. The natural world is our home. It is not necessarily sacred or holy. It is simply where we live.

It is therefore in our interest to look after it. This is common sense. But only recently have the size of our population and the power of science and technology grown to the point that they have a direct impact on nature. To put it' another way, until now, Mother Earth has been able to tolerate our sloppy house habits. However, the stage has now been reached where she can no longer accept our behaviour in silence. The problems caused by environmental disasters can be seen as her response to our irresponsible behaviour. She is warning us that there are limits even to her tolerance.

Nowhere are the consequences of our failure to exercise discipline in the way we relate to our environment more apparent than in the case of present-day Tibet. It is no exaggeration to say that the Tibet I grew up in was a wildlife paradise. Every traveller who visited Tibet before the middle of the twentieth century remarked on this.

Animals were rarely hunted, except in the remotest areas where crops could not be grown. Indeed, it was customary for government officials annually to issue a proclamation protecting wildlife: Nobody, it read, however humble or noble, shall harm or do violence to the creatures of the waters or the wild. The only exceptions to this were rats and wolves.

As a young man, I recall seeing great numbers of different species whenever I travelled outside Lhasa. My chief memory of the three-month journey across Tibet from my birthplace at Takster in the East to Lhasa, where I was formally proclaimed Dalai Lama as a four-year-old boy, is of the wildlife we encountered along the way.

Immense herds of kiang (wild asses) and drong (wild yak) freely roamed the great plains. Occasionally we would catch sight of shimmering herds of gowa, the shy Tibetan gazelle, of wa, the white-lipped deer, or of tso, our majestic antelope. I remember, too, my fascination for the little chibi, or pika, which would congregate on grassy areas. They were so friendly. I loved to watch the birds: the dignified gho (the bearded eagle) soaring high above monasteries and perched up in the mountains; the flocks of geese (nangbar); and occasionally, at night, to hear the call of the wookpa (the long-eared owl)

Even in Lhasa, one did not feel in any way cut off from the natural world. In my rooms at the top of the Potala, the winter palace of the Dalai Lamas, I spent countless hours as a child studying the behaviour of the red-beaked khyungkar which nested in the crevices of its walls. And behind the Norbulingka, the summer palace, I often saw pairs of trung trung Oapanes blacknecked cranes), birds which for me are the epitome of elegance and grace, that lived in the marshlands there. And all this is not to mention the crowning glory of Tibetan fauna: the bears and mountain foxes, the chanku (wolves), and sazik (the beautiful snow leopard), and thesik (lynx) which struck terror into the hearts of the normal farmer - or the gentle-faced giant panda (thorn tra), whi.ch is native to the border area between Tibet and China.

Sadly, this profusion of wildlife is no longer to be found. Partly due to hunting but primarily due to loss of habitat, what remains half a century after Tibet was occupied is only a small fraction of what there was. Without exception, every Tibetan I have spoken with who has been back to visit Tibet after thirty to forty years has reported on a striking absence of wildlife. Whereas before wild animals would often come close to the house, today they are hardly anywhere to be seen.

Equally troubling is the devastation of Tibet's forests. In the past, the hills were all thickly wooded; today those who have been back report that they are clean-shaven like a monk's head. The government in Beijing has admitted that the tragic flooding of western China, and further afield, is in part due to this. And yet I hear continuous reports of round-the-clock convoys oftrucks carrying logs east out of Tibet. This is especially tragic given the country's mountainous terrain and harsh climate. It means that replanting requites sustained care and attention. Unfortunately there is little evidence of this.

None of this is to say that, historically, we Tibetans were deliberately 'conservationist'. We were not. The idea of something called 'pollution' simply never occurred to us. There is no denying we were rather spoiled in this respect. A small population inhabited a very large area with clean, dry air and an abundance of pure mountain water. This innocent attitude toward cleanliness meant that when we Tibetans went into exile, we were astonished to discover, for example, the existence of streams whose water is not drinkable. Like an only child, no matter what we did, Mother Earth tolerated our behaviour. The result was that we had no proper understanding of cleanliness and hygiene. People would spit or blow their nose in the street without giving it a second thought. Indeed, saying this, I recall one elderly Khampa, a former bodyguard who used to come each day to circumambulate my residence in Dharamsala (a popular devotion). Unfortunately, he suffered greatly from bronchitis. This was exacerbated by the incense he carried. At each corner, therefore, he would pause to cough and expectorate so ferociously that I sometimes wondered whether he had come to pray or just to spit!

Over the years, since our first arriving in exile, I have taken a close interest in environmental issues. The Tibetan government in exile has paid particular attention to introducing our children to their responsibilities as residents of this fragile planet. And I never hesitate to speak out on the subject whenever I am given the opportunity. In particular, I always stress the need to consider how our actions, in affecting the environment, are likely to affect others. I admit that this is very often difficult to judge. We cannot say for sure what the ultimate effects of, for example, deforestation might be on the soil and the local rainfall, let alone what the implications are for the planet's weather systems. The only clear thing is that we humans are the only species with the power to destroy the earth as we know it. The birds have no such power, nor do the insects, nor does any mammal. Yet if we have the capacity to destroy the earth, so, too, do we have the capacity to protect it.

What is essential is that we find methods of manufacture that do not destroy nature. We need to find ways of cutting down on our use of wood and other limited natural resources. I am no expert in this field, and I cannot suggest how this might be done. I know only that.it is possible, given the necessary determination. For example, I recall hearing on a visit to Stockholm some years ago that for the first time in many years fish were retUrning to the river that runs through the city. Until recently, there were none due to industrial pollution. Yet this improvement was by no means the result of all the local factories closing down. Likewise, on a visit tei Germany, I was shown an industrial development designed to produce no pollution. So, clearly, solutions do exist to limit damage to the natural world without bringing industry to a halt.

This does not mean that I believe that we can rely on technology to overcome all our problems. Nor do I believe we can afford to continue destructive practices in anticipation of technical fixes being developed. Besides, the environment does not need fixing. It is our behaviour in relation to it that needs to change. I question whether, in the case of such a massive looming disaster as that caused by the greenhouse effect, a fix could ever exist, even in theory. And supposing it could, we have to ask whether it would ever be feasible to apply it on the scale that would be required. What of t_e expense and what of the cost in terms' of our natural resources? I suspect that these would be prohibitively high. There is also the fact that in many other fields-such as in the humanitarian relief of hunger-there are already insufficient funds to cover the work that could be undertaken. Therefore, even if one were to argue that the necessary funds could be raised, morally speaking this would be almost impossible to justify given such deficiencies. It would not be right to deploy huge sums simply in order to enable the industrialized nations to continue their harmful practices while people in other places cannot even feed themselves.

All this points to the need to recognize the universal dimension of our actions and, based on this, to exercise restraint. The necessity of this is forcefully demonstrated when we come to consider the propagation of our species. Although from 'the point of view of all the major religions, the more humans the better, and although it may be true that some of the latest studies suggest a population implosion a century from now, still I believe we cannot ignore this issue. As a monk, it is perhaps inappropriate for me to comment on these matters. I believe that family planning is important. Of course, I do pot mean to suggest we should not have children. Human life is a precious resource and married couples should have children unless there are compelling reasons not to. The idea of not having children just because we want to enjoy a full life without responsibility is quite mistaken I think. At the same time, couples do have a duty to consider the impact our numbers have on the natural environment. This is especially true given the impact of modern 'technology.

Fortunately, more and more people are coming to recognize the importance of ethical discipline as a means to ensuring a healthy place to live. For this reason I am optimistic that disaster can be averted. Until comparatively recently, few people gave much thought to the effects of human activity on our planet. Yet today there are even political parties whose main concern is this. Moreover, the fact that the air we breathe, the water we drink, the forests and oceans which sustain millions of different life forms, and the Climatic patterns which govern out weather systems all transcend national boundaries is a source of hope. It means that no country, Be matter _either how rich and powerful or how poor and weak it may be, can afford not to take action in respect of this issue.

As far as the individual is concerned, the problems resulting from our neglect of our natural environment are a powerful reminder that we all have a contribution to make. And while one person's actions may not have a significant impact, the combined effect of millions of individuals' actions certainly does. This means that it is time for all those living in the industrially developed nations to give serious thought to changing their lifestyle. Again this is not so much a question of ethics. The fact that the population of the rest of the world has an equal right to improve their standard of living is in some ways more important than the affluent being able to continue their lifestyle. If this is to be fulfilled without causing irredeemable violence to the natural world-with all the negative consequences for happiness that this would entail-the richer countries must set an example. The cost to the planet, and thus the cost to humanity, of ever-increasing standards of living, is simply too great.

Excerpt from Ancient Wisdom, Modern World: Ethics for the New Millennium by Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. Published by Little, Brown and Company, United Kingdom J 999. (pp 2 J 3 -220).