Teaching ‘A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’ and Visit to the Universidad Pontificia de Mexico in Mexico City

October 13th 2013

Mexico City, Mexico, 12 October 2013 - A lengthy drive through Mexico City’s busy streets this morning brought His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Arena Ciudad de Mexico. As his motorcade turned into the precincts of the building, hundreds of members of the public were lined up on the pavement, waiting to enter too. Many waved.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama is accompanied by actor Richard Gere as he arrives on stage at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico at the start of his teachings in Mexico City, Mexico on October 12, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
As he climbed out of his car, His Holiness was greeted by an old friend, Richard Gere, who walked with him to the back of the stage. Gere then went ahead to introduce His Holiness to the 4000 strong audience, who gave him a rousing welcome when he too appeared and greeted them with folded hands. Taking his seat on a simple armchair before a backdrop of several thangkas, His Holiness began his talk without further ado.

“Brothers and sisters, I always stress that people are better to stay with the spiritual traditions they are born too. However, in the twenty-first century in the interests of promoting inter-religious harmony, it is useful to find out about each other. All the major religious traditions hold the practice of love and compassion in common. To be successful in this practice you need tolerance and forgiveness, self-discipline and contentment. Since we all teach about these things, we can properly learn from each other about them.

“Of course, when it comes to philosophy, each tradition has its unique view, but the purpose of these different views is to strengthen the practice of love and compassion and contribute to our inner peace. Although there has been no historical contact with Buddhism in the West, there is now a growing and genuine interest in what Buddhism has to say, even among scientists.”

Giving a brief survey of Buddhism His Holiness explained that the Buddha’s first teaching of the Four Noble Truths is the basis for all the teaching that followed. He spoke about the development of the Pali tradition that eventually spread through South-East Asia, and the Sanskrit tradition that was carried to China and on to Korea, Japan and Vietnam. According to the Sanskrit tradition, the Buddha first turned the wheel of dharma with the teaching at Sarnath of the Four Noble Truths. At Rajgir he turned the wheel a second time and gave the Perfection of Wisdom teachings which elaborated on the third Noble Truth, cessation. When he turned the wheel a third time at Vaishali, he explained the nature of consciousness and elaborated on the fourth Noble Truth, the path.


View of the stage at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico, venue for His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings in Mexico City, Mexico on October 12, 2013. Photo/Oscar Fernandez
These teachings were examined, investigated and analysed by masters at Nalanda University, which is the source of the Buddhist traditions that were brought to Tibet. A Tibetan Emperor in the 7th century decided that Buddhism would be suitable for Tibetans, one of his successors in the 8th century went further and invited Shantarakshita, a distinguished bhikshu, leading scholar and logician at Nalanda to come to Tibet. Despite his age, with great courage he accepted and established the vinaya, or monastic discipline, Buddhist philosophy and epistemology in Tibet. Thus, Buddhism in Tibet has a pure source in the Nalanda tradition.

“In the 8th century, another Nalanda master, Shantideva, wrote this text that we’re going to study. It’s mainly about the awakening mind of bodhichitta and how to develop it, as well as how to practise tolerance, forgiveness, contentment and self-discipline. At each point in his presentation he employs reasoning rather than relying on scriptural citation. I’m not going to read the text line by line because we don’t have time. I’ll explain the main points. The 9th chapter opens with a summary of the Buddha’s teaching, so we’ll begin there.”

His Holiness read the lines that declare that the Buddha gave his entire teaching for the sake of wisdom. Therefore, with a wish to ward off suffering, we should develop this wisdom. There is a gap between appearance and reality, he said, which can be closed through education and training, through coming to understand conventional and ultimate truth.

At this point the teaching broke for lunch and His Holiness embarked on another long drive across the city to fulfil an invitation from the Universidad Pontificia de México (Pontifical University of Mexico), the University established by the Vatican Holy See. He was welcomed with warm smiles on arrival by Mario Angel Flores Ramos - the University Principal, Monsignor Eugenio Lira Rugarcia - Bishop, Secretary of the Mexican Episcopal Chapter and Monsignor Crispin Ojeda Marquez - Aux. Bishop of Mexico, who escorted him to the hall where thousands, in person and online, awaited to hear him.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama is welcomed at Universidad Pontificia de Méxicoon arrival by Monsignor Eugenio Lira Rugarcia - Bishop, Secretary of the Mexican Episcopal Chapter, Mario Angel Flores Ramos - the University Principal and Monsignor Crispin Ojeda Marquez - Aux. Bishop of Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico on October 12, 2013. Photo/Oscar Fernandez
The welcoming addresses declared that the University is a place to study Christian doctrine, but is also an open house, a place of dialogue. It was pointed out that it is fifty years since the Second Vatican Council begun by Pope John XXIII that explored relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. Part of that involved an undertaking to open relations with other religious traditions in respect and dignity and to contribute to making the world a place of peace and justice. Those gathered extended a welcome to His Holiness, who responded with characteristic candour.

“Respected spiritual leaders and brothers and sisters, I am very happy to be here. I understand this University is four hundred years old and is the principal Roman Catholic university in Latin America. I think it was on my second visit to Mexico, in 2004, that I joined an interfaith meeting in Mexico Cathedral and I am very happy to be here now.

“We are at the beginning of the twenty-first century, a time of great technological development. But these developments only contribute to our physical comfort, no matter how sophisticated they don’t provide us with the love and affection that is a source of mental happiness. Pope Benedict declared that faith and reason must go together. A scientific approach is useful, we need investigation and analysis, especially in our technological world, but by itself this doesn’t bring inner peace. Faith brings us solace and inner peace. In order to develop a happier society we need spirituality.

“I view spiritual traditions as having two aspects: practice and philosophy. In practice our traditions have a great deal in common; we focus on love and compassion, tolerance and contentment. We can see the effects of such practice in the work of marvellous individuals, who, like Mother Teresa, have lived their lives in the service of others.”

His Holiness mentioned that because of religion’s potential to provide inner peace, it is especially sad when conflict occurs in the name of religion. This is why it is essential to work to foster inter-religious harmony as Pope John-Paul II did when he convened the ecumenical Assisi meeting more than twenty-five years ago. His Holiness drew attention to the example of India where the world’s major religions have lived together side by side in harmony for more than two thousand years.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at Universidad Pontifica de Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico on October 12, 2013. Photo/Oscar Fernandez
His Holiness’s final remarks were that whether we choose to adopt a faith or not is our own personal choice, but if we do so we should be sincere about it. He said it is not enough to put on a pious face in the church or temple, but for our faith not to govern our conduct in the world outside. He pointed out that in his tradition he puts on a yellow robe when engaged in spiritual affairs, but that in reality spirituality lies not in the robe you wear but in your heart. He expressed regret that there was not more time to be able to engage in friendly discussion and hoped there might be in the future.

He was asked several questions. To one about reincarnation he answered that the idea that we are created this once by God is much simpler to understand. However, from the Buddhist point of view the idea of more than one life is related to the idea of the continuity of the mind. Secondly he was asked who is God and what is God and he recalled being asked elsewhere if he could speak to God what he would ask him and his reply had been, “Who are you? Where do you come from? And what do you do?”  Finally, to a question about humanity’s future he expressed admiration for the powerful idea of seeing everything as created by God, even your enemy, adding that in non-theistic traditions what happens is regarded as the result of our own actions.

To conclude the occasion a plaque was unveiled that will be installed on the campus to commemorate His Holiness’s visit; he was also presented with a personal memento. A group of young children then came forward to sing, much to the delight of everyone present.

Resuming his teaching in the afternoon His Holiness pointed out that higher schools of thought cannot simply impose their views on lower schools; they have to prove them through reason. Similarly, Shantideva says, the more highly developed yogis naturally outshine those who are lower.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during his teachings at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico on October 12, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
Many problems in the world are created by human beings as a result of ignorance, so suffering will be overcome when ignorance is overcome. When the wisdom understanding emptiness is accompanied by the awakening mind of bodhichitta it leads to Buddhahood; without the awakening mind it leads to the liberation of nirvana. His Holiness explained that the first chapter of the text concerns the benefits of the awakening mind, while the second concerns confession. Both are preparatory to the third chapter about embracing the awakening mind and subsequent chapters about the bodhisattva’s practice of the perfections. He clarified that there is no separate chapter about generosity, which is taught in chapter ten and no separate chapter on morality, which comes in chapter four. Chapters six and seven deal with patience and joyous effort, eight with concentration, nine with wisdom and ten with dedication.

His Holiness outlined the seven limb practice described in the second and third chapters that is preliminary to the ceremonial embracing of the awakening mind, which he hopes to lead his listeners through tomorrow. It involves making offerings to counter miserliness, making prostrations to counter arrogance and pride, confession, part of which involves taking refuge in the Three Jewels as an antidote to the three poisons of attachment, hatred and ignorance. This is also the point at which impermanence is explained. These limbs are followed by rejoicing, requesting the Buddhas to teach and not to pass away prior to embracing the awakening mind.

His Holiness concluded by saying that if we practise with an understanding of reality we can overcome our destructive emotions, which yields peace of mind. The more we think these things through, the deeper our awareness becomes. He said that as a simple Buddhist monk he can say as a result of decades of practice, that if we follow the practice, benefit ensues.

He will continue the teaching tomorrow.
 

Latest News

Addressing a Sino-Tibetan Conference
August 28th 2014
Hamburg, Germany, 27 August 2014 - Shortly before leaving to embark on his journey back to India, His Holiness the Dalai Lama first addressed a conference of Chinese and Tibetans taking place under the theme ‘Finding Common Ground.’ He began by welcoming participants: “I’d like to greet all of you, Chinese brothers and sisters, who have gathered here from many different places."

An Avalokiteshvara Empowerment Followed by Meetings with the Tibetan Community and Tibet Support Group in Germany
August 27th 2014

Concluding ‘The Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’ and ‘37 Practices of a Bodhisattva’
August 26th 2014

Explaining ‘The Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’
August 25th 2014

Discussing Secular Ethics
August 24th 2014

Explore