Sixth Day of Lam Rim Teachings at Sera Jey

December 30th 2013

Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India, 30 December 2013 - This morning, the granting of certificates to newly qualified Geshes was completed and the final candidates paid their respects, many of them touching their heads to His Holiness’s throne, and posed in groups for photographs with him.

His Holiness began the day’s discourse by quoting a verse from Acharya Dharmatreya's 'Verses about Friends':

The Buddhas do not wash away the karma of other beings,
Nor do they remove the consequences with their hands;
They do not transmit their understanding into others' minds;
They introduce beings to freedom by educating them about reality.

“Intent on helping sentient beings, what the Buddhas do is to reveal the path.” His Holiness explained, “We have the two collections of Kangyur and Tengyur translated into Tibetan that contain instructions that indicate what is to adopted and what abandoned. Then we have the writings of Nagarjuna, his peers and followers, contained in the Tengyur, which explain ways to discipline the mind.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the fifth day of his teachings at Sera Jey Monastery in Bylakuppe, Karnatak, India on December 30, 2013. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
“The style of Tibetan and Indian masters was different. Atisha wrote the ‘Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment’ at King Jangchub O’s request for the benefit of Tibetans in general. They hadn’t studied very much up to that point so he wrote it in a very accessible way. Other Indian masters writing for an Indian readership, however, were functioning in the context of a greater intellectual challenge. This is clear even in Shantideva’s ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’ which in Chapter 9 asserts Madhyamaka views, refutes others and rebuts criticism.”

The Lam Rim texts say that relying on a Guru brings you closer to enlightenment, but His Holiness remarked that this is not much help to those who have little interest in spiritual practice. Nagarjuna has said that the whole of Buddhist teaching is based upon the two truths: conventional and ultimate truth. A verse from Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ describes this clearly:

The king of swans flies before the flock
 With the two wings of conventional and ultimate truth outstretched.
 Propelled by the wind of virtue,
He crosses the ocean and reaches the further shore and the qualities of enlightenment.

Things appear to have a true and independent existence, and there are those who try to assert this philosophically. However, while all sentient beings throughout space do not want suffering, reinforcing ignorance and misconception is like inviting more trouble upon yourself. Sentient beings are confused. They don’t recognise what suffering is or how to overcome it. Seeing this the Buddha was filled with compassion.

His Holiness said the Buddhist path is unique in being based on the two truths. Je Tsongkhapa admires this in his ‘Three Principal Aspects of the Path’:”

When these two realizations are simultaneous and concurrent,
From a mere sight of infallible dependent arising
Comes certain knowledge which completely destroys all modes of mental grasping.
At that time the analysis of the profound view is complete.

Turning to his reading of the Lam Rim texts His Holiness finished the section on intermediated beings in Panchen Lobsang Yeshe’s ‘Swift Path.’ He said that wearing the robes of a monk is not enough; we need a determination to be free of the cycle of existence.


Members of the audience following the Lam Rim texts during His Holiness the Dalai Lama's fifth day of teachings at Sera Jey Monastery in Bylakuppe, Karnatak, India on December 30, 2013. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
“Having left the householder’s life and become celibate, you need to look to the way the Buddha practised the Dharma. In this connection we see people in Bodhgaya selling copies of an emaciated figure of the Buddha as he underwent intense austerity. The original statue is in the museum in Lahore. We used to have a photograph of it in the Potala and once when I was on a visit to Japan it was included in an exhibition of artefacts from the Lahore museum. It clearly illustrates the hardship the Buddha underwent in attaining Buddhahood, in contrast to the easy going approach we like to take.”

From among the eight great Lam Rim texts, he then resumed reading the 5th Dalai Lama’s ‘Sacred Words of Manjushri’. He counselled the audience to listen with a wish to attain enlightenment for the sake of all beings. He began to read the section that deals with the path of great beings. There are two methods for developing the awakening mind of bodhichitta: the seven point causes and one effect and exchanging self and others or giving and taking. Whichever method we follow to develop compassion, both are based on first developing equanimity.

After lunch, His Holiness outlined the program of teachings over the coming days, mentioning the Long Life Offering to be celebrated on the first day of the New Year 2014 and that he will give an Avalokiteshvara empowerment on the final morning. He remarked that generally the Buddha’s teaching is about distinguishing appearance from reality. In that context he said that the lines in the Long Life Ceremony that ask the lama to live for 10,000 years are foolish because everyone knows he won’t.

“Similarly, we pray to the 16 Arhats, but not one of them has left a text we can employ or revealed anything we can put to use today. On the other hand, every one of the 17 Pandits of Nalanda wrote something that continues to be of value. I realise I risk upsetting people when I say this, like the time I visited the Men-tsi-khang in Dharamsala and let slip the remark that while I greatly appreciate Tibetan medicine I don’t have a lot of interest in astrology. The staff of the astrological department was very discouraged and I had to persuade them that whether or not I employ it, astrology has an established place in Tibetan culture. And on that basis they should work to preserve it.”


His Holiness the Dalai Lama along with the audience watching a film about the life of the Buddha at the end of the fifth day of teachings at Sera Jey Monastery in Bylakuppe, Karnatak, India on December 30, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
His Holiness read from the ‘Southern Lineage’ and from the ‘Swift Path’ before calling an early end to the days teachings. He introduced to the audience a team from the Sri Lankan Light of Asia Foundation who has made a new film about the life of the Buddha up to his attainment of enlightenment. The film won awards at the recent Delhi International Film Festival and they had requested an opportunity to show it him when he was in Delhi. He told them he would be teaching tens of thousands here in Bylakuppe and would be grateful if they would show it here. He announced that he would watch the first fifteen minutes or so of the film before retiring to rest, but encouraged the audience to enjoy the opportunity of watching it through to the end.
 

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