Eighth Day of Lam Rim Teachings at Sera Jey

January 1st 2014

Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India, 1 January 2014 - As soon as he was settled on the teaching throne at Sera Jey Monastery today, His Holiness the Dalai Lama turned to the part of the ground where most of the foreigners were sitting and said:

“I’d like to wish you all a happy new year. Let’s each make a determination to be a more sincere, compassionate, warm-hearted and non-violent human being trying to make our world a more equal place. That way we can actually make it a happy year.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting members of the audience as he arrives at the start of the eighth day of teachings at Sera Jey Monastery in Bylakuppe, India on January 1, 2014. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
“In the Tibetan calendar, today is the 80th anniversary of the 13th Dalai Lama’s passing away and it’s customary for us to make offerings on such occasions. Let’s keep that in mind while you make prayers and offerings requesting my long life. Among us here are monastics and lay-people from all over the world. Each of us has developed some degree of mental virtue and although your first intention was to pray for my long life, let’s also pray that the Ganden Tri Rinpoche and the Geshes, Lamas and Tulkus responsible for teaching also live long. In fact, let us wish a long life to all who are dedicated to the welfare of others.

“The group who have organized this ceremony are people from Markham. I recently met a Khampa who told me of his ordeal in a Chinese prison. Let’s also pray for all those imprisoned in Tibet, for those who have passed away in prison and those suffering as a result of their imprisonment. There have also been many cases of self-immolation inside and outside Tibet, let’s pray for those who have had the courage to give up their lives in a way that was non-violent, inasmuch as they have avoided doing anyone else any harm by their action.

“The People’s Republic of China, the most populous country in the world, is said to have 400 million Buddhists, more than anywhere else. Let’s pray for those working for transformation in China, may they meet with success.”

His Holiness explained that among the prayers to be said during the ceremony was a Prayer to the 25 Pioneers of Tibet composed by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. Also the Words of Truth that he wrote himself after dreaming of low morale among the Dharma protectors of Tibet, the Supplication to the Seventeen Scholars of Nalanda and the Supplication to the Series of Births (of Chenresig).

People from the Markham region of Tibet waiting with offerings as part of a long life ceremony for His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Sera Jey Monastery in Bylakuppe, India on January 1, 2014. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
“The people of Markham region both in Tibet and in exile are participating in this Long Life Offering today. You’ve made great efforts and I’d like to thank you. The Markham people have had a long bond with the Tibetan government and the Dalai Lamas since the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama. You have also pledged to follow the advice of the Dalai Lamas. During the time of the 13th Dalai Lama there was some conflict in Markham, following which he passed away.”

The culmination of the prayers was the offering of tsog, the mandala and three representations of the enlightened body, speech and mind. In addition, the Markham people presented the Markham Tenshug Award to His Holiness. A substantial ornament made of silver, it included a Tibetan table reflecting the 5th Dalai Lama’s kindness to them, a globe to represent His Holiness’s international efforts to promote secular ethics and inter-religious harmony, and a map of Tibet, with which they say His Holiness the Dalai Lama is synonymous. The group’s representative read out a eulogy and request to His Holiness to live long, while reiterating the group’s wish and intention to abide by his advice.

In his reading of the Lam Rim texts, His Holiness reached the explanation of the last of the six perfections that are part of the bodhisattva’s practice. He remarked that although concentration and special insight are presented separately, they need to be practised in combination. To meditate on the emptiness of the mind, whose nature is clarity and awareness, we need to have developed calm abiding.

View of the main stage during His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings located in the debate ground at Sera Jey Monastery in Bylakuppe, India on January 1, 2014. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
Many practitioners seem unable to distinguish subtle laxity and excitement. There is a danger of mistaking laxity for meditative equipoise or calm abiding. Excitement on the other hand is an aspect of attachment. It disturbs our peace of mind without being entirely destructive as anger is. Over application of antidotes is also a drawback, as experience teaches.

With regard to the object to focus on in the development of calm abiding, it is common to employ an image of the Buddha. First of all it is necessary to examine the image in detail over and again, becoming aware of its details and attributes. It is advised that once you have decided on an object you should not change it. For example, if you begin focus on the image of a seated Buddha, you should not later visualize a standing Buddha. Nor should you think that because you are visualizing this image of the Buddha that it is not real.

“These days many things we use are automated and function at the touch of a button,” His Holiness said. “People are inclined to think realization can be achieved as easily and as quickly. Although change in the material world takes time, changing your attitude somehow seems easier. The fact is we are so accustomed to the disturbing emotions that they are not easily removed or overcome.”

A prospective practitioner of calm abiding is advised to sit cross-legged on a comfortable cushion which is slightly higher at the back. The hands are placed in the meditative posture, the right resting in the palm of the left. The tip of the nose should be above the navel. Breathe naturally and gently. If you are agitated count your breaths. Develop a delight in concentration.

Further advice was given about the way to visualize the image on which to focus the mind. A small image is best, visualized at the level of your forehead. Visualizing it as heavy reduces distraction. If you make your mind too tight, you’ll induce tension in the upper part of your body.

His Holiness expressed confidence about completing his reading of the ‘Sacred Words of Manjushi’ the ‘Southern Lineage’ and the ‘Swift Path’ Lam Rim texts tomorrow and making good progress with the ‘Essence of Nectar’. He said Phabongka Rinpoche’s ‘Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand’ will have to wait until another time.

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