His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Second Day in Niihama, Japan

November 10th 2010

Niihama, Japan, 10 November 2010 - His Holiness filled both the morning and the afternoon of his fourth day in Japan, a warm and blue-skied autumn day, with vigorous and highly rigorous teachings on essential Buddhist concepts.


His Holiness The Dalai Lama speaking on "The Heart Sutra" in Niihama, Japan, on November 10th, 2010. Photo/Taikan Usui
Bursting with energy, he strode into the hall in Niihama for his morning teaching on the Heart Sutra twenty minutes early, and began by asking the audience (of about 400) to join him in reciting the sutra. Then he penetrated deep into the sutra to dig out its meanings, of a cause "even before a Darwininan jellyfish and the Big Bang" and the difference between conventional and ultimate truth,

He outlined the three levels of suffering: the most obvious one, of mental and physical pain; the suffering of change; and what could be called "all-pervading suffering," through the ignorance we're born with. Sometimes these two subtler levels, he said, are harder to discern.

The cessation of suffering, he said, is achieved "not through compassion, not through love or patience. But through wisdom, the ability to cut through delusions." There are three basic categories of teachings, he explained: the first has to do with ethics; the second with concentration, or meditation; and the third with wisdom. The Heart Sutra belongs to the third.

Returning to his hotel for a convivial lunch on its top floor, the bright November sun flooding in through picture windows, gazing out onto the hills that surround Niihama, His Holiness then went back to the same hall, again a few minutes early, to devote his afternoon talk to "emptiness."


An audience of 400 people listen to His Holiness the Dalai Lama's talk and teachings in Niihama, Japan, on November 10th, 2010. Photo/Taikan Usui
Very soon, he was outlining complex philosophical ideas, having to do with the "relative truth" of seeing someone as an enemy or a friend, and the importance of seeing things as they really are. "Emptiness doesn't mean nothingness," he explained (in Tibetan throughout). "It doesn't mean that we don't see anything." But where is the "I" we talk about? When we say, "I am sick" or "I am well," what "I" are we referring to? The hand is not the head, the head is not the foot.

Likewise, when we look at a flower, we're looking only at the petals, or the roots, the particles. As when we look at a statue of the Buddha. When our consciousness is clearest, upon waking up, is the best time, His Holiness said, to investigate yourself, and see what is the difference between the "self" and consciousness itself. People don't always want to learn about emptiness, he stressed, but it's very helpful for getting rid of a delusive sense of self. And if you understand emptiness, you can develop the aspiration to cut through the cycles of existence.

Then His Holiness walked out into the golden light of a shining late afternoon, and returned to his hotel to pursue his investigations.
 
 

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