Avalokiteshvara Empowerment at Salugara

March 29th 2013

Salugara, West Bengal, India, 29 March 2013 - Making an early and cooler start to the last day of teachings in Salugara, His Holiness arrived at the Kalachakra Phodrang at 7am, where he sat before the mandala to perform the preparations for the Avalokiteshvara empowerment.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting the crowd at the start of the final day of his three day teaching in Salagura, West Bengal, India, on March 29, 2013. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
After greeting the enthusiastic crowd and taking his seat on the throne, his first task was to complete reading Longchen Rabjampa’s ‘Resting the Mind in its Natural State.’ Having done so, he mentioned that Longchen Rabjampa is regarded as an emanation of Manjushri, one of three lamas so regarded in Tibet, the other two being Sakya Pandita and Je Tsongkhapa.

Next, His Holiness completed his reading of Tsongkhapa’s ‘Concise Stages of the Path to Enlightenment,’ which he said he had first received as child from Tagdrag Rinpoche and later received explanations of from his Senior Tutor, Ling Rinpoche, who was also the 96th Ganden Throneholder, and his Junior Tutor, Trijang Rinpoche.

Regarding the practice of tantra, he said:

“Of course, tantra involves profound practice, but we have to train ourselves to make proper use of it. If you want to be a rocket scientist you need to undergo a very skilled education; a basic education will not do. Similarly, if you haven’t completed the necessary foundational practices, the higher practices of tantra will not be effective.”

He explained that we need an understanding of the entire path before embarking on the advanced practices of tantra. Some tantric practices are only suitable for advanced practitioners. There are, for example, some practices involving instant illumination that would not be appropriate for those who need to follow a gradual path.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during the final day teachings in Salagura, West Bengal, India, on March 29, 2013. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
To generate yourself as a deity, you first meditate on emptiness and from within that you arise as a deity. The wrathful deities are not meant to frighten us, but you cannot visualise arising as a wrathful deity while continuing to cling to your ordinary appearance. You dissolve into emptiness and from that arise in the form of a deity with pure perception and maintaining the divine pride that you are that deity. In order to embark on such practice of tantra you need to cultivate the awakening mind of bodhichitta, the altruistic wish to attain enlightenment for the sake of others combined with an understanding of emptiness. And that is the basis on which to take an empowerment.

Crucial to Buddhist practice are the three trainings in ethics, concentration and wisdom. The practice of ethics includes the keeping of vows and precepts, for example monastic, lay person’s, and bodhisattva vows. Whatever vows you take as a Buddhist are dependent on taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Chandrakirti said, “These are the refuge of those who seek liberation.”

As a preliminary to the empowerment, His Holiness then gave the vows for upasakas and upasikas, laymen and laywomen, followed by the ceremony for generating the awakening mind. He said:
“The tantric path is referred to as secret and its teachings were only given to select disciples secretly. As far as generating the awakening mind is concerned, there are two main methods, that known as the seven causes and one result and another method known as equalising and exchanging self with others. Shantideva says this latter is the only secret practice to cultivate.”

Audience members receiving blessed cords as part of the Avalokiteshvara Empowerment bestowed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Salagura, West Bengal, India, on March 29, 2013. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
He confirmed that once you reach the state of Buddhahood your mind is completely absorbed in emptiness. But in order to reach such a realisation, you have to follow the path that leads to such a goal. In this context, His Holiness remarked:

“As soon as I wake up in the morning I remind myself of the Buddha’s qualities, recite a verse by Nagarjuna in praise of the Buddha and meditate on emptiness.”

“This empowerment of Avalokiteshvara comes from the lineage of the Bhikshuni Laxmi and in Tibet people often followed a fasting practice in association with it.”

At the conclusion of the empowerment, His Holiness had some advice for the crowd:

“Keep in mind the explanations of the texts we have read together. This will serve as an introduction that you can use to increase your understanding of the Buddha’s teachings. The most important thing is to concern yourself with others’ well-being. Everyone listened attentively; now, you have to make the teaching meaningful for you. As the Buddha said, we are our own masters.”

Offerings and prayers were then made for His Holiness’s long life, at the end of which he addressed the Tibetans in the crowd. He explained that it is now almost two years since he devolved his political responsibilities to the elected Tibetan leadership. Not only has he himself retired, but he has also brought an end to the involvement of the Dalai Lamas in the political affairs of Tibet, a role that began with the Fifth Dalai Lama nearly four hundred years ago. However, he said, he remains a Tibetan in whom the Tibetan people continue to place their faith and trust, so he retains a responsibility to speak up for them when he can.

Members of the crowd listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during his teachings in Salugara, West Bengal,on March 29, 2013. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
He declared that the Middle Way approach that was first mooted in the 1970s continues to attract support, particularly among intellectuals and writers in China. He affirmed that Tibet enjoyed widespread independence in the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries, so Tibetans have a right and a precedent to claim independence. However, it is also necessary to be realistic and the Middle Way approach has strong support as a realistic option. The Chinese leadership apart, many people around the world support it and, most important, it is attracting the support of Chinese people who come to know about it. He concluded with a forthright declaration that he is optimistic that Tibetans will yet be united in Tibet.

As he left the venue he was surrounded by members of the press clamouring with questions. Asked what he expects from Xi Jinping, he replied that it is still early and difficult to say, but he acknowledged that he knew his father. He said that we can view the last 60 years in China in four phases: the ideological period of Mao; the economic developments of Deng Xiaoping; the welcoming of the wealthy into the party under Jiang Zemin; and Hu Jintao’s slogan about harmony and unity. There has been change, he said, and further change will come, but it may not happen soon.

In the afternoon, His Holiness travelled to Delhi and tomorrow is expected to return to Dharamsala.

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