Second Day of the Jewel Lamp Teachings in Sydney

June 15th 2013

Sydney, Australia, 15 June 2013 - His Holiness the Dalai Lama resumed his seat in the Sydney Entertainment Centre punctually at 9.30 this morning. In the centre of the backdrop to the stage is a large screen onto which images of different historic Buddha statues have been projected.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama acknowledging the audience at the start of the second day of his teachings at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in Sydney, Australia on June 15, 2013. Photo/Rusty Stewart/DLIA 2013
During the first session yesterday, it was the 2nd century CE Gandharan image of the ‘Fasting Buddha’, which His Holiness appreciated. During the second session, it was the contemporary Jade Buddha for Universal Peace, carved in Thailand for the Great Stupa in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia, which His Holiness consecrated in 2009. This morning it was a 6th century carved wood image of the Buddha from China and this afternoon the 13th century bronze Great Buddha of Kamakura, Japan.

His Holiness invited questions from the audience and the first enquired whether people following the teaching that is being webcast can consider that they are receiving the oral transmission. His succinct reply was: “Ok.” The next question was from someone who said she found the prospect of cultivating altruism and the awakening mind of bodhichitta daunting. His Holiness agreed, saying that when he was in his 30s he felt that realisation of emptiness could be within reach, but that the idea of altruism was very difficult. However, constant familiarity has made it easier and it is an idea he feels much closer to now. Regarding wisdom and when the appearance of things being intrinsically existent ceases, His Holiness said that that the appearance of independent existence persists until the last moment before enlightenment. And asked what the difference is between compassion and feeling sorry for someone, he said that compassion involves not only a sense of empathy but also the wish to do something about it.

Today, the Heart Sutra was chanted briskly in Korean to the steady beat of the wooden fish, followed by a poignant rendering of the refuge verses in Japanese, in a style that His Holiness commented he had not heard before.

He opened his remarks quoting Nagarjuna’s Jewel Garland:

“‘Those who wish to reach the highest enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings need to develop the awakening mind of bodhichitta, which is rooted in great compassion and the correct view.’ These are the factors we need to cultivate within us in meditation.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during the second day of his teachings at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in Sydney, Australia on June 15, 2013. Photo/Rusty Stewart/DLIA 2013
Training to develop the awakening mind requires periods sitting in meditation alternating with periods of post-meditation. The middle volume of Kamalashila’s ‘Stages of Meditation’ makes this clear. He says that also paying attention to the post-meditation period is a key factor. It’s a time to let go of our disturbing emotions.

His Holiness suggested that those who are serious about this practice should try getting up a little earlier. He said:

“I’m not claiming to be a serious practitioner, but I get up at 3.30 in the morning. Straight away I remember the Buddha and think about emptiness and bodhichitta. I do some exercises and spend quite some time doing analytical meditation. This is what really changes the mind. And then I stop for breakfast. I recommend that if you are serious about this, you reorganize your timetable in this way. In order to get up early, of course, you need to get about seven hours sleep, which will ensure a basic sharpness of mind.”

He told a story about staying in Berlin and noticing people dancing at a night club opposite his hotel from before he went to sleep until after he had got up again. He laughed saying that it is all right to enjoy yourself, but if you want a sharp mind, you need to get enough sleep. He recalled meeting people in Tibet in the 1950s who he knew were not telling the truth and noticing that they needed their wits about them even when they were going cheat and deceive others.

Kamalashila’s ‘Stages of Meditation’ is explicit about what needs to be done between meditation sessions. It explains the preliminary practices. Although there is no description of a merit field to visualise, it outlines the seven branch practice. Then we sit in meditation and do the visualisation or analysis. At the end it is important to dedicate the positive energy to the welfare of others. When we come out of meditation, our mindfulness should not let up. If we maintain our practice, it will strengthen our meditation when we resume the next session.

Members of the audience listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in Sydney, Australia on June 15, 2013. Photo/Rusty Stewart/DLIA 2013
His Holiness explained that in cultivating a single-pointed mind, we can take anything, such as a flower, as our object of meditation. First of all we have to have a clear image of it in our minds and focus our attention on it, not with our eyes but in our minds. He said that closing our eyes can be helpful, but it can be more helpful to keep the eyes open and let the visual consciousness become inactive. In due course, we can take the mind itself as the object of meditation. Whatever the object, the important thing is not to be distracted by our sensory consciousnesses. We also need to avoid being distracted by thoughts about the past and speculations about the future.

“Try to remain in steady meditation. Gradually you’ll find you can extend the time you can sit. A feeling will arise like clear water or looking into a clean mirror that reflects everything while adding nothing. Once you have some kind of experience like that, try to stay with it. This is how you begin to develop calm abiding or single-pointedness. You come to see the nature of clarity and awareness of the mind. You may also see how the sequence of change within the mind from moment to moment and how the mind that is the object and the mind that is the subject are both part of the same mind.”

His Holiness pointed out factors that impede stability: distraction and excitement, while mental laxity can impede clarity. He recommended that to begin with meditation sessions should be short, but they can gradually be extended.

During the lunch-break His Holiness met with a group of Tibetans, Mongolians and Bhutanese.

“We all share a common religious and cultural heritage that began when Shantarakshita introduced Buddhism to Tibet. That and our language are something to be proud of.”

Back at the teaching venue he remarked:

“In 1956 when I came to India to take part in the 2500th Buddha Jayanti celebrations, I noticed one Western Buddhist nun. When I came back to India in 1959, I asked where she was and was surprised to hear that she had become fed up and quite critical of Buddhism. Clearly she hadn’t done sufficient investigation to begin with. Generally when I speak abroad, I tell people it’s far better to stick with the religion you are born to. Change is not easy and there is a degree of danger involved. Of course, there may be exceptions for people like these monks and nuns here who have been practising a long time.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama reading from Khunu Rinpoche's "Jewel Lamp" during the second day of his teachings at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in Sydney, Australia on June 15, 2013. Photo/Rusty Stewart/DLIA 2013
He opened Khunu Rinpoche’s ‘Jewel Lamp’ saying that he would give the oral transmission by reading quickly through it, stopping to clarify verses as he saw fit. He completed reading 303 verses. When he came to a stop, he said he would finish it tomorrow, when he would also give the lay person’s precepts, the ceremony for generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta and the Bodhisattva vow.

He pointed out that his explanation of the text so far had been in the nature of a lecture, but that the various ceremonies tomorrow would involve creating a guru-disciple relationship. As such he needed to request anyone present who persists in worshipping the malevolent spirit Dolgyal, also known as Shugden, not to come. He said:

“Out of ignorance, from 1951 until 1970, I worshipped this spirit. Then I discovered that the 5th Dalai Lama, who had a thorough knowledge of it, had said that it was an entity, born from distorted prayers, that brings harm to sentient beings and the teachings of the Buddha. The 13th Dalai Lama also made efforts to contain it. I felt this was serious and that I had a responsibility to inform other people about it, although how they chose to respond is up to them.”

During his reading of the ‘Jewel Lamp’ His Holiness picked our several verses for particular acclaim; the following was one that he described as particularly important:

In the morning when you get up, generate
a heartfelt intention to be in accord with bodhichitta.
In the evening when going to bed, investigate whether
what you did was in accord with or in opposition to bodhichitta.

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