Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India, 5 August 2012 - His Holiness arrived at the teaching ground early for the second day of teachings today, walking from the Shiwatsel Phodrang to the new teaching pavilion. He said he would begin the explanation of the texts and that yesterday’s session had been more of an introductory talk. He also explained that tomorrow he would conduct the ceremonies for giving the lay-person’s precepts, generating the aspiration to enlightenment and the Bodhisattva vows, as well as an Avalokiteshvara empowerment.
Because the Bodhisattva vows and the empowerment involve creating a bond with the lama, he said he needed to talk, as he has done before, about the malevolent spirit Dolgyal (also known as Shugden). His Holiness said that anyone who still places their trust in Dolgyal would be better not to make a bond with him. He admitted that both he and the Ganden Tri Rinpoche, Rizong Rinpoche, sitting to his right on the platform, used to propitiate Dolgyal, but that both of them had stopped after his investigations had revealed that it was improper to do so.
“I found that Dolgyal appeared during the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama who knew who he was. He wrote an invocation to the Dharma Protectors of Tibet instructing them not to aid Dolgyal. He also wrote that Dolgyal had arisen as a result of distorted prayers and that his nature was malevolent, harming the Dharma and sentient beings.
“Apparently the 10th Panchen Lama, Lobsang Trinley Lhündrub, had propitiated this spirit, but shortly before he passed away in 1989, he found a charter written by the 8th Panchen, Tenpai Wangchuk, forbidding the monks of Tashi Lhunpo from doing this practice. He then published a similar notice from Beijing prohibiting its practice. The 13th Dalai Lama also discouraged the practice. I took up the practice, but once I discovered the faults of doing so I stopped. Of my two tutors, Ling Rinpoche had nothing to do with Dolgyal, but Trijang Rinpoche followed the practice. When I stopped, it was with the full knowledge of both my tutors.
“Ganden Jangtse monastery faced difficulties as a result of turning to Dolgyal and overlooking Palden Lhamo. Many monks in the great monasteries have stopped propitiating Dolgyal, but some kept it up and formed a society, which is opposed to me and now receives support from the Chinese Communist authorities.”
His Holiness went on to say that anyone who has kept up the practice of Dolgyal out of ignorance should not have any fear about giving it up if they heed his advice. On the other hand, he said, whatever fierce spirit you choose is up to you, all His Holiness asks is that such persons do not take vows or empowerments from him.
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during his second day of teachings in Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India, on August 5, 2012. Photo/Namgyal AV Archive|
Turning to the Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment His Holiness said that the goal is enlightenment and it is called a lamp because it dispels the darkness of misunderstanding. Repeating the Buddha’s advice to his students to examine his teachings and to accept them only after proper analysis rather than out of blind faith, His Holiness mentioned how the description of the universe in the scriptures differs from the modern observable scientific view. He said that as a Buddhist he has firm conviction in the teachings of the two truths and the four noble truths and regards Buddhist knowledge as one of the world’s treasures, but he no longer accepts the description of the universe in the Abhidharmakosha. He mentioned meeting a group of monks and scholars from Korea and asking them what they thought. When they replied that as Buddhists they felt they had to accept the traditional account, he told them that he didn’t think the Buddha appeared in the world to give cosmic measurements, but to show the way to liberation from cyclic existence.
He recalled a visit to Bhandara Tibetan Settlement in Central India and a small girl making a presentation about the sun and moon and how a solar eclipse takes place. She said to him proudly, “We Tibetans say that when an eclipse takes place Rahu has eaten the sun, but it’s not true!” and His Holiness was impressed. In a similar vein, he remembered watching a lunar eclipse when he was also a child and seeing how the moon seemed to be shivering, he felt sorry for it. Now, he said, he knows there was no need for his pity.
Returning to the text, and the line ‘Homage to the Victorious Ones of the three times’ His Holiness reminded his listeners that a Buddhist is one who takes refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and on that basis proceeds to practise the Dharma. It is not enough to say, ‘I’m a Buddhist because my parents say so.’ When we understand that to become a Buddha, one who has overcome all faults and ripened all qualities, is feasible, we take refuge in the Dharma and by following the true path achieve true cessation.
The reference to the Lamp of the Path having been written at the urging of King Jangchub Wo prompted His Holiness to remark that during the time of the great Tibetan Emperors, Songtsen Gampo, Trisong Deutsen and Ralpachan, the Three Provinces of Tibet were united. In His Holiness’s village near Kumbum, they still used words of Central Tibetan origin that had been brought by soldiers posted there by the Tibetan government when the country was united. Likewise an American scholar researching Tibetan law told him that legal terms used throughout Tibet were the same, again illustrating how the Three Provinces were united.
|Members of the audience listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the second day of teachings in Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India, on August 5, 2012. Photo/Namgyal AV Archive|
In due course the country became fragmented and a descendant of the royal line, Jangchub Wo, who ruled in Western Tibet, invited Atisha to Tibet, where he composed this text at the King’s request. The text is fundamental to the Tibetan tradition because the Kadampas, Kagyupas, Sakyapas and Nyingmapas all have their own texts that draw upon it. Comparing the style of Indian books to those written in Tibet, His Holiness pointed out that Indian masters contending with many other points of view tended to be more disputatious. This is a style His Holiness also favours. He likes to set what he is teaching in contrast to other points of view. However, this is not to say he favours criticism for its own sake, he is convinced we should respect others points of view while maintaining faith in our own.
Having described persons of three capacities in a spiritual context, the small who aspire to higher rebirth, the medium who aspire to liberation and the great who aspire to enlightenment for all beings, the Lamp counsels us to appreciate the precious human life we have now. What distinguishes us from animals is our intelligence, but we have to use it meaningfully, not by harming others and indulging in sensory pleasures, but by tackling our disturbing emotions.
The Buddhist scriptures of the Kangyur and Tengyur can be categorised as dealing with Buddhist science, philosophy and religion. Buddhist science, dealing the science of the mind, is of universal benefit. Today, modern scientists are becoming aware of the wealth of knowledge in Buddhist literature concerning our emotions and the structure of our minds. Similarly, the Buddhist doctrine of dependent origination can be applied usefully in many other fields than spiritual development, such as science, economics and ecology and be of benefit to the 7 billion human beings on this planet.
This precious human life offers us many opportunities, but unless we become aware of impermanence and death we are unlikely to make use of them. The traditional meditation on death has nine points arranged under three headings: death is inevitable, the time of death is uncertain and nothing but what we have learned of the Dharma helps at the time of death. No matter how much wealth we accumulate in our lives, we can take none of it with us when we die. On this point, kings and beggars are the same. His Holiness remembered that when he and many other Tibetans left Tibet in 1959 they could take almost nothing with them. Despite all the precious, sacred artefacts stored in the Potala from the time of previous Dalai Lamas, he had to leave them all behind. Likewise, at the time of death, only the virtue we have accumulated in this life will be of help and will determine our next life.
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama waves to well-wishers as he leaves after the second day of teachings in Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India, on August 5, 2012. Photo/Namgyal AV Archive|
“Knowing that death is inevitable, determine to practise the Dharma; knowing its time is uncertain, determine to practise now; abstain from non-virtue in conjunction with taking refuge in the Three Jewels. This is the cause for higher rebirth.”
His Holiness turned to the Three Principal Aspects of the Path by Je Tsongkhapa, written as a letter of advice to Ngawang Drakpa. Relating it to what he had just taught from the Lamp for the Path, His Holiness pointed out that when you find the suffering of others unbearable, you have become a person of supreme capacity, yet this does not occur if you have not already developed a determination to be free. Suffering is caused by our innate view of the transitory collection, our misconception of self. Our task is to see if we can free ourselves from this.
The final verses His Holiness read from the Three Principal Aspects of the Path dealt with developing the awakening mind of bodhichitta, the aspiration to achieve Buddhahood for the sake of others. To begin with it requires a great deal of effort, but if you give thought to it, it comes more naturally and you may eventually achieve it. At which point His Holiness joked that the immediate pressing need was for lunch.