Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India, 2 June 2016 - This morning His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived at the Tsuglagkhang, greeted those seated around the throne and took his seat. The ‘Heart of Wisdom Sutra’ was recited, followed by Nagarjuna’s verse of homage to the Buddha. His Holiness then cited a verse that summarizes the Buddha’s teaching:
Commit not a single unwholesome deed,
Cultivate a wealth of virtue,
To completely tame this mind of ours—
This is the teaching of the Buddhas.
It happens that this verse is inscribed on a sign in Tibetan, Hindi and English on the wall behind the throne and beside the statue of the Buddha.
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Main Tibetan Temple on the second day of his three day teaching for Tibetan youth in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 2, 2016. Photo/Tenzin Choejor|
His Holiness observed that unwholesome deeds and virtues are relative rather than absolute terms. He recalled the story of the captain of a ship—one of the Buddha’s former lives—who perceived that one of the 500 wealthy merchants aboard his vessel was planning to kill his companions. Remonstrating with him in vain, he calculated that if he were to kill this misguided man he would not only save the other 499 merchants, but would also protect him from the severe consequences of killing them. In this case, although taking the life of a human being would have negative consequences, they were outweighed by the great merit that would be created in doing so. His Holiness added:
“As Buddhists we say we should not commit unwholesome deeds because we will suffer as a result, not simply because the Buddha said we shouldn’t.”
Taking up the reference in the verse he had quoted to the mind that is to be tamed, His Holiness posed the question, What is the mind? and mentioned that there are scientists who contend that the mind is no more than a function of the brain.
Young children from Upper TCV engaged in group debate about colours. They were followed by a slightly older group who discussed causes and conditions. Once they had finished a member of the local Introductory Buddhist Study Group took the opportunity to declare the impact Dharma study had had on him. He explained that studying the two truths had made a difference and he had come to appreciate the kindness of sentient beings. Not only do we gain enlightenment as a result of sentient beings’ kindness, everything we enjoy in our lives now depends on it. His Holiness told him that coming to such an understanding, “serves the purpose of the Dharma”.
Another member of the public stood up to express gratitude to His Holiness that as a consequence of his efforts young Tibetans have learned the value of their own culture. He thanked him again on behalf of past, present and future students and offered him a thangka of the Medicine Buddha.
Returning to the relation between the brain and the mind, His Holiness reported that towards the end of the 20th century some scientists began to ask if there might not be some subtle consciousness apart from the brain. He repeated a question he has put to some of them. If all the physical conditions for conception are in place, the womb, ovum and sperm are in optimum condition, does conception naturally take place. The answer is no. His explanation is that the further condition of consciousness may not be present.
Repeating the Madhyamaka view that the self is merely designated on the basis of body and mind, His Holiness remarked:
“At an inter-religious conference in Amritsar a leading Sufi teacher from Ajmer said that all religions deal with three questions. What is the ‘I’ or self? Does it have a beginning? And does it have an end?
“Asserting that there is no intrinsically existent self, Buddhists say the self is dependent on the combination of body and mind. Since that is the case and since mind has no beginning, self has no beginning. As for whether it has an end the majority Buddhist view is that it does not, although some Vaibhashikas say that when an arhat dies, no self remains.”
During a short break between sessions, students asked His Holiness questions. To the first who wanted to know if taking refuge in the Three Jewels was the only criterion for being a Buddhist, he replied that accepting the Four Seals:
All conditioned phenomena are transient.
All polluted phenomena are unsatisfactory or in the nature of suffering.
All phenomena are empty and selfless.
Nirvana is true peace.
is another measure in terms of view.
He told another student who had asked about the four Buddhist schools of thought that when the Buddha explained the Four Noble Truths he mentioned emptiness, but this was clarified more explicitly in the Perfection of Wisdom teachings during the second Turning of the Wheel of Dharma. Later Nalanda masters expounded on this in even greater detail.
Praising a student who thanked him for his advice last year, telling him that he meditates daily on death and impermanence and the determination to be free, His Holiness commended cultivating the qualities of being learned, humble and gentle. When another student wanted to know how what we learn in this life benefits the next life, His Holiness told him that initial understanding depends on the words we read or hear, but when we reflect on them and develop conviction the impact and meaning of what we have understood remains in the mind, even if we no longer remember the original words.
Resuming his reading of Dromtonpa’s ‘Tree of Faith’, His Holiness mentioned that what qualifies someone to be a guru is outlined in the Vinaya, while the Sutras list ten qualifications. He quoted Je Tsongkhapa as saying that those who wish to subdue the minds of others must first subdue their own. Where the awakening mind of bodhichitta was mentioned, His Holiness remarked that one of its many qualities is to endow those who have it with courage and confidence.
He announced that tomorrow he will lead a ceremony for developing the awakening mind and, since the main recipients of this teaching are students, he will also give the permission of Manjushri, the bodhisattva embodying wisdom.
“I have personal experience that if you rely on Manjushri in addition to engaging in analytical meditation you can increase your wisdom and intelligence,” he concluded.