Sankisa, UP, India - On the stage in the marquee the Youth Buddhist Society had put up for the teachings, His Holiness the Dalai Lama bowed with folded hands towards the group of school-children assembled before him and smiling wished them “Good morning”. “Good morning” they trilled back in unison before kneeling down to recite the Mangala Sutta once more in Pali.
His Holiness recited several verses of salutation to the Buddha, as well as the mantra from the ‘Heart Sutra’, finishing with the final verse from Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’:
I prostrate to Gautama
Who, through compassion,
Taught the exalted Dharma,
Which leads to the relinquishing of all views.
“The distorted views of afflictive intelligence have no basis in reason,” His Holiness explained. “In the system of the mind certain mental states are countered by their opposites, much as heat eliminates cold. At the beginning of his ‘Fundamental Wisdom’ Nagarjuna pays homage to the Buddha who taught:
“Whatever is dependently arisen is
Unannihilated, not permanent,
Not coming, not going,
Without distinction, without identity,
And peaceful—free from conceptual fabrication,
“In so doing he countered the eight extreme views. The Buddha saw that beings are tormented because they don’t understand reality. He taught them out of compassion and a love for them comparable to a mother’s affection for her only child. From his own experience he taught dependent arising to counter ignorance.
“In his turn Je Tsongkhapa also praised the Buddha:
“Among teachers, the teacher of dependent arising,
Among knowledge, knowledge of dependent arising.
These two, like a mighty conqueror in the world,
You know to be supreme, where others do not.
“In Chapter 24 of ‘Fundamental Wisdom’, Nagarjuna writes:
“Whoever sees dependent arising
Also sees suffering,
And its origin,
And its cessation, as well as the path.
His Holiness commented that things are related to and dependent on each other. Ordinary people know that effects arise from their causes, but they don’t think about how causes are also dependent on their effect. It is because cause and effect are dependently arisen that we can talk about causality.
“Gautama the Buddha taught about the awakening mind of bodhichitta as well as the correct view. There are two systems for cultivating it—the sevenfold cause and effect and exchanging self and others. Of the two, exchanging self and others is aimed at those of sharp intelligence.”
Taking up the ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’ His Holiness drew attention to what is written at the beginning of the fourth chapter that having made a pledge to work for others’ benefit, if you don’t, it’s like deceiving sentient beings. This is why it’s necessary to cultivate altruism on a daily basis.
“At this time when we have the opportunity of a human life and have met with the teachings of the Buddha, we can be of service to others. The Buddha was of service to multitudes of beings. Having the opportunity, but not taking advantage of it, is to undervalue the life we have.”
His Holiness cited verses 28 & 29 which ask how we have been abused and misled by destructive emotions. They are the real enemy. They destroy our happiness. Since they abide within, they must be opposed from within. This is the nature of conscientiousness. From Chapter 5 he cited verse 108 that reads, ‘The defining characteristic of guarding alertness in brief is only this: to examine again and again the state of my body and mind.’
Reading the chapter on patience, His Holiness pointed out that patience counters anger, one of the most destructive of the disturbing emotions. However, you can only cultivate it if someone provokes you, as verse 111 explains: ‘Thus, since patient acceptance is only produced in dependence upon (someone with) a hateful attitude, that person, like the sacred Dharma, is worthy of veneration because he is a cause of patience.’ We consider those who do us harm to be enemies when we should regard them with gratitude and affection. As verse 113 states, ‘A Buddha’s qualities are gained from sentient beings and Conquerors alike, so why do I not respect them in the same way I respect the Conquerors?’
As he reached the end of the chapter His Holiness remarked that the opponents of making effort are laziness, distraction and low morale. He urged his listeners not to give in to low morale because it leads nowhere.
The early verses of the chapter on meditation discuss the need for concentration and how to avoid its pitfalls—laxity and excitement. There is appreciation of the qualities of solitude. When it comes to meditating on the awakening mind verse 90 reads, ‘First of all I should make an effort to meditate upon the equality between self and others. I should protect all beings as I do myself because we are all equal in (wanting) pleasure and (not wanting) pain.’ The text goes on to ask, ‘When both I and others are similar in that we wish to be happy, What is so special about me? Why do I strive for my happiness alone?’ His Holiness then cited the key verses 129 - 131:
Whatever joy there is in this world
All comes from desiring others to be happy,
And whatever suffering there is in this world
All comes from desiring myself to be happy.
But what need is there to say much more?
The childish work for their own benefit,
The Buddhas work for the benefit of others.
Just look at the difference between them!
If I do not actually exchange my happiness
For the sufferings of others,
I shall not attain the state of Buddhahood
And even in cyclic existence shall have no joy.
He mentioned Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu as examples of people whose dedication to others rather than self made them popular.
Verses 169 - 172 record how to argue with the self-cherishing attitude.
His Holiness touched briefly on the chapter on wisdom, remarking that when you are motivated by bodhichitta, meditation on emptiness helps you fulfil the aim of attaining Buddhahood. He concluded by reading its two final verses: ‘When shall I bring relief to those tormented by the fires of suffering, with the requisites of happiness springing forth from the clouds of my merit? When shall I respectfully teach emptiness and the accumulation of merit—in terms of conventional truth and without reification—to those whose views are reified?’
“I have completed this reading of ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’, the most excellent explanation of how to develop the awakening mind that values the welfare of others more highly than your own.
“Carry this book with you. It can be your teacher too. Read it again and again until it looks worn out. We’ve completed the teaching and I will soon be leaving. You too will all be going home and although we’ll be physically apart, in spirit we’ll remain together. When you can, think about what I’ve told you.”
In the words of thanks that followed, gratitude was expressed to the media who have reported the events, to the kitchen staff for preparing food, to all who have facilitated the webcast that made the teaching available to thousands more, to the performers from TIPA and Tawang, and to the children and their teachers who recited the Mangala Sutta every day.
A financial declaration was read out.
His Holiness left the stage, but continued to interact with people who pressed forward to greet him as he made his way to his car. He drove directly to Farrukhabad airport from where he flew back to Delhi.