Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - The Tsuglagkhang, the Main Tibetan Temple, was decorated with garlands of marigolds and 11,000 people were gathered in and around it when His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived this morning. Seated at the foot of the temple steps were 23 teams of young Tibetans from Europe, America and many parts of India, who are participating in the 25th Gyalyum Chenmo Memorial Gold Cup football tournament. His Holiness greeted them cheerfully and posed for a photograph with them.
Addressing the crowd from the throne, His Holiness remarked: “Every year during Saga Dawa (the fourth month of the Tibetan lunar calendar that celebrates the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and passing away) we collect 100 million ‘manis’ (the six syllable mantra of Avalokiteshvara). Many people participate in this in many places. One of the effects of the recitation is the blessing of ‘mani’ pills that are later distributed widely. The rite that we use was compiled by Serkhong Tsenshab Rinpoché.
“The monks of Dzongkhar Chödé Monastery have requested me to give the empowerment of Avalokiteshvara Lord of the World today. It’ll be good if they join in the first three days of the seven day recitation. For the practice to be meaningful it’s important to reflect on bodhichitta and the view of emptiness while conducting your recitations.
“When you’re doing this practice you need to imagine Avalokiteshvara in front of you. Avalokiteshvara is endowed with all qualities. He is the deity embodying compassion, which Chandrakirti praised as essential in the beginning, middle and end of the path.”
His Holiness recalled the 19th century master Nyengön Sungrab’s observation that the Buddha’s teachings can be divided into those that belong to the general structure, which includes the three rounds of teachings recorded in the Sutras, and specialized instructions. For those with pure karma the Buddha arose as the chief deity of the mandala and taught the tantras. These were specialized teachings given in accordance with different disciples’ needs and aptitudes.
“Past masters who meditated on Avalokiteshvara as their main deity progressed through the paths and grounds,” His Holiness added. “We classify the tantras as belonging to the Nyingma and Sarma, ancient and new, traditions. Within the Nyingma tradition some teachings are regarded as ‘kama’ or distant oral transmissions, others belong to the ‘terma’ or close revealed treasure lineages, while a third category consists of teachings derived from ‘dag nang’ or profound pure visions. Among these pure visions there are three types: those in which the deities appear as if to direct sensory perception, those in which deities manifest during meditation and those that appear in dreams.
“Today’s empowerment is part of the ‘Sangwa Gyachen’ or ‘Secret Sealed Visions’ of the great Fifth Dalai Lama, a collection that is regarded as among the main teachings of the lineage of Dalai Lamas. Tagdrag Rinpoché thought it was important to give this collection of teachings to me. In the course of receiving these empowerments I had a series of different dreams each night. There is a section related to Dzogchen that I was unsure that I had received from him so I asked Dilgo Khyentsé Rinpoché to give it to me.”
His Holiness announced that he had to undertake some preparations before giving the empowerment and asked the congregation to recite the six syllable mantra—Om mani padme hum. He explained that ‘Om’ is the initial syllable of many mantras and consists of three letters a, u and ma—aum. These represent the body, speech and mind of the Buddha and some sentient beings. He observed that although the mind is naturally pure, it is obscured by temporary defilements. These can be overcome by developing insight into reality. In this context, ‘mani’, which means jewel, represents method or the awakening mind of bodhichitta. ‘Padme’, or lotus, indicates wisdom, specifically insight into emptiness. These two need to be developed in combination and ‘hum’ represents their inseparable union. On the basis of this our body, speech and mind can be transformed into the body, speech and mind of a Buddha.
“This statue of Chenrezig Wati Zangpo,” and His Holiness indicated a standing sandalwood statue to the right of his throne, “was long in the care of the monks of Dzongkha Chödé Monastery. In exile it was brought to me. When Dzongkha Chödé moved to their own quarters in the south of India a divination was performed to see whether it should go with them or stay here. The result was that it has stayed with me. There are suggestions that the expression on the face changes, which I think may be true. I feel he sometimes smiles at me.
“When the great 5th Dalai Lama undertook an Avalokiteshvara retreat he brought together two statues that were known as Avalokiteshvara brothers—one from Ngari, this Wati Zangpo, and the other from Lhasa—which prompted pure visions. He saw Songtsen Gampo emerge from the heart of this statue.
“I don’t have pure visions like he did, but I do see things in dreams. Early in our days in exile, when I was still staying at Swarag Ashram, I dreamed that I went to the Jokhang in Lhasa and saw the statue known as the self-generated, five faced Avalokiteshvara. He beckoned me to him and I hugged him. He told me to remain diligent and not to weary of the task before me.
“Some time later, during the cultural revolution, the statue was destroyed, but some pieces of the faces were rescued and brought to me here. Some of them I placed inside the Thousand Arm Avalokiteshvara we have here; others were kept in a box next to him.” The glass fronted box was retrieved and placed on the table next to His Holiness.
“On another occasion I had a dream that Wati Zangpo stood before me and we were talking together like friends. I asked him if he had realized emptiness and he replied, ‘Yes, I have.’ Sometimes I boast that Avalokiteshvara is my boss—anyway, I think of myself as his messenger.”
As His Holiness began the procedures for giving the empowerment, he mentioned that he has given up the custom of sending potentially interfering beings away with a ritual cake. He says there seems to be a contradiction in generating compassion for all sentient beings at the beginning of the day and then expelling some of them later on. The real foes, he stressed, are the adventitious defilements that temporarily obscure the innate clarity and awareness of the mind.
At a certain point His Holiness looked up and noticed a Sikh watching with interest from the door at the back of the temple. He asked where he was from and invited him to come up and shake hands—which he did.
In the course of the empowerment His Holiness led the audience in cultivating the all-encompassing yoga that involves cultivating the awakening mind of bodhichitta and visualizing it as a bright moon disk at the heart. Next is the cultivation of the wisdom understanding emptiness that is visualized transformed into a vajra standing on that moon. He declared that this is something he does every day while encouraging those listening to do so too.
Smiling, casting his gaze over the people who lined the way, speaking to some and waving to others, His Holiness walked from the temple and down the stairs to the yard where more people vied for his attention. He spoke to one or two before climbing into a car and driving home.
Collecting 100 million ‘mani’ mantras will begin tomorrow.