Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - “Today, I’ll give the empowerment of the Great Compassionate One, Ocean of Conquerors, Avalokiteshvara Jinasagara,” His Holiness the Dalai Lama announced once he had taken his seat in the temple this morning. “The 1000 Arm Chenrezig belongs to the class of Action Tantras, but this Jinasagara belongs to Highest Yoga Tantra. Whereas the sutras teach about mindfulness, in Highest Yoga Tantra there is a differentiation between coarse aspects of body and mind and subtle aspects of body and mind.
“The subtlest mind is known as the innate, spontaneously arisen mind of clear light which is the ultimate basis of the designation of a person. In Highest Yoga Tantra that clear light mind is said to be empty of any objective, independent existence in and of itself. It is actualized once the three states of mind known as luminous appearance, reddish increase and so forth dissolve.
“In all tantras we meditate on emptiness in connection with the mantra, Om svabhava-shuddhah sarvadharmah svabhava-shuddho ham. In Highest Yoga Tantra, the subtlest mind, the innate clear light mind, is referred to as the natural truth body. This mind is established as being devoid of any independent existence. We have to understand what this innate clear light mind is and use it in our meditation. After the dissolution of all the other elements, from the coarse body, wind energy and so forth, down to the subtlest whitish appearance, reddish increase and blackish near attainment, only the innate clear light mind remains.
“If you have some understanding of emptiness, you will be able to use this innate, subtlest mind of clear light in a profound way to meditate on it. To train yourself to recognise the mind of clear light, you can use the mind at the time of sleep. As you go through the process of falling asleep, the coarser states of mind dissolve. Then what are known as the nine mixings occur. This does not involve a high level of meditative attainment. As you go to sleep, the mind becomes subtler and you go through the process of dissolution. The innate mind of clear light of the time of sleep manifests and you can use it to meditate on emptiness.
“This may sound amazing, but we’re not talking about something that doesn’t exist at all. We’re talking about the mind of clear light and it is from this subtlest mind of clear light that the mind arises. There is no difference in terms of nature between our spontaneously arisen mind of clear light and the mind of the Buddha.
“When we’re awake we can’t catch this subtle mind, because we’re distracted by coarser levels of mind. When you do tantric practice all mental afflictions, destructive emotions and so on, are regarded as adventitious minds. The mind of clear light is free of such coarse states of mind. The mind of clear light is what goes on to become enlightened.”
Tea and bread were served and a verse of praise linked to His Holiness’s name was recited by way of a blessing.
I pray to you, O Supreme, Noble Holder of the Lotus (Padmapani):
You are the adamantine Gentle Glory who has Mastery of Speech,
Your vase of Sublime Insight is replete with the nectar of Exalted Wisdom
O, embellishing jewellery of the vast playful Ocean of the Upholders of Dharma!
His Holiness repeated that the Avalokiteshvara Jinasagara—Gyalwa Gyatso—empowerment he was going to give today belongs to the class of Highest Yoga Tantra. He explained that it would involve the vase, secret, knowledge and word empowerments. He reminded the gathering that they had been asked to examine their dreams last night. He noted that if they’d seen the deity in their dreams, that was a good sign. Climbing up somewhere is also regarded as positive, whereas going down is not. Generally, if you wake up in a happy state of mind, that’s good. He also clarified that it is always possible to counter what we might think of as bad omens.
His Holiness declared that having given the preliminary empowerment yesterday, he felt fortunate to be giving the actual empowerment today. He reminded his listeners that Tibetans have had a special connection with Avalokiteshvara since at least the time of King Songtsen Gampo.
Later, Shantarakshita’s disciple Kamalashila was invited to Tibet by King Trisong Detsen to challenge the view of Chinese meditators, who asserted that the practice of meditation was more important and more effective than studying on the basis of reason and logic. The king judged that Shantarakshita’s and Kamalashila’s studious and reasoned approach was more appropriate for Tibetans. He expressed his respect for the Chinese monks, but suggested that they didn’t need to remain in Tibet.
His Holiness reiterated that Tibetans have special links to Avalokiteshvara that find expression in their perpetual recitation of the six-syllable mantra and their compassionate concern for all living creatures such that they are careful not to kill even small insects.
As he began to give the empowerment, His Holiness emphasised the importance of cultivating bodhichitta, the aspiration to become enlightened for the benefit of all beings. He made it clear once more that the moment he wakes in the morning he reflects on bodhichitta and calls on Avalokiteshvara to bless him to be able to cultivate it. He clarified that the main precept is to harm no one and to provide only help. He quoted key verses from Shantideva’s ‘Entering into the Way of a Bodhisattva’.
For those who fail to exchange their own happiness for the suffering of others, Buddhahood is certainly impossible - how could there even be happiness in cyclic existence? 8/131
All those who suffer in the world do so because of their desire for their own happiness. All those happy in the world are so because of their desire for the happiness of others. 8/129
Why say more? Observe this distinction: between the fool who longs for his own advantage and the sage who acts for the advantage of others. 8/130
His Holiness encouraged his listeners to pledge that from today they would do no harm, but would only offer others help.
“The focus of my meditation is bodhichitta,” he told them, “and it brings me peace of mind. Bodhichitta is fundamental to my own feelings of joy as well as to the joy of others. Similarly, peace in the world will only come about when more people experience a peaceful, compassionate state of mind.”
His Holiness led the congregation through the process of the All-encompassing Yoga. He urged them first to reflect on the awakening mind of bodhichitta and visualize the thought as a full moon disk at their hearts. Next he encouraged them to contemplate emptiness and to visualize that understanding as a white vajra standing on the moon disk. He stressed the need to cultivate these reflections on a daily basis.
He gave the Bodhisattva and Tantric vows and counselled keeping the practice secret.
As he came to the end of the empowerment, His Holiness emulated the Buddha in giving a prophecy of the enlightenment of those listening to him. With the granting of the uncommon Vajra Master empowerment, the four empowerments of Avalokiteshvara Jinasagara were complete.
Tai Situ Rinpoché had composed a prayer for His Holiness’s long life, copies of which were distributed amongst the crowd. As it was recited, members of the Palpung and Chango communities processed through the temple presenting offerings to His Holiness. He acknowledged them with a smile and a raised hand.
The entire ceremony was concluded with the chanting of the ‘Words of Truth’.