Dalai Lama https://www.dalailama.com/ en-us Tue, 19 Jan 2021 13:01:58 +0000 Tue, 19 Jan 2021 13:01:58 +0000 Leadership & Happiness https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/leadership-happiness Sun, 17 Jan 2021 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/leadership-happiness Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - Seeing the faces of students and their Professor, Arthur Brooks, on the screens before him this morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama smiled and waved. The students and their professor waved back. Brooks greeted him, saying, “Tashi Delek” and told him how excited he was about the impending meeting. He introduced His Holiness to the virtual audience as the leader of the Tibetan people, who has worked tirelessly for their dignity. He also described him as a voice for human unity.

Arthur Brooks opening the conversation on Leadership and Happiness with His Holiness the Dalai Lama online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 17, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Brooks, who teaches a class in Leadership & Happiness at Harvard Business School, opened the conversation by asking His Holiness how spirituality and meditation can help us find happiness. His Holiness’s first response was to say how honoured he felt to be talking to students and teachers at Harvard.

“The very purpose of our lives is to lead a happy life,” he went on. “If things become unbearable, we are liable to lose the will to live. So, self-confidence and hope are key factors for our survival. Just as we need to observe physical hygiene to stay well, we also need to cultivate emotional hygiene, learning to deal with destructive emotions like fear and anger. Confidence and a sense of hope give us the will to see our lives as useful and meaningful, a source of inner strength, ultimately leading to peace of mind.

“We are social animals. From birth, others look after us. As we grow, we learn to help each other and life becomes meaningful. Selfishness is not only contrary to social behaviour, it’s impractical. To be realistic, we need a sense of the oneness of the seven billion human beings alive today. In that context, selfishness undermines our pursuit of happiness. Look at young children. They have a natural, happy sense of community with their friends and companions.

“Education is very important in today’s world and the Harvard Business School can be influential in exercising and sharing the ideas we’ll discuss today. The idea that all human beings belong to one community is not explored enough. It’s important to appreciate that we are all the same in being human. Wherever we are from, we all have to live together on this one planet.

“Today, the economy is global, but the threat the climate crisis represents is global too. We can’t just think locally anymore because these issues affect us all. In the past we might have thought only of our own village, our own nation, even our own continent. Today, we have to think of all of ‘us’. We have to use our human intelligence in a broader way, taking the whole of humanity into account.”

Brooks asked His Holiness why, in his experience, some leaders are unhappy with their lot. His Holiness answered that it’s difficult to say. Certainly, some leaders seem to create trouble for themselves. He said that of the number of leaders, including spiritual leaders, he’s met, those who were more liberal and open-minded seemed to be happier. Those more concerned with themselves have tended to be less happy.

His Holiness again highlighted the crucial role of education. If the education system encourages narrow-minded thinking, that’s how leaders will turn out. This is one good reason why the education system needs to be more broad-minded and compassionate, focussing on the whole of humanity.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to the online audience of Harvard Business School students from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 17, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness dismissed a question about leaders being lonely on the grounds that these days television and mobile phones put us in touch with everyone. Technology has greatly improved our ability to communicate. He contrasted nomad families on the vast grasslands of Tibet with the millions who live side by side in modern cities. The nomads are often physically distant from each other, but they know and trust that, should the need arise, they can call on each other for help. In cities, not only do neighbours not know each other very well, their level of trust is low. Loneliness can be a symptom of being self-centred and having insufficient concern for others.

With regard to becoming happier, more effective leaders, His Holiness quoted what members of the Pritzker family had told him when they invited a group of Tibetans to settle in the vicinity of Chicago. They expressed appreciation of Tibetans strong sense of community responsibility. They hoped the way Tibetans tend to live in peace and harmony would set an example for others to follow.

His Holiness also referred to his admiration for the European Union and the way historical enemies decided to set their hostility aside in favour of the wider European community. These days when they talk of ‘we’ and ‘us’, they’re thinking of the whole community. He expressed the hope that young people today can learn from this.

In replying to students’ questions His Holiness recommended paying attention to medical advice about how much connection people can safely have while trying to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. He remarked that long periods of isolation have provided him with the solitude to meditate.

Asked how technological developments influence the polarization of society, as opposed to developing harmony, compassion, and respect for differences, His Holiness stated that it depends on how we use technology. He cited the example of nuclear weapons whose power to deter war and preserve the peace depends explicitly on their not being used. How we use technology, such as social media, depends on our motivation and our overall attitude. Remembering that we belong to one human community trying to live together in harmony on this one planet will lead to more positive results.

As soon as we are born, our mothers show us compassion and provide us with security. This experience of happiness is the basis of our survival, but it is also the basis of our human community. Because he regularly reminds himself of the oneness of humanity, His Holiness declared that wherever he goes and whoever he meets, he regards them as human brothers or sisters. He observed that this sense of equality is a reason why democracy is a better system of government than rule by kings or queens. He added that since the Tibetan community in exile achieved an elected leadership he has been able to retire completely from his political responsibilities.

When a student wanted advice on dealing with frustration and disappointment, His Holiness repeated what he called the practical advice of an Indian scholar from the past. Analyse the situation; study it. If there is a way to overcome the difficulty you face, there’s no need for worry or fear. Just put the solution into effect. If the problem is beyond your control, fear and worry won’t help.

A student from Harvard Business School asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question during their conversation on Leadership and Happiness online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 17, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Ultimately,” His Holiness added, “whether life is successful or not depends on us. We are our own masters. Knowledge and self-confidence are important. Foolish or poorly founded confidence can be dangerous. Take a broad perspective. Look at things from different angles. Analyse and investigate, but combine your analysis with warm-heartedness.

“Business takes place within human society. Whether it’s a success or not depends on others. If they trust you, you’ll be successful. Education and training need to focus on the consequences of our actions for the whole of humanity and the well-being of society in the long run.

“Real happiness is related to our mind and emotions rather than material prosperity alone. This is why even poor people can be happy and joyful. Business people and the wealthy may have plenty, but if they always want more, they feel discontented. We may be physically well-off, but fear and mistrust on a mental level are likely to stoke anger and jealously, ultimately leading to unhappiness. Pursuing a materialistic way of life doesn’t provide all the answers, we also need to learn how to manage our emotions.

“Being contented on a mental level is the main thing. The Tibetan yogi Milarepa lived in an empty cave on the side of a mountain. One night he woke to find a thief searching the cave. He laughed at him saying, ‘How do you think you’ll find at night what I can’t find during the day?’ Milarepa looked like a beggar, but because he knew how to maintain peace of mind, he was wealthy within. We need to learn how to strengthen our constructive emotions and how to reduce those that are destructive.”

His Holiness told a student who wanted to know how he viewed different approaches to spirituality that one of his personal commitments is to respect all spiritual traditions. He observed that they reveal differences of philosophical view, but share a common message of compassion. Even within Buddhism there is the Pali tradition that depends on faith and the Sanskrit tradition that is shaped by logic and reason. Masters of the Nalanda tradition took it upon themselves to investigate even the Buddha’s words.

His Holiness explained that this background of reasoned investigation, always seeking the reason why, has enabled a fruitful dialogue to develop between Tibetan scholars and contemplatives and modern scientists. As a result, Tibetans have revised their views of cosmology and as scientists refine their understanding of the brain Tibetan scholars and contemplatives have shared with them their understanding of the workings of the mind. His Holiness emphasised taking an objective, unbiased approach to investigation.

Arthur Brooks asked what business and government leaders can do to bring happiness to others. His Holiness told him that since so many of the problems we face are our own creation, it’s crucial to understand the workings of our minds and emotions. He stressed that we can look at these in a purely objective and secular context. He mentioned the useful observation of quantum mechanics that there is a difference between appearance and reality. Disturbing emotions, such as fear, suspicion and anger, are based on appearances.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering a question from a Harvard Business School student during their conversation on Leadership and Happiness online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 17, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Analyse your emotions,” His Holiness declared. “Ask yourself whether you’re angry with your opponent’s mind, his body, or his actions. If you investigate carefully, you’ll find that your opponent is not intrinsically hostile as he appears to you. In fact, nothing exists intrinsically as it appears to do. Your opponent has not been your enemy from birth, neither has your friend been someone you’ve been attached to for all that time. Becoming a friend or an opponent is dependent on circumstances. The idea that there is a difference between how things appear and their reality is something I find very useful.

“The views we adopt are sophisticated; our negative emotions are sophisticated; but our ability to question and investigate are sophisticated too.”

Arthur Brooks briefly summarized the conversation, the main theme of which was that happiness arises from showing love and affection for others. He highlighted four points: Happiness arises from being useful, from showing concern for others. Unhappiness is something we create in our own minds when we think only of ourselves. We need to employ our intelligence with warm-heartedness. And since happiness is rooted in showing love and compassion for others, we need to be able to think of our fellow human beings as our brothers and sisters.

Brooks expressed the hope that the morning’s conversation would inspire the young people listening to be the kind of leaders who lift others up and thanked His Holiness for his participation.

“Time is always moving on,” His Holiness replied. “The past is past and can’t be changed. The future can be shaped by the present. Those of you who are young now hold the keys to a happier future. Don’t just copy what has been done before, be imaginative and realistic. This is why sharpening your minds is important.

“My generation created a lot of problems as a consequence of some of them I lost my country and fled here to India as a refugee. But one result is that I’m no longer bound by formality and we can talk easily together, so I’ve been happy to talk to Harvard students and teachers today. I hope to see you again.”

]]>
A Conversation on the Crisis of Climate Feedback Loops https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/a-conversation-on-the-crisis-of-climate-feedback-loops Sun, 10 Jan 2021 14:21:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/a-conversation-on-the-crisis-of-climate-feedback-loops Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - Susan Bauer-Wu, President of the Mind & Life Institute opened a conversation that was to take place between His Holiness the Dalai Lama, climate activist Greta Thunberg and scientists Susan Natali and William Moomaw. She asked His Holiness, “How are you?” He laughed and answered, “Look at my face. My body is getting old, but I’m quite fit. And because I have peace of mind, I can smile. I’m the servant of the seven billion human beings alive today, dedicated to their well-being. The pandemic has made it difficult for us to travel, but this online technology has become very helpful.”

Bauer-Wu welcomed the participants, viewers and listeners to an auspicious global gathering to raise awareness of climate feedback loops through science, secular ethics and social action. She announced that the event was also the official launch of a series of short films focussed on climate emergency feedback loops in the hope of inspiring people to take action.

Diana Chapman Walsh, moderator of the Conversation on the Crisis of Climate Feedback Loops introducing the program as His Holiness the Dalai Lama watches at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 10, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Diana Chapman Walsh, moderator of the morning’s conversation, stated that feedback loops were behind two important terms — emergency and possibility. Since scientists are worried about the implications of feedback loops, there is a need to wake people up to those implications. We have to learn about feedback loops, she said, and that the forces of nature are also forces of possibility. And we have to learn how we can be part of a solution.

She mentioned that His Holiness and Greta both respect science and are both moved by how urgent things have become. They are two visionaries calling for action.

Chapman Walsh quoted parts of a letter His Holiness wrote to Greta Thunberg that are included in his new book with Franz Alt — Our Only Home. In his letter he made this important point: “We humans are the only species with the power to destroy the earth as we know it. Yet, if we have the capacity to destroy the earth, so, too, do we have the capacity to protect it.” Chapman Walsh asked what his thoughts were when he wrote it.

“When I heard about what this young girl thought about the environment and climate change and what she was doing about it,” he replied, “I was filled with admiration. I felt that for someone so young to have such concern for the planet was a really hopeful sign.

“Everybody wants to live a happy life. Not only human beings, but animals and insects too. Everyone is concerned about their own existence. Our human brains are something special, something remarkable, but if you look at our world today, human beings are the biggest trouble-makers. Other animals just eat, sleep and have sex, but we human beings think about ‘us’ and ‘them’. We create many good things, but we also cause a lot of problems. We think about ourselves, focussing on my nation, my country and my family in ever diminishing circles of interest. And yet individuals’ lives depend on the community in which they live. These days all seven billion human beings are our community. We have to be concerned about the whole of humanity, because we all depend on each other.”

Greta Thunberg opened her remarks with words of thanks, first to the organizers for hosting the event and secondly to His Holiness for being such a staunch advocate of the need to be aware of the environment and climate change. “We young people want to say thank you for standing up for us. There may be differences of age between us, but our shared goal is to protect the planet. “

She acknowledged that the extract from her speech to the UN, featured in the clip that was about to be shown, was dramatic. “However,” she said, “there is a lack of awareness. Science is not discussed enough. We need to spread awareness, because people don’t know what’s happening. Most people, for example, don’t understand feedback loops.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamsala, India listening to Greta Thunberg during their online conversation on January 10, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Our actions have consequences. We have such a lack of respect for nature that we don’t even consider the consequences.”

His Holiness responded, “Human nature can be self-centred, but each one of us depends on our community to survive; and today our community is the whole of humanity. If we want to look after ourselves, we also have to think about what our community needs. We have to take a practical view of the whole of humanity and this planet which is our only home.”

Before the first video clip was shown, Diana Chapman Walsh explained that feedback loops relate to cause and effect. Greenhouse gas emissions are the cause that gives rise to the warming of the planet. This in turn causes more greenhouse gases to be released in an accelerating loop.

The clip shows Greta Thunberg telling a UN meeting, “The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in ten years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees... but those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution.”

The narrator explained, “Emissions from fossil fuels are the input which add heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere, raising Earth's temperature, and setting in motion self-perpetuating warming loops. As the climate warms, forests, once removers of carbon, release it back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. These are the kinds of feedback loops that lead to further warming and they are spinning out of control.”

Chapman Walsh introduced two scientists, Susan Natali who works in the rapidly warming Arctic and her colleague whose expertise is in forests, William Moomaw. Natali showed a second clip about permafrost. She declared that the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. As the permafrost melts the ground collapses, so not only does it impact the climate through the release of greenhouse gases, it can entirely transform the landscape. Natali’s findings are that if action is taken, if we substantially reduce fossil fuel emissions and protect our forests, the rate of warming in the Arctic, and also on the Tibetan plateau, could be cut by half.

Susan Natali explaining about the melting of permafrost in the arctic as His Holiness the Dalai Lama watches online during their conversation on climate feedback loops from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 10, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

William Moomaw’s field of expertise is forests. These featured in the third clip. The narrator explained, “It comes down to how we manage temperate forests. Human activity has kicked off natural warming loops, human ingenuity could reverse their direction, turning them into cooling feedbacks instead. It would mean protecting and expanding forests, preserving marshes, grasslands and all natural habitats...”

Moomaw pointed out that carbon dioxide emissions began to increase after 1750 and the beginnings of industrialization. However, half of all human sourced emissions have taken place since the first climate treaty in 1992. Halting emissions is essential, but to change our trajectory in the direction of a more benign climate, we need to remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Forests are the most powerful way to do that. However, change is happening because forests like the Amazon are accumulating less carbon than they did ten years ago.

George Woodwell, an early pioneer warning about fossil fuel use, has said, “We have to be very progressive in our transition away from fossil fuels and into a new, green world. But it takes imagination.” Moomaw concluded, “We can’t allow action to come too late.”

Diana Chapman Walsh invited His Holiness and Greta Thunberg to put questions to the scientists, starting with Greta. “There is so much to ask,” she said. “Why is it, as you have clarified, that feedback loops are not included in global carbon estimates.” Susan Natali replied that sometimes scientists just move slowly. She did, however, suggest that even rough numbers can be enough to show how serious things are.

“So,” Greta continued, “announcements about cutting carbon emissions are based on incomplete findings. What are we to do to fix this?”

“Since there is a risk of underestimating the significance of feedback loops, Natali told her, we need to be more ambitious and make our voices heard.”

Invited to comment, His Holiness remarked, “We already have solar power and wind power and we are putting them to use. Now, we need more effort. We have to pay attention to deforestation; we have to protect the environment better. In my own life I have witnessed the decline in snowfall, first in Tibet and later in Dharamsala. Some scientists have told me that there is a risk of places like Tibet eventually becoming deserts. That’s why I’m committed to speaking out for the protection of Tibet’s environment. We have to cultivate more trees.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama commenting on the presentations during the Conversation on the Crisis of Climate Feedback Loops from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 10, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“So much depends on education. For a thousand years we’ve behaved in one way, but now global warming and climate change force us to take our relationship with nature more seriously. We recognise that the melting of the Arctic is important, but what can we do to protect it? At least we can switch to using clean energy.

“I have a dream that it might be possible to employ solar power to drive desalination plants on the coast of North Africa and the whole coast of Australia in order to produce clean water to green the Sahara and the Australian hinterland.”

Chapman Walsh recalled that His Holiness mentioned the pressing global concern with the environment during his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. Since then, new science has developed and with it new ways to enlist nature as an ally in solving the problem of feedback loops. Decision makers are not paying attention, she said, so those of us who understand have to act together as one community. She called on Greta to voice her call to action.

“We are nearly out of time,” she declared. “We need to educate ourselves. We need awareness. We need to understand what is happening, as well as what is not happening.

“Please educate yourselves — there is so much information — and share what you learn with others. If enough people demand change, they will reach a critical mass who cannot be ignored.

“Focus on solutions. Restoring nature is a solution to the climate crisis and the bio-diversity crisis. We have to do everything we can. Let’s change the rate of change. I’d like to thank everyone who has taken part in this conversation as well as everyone who has watched it.

William Moomaw stated that to achieve a safe climate we must cool the Arctic, which means stopping the feedback loops associated with it. It’s essential to curtail the release of heat-trapping gases, but feedback will continue even if we were to stop emissions today. In addition to stopping emissions, we must increase ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Since larger trees are most effective, deforestation must stop. But we must also reforest, change grazing patterns, review how we deal with wetlands and generally improve agriculture.

William Moomaw speaking about solutions to stopping the climate feedback loops during the conversation with His Holiness the Dalai Lama joining from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 10, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness was asked to sum up. “It seems that as human life has evolved over millions of years,” he observed, “we have taken everything for granted. We’ve used nature’s resources without thinking and have created problems. We must educate ourselves to understand how our life-style today has to change. We need to use natural resources differently. We have to think seriously about the reality of the situation we currently find ourselves in.

“Education and the efforts of young leaders can raise awareness that things are serious. In contrast to this, we tend to take our usual way of doing things for granted. We have instead to take the reality of our predicament seriously. We have to protect our world.

“In the past when people faced problems of this magnitude, depending on their faith, they would turn to God or the Buddha for help. But prayer is not sufficient, we have to act. What happens depends on what we do. We face problems that are a result of our own behaviour, therefore we have to find our own solutions.”

Diana Chapman Walsh concurred. “You’re right. We must take responsibility and act. There has to be social and climate justice. We need social feedback loops to meet the looming threat. We must demand that our leaders act as if the house was on fire. We should remember that working together with others is a way of dealing with whatever anxiety we may feel about what is going on. The series of five short films about feedback loops that show how the Earth is warming the Earth can be found here: https://feedbackloopsclimate.com.

“We thank you all for being with us. Thank you, Your Holiness, thank you Greta. Finally, I’d like to thank the Mind & Life Institute for hosting this event.”

His Holiness had the last word: “This occasion has given me the opportunity to see many old friends’ faces once again. This matter is everyone’s responsibility and I make a commitment to continue to work for a solution. I’d like to thank Greta for taking the issue so seriously that she encourages the rest of us and gives us hope.

“When I met President Obama and we held discussions, I told him, ‘You are younger than me, I hope that you will continue to take these ideas forward after I’m gone’, and he agreed. So, similarly, I appeal to you, my younger Swedish sister, to continue to take responsibility for humanity and the world. Thank you.”

]]>
The Heart Sutra - Third Day https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/the-heart-sutra-third-day Thu, 07 Jan 2021 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/the-heart-sutra-third-day Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - As soon as he entered the room from where he teaches online this morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama scanned the faces on the screens in front of him, smiled and waved before he sat down. After Ven JinOk had bowed in greeting and chanted the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Korean, His Holiness resumed his teaching.

Ven JinOk chanting the Heart Sutra in Korean on the last day of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's three day teaching from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 7, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Today is the third day of these teachings. Have you been able to reflect on what we’ve discussed? When you receive explanations from your teacher, don’t leave it at that, go over it again and again in your mind. Reflect on it so that you become convinced of what you’ve heard. The point is to effect a transformation in your mind. Reflect on what you hear; read books.

“I’ve received teachings on the stages of the path since I was a child, but if I hadn’t thought them over, they’d have had little impact on me. By thinking through what I’ve heard, and comparing one teaching with another, my understanding has grown.

“These days, as soon as I wake up, I recite a verse to myself aspiring to attain enlightenment. I reflect on verses by Nagarjuna relating to emptiness and think through the four logical absurdities Chandrakirti mentions would ensue if things were to have objective existence. I also mull over a verse from Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’:

Neither one with the aggregates, nor different from them,
The aggregates are not (dependent) on him, nor is he (dependent) on the aggregates.
The Tathagata does not possess the aggregates.
What else is the Tathagata?

“It’s by reflecting on instructions like these that we can develop conviction in and experience of the teachings.

“Ornament for Clear Realization’ tells us that the teachings of the Buddha are of three types: words that came from his mouth, words that were blessed by the Buddha and words permitted by him. Although the bulk of the sutra may be classified as words permitted by the Buddha, when he responds to the conversation between Avalokiteshvara and Shariputra saying, ‘“Excellent, excellent, Son of the noble lineage, it is that way. It is that way. As you have taught, the profound perfection of wisdom is to be practised. The Tathagatas too rejoice”, these words of appreciation are spoken by him.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the virtual audience on the final day of his three day teaching requested by Korean Buddhists from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 7, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“During the first round of his teachings, the Buddha explained the four noble truths three times, in terms of their nature, functionality and result. When he explained their nature, he declared that suffering is to be known, the origin is to be eliminated, and cessation is to be actualized by cultivating the path. He didn’t go into selflessness in great detail.

“In the second round of his teachings, when he explained the perfection of wisdom, he clearly showed that things do not exist inherently. You can see this, for example, in the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra in 8000 lines.

“The Sutras can be quite repetitive, but Nagarjuna summarizes what they say in his six collections of reasoning, especially the ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’, and Chandrakirti elaborates on that. We also rely on the works of Dignaga and Dharmakirti that deal with reason and logic and I commend them to you Koreans too. They provide the tools that enable us to prove the truth of the teaching.

“Aryadeva also sheds light on how our exaggerated outlook prompts us to create all sorts of problems.

As the tactile sense [pervades] the body
Ignorance is present in all [afflictive emotions].
By overcoming ignorance, you will also
Overcome all afflictive emotion
s.

"And although there are specific ways to counter anger and attachment, we can overcome ignorance by coming to understand emptiness and dependent arising and so root out all afflictive emotions. Nothing exists as it appears to us; things only exist by way of designation. When we can combine an understanding of emptiness with the awakening mind, we’ll make progress on the path. This concludes our reading of the ‘Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom."

Because several interested people had requested it, His Holiness next gave the transmission of a Guru Yoga of Avalokiteshvara entitled a Stairway to Potala, which he composed in Tibet.

The central figure in these thangka paintings hanging behind His Holiness is the four armed Avalokiteshvara described in the Guru Yoga of Avalokiteshvara, the transmission of which he gave on the final day of his teachings from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 7, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness once again emphasized the need to combine the practice of bodhichitta with an understanding of emptiness. He conceded that he also does Yidam practice, but the main transformation of his mind has come about through cultivating bodhichitta. He noted that in tantra you visualize deities arising out of emptiness. He also remarked that the special feature of meditation on Vajrabhairava is in its combining peaceful and wrathful practice.

In preparation for the ceremony for cultivating bodhichitta, His Holiness encouraged his listeners to visualize Buddha Shakyamuni in the space before them surrounded by the eight close disciples, Maitreya, Samantabhadra, Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri and so on. They in turn are encircled by the seventeen masters of Nalanda.

He stressed the importance of cultivating a good heart, of aspiring to help and serve all other beings. Having found this precious human life, we should be determined to make it meaningful. He briefly read through the three verses to be repeated during the ceremony.

I seek refuge in the Three Jewels;
Each and every wrongdoing I confess.
I rejoice in the virtues of all beings.
I take to heart the state of Buddhahood.

I go for refuge until I am enlightened
To the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Supreme Assembly,
In order to fulfil the aims of myself and others
I develop the awakening mind.

Having developed the aspiration for highest enlightenment,
I invite all sentient beings as my guests,
I shall enact the delightful supreme enlightening practices.
May I become a Buddha to benefit all sentient beings.

Following the third repetition, he recited a verse of celebration and rejoicing from Shantideva’s ‘Entering into the Way of a Bodhisattva’.

Today, my birth is fruitful. My human life is justified. Today, I am born into the family of the Buddha. Now I am a child of the Buddha. 3/25

When it was suggested to him that technology such as mobile phones might intrude on a Buddhist spiritual practice, His Holiness conceded that if such practice was only about sitting quietly that might be true. However, the main practice, is to develop an aspiration to enlightenment and to help other beings. In this connection, a mobile phone, as a means of communication, can be useful.

A member of the online audience in Korea asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question during the final day of teachings from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 7, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Asked how to develop patience, His Holiness affirmed that it doesn’t arise spontaneously. You have to make an effort and familiarize yourself with it. What’s more, it’s those hostile to us rather than our friends who teach us patience. Shantideva makes this clear in chapter six of his ‘Entering into the Way of the Bodhisattva’ and in chapter eight that deals with altruism. He mentioned that Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ also discusses the virtues of patience.

With regard to coping with the emotional hardships that the covid pandemic has entailed, His Holiness said he was aware of the apprehension and anxiety experienced by many people in different parts of the world. He suggested that from a broader perspective our bodies are of the nature of suffering. We are naturally subject to sickness and death. What people are experiencing now can be seen as the result of past karma. On the one hand, if we have not created the karma, we will not encounter its fruit, but on the other, if the causes and conditions have been brought about, it’s difficult to avoid their result.

He suggested that being apprehensive and anxious doesn’t improve our health. He recalled Shantideva’s advice that if there is a remedy to a problem, there’s no need to worry about it. And if there is no remedy, worrying won’t help.

A Korean mother working in London wanted to know how to treat all children equally without focussing only on her own. His Holiness told her that followers of theistic traditions like Christianity say we are all children of one god, which makes us all equal. From a Buddhist perspective, it’s helpful to view all sentient beings as being near and dear to us like members of our own family. It’s useful to take a reasoned approach and reflect on the advantages of cherishing others.

Ven JinOk thanked His Holiness for his advice during these hard times. He told him that many people in Korea had been touched by what His Holiness had to say. He expressed appreciation at being able to see and listen to His Holiness online and voiced the hope that the opportunity may be repeated in the future. He prayed that His Holiness stay well.

In reply His Holiness said, “We’ve known each other a long time. At the moment, because of the pandemic, we cannot meet in person, but meeting together online can help us fulfil the purpose of our lives, which is to achieve inner transformation. I’m sure there will be opportunities to do this again in the future. In the meantime, be happy. Thank you.”

]]>
The Heart Sutra - Second Day https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/the-heart-sutra-second-day Wed, 06 Jan 2021 15:10:20 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/the-heart-sutra-second-day Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - Ven JinOk opened the second day of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings with a rhythmic recitation of the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Korean. His Holiness responded, “Today, we’ll continue with our explanation of this text that is recited by most followers of the Sanskrit tradition in Asia.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the virtual audience on the second day of his teachings requested by Korean Buddhists from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 6, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“In the first round of Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings he made clear that suffering must be known, ignorance must be eliminated and true cessation must be actualized by cultivating the path. The true nature of the mind is clarity and awareness. Mental defilements are temporary and adventitious; therefore, they can be eliminated from the mind. The Nalanda masters taught that the potential to attain enlightenment is naturally within us. The basic nature of the mind can be recognised. As we eliminate defilements, the qualities of a Buddha, such as the ten powers and so forth, naturally emerge.

“In our monastic centres of learning we study the works Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti composed on the basis of reason and logic. Chandrakirti says that the profound view of emptiness can be realized by those with a propensity from the past.

“Mind Only and the Middle Way are the two principal Buddhist schools of philosophy. Mind Only states that there is no duality between subject and object. The Middle Way School asserts that things do not exist independently. The Middle Way Consequentialists represented by Chandrakirti declare that if it is asserted that things have some objective or self-characterized nature then four logical absurdities ensue.

“If things had some sort of existence from their own side, the way ignorance misconceives it, it should be findable. The different forms, sounds and smells around us appear to exist from their own side, but cannot be found to actually exist that way. Even the form body and truth body of a Buddha cannot be found when their intrinsic identity is sought.

“‘Form is empty’, so it can’t be found under analysis. But does this mean it doesn’t exist? It does not, because form exists in dependence on other factors. As I yesterday quoted Nagarjuna as saying, ‘That which is dependently arisen is explained to be emptiness. That, which is a dependent designation is itself the middle way’. Since form and so forth exist and affects us, we say that they exist, but not by their own nature.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama commenting on the Heart Sutra on the second day of his teachings from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 6, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness read through the text and highlighted the reference to the twelve links of dependent arising, ‘There is no ignorance, no cessation of ignorance and so on up to no old age and death, and no cessation of old age and death’.

He asked, if you understand emptiness will you be able to eliminate the obscurations to knowledge? The answer is ‘No’, because to do this requires an accumulation of merit and wisdom. He then clarified that by giving you accumulate merit. But if you give, motivated by the wish to attain enlightenment for all sentient beings, as long as space endures, such a far-sighted vision will generate immense merit. And that immense merit will help you eliminate obscurations to knowledge.

The awakening mind of bodhichitta, the courageous heart aspiring to achieve Buddhahood for the sake of all sentient beings, is something remarkable. It counters the self-cherishing attitude, as well as undermining the misconception of a self of persons and phenomena. If you have a warm heart, your motivation will be pure. Adverse circumstances will be transformed into favourable conditions.

The awakening mind brings happiness in the short term and in the long run leads to enlightenment. The most profound means for cultivating it is the practice of equalizing and exchanging self and others. The gist of this is to imagine taking the suffering of others upon yourself and giving your happiness to them.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during the second day of his teachings requested by Korean Buddhists from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 6, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

In his 'Entering into the Way of a Bodhisattva', Shantideva extols this powerful practice as follows:

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

His Holiness revealed how progress on the path is indicated by the mantra of the 'Heart Sutra'. Gaté gaté — proceed, proceed — indicates the path of accumulation, which we reach with our initial experience of bodhichitta, and the path of preparation that is associated with the initial understanding of emptiness. Paragaté — proceed beyond — represents the path of seeing, the first insight into emptiness and achievement of the first bodhisattva ground. Parasamgaté — thoroughly proceed beyond — denotes the path of meditation and the achievement of the subsequent bodhisattva grounds. Bodhi svaha — be founded in enlightenment — signifies laying the foundation of complete enlightenment.

His Holiness reiterated that in order to reach Buddhahood, we need to acquaint ourselves with the awakening mind of bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness every day. He announced that he will conduct a ceremony for generating the awakening mind tomorrow.

The first questioner today asked whether we may become more attached to ourselves in the course of spiritual practice. His Holiness answered that affection for ourselves occurs naturally and instinctively. He remarked that Buddha Shakyamuni saw he had the potential to reach perfection, so he accumulated merit and wisdom for three countless aeons. Arya Asanga, because of his passion to help others, meditated long on Maitreya of whom he had a vision and from whom he received teachings. His too is a case where attachment to the goal can be seen as synonymous with compassion.

A member of the virtual audience asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question during the second day of teachings requested by Korean Buddhists from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 6, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Touching on relations with a spiritual friend, His Holiness quoted Jé Tsongkhapa’s statement in his ‘Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path’, that those who will tame others should first tame themselves. A teacher should be disciplined and should have achieved realization within the context of the three trainings in ethics, concentration and wisdom.

He noted that to repay a teacher’s kindness, especially if you are no longer with them, you need to practise what they taught. Recall their teachings, reflect and meditate on them and so integrate what you’ve been taught within yourself.

Responding to an artist who had asked if there were any works of art that had particularly moved him, His Holiness declared that the works of art that he found most amazing were nuclear weapons — so powerfully destructive. He also mentioned airplanes. He clarified that we can’t say that either art or technology are unnecessary, but their value depends on how they are used. If art and technology are used to destroy others, it’s really unfortunate. If creativity is driven by a negative state of mind, the result is useless.

His Holiness went on to say that what we all want and need is affection. Therefore, it would be good if art inspired people to show each other kindness and affection. Since we all survive because of the kindness of others, it would be excellent if works of art inspired us to be kind and affectionate in return.

Commenting on different ways of approaching meditation, His Holiness suggested that simply withdrawing the mind, without cultivating any reflection, will not help tackle destructive emotions. Since what brings us ruin is our self-cherishing attitude and our misconceiving the intrinsic existence of beings and things, we need to develop a clear understanding of reality and to learn to cultivate concern for others. His Holiness suggested that concentration and mere non-conceptual meditation will not fulfil these goals. He reiterated the importance of cultivating the awakening mind and an understanding of reality.

The session concluded with His Holiness saying, “See you again tomorrow.”

]]>
The Heart Sutra - First Day https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/the-heart-sutra-first-day Tue, 05 Jan 2021 15:22:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/the-heart-sutra-first-day Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - After His Holiness the Dalai Lama had arrived before the video cameras and taken his seat this morning, Korean Abbot Ven. JinOk welcomed him and reiterated the Korean disciples’ request that he explain the ‘Heart Sutra’ to them. Ven. JinOk then proceeded to recite the Sutra to the beat of the ‘moktak’ or wooden bell he held in his hands.

Abbot Ven. JinOk reciting the Heart Sutra in Korean at the start of the first day of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 5, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Today, we are beginning three days of teachings for a group of Dharma brothers and sisters from Korea.” His Holiness announced. “I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity. There are Perfection of Wisdom sutras in 100,000 lines, 25,000 lines and 8,000 lines, while the shortest version consists of the letter ‘A’. The ‘Heart Sutra’ is referred to as the ‘Perfection of Wisdom in 25 Lines’, and despite its relative brevity, it is a comprehensive text.

“The Perfection of Wisdom teachings cannot be followed merely on the basis of faith. These are the kind of teachings that those of sharp intelligence follow on the basis of reason. The word wisdom in the name of these teachings shows that to understand them requires intelligence and the exercise of our analytical faculty. As the Buddha advised his followers, 'O monks and scholars, as gold is tested by burning, cutting and rubbing, examine my words thoroughly and accept them only then — not just out of respect for me.'

“Those who taught and studied at Nalanda University relied on reason and logic.

“The Perfection of Wisdom teachings entail two aspects — the explicit explanation of emptiness and the implicit indication of how to make progress on the path. This second aspect, progress on the path, is represented in the ‘Heart Sutra’ by the mantra at the end. Since there are three vehicles, the Hearers’, the Solitary Buddhas’ and the Bodhisattvas’ vehicles, there are fifteen paths, five in each. How to make progress on the path is explained in the ‘Ornament for Clear Realization’.

“You have to listen to the teaching to gain a preliminary understanding, then reflect and think about it to deepen your understanding, finally meditating on what you’ve understood to develop experience of it.

“The ‘Heart Sutra’ presents the fourfold emptiness — ‘Form is emptiness, emptiness is form, emptiness is not other than form, form too is not other than emptiness’. Emptiness here doesn’t imply nothingness like the vacancy of space. When we examine how things exist, we find that it isn’t the way they appear. Emptiness isn’t about nothingness; it indicates that things depend on other factors. They lack independent, intrinsic existence in and of themselves.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on the first day of his teachings on the Heart Sutra from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 5, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“We develop attachment to things based on seeing them as having intrinsic, objective existence — which is how they appear to exist. Nagarjuna is clear about this.

That which is dependent origination
Is explained to be emptiness.
That, being a dependent designation,
Is itself the middle way.

There does not exist anything
That is not dependently arisen.
Therefore, there does not exist anything
That is not empty.

“Destructive emotions are rooted in our having an exaggerated outlook on how things exist, which in turn prompts us to create all sorts of problems. Nagarjuna’s disciple Aryadeva also sheds light on this.

As the tactile sense [pervades] the body
Ignorance is present in all [afflictive emotions].
By overcoming ignorance, you will also
Overcome all afflictive emotions.

"What this means is that although there are specific ways to counter anger and attachment, by coming to understand emptiness and dependent arising, it is possible to root out all destructive emotions. Reflecting on how things do not exist objectively helps counter clinging to them as they appear.”

His Holiness pointed out that ‘Ornament for Clear Realization’ states that bodhichitta is that mind that wishes to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. He suggested that it’s very helpful to combine it with a profound understanding of emptiness that is clearly explained in Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the virtual audience on the first day of his teachings requested by Korean Buddhists from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 5, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Turning to the ‘Heart Sutra’, His Holiness read the title in Sanskrit and Tibetan and clarified its meaning as ‘Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom’. The preamble indicates where the teaching was given, by whom and who were the recipients. After his enlightenment, the Buddha’s first round of teachings included not only the Four Noble Truths, but also Higher Knowledge (Abhidharma) and Monastic Discipline (Vinaya).

The causes of suffering referred to in the Four Noble Truths are karma and mental afflictions. To defeat them it’s necessary to overcome ignorance.

The Buddha’s teachings began with the Four Noble Truths, but later on Vultures’ Peak at Rajgir, receptive disciples heard him teach the Perfection of Wisdom. The latter two Noble Truths, true cessation and the true path, can only be fully understood in the context of the Perfection of Wisdom, which requires powerful intelligence.

His Holiness pointed out that only people with pure karma would have been aware of Avalokiteshvara’s presence and engagement in dialogue with Shariputra. The Buddha, meanwhile, had entered into a ‘meditative absorption on the varieties of phenomena called the appearance of the profound’. The sutra states that Avalokiteshvara saw that ‘even the five aggregates are empty of intrinsic existence’.

The word ‘even’ is not included in the Chinese translation of the sutra, and so, probably is not in the Korean translation either. It signifies that not only is the person designated on the basis of the five aggregates without intrinsic existence, but the aggregates lack intrinsic existence too. Although we say that things are empty, we cling to the five aggregates as if they were intrinsically existent.

His Holiness read the second and third paragraphs of the sutra. He noted that here form is the subject on the basis of which emptiness is explained because most of our judgements related to external phenomena depend on our sense of sight.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama reading from the Heart Sutra on the first day of his three day teaching from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 5, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

All things arise in dependence on other factors; therefore, they are empty. Form and emptiness are of the same nature, but are conceptually different.

His Holiness alluded to four logical fallacies that, in his 'Entering into the Middle Way', Chandrakirti explains would ensue if things had objective existence. They are that the Arya being's meditative absorption on emptiness would be the destroyer of phenomena; that it would be wrong to teach that things lack ultimate existence; that the conventional existence of things would be able to withstand ultimate analysis into the nature of things, and that it would be untenable to state that things are empty in and of themselves.

"These four logical fallacies or absurdities are also mentioned in Jé Rinpoché's 'Essence of True Eloquence' and the special insight section of the 'Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path'.

His Holiness mentioned that while wisdom counters the notion of an intrinsically existent self, great compassion counters our extreme self-cherishing attitudes. He had particular praise for the powerful practice of exchanging self and others highlighted in Shantideva’s 'Entering into the Way of a Bodhisattva'. This is a book he has studied and reflected closely on since he received an explanation of it from Khunu Lama Rinpoché. He made clear that this and Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ are books he personally relies on. He added that Dignaga’s and Dharmakirti’s works on logic and reason have been key to developing a reasoned approach to Buddhism appropriate to the twenty-first century.

As he answered questions from monks and nuns from three temples in Korea His Holiness conceded that science and Buddhism have different goals — Buddhism is concerned with the mind and emotions, whereas science is more focussed on material things. However, since recognizing that our state of mind has a bearing on our health and well-being, science has begun to pay attention to Buddhist means for cultivating peace of mind.

His Holiness declared that the root of happiness is love and compassion, which we first experience in relation to our mother and which has nothing to do with religious practice. He is confident that the benefits of love and compassion can be presented from a secular point of view. After all, we are social animals concerned to protect the community in which we live. Recalling the oneness of humanity is a key part of Buddhism’s reasoned approach to the practice of love and compassion.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering a questions from the virtual audience on the first day of his teachings requested by Korean Buddhists from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on January 5, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Asked how to resist negative feelings, His Holiness admitted that it is one thing to try to counter attachment, anger and hatred when they are strongly manifest. However, such feelings and emotions are harder to tackle when they are dormant. Nevertheless, cultivating loving kindness and the awakening mind of bodhichitta can help us reduce them.

With regard to the accumulation of virtue and wisdom, His Holiness drew a distinction between the physical and wisdom aspects of a Buddha. The physical aspect of the Buddha, which results from the accumulation of virtue, is a means for being of help to others. In addition, the more merit you collect, the better your understanding of emptiness will be. And as your understanding of emptiness improves, the clearer will be your recognition that achieving Buddhahood is a real possibility. Thus, merit and wisdom complement each other.

His Holiness read the fourth, fifth and sixth paragraphs of the ‘Heart Sutra’ before announcing that he would stop there for the day and resume his explanation tomorrow.

]]>
Congratulating Nancy Pelosi https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/congratulating-nancy-pelosi Mon, 04 Jan 2021 10:41:16 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/congratulating-nancy-pelosi Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - Today, His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote to Nancy Pelosi to offer his hearty congratulations on securing a fourth term as Speaker of the US House of Representatives. He also wished her a Happy New Year.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting his friend then House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi as she arrives at his residence leading a bipartisan US Congressional Delegation on a visit to the Tibetan community in Dharamsala HP, India on May 9, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“I have no doubt,” he wrote, “that as Speaker of the House, you will continue to play a crucial role in advancing the hopes and aspirations of the people of the United States, while also helping to shape a more peaceful and harmonious world.

“As always, I would like to express my deep respect and gratitude to you for your firm and ongoing support for the Tibetan people, as well as the personal friendship you have shown me.”

In conclusion he offered his prayers and good wishes.

]]>
‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’ & ‘Thirty-seven Practices of a Bodhisattva’ https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/eight-verses-for-training-the-mind-thirty-seven-practices-of-a-bodhisattva Sun, 27 Dec 2020 16:34:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/eight-verses-for-training-the-mind-thirty-seven-practices-of-a-bodhisattva Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - Invited by the Tibetan Communities of North America to teach ‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’ & ‘Thirty-seven Practices of a Bodhisattva’ this morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived almost fifteen minutes early. Representative Ngodup Tsering introduced the event in Tibetan. He thanked His Holiness on behalf of Tibetans in North America for the opportunity to hear him teach and answer questions. He also drew attention to the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020 (TPSA) that was passed recently. He noted that many Tibetans in North America are doing well in their studies and work. Finally, he asked His Holiness to live 125 years as Trulshik Rinpoché had predicted he could.

His Holiness the Dalai watching as Representative Ngodup Tsering introduces the teachings requested by the Tibetan community in North America from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on December 27, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness’s opening words were: “Today, I’m happy to have this opportunity to talk to Tibetans in North America. These days it’s difficult for me to travel far because of my age, but teaching like this over the internet from here in Dharamsala is relatively easy.

“We are Tibetans from the Land of Snow. Before the reign of Songtsen Gampo we lived as nomads like the Mongolians. He married a Chinese princess who brought the precious Jowo statue to Tibet. His relations with the Chinese were close, but when it came to designing a Tibetan form of writing, he chose to model it on the Indian Devanagari alphabet.

“In the eighth century, although relations with China were still close, King Trisong Detsen preferred to look to India as a source of Buddhist teachings. He invited Shantarakshita to Tibet. One of his key suggestions was that, rather than struggling to learn Pali and Sanskrit to read Buddhist literature, Tibetans should translate it into Tibetan. Consequently, the collections of the Kangyur and Tengyur were created.

“What Shantarakshita introduced to Tibet was the Nalanda Tradition, which involved not only the Middle Way (Madhyamaka) philosophy, but also rigorous logic and epistemology. Tibetan Buddhism is the only tradition to have kept alive the study of the Perfection of Wisdom, the Middle Way, logic and epistemology, Higher Knowledge (Abhidharma) and Monastic Discipline (Vinaya). Eventually this approach was conveyed to Mongolia by, among others, the Third Dalai Lama.

“These days, all that physically remains of the great centre of learning known as Nalanda University is a ruin. I remember once making a pilgrimage there and reciting Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ out of respect for the traditions that prevailed there that we Tibetans have kept alive.

“From simple nomads we have transformed ourselves into rigorous students of Buddhism through extensive study, reflection and meditation on what the Buddha taught. Followers of the Pali Tradition in Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma follow the Buddha’s teaching on the basis of scriptural authority. We follow the Buddha’s advice to be sceptical and to question. He told us, ‘O monks and scholars, as gold is tested by burning, cutting and rubbing, examine my words thoroughly and accept them only then — not just out of respect for me.’ ”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing members of the Tibetan community of North America by video link from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on December 27, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

In stressing the importance of studying the Perfection of Wisdom, the Middle Way, as well as logic, His Holiness quoted a verse from the end of Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’,

This suchness just explained is most profound and terrifying, yet people with past habituation will certainly realize it;
Others, however, despite vast learning, will fail to comprehend.
Thus, seeing those other traditions as constructed by the authors' own minds as akin to the treatises that set forth propositions on self,
Forsake admiration for treatises and systems contrary to this one. 11.55

He went on to quote further verses that indicate the logical absurdities that ensue if you assert that things have intrinsic existence.

If the intrinsic characteristics of things were to arise dependently,
things would come to be destroyed by denying it;
emptiness would then be a cause for the destruction of things.
But this is illogical, so no real entities exist. 6.34

Thus, when such phenomena are analysed,
nothing is found as their nature apart from suchness.
So, the conventional truth of the everyday world
should not be subjected to thorough analysis. 6.35

In the context of suchness, certain reasoning disallows arising
from self or from something other, and that same reasoning
disallows them on the conventional level too.
So, by what means then is your arising established? 6.36

He mentioned that he repeats these verses to himself and reflects on them daily. He also noted Chandrakirti’s effective sevenfold analysis.

A chariot cannot be said to be different from its parts;
it is not identical with the parts, nor does it possess the parts;
it is not in the parts, nor do the parts exist in it;
it is not the mere collection, nor is it the shape. 6.151

For if the mere collection constitutes the chariot,
the chariot would exist even when the parts are not assembled;
since there can be no parts without the bearer of the parts,
that shape alone is the chariot is illogical as well. 6.152

Things can't be found to exist independently in terms of this sevenfold analysis, but they do exist by way of convention. Consequentialists (Prasangikas) say things have no ultimate existence, but do exist by way of designation. His Holiness clarified that the purpose of exploring such philosophical views is to combat our misconception of reality.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to the virtual audience during his teachings requested by the Tibetan community in North America from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on December 27, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

In addition to this, in his ‘Entering into the Way of a Bodhisattva’, Shantideva presents the powerful practice of exchanging self with others. He justifies it with the following declaration.

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 fools who long for their own advantage and the sage who acts for the advantage of others. 8/130

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

His Holiness recalled that in the past Tibetan Buddhism was referred to in some quarters as ‘lamaism’, as if it was not the real teaching of the Buddha. Since Tibetans came into exile it has become clear that they follow the Nalanda Tradition. And it is because of this, and its reliance on reason and logic, that Tibetan Buddhists have been able to enter into fruitful dialogue with modern scientists.

Among the key observations Buddhists have to make is that what disturbs our mind is the misconception that things intrinsically exist. Another is that disturbances of the mind can only be tackled by cultivating positive states of mind. The knowledge preserved in Tibetan Buddhist tradition is of such value that it is a treasure for humanity.

“We have kept our traditions alive and will continue to do so. This is something Tibetans in Tibet are also devoted to, not as a result of blind faith, but on the basis of reason.”

His Holiness ended his preliminary talk by explaining that as far as coming to North America is concerned, one of his friends has offered to make his own private plane available — but it is still a very long journey. For the time being, he said he is pleased to be able to interact with so many people over the internet.

Turning to the first of the texts he was to read, the ‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’, His Holiness remarked that Geshé Langri Thangpa was renowned for his practice of bodhichitta. However, his concern for suffering sentient beings was such that he always wore a long face.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama reading from the texts during his teachings requested by the Tibetan community in North America from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on December 27, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

The first verse alludes to the compassionate awakening mind, the wish to liberate sentient beings from suffering. The intent of the second is to regard yourself as the lowest of all, while treating others with respect. The third suggests that whatever you do, you should not allow yourself to be carried away by mental afflictions. The fourth recommends cultivating compassion for those who react to you with anger. The fifth declares that you should offer the victory to others. The sixth and seventh verses refer to the practice of exchanging self and others — give your virtues to them and take their ill-deeds on yourself. The final verse asserts, ‘May I see all things as illusions’ — the view of emptiness — ‘and, without attachment, gain freedom from bondage’.

His Holiness spoke of how close he feels to what Nagarjuna teaches in his treatise on emptiness, ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’. He voiced his sense that he may have been on the edge of the gathering when Nagarjuna taught about finding that nothing has a true and independent identity, but things do exist by way of designation on the basis of worldly renown. He remarked that the ‘Eight Verses’ deal with both conventional and ultimate bodhichitta, and that he recites them every day.

The introductory verses of the ‘Thirty-seven Practices of a Bodhisattva’ observe that ‘all phenomena lack coming and going’ yet, as His Holiness had already mentioned, they exist by way of designation. He read steadily through the verses beginning with the meaning of a precious human life, the value of solitude, and impermanence. There is a reference to taking the help of spirits and others, but that they are not appropriate objects of refuge. To help others is create the causes for good fortune. There is also a reference here to the practice of equalizing and exchanging self and others.

The text mentions that seeking praise and fame can diminish your practice. It notes that what appears to you are projections of the mind, prompting His Holiness to observe that Thogmé Sangpo seems to have been a follower of the Mind Only view. There are a series of verses highlighting the practice of the six perfections. The text ends with an aspiration to constantly ask ‘What’s the state of my mind?’ and a dedication of the virtue from making such effort to enlightenment.

His Holiness reported that the copy of the text he had been reading was sent to him in Darjeeling from Tibet by Lhatsun Rinpoché. In due course he was able to request Khunu Lama Rinpoché to explain it and to give him the transmission.

Representative Ngodup Tsering invited several young Tibetans in the USA and Canada to put questions to His Holiness. The first was about how to help people suffering from incurable illness. His Holiness first expressed his admiration for those undertaking medical training. Then he pointed out that if an illness has a remedy, there’s no need to worry. But if there is no cure, worrying won’t help. When the time of death arrives, Vajrapani may remove obstacles and the Medicine Buddha may grant blessings, but you just have to die.

A member of the virtual audience asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question during teachings requested by the Tibetan community in North America from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on December 27, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Buddhists don’t believe in an ‘atman’ or soul that goes on from life to life, they talk about the continuity of the mental continuum.

“While there’s still hope,” he added, “take what treatment there is and keep calm, preserve your peace of mind and, if you’re a Buddhist, pray to be taken care of by spiritual masters in the future.”

His Holiness set the practice of bodhichitta in the context of our being human beings who depend on our communities to survive. This is why it’s a mistake to neglect the welfare of others and why it’s important to help them whenever you can. It’s because of our dependence on others that cultivating a sense of the oneness of humanity, and a recognition that we are all the same in wanting to be happy and to avoid suffering, is so effective.

His Holiness explained that although he has retired from his political role, he considers it his responsibility to encourage the preservation of Tibetan culture and the protection of the natural environment of Tibet. People in Tibet respond by keeping the Tibetan spirit alive.

“Tibetan culture can be of benefit to the world at large,” he said. “We should not lament what we have lost, but can be proud that our traditions can be helpful to others. Books we have published here in exile on science and philosophy have reached universities in Tibet. I’ve had reports that Chinese scholars have been impressed by the scientific character of this presentation of Tibetan Buddhism. This is an example of the impact those of us in exile can have on what happens in Tibet.

“Preserving our culture and traditions is important, but so is sharing what we know with others.”

Asked his view of competition, His Holiness drew a distinction between obstructing others’ ability to succeed in order to be first, which is detrimental, and exerting yourself to get to the top to set an example for others to follow.

A young woman brought up the need for the equality of women. His Holiness told her of scientific evidence that women are more compassionate and that a mother’s love is particularly powerful. He reported writing recently to congratulate the woman Prime Minister of Finland on her appointment, as well as her choice of a largely female cabinet. Being more sensitive to the feelings of others, women can be more effective in promoting love and compassion.

Challenged to say why Australian bushfires and the covid pandemic have come about, His Holiness expressed sorrow about the large numbers of animals that have perished in fires in Australia and Brazil, which he attributed to global warming, as well as those who have lost their lives to the corona virus. He reflected that the pandemic can be viewed in terms of collective karma, but emphasised the importance of remaining optimistic and keeping your spirits up.

“No matter how ill you are, you should remain optimistic and retain your peace of mind,” His Holiness advised. “If you are treating the sick, it’s important never to lose heart and to encourage your patients to be hopeful. If you’re a Buddhist, you can recite Tara’s mantra, which I do for some time every day, praying that the pandemic will soon subside. I also recite the Muni mantra in the same way. This kind of practice can help and does no harm at all. You can also tell your patients that the Dalai Lama is praying for them.”

Asked how young Tibetans can make the world a better place to live in, His Holiness recommended giving and taking medical help, reciting mantras and responding to others with love and compassion. With regard to global warming, he warned that it may increase to such a degree that the Tibetan plateau, source of so many Asian rivers, will become arid like Afghanistan. He reflected that from a larger perspective worlds come and go, but, in the meantime, we must take greater care of our natural ecology.

In his final remarks His Holiness encouraged the Tibetans among his listeners, wherever they are, not to forget that they are Tibetan. They have Tibetan blood. They are descendants of Tibetan ancestors. They should preserve their culture and traditions with courage.

“Tibetan humility, kindness and moral standards are widely admired — please keep them alive.”

]]>
The Purpose of Life — a Conversation Organized by IIT Bombay https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/the-purpose-of-life-a-conversation-organized-by-iit-bombay Tue, 15 Dec 2020 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/the-purpose-of-life-a-conversation-organized-by-iit-bombay Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - This morning, during an event organized as part of Techfest IIT Bombay, His Holiness the Dalai Lama scanned the faces of twenty students on the screens in front of him, folded his hands and greeted them.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama arriving for his online conversation on The Purpose of Life as part of Techfest IIT Bombay from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on December 15, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Namaste. I feel really happy to be talking to you, because India has upheld the concepts of ‘ahimsa’, non-violence, and ‘karuna’, compassion, for thousands of years. Great Indian thinkers have promoted these ideas. I respect all our religious traditions and I’m committed to promoting inter-religious harmony, but these ideas of non-violence and compassion make logical sense and are of practical benefit in the world today. They are a fundamental expression of secular ethics. If people paid more attention to these ideas in their day to day lives, the world would be a better place.

“It’s a great honour for me to speak to people who belong to this country, because we Tibetans are followers of ancient Indian thought. More than a thousand years ago, you were the ‘gurus’ and we were the ‘chelas’ or students. In the 7th century the King of Tibet had close relations with China. He married a Chinese princess, who brought an important statue of the Buddha with her and so introduced Buddhism to Tibet. However, when it came to commissioning a Tibetan form of writing, he dismissed Chinese characters and chose instead to base a Tibetan alphabet on an Indian model.

“In the following century, the then Tibetan king was inclined to turn to Indian sources to establish Buddhism in Tibet. The great monk and scholar of Nalanda University, Shantarakshita suggested that since Tibetans had their own written language, they should translate Indian Buddhist literature into Tibetan.

“The Nalanda Tradition that was established in Tibet in this way was rooted in taking a logical approach. This was consistent with the Buddha’s advice to his followers not to accept what he said at face value, but to examine and investigate it. Today, ‘ahimsa’ and ‘karuna’ are relevant and of universal benefit to the whole world.”

His Holiness pointed out that India is one of the two most populated nations in the world, but by and large its people live in peace and the major religions live in harmony with each other. ‘Ahimsa’ and ‘karuna’, he said, are the basis for happiness. In the last century, Mahatma Gandhi showed how effective adopting a non-violence stance could be. In the present century, India can demonstrate how effective non-violence and compassion can be in interpersonal relations.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the virtual audience during his conversation with students on The Purpose of Life as part of Techfest IIT Bombay from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on December 15, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

These motivations can be combined with the philosophical insight that nothing exists as it appears. His Holiness reported that the Indian nuclear physicist Raja Ramana once told him that although quantum physics seemed to be something new in the west, several of its insights were anticipated in Nagarjuna’s thought. His Holiness ended his introductory talk by confirming that one of his personal commitments is to encourage the revival of interest in ancient Indian knowledge in India.

He invited questions from the virtual audience of students across the world. The first concerned competition. His Holiness clarified that when competition results in an expansion of knowledge and widespread benefit we can think of it as beneficial, but when it’s a question of winners and losers, the result is less positive.

He drew attention to the links between physical and mental well-being, pointing out that finding peace of mind means you’re not subject to anxiety and fear, but that you also tend to have low blood pressure. When your mind is at ease, you experience less physical stress. Non-violence and compassion lead to peace of mind, which in turn brings you a sense of physical well-being. On the other hand, a self-centred attitude attracts problems, but it can be countered by cultivating altruism.

Things appear to exist independently from their own side, but they appear that way due to several factors, including your own view point. The view of ‘pratityasamutpada’, dependent arising, shows that things come about due to many other factors.

His Holiness emphasised not only the importance of contentment, but also the fact that inner values are more important than clinging to physical possessions.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering questions from the virtual audience of students during his conversation organized by IIT Bombay from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on December 15, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Asked how to reconcile ultimate truth with relative truth, His Holiness made clear that this relates to how things appear to exist — independently from their own side — and how they actually exist. He noted that some Indian schools of thought refer to a self that exists independently of the body and mind as ‘atman’. When we talk about ‘my body’, ‘my mind’ or ‘my life’ we imply that there is a ‘self’ or ‘atman’ who is the owner. However, Buddhist schools of thought do not accept this. They assert ‘anatman’ — the absence of an independently existent ‘I’ or self.

Chandrakirti, a student of Nagarjuna, was forthright in his assertion that nothing exists as it appears. Thinking deeply about this is an effective way of reducing ignorance, which in turn undermines destructive emotions. His Holiness stated that the moment he wakes in the morning he repeats to himself lines from Chandrakirti that are indicative of reality, while also cultivating a sense of altruism. He finds this a very useful way to start the day.

He reiterated that the notion of dependent arising is not just a matter of knowledge, but functions as an effective weapon for reducing negative emotions.

His Holiness conceded that the current pandemic is a severe problem, but mentioned that things change and nothing stays the same. He observed that global warming is also a serious threat to human well-being. He spoke of his concern for the ecology of Tibet, because the major rivers of Asia rise on the Tibetan plateau and should they dry up, as some scientists have predicted they might, the consequences will be far-reaching for a large number of people.

He praised the material and technological developments that have taken place across the world. He warned however of such developments being taken to extremes, with little regard for their side effects. He encouraged taking a more holistic approach.

A member of the online audience asking a question fo His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his conversation as part of Techfest IIT Bombay from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on December 15, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

A question about panic and anxiety prompted His Holiness to mention the importance of learning more about our inner world. He observed that it’s when fear is exaggerated that it causes us problems. He recommended reading Shantideva’s ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’. Chapter six explores how damaging anger can be and how positive patience is instead. Chapter eight examines in detail the drawbacks of self-centredness.

We need to analyse the problems we face, investigating whether they can be solved. If they can, then implementing the solution is what we should do. If there is no solution and nothing can be done, we have to accept that. Worrying about it won't help.

His Holiness told a student, who felt that his inclination to act out of compassion was too often contrary to his own interests, that we are social animals. From the moment of our birth our life depends on others. He suggested that in this context, helping others is actually the best way of looking after our own interests. Taking care of others is to take care of ourselves.

Invited to comment on the existence of God, His Holiness admitted that Muslims, Christians and Jews all believe in God, a creator God characterized by loving kindness. That makes all of us, he said, children of a loving God — and so brothers and sisters.

His Holiness laughed and recalled an episode that took place when he was with his good friend Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Tutu declared that as a practising Christian he is looking forward to going to heaven when he dies. He lamented that when the time comes, the Dalai Lama will go somewhere else. His Holiness remarked that some people have said that where the Dalai Lama goes, they hope to go too.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering a question from a student during his online conversation on The Purpose of Life as part of Techfest IIT Bombay from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on December 15, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“I have great respect for Christianity,” His Holiness added. “But I haven’t found an answer to why, in a world created by God, there is so much trouble. I find it easier to understand the idea of karma, that what happens to us is a result of our actions. Helping others brings positive results; harming them is a source of suffering.”

The organizers of Techfest Bombay thanked His Holiness for taking part in a conversation with them. His Holiness responded that he is looking forward to a time when restrictions related to the pandemic are relaxed and he’ll be able to visit different cities and discuss with Indian educators how to combine the insights of ancient Indian thought with modern education.

]]>
Teachings to Mark the 601st Anniversary of Jé Tsongkhapa’s Passing Away https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/teachings-to-mark-the-601st-anniversary-of-jé-tsongkhapas-passing-away Thu, 10 Dec 2020 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/teachings-to-mark-the-601st-anniversary-of-jé-tsongkhapas-passing-away Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - Today was ‘Ganden Ngamchö’, the anniversary of Jé Tsongkhapa’s passing away. As His Holiness the Dalai Lama entered the room in his residence from which he speaks to the world over the internet, a steady chant of the ‘Mig-tse-ma’ praise of Tsongkhapa could be heard from one of the monasteries in South India. Following this His Holiness joined in chanting ‘Song of the Eastern Snow Mountains’ in praise of Tsongkhapa by Gendun Drup, the First Dalai Lama.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama joining in the opening prayers of his teaching to mark the 601st anniversary of Jé Tsongkhapa’s passing away from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on December 10, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Today we commemorate the anniversary of Jé Rinpoché’s passing away,” His Holiness declared. “He was foremost among Tibetan commentators on the essential teachings of the Buddha. His exceptional quality was that he was erudite and he put what he learned into practice. And whatever he experienced as a result he shared with us.

“Amongst all the great masters of Tibet, Jé Rinpoché was someone who focussed on the difficult points of the doctrine. We can see this in what he wrote, especially his five works dealing with emptiness according to the Madhyamaka view: the special insight section of the ‘Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path’; the special insight section of the ‘Medium Treatise on the Stages of the Path’; ‘Ocean of Reasoning’ — his commentary on Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way' and ‘Illuminating the Thought’ — his commentary on Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way', as well as ‘Essence of True Eloquence’.

“In ‘Essence of True Eloquence’ Jé Rinpoché highlighted three verses (nos. 34, 35 & 36) from Chapter Six of ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ that describe the four logical fallacies that would ensue if things had some objective existence in and of themselves. I recite these three verses to myself every day.”

His Holiness quoted a verse from Tsongkhapa’s ‘Destiny Fulfilled', that illustrates his attitude to study and practice.

In the beginning, I sought much learning.
In the middle, all teachings dawned on me as spiritual instructions.
In the end, I practised night and day.
I dedicated all this virtue for the dharma to flourish.

Another verse from the renowned prayer, ‘Hundred Deities from the Land of Joy’ describes him thus:

In this degenerate age, you strove for extensive learning and meditation,
Abandoning the eight worldly concerns, you gave this life of leisure and opportunity meaning.
O Lord Protector, we sincerely rejoice
In your prodigious deeds.

“As his followers,” His Holiness remarked, “this is how we too should practise. Study the great treatises, especially the five texts on Madhyamaka I’ve already mentioned, but remember that the purpose is to integrate the teachings within ourselves.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the virtual audience during his teachings to mark the 601st anniversary of Jé Tsongkhapa’s passing away from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on December 10, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Here in exile, we have re-established the three great monasteries Drepung, Ganden and Sera, and other centres of learning, where monks and nuns study the five major topics. This is what qualifies us as custodians of the Nalanda Tradition. However, we must not lose sight of the need to integrate what we’ve learned in practice.”

As he opened the pages of ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising’, His Holiness first quoted a verse from near the end that further illustrates Tsongkhapa’s admirable qualities.

Becoming ordained into the way of the Buddha
by not being lax in study of his words,
and by yoga practice of great resolve,this monk devotes himself to that great purveyor of truth.

As he read briskly through the verses, he touched on the Twelve Links of Dependent Arising, which show not only how we become entangled in cyclic existence, but also how we can overcome ignorance to break free. He remarked that if things had intrinsic existence, nothing could change. He noted that with regard to dependent arising, Choné Lama Rinpoché said that dependence does not deny emptiness, and arising means things conform to worldly convention.

His Holiness remarked that we don’t need historical accounts of Nagarjuna’s life to know what he was like, what’s important is to read what he wrote and we have the works of Chandrakirti to help us understand that.

Before beginning to read steadily through the ‘Song of Spiritual Experience’, which is a concise rendering of the stages of the path, His Holiness pointed out that this genre began with Atisha who presented the path in terms of persons of three capacities. He stressed that the purpose of study and practice is not just to overcome our mental afflictions, but also the cognitive obscurations they leave behind. That’s the way to practise the complete path.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama reading from Jé Tsongkhapa’s text during his virtual teachings from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on December 10, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Touching on generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta, His Holiness mentioned two approaches to it. The seven-point cause and effect and exchanging self and others. This latter method is explicitly taught in Shantideva’s ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’, but, His Holiness remarked, its popularity had declined in Central Tibet. This is one of the reasons he made a point of receiving an explanation of it from Khunu Lama Rinpoché.

Reaching the final verses of the text, His Holiness noted that, following Chandrakirti’s reasoning, nothing can be found to have any objective existence.

The third text His Holiness read, the ‘Three Principal Aspects of the Path’, was composed in response to a request from Tsakho Ngawang Drakpa. Coming to the verses that nominally deal with generating the awakening mind, he mentioned that by applying them to himself he finds them to be a powerful stimulus to generating a determination to be free.

With regard to the correct view, Tsongkhapa is succinct: Appearances refute the extreme of existence, emptiness refutes the extreme of non-existence; when you understand the arising of cause and effect from the viewpoint of emptiness, you are not captivated by either extreme view.

Having read three key works by Jé Rinpoché, His Holiness led a brief ceremony to generate the awakening mind of bodhichitta. At the conclusion he requested his listeners to pledge to practise as Jé Rinpoché taught and integrate what they learn within.

Of three tulkus who asked brief questions that received brief answers, Lelung Rinpoché revealed that he has dreams in which he is asked to make prayers for His Holiness’s long life and to request him to continue to give teachings on the profound and vast.

Serkong Rinpoche asking a question during His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings to mark the 601st anniversary of Jé Tsongkhapa’s passing away from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on December 10, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“When I see pictures from Tibet,” His Holiness replied, “and I am aware of the devotion of the Tibetan people, I feel an urge to live long. The Tibetan people have placed such hope and trust in me that I will live long.

“When we came into exile, not much was known about Tibetan Buddhism. Since that time the situation has changed and I think we have made some contribution to that.

“I’ve been told that Kathok Getsé, a scholar at the time of the Seventh Dalai Lama predicted that I would live to the age of 113. Because of Tibetans’ devotion I feel I might live until I’m 110 and I make prayers that I will live that long — and all of you should join me in those prayers.”

His Holiness put on his pandit’s hat as dedication prayers were said, and that done the occasion came to an end.

]]>
The Necessity of Compassion for the Survival of Humanity https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/the-necessity-of-compassion-for-the-survival-of-humanity Wed, 09 Dec 2020 18:33:11 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/the-necessity-of-compassion-for-the-survival-of-humanity Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - Today, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was invited to take part in a conversation about the Necessity of Compassion for the Survival of Humanity. The event was organized by the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion- Based Ethics (CCSCBE) at Emory University and was introduced by its director Geshé Lobsang Tenzin Negi. He welcomed His Holiness and everyone listening in to the conversation from around the world.

President of Emory University, Gregory Fenves, thanking His Holiness the Dalai Lama for taking part in the dialogue on The Necessity of Compassion for the Survival of Humanity from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on December 9, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Negi introduced the new President of Emory University, Gregory Fenves, to His Holiness. He also offered a warm welcome, noting that His Holiness is an active advocate of the benefits of compassion, as well as being a Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory University. Fenves mentioned that the opportunity to work with His Holiness was a factor that had made his new post attractive.

Geshé Lobsang Tenzin Negi took the opportunity to bring His Holiness up to date on the work of the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics. He told him that Emory-Tibet Science Initiative has fully implemented its program to establish a comprehensive and sustainable science education for Tibetan monks and nuns in a number of large monasteries and nunneries. The program is at its fourth stage, focussing on training monastic science teachers and researchers, so that monastic science education will be self-sustaining.

Concerning the SEE Learning program to integrate basic human values into education that His Holiness launched a year and a half ago, it has been introduced to more than 58,000 educators in 145 countries. Meanwhile, all SEE Learning materials are made freely available worldwide thanks to His Holiness’s support and the generosity of others.

He also mentioned that over the last fifteen years Cognitively-Based Compassion Training has been offered around the world to college and medical students, doctors, nurses, military veterans, and the general public.

Negi introduced the two participants who would be taking part in a conversation with His Holiness. Dr Sanjay Gupta is a practising neurosurgeon and faculty member at Emory University, while also being the chief medical correspondent for CNN. Ms Melani Walton is a leading humanitarian and co-founder of the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation. The Foundation is generously supporting the work of the Center (CCSCBE) at Emory as it seeks to advance a global culture of compassion.

Melani Walton opened the conversation with the observation that 2020 has shown that compassion is as precious as water. She asked how compassion can stand up to injustice.

Ms Melani Walton, humanitarian and co-founder of the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation, opening up the dialogue on The Necessity of Compassion for the Survival of Humanity with His Holiness the Dalai Lama joining by video link from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on December 9, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Firstly,” His Holiness began, “I would like to say how happy I am to be able to meet all of you with the help of technology. Our connections with Emory University are long-standing. Emory has introduced many programs of benefit to Tibetan scholars.

“In recent years, more and more people have been paying attention to what it means to find peace of mind. Prior to this, there hadn’t been much said about the importance of mental peace. However, despite material and technological developments, we still face a lot of problems. If we pay more attention to ways to develop peace of mind our actions will be more conducive to peace. No one want to face trouble, but we have to consider that many of the problems human beings create for themselves have their source in our agitated and angry minds.

“Ancient Indian tradition is rich in explanations of the workings of the mind and emotions and how disturbing they can be. This knowledge comes from religious sources, but, these days, we can look at them from a secular, objective point of view. We can all learn how to tackle destructive emotions and cultivate positive qualities. Emory University has been involved in research on this for some time, which is very good.”

Dr Sanjay Gupta told His Holiness what an honour it was to be with him today. He also mentioned how impressed he always is by how generous His Holiness is with his time. He agreed with what His Holiness had said about having an agitated mind, something that has become especially evident during the covid crisis. Noting that while there are many who have dedicated themselves to helping others during this crisis, there are others who refuse even to wear a face-mask. How, he wanted to know, can we encourage more people to be more compassionate around the world.

“This pandemic we’re facing,” His Holiness replied, “is very unfortunate. Large numbers of people have died as a result in the US, in India, Europe and China. Scientific experts are working on ways to deal with it who know much more about it than me. I’m just a Buddhist meditator, but it seems to me that being too anxious creates problems for us. It would help if we gave in less to fear and anxiety. What we need is inner strength, which in itself will help us defend ourselves. I believe that if we are subject to fear and anxiety, we are more susceptible to falling ill.

“Physical hygiene has an important role in protecting our health, but we also need a sense of emotional or mental hygiene. An example of the value of this is a monk I knew who spent 18 years in a Chinese jail. He told me that during that time there were several occasions when he felt in danger. I thought he meant there were dangers to his life and asked him to explain. When he clarified that he’d been in danger of losing compassion for his jailers, I realised how important peace of mind was to him and how maintaining a compassionate attitude meant he faced fewer problems.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India during the dialogue on The Necessity of Compassion for the Survival of Humanity on December 9, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Scientists have observed that we are showered with affection from the moment we are born. Our lives depend on the community in which we live, so compassion and consideration for others is a biological necessity.

“Young children naturally respond to other smiling faces. They don’t care about the colour, faith or nationality of their companions. It’s only when they start going to school that they begin to pay more attention to differences of race, faith or place of origin. This tends to lead to suspicion, fear and mistrust. To counter these negative responses, education should pay more attention to the oneness of humanity. We are all the same in being human and we all have to live together.”

Melani Walton thanked His Holiness for his new book with Franz Alt, ‘Our Only Home’. She asked about the importance of educating the heart for a healthy planet.

“Whether we take a spiritual approach or not, we all have to be realistic. We have to think of the entire planet and the whole of humanity, which requires having a more open mind and basing education on scientific findings.”

Sanjay Gupta recalled that when he was with him in the Tibetan settlement of Mundgod in South India, His Holiness had spoken of the importance of a genuine, warm smile. Now that everyone has to wear a mask and can’t touch each other, he asked how we can express feelings of warmth.

Dr Sanjay Gupta, a practising neurosurgeon and faculty member at Emory University, and also the chief medical correspondent for CNN, asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question during the dialogue on The Necessity of Compassion for the Survival of Humanity on December 9, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness responded that reacting to others with suspicion creates a distance between you. If you can be open to everyone, you’ll be able to see the whole world as one family. You’ll have much less fear and anxiety. This is where the Indian tradition of ‘ahimsa’, non-violence, not harming others, has a valuable contribution to make today.

“Wherever I go, I try to cultivate a sense of the oneness of humanity. Then I see everyone I meet as being essentially the same. And people respond positively to this. Animals too. I remember once visiting a park in Vienna where birds were feeding from people’s hands without fear. Fear leads to isolation, so it’s helpful to be open to others. I know that if I only showed a stern face, people would be much less friendly to me.

“Warm-heartedness is a key factor in everyone’s happiness. That’s why all religious traditions convey a message of compassion. If you believe in God, you can believe we’re all children of one compassionate father and, accordingly, should be compassionate towards each other. Followers of non-theistic traditions consider that since we live life after life, it’s better to conduct ourselves with compassion.”

Melani Walton mentioned how moved she had been by His Holiness’s call in ‘Our Only Home’ for a revolution of compassion. She asked how a more determined approach to protecting the planet could be an expression of compassion.

His Holiness replied that modern education is inadequate, because it doesn’t foster a sense of the oneness of humanity. Protecting the planet is something that affects us all. We need to be less focussed on narrow self-interest. He told her that as soon as he wakes up each morning this is a verse he recites to himself.

As long as space endures and
as long as living beings remain,
until then may I too abide
to dispel the misery of the world.

Then he asks himself, “I woke up, but where is this ‘I’? If I think about the Buddha, the Buddha’s body, speech and energy, none of them is the Buddha — so, where is he? The feeling of having a solid ‘I’ has no basis. It’s merely a designation. Thinking over these things helps reduce our strong sense of self. And it’s supported by the quantum physics’ observation that nothing exists as it appears. At the same time, cultivating a sense of altruism reduces our self-centred attitudes.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama talking part in the dialogue on The Necessity of Compassion for the Survival of Humanity from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on December 9, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“We think of things in positive or negative terms. We view people as friends or adversaries. But it’s worth investigating where is this foe. My own principal practice concerns these two elements, wisdom that nothing exists as it appears and method in the cultivation of altruism.

“As far as wisdom is concerned, I’m a follower of Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti who followed him too. I read Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ and his auto-commentary to it whenever I can. When he criticizes great masters like Vasubandhu and Dignaga for shrinking from embracing Nagarjuna’s view out of fear, I feel I’m fortunate not to belong to their faction.

“Altruism combined with the idea that nothing exists as it appears is a profound and powerful practice. And by following it we can reduce our negative emotions.”

Ms Walton asked how looking after others contributes to our own welfare and His Holiness reiterated that we are all part of the seven billion human beings alive today. We have to set an example.

“I speak often about the value of compassion, but if I were also to get angry whenever things don’t go well, it would be hypocritical. Setting a good example is a proper way to serve others.”

Dr Gupta asked why compassion seems to fade with time.

“This can happen if we only rely on our instinctive feelings rather than on reason. The Nalanda Tradition takes a reasoned, logical approach and emphasizes analytical meditation. Once I was giving a talk in Japan and I suggested that although cultivating single-pointed meditation is good, analytical meditation is more effective. I advised those listening to me to use the temple as place to discuss and debate what the Buddha taught to achieve a deeper understanding.

“Recognising that things are dependently arisen destroys the basis of ignorance, the misconception that things exist intrinsically from their own side. This is something we Tibetans first learned from Shantarakshita, the great philosopher and logician who came to Tibet in the 8th century. He encouraged us to investigate what the teacher says. The Buddha too encouraged investigation and analysis. We have been able to work constructively with scientists because of our background in logic and reason.

“At a deeper level, we are concerned with two truths — conventional and ultimate truth. Ultimate truth is directly opposed to ignorance. Altruism, which is a reflection of conventional truth, reduces our self-centred attitudes. My own practice is rooted in these two truths. There are certain things we have learned from scientists and some things they have learned from us. The human capacity for analysis is very precious and the deeper understanding of reality it leads to is precious too.”

Geshé Lobsang Tenzin Negi, director of the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion- Based Ethics (CCSCBE) at Emory University, organizers of the event, thanking His Holiness the Dalai Lama for joining the dialogue on The Necessity of Compassion for the Survival of Humanity from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on December 9, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Melani Walton acknowledged the importance of compassion and told His Holiness in closing that from tomorrow the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics will be conducting online meditations on compassion that anyone can join. From February it will be conducting a 21-day compassion challenge. She told His Holiness that everyone who had taken part prays for his healthy, long life.

Geshé Lobsang Tenzin Negi thanked His Holiness for taking part in the conversation. “As I mentioned earlier,” he replied, “all religious traditions emphasize the importance of loving-kindness. It’s something all sentient beings need. Therefore, warm-heartedness and loving-kindness are what we need to promote. I want to thank all my friends here, my spiritual brothers and sisters, for the work they are doing. I appreciate it. And until my death, I’m determined to make whatever contribution I can to making this a better world. Thank you.”

]]>
Congratulating an Exceptional Teacher https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/congratulating-an-exceptional-teacher Fri, 04 Dec 2020 10:17:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/congratulating-an-exceptional-teacher Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - Today, His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote to Ranjitsinh Disale, a primary school teacher in Maharashtra, India, to congratulate him on winning this year's Global Teacher Prize.

Ranjitsinh Disale, a primary school teacher in Maharashtra, India, winner of this year's Global Teacher Prize.

“I would like to congratulate you,” His Holiness wrote, “on being named the world's most exceptional teacher and to express my admiration for your generosity in sharing half the prize money with runners up in the competition. Educating young children, especially from poor and needy backgrounds is perhaps the best way to help them as individuals, and actively contributes to creating a better world.

“Your work to ensure that disadvantaged girls go to school, as well as your efforts to prepare study materials for them in their own language, the online science lessons you offer pupils in 83 countries and your project building connections between young people in conflict zones are all vivid examples of compassion in action.

“When you say, “Together we can make a difference — we can make this world a better place”, you are absolutely right. I am sure your exemplary service will encourage other brothers and sisters to follow in your footsteps.”

As is his custom, His Holiness ended his letter with an offering of prayers and good wishes.

]]>
Buddhism, Science and Compassion https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/buddhism-science-and-compassion Wed, 25 Nov 2020 15:30:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/buddhism-science-and-compassion Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - His Holiness the Dalai Lama was invited to take part in a discussion this morning with members of the Einstein Forum, a foundation in the state of Brandenburg, Germany, that serves as an open laboratory of the mind. It offers an annual fellowship to outstanding young thinkers who wish to pursue a project in a field different from that of their previous research. Fellows may live at Einstein’s summerhouse in Caputh with easy access to the universities and academic institutions of Potsdam and Berlin.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama arriving for a discussion with members of the Einstein Forum by video link from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on November 25, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Prof Susan Neiman, Director of the Einstein Forum opened the conversation, telling His Holiness how honoured and excited she and her colleagues were to welcome him today. She regretted being unable to invite him to Einstein’s house, but read a quotation from Einstein that highlighted his appreciation of the potential for collaboration between Buddhism and science. She told him that the Einstein Forum was created 27 years ago to recreate and encourage the kind of conversation Einstein used to have about science and religion, politics and social justice. She thanked Shyam Wuppuluri, an Einstein Forum fellow from India for organizing the event and Amber Carpenter, another fellow, for moderating the conversation.

“Today, we are not in direct contact,” His Holiness began, “but we are able to see and talk to each other over the internet. All religions convey a message of compassion and emphasise the importance of warm-heartedness, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline. Many religions believe in a creator God and the notion that as children of that God, all human beings are brothers and sisters. Then, there are also non-theistic traditions, mainly in India, that regard loving-kindness as the most precious of human qualities.

“Scientists observe that we human beings are social animals with a strong sense of concern for our community, because our very survival depends on the well-being of the community. Nurturing its welfare is one of the best ways of fulfilling our own interest.

“In this context, scientists are paying closer attention to what needs to be done to develop peace of mind. One aspect is coming to understand that it is internal obstacles, destructive emotions like anger, that disrupt our peace of mind. When anger arises, your inner peace is gone. However, the antidote to anger is compassion.

“India has for thousands of years preserved a tradition of non-violence, restraint from doing harm. And this is supported by ‘karuna’ or compassion and concern for others’ well-being.

“In Buddhist tradition we don’t rely on faith to cultivate compassion and peace of mind, we employ reason. We follow the Buddha’s advice not to accept his words at face value, but to examine and test them as a goldsmith tests gold. As a result, followers of the Buddha in India, and later in Tibet, valued taking a logical, investigative approach – and this accords with a scientific attitude.

Prof Susan Neiman, Director of the Einstein Forum, opening the conversation with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on November 25, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Because he taught people of varying mental disposition at different times and places, we have to examine what he taught and evaluate it. The great teachers at Nalanda University who came after Nagarjuna drew a distinction between those of the Buddha’s teachings that could be accepted as definitive and those that require interpretation.

“Since the 8th century, when the Tibetan king, Trisong Detsen, invited a top scholar at Nalanda University, Shantarakshita, to Tibet, we have also adopted a logical approach. In addition to his treatises, we translated and rigorously studied the works of the great Indian logicians Dignaga and Dharmakirti.

“This logical training is the basis on which I have been able to hold discussions with scientists for many years. There are points of convergence between ancient Buddhist thought and the discoveries of quantum physics on the one hand. On the other, scientists are beginning to register an interest in the workings of the mind and emotions.

“Today, on this planet, we face a lot of problems derived from anger, jealousy and fear. The weapons systems, including nuclear weapons, we have employed our intelligence to develop, are a threat to peace. However, more and more people support moves not only to eliminate nuclear weapons, but to achieve a complete global demilitarization. People value and appreciate the prospect of world peace, but nothing will come of it unless we as individuals develop peace of mind within ourselves. We all belong to human society and we have to learn to contribute to it and live together.”

In his responses to questions from the audience, His Holiness touched again on the importance of finding inner peace. He confirmed that training in ways to achieve peace of mind should be part of our education. He noted that just as everyone observes a code of physical hygiene, there should be a corresponding practice of emotional hygiene. This would include understanding that compassion actively counters anger and fear.

He mentioned a Tibetan monk he knew, who spent 18 years in Chinese prisons. When this monk reported being in danger during that time, His Holiness thought he was referring to threats to his life. However, the monk clarified that he had, at times, been in danger of losing his sense of compassion for his Chinese jailers. His Holiness cited this monk as someone with a remarkable degree of peace of mind.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama responding to questions from the virtual audience during his discussion with members of the Einstein Forum by video link from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on November 25, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Scientists have found evidence to suggest that it is basic human nature to be compassionate. We receive kindness from the moment we are born. Learning to maintain peace of mind is a key factor in our own ability to cultivate warm-heartedness.

His Holiness explained that the basic nature of the mind is pure and that purity is referred to as Buddha-nature. This is what underlies the idea that we can reduce and eliminate destructive emotions and purify the mind. He clarified that the quality of our action depends on our motivation, not so much on whether it is gentle or forceful. If the motivation is positive and compassionate, the action that follows will be beneficial.

When we are angry, the object of our anger seems to be absolutely negative. However, we can counter this by reflecting that nothing exists independently in the way it appears. Experience teaches that today’s enemy can become tomorrow’s friend. The label ‘enemy’ is our mental projection.

His Holiness observed that cultivating compassion and understanding the reality that nothing exists independently as it appears are crucial factors in reducing and overcoming our destructive emotions and therefore in achieving peace of mind. This approach is referred to in Buddhist terms as combining method and wisdom.

Understanding the workings of the mind and emotions has been part of discussions he has held with scientists over several decades. At the same time, facilities for the study of science have been established in the Tibetan monastic centres of learning re-established in South India.

“We’ve learned from science,” His Holiness remarked, “that accounts in Buddhist literature referring to a flat earth or to the sun and moon as being the same size and distance from the earth are mistaken. Among Buddhist scholars, Chandrakirti criticized masters who expressed such views and I count myself as his student.”

A member of the virtual audience asking a question during His Holiness the Dalai Lama's discussion with members of the Einstein Forum from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on November 25, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Asked how to view the functioning of karma in relation to science, His Holiness stated first that karma means action and action is subject to momentary change. However, physical, verbal and mental actions leave imprints on the mind that can remain for a very long time. He declared that the cumulative imprints of positive actions eventually ripen in the attainment of Buddhahood.

To apply a healing spirit to a divided society His Holiness recommended including training in ways to achieve peace of mind in general education. This would involve approaches to overcome anger and fear. He observed that competition can be beneficial when the aim is for everyone taking part to succeed, but when it involves winners and losers it is obstructive. He reiterated the importance of recognising the oneness of humanity and that we all have to live together motivated by a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood.

“The Indian master Shantideva commented that our enemy can be our best teacher. Being kind to your enemy is to show pure kindness, whereas showing kindness and affection to friends is generally mixed with attachment. Although the practice of compassion is described in religious texts, it should be adopted as something having universal value.

“Chapter six of Shantideva’s book ‘Bodhicharyavatara’ explains the negative effects of anger and how to overcome it. Chapter eight deals with the damaging effects of a self-centred attitude. Altruism is crucial to the achievement of happiness and these two chapters contain advice that is helpful whether you are a Buddhist or not.

“Since this book was explained to me, my way of thinking has changed. Today, I read it whenever I can. Combined with what Chandrakirti has to say about understanding reality it has been wonderfully effective in helping me transform my mind.”

His Holiness agreed that an ever-increasing human population is a risk because there limits to how much food the planet can produce. In addition, global warming poses a serious threat that may result before too long in the drastic dwindling of sources of water. He emphasised the need to assess these problems realistically from a wider perspective. He joked that an effective way to limit overpopulation would be for more people to become celibate monks or nuns.

Prof Susan Neiman brought the conversation to a close, declaring that it was her honour, on behalf of the Einstein Forum, to thank His Holiness for joining them today. She thanked the organizers and the technical team at the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for ensuring that the conversation could take place. She also thanked the team of translators who had simultaneously translated the conversation into 13 languages.

His Holiness replied that it was an honour for him to interact with an institution connected with Albert Einstein, a man for whom he has great respect and admiration.

]]>
Resilience, Hope and Connection for Well-being https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/resilience-hope-and-connection-for-well-being Thu, 19 Nov 2020 14:45:20 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/resilience-hope-and-connection-for-well-being Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - This morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was invited to take part in a conversation with Ian Hickie, a Professor of Psychiatry in Sydney as part of this year’s Happiness and Its Causes Conference in Australia. Moderator Tony Steel welcomed His Holiness, Prof Hickie, other conference participants and an online audience of several thousand. He began by asking His Holiness what we can do about problems of isolation and loneliness in difficult times such as the world is going through just now.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama arriving for the virtual dialogue on Resilience, Hope and Connection for Well-being at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on November 19, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Firstly, I want to express my greetings,” His Holiness replied. “Australia is too far for me to travel to now. I have many friends there and in New Zealand, where I learned to greet people by rubbing noses. Once we become friends, I believe friendship remains for the rest of our lives. And from a Buddhist point of view, once we’ve formed a close connection with someone, it continues in life after life.

“In today’s world, the effects of global warming, such as the bush fires that have swept through parts of Australia, are beyond our control. They are natural phenomena that reflect what is written in some ancient Indian texts about how violence and famine may bring about the end of the world as we know it. Some scientists have suggested to me that if things go on as they are, the climate will become so hot that our established sources of water, lakes and rivers, will dry up.

“Logically whatever has a beginning will come to an end. There’s not much we can do about that. What we can do, in the meantime is to live a peaceful, happy life. It’s very sad if we just fight among ourselves. But learning to live happily and peacefully requires education. We need to learn from the fact that during the last century and in the early years of this century there has been too much violence.

“All sentient beings want to lead a happy life and a happy life means a peaceful life. So, we have to think seriously about how to make our world more peaceful and harmonious. We are social animals. We depend on the community in which we live. From the moment we’re born, we depend on the care and affection of our mother and our family to survive. This is nothing to do with religious practice, it’s simply natural behaviour.

“When we’re about two or three years old, we don’t care if other children’s families follow this or that religion, or belong to this or that race, so long as they smile and play happily together. From this point of view, young children are aware of the oneness of humanity. However, once we start going to school, we learn to identify differences between us. We note differences of faith, or social status, whether our companions are rich or poor and so on. And yet these distinctions are only of secondary value. Fundamentally we are all the same in being human.

“We all have seeds of compassion, loving-kindness and concern for others. On that basis, if we make the effort, we can build a happy human community. In my own experience, when we were still in Tibet, we thought of the outside world and people in it as different from us, especially Europeans and others with their big noses. But once we became refugees in India, we found that those people with big noses became our friends. We became aware of the oneness of humanity and understood that all human beings are basically the same.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to the virtual audience during the dialogue on Resilience, Hope and Connection for Well-being as part of this year’s Happiness and Its Causes Conference in Australia from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on November 19, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“We discovered that everyone wants to lead a happy life. However, real happiness is not about having money or power, it’s about achieving inner peace. If you have peace of mind, you’ll be happy by night and day. Happiness is related to our emotions. And we all have the potential to experience positive as well as negative emotions. Which ones we cultivate depends on how we use our intelligence.

“We can learn how to cultivate peace of mind. Then, we can employ our intelligence to extend our compassionate minds on an individual, family, community and global level. It’s our nature to be compassionate and yet we create all sorts of trouble for other beings. Education should teach us to appreciate that we are like brothers and sisters and that we don’t have much time. If we were in a village at the foot of a hill and a large boulder were rolling down towards us, wouldn’t it be foolish to spend our last moments squabbling?

“Through education we must emphasise the oneness of the more than seven billion human beings alive today. And another thing — just as we teach children to observe physical hygiene for its benefits to our health, we need to teach them to cultivate emotional hygiene. They need to learn how to tackle their destructive emotions and achieve peace of mind.

“If the future of humanity and our planet are at risk, wouldn’t it be better to live happily together? We can do without weapons. We must aim for global demilitarization and a world without fear.”

Tony Steel brought Prof Ian Hickie into the conversation. Hickie remarked that the aboriginal people have a saying that an individual can only find inner peace if everyone has it. This is a reflection of how we need social groups. Lately, he suggested, mental health has been declining because of the deterioration of social relationships. We need to base our aspirations for collective action on a recognition of our close connection with each other.

He agreed with His Holiness that we can’t just focus on what’s happening locally, we have to think of the wider community. People are afraid, and worried about the future. If collective well-being is based on compassion, and if my sense of inner peace involves you also being at peace — how do we bring this about?

Ian Hickie, a Professor of Psychiatry in Sydney, speaking by video link from Australia during the dialogue on Resilience, Hope and Connection for Well-being with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on November 19, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

In his reply, His Holiness talked about his admiration for the spirit of the European Union. He explained how for centuries right up to the first and second world wars France and Germany had been enemies. But they came to realize that maintaining the conflict was useless. Their way of thinking changed. Former enemies became friends. Adenauer and de Gaulle recognised that their peoples had to live side by side, so they initiated what became the EU. Consequently, for seven decades members of the EU have no longer killed each other.

In modern democracy, he observed, power no longer belongs to kings or queens. Power is in the hands of the community, and in exercising it there has to be consideration of the good of the whole community. These days, national boundaries no longer reflect the real situation — neither the flow of money, nor the spread of the virus are stopped by them.

“We have to think about what benefits the majority of the population, not just what is good for a few companies. The gap between rich and poor is a serious problem, in the face of which the poor suffer and women are exploited. We must not only reduce the gap between rich and poor, but must also learn to think of each other as equals.”

Prof Hickie wanted to know how people can reconcile challenges they face on a global level with what they experience locally. His Holiness reported what one ancient Indian master had advised. He recommended analysing whatever problem you face to see if it can be solved. If it can, then implementing the solution is what you should do. If there is no solution and nothing can be done, that’s what you have to accept. Worrying about it won’t help.

With regard to the pandemic, His Holiness remarked that many people are working to find treatments and to develop a vaccine so there’s no need to feel discouraged. It’s important to believe that the challenge can be overcome.

Hickie asked how hope can be passed on to the next generation. His Holiness replied that we are going to have to pay more attention to ecology. Change will take place over the next century. A crucial test will be protecting sources of water. He conceded that it may be impractical and unrealistic, but he has wondered whether it might not be possible, in places like the Sahara, to use solar power to operate desalination plants to green the desert and so produce more food.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama responding to Prof Hickie's comments during their virtual dialogue on Resilience, Hope and Connection for Well-being with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on November 19, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness said that at the age of 86 he doesn’t worry about his own future, but he takes great encouragement from the way young people today are acutely aware of the risks to their future.

Hickie mentioned that there are people who say that focussing on your own inner peace is to take a selfish approach and to retreat from engaging with the real world. “How do we reconcile achieving peace of mind and leading a compassionate life with engaging with a complex world?”

“It’s in our best interests to create a happier world,” His Holiness responded. “In the face of crisis, it would be foolish to foment further conflict. The fact that all religious traditions teach the importance of love and compassion, tolerance and forgiveness means that there is a basis for harmony between them. But since we all have to live together, I encourage taking a secular approach, so that we live simply as warm-hearted human beings.”

Tony Steel put a final question to His Holiness about his involvement with scientists over the last thirty years or more. He asked His Holiness what he thought he had been able to contribute to modern science and what he had gained from the interaction.

“The Nalanda Tradition is based on reason and logic,” His Holiness observed. “Taking a logical, reasoned approach, investigating and analysing is something we share with science. Now, as far as the mind is concerned, modern science still has only a limited understanding. However, these days scientists are paying it much more attention, especially in terms of ways to create inner peace.

“Remarkable progress has been made in understanding the function of the brain, but a corresponding understanding of the workings of mental consciousness has yet to be reached. The experience of yogis who have trained in ancient Indian traditions is useful for the light it sheds on the various levels of subtle consciousness. One example is the observed phenomenon of meditators who are shown to be clinically dead, but whose bodies remain fresh for a period after their apparent death. Science has, as yet, no explanation.

The moderator, Tony Steel, thanking His Holiness the Dalai Lama for participating in the dialogue on Resilience, Hope and Connection for Well-being from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on November 19, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“We say that the subtlest level of consciousness has remained in the psychic channels within the body. The heart has stopped and the brain has ceased to function and yet decomposition has not taken place. Scientists, Russians and Americans among them, are investigating what is going on.”

Tony Steel thanked His Holiness and Prof Ian Hickie for their contributions. He ended by wishing His Holiness good health and a long life, and expressed the hope to meet him again in person before too long.

]]>
Launch of a Book on the Mind https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/launch-of-a-book-on-the-mind Fri, 13 Nov 2020 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/launch-of-a-book-on-the-mind Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - Daniel Aitken, CEO of Wisdom Publications, opened proceedings for the launch today of the English translation of the second volume of the series Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics by wishing His Holiness the Dalai Lama, “Good morning.” He thanked him for joining a virtual gathering in which series editor Thupten Jinpa, translators of this volume Dechen Rochard and John Dunne, as well as translators of other volumes, Ian Coghlan and Donald Lopez, were also participating.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama looking at a close up of the newly released English translation of the second volume of the series Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics on a TV at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India at the start of the virtual book launch on November 13, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Aitken described the publication of this series as an ambitious project. He noted that Tibetans are the custodians of the Nalanda Tradition, which through the series is being offered back to India and the entire world. Declaring that Wisdom Publications is honoured to be making these books available, he went through the motions of holding out a first copy, with a white silk scarf, to His Holiness.

Next, he invited John Dunne to talk about the essays he had written to introduce each chapter of the book. “This volume on the mind,” Dunne explained from Madison, Wisconsin, “is important because Buddhism has perspectives on the way the mind works that modern science lacks. We thought that introductory essays were necessary in order to make this volume accessible to readers in the West.

“Buddhist accounts of mind are motivated by an overall goal of relieving suffering. Moreover, Buddhist theories provide an account of cognition that, unlike early Western models, does not assume that there is a single, autonomous, controlling ‘self’ that is the agent of those cognitions. I wrote these essays taking such differences into account and seeking to build bridges between Buddhist science and modern science.

“In Western cognitive science there is a distinction between phenomenal and access consciousness and this is reflected in Buddhist categories such as the five mental functions with a determinate object or the distinction between the conceptual and the non-conceptual.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama listening to John Dunne talk about the essays he had written to introduce each chapter of the book during the virtual book launch of "Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics, Vol. 2 - The Mind" at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on November 13, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“We hope to help readers appreciate what the Nalanda Tradition brings to the study of the mind. We try to point out areas of benefit. Among scientists and clinicians, there is a great deal of interest in the effects of contemplative practices such as ‘shamatha’ and mindfulness meditation on the mind and body. The essays try to answer what happens when we meditate? What are the theories? And also how meditation operates.”

Daniel Aitken remarked that this series of books is unique even from a Buddhist perspective. He asked His Holiness if he could talk about his reasons for initiating their compilation.

“I respect all the major religious traditions,” His Holiness replied. “Despite various philosophical differences between them, they all convey a message of love, tolerance, forgiveness and self-discipline. From a Buddhist perspective, religions are a human creation and they focus on good human qualities, such as compassion and forgiveness. These are qualities that contribute to our being able to live a happy life.

“There are difference of tradition even within Buddhism. However, in general, it’s a mistake to think in terms of ‘my religion’ and ‘their religion’. And it’s especially unfortunate to fight in the name of religion. Therefore, we must promote inter-religious harmony.

“As far as Buddhism is concerned, the Buddha advised his followers, “As the wise test gold by burning, cutting and rubbing it, so, bhikshus, should you accept my words -- only after testing them, and not merely out of respect for me." Although the Pali tradition relies on faith in the Buddha’s words, the tradition of Nalanda, which was a centre of learning, took a logical and reasoned approach. The scholars subjected even the Buddha’s words to reasoned scrutiny.

“In his ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’ Nagarjuna stated that all the Buddha’s teachings should be seen within the framework of the two truths, conventional and ultimate truth. At the heart of this approach is an understanding of the nature of reality. The Buddha didn’t create the distinction between conventional and ultimate truth, they are part of reality. And the emphasis in Buddhism is on understanding the nature of reality. Conventional truth is based on our perception of reality on the level of appearances. There is a disparity between appearances and the way things are. Ultimate truth pertains to the way things are in an ultimate sense.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the virtual audience during the book launch of "Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics, Vol. 2 - The Mind" from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on November 13, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“In elaborating on the two truths the Buddha explained the four noble truths beginning with the truth of suffering and its origin. Then, when you look at suffering there are three levels. First is the evident suffering that even animals are aware of. Next is the suffering of change, which most human beings confuse with pleasure. Underlying them both is the fundamental suffering that derives from pervasive conditioning. Suffering comes from causes, so if we don’t want to encounter suffering, we have to find those causes and eliminate them.

“Nagarjuna mentions that the two main causes are karmic activity and mental afflictions. Liberation occurs when there is a cessation of these two. Karma arises from mental afflictions and they in turn derive from conceptual elaborations, which are underpinned by ignorance. Ignorance is overcome by understanding the nature of reality.

“Once we understand that it is possible to overcome these causes of suffering an enthusiasm to follow the path of practice develops. Elimination of negative emotions won’t come about through faith and prayer, but by training the mind. To follow the path, you have to know about the mind. To clarify the mind and overcome negative emotions, you have to know the nature of the mind. One text says, the principal nature of the mind is clear light.

“There are several levels of mind and emotions. Destructive emotions occur at a coarse level of mind due to certain factors. There are more subtle levels of mind that we experience during meditation or in deep sleep. The subtlest level of mind manifests at the time of death, at the culmination of the dissolution of all conceptual thought processes. At that point, the mind of clear light manifests free of any affliction, clear and pure.

“It’s important to investigate the mind and the different levels of consciousness because even ordinary people experience the innermost, subtlest level of mind, the primordial mind of clear light, at the time of death.

“If you look at the resources we find in Buddhism, the primary emphasis is on understanding the nature of reality. As I said before, the fundamental source of our problems is ignorance of the nature of reality, which gives rise to mental afflictions. We have to put an end to the mechanism that gives rise to mental afflictions that are rooted in ignorance. One technique we see in Buddhism, which culminates in highest yoga tantra, is indicated in the third round of the Buddha’s teachings, and emphasises the subjective clear light.

“There are progressive levels of consciousness in the vajrayana. By using techniques such as ‘pranayama’, focussing on the breath, it’s possible to bring consciousness to its subtlest state. This is one way to approach pure luminosity or mere clarity and awareness.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during the virtual book launch of "Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics, Vol. 2 - The Mind" from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on November 13, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Another approach was revealed in the second round of teachings that dealt with the perfection of wisdom. Nagarjuna and Aryadeva have elaborated on this in their writings. The point they make is that underlying our perception of reality is a fundamental misconception of an enduring reality. This serves as the basis for creating the whole edifice of our naive view of reality, which gives rise to our emotional relation to the world. So, the aim here is to get our understanding of reality right. We have to analyse and deconstruct different layers of ignorance. We have to realize that the way the world appears to us is not the way it exists. Aryadeva comments that ignorance pervades our mental afflictions in the way our physical faculty pervades all our other senses.

“The way we can overcome ignorance is to understand emptiness in terms of dependent arising. We need to refine our understanding of the objective world by understanding the teaching on emptiness and by progressively reducing our dependence on coarse levels of mind. Both approaches are based on understanding the nature of reality.

“Both liberation and the cycle of existence are functions of the mind. Indian tradition, and particularly Buddhist tradition, emphasise understanding the nature of the mind, not necessarily in terms of religious practice, but in understanding the nature of reality.

“Modern science is astute about the physical world, but when it comes to understanding the mind, Indian and Buddhist tradition have a great deal to offer, not only theories of the mind, but also techniques for training it. These include how to develop a focussed mind as well as a sharp critical faculty (‘shamatha’ and ‘vipashyana’). These are two key kinds of practice, one restful and focussed and the other analytical and discursive. Consequently, scientists find dialogue with Buddhists enriching and beneficial.

“Neuroscientists correlate the mind with the brain, but make little distinction between sensory and mental modalities, which Indian tradition deals with in detail.

“Until the late 20th century people in the West paid little attention to the mind. When they used the word mind, they thought only of the brain. However, lately, cases have come to light of people, often experienced meditators, who are clinically dead but whose bodies remain fresh. Science is unable to explain this phenomenon. What’s more, there are cases of young children with clear memories of their past lives. Gradually scientists are coming to accept that there is something that affects the brain — and we call it the mind.”

His Holiness spoke of Buddhist literature and how its contents can be categorised under three headings — science, philosophy and religion. He mentioned that he had requested scholars to compile materials from these sources about science, especially in relation to the mind, and philosophy. He reported that he’s been informed that Chinese scientists who read the translation of the first volume were surprised by the scientific approach adopted by Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He confirmed that scientific and philosophical explanations may be derived from religious texts, but they can be examined in an objective, academic context.

Daniel Aitken, CEO of Wisdom Publications, asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question during the virtual book launch of "Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics, Vol. 2 - The Mind" from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on November 13, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

When Daniel Aitken asked if His Holiness saw any benefit of the books to the world other than as a contribution to scientific knowledge, he drew attention to the need for ordinary people to develop a sense of emotional hygiene. Although everybody wants to be healthy and happy, they generally do not know how to achieve peace of mind. He declared that it’s time for people to pay attention not only to their physical health, but to their mental well-being as well.

He suggested that science can also look into how to develop peace of mind in day to day life. He gave the example of Shantideva’s observation in his ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’ that when it comes to cultivating patience, our adversary is our best teacher and we should be grateful to him. He pointed out that we label people as friends or enemies in our minds and that if we are able feel gratitude to an enemy, it preserves our peace of mind. He added that these judgements are also related to the recognition that things don’t exist the way they appear. Because such thoughts help reduce anger and attachment, His Holiness concluded that he is not propagating Buddhism, but simple peace of mind.

Aitken invited Dechen Rochard to talk about her experience of translating this book. She began by thanking His Holiness for providing the opportunity to serve him as a translator. “Translating is usually a solitary activity,” she continued, “but I’ve found myself working with four Geshés, Thupten Jinpa, Ian Coghlan, and John Dunne with trust and mutual respect.

“The text contains a wide range of different, complex materials and making it accessible to English readers has been a challenge. Building bridges is a long-term project. This book is part of the foundation.

“Working on this project has introduced me to Indian Buddhist literature, which requires that you delve deeply into it to understand it. My understanding has been enriched, thank you.”

Aitken invited Thupten Jinpa to explain the importance of the series. “Your Holiness, colleagues and friends,” he began, “I am deeply honoured to be part of today's launch of the second volume of Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics. One thing I would like to highlight is the highly ambitious nature of the series. What His Holiness has conceived and created here is truly innovative in the 2500-year history of Buddhist thought. The series offers to the wider world the insights, knowledge, and wisdom of India's great Nalanda masters.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama listening to series editor Thupten Jinpa explaining the importance of the series Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics during the virtual book launch of the second volume on the mind from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on November 13, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“We Tibetans take pride in being custodians of the Nalanda Tradition. Drawing on the Abhidharmakoshakarika, they developed a map of the mind and elaborated on the structure of our mental experience. The epistemology of Dignaga, Dharmakirti and so forth, analyses the nature of consciousness. Vajrayana texts, especially those related to highest yoga tantra present a unique view in which mind and body are regarded in terms of energy and awareness. Added to this, the Yogachara tradition provides meditative techniques for transforming the mind. As John Dunne observed, this volume will be of special interest to neuroscientists.

“As series editor, I’d like to thank Dechen Rochard for her translation, John Dunne for his introductory essays, publisher at Wisdom, Daniel Aitken, senior editor David Kittelstrom and his colleague Mary Petrusewicz, for their dedication. I must also thank the four monastic scholars — Geshé Jangchup Sangyé, Abbot of Ganden Shartse, Geshé Ngawang Sangyé of Drepung Loseling college, Geshé Chilsa Drungchen Rinpoché of Ganden Jangtsé College, and Geshé Lobsang Konchok of Drepung Gomang College, who worked for many years preparing the original Tibetan manuscripts of the series. It has been truly a source of profound honour for me to be able to play some role is making this important vision of His Holiness a reality.”

When Daniel Aitken asked about his hope and vision for the series, His Holiness replied that in modern times there has been great material development, but less attention has been paid to our inner world. “We face problems that we don’t want, and yet they are of our own making. We need to find ways to keep our minds peaceful. So, it’s useful for us to know how our minds and emotions work. In my experience the advice contained in Shantideva’s ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’, Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom’ and Aryadeva’s ‘400 Verses’ has helped me to retain my peace of mind. So, I believe this knowledge can be of benefit to many other human brothers and sisters.

Aitken thanked His Holiness once again and told him it had been an honour to take part in this work. His Holiness picked up a copy of the second volume of the series and posed with it before the screen displaying the faces of the various contributors.

His Holiness holding a copy of "Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics, Vol. 2 - The Mind" as he stands in front of the TV displaying the faces of the various contributors at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on November 13, 2020. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

He added some final words of appreciation for the work of the translators in translating the two books that have been published so far. He emphasised the importance of undertaking this work with a positive motivation to benefit others rather than simply to achieve financial gain. He ended by reciting verses from Shantideva’s ‘Guide’:

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 fools who long for their own advantage and the sage who acts for the advantage of others. 8/130

Proceeding in this way from happiness to happiness, what thinking person would despair, after mounting the carriage, the Awakening Mind, which carries away all weariness and effort? 7/30

]]>
Congratulating Nitish Kumar https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/congratulating-nitish-kumar Wed, 11 Nov 2020 10:54:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/congratulating-nitish-kumar Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - With the declaration of the result of the Bihar State Assembly Election, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has written to Nitish Kumar to offer his congratulations on his coalition’s success.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar in Bodhgaya, Bihar India on December 31, 2018.

“I deeply appreciate your friendship,” he wrote, “as well as the hospitality you have shown me during my visits to Bihar, especially to Bodh Gaya, which have been quite regular in recent years.

“I would also like to thank you for your support and encouragement of my efforts to promote a revival of interest in ancient Indian thought so vividly expressed in the historic Nalanda Tradition, which is like the sun shining in the East. As you know, India's longstanding philosophy of karuna and the conduct that flows from it, ahimsa, sets an example to the rest of the world.

“I pray you will be successful in meeting whatever challenges lie ahead in fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the people of Bihar.”

His Holiness concluded his letter with prayers and good wishes.

]]>