Dalai Lama https://www.dalailama.com/ en-us Sat, 23 Oct 2021 22:07:15 +0000 Sat, 23 Oct 2021 22:07:15 +0000 Sympathy for the People of Uttarkhand https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/sympathy-for-the-people-of-uttarkhand Tue, 19 Oct 2021 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/sympathy-for-the-people-of-uttarkhand Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - His Holiness the Dalai Lama has written to Shri Pushkar Singh Dhami, Chief Minister of the North Indian state of Uttarakhand, to express his deep sadness about the loss of life and damage to property, as well as the hardship caused to many people, as a result of heavy rainfall in the state.

“I offer my condolences to those who have lost loved ones,” he wrote, “and pray for them. I also pray for the safety and well-being of people still reportedly trapped under debris and in flooded areas.

“I very much appreciate that the State Government is engaged in rescue work and is doing its utmost to provide relief to people affected by this calamity. As a mark of solidarity with the people of Uttarakhand, I have asked the Dalai Lama Trust (DLT) to make a donation towards relief and rescue efforts.”

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Expressing Sympathy about Floods and Landslides in Kerala https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/expressing-sympathy-about-floods-and-landslides-in-kerala Sun, 17 Oct 2021 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/expressing-sympathy-about-floods-and-landslides-in-kerala Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - This morning His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote to Shri Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister of the Southern Indian state of Kerala, to express his deep sadness at the tragic loss of life and property due to flooding and landslides in many parts of Kerala.

“I offer my condolences to you, to the families who have lost loved ones and to all affected by the devastation,” he wrote.

“I understand that the State government and concerned authorities are making every effort to provide help to those in need and that relief efforts are well underway. As a token of my sympathy, I would like to make a donation from the Dalai Lama Trust towards the rescue and relief efforts.”

His Holiness ended his letter, “With my prayers.”

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Compassion, Education, and Equality - Second Day https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/ompassion-education-and-equality-second-day Fri, 15 Oct 2021 16:05:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/ompassion-education-and-equality-second-day Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - His Holiness the Dalai Lama opened the second day of conversation with USIP Generation Change Fellows by wishing them good morning and expressing the hope that they had slept well.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama waving to the virtual audience as he arrives for the second day of his conversation with USIP Generation Change Fellows at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on October 15, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“We’re meeting again,” he told them, “And I want you to know that I very much appreciate the discussions we’re having.”

Lise Grande, President and CEO, US Institute of Peace, responded that it was a great pleasure to talk to His Holiness for a second day. She mentioned that today’s theme was the education of the heart and mind and that the virtual audience would be honoured to hear what he had to say about that.

“The last century was filled with such violence that some people think that it’s normal and of benefit,” His Holiness replied. “Great effort has gone into making weapons, especially nuclear weapons. But now the world is thinking more seriously about peace. Countries have become interdependent within the global economy. And in that context war has become irrelevant. Disputes and disagreements must be resolved by talking—through dialogue.

“We must educate the younger generation about how the world has changed. These days it’s realistic to work for co-existence on global level. It’s no longer appropriate to thinking only of ‘my country’. We must educate the young to think about how to achieve genuine world peace. We have to take the entire world, the whole of humanity, into account on a global level. And on top of that, of course, there is the problem of global warming.

“The younger generation must be more broad-minded. They need to adopt a broader perspective, not simply repeating what was experienced in the past.

“When I reached India as a refugee, I found I had the opportunity of meeting so many more people. I reflected that if you find yourself lost in some remote place and someone else comes into view, you don’t concern yourself with where they come from or what faith they follow. You’re simply happy to encounter another human being.

“This is the point. We are all human beings and we all have to live together on this planet. When I meet people in different countries, who follow different religions and perhaps are of a different colour, I simply reflect that we are all the same in being human. We have to help each other. This is why I promote a recognition of the oneness of humanity.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the virtual audience of USIP Generation Change Fellows during their online conversation from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on October 15, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“We must explain to young people that we are all members of the same human family. One urgent reason for concerning ourselves with the oneness of humanity is global warming. No exceptions are made for this or that nation; it affects us all.

“Scientific research has confirmed the importance of achieving peace of mind. If a community is peaceful and motivated by loving-kindness, its individuals will be more peaceful too.

“I hope that education will mean that young people will not repeat the mistakes of the past.”

Lise Grande thanked His Holiness for drawing attention to the link between peace of mind and peace in the world. She began to introduce USIP Generation Change Fellows who had questions for him. First of all, Sophia Santi from Venezuela told the story of a professor who rebuked a student when he was unable to answer her question. Sophia wanted to know what His Holiness might say to such a teacher.

“It is inappropriate for a teacher to rebuke or humiliate a student in the way you describe. Even from the teacher’s point of view it’s a mistake. Someone that students regard as a wonderful teacher will be happy with their relationship, whereas a teacher who is regarded with wariness will be ill at ease. Good relations between teacher and student are very important. Even if a student’s question is silly and foolish, they should be able to ask it and the teacher should answer it with respect.”

Faten Khalfallah from Tunisia asked about His Holiness’s relations with his teachers. “I had two main teachers,” he replied, “one of whom mainly taught me the great philosophical treatises. He instilled great hope in me that I could become a sound philosopher. He was encouraging and filled me with enthusiasm. Sometimes he wore a serious face, but in general he gave me hope and encouragement.”

Nicholas Songora from Kenya told another story of being humiliated by a resentful teacher. He also asked His Holiness how he regards teacher-student relations.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama enjoying a moment of laughter during his online conversation with USIP Generation Change Fellows at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on October 15, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“If we have a kind and compassionate teacher,” His Holiness told him, “Even when the subject is difficult, students find it easier to understand. When their teacher treats them with disdain, students tend not to learn so well. Students should be able to ask question after question. Nowadays, the internet provides us with many ways to learn, but the living experience of a concerned teacher remains most effective.”

Tania Rosas from Colombia described the inspiration she had drawn from her grandmother, an educator who set up her own school. She remarked that educational opportunities have changed since her grandmother’s time. She wondered how His Holiness views the future of education.

He expressed admiration for the audio and video clips available over the internet and the many prospects to gather information. As time goes on, technology can help students learn so many things that they naturally become more broad-minded instead of just repeating old ways of thinking. He voiced the hope that this will mean that in future young people will take more account of the whole of humanity.

Soukaina Hamia from Morocco met His Holiness twice in 2016. In describing the impact meeting him had had on her she said it had taught her that education is the answer, the way and the path to happiness, peace and enlightenment. She revealed that meeting His Holiness had made her a better Muslim. It also reminded her reminder that education is compatible with religion, and this is why the first word in the Holy Quran is: "Read".

“Despite philosophical differences,” His Holiness responded, “the essence of all religious traditions is the same—loving-kindness. Sometimes holding intellectual arguments is useful and can be stimulating, but at other times, for example at the time of death no one wants to argue. They just want to be at peace.”

Lise Grande asked several questions on behalf of peace-builders who could not join the conversation online. Luisa Romero from Colombia’s question was about identity in relation to stigma like nationality, race and religion. His Holiness responded that religion naturally influences society’s ways of thinking, which may include prejudices about race and gender. However, it is also the case that all major religious traditions convey a common message about the importance of loving-kindness. As new circumstances emerge, there is a need for new ways of thinking.

Kuany Charles Ngor from South Sudan wanted to know how to let go of negative attitudes. His Holiness told him that as human beings we are intelligent. We can think and reason. The reality in which we live is that everything is interdependent, so we have to adopt a more holistic, broad-minded view.

A member of the virtual audience asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question during his conversation with USIP Generation Change Fellows at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on October 15, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Daniella Liendo from Venezuela asked how to deal with things that it seems can’t be changed. His Holiness repeated that we have the potential to think more holistically. He recommended that if problems can’t be overcome, it’s better to accept them as they are. He quoted an ancient Indian teacher who advised that if an obstacle can be overcome, that’s the course of action to take. If it can’t be overcome, worrying about it won’t be of any help.

Answering a question from Lise Grande about how religious leaders can promote humanism His Holiness observed that different philosophical points of view, looking at things from different angles, can be very helpful. He suggested that if a restaurant were only to offer the same food all the time people would easily be bored. Different ways of thinking are like different kinds of food for the mind. They can be challenging and stimulating.

Asked for his general advice for USIP Generation Change Fellows His Holiness replied:

“In life we naturally face difficulties. If we allow ourselves to become demoralized, that’s a real failure. In my own life I’ve encountered all sorts of problems, but I’ve never felt discouraged. I believe we can always use our intelligence and look at whatever complication besets us from a wider perspective. We should use our human brains with human determination.”

Lise Grande brought the conversation to a close by thanking His Holiness and the other participants. She also thanked those who had enabled the conversation to take place. She looked forward to being able to talk to His Holiness again next year. Kalden Lodoe, Tibetan News Director for Radio Free Asia and a coordinator of these meetings also offered words of thanks to various people who have provided crucial support for these conversations.

As his final remark, His Holiness recited verses from an ancient Indian book that he repeats to himself daily, the gist of which are as follows:

Illuminated by rays of wisdom the bodhisattva sees as clearly as a gooseberry on his open palm that the three realms of existence in their entirety are unborn from the very start, and through the force of conventional truth, he journeys to cessation. He also generates compassion for beings bereft of protection and like a king of swans soaring ahead of other accomplished swans with white wings of wisdom and compassion spread wide, he cruises to the excellent far shore.

He declared that these words give him great confidence and reiterated that although we may follow different traditions, it’s good to share our experiences with each other.

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Compassion, Education, and Equality - First Day https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/compassion-education-and-equality-first-day Wed, 13 Oct 2021 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/compassion-education-and-equality-first-day Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - This morning His Holiness the Dalai Lama was in conversation with young peace-builders about compassion, education and equality. He was welcomed by Mrs. Lise Grande, President, US Institute of Peace, who introduced the event.

Lise Grande, President, US Institute of Peace, introducing the first day of the two day conversation with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and young peace-builders about compassion, education and equality online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on October 14, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

She explained that the USIP is dedicated to the proposition that peace is possible, practical and essential for US and global security. It brings together young leaders from conflict-affected communities and provides training on leadership, prejudice reduction, and conflict transformation. The intention is to build bridges across social divides and to reduce the isolation they may feel in their work as peace-builders. There are currently 300 Fellows associated with USIP from 26 countries across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

Mrs Grande mentioned that over the past four years many youth leaders have met with His Holiness, some of them coming to Dharamsala. However, due to Covid related restrictions, last year and again this year conversation was being held in a virtual setting. The theme of today’s discussion was gender equality.

His Holiness began by remarking that at a time when physical travel is restricted, he’s very happy to use modern technology, such as the internet, to exchange ideas.

“The world is changing,” he went on. “The last century was marked by too much violence, but these days there is a stronger wish for peace in the world both among leaders and the public at large. For this to be achieved, individuals and communities must take part. Individuals need to cultivate peace of mind, voluntarily, not out of fear.

“Today, we have advanced weapons systems that, if used, would cause immense destruction. Therefore, we have to ensure there is peace in the world. Since it is human beings who engage in violence, whether or not there is peace also depends on us. First of all, we have to cultivate a peaceful mind founded on loving-kindness and compassion. We need to strengthen our wish not to harm others. Non-violence is not just a religious principle, it’s common sense.

“The destructive power of nuclear weapons, for example, is so great that their use would entail adversaries’ mutual destruction. Since we would all be affected by such a calamity, everybody has a right and a responsibility to help to build a peaceful world. And to fulfil that wish, inner peace is very important. We have to educate children about peace when they are young.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the online audience of young peace-builders from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on October 14, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“We human beings are social animals. Our survival depends on our community. Taking care of others is the best way of fulfilling our own interest. Being considerate of others is a wise way to pursue self-interest, whereas neglecting others is a foolish approach. Cultivating compassion is the best way to be happy and to make friends. Wherever I am, people show me affection because I always smile.

“In our education systems we need to make clear that we all want to be happy and that warm-heartedness and compassion are the best way of achieving this. If compassion is part of the education curriculum, equality will come about automatically. Many problems in the world today arise because of a lack of equality, and yet there is a lot of talk about democracy. Everyone wants democracy and the very basis of democracy is equality, while the key to securing equality and democracy is compassion.”

His Holiness invited questions from the virtual audience and Mithila Hore, a USIP Generation Change Fellow from Bangladesh, asked him how to advise a woman who, due to the pandemic, took her daughter, but not her son, out of school. His Holiness was straightforward in his reply. “Everyone needs and deserves education. This is the essence of equality. It’s wrong to make a distinction between male and female when it comes to education. We need equality in society, so we should treat our sons and daughters 100% the same way. Democracy entails equal rights, but also equal opportunity. Half the population is female, so creating a peaceful world involves men and women.”

Ashar Omer, a youth peace-builder and women's rights advocate from Afghanistan wanted to know how His Holiness would advise women in Afghanistan today. His Holiness told him that no matter how difficult the situation becomes it’s essential to remain firmly determined. He suggested that Afghan women uphold their principles, but also have to be realistic. Gender discrimination is an old and outdated way of thinking, but eventually things will change. He added that the rest of the world should not leave the people of Afghanistan in isolation.

Muborak Muqimi from Tajikistan described a project she developed called "Women are the future leaders of our country." She inquired whether His Holiness could cite examples where men had shared power with and shown trust in and support for women.

“I’m sure that among people dedicated to democracy and social development,” he responded, “there have been those who made efforts to bring about equality. In the past, religious and cultural traditions both fostered discrimination against women. However, things are changing. We need leaders committed to equal rights and equality of education.

Muborak Muqimi from Tajikistan asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question during the online conversation on October 14, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Among men and women, it seems women are more responsive to the feelings of others. They seem to be more warm-hearted. Therefore, when we talk about the prospects for greater peace and equality in the world, women must take a more active role.”

Nyachangkuoth Rambang Tai, a USIP Generation Change Fellow from South Sudan, wanted to know the place of forgiveness and healing in the context of gender-based violence. His Holiness reiterated the need to keep up efforts to bring equality about. He stressed that everyone is entitled to equal opportunity and that we must use the internet and social media as a means to make this clear. He expressed optimism that discrimination on the basis of gender, colour and faith is changing.

Before the next question, Gharsanay Amin a peace-builder from Afghanistan, reported the impact meeting His Holiness on a previous occasion had had on her. She told him she no longer thinks of herself only as an Afghan but as a global citizen. She added that she is now intent on developing resilience, inner peace, compassion and a lifelong commitment to learning new perspectives and unlearning old traditions.

Komal Dilshad from Pakistan requested a message for women working for gender equality.

“Sometimes some people take a different view of the role of women because of their faith,” His Holiness told her. “Therefore, it can be difficult to criticize or challenge them. Taking a broader perspective can contribute to change. As a Buddhist monk, I’m committed to encouraging inter-religious harmony. Rather than expressing differing opinions about religious traditions, it may be more constructive to improve education and that will lead to change.”

Rachel Dibal from Nigeria was unable to take part directly, but Lise Grande asked a question on her behalf. She observed that after some early improvement in taking women and girls into account, progress had stagnated. She asked how His Holiness would advise men and women to change their attitudes and make institutions more receptive and considerate towards gender equality.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering questions from the virtual audience of young peace-builders during their conversation about compassion, education and equality from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on October 14, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

He repeated that discrimination on the basis of gender, colour or faith is old thinking. It’s out of date. The key to ensuring that equality comes about is to not slacken our efforts to improve education.

Lise Grande expressed admiration for the guidance His Holiness had given this morning. She told him that forty years ago she had been a young peace-builder and would have derived great benefit from being in his presence. She voiced her gratitude to everyone who had contributed to the conversation or worked to make it possible. She looked forward to talking with His Holiness again tomorrow.

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In Praise of Dependent Arising - Second Day https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/in-praise-of-dependent-arising-second-day Sat, 09 Oct 2021 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/in-praise-of-dependent-arising-second-day Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - “Today, Dharma friends, we’ll go over the remaining transmission of ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising’” His Holiness announced as soon as the chanting of the ‘Heart Sutra’ was complete.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the virtual audience on the second day of his two day online teaching from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on October 10, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“As the Buddha said in the Questions of Rashtrapala Scripture:

“The way is empty, peaceful, and uncreated.
Not knowing that, the living beings wander.
Moved by compassion, he introduces them
With hundreds of reasons and technical procedures.

“He then used different means to lead beings out of cyclic existence. If he’d taught emptiness from the start, some people would have feared he was recommending nihilism. Instead, he taught the Four Noble Truths, their nature, function and result, and revealed emptiness in the second turning of the wheel of Dharma. Consequently, all followers of the Sanskrit Tradition of Buddhism recite the 25 verse Perfection of Wisdom Sutra that is better known as the ‘Heart Sutra’.

“It includes the lines: ‘Form is empty; emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form; form also is not other than emptiness’, which summarize the Perfection of Wisdom. Nothing from form up to the omniscient mind can be found when sought, and yet things still exist. However they do not exist as they appear — form is empty. If we seek for the identity of things, it’s not to be found.

“Form and so forth don’t exist from their own side. But when the causes and conditions come together, we can understand that form exists as a dependent designation. As Chandrakirti says, things arise from emptiness in a robust way.

“I meditate daily on emptiness and have done for many years,” His Holiness revealed. “I have a sense that I could be approaching the path of seeing and am hoping to reach it. Perhaps at the moment I’m near to the path of preparation. The Buddha’s teaching is founded on reason and it can really help us counter negativities within us.

“There is a verse that you Chinese recite at the end of the ‘Heart Sutra’.

May we be able to dispel the three poisons
May the light of insight shine brightly
May we be able to overcome all obstacles
May we be able to engage in the deeds of Bodhisattvas.

"Ultimately, the reason for dispelling the three poisons, attachment, anger and ignorance, and for cultivating wisdom and overcoming obstacles, is to engage in the deeds of Bodhisattvas. And we do this in order to help all beings attain enlightenment. To increase our insight, we need to study.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on the second day of his teachings on ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising’ online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on October 10, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness resumed his reading of the text from verse 22. He commented that great Indian masters have advocated doing no harm for more than 2500 years and yet many of them continue to cling to the idea of a single, separate, autonomous self. On the other hand, the Buddha taught that although things appear to be inherently existent, they are actually dependently arisen.

His Holiness recalled that Jé Tsongkhapa examined the Buddha’s teachings for many years. He observed that if you read his early writing, such as the ‘Golden Rosary’ and compare it to later works like ‘Illuminating the Intent’, you can see how his understanding of the view evolved.

Manjushri advised Jé Rinpoché to go into retreat to engage in practices of purification and accumulation. He replied that he felt that he ought to fulfil his responsibilities to the many students he was teaching. Manjushri retorted that he knew full well what would be of benefit to him and to the Dharma.

At Wölkha he performed purificatory practices in association with the 35 Buddhas of Confession. During a dream about Nagarjuna and his disciples, he saw one with a dark complexion come forward and touch a book to his head. The following day he read the treatise named ‘Buddhapalita’ after its author. As he was reading and meditating on the eighteenth chapter, ‘Analysis of Self and Phenomena’, all of a sudden everything became clear. All his doubts, especially about what is negated in emptiness and what is left untouched, vanished without a trace.

Once His Holiness had completed his reading of the text, he recalled that, while still in Lhasa, one day he propitiated the protectors. That night he had a dream in which he was reciting the final verse of the Lam Rim Dedication Prayer:

When I strive to properly achieve the supreme vehicle
Through the ten deeds of the teaching,
May I be accompanied always by those who have power,
And may an ocean of good fortune pervade all directions.

He has since reflected that this may relate to his having been able to contribute to the well-being of the world through sharing the Buddha’s teachings.

Butter lamps arranged as offerings behind His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the second day of his two day online teaching from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on October 10, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Responding to questions from the audience, His Holiness noted that with regard to the disparity between appearance and reality, today, even quantum physicists highlight such a disparity in connection with external objects. Although things appear to have some objective existence, and appear to exist from their own side, this impression is merely our mental projection. In relation to our own minds, when things appear to us, we feel that what we see is the best thing to do. But the reality is different. As Shantideva observes:

All those who suffer in the world do so because of their desire for their own happiness. All those happy in the world are so because of their desire for the happiness of others. 8/129

Why say more? Observe this distinction: between the fool who longs for his own advantage and the sage who acts for the advantage of others. 8/130

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

A question was asked about the paradoxical statement in Tsongkhapa’s ‘Three Principal Aspects of the Path’: ‘Appearances refute the extreme of existence, Emptiness refutes the extreme of non-existence.’ His Holiness replied that when we search for a designated object, nothing can be found, so appearance dispels the extreme of existence. Things do not exist the way they appear to us, they are merely designated in dependence on other factors. This helps dispel the extreme of non-existence. To say things are dependently designated, does not reject their very existence.

His Holiness added that as our understanding of dependent designation deepens, so will our understanding of how emptiness dispels the extreme of non-existence and appearance dispels the extreme of existence.

His Holiness conceded that it is good if a teacher and disciples are able to meet together in person, which recent events have made more difficult. However, he pointed out that none of us has met the Buddha or Nagarjuna and yet their teachings have been effectively passed down to us and we are able to study them.

Invited to advise on how to manage disputes, His Holiness remarked that these days disagreements about philosophical views are rare. Disputes are much more likely to be related to day-to-day issues about livelihood and so on. He noted that while different religious traditions adopt different philosophical positions, they share a common message about the value of being compassionate and helping others.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering questions from the virtual audience on the second day of his online teaching from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on October 10, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

He remarked that it is more usual to consider our close relatives in terms of their kindness to us then in terms of whatever suffering they may experience. He emphasised that the essence of the bodhisattva vows is to avoid harming others and to help them whenever and wherever possible.

He reminded his listeners that if they are to eliminate the three poisons referred to in the verse he had mentioned earlier, they need to develop the light of wisdom. He reiterated that when he wakes in the morning, he first generates bodhichitta and refreshes his bodhisattva vows. Then he recites ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising’ and related verses by Nagarjuna before reflecting on the nature of the person.

He counselled that if you don’t understand right away something a Lama has explained, you can listen to it and reflect on it again and again. It may be, however, that what has been taught is inconsistent with what is explained in the great treatises. The key is not to accept what anyone says unquestioningly. You have to examine it and apply reason.

As the session came to an end, His Holiness announced that he would review the ‘all-encompassing yoga mind’ he taught yesterday. He suggested that followers of the Buddha should not harm others and should be patient when others harm them. They should make an effort to cultivate bodhichitta, aspiring to become a Buddha for the sake of all sentient beings. This bodhichitta focussed on enlightenment transforms into a white moon disc at the heart.

Next, he encouraged examining who is the ‘I’ that aspires to become enlightened. He recommended reflecting on a verse from Nagarjuna’s ‘Root Wisdom’:

Neither the aggregates, nor different from the aggregates,
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? 22/1

Reflecting on everything’s being empty of essential existence, the mind meditating on emptiness transforms into a white vajra standing on the moon at the heart.

“I do this practice every day,” His Holiness declared, “and you too can do it whenever you can.”

He recited a dedication prayer and the day’s session came to an end.

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In Praise of Dependent Arising - First Day https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/in-praise-of-dependent-arising-first-day Sat, 09 Oct 2021 07:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/in-praise-of-dependent-arising-first-day Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - As soon as His Holiness the Dalai Lama came into the room from where he engages in online conversations today, monks in Taiwan began to chant the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Chinese. Following their recitation, Mr Chung Chih welcomed His Holiness on behalf of the Organizing Committee. He reminded His Holiness that the main disciples of today’s teaching were Taiwanese and Chinese. Many of them belonged to the Bliss and Wisdom Organisation founded by the late Bhikshu Tenzin Jamchen, who used to bring many faithful disciples to Dharamsala. Chung Chih assured His Holiness that all these students take his advice and instruction seriously as they strive to study and meditate.

Monks in Taiwan chanting the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Chinese at the start of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's online teachings from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on October 9, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness responded that he was happy to see his Dharma friends from Taiwan online today. He remarked that from the point of view of the Dharma relations between guru and disciple will also continue in future lives.

“Today, I’m going to explain Jé Tsongkhapa’s ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising’,” he confirmed. “But first I’d like to give you a short introduction.

“Buddha Shakyamuni appeared in India more than 2500 years ago. He manifested in order to teach rather than perform miracles and advised his disciples, ‘You are your own master. Whatever you experience depends on the nature of your own actions.’ He encouraged them to learn to train their minds. He showed what is to be adopted and what is to be rejected. This results in ascending the paths and grounds.

“The Buddha saw that there was no other way for him to help beings. He taught the Four Noble Truths, explaining their nature, function and result. Why did he do so? Because none of us wants to suffer. We all want to be happy. He taught that happiness and suffering come about through causes and conditions. They don’t occur by chance.

“Advising his disciples that they needed to know suffering, he explained the suffering of suffering, the suffering of change and the suffering that comes about due to pervasive existential conditioning. If we are to be free of suffering, we first have to understand what it is. It doesn’t arise without causes and conditions, nor is it dependent on external factors. What really gives rise to suffering is having an unruly mind creating karma and mental afflictions that in turn produce pain and pleasure.

“Since we wish to be happy, the Buddha explained the need to seek out the causes of happiness and to put them into effect. The question that then arises is whether we can fully overcome suffering. And in response the Buddha taught that the true cessation of suffering and its causes can be achieved. This is a teaching unique to the Buddha. Because true cessation can be attained, karma and mental afflictions can be overcome. This is the nature of liberation.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the virtual audience on the first day of his online teachings from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on October 9, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“In his ‘Root Wisdom of the Middle Way’ Nagarjuna writes:

“Through the elimination of karma and mental afflictions there is liberation.
Karma and mental afflictions come from conceptual thought.
These come from mental fabrication.
Fabrication ceases through emptiness. 18.5

“Understanding of emptiness undermines fundamental ignorance about the nature of things. Elsewhere in the same text Nagarjuna declares:

“That which is dependently arisen
Is explained to be emptiness.
That, being a dependent designation,
Is itself the middle way. 24.18

“There does not exist anything
That is not dependently arisen.
Therefore, there does not exist anything
That is not empty. 24.19

“One of the clearest explanations of Nagarjuna’s view is Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’. Verses at the end of chapter six describe the bodhisattva, illuminated by the light of wisdom, seeing as clearly as a gooseberry on his open palm that the three realms in their entirety are unborn from the very start, and through the force of conventional truth, he journeys to cessation.”

His Holiness mentioned that there are several styles of reasoning employed to demonstrate emptiness. ‘Lack of one or many’ examines the nature of things. ‘Diamond slivers’ presents the nature of things from the point of view of causes.

Chandrakirti indicates the logical absurdities that would arise if things existed inherently. If the inherent characteristics of things were to arise dependently, things would come to be destroyed by denying it, which is illogical. When such phenomena are analysed, nothing is found as their nature apart from suchness. Therefore, the conventional truth of the everyday world, which exists merely by way of designation, should not be subject to thorough analysis.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on the first day of his two day online teaching from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on October 9, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Jé Tsongkhapa declares:

When, through the kindness of my lamas, I saw
this unsurpassed vehicle of yours, leaving behind
extremes of existence and non-existence,
elucidated by the prophesied Nagarjuna,
his lotus grove illuminated by the moonlight
of the glorious Chandrakirti's teachings,
whose globe of stainless wisdom moved
freely through the sky of your words,
dispelling the darkness that holds to extremes,
outshining the stars of false speakers—
it was then that my mind found peace.

His Holiness affirmed his confidence that cessation can be achieved and that to do so it is necessary to follow the true path. This includes the Three Trainings in morality, concentration and wisdom. A key factor in undermining ignorance is understanding that things do not exist in the way they appear. His Holiness commented that these days even quantum physicists make similar observations.

The ultimate profundity of Buddhism is rooted in the notions of dependent arising and designation in dependence on other factors. Jé Tsongkhapa reflected and meditated on these ideas for many years. He also engaged fervently in practices of purification and the accumulation of merit and wisdom.

While in retreat in Wölkha, one night he had a dream of Nagarjuna with five close disciples. One of them, described as having a bluish complexion, stepped forward and touched Jé Rinpoché’s head with a book. Next day, he consulted the treatise known as ‘Buddhapalita’ and gained insight into emptiness and dependent arising. As a consequence, he composed this text, ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising’, which expresses his strong conviction in the Buddha’s teachings.

“I received transmission of this work, ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising', from my Junior Tutor Kyabjé Trijang Rinpoché,” His Holiness declared, “when he gave me a transmission of the whole of Jé Rinpoché’s ‘Collected Works’. It begins with an expression of homage to the Buddha for his teaching free of the eight extremes.”

His Holiness began to the read the text. The first verse praises the Buddha as ‘wisdom supreme, teacher supreme’. The second verse refers to the root of suffering as ignorance, which can be uprooted by coming to understand dependent arising. Although other Buddhist schools assert dependent arising, its subtlest expression occurs when things are described as existing merely by way of designation.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama commenting on Jé Tsongkhapa's 'In Praise of Dependent Origination' on the first day of online teachings from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on October 9, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

As he continued to read through the verses His Holiness advised his listeners that we each have an instinctive sense of a self or ‘I’. However, if we really search for it, nothing can be found. He cited a verse from Nagarjuna’s ‘Precious Garland’:

A person is not earth, not water,
Not fire, not wind, not space,
Not consciousness, and not all of them.
What else is a person other than these? 1.80

His Holiness noted that things appear to have an objective, independent existence, but if they were to exist without being in dependence on other factors, it would be impossible to attain liberation. He pointed out that we refer to something as being empty when we say ‘form is empty’. However, that’s how it is. It’s not made empty by emptiness.

His Holiness ended his reading of the text today at the point that Jé Rinpoché writes: "All of this is devoid of essence," And "From this arises that effect" — These two certainties complement each other with no contradiction at all. What is more amazing than this? What is more marvellous than this?

In answering questions from the audience His Holiness clarified that referring to things as merely designated is a subtle aspect of dependent arising. He noted that some karma or action is self-evident, some is concealed, while some subtle aspects of action are obscure. He stated that understanding emptiness can help us understand the function of causality.

He cited his own experience and declared that when he wakes in the morning, he is aware of having a sense of ‘I’. He searches for it and concludes that it only exists by way of dependent designation. It doesn’t exist in the way it appears. He confirmed that it is when you fail to find it that you come to realise that it only exists by way of designation.

Dependent arising is described as the king of reasonings because it is able to dispel the two extremes — permanence and nihilism — at the same time.

When we see something, the experience involves sensory perception, but judging that it does not exist in the way it appears involves mental consciousness. Reflecting on how things are empty of inherent existence diminishes our sense of their solidity. It’s important to appreciate that to say that something is empty doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

In answering a question about amassing the two accumulations of merit and wisdom in the practice of tantra His Holiness stressed the importance of being strongly convinced about emptiness. He pointed out that you meditate on emptiness first and then visualize arising from that in the form of the deity.

Responding to a question about combining practices associated with dependent arising and the awakening mind of bodhichitta, His Holiness led his audience through the ‘all-encompassing yoga mind’. This involves first cultivating bodhichitta, the aspiration to become a Buddha for all sentient beings, and imagining it transformed into a clear moon disk at the heart. He then described how to reflect on emptiness and imagine that understanding transformed into a white vajra standing on the moon at the heart.

This practice of ‘all-encompassing yoga mind’ involves a stabilized visualization of method and wisdom at the heart. His Holiness remarked that devotees who are able to conduct this practice on a daily basis can count themselves among the true disciples of the Dalai Lama. Just as he takes the Buddha, Nagarjuna and Jé Tsongkhapa as his role models, these disciples can take the Dalai Lama as theirs.

In terms of pleasing the Lama he explained that it is the Lama’s intention to reflect on the view of emptiness and to cultivate bodhichitta through the practice of equalizing and exchanging self and others. This involves maintaining the extensive lineage, the lineage of the profound view and the lineage of blessings that arise from the practice of deity yoga. This is a model for disciples to follow. His Holiness added that in addition to this it is important for disciples to remain cheerful and present a smiling rather than a stern or fierce face to the world.

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Congratulating the Winners of this Year’s Nobel Peace Prize https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/congratulating-the-winners-of-this-years-nobel-peace-prize Fri, 08 Oct 2021 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/congratulating-the-winners-of-this-years-nobel-peace-prize Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - Following the announcement yesterday of the winners of this Year’s Nobel Peace Prize, His Holiness the Dalai Lama issued a statement congratulating Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov. He wrote that he was happy to learn that this year’s Nobel Peace Prize had been awarded to the two journalists for their efforts to defend freedom of expression and freedom of the press in the Philippines and Russia.

“In making their award,” he continued, “the Nobel Committee has honoured these two as representatives of journalists everywhere, who put themselves at risk in standing up for this ideal under challenging conditions.

“Journalists have a key role to play in promoting human values and a sense of social and religious harmony. They can contribute to educating people to acknowledge the oneness of humanity and the responsibility we all have to work for the common good. Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are crucial to our being able to promote harmony and friendship between nations, disarmament and a more peaceful world order.

“I greatly admire the courage journalists such as Ressa and Muratov have shown in their work,” he concluded. “May this award serve to encourage everyone working in the media in particular to defend the truth and freedom on which democracy and lasting peace in the world depend.”

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Congratulating President Ram Nath Kovind on his Birthday https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/congratulating-president-ram-nath-kovind-on-his-birthday Thu, 30 Sep 2021 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/congratulating-president-ram-nath-kovind-on-his-birthday Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - On the occasion of his 76th birthday, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has written to the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, to wish him many happy returns of the day.

“I greatly appreciate your dedication as President to the nation’s steady development,” His Holiness wrote, “especially when it comes to the well-being of the less privileged.

“India has long been home to a broad range of spiritual and cultural traditions living in respectful harmony, side by side. It is the most populous, vibrant democracy in the world. The country’s stature is growing on the international stage. As our world becomes increasingly interdependent, I look forward to seeing India take a leading role in guiding humanity towards peace. This may include sharing the treasured principles of karuna and ahimsa, time-tested ideas that remain very relevant today. I firmly believe that India is the only country with the potential to combine ancient knowledge with modern education and with a view to creating a more peaceful world.”

His Holiness added, “This year marks the 62nd year of our life in exile. On behalf of all my fellow Tibetan brothers and sisters, I would like to thank the Government and People of India for their unparalleled generosity and kindness. We remain forever grateful.”

He concluded by offering his prayers and good wishes.

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Our Happiness, Our Health, Our Future https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/our-happiness-our-health-our-future Wed, 22 Sep 2021 02:30:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/our-happiness-our-health-our-future Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - Dr Patrick Leahy, President of Monmouth University, New Jersey this morning welcomed His Holiness the Dalai Lama to a conversation about the interconnectedness of happiness, health, well-being, and the future of earth. He told him that students and teachers at Monmouth were inspired to lead happier, healthier, and more compassionate and harmonious lives – for the benefit of generations to come on earth.

Dr Patrick Leahy, President of Monmouth University, New Jersey welcoming His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the start of their online conversation on about the interconnectedness of happiness, health, well-being, and the future of earth on September 22, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness responded with thanks for the opportunity to talk about peace and happiness.

“Obviously, we all want to live in peace, animals included. If there’s a fire, even insects seek to escape from it. However, what makes human beings different is that we have this marvellous brain. We are able to think about how to avoid and overcome problems. We are able to think ahead.

“And yet human beings can also be trouble makers. For thousands of years we have fashioned different kinds of weapons. We sometimes refer to weapons as tools for peace, but in fact the only purpose of a weapon is to hurt and kill. A world without weapons would be much more peaceful.

“We invest energy and effort in building ever more complex systems of weapons. Then we talk about peace, disregarding the fact that weapons contribute nothing to the achievement of real peace.

“Our world today is heavily interdependent. In the past, we tended to be concerned only with people in our own locality. Nowadays, new challenges like the climate crisis and global heating that affect us all, as well as the operation of the global economy, mean that we must take the whole of humanity into account.

“As far as the manufacture and sale of weapons is concerned, we should simply say, “Enough.” We should aim to achieve genuine peace in a demilitarized world. As human beings on this planet, we have to consider the oneness of humanity. We all need to live together in peace and harmony. The production and sale of weapons contributes nothing to this.

“Real world peace is rooted in finding peace of mind. Anger, jealousy and frustration easily become a source of violence, therefore we need to strengthen the sense of compassion that is our basic human nature. As I said before, in the past we really only paid attention to our local community, whereas now we have to take the whole of humanity into account.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama enjoying a moment of laughter during his online conversation with students and faculty of Monmouth University at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on September 22, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“We must focus on finding peace of mind, remembering that compassion is the foundation of genuine peace. As human beings, we have the same kind of face and the same kind of mind. Because we have so much in common, we have to find a way to live together side by side in a peaceful, happy world.

“I recognise that when I lived in Tibet, Tibetans were my foremost concern. However, since coming into exile I have become aware of the wider world. Human beings everywhere are like brothers and sisters. When I meet other people, wherever I am, I smile, and mostly they smile back. That’s what human brothers and sisters do. Other people are just human beings like me. Differences of nationality, race and religious faith are of secondary importance by comparison.

“This morning my Tibetan and allopathic physicians gave me a brief medical check-up. They told me that I’m in good health, but one of the major reasons for this is that my mind is at peace. Constant anger and fear disrupt our health, whereas peace of mind is of immense help in fostering general well-being.

“Sometimes people in search of calm take tranquilisers. I’ve never taken them. I work to cultivate peace of mind and see that I get nine hours sleep. In my experience, cultivating compassion ensures I sleep soundly, have a good appetite and a good digestion.

“Brothers and sisters that is what I want to share with you today.”

His Holiness fielded a range of questions from students and staff of Monmouth University. He acknowledged that we are facing climate change on a global level. As our defences against the heat of the sun are weakened, the world is becoming hotter and the climate is changing. Consequently, even the glaciers at the North and South Poles are melting. Stabilising climatic conditions depends on changing our way of life.

His Holiness cited the example of Tibet as illustrating the dangers of climate change. The Tibetan plateau, he pointed out, is the source of Asia’s major rivers and consequently the water supply of millions of people. No one knows what will happen if we are unable to protect these rivers.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on the interconnectedness of happiness, health, well-being, and the future of earth during his online conversation with students and faculty of Monmouth University from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on September 22, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused distress in many parts of the world and that we have to take precautions on a physical and mental level to protect ourselves. He cited Shantideva’s wise advice to examine whether problems we face can be overcome. If they can, we need to exert ourselves to take those steps. If they are beyond our control, we simply need to accept that; worrying about it will not help. He added that it’s important to follow medical advice.

His Holiness clarified that Buddhism emphasizes the importance of peace of mind. Individuals train to become stabler, happier people who are then able to share what they’ve learned with others. The Buddha, he observed, first became enlightened then taught others on the basis of his experience. If, as individuals, we are able to improve ourselves, to become more disciplined and happier, we’ll be able to be of benefit to others.

People born in the East or the West are the same in being human. They are born the same way and grow up the same way under their mothers’ care. Cultural heritage and ways of life may be different, but fundamentally, as human beings, we are all the same.

His Holiness went on to say that in the past America was segregated on the basis of colour. Now we shouldn’t think that colour, whether we come from the north, south, east or west, or what faith we follow are grounds for setting us apart. We need instead to dwell on what makes us the same.

“I have good friends from Africa,” His Holiness remarked. “Bishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and I may be a different colour, but when we smile, we reveal a common human joy.”

He stated that the most important thing to teach a child is to be warm-hearted. Not enough time is given to this in schools and yet it’s obvious that students are attracted to the teachers who smile and respond to them warmly. His Holiness mentioned that in his own childhood he felt happier when his teachers were cheerful and open rather than stern.

Asked how to overcome suffering and achieve inner peace, His Holiness replied that suffering is a part of life. Therefore, he advised, it is necessary to train yourself to find ways to reduce anxiety when faced with trouble. Since young people tend to be more impatient, their seniors can counsel them to be more enduring. His Holiness observed that learning to cope with negative experiences is helpful and leads to the development of inner strength.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering a question form a member of the virtual audience of students and faculty of Monmouth University from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on September 22, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Since I became a refugee,” he said, “I’ve been able to share with many more people how to transform unfortunate circumstances into opportunities for developing peace of mind.”

Death too is a part of life. Sooner or later, we all have to die and when that time comes it’s important to have peace of mind. His Holiness spoke of how the subtlest mind is beginningless. He declared that conception of a child depends not only on the presence of the physical elements, the sperm and the ovum. Conception only takes place when these are joined with consciousness.

His Holiness touched on how the continuity of mental consciousness underlies the idea of a succession of lives. He cited the evidence of children who remember their previous lives. He also alluded to the phenomenon of ‘thukdam’ which occurs when some people die but their bodies remain fresh for some time afterwards because their subtlest mind is still present.

One questioner wanted to know how to deal with feelings of despondency and His Holiness suggested that if someone in such a condition were only interested in material things, they might lose hope. However, if they have some understanding of the mind and work to cultivate inner peace, they will find a solution.

Observing that the emergence of social media is a reflection of how things change, His Holiness noted that in the past we weren’t able to maintain such a wide perspective on the world. Now, when we need to be concerned about the whole of humanity, we have facilities to help us. We have opportunities to encourage young people in new ways of thinking such as the redundancy of the use of force and the importance of achieving a demilitarized world.

Young people today should not necessarily seek to repeat what went before. They would be better to develop new ways of thinking appropriate to changed circumstances. One way to fulfil this is to recognise a general responsibility to build a more compassionate society.

Answering a final question about the Buddha’s teachings, His Holiness stated that the Four Noble Truths are the very basis of the Buddha’s doctrine. He suggested that the truth of the path, referring to the Noble Eightfold Path, is the most important of the four truths. The truth of suffering and its cause are clear, while the third truth, the Truth of Cessation offers hope that suffering and its causes can be overcome. This in turn lends enthusiasm to the practice of the path.

Lu-Ann Russell, Director, Conference Services, brought the session to a close with thanks to members of His Holiness’s team who had facilitated the occasion. She thanked His Holiness for his warm and compassionate guidance, telling him that his words had touched each one of his listeners personally. “We thank you,” she told him, “for the impact you have made on us all. May our collaboration and continued efforts continue to grow together in the days ahead.”

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Congratulating Justin Trudeau https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/congratulating-justin-trudeau Tue, 21 Sep 2021 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/congratulating-justin-trudeau Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - In a letter to Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, to congratulate him on his party's victory in the national elections, His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote:

“I appreciate the leadership you have shown in the face of challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic that has affected so many people around the globe. I have also long admired Canada's policy of taking compassionate action to welcome vulnerable people from troubled parts of the world on humanitarian grounds. As an honorary Canadian citizen myself, I feel proud of such generous, humanitarian gestures.

“It has been a privilege for me to have been able to visit Canada over the years. The friendship and affection that my Canadian brothers and sisters have shown me have touched me deeply. On this occasion, may I take the opportunity to express gratitude for the warm welcome Canada has shown Tibetan refugees since the time your late father was Prime Minister. I understand that, by and large, Tibetans have been making a positive contribution to Canada's multicultural society.”

His Holiness ended his letter by offering prayers and good wishes for Trudeau’s success in meeting the challenges that lie ahead in fulfilling the aspirations of the Canadian people.

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Congratulating Prime Minister Modi on His Birthday https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/congratulating-prime-minister-modi-on-his-birthday Thu, 16 Sep 2021 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/congratulating-prime-minister-modi-on-his-birthday Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - In a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today, His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote:

“I offer my heartfelt greetings to you on your birthday. May you continue to live a long and healthy life.

“As someone who cares deeply about this country, I congratulate you on the growing confidence you have brought about, despite challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic that has affected people around the globe. As the most populous democratic nation in the world, India's success benefits not only the people of India, but also contributes to the development of the world as a whole.

“I am convinced that the age-old Indian traditions of doing no harm—ahimsa, backed by a compassionate motivation—karuna, are not only relevant but are necessary in today’s world. I also believe these principles can be readily combined with modern education for the wider benefit of humanity.

“Whenever I have the occasion to do so, I regularly commend India for its robust democracy, its deeply rooted religious pluralism and for its remarkable harmony and stability.

“For us Tibetans living in exile, India is not only our spiritual refuge, but for more than sixty-two years has also been our physical home. May I again take the opportunity to offer our deep gratitude to the Government and people of India for the warm and generous hospitality we have received.”

In conclusion, His Holiness offered his prayers and good wishes.

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Entering into the Middle Way - Second Day https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/entering-into-the-middle-way-second-day Wed, 08 Sep 2021 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/entering-into-the-middle-way-second-day Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - His Holiness the Dalai Lama smiled broadly as he entered the room this morning and saw faces of Asian Buddhists on the screens before him. He waved to them before sitting down. Nuns at Pao Kwan Foh Tang, Singapore, chanted the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Chinese. They were followed by a group in Dharmayatra, Indonesia who recited it again in Indonesian.

Nuns at Pao Kwan Foh Tang, Singapore, chanting the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Chinese at the start of the second day of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on September 9, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness began by quietly repeating a verse of homage.

Beyond words, beyond thought, beyond description, Prajñaparamita
Unborn, unceasing, the very essence of space
Yet it can be experienced as the wisdom of our own awareness:
Homage to the mother of the buddhas of past, present and future!

“Today,” he continued, “we’re on the second day of teachings requested by Asian Buddhists. We might ask what is the purpose of the Dharma and teachings of the Perfection of Wisdom. An answer may be found in the prayer that Chinese recite at the end of the ‘Heart Sutra’, which encapsulates the practice of the Dharma:

May we be able to dispel the three poisons
May the light of insight shine brightly
May we be able to overcome all obstacles
May we be able to engage in the deeds of Bodhisattvas.

“Ultimately, the reason for dispelling the three poisons, attachment, anger and ignorance, for cultivating wisdom and overcoming obstacles is to engage in the deeds of Bodhisattvas, not for selfish reasons but in order to help all beings attain enlightenment. I find this comprehensive prayer very moving. The ‘Heart Sutra’ to which it is appended represents the essence of the Buddha’s teachings.

“We suffer because our minds are unruly. The Twelve Links of Dependent Arising describe the process. And the first link is ignorance. The Buddha’s teachings are based on reason and logic. He taught that pain and pleasure are not brought about by a creator god, nor are they without causes and conditions. India maintains an age-old tradition of ‘ahimsa’, doing no harm, the opposite of which is belligerence and aggression. These destructive emotions arise because of ignorance and ignorance is attributed to our unruly minds.

“The more we use our intelligence, the more we’ll avoid negative causes of pain and engage in the causes of happiness. Ignorance is not dispelled by prayer. We can’t just wish it away. To eliminate ignorance, seeing beings and things as existing independently and objectively from their own side, we have to analyze the nature of reality.

“Verses towards the end of the sixth chapter of ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ state that the bodhisattva sees clearly that the three realms in their entirety are unborn from their very start, and through the force of conventional truth, he journeys to cessation. He also generates compassion for beings bereft of protection. And like a king of swans, with white wings of conventional and ultimate truths spread wide,the bodhisattva will cruise to the excellent far shore.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on the second day of his teachings on Chandrakirti's 'Entering into the Middle Way' online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on September 9, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“I have pondered these lines for decades and I’m convinced that cessation can be attained. It is possible to eliminate all faults, tread the path and achieve enlightenment. There is hope for us to reach the path of seeing.

“We all have Buddha nature. The true nature of the mind is clarity and awareness. The subtlest mind has an innate quality of luminosity and awareness. There are no stains or afflictions at that level. The obstacles that stain the mind are not part of the mind. Ignorance and so forth can be eliminated. When you understand this and can combine an understanding of conventional and ultimate reality, you will be led to the state of omniscience.

“I’m not saying this because it is written in the texts, but because experience has shown me that cultivating bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness are effective in transforming the mind. It is possible to ascend the paths of accumulation, preparation, seeing, meditation and no more learning. It is possible to attain Buddhahood. Seeing this is to gain a real taste of the teachings. We need to make the effort to transform our minds.

“‘Entering into the Middle Way’ teaches both the extensive path and the profound view, whereas Nagarjuna’s ‘Root Wisdom of the Middle Way’ mainly focusses on the path of wisdom.”

His Holiness took up his reading of the ‘Commentary to ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ from where he stopped yesterday. He explained the Tibetan term for enlightenment, ‘jang-chub’. ‘Jang’ refers to purifying all defilements. When they have been eliminated the mind with the nature of clarity and awareness sees everything as it is. ‘Chub’ refers to having a complete knowledge of everything.

He remarked that it is not enough to see the person as lacking autonomous existence. There is a need to realize that the person lacks any inherent existence. Our sense of an ‘I’ is based on the mind-body combination, our psycho-physical aggregates. As Nagarjuna has written in his ‘Precious Garland’:

A person is not earth, not water,
Not fire, not wind, not space,
Not consciousness, and not all of them.
What else is a person other than these?

Chandrakirti too, having reflected that things lack inherent characteristics, asks, does this mean that things do not exist? His answer is that the person is merely designated on the basis of the psycho-physical aggregates.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the virtual audience of Asian Buddhists on the second day of teachings online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on September 9, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

We have a sense of an ‘I’, but when we see that the aggregates, on which it is based, have no objective or inherent existence, we see that the ‘I’ can have no inherent existence either.

The text begins to explore the ten perfections starting with giving, which is the root cause of the awakened state. As Chandrakirti observes:

All living beings eagerly yearn for happiness,
yet for humans there is no happiness without resources.
Material resources, in turn, come about from generosity;
knowing this, the Buddha spoke about generosity first. 1.10

While answering questions from the audience, His Holiness reiterated that when we think of my body, speech and mind we have a sense of solid ‘I’ that possesses them. However, if we search for it, no such ‘I’ can be found. Yet that does not mean there is no self at all. ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ states that the conventional, everyday functional ‘I’, the ‘I’ that is designated on the basis of the psycho-physical aggregates, is not to be challenged. It’s the ‘I’ that appears to the mind as if it has inherent characteristics that is to be negated.

His Holiness explained that actions that bring about a good result are regarded as positive karma, while those that give rise to bad results are thought of as negative. The latter are rooted in ignorance and self-centredness.

Although it’s natural to feel anxious and unhappy about difficulties we face, allowing ourselves to become demoralized isn’t helpful. Consider the problem of climate change, instead of feeling depressed, it’s better to be confident and to take positive steps to plant trees and so forth. His Holiness recommended examining what’s bringing us trouble and judging whether such causes can be overcome. If they can, that’s what to do. If they can’t, worrying about it is no solution.

Asked how to cope with the death of a loved one, His Holiness pointed out that the source of our body is our parents. However, the meeting of sperm and ovum by itself is not a sufficient cause of a person. A third factor is involved—consciousness. The source of the mind is a previous moment of consciousness and it’s because there is a continuity of consciousness that some young children are able to remember their previous lives. His Holiness remarked that since loved ones like parents have a close link with us, it’s likely that we will encounter each other again in the future.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering a question from a member of the virtual audience on the second day of his teachings on Chandrakirti's 'Entering into the Middle Way' online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on September 9, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

With regard to preparing for your own death, His Holiness specified that it’s important to be free of attachment and anger. Buddhists may keep an image of the Buddha nearby, while Tibetans keep a picture of His Holiness to hand. The point is to have a virtuous object on which to focus your attention as you go through the process of dissolution. He added that if you can, it’s good to remember the awakening mind of bodhichitta.

His Holiness reported that he summons thoughts of bodhichitta from the very moment he wakes in the morning. He declared that there is nothing more effective than bodhichitta for purifying negativities and gathering merit. Since good-hearted people easily attract friends, cultivating thoughts of bodhichitta is beneficial even in ordinary day to day life.

Harbouring a strong sense that there is an independent self has the effect of disturbing our peace of mind. It is eliminated by cultivating a clear understanding of the emptiness of inherent existence.

His Holiness announced that he had wanted to lead a ceremony to generate the awakening mind of bodhichitta. He guided his listeners through the all-encompassing yoga, leading first to a short meditation on bodhichitta, followed by another short meditation on emptiness.

To conclude His Holiness advised, “You’ve received teachings about bodhichitta, make this your daily practice. In time you will see some transformation. I’ve meditated on bodhichitta and emptiness for decades and I’ve observed change in myself. Please keep in mind that if I can see change, so can you.”

The moderator thanked His Holiness for teaching and went on to thank all those through whose efforts the event had been made possible. His Holiness recited verses of dedication from the Samantabhadra Prayer.

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Entering into the Middle Way - First Day https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/entering-into-the-middle-way Tue, 07 Sep 2021 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/entering-into-the-middle-way Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - This morning Ms Ng Wee Nee welcomed His Holiness the Dalai Lama as soon as he had taken his seat in the webcast studio at his residence. She thanked him on behalf of a group of Asian Buddhists from Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Hong Kong, who had requested him to teach. She explained that first a monk at the Doi Wawee International Vipassana Centre, Thailand would chant the Mangala Sutta in Pali. After that, monks and nuns from Quan Am Cac Temple, Vietnam would chant the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Vietnamese.

Monks and nuns from Quan Am Cac Temple, Vietnam chanting the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Vietnamese at the start of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's online teaching from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on September 8, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Once the recitations were complete, His Holiness explained that a collection of different Asian Dharma centres had requested an introduction to Buddhism based on Chandrakirti’s auto-commentary to his treatise ‘Entering into the Middle Way’.

“I have received the transmission of the root text from my Abbot, Kyabjé Ling Rinpoché,” His Holiness confirmed, “and the transmission of the auto-commentary from Sakya Khenpo Kunga Wangchuk.

“Buddha Shakyamuni turned the wheel of dharma more than 2500 years ago. However, he also made clear to his followers that they should not take his teaching for granted, but should examine it as a goldsmith tests gold. He encouraged them to check that what he said was reasonable and would have the effect of transforming their minds.

“Preservation of the Buddha’s teachings was first entrusted to the Seven Patriarchs who came after him. Ultimately, however, it was in centres of learning such as the University of Nalanda that they were kept alive. Writings of the masters of Nalanda, including ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ and its auto-commentary, reveal how learned they were.

“In 7th century Tibet, Emperor Songtsen Gampo commissioned the creation of a Tibetan alphabet. Despite close relations with China, he chose instead to model it on the Indian Devanagari script. A century later, Emperor Trisong Detsen turned to India once again when he invited the eminent Nalanda scholar Shantarakshita to establish Buddhism in Tibet.

“Aware that Tibetans had developed their own written language, Shantarakshita encouraged the emperor to organize the translation of Buddhist literature into Tibetan. The result was the 100 volumes of the Kangyur, the translated words of the Buddha and the more than 200 volumes of the Tengyur, the translated collection of treatises of subsequent masters.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on the first day of his two day teaching online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on September 8, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“These translated works formed the basis of a Buddhist education in Tibet. When I was very young, I memorized ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ and could recite it aloud without knowing what it meant. In due course, I found out by studying the text word by word. A key aspect of the Nalanda Tradition was to take a reasoned, questioning approach to the books we studied. These days, if I can, I read a few pages of Chandrakirti’s auto-commentary every day, which prompts me to reflect on the way things exist. I take great inspiration from verses at the end of the sixth chapter.

Thus, illuminated by the rays of wisdom’s light,
the bodhisattva sees as clearly as a gooseberry on his open palm
that the three realms in their entirety are unborn from their very start,
and through the force of conventional truth, he journeys to cessation. 6.224

“Whatever object of knowledge there is has two natures, a conventional truth and an ultimate truth, but both refer to the same entity. Although things exist on a conventional level, if we search for them through analytical meditation, there’s nothing to be found.

“Things appear to have objective or independent existence, but do not actually exist that way. We cling to the apparent solidity of things. However, as chapter six makes clear, yogis reject things having any kind of self-identity. They do not exist in and of themselves. There are several different forms of reasoning employed to establish this.

“Because I have studied, reflected and meditated on emptiness for decades, I cherish the hope that I may yet achieve cessation. As Chandrakirti states at the beginning of ‘Entering into the Middle Way’, you can’t reach Buddhahood without the two collections of merit and wisdom. This is why I consider generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness to be my main practice day by day. I’m telling you this in order that you understand that meditating on emptiness, dependent arising and a lack of inherent existence is effective.”

His Holiness quoted the second verse of the root text, ‘Entering into the Middle Way':

As compassion alone is accepted to be
the seed of the perfect harvest of Buddhahood,
the water that nourishes it, and the fruit that is long a source of enjoyment,
I will praise compassion at the start of all. 1.2

He remarked that Buddhists traditionally pray for the welfare of all sentient beings, but in practical terms it is the seven billion human beings alive today who we can help. He explained that conflicts in the world come about because we are subject to destructive emotions. Anger provokes us to do harm. It distorts the expression on our faces and causes us to adopt an ugly demeanour. His Holiness quoted verses from chapter three:

Wrath disfigures your face and leads you to what is unwholesome;
it robs your mind of the judgment of what is right and wrong;
intolerance is swift to throw you to the lower realms.
But forbearance brings qualities opposite to those just described: 3.7

forbearance makes you attractive and dear to the sublime ones,
you become wise in knowing what is appropriate and what is not,
afterward you gain birth as a deva or a human,
and it secures the exhaustion of negative karma. 3.8

His Holiness remarked that if we promote love and compassion, as all religions encourage us to do, we will reduce anger and hatred, which will make a real contribution to peace in the world.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama reading from Chandrakirti’s auto-commentary on "Entering the Middle Way" during his online teachings from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on September 8, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Turning to the text of Chandrakirti’s auto-commentary, His Holiness noted that when Buddhist literature was translated into Tibetan a convention was observed to start by citing the title of the work in the Indian language to verify its authenticity. This book is entitled, ‘Madhyamakavatara Bhashyam’ — ‘Commentary to ‘Entering into the Middle Way’. Similarly, the translators would pay homage, in the case of Sutras to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; in the case of works involving higher knowledge or Abhidharma, to Manjushri and to the Omniscient One when the text dealt with Vinaya. The homage in this book is to Manjushri.

His Holiness began to read briskly through the text, pausing to comment here and there. He pointed out that the Buddha’s teaching is founded on the notion of dependent arising. He also noted that great compassion is very precious. Compassion is not only crucial to Buddhist practitioners, but is essential in ordinary life. As human beings, if we remain peaceful and helpful to one another, not only will we be happy, but we’ll create a happy atmosphere around us.

“When you have compassion,” he added, “you not only aim to free beings from suffering, but also to reduce the causes and conditions that give rise to suffering. However profound your understanding of emptiness may be, it needs to be conjoined with compassion.

“We naturally think of my body, my speech and my mind, but where is the ‘I’ that possesses them? When we search for this governor of our body, speech and mind in the light of reason, it can’t be found. I think of myself as one of Buddha Shakyamuni’s bhikshus, but when I look for the self of that bhikshu, I can’t find it. Clinging to the sense that we possess an objectively existent, solid ‘I’ is effectively undermined by cultivating an understanding of emptiness and dependent arising.”

When he had read the commentary to the fifth verse of the first chapter, His Holiness announced that he would stop reading for the day. He invited questions from the audience.

Among his answers he explained that when we talk about overcoming grasping, we’re referring to the misapprehension that something exists independently. Merely apprehending an object is not what needs to be overcome. As your understanding of the view of emptiness grows, he said, you will hold less tightly to the idea of the solid appearance of things, which is how they appear. They also appear to exist inherently, and coming to understand that they don’t exist in that way helps reduce attachment to them.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering a question from a member of the virtual audience on the first day of his two day teaching requested by Asian Buddhists online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on September 8, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness was asked if the hardship refugees and others are facing is the result of previous karma. He replied that we need to think about it in terms of causes and conditions. How a cause that is a result of karma plays out depends on other conditions. Being kind and of service to others creates conditions that can relieve how severely even negative karma ripens. His Holiness declared that to just blame whatever happens on karma, as if it is inevitable, is a lazy way of thinking. He was clear that confession and a powerful practice of the dharma can eliminate negative karma.

There is a need for wisdom and skilful means. Understanding that things do not exist in the way they appear to us and that they are dependently arisen will help overcome suffering. Bodhisattvas may seem to be fervently dedicated to helping sentient beings, but they are not attached to doing so.

It’s important to act intelligently rather than impulsively. We need to think of the long-term benefit. Bodhisattvas think of how they can help all sentient beings. There may be occasions when pride is justified and yet no arrogance is involved. Mahatma Gandhi had the courage to really be of help to others. Martin Luther King and Bishop Desmond Tutu are further examples of such courage—completely dedicated to the service of others.

Asked to comment on the relationship between modern science and Buddhism, His Holiness pointed out that science tends to focus on external, material things rather than on consciousness within. Buddhism, on the other hand, has extensively explored the mind. Consequently, while Buddhists have learned about the external world from scientists, there is much that they have been able to explain about the workings of the mind and emotions.

Finally, in reply to a question about how best to heal in the context of the global Covid-19 pandemic, His Holiness acknowledged that a great deal of research has been going on. Therefore, it’s important to follow medical advice. He expressed his appreciation of all those who have dedicated themselves to caring for others under very difficult circumstances. He mentioned that it is important for the sake of yourself and others to observe recommended precautions, such as wearing masks in public places.

The moderator, Ms Bui Mai Chi, thanked His Holiness for the day’s teaching and told him that everyone taking part was looking forward to listening to him again tomorrow. His Holiness’s response was: “See you tomorrow.”

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Tibetan Culture and Its Potential to Contribute to Peace https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/tibetan-culture-and-its-potential-to-contribute-to-peace Tue, 24 Aug 2021 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/tibetan-culture-and-its-potential-to-contribute-to-peace Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - This morning Tenzyn Zöchbauer, Executive Director of the Tibet Initiative Deutschland, welcomed His Holiness the Dalai Lama to a conversation on the theme ‘Tibetan Culture and its Potential to Contribute to Peace’. She told him that 50 Tibet supporters and Tibetans in Germany, Switzerland and Austria were participating in the online interaction, while many more were watching across the world.

Tenzyn Zöchbauer, Executive Director of the Tibet Initiative Deutschland, welcoming His Holiness the Dalai Lama to a conversation online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on the theme ‘Tibetan Culture and its Potential to Contribute to Peace’ on August 25, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“I’m very happy to have this opportunity to take part in discussions with German friends,” His Holiness replied. “Since my childhood I’ve had a soft spot for Germany. I was aware that Germany was defeated in both the first and second world wars.

“In Tibet we had two visitors, Aufschnaiter and Harrer who, because they spoke German, we thought of as Germans. I didn’t have much personal contact with Aufschnaiter, but I became friends with Harrer. He was the first person to teach me English, but it was only later that I realized that his English was actually quite poor and that’s where my broken English began.

“As I mentioned before, Germany was defeated in the second world war, as was Japan, after being subject to nuclear attack. Consequently, strong peace movements came about in both countries. Both the German and Japanese peoples showed a real desire for genuine peace and both have contributed to creating a more peaceful world.

“With regard to Tibetan culture, we were originally a nomadic people with a fairly simple way of life. Then in the seventh century, the King of Tibet, Songtsen Gampo, married a Chinese princess. He decided Tibetans should have their own means of writing, but instead of following the Chinese model, he chose to base it on the Indian alphabet and its Devanagari script.

“In the eighth century, King Trisong Detsen wanted to introduce Buddhism to Tibet and again he chose to turn not to China but to India for help. At that time, Nalanda University was the most renowned centre of learning. Trisong Detsen invited one of the foremost scholars, Shantarakshita to the Land of Snow. When he realized that Tibetans had their own written language, Shantarakshita strongly encouraged the translation of Indian Buddhist literature into Tibetan. As a result, Tibetan and Indian scholars worked together and translated the collection of the Buddha’s words into 100 volumes and the collection of treatises by subsequent Indian masters into more than 200 volumes. This was the start of the Tibetan cultural heritage.

“We regard Indians as our teachers. Sometimes I jokingly observe that those of us who were originally the disciples eventually became the gurus. Because we paid such close attention to the Buddhist literature we had acquired, I believe ours is now the most comprehensive Buddhist tradition. Following the pattern of the Nalanda Tradition and inspired by the Buddha’s admonition to test and examine his teachings before accepting them, we have thoroughly investigated Buddhist teachings. We have studied, but, mindful of the Chinese example, we have also meditated.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on the ‘Tibetan Culture and its Potential to Contribute to Peace’ organized by Tibet Initiative Deutschland online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on August 25, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“We memorize the principal texts, something I too did as a young boy. But the unique factor is that we then take a strictly logical approach to scrutinizing the meaning of what is written. This is not the custom in either the Pali or Chinese traditions. We follow the example set by Chapa Chökyi Sengé who formalized the Tibetan system of debate.

“These days, as I said before, conversations with many Buddhist scholars have led me to believe that what Tibetans have maintained and preserved is the most comprehensive Buddhist tradition. We study, but we also cultivate ‘shamatha’, concentration, and ‘vipashyana’, insight meditation. We not only cultivate warm-heartedness and compassion; we use our intelligence and look at things logically.

“Our ability to explain how to cultivate compassion and achieve peace of mind means we can contribute to peace in the world. Even those with no interest in religion want to find peace within. They too can benefit from learning that we face all kinds of trouble because our minds are disturbed.

“We start life in the shelter of our mother’s affection. Without it we would not survive. It’s the experience of our mother’s compassion that sows in us a seed to be kind to others when we grow up. However, modern education pays little attention to the way such positive emotions contribute to peace of mind and general good health. Nor does it reveal how anger disturbs our minds and disrupts the communities in which we live. It is in all our interests to learn how to achieve peace of mind and Tibetan culture has kept alive a variety of means for bringing it about.”

His Holiness answered a series of questions from the audience, some of which were addressed to him in Tibetan, some in German and others in English. Several dealt with how Tibetan culture can be preserved in Tibet.

His Holiness observed that when the Chinese first occupied Tibet their leaders were driven by a strong ideology. He recalled his last meeting with Chairman Mao in which the revolutionary leader praised him for the scientific cast of his mind, but teased him with his insistence that religion is the opium of the people. Since then, attitudes have changed and growing numbers of Chinese are showing a renewed interest in Buddhism.

A member of the virtual audience of Tibet supporters asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question during his conversation on ‘Tibetan Culture and its Potential to Contribute to Peace’ online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on August 25, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

He reported that friends involved with education in China have told him that university professors have gained access to Chinese translations of the two volumes of ‘Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics’ that have been compiled by Tibetans in India from sources in the Kangyur and Tengyur. The professors were surprised to acknowledge that Tibetan Buddhism belongs to the Nalanda Tradition, clearly adopting a scientific approach rooted in reason and logic.

His Holiness remarked that Chinese communists exerted maximum pressure against Tibetan Buddhism but failed to destroy it. Now, Tibetan Buddhism is attracting interest not only in China but around the world.

His Holiness described how, when he reached India, he proposed setting up schools for Tibetan children that would teach Tibetan. Nehru was fully supportive. In due course, the monastic centres of learning were re-established too. These days several thousand monks and nuns have the opportunity to study rigorously. Young Tibetans who wish to join them must first master Tibetan which will equip them to study, become scholars themselves and so preserve the Tibetan tradition.

His Holiness pointed out that wherever Tibetans have settled efforts have been made to enable them to learn written and spoken Tibetan. Similarly, across the Himalayan region initiatives have been taken not only for monastics, but for lay-people, young and old, to study and practise debate.

With regard to working for peace in the world, His Holiness affirmed that he takes a secular approach. For him the key factor enabling individuals, families and communities to be happy is to find peace of mind. And the foundation for this is compassion.

As for the survival and flourishing of Tibetan Buddhism, His Holiness reiterated that historically China has been a Buddhist country. These days there is a growing revival of interest in what Buddhism has to say in terms of philosophy, reason and psychology. He feels it’s helpful to note correspondences between Buddhist thought and observations made in relation to quantum physics, for example.

His Holiness referred to a question about the growing power of the Chinese Communist Party government as complicated. He observed that no matter how powerful China becomes, it is still part of the world and has to live peaceably with other nations. India and China have to live side by side. The question of Taiwan may be politically complicated, but the fact remains that the Chinese cultural heritage has been purely preserved on the island.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering questions from the virtual audience during his conversation on ‘Tibetan Culture and its Potential to Contribute to Peace’ online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on August 25, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Politically short-sighted decisions may be made,” he said, “but in the long run China has to live with its neighbours. Things are changing and, in some ways, people are more open and realistic than they were before.”

Asked how people can find truthful information about serious issues like climate change and the covid pandemic His Holiness noted that in the past when most people lived in isolation it was difficult to know what was true. These days mobile phones and the internet provide an endless source of information so it’s necessary to be wary about what’s true. As far as climate change is concerned, if we don’t act, sources of water everywhere will be drastically reduced. It’s even suggested that rivers in Tibet will dry up and the land will come to resemble the deserts of Afghanistan.

This may seem far-fetched, but the rate at which glaciers are melting in the Arctic and Antarctic suggest that the situation in Tibet is equally serious. Global problems need global solutions. Where in the past we may have been inclined to concern ourselves only with our own local difficulties, now we must consider the needs of the whole world.

When people fall victim to floods and wildfires, he said, it’s important that we communicate our care and concern and provide whatever help we can. Just as it’s crucial to let them know they’re not forgotten, it’s essential to remember the oneness of humanity.

Coming back to the question of how to preserve Tibetan culture, His Holiness suggested that taking an interest in it is a practical step. It’s not so much a question of maintaining customs for their own sake, but of preserving the knowledge the cultural tradition conveys. In this case, what is useful and beneficial is the means to cultivate peace of mind and so contribute to peace in the world.

Tenzyn Zöchbauer thanked His Holiness for his advice, the audience for listening and asking questions and the team of interpreters for their simultaneous translations. She invited Wolfgang Grader, Chairman, of Tibet Initiative Deutschland, to say a few final words. He recalled having last met His Holiness in 2018 at an event in Darmstadt and regretted that the ramifications of the Covid pandemic have prevented any such meeting since then. He thanked His Holiness for giving his time and wished him strength, good health and a long life. He called on the audience to work for Tibet, for human rights and for peace in the world.

“Thank you,” His Holiness replied, “see you again.”

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Compassion and Non-violence https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/compassion-and-non-violence Tue, 17 Aug 2021 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/compassion-and-non-violence Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, Indi - This morning, Jo Young Ok introduced the occasion on behalf of the Labsum Shedup Ling Dharma Centre in South Korea and requested His Holiness the Dalai Lama to address the virtual audience. In response he declared that he was honoured to have the opportunity to explain the Buddhadharma to them.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama waving to the virtual audience from Korea as he arrives for his online teaching at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on August 18, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Buddhism as it spread in Tibet was established by Shantarakshita on the basis of the Nalanda Tradition. We study the canonical treatises from India and engage in the practice of the three trainings. This is the process that I, as a monk, also followed. I studied the texts, reflected on what I’d understood and gained experience of it in meditation. And what I’m going to explain today is based on that experience.

“I respect all religious traditions. We have different ideas and philosophical approaches suited to the aptitude of different followers. The Buddha also gave different explanations in accordance with his listeners’ needs. However, all these different traditions emphasize the importance of cultivating love, compassion and non-violence. Historically some people have fought and even killed in the name of religion, but that kind of behaviour should now be left in the past.

“All the world’s great religious traditions have flourished in India and have customarily regarded each other with the utmost respect. This is an attitude that could well be adopted in other parts of the world.

“The Buddhas do not wash unwholesome deeds away with water,” His Holiness declared, “Nor do they remove the sufferings of beings with their hands, neither do they transplant their own realization into others. It is by teaching the truth of suchness that they liberate (beings).

“The Buddhas first generate the awakening mind of bodhichitta. Having accumulated the two collections (of merit and wisdom), they attain enlightenment and then share their experience with sentient beings. It’s on this basis that the Buddha stated, ‘You are your own master.’ Whether or not you choose to engage in the practice of Dharma is in your hands.

“The root of suffering is the unruly mind, so the practice of Dharma is to transform the mind. The Buddha has said that the compassionate ones lead beings through multiple means. Since beings are ignorant of the nature of things, he taught emptiness, which is peaceful and unborn. Over the decades that I have studied the Dharma and applied what I understood, I’ve seen a transformation in myself.

“It is possible to overcome adversity by training the mind. We develop concentration on the basis of the practice of ethics and then employ the single-pointed mind to examine how things exist. Developing insight as a result, we make progress on the path.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to the virtual audience during his online teaching from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on August 18, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“The Four Noble Truths are the foundation of the Buddhadharma. The Buddha taught about suffering and its cause, but he also showed that suffering and its cause can be overcome; cessation can be attained. He taught about emptiness, as affirmed in the ‘Heart Sutra’, ‘Form is empty; emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form; form also is not other than emptiness.’

“The practice of Dharma entails the use of our mental consciousness and the threefold process of study, reflection and meditation. This is how to bring about change within yourself. If you develop bodhichitta, even adverse circumstances can be turned to advantage. Similarly, someone you view today as an enemy, can tomorrow become your friend.

“Every day, when I wake up, I invoke bodhichitta and reaffirm my understanding of emptiness. In that connection, I take great reassurance from the following three verses from Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’:

“Thus, illuminated by the rays of wisdom's light,
the bodhisattva sees as clearly as a gooseberry on his open palm
that the three realms in their entirety are unborn from their very start,
and through the force of conventional truth, he journeys to cessation. 6.224

“Though his mind may rest continuously in cessation,
he also generates compassion for beings bereft of protection.
Advancing further, he will also outshine through his wisdom
all those born from the Buddha's speech and the middle buddhas. 6.225

“And like a king of swans soaring ahead of other accomplished swans,
with white wings of conventional and ultimate truths spread wide,
propelled by the powerful winds of virtue, the bodhisattva would cruise
to the excellent far shore, the oceanic qualities of the conquerors. 6.226"

In briefly clarifying emptiness His Holiness alluded to three key verses (6.34-6) of ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ in which Chandrakirti outlines the four logical fallacies that would occur if things possessed objective existence; if they had an essential core in and of themselves. These are that an 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, as the Buddha does, that things are empty in and of themselves.

He mentioned two further verses from Nagarjuna’s ‘Root Wisdom of the Middle Way’:

That which is dependently arisen
Is explained to be emptiness.
That, being a dependent designation,
Is itself the middle way. 24.18

There does not exist anything
That is not dependently arisen.
Therefore, there does not exist anything
That is not empty. 24.19

“When you gain some conviction about this,” His Holiness declared, “you’ll see some transformation within yourself. Buddhism is not just concerned with reciting prayers or sitting in thoughtless meditation, it is founded on compassion. This is why Chandrakirti opens his ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ with a eulogy to compassion:

Buddhas are born from bodhisattvas.
The compassionate mind and non-dual cognition
as well the awakening mind: these are causes of bodhisattvas. 1.1

As compassion alone is accepted to be
the seed of the perfect harvest of Buddhahood,
the water that nourishes it, and the fruit that is long a source of enjoyment,
I will praise compassion at the start of all. 1.2

His Holiness clarified that enlightenment is won through a combination of compassion and wisdom. All mental defilements, mental afflictions and cognitive obscurations, are eliminated by employing them both.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his online teaching requested by Korean Buddhists at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on August 18, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

In responding to a series of questions from members of the audience His Holiness agreed that humanity is facing a number of crises including the Covid pandemic and climate change. Nevertheless, as human beings, he said, we must use our unique intelligence to make our lives meaningful. He noted that the variety of difficulties he’s faced since leaving Tibet and becoming a refugee have actually contributed constructively to his practice of the Dharma.

Asked how to prepare ourselves for coming face to face with death, His Holiness described the dissolution of the elements and the occurrence of the three visions: whitish appearance, reddish increase and black near-attainment culminating in the manifestation of the mind of clear light. He recommended that we familiarize ourselves with these stages of dissolution. In tantra there are references to transforming the three states of death, intermediate state and rebirth into the three bodies of a Buddha.

His Holiness mentioned the phenomenon known as ‘thukdam’ that takes place when an accomplished meditator dies. Although their bodies are recognised to be clinically dead, they remain fresh and don’t decay. He recalled that his tutor Ling Rinpoché remained in this state for 13 days and that recently a monk at Gyutö Tantric College maintained his meditation on the clear light of death for 32 days. His Holiness noted that people with experience of the stages of dissolution at death can recognise them as they occur. Then, the dawning of the clear light of death provides an opportunity for profound meditation on emptiness.

His Holiness answered a question about how children should cope with feeling angry with their parents with the advice to consult Shantideva’s ‘Entering into the Way of a Bodhisattva’. Chapter six, he pointed out, gives explicit guidance about the disadvantages of anger and learning to deal with it, while chapter eight extols the advantages of cultivating an altruistic attitude. The goal is to cultivate a relaxed state of mind. Learning to tackle anger and develop kindness are part of the practice of emotional hygiene.

His Holiness told a woman who asked about the meaning of emptiness in ordinary life that a summary of the quantum mechanics view can be helpful. Quantum physicists state that things appear to have an objective existence from their own side, but under examination they are found not to exist in that way. In the Buddhist account things are empty of inherent existence. That this profound view is difficult to accept is indicated by Chandrakirti’s rebuke of Vasubandhu, Dignaga and Dharmakirti, masters celebrated for their accomplishments in other areas, because they rejected Nagarjuna’s position.

Another question about anger prompted the same response as before. Read Shantideva’s ‘Entering into the Way of a Bodhisattva’, especially chapters six and eight. His Holiness commended reflecting on the virtues of love and compassion, the shortcomings of anger and the advantages of patience. He quoted Shantideva:

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

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

A young woman described feeling fearful when she tries to practise ‘giving and taking’ and generating the bodhisattva vow. His Holiness explained that we are so used to being guided by a self-cherishing attitude that trying to take on the unwholesome deeds of others or giving them our virtue feels dauntingly unfamiliar. He compared it to beginning to learn to read at school. To start with it feels difficult, but the more you become familiar with it, the easier it becomes.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering a question from a member of the virtual audience during his online teaching at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on August 18, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness told a young man, who was concerned about engaging in analysis and coming to a different conclusion from his teacher, that so long as it didn’t involve a decline in respect for the teacher, disagreeing with him was fine. His Holiness suggested that discussing your conclusions with your friends can be very instructive.

Asked why students are encouraged to study the great Indian Buddhist classics and ‘Collected Topics’, His Holiness reminded his listeners that during the Buddha’s first round of teachings he laid out the Four Noble Truths and the Vinaya without any recourse to reason. During the second round he taught the profound view of emptiness and the extensive conduct of a bodhisattva, both of which rely firmly on reason.

Studying Madhyamaka texts such as the ‘400 Verses’ and ‘Entering into the Middle Way’, as well as ‘Collected Topics’, makes for an incredibly powerfully system of education. It was maintained for more than a thousand years in Tibet and has been replicated and enhanced in the centres of learning in monasteries re-established in South India. In Tibet, students would study for forty years before they were considered fully qualified. Today, many students qualify in twenty years, but the curriculum remains rigorous.

Questioned about how to keep good family relations in the context of different religious traditions, His Holiness declared unequivocally that we are all the same in being human. What is most important is to cultivate a warm heart, maintain close contact and help one another.

In connection with cultivating the awakening mind of bodhichitta His Holiness quoted a verse from Nagarjuna’s ‘Precious Garland’:

May I always be an object of enjoyment
For all sentient beings according to their wish
And without interference, as are the earth,
Water, fire, wind, herbs, and wild forests. 483

The Abbot of Labsum Shedup Ling, Geshé Tenzin Namkhar, thanked His Holiness for the profound teachings he had given. He assured him that the students who made up the virtual audience will do their best to put what they had understood into effect. He informed His Holiness that the first volume of the series ‘Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics’ had been translated into Korean and is currently at the printers. He ended with a wish that His Holiness visit Korea.

His Holiness replied that when he gave the centre the name Labsum Shedup Ling he hoped that members would be able to support their practice through study, reflection and meditation to engage in the three higher trainings. The purpose is to make progress on the path to enlightenment and His Holiness told his listeners that he continued to pray that they will be able to do this. Finally, he mentioned that he is confident that those who have made a connection with him in this life will be able to renew that connection in the future.

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