Dalai Lama https://www.dalailama.com/ en-us Mon, 20 Jan 2020 22:25:01 +0000 Mon, 20 Jan 2020 22:25:01 +0000 Leaving Bodhgaya and Paying a Short Visit to Patna https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/leaving-bodhgaya-and-paying-a-short-visit-to-patna Sat, 18 Jan 2020 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/leaving-bodhgaya-and-paying-a-short-visit-to-patna Patna, Bihar, India - Yesterday morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama paid a farewell visit to the Mahabodhi Stupa. Hundreds of people lined the road to catch a glimpse of him as he made his way to the inner sanctum where he spent several minutes praying before the revered statue of the Buddha.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama offering Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar a Dharma Wheel at the conclusion of their meeting at the Chief Minister's residence in Patna, Bihar, India on January 17, 2020. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

After a short flight from Gaya to Patna, His Holiness drove directly to meet Bihar Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar, at his residence. The Chief Minister requested His Holiness to bless a bodhi tree in the garden of his residence, before inviting him to join him for lunch. In the afternoon, His Holiness took a short drive to the state guesthouse, where he retired for the day.

This morning, His Holiness drove to the Bihar Judicial Academy where he had been asked to talk about Love and Compassion as a Way of Life. He was welcomed by the Chief Justice and Judges of the Patna High Court and planted a sapling in the garden before entering the building.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama joining Chief Justice of Bihar Sanjay Karol and companion judges of the Patna High Court in planting a sapling to commemorate his visit to the  Bihar Judicial Academy in Patna, Bihar, India on January 18, 2020. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

In his introduction Chief Justice Sanjay Karol declared, “There are those who are close to our hearts and minds, who do not need any introduction. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is such a man, universally recognized as a man of peace, who describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk.”

“Respected brothers and sisters,” His Holiness began, “we are all the same. All 7 billion human beings are brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, today, there is too much emphasis on seeing others in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’ – highlighting differences of religion and nationality, and within one country the differences between the rich and poor. Making too much of such differences creates problems for us. The remedy is to recognize the oneness of all 7 billion human beings.

“When they’re young, children don’t care what religious faith or nationality their companions belong to, so long as they are affectionate, smile, and play easily together. It’s only as they grow older that they pay attention to these secondary differences. In fact, from a broader perspective we are mentally, physically, emotionally the same. We all want to live a happy life, but many of the problems we face are of our own making.”

Chief Justice of Bihar Sanjay Karol looks on as His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaks about Love and Compassion as a Way of Life at the Bihar Judicial Academy in Patna, Bihar, India on January 18, 2020. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

Among solutions to some of these problems, His Holiness brought up India’s long-standing traditions of ‘ahimsa’—non-violence and ‘karuna’—compassion. He pointed out that being non-violent in our behaviour and compassionate in our motivation are the basis on which our families, communities and nations can live happily together. He observed that the changes that will bring this about will be achieved not through prayer but education.

“If you think about it, it’s clear that violence just leads to mutual destruction. Killing your foe out of anger will only create more enemies. On the other hand, if you think of your fellow human beings as brothers and sisters, you’ll find it easy to reach out to them.

“The proper human approach to settling conflict is to engage in dialogue,” His Holiness continued. “Relying on weapons and the use of force is not appropriate—it perpetuates discord. This is not the way. In order to avoid violence, we must learn to treat each other with greater respect.

Members of the audience listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama's talk at the Bihar Judicial Academy in Patna, Bihar, India on January 18, 2020. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“India is a democratic country functioning on the basis of the rule of law. The result is there for all to see. India, the world’s second most populated nation, is peaceful. Indians are free and a major factor underlying this is the existence of the rule of law. Judges and lawyers have an essential role in maintaining a just and happy society. If judges and lawyers only think of “lining their pockets”, it will lead to big problems.”

Turning to historical relations between Tibet and India, His Holiness observed that in the 7th century the Tibetan Emperor chose to develop a Tibetan written script modelled on the ancient Indian Devanagari alphabet. Later, in the 8th century, another Emperor chose, despite close relations with China, to introduce Buddhism to Tibet directly from India.

“This Nalanda Tradition, with its emphasis on the use of logic and reason, gave us self-confidence and determination. For that we will always be grateful to India. From a personal point of view, I became a refugee in 1959. On the one hand, I have become the longest-staying guest of the Indian Government, on the other, I describe myself as a messenger of ancient Indian thought—particularly of ‘ahimsa’ and ‘karuna’. Wherever I go, I carry this message.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking about Love and Compassion as a Way of Life at the Bihar Judicial Academy in Patna, Bihar, India on January 18, 2020. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“India is also a living example to the rest of the world that all our religious traditions can live together. In terms of the wider community we have several religious traditions teaching several aspects of the truth. I consider the religious harmony we find in India as something wonderful.”

Finally, His Holiness explained his latest commitment to reviving ancient Indian knowledge. “It is important,” he stressed, “to combine modern education, with its goals of material development, with the ancient Indian understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions, allowing us to tackle our destructive emotions and achieve peace of mind. Once these two aspects of education have been successfully combined, we can share what we’ve learned with the world at large.”

When asked about being a monk in a materialistic world, His Holiness joked, “To be a monk means to be celibate. It has happened that when I met someone for the first time they were happily married. Then, next time we met, they had another husband or wife. Meeting on a third occasion, they were married again. In such a context I feel it’s good to be a monk—much less trouble.”

A member of the audience asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question during his talk at the Bihar Judicial Academy in Patna, Bihar, India on January 18, 2020. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

A member of the audience stood up to tell His Holiness that he didn’t think of him as a guest of India. “You live in our hearts. You’re an Indian. All Tibetans living in India are our brothers and sisters.”

A question was asked about the coming Buddha, Maitreya, to which His Holiness responded, “Of course, I’m a Buddhist. But there are some things in the scriptures that I do not accept literally. For example, the texts say that Mt. Meru stands at the centre of the universe, but I don’t believe that. It contradicts observable reality.

“Similarly, when we talk about Maitreya Buddha, we have to keep in mind that according to many scientists, the world may disappear in the next few centuries. Global warming is becoming very serious and this planet may become just a desert. We human beings will not be able to survive. In such a context it makes no sense to talk about Maitreya Buddha appearing in the future.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering a question from the audience during his talk at the Bihar Judicial Academy in Patna, Bihar, India on January 18, 2020. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“At this time, it’s more important for us to pay attention to what Buddha Shakyamuni taught. This is the teaching we can actually study and practise here and now. We can think about it the way we think about food. If you have food on your plate today, why would you wait until tomorrow to eat it? It makes no sense. The Buddha’s teachings have been kept alive until now—these are what we should study and practice here and now.”

Leaving the Bihar Judicial Academy, His Holiness drove directly to Patna Airport. He was received there by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who had come to see him off. They spent more than 30 minutes in conversation before His Holiness took off for Delhi.

His Holiness will undergo a routine medical examination in Delhi tomorrow. He will then return to Dharamsala on 21st January, completing a 44-day tour that has taken him to Delhi, Goa, Mundgod, Bodhgaya and Patna.

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Visit to the Indian Institute of Management, Bodhgaya https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/visit-to-the-indian-institute-of-management-bodhgaya Tue, 14 Jan 2020 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/visit-to-the-indian-institute-of-management-bodhgaya Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - It was another chilly, foggy Bodhgaya morning today as His Holiness the Dalai Lama took a short drive to the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) on the campus of Magadh University. He was received by the Director, Dr Vinita Sahay, and her colleagues, who invited him first of all to plant a sapling to commemorate his visit.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama planting a sapling to commemorate his visit to the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) on the campus of Magadh University in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 14, 2020. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

Before a gathering of 180 students, faculty and invited guests seated in an enclosed outdoor area, His Holiness was formally welcomed by one of the students, who summarized his four commitments. He was offered a shawl, a traditional token of esteem. He then released a souvenir book about the Institute. Signing the first copy, His Holiness wrote: “Knowledge combined with compassion leads to progress”.

In her opening remarks, Dr Vinita Sahay noted that the Institute is still relatively young, having been launched by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in 2015. She observed that each of the 20 IIMs in India has its own distinct identity. She described His Holiness as someone who conveys a message of peace, non-violence, religious understanding, universal responsibility and compassion. She revealed that as India becomes an increasingly important player in the global economy, IIM Bodhgaya is working to expand the pool of managerial talent that will be needed in the future. She defined education as a tool for changing the world and achieving sustainable progress. She remarked that in today’s frenetic world, practices like mindfulness are very valuable.

“Your Holiness,” she said, “your teachings give us guidelines for what to do. You are the one setting us an example by cultivating warm-heartedness, compassion, forgiveness, and tolerance and sharing it with everybody. Of late, you have been talking about the value of ancient Indian knowledge. We are privileged to have you among us to address young Indian minds about their ancient traditions.”

IIM Director, Dr Vinita Sahay, delivering her opening remarks at the start of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's talk at the Indian Institute of Management in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 14, 2020. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

His Holiness responded that he was very happy to share some of his experience with the young members of the audience.

“Firstly,” he observed, “we are all human beings. Like other sentient beings we want to be happy and don’t want suffering and yet many of the problems we face on this planet are own creation. Why? due to short-sightedness and narrow mindedness. However, it is basic human nature to be compassionate. We are social animals dependent on others, so it’s natural for us to show concern for others.

“Each individual’s future is dependent on others. In today’s modern world, technology has brought us together like one family. However, we persist in seeing each other in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’, despite our all belonging to one human community. It’s our responsibility to eliminate man-made problems like war. Although it is now the 21st century, an era of unparalleled communications, we still seem to think that the use of force is the solution to our problems. This is a mistake.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the audience at the Indian Institute of Management in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 14, 2020. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“There is widespread conflict in the Middle East. The world is full of poor people, yet vast amounts of money are spent on weapons. This is really very sad. Genuine peace and harmony will not be established by force. The growing gap between rich and poor could be closed if less money were spent on arms, which are only tools of destruction. Across the world people talk about peace, but peace will not be achieved just by praying for it. We have to make an effort to reduce violence and the use of weapons.

“We need to learn from Gandhi-ji’s use of non-violence. Problems must be solved through dialogue, taking a non-violent approach. This is India’s longstanding tradition. Great thinkers of the past like Mahavira and Buddha Shakyamuni upheld India’s ancient traditions of ‘ahimsa’ and ‘karuna’. These qualities are very relevant in today’s world. Gandhi showed the world how we can employ non-violence in everything we do; this is something the world needs to learn.

“India is the only nation that can combine modern education, which is largely oriented towards material goals, with ‘ahimsa’ and ‘karuna’ and an ancient understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions. The more compassionate your outlook, the more you can lead your life with transparency, self-confidence and inner strength.

Students in the audience listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the Indian Institute of Management in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 14, 2020. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“All major religious traditions carry a similar message of the importance of love. When people are motivated by loving-kindness, fighting between them is unthinkable. India’s admirable tradition of religious harmony is an example for others to follow. We may adopt different positions on a philosophical level, but, as India shows, all major religious traditions can live together peacefully and respectfully.

“India’s practices for cultivating a calmly abiding mind—shamatha, and insight into reality—vipashyana, have produced many great thinkers. Today, our conduct needs to be guided by non-violence and motivated by compassion. Because ancient Indian philosophy and psychology is driven by reason and logic there is resonance with physics, especially quantum physics, today. This approach, exemplified by the Nalanda Tradition, is being kept alive in Tibetan seats of learning re-established in South India.”

Before inviting the students to put questions to him, His Holiness urged them to examine how ancient Indian knowledge could broaden and enrich their studies today.

Members of the audience lined up to ask His Holiness the Dalai Lama questions during his talk at the Indian Institute of Management in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 14, 2020. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

He was asked to explain what meditation is about and replied that ‘shamatha’ is concerned with developing single-pointed concentration. It focuses and strengthens the mind, which is commonly distracted by the sensory input. This is important because destructive emotions like anger, frustration and fear, as well as positive emotions like compassion, are part of our mental rather than our sensory consciousness. ‘Vipashyana’ or insight into reality involves analysis, steadily thinking things through.

His Holiness went on to explain that frustration comes about when we entertain unrealistic expectations. Therefore, he recommended analysing situations from many different angles to understand what is actually feasible. It’s a matter of using intelligence. He conceded that desire can be a positive force because without it there’d be no progress. However, it’s necessary to be realistic about what you can achieve and be contented with that.

He noted that self-centredness gives rise to anxiety and other problems. It reduces our sense of compassion and with it our peace of mind. He advised his listeners to read the eighth chapter of Shantideva’s ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’, which provides a wonderful explanation of altruism.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama responding to a question from the audience during his talk at the Indian Institute of Management in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 14, 2020. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

His Holiness stressed that while it’s helpful to regret your mistakes, to be regretful to the point of becoming demoralized doesn’t help. Regret has its place. Recognizing your mistakes is good and regretting them is also good. But it’s important to retain a sense of self-confidence. Once you feel you’re useless and good for nothing, you’re likely to waste the opportunity of this precious human life.

Dr Sabyasachi Mohapatra offered words of thanks. Before he left the stage, His Holiness once again advised the students that if they can revive ancient Indian knowledge of the mind in India first, they’ll be able to set an example of how to bring about a more peaceful world.

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His Holiness the Dalai Lama Congratulates the Taiwanese President on her Re-election https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/his-holiness-the-dalai-lama-congratulates-the-taiwanese-president-on-her-re-election Sun, 12 Jan 2020 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/his-holiness-the-dalai-lama-congratulates-the-taiwanese-president-on-her-re-election Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - In writing to congratulate Tsai Ing-wen on her re-election as President of Taiwan, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed confidence that under her continued leadership she will be able to make further strides in bringing peace and prosperity to the people of Taiwan.

His Holiness wrote, “I fondly recollect my three visits to Taiwan which provided me an opportunity to visit and interact with the people. I have warm memories of the enthusiastic welcome I received and am continuously inspired by the strong devotion Taiwanese Buddhists have shown towards their faith. As a Buddhist monk, I try my best to fulfill as much as I can their desire for teachings and to provide them the necessary spiritual guidance.”

“As someone devoted to fundamental democratic values, I would like to commend the Taiwanese people for not only achieving a flourishing robust democracy but for the achievements made in the economic and educational fields and in the preservation of their rich traditional culture.”

His Holiness said, “As complicated and difficult as Taiwan’s relationship with the People’s Republic of China is, I feel it is important that the two enjoy good relations, including through expanding people to people exchanges.”

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His Holiness the Dalai Lama Expresses Sadness Over the Bushfires and Loss of Life in Australia https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/his-holiness-the-dalai-lama-expresses-sadness-over-the-bushfires-and-loss-of-lives-in-australia Wed, 08 Jan 2020 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/his-holiness-the-dalai-lama-expresses-sadness-over-the-bushfires-and-loss-of-lives-in-australia Bodhgaya, Bihar, India – In a letter to the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his sympathy and deep sadness about the bush fires that have recently caused such devastating damage.

“It is simply heart-wrenching to see reports of these ferocious infernos,” His Holiness wrote, “while the personal bravery of so many volunteers who have come together as firefighters is an inspiration.

“I offer my condolences to the families of those who have died and to the many people who have lost their homes in these fires.

“It is also becoming increasingly clear that a great number of birds and animals have died in the fires—this is also very distressing.

“I would like to commend your government and the respective state governments for the measures they have taken to provide victims with necessary support and assistance.

“I am heartened by the generous solidarity being shown by the global community for those who have been affected. Disasters like this remind us that humanity is one community. Even on an individual level, each and every one of us must take steps to counter global warming.

“As you may know,” His Holiness concluded, “I have been able to visit Australia quite regularly over the years and have been deeply touched by the friendship and affection Australians have shown me, as well as the interest they have taken in my efforts to promote human values and peace of mind.”

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Manjushri Cycle of Teachings Concludes https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/manjushri-cycle-of-teachings-concludes Mon, 06 Jan 2020 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/manjushri-cycle-of-teachings-concludes Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - This morning, on the final day of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s current series of teachings, the sky was blue and the sun glinted off the golden ornaments on the roof of Ganden Phelgyeling as he set out for the Kalachakra Ground. As is his wont, he greeted as many devotees and members of the public as he could on the way. He spoke to some, waved to many and smiled at them all. When he reached the stage a second group of those who came top in competitions in memorization and poetic composition in South India were gathered to have their photograph taken with him.

Members of the crowd waiting for His Holiness the Dalai Lama's arrival at the Kalackakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 6, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

From the front of the stage the audience presented a sea of sunlit smiling faces and when His Holiness waved good morning, thousands of hands reached into the air to wave back. He then climbed onto the throne, saluted images of the Buddha and other great teachers and sat down. Immediately, the chant-masters, who have been serving the Great Prayer Festival for the last several days, launched into a stirring rendition of the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Tibetan.

“Today,” His Holiness announced, “the final permissions from the Manjushri Cycle of Teachings are for Inner, Outer and Secret Dharmaraja. First, I have to do the necessary preparatory practices and while I do that you can recite the ‘Praise to Dharmaraja’.

“We’ve all gathered in the special place, Bodhgaya, not for financial gain, but because we wanted to receive teachings. Within the division into teachings belonging to the general structure and specialized teachings, this belongs to the latter. Instructions about cultivating bodhichitta and so forth belong to the general structure. In addition to being specialized, the permissions I’m going to give today belong to Highest Yoga Tantra. They came about because the Buddha gave different teachings to different individuals and groups of people because of their differing mental dispositions.

“After the Buddha, great teachers like Nagarjuna and his followers had visions that gave rise to different traditions. Later, Naropa, who was once a scholarly gate-keeper at Nalanda University, left that role and entered into the life of a wandering yogin. He faced all kinds of difficulties, but also received profound instructions from Tilopa. There are some practices intended to be deployed to overcome obstacles and foes, of which this practice of fierce Dharmaraja is one.

“The foundation of our practice is the awakening mind of bodhichitta and a clear understanding of emptiness. Jé Tsongkhapa said, ‘I have to achieve the Truth Body and I will help others on the way. To overcome obstacles, I’ll rely on the protectors’. This is sometimes necessary, although the purpose is not to gain personal reward. However, it is said that if you can’t overcome obstacles by adopting a peaceful approach, use wrathful means.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the crowd on the final day of his teachings at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 6, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“Our motivation should be that from now until the attainment of enlightenment we will benefit others as much as possible. If we reflect on dependent arising, we can defeat self-centredness and our misconception of self. Working to overcome the self-cherishing attitude is both the path of practice and the path to teach others.

“I’ve done the preparations and, before that this morning, I met some Chinese devotees. I pointed out to them that Buddhism in China as well as in Tibet originated here in India. These days, China has the largest Buddhist population in the world.”

His Holiness disclosed that he does a Vajrabhairava retreat every year, as he promised Ling Rinpoché he would do. He added that Vajrabhairava was the first major empowerment he received as a child from Tagdrak Rinpoché and then much later it was the last empowerment he received from Ling Rinpoché.

He mentioned that he’d thought today to read Jé Rinpoché’s ‘Three Principal Aspects of the Path’, which he sent in the form of a letter to Tsako Wönpo, Ngawang Drakpa, a close disciple in Gyalmorong, Eastern Tibet.

His Holiness expressed his admiration for Tsongkhapa’s written works. He noted that the ‘Golden Rosary’ reflects Jé Rinpoché’s early understanding of emptiness. ‘The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path’, the ‘Medium Treatise on the Stages of the Path’, the ‘Essence of Good Explanation’ and this ‘Three Principal Aspects of the Path’ reveal his mature understanding.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the final day of his teachings at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 6, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

The three principals of the path referred to in the title are the determination to be free, the awakening mind of bodhichitta and the wisdom understanding emptiness. His Holiness explained that when he reflects on this text, he regularly transposes the emphasis of the seventh and eighth verses to strengthen the determination to be free.

Swept by the current of the four powerful rivers,
Tied by strong bonds of actions, so hard to undo,
Caught in the iron net of self-centredness,
Completely enveloped by the darkness of ignorance,

Born and reborn in boundless cyclic existence,
Ceaselessly tormented by the three miseries
I too am in this condition.
Thinking of this I generate a determination to be free.

The next verse makes clear that without realizing emptiness, you cannot cut the root of cyclic existence.

“We are facing great problems in the world today,” His Holiness declared. “There’s too much violence and killing. The climate crisis is becoming extreme. Fires that have swept across Australia and parts of Brazil have left great numbers of animals dead. On an individual level we can take steps to counter global heating.

Volunteers distributing longevity pills on the final day His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings at the Kalachakra Teaching Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 6, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“The seventh and eighth verses are about cultivating bodhichitta, but we will only eliminate suffering by overcoming ignorance. Jé Rinpoché points out that understanding dependent arising and emptiness go together. When we understand emptiness, dependent arising is the underlying reasoning. We have to understand this to appreciate that things have no objective existence. However, ‘as long as these two understandings are seen as separate, you have not yet realized the intent of the Buddha’.

“Jé Rinpoché goes on to clarify that ‘when these two realizations are simultaneous and concurrent, from a mere sight of infallible dependent arising comes certain knowledge that completely destroys all modes of mental grasping. At that time the analysis of the profound view is complete’. To really understand emptiness, we have to overcome the two extremes, which is why he states, ‘Appearances refute the extreme of existence, emptiness refutes the extreme of nonexistence. When you understand the arising of cause and effect from the viewpoint of emptiness, you are not captivated by either extreme view’.

“Tsongkhapa’s final advice to Tsako Wönpo, Ngawang Drakpa is to ‘depend on solitude and strong effort, and quickly reach the final goal’. This applies equally to us too.

“In his own account of his life, Tsongkhapa wrote:

In the beginning I sought much learning,
in the middle the teaching dawned on me as spiritual instruction
and in the end, I strove day and night in practice.
I dedicate the merit that the Dharma may flourish.

“The key is to study, reflect and meditate on what you’ve understood. The aim is to incorporate all the teachings of the Buddha in a single practice.”

Members of the crowd taking bodhisattva vows led by His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 6, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

As he led the gathering in taking the bodhisattva vows once more, His Holiness pointed out that cultivating bodhichitta is the essence of the Buddha’s teaching. While giving the permissions, he elaborated on this, advising his listeners to cultivate bodhichitta as well as a clear understanding of emptiness and to do deity yoga. He remarked that if you can take the three bodies into the path, you’ll be prepared to take advantage of the mind of clear light that manifests at the time of death.

At the end of the session His Holiness declared his satisfaction that the series of teachings had been successfully completed. He noted that both those present with him in Bodhgaya and those attending to the teachings online had collected great merit. He recommended saying a prayer of general dedication, but also to make a dedication for the welfare of Tibet.

“Integrate the teachings within yourself and gradually transform your mind. This is the way to make your life meaningful.

“Things are impermanent. After being together it’s in the nature of things that we disperse. I won’t forget you. I’ll think of you. You in turn, don’t just think of our having been here physically together, think of my having given teachings, they are the basis for transforming yourselves. Nevertheless, you also need to be practical and remember that transformation doesn’t take place instantly. It takes time —weeks, months and years of practice. Keep this in mind and practise well.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama waving to the crowd as he departs from the Kalachakra Ground at the conclusion of his teachings in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 6, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Finally, before His Holiness left the teaching ground a representative of the Teaching Organizing Committee and the Great Prayer Festival Committee each read out a statement of accounts. His Holiness waved goodbye to the crowd from the edge of the stage and even as he climbed into his car waved to more people who caught his eye. And with that he returned to Ganden Phelgyeling Monastery.

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Jetsunma Nakmo Permission https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/jetsunma-nakmo-permission Sun, 05 Jan 2020 14:53:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/jetsunma-nakmo-permission Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - Walking from Ganden Phelgyeling Monastery to the Kalachakra Ground this morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama stopped regularly to engage with people standing by the way. He seemed drawn to many by their smiling faces and folded hands, but he also reached out to children, elderly men and women and people holding statues for blessing. When he reached the stage, he stood to have his photograph taken with a group of monks and nuns, who came top in a memorization competition held to celebrate the 600th anniversary of Jé Tsongkhapa’s enlightenment and passing away.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting members of the crowd as he arrives at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 5, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Today, ten Burmese monks conducted a recitation from the ‘Mangala Sutta’ in Pali. A group of monastics and laypeople from Russia, several of them from Tuva, declaimed the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Russian, and were followed by a mixed group of monastics and laypeople who chanted it again in English.

His Holiness announced that today, from the Manjushri Cycle, he was going to give the permission of a deity called Jetsunma Nakmo. He suggested that while he undertook the preparatory procedures, the audience could recite the ‘Mig-tse-ma’ prayer. Before beginning the rite of permission, he asked everyone to recite the ‘Twenty-one Praises to Tara’.

Burmese monks reciting part of the ‘Mangala Sutta’ in Pali before the start of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teaching at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 5, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

He declared that the first step was to take the bodhisattva vows. “I’ve already explained generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta and taking the bodhisattva vows over the last couple of days,” he said. “Bodhisattvas out of compassion observe sentient beings. They have the courage and determination to liberate beings across the expanse of space from suffering and bring them happiness, finally leading them to Buddhahood.

“Bodhichitta is the ultimate source of all good things. Propelled by wisdom bodhisattvas aim for enlightenment. So, if you wish to make your life meaningful, cultivate bodhichitta. As it is said, “I shall generate the mind of awakening to fulfil the interests of myself and others.” Buddhas of the past have become enlightened on the basis of bodhichitta, those of the present are doing so in the same way, and this is what Buddhas of the future will also do.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the crowd at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 5, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“With the thought, “I will generate the supreme mind of bodhichitta”, evoke the altruistic aspiration for enlightenment in your mind. Remember, just having a good heart and the thought to help others is not enough. You need to pledge to engage in the practices of bodhisattvas. The main practice is to restrain your selfish motives, as we say when we recite the ‘Six Session Guru Yoga’,

From this moment on, without any sense of a loss
I send forth my body, and likewise my wealth,
And my virtues amassed throughout the three times
In order to help all beings, my mothers.

“And as Shantideva writes in his ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’,

Now while you are free to act
Present an ever-smiling countenance.
Rid yourself of scowling, wrathful frowns,
And be a true and honest friend to all.

“Gods, nagas, yakshas and so forth should all generate such a mind. Being actively warm-hearted, you’ll be equipped to create a loving, peaceful world. With bodhichitta you’ll complete your collection of merit and purify all negativities. Determine to engage in the practice of bodhisattvas by renewing your bodhisattva vows on a daily basis.

Monastics in the crowd taking bodhisattva vows from His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 5, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“Cultivating bodhichitta with courage and a sense of inner delight will bring you temporary and lasting happiness. Life after life be determined to help sentient beings. Be a source of sustenance for them as are the earth, water, fire, wind, herbs, and wild forests. In short, have the courage to work for others.”

Before the occasion came to an end, a representative of the Great Prayer Festival Committee announced that following His Holiness’s advice they would make a donation to the UNHCR. Events concluded with a recitation of the ‘Prayer of the Words of Truth’. His Holiness then drove by car from the teaching ground back to the monastery.

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Manjushri Cycle of Teachings Resumes https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/manjushri-cycle-of-teachings-resumes Sat, 04 Jan 2020 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/manjushri-cycle-of-teachings-resumes Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - The weather over Bodhgaya turned cold again and a heavy mist hung in the air as His Holiness the Dalai Lama made his way to the Kalachakra Ground this morning. As is his custom, he took time to engage eye to eye with as many people as he could among those who lined his path. From the stage he waved to the audience and they waved back. He greeted various Lamas and other guests before climbing onto the throne. Before sitting down, he acknowledged the array of sacred paintings hung behind and around the stage.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama walking to the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 4, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Eight monks from the Royal Thai Monastery, led by their Abbot who is the senior Thai Elder in India, lost no time in taking their seats before the throne and reciting a section of the Mangala Sutta in Pali. They were followed by a group of ten, monks, nuns and laypeople, from Japan who chanted the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Japanese. After them came eleven Mongolians, monks, a nun and laypeople who chanted the ‘Heart of Wisdom’ again in Mongolian.

“Today, tomorrow and the day after,” His Holiness announced, “I’ll be giving permissions from the Manjushri Cycle of Teachings that we started last year. I hope to give what remains of the cycle this time.

“These teachings come down to us from Lama Umapa, Pawo Dorjé, who, even as a young boy herding sheep, had visions of Manjushri. I received the transmission from Tagdrak Rinpoché. ‘Homage to Manjushri, he with a youthful countenance, whose bright wisdom dispels the darkness of the three worlds.’ This doesn’t refer to physical darkness, but to ignorance.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the crowd before resuming the Manjushri Cycle of Teachings at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 4, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“For followers of theistic religions faith in God is enough, but those of us who don’t believe in God need to use our intelligence to the full. Transforming our minds, we need to develop comprehensive, lucid, swift and profound wisdom. Practices to develop these wisdoms and enhance our intelligence include engaging in the study of philosophy on the basis of reason and logic, as the many monastics here from the Seats of Learning are doing.

“The Great Abbot Shantarakshita, the Adept Padmasambhava and the King Trisong Detsen introduced the Nalanda Tradition to Tibet. Keeping it up requires that we employ reason and logic—an approach preserved primarily among Tibetans. We examine our textbooks in the light of logic and then enter into argument and debate.

“While I do the preparatory rituals, you can recite the ‘ara patsa na’ mantra of Manjushri. Once I’ve given the first permission, I’ll follow the preparatory rites for the next one.

A view of the Kalachakra Ground with an estimated 35,000 people attending His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teaching in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 4, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“These days, when I give empowerments and permissions such as these, the proceedings are webcast and available to people in far-off places. I’m giving these instructions with dedication and love. Those who watch online with faith and devotion can receive the transmission. At the time of the Buddha, there were occasions when the devout were unable to meet him in person and ordination was granted through the medium of a message. This provision in the Vinaya sets a positive precedent. This Manjushri Cycle of Teachings belongs to Highest Yoga Tantra and those who are not here, who watch with faith, can receive it too.

“Of course, we have found this human life and don’t wish to suffer. We want to be happy, but we don’t pay enough attention to what gives rise to suffering and how to overcome it. Nor do we think much about what the causes of happiness are. However, we have encountered the teachings of the Buddha, part of the Indian tradition, which prescribe means for disciplining our minds. The key issue is that whether we experience pain or pleasure depends largely on our state of mind.

“The sutras and tantras make clear that the chief cause of unhappiness is self-centredness, especially when combined with the misconception that people and phenomena are intrinsically existent. To counter these tendencies, we take refuge in the Buddha and follow what has also been revealed by Manjushri, Nagarjuna and his disciples, as well as Maitreya. They became enlightened by taking to heart what the Buddha taught. When I give people statues of the Buddha, I explain that he is our teacher. That makes us his students, so, we have to study.

Members of the crowd listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama as he resumes the  Manjushri Cycle of Teachings at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 4, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“In the distant past, the Buddha cultivated the awakening mind of bodhichitta, then accumulated merit and wisdom for three countless aeons. Ultimately, he attained enlightenment in this special place. It’s a path we too can embark on now.”

The seventh permission in this cycle concerned White Tara, who, His Holiness remarked, is associated in the Guhyasamaja Tantra with motile energy. He also noted Drom-tön-pa had a special connection to her that also extends to the people of Tibet.

Tomorrow, His Holiness will give a Wrathful Female Deity Empowerment.

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Avalokiteshvara Empowerment https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/avalokiteshvara-empowerment Fri, 03 Jan 2020 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/avalokiteshvara-empowerment Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - Golden sunlight streamed over the Mahabodhi Stupa as His Holiness the Dalai Lama left Ganden Phelgyeling Monastery for the Kalachakra Ground this morning. As he walked from the gate to the stage he halted frequently to smile and wave to groups of people who had gathered to see him. From the stage he could see the crowd right up to the walls around the edge and waved to them all. He greeted the notable Lamas around the throne, but also paid attention to elderly monks and young tulkus before taking his seat.

Monks and nuns from Vietnam reciting the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Vietnamese before His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave the Avalokiteshvara Empowerment at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 3, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

A dozen Vietnamese monks and nuns chanted the ‘Heart Sutra’ earnestly in their native tongue. They were followed by ten monks from the Bangladesh Buddhist Monastery who recited the Mangala Sutta in Pali. A third group, who recited the ‘Heart Sutra’ once more, consisted of Korean nuns and monks. Members of a family sponsoring today’s events offered a mandala and threefold representations of the Buddha’s body, speech and mind.

“Today, since I’m going to give an Avalokiteshvara empowerment,” His Holiness advised, “while I complete the preparatory rituals, it would be good if all of you recited the six-syllable mantra, Om mani padme hung.”

When it began to rain, His Holiness called for a group of Geshés to come up and sit in the space in front of him and urged the audience to squeeze up to shelter as best they could.

Geshes filling the stage in front of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to get protection from the rain at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 3, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“Today, in this extraordinary place where the Buddha became enlightened, we remember him, his seven successors, Nagarjuna and his disciples, as well as Asanga and his brother. We still have access to the legacy of Buddhist teachings through the writings of these great masters.

“Great advances have been made in terms of material development, which support our physical health and comfort, but don’t bring peace to our disturbed minds. Happiness is essentially found within. We may take pleasure in shows and other entertainment, but the moment the show’s over, the pleasures stops. This is true of our enjoyment of beautiful music too. Instead of relying on sensory experience, we’d be better to find out how to calm our unsettled states of mind.

“Different religious traditions have benefited millions of people down the centuries. Those that believe in God pray to him when they face difficulties. This gives them hope. In India there are also traditions like the non-theistic Samkhyas, Jains and Buddhists that aim for inner peace on the basis of understanding the workings of mind and emotions.

Young monks finding protection from the rain during as His Holiness the Dalai Lama addresses the crowd before conducting an Avalokiteshvara Empowerment at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 3, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“Buddhism speaks of 51 mental factors, which include five omnipresent mental factors, five object-ascertaining mental factors, eleven virtuous mental factors, six root afflictions, twenty secondary afflictions and four variable mental factors. The Nalanda Tradition explains psychology on the basis of logic and reason, which is what makes it attractive and of interest to modern scientists.”

His Holiness announced that he was going to give the bodhisattva vows relying on the rite in the chapter on ethics from Asanga’s ‘Bodhisattva Grounds’ (Bodhisattvabhumi). He told the audience that this particular approach had declined and he had wished to restore it. It allows for taking the vow before an image of the Buddha. Consequently, he requested his Senior Tutor, Ling Rinpoché to do what was necessary. Rinpoché first took the vow in front of the image in the Mahabodhi Stupa and then gave it to His Holiness. Serkhong Rinpoché acted as the attendant for the ceremony and when it was done, both he and His Holiness wept for joy.

“Cultivating bodhichitta is my most important practice,” His Holiness declared. “Bodhisattvas observe sentient beings and focus on attaining enlightenment. The vow can be taken before an image of the Buddha, or from a teacher who possesses it. Bodhichitta is a universal cause of peace because peace in the world requires that we are at peace within.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking before starting the Avalokiteshvara Empowerment at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 3, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“When their leaders create conflict in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’, common people suffer due to their lack of protection. As human beings we all benefit from compassion.

“I am constantly aware of bodhichitta which brings about a peaceful state of mind. To be altruistic is to be helpful. If you have a warm heart, you’ll have more friends. Bullying and exploiting others turns people away. Taking and keeping the bodhisattva vow strengthens our determination to engage in the practices of a bodhisattva. Observing the ethics of this vow even for one day is immensely beneficial.

“I remember that I have the bodhisattva vow even in my dreams. There is no greater factor contributing to peace and happiness in the world.”

Monastics in the crowd taking the bodhisattva vows from His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 3, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Once the ceremony for granting the bodhisattva vow was complete His Holiness began to conduct the Avalokiteshvara empowerment. When that was done, he highlighted the special karmic link between Tibetans and Chenrezig. He also mentioned the rarity of the Vajrayana, noting that Buddha Shakyamuni is one of only three or four Buddhas of this fortunate aeon who teach tantra in addition to the sutra path.

He reminded the audience that they had received the empowerment with yesterday’s reading of the ‘Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas’ as the preliminary teaching. Today, he gave them the bodhisattva vow according to the ethics chapter of Asanga’s ‘Bodhisattva Grounds’. He advised people to follow this up by undertaking a retreat. He also encouraged them to read Shantideva’s ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’, especially the eighth chapter that reveals how to cultivate bodhichitta, and the sixth that gives a powerful account of how to counter anger and hatred.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama giving the Avalokiteshvara Empowerment at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 3, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Finally, he had words for the Great Prayer Festival Organizing Committee. “These days,” he told them, “when we watch the news, we see reports of poor people suffering in Bangladesh and Africa. It occurred to me that you might consider making a contribution to helping such people from the Prayer Festival funds. I’ve seen and heard people in Africa and Bangladesh grappling with the consequences of flood and fire pleading, “We’re human too.” It’s my observation that UNESCO has done consistently good and beneficial work on the ground in such situations and a donation to that organization would be good.”

Before returning to the Monastery for the day, His Holiness announced that from tomorrow he will resume and hopes to complete the Manjushri Cycle of teachings that he began last year. He remarked that as someone who has relied on Manjushri’s mantra since he was a child, he is convinced of its effectiveness in improving intelligence.

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Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/thirty-seven-practices-of-bodhisattvas Thu, 02 Jan 2020 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/thirty-seven-practices-of-bodhisattvas Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - After several days of cold and foggy weather across North India, the prospects this morning seemed brighter as His Holiness the Dalai Lama walked from the Tibetan Monastery, Ganden Phelgyeling, to the Kalachakra Ground. The Abbots of Ganden Shartsé and Jangtsé Monasteries and the Disciplinarian of Namgyal Monastery led the way wearing their yellow crested hats and carrying incense. His Holiness greeted people lined up on either side as he crossed the road.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting members of the crowd estimated at 35,000 as he arrives at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 2, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

An estimated 35,000 people, Tibetan monks, nuns and laypeople, people from the Himalayan regions and 2500 from 67 other countries were gathered on the Ground. His Holiness smiled, waved and reached out to as many as he could as he walked to the stage. From there he waved to those who were further away.

Among the Lamas seated around the throne he greeted Sakya Trizin, the Ganden Throne-holder and his predecessor Rizong Rinpoché and the new Khambo Lama of Tuva.

As soon as His Holiness had sat down on the throne, eight monks, Indians and Sri Lankans, from the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee, began a recitation in Pali of the section of the ‘Mangala Sutta’ that concerns loving kindness. They were followed by a group of eleven students from the local Maitreya School associated with Root Institute, who chanted the ‘Heart Sutra’ in mellifluous Sanskrit.

Lastly, a group of Chinese, including monks, a nun and laypeople recited the ‘Heart Sutra’ once more in Mandarin.

Monks from Sri Lanka and India reciting a section of the ‘Mangala Sutta’ in Pali at the start of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teaching at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 2, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Before addressing the public, His Holiness repeated several verses including the closing homage to Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’,

I prostrate to Gautama
Who, through compassion,
Taught the exalted Dharma,
Which leads to the relinquishing of all views.

And a ‘Praise of the Perfection Wisdom’,

Homage to the Perfection Wisdom,
The Mother of all Buddhas of the three times,
Which is beyond words, inconceivable, inexpressible,
Unproduced and unobstructed, in the nature of space,
The objective domain of self-aware wisdom.

Tatyatha - gaté, gaté, paragaté, parasamgaté, bodhi svaha

“After attaining enlightenment,” His Holiness began, “the Buddha gave a first turning of the wheel of dharma in Sarnath. He taught the Four Noble Truths and the Vinaya, which laid the foundation of his doctrine. The ‘Individual Liberation Sutra’ may differ slightly from place to place. However, the Mulasarvastavadin tradition followed in Tibet, coming down from Nagarjuna, closely resembles the Theravada transmission upheld in countries following the Pali Tradition.

“Later, on Vulture’s Peak, the Buddha gave an explanation of the perfection of wisdom for those with sharp faculties. In due course, what the Buddha taught spread from India across Asia. Today, scientists and educated people in the West are paying it interested attention, especially as it relates to the workings of the mind and emotions. Regardless of questions of liberation or past and future lives, the Buddha’s teachings can be verified through logic and reason.

“We Asians are traditional followers of the Buddha, but it is important that our faith in him is founded on understanding. Haribadra’s treatise ‘Clear Meaning’ distinguishes between those of sharp faculties who analyse and understand, and those who rely only on faith. Employing reason and logic we can see that everything lacks any essence in and of itself.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the crowd at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 2, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“In explaining the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha pointed out the shortcoming of the cycle of existence and the advantages of liberation. He indicated that it is possible to overcome destructive emotions because they have no sound basis. We can begin to do this by understanding the two truths, that there is what appears and there is a deeper truth.

“'Profound and peaceful, free from elaboration, uncompounded clear light, I have found a nectar-like Dharma. Yet if I were to teach it, there is no-one who would understand what I said; therefore, I shall remain silent here in the forest.’ This was how the Buddha reflected soon after his enlightenment.

"The words 'profound and peaceful' can be taken to refer to his first round of teachings; 'free from elaboration' refers to the second round—the perfection of wisdom and object clear light. 'Uncompounded clear light' can be understood to refer to the subtle mind of clear light, the subjective clear light, that is clarified in highest yoga tantra. This is the Buddha nature that goes on to enlightenment.

“The Buddha also made clear that the Sages do not wash unwholesome deeds away with water, nor do they remove the sufferings of beings with their hands, nor yet do they transplant their own realization into others. It is by teaching the truth of suchness that they liberate beings.

“We have a tendency to think of the Buddha as a someone from whom we can get blessings to overcome our defilements. That’s not how it works. No sentient being wants suffering; they all want happiness. But most do not have the opportunity we have as a result of our human intelligence. Infinite beings seek satisfaction on the basis of sensory experience. We human beings can also transform our minds.

“All religious traditions have practices corresponding to taking refuge; the followers of some pray to God that they’ll be happy. All these traditions teach about the importance of love and compassion. Among the non-theistic Indian traditions that include a branch of the Samkhya’s, the Jains and the Buddhists, the Buddha said, ‘You are your own master’. Happiness comes about as a result of transforming the mind. Animals avoid immediate physical pain, but we human beings can think ahead and make long term plans for what we want to do.

Members of the crowd of estimated at 35,000 including those from 67 countries, listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 2, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“Suffering arises from an unruly mind. The prayer the Chinese add at the end of the ‘Heart Sutra’ expresses a wish that three poisons (attachment, anger and ignorance) be eliminated.

May the three poisons be eliminated,
May the light of wisdom shine forth,
May we face no inner or outer obstacles
And may we train in the bodhisattva path.

“Those who aspire for liberation for themselves alone develop the wisdom of seeing how things are, but when this is combined with compassion and bodhichitta it leads to the bodhisattva path which aims for Buddhahood. So, the gist of this verse is, may we overcome obstacles and engage in the bodhisattva path.

“You can’t calm an unruly mind by taking drugs. They may help a little, but when the mind is disturbed by anger, for example, much more effective antidotes are the ancient Indian practices of non-violence and compassion. There are, in addition, practices for developing single-pointed concentration and insight into reality.

“When the mind is afflicted by destructive emotions, we need to recognise that this is so. We need to train the mind, because as long as it remains undisciplined, suffering will ensue. Underlying destructive emotions is the misconception that things have their own solid, independent existence. This is how things appear to us, and as long as we cling to this view, destructive emotions will arise.

“Nagarjuna wrote, “Through the elimination of karma and afflictive emotions there is liberation. Karma and mental afflictions come from conceptual constructs, which in turn come about from mental fabrication. Fabrication ceases through realizing emptiness.” What he’s saying here is that attachment, anger and delusion come about because we exaggerate. On the basis of how things appear, we think they have some kind of intrinsic existence. This is why the Buddha taught emptiness.”

His Holiness discussed how the statement ‘Form is emptiness’ tells us that form exists, but it does not exist as it appears. It has no intrinsic existence. The mind consists of a series of moments, so it can’t be pinned down as having intrinsic existence either. Because of our misconception of reality, afflictive emotions arise. When the ‘Heart Sutra’ says ‘Form is empty; emptiness is form’ it is saying that form and emptiness are of the same essence, although they are conceptually distinct.

A view of the stage at the Kalachakra Ground during His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teaching in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 2, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Form does not exist in and of itself. It has no intrinsic existence—emptiness is form. His Holiness mentioned that Buddhapalita asked if things had any intrinsic existence, what need would there be for dependent arising? The ‘Heart Sutra’ goes on to state that emptiness is not other than form, and form is not other than emptiness.

His Holiness explained the path leading to Buddhahood in terms of the mantra accompanying the ‘Heart Sutra’. He remarked that Buddhahood is possible because the nature of the mind is luminous clear light and defilements are not of the nature of the mind.

Gaté gaté—proceed, proceed—indicates the path of accumulation, which we reach with our initial experience of bodhichitta, and the path of preparation that is associated with the initial understanding of emptiness. Paragaté—proceed beyond—represents the path of seeing, the first insight into emptiness and achievement of the first bodhisattva ground. Parasamgaté—thoroughly proceed beyond—denotes the path of meditation and the achievement of the subsequent bodhisattva grounds. Bodhi svaha—be founded in enlightenment—reveals laying the foundation of complete enlightenment.

His Holiness observed that we human beings tend to make problems for ourselves despite our deep wish for happiness. He quoted Shantideva, who writes in his ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’,

Whatever joy there is in this world
All comes from desiring others to be happy,
And whatever suffering there is in this world
All comes from desiring myself to be happy.

If I do not actually exchange my happiness
For the sufferings of others,
I shall not attain the state of Buddhahood
And even in cyclic existence shall have no joy.

He remarked that as a system of government, democracy is good, but if the participants are selfish, it will not bring about peace or happiness. In such situations, intelligence tends to be misused instead of contributing to the common good. As sociable beings we rely on others, so scientists have observed that it is human nature to be compassionate.

His Holiness commended study, reflection and meditation as the way to generate wisdom. He recalled that in the early days of Samyé Monastery, more than a thousand years ago, Chinese meditators in the Department of Unwavering Concentration taught that non-conceptual meditation was a sufficient path to Buddhahood. Shantarakshita’s disciple Kamalashila came from India to challenge them and they were dumbfounded. Consequently, they were invited to leave Tibet.

“Shantarakshita and Kamalashila established what became Tibetan Buddhism,” His Holiness declared, “and for more than a thousand years we have kept it alive through study and practice. We memorize significant texts like ‘Ornament for Clear Realization’ and then rely on Indian commentaries like Haribadra’s ‘Clear Meaning’, as well as Tibetan commentaries. We then discuss what we’ve understood in debate—as monks were doing before I arrived this morning. Key to this tradition is the study of logic.

“Jé Tsongkhapa emphasized the need to study thoroughly. He stressed study, reflection and meditation and recommended developing an understanding of the general structure of the teaching before entering in the specialized teachings of tantra.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama commenting on Gyelsay Thogmé Sangpo's ‘Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas’ during his teaching at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 2, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Turning to the ‘Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas’ His Holiness explained that the author, Thogmé Sangpo is referred to as Gyelsay—son of the conquerors—because he is generally accepted to have been a bodhisattva. The author begins by paying homage to Lokeshvara, who makes effort for the good of living beings, while seeing that all phenomena lack coming and going. His Holiness compared this to Nagarjuna’s homage to the Buddha, at the start of ‘Fundamental Wisdom’, for having taught dependent arising free from the eight extremes.

The text highlights the fact that in the end we have to leave even our body behind. It recommends we give up bad friends. Instead we should cherish our spiritual teacher. His Holiness extolled Tsongkhapa’s observation that one who wishes to tame others—as a teacher—must first tame themselves. The way to do this is to adopt the three trainings in ethics, concentration and wisdom.

Where the text asks, in the context of taking refuge in the Three Jewels, ‘What worldly god can give you protection?’, His Holiness conceded that sometimes worldly spirits are propitiated. He reminded the gathering of the case that purported to involve protecting Jé Tsongkhapa’s tradition. However, the Fifth Dalai Lama described the spirit involved as malevolent, born from wrong prayers, ill-natured and bringing harm to the Dharma and beings. “Some lamas called this spirit a guardian of Jé Tsongkhapa’s tradition, which was just not right.”

The eighth verse relates to beings of initial capacity, who seek to overcome evident suffering. The ninth concerns those of medium scope who work to understand that what ordinary people regard as pleasurable is an example of changeable suffering.

Cutting the root of cyclic existence requires overcoming ignorance which can only be done by developing insight into reality. His Holiness recalled that the Buddha is said to have commissioned a drawing of the wheel of existence, which illustrates the twelve links of dependent arising. These begin with ignorance, go on through formative karma and end with aging and death. They can be reversed by overcoming ignorance—by disrupting our misconception of reality.

The tenth verse refers to beings of great capacity. On the basis of refuge in the Three Jewels, such beings generate bodhichitta, which His Holiness remarked he does every day, as soon as he gets up.

Senior monastics sitting on stage following His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teaching at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 2, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“If you exchange your interests for those of others and hold them dear, everything appears in a positive light. You’ll have good health, live long and gather friends around you.

“Prompted by the mention of theft in the next verse, Khunu Lama Rinpoché told me of when robbers once ambushed Thogmé Sangpo and took all he had. He warned them not to go in the direction they were headed, because they would likely encounter the people who had given him what they had just stolen and so run into trouble.”

The text counsels us to take others’ misdeeds upon ourselves, to see our enemy as our most valuable teacher of patience and to be respectful. It advises that conceit is an obstacle, that we should subdue our own minds and should meditate on emptiness. In this connection, His Holiness cited a verse from Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom’.

Neither the aggregates, nor different from the aggregates,
The aggregates are not in him, nor is he in the aggregates.
The Tathagata does not possess the aggregates.
What else is the Tathagata?

He pointed out its versatility, that the same conclusions can be applied to oneself. He also reported that in his practice of deity yoga he applies it to the 15 directional guardians and so incorporates them into his meditation on emptiness.

Verses 25-29 deal with five of the six perfections, generosity, ethics, patience, effort and a calmly abiding mind. The next two verses explain that these practices are perfections when they are qualified by wisdom.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama waving to the crowd as he departs at the end of his teaching at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 2, 2020. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Finally, readers are advised to crush destructive emotions as they arise, to ask themselves, ‘What is the state of my mind?’ and to dedicate merit earned to the attainment of enlightenment. The concluding verses express the author’s humility and dedicate the work to ‘all living beings gaining the ultimate and conventional altruistic intention’.

Before returning to Ganden Phelgyeling, His Holiness announced that tomorrow he will lead the rite for generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta as part of the Empowerment of Avalokiteshvara, the Great Compassionate One.

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Attending Debates at Ganden Jangtsé https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/attending-debates-at-ganden-jangtsé Mon, 23 Dec 2019 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/attending-debates-at-ganden-jangtsé Mundgod, Karnataka, India - More than 400 members of Dharma Centres abroad linked to Ganden Jangtsé Monastery and friends of the monastery gathered in the audience room next to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s apartment this morning. A dozen groups clustered around to have their photographs taken with him. Then, all of them sat on the floor before him as he said a few words to them.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to friends and supporters of Ganden Jangtsé Monastery before attending the debate session at the monastery's assembly hall in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 23, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“The 20th century was an era of war and violence,” he told them, “and yet violence is never a solution to problems. It only brings suffering. Understanding that, after the Second World War, French and German leaders de Gaulle and Adenauer initiated a community in Europe that became the European Union. Consequently, peace has prevailed for more than 70 years in much of Europe. This demonstrates that there is real hope of creating a more peaceful world.

“However, to bring about peace in the world, individuals need to bring about peace of mind within themselves. Despite this, the arms trade continues to flourish. Weapons have no other purpose than destruction. The effective way to resolve conflicts is to engage in dialogue. This is why I often make an appeal for the 21st century to become an era of dialogue.

“Sending men off to war is a remnant of the feudal system. No one wishes to give up their lives and in a democratic world, no one should be expected to. Of course, in this context, China is a totalitarian system, whereas India is the world’s most populous democracy.

“I believe that if we make an effort to develop peace of mind within ourselves and cultivate a proper appreciation of the oneness of humanity, we can create a happier, more peaceful world. What we need is common sense—the positive use of intelligence—and warm-heartedness.”

Student monks debating Buddhist philosophy in front of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Ganden Jangtsé Assembly Hall in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 23, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

Next, His Holiness went down to the Ganden Jangtsé Assembly Hall, where 2000 monks were gathered, to attend a series of debates. The exchanges were vigorous and energetic as challengers persuaded their respondents to adopt one position only to have to change it and defend another. They touched on topics such as the nature of self and production. They asked whether, from a Prasangika point of view, there is a commonly accepted object in the positions of the Samkhya and Svatantrika schools of thought. They posed such questions as if it is the basis of designation, shouldn’t the continuity of mind qualify as the person?

There was discussion of the non-affirming negative and a comparison of the order in which the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths to the diagnosis of an ailment. One group of challengers wanted to know what is subjective clear light, receiving a response that it is a consciousness whose intrinsic nature is not contaminated by defilements. Students of logic examined the relationship between fire and smoke, while students of the science of mind discussed definitions of inferential cognition.

A final auspicious verse dedicated the merit of the debates to His Holiness’s long life, to genuine peace in the world and to everyone’s being able to bask in the sunlight of His Holiness’s teachings now and in the future.

“On this visit to South India,” His Holiness observed, “I’ve been able to spend time in two of the Three Seats of Learning. Although we are living in exile, we’ve been quite successful in helping ourselves and others. When we pray for the flourishing of the Dharma, we should remember that that means more than building temples and erecting statues, it means keeping the Buddha’s teachings alive. The ground reality is the Two Truths, conventional and ultimate truth, but deeper practice involves psychology and the use of reason and logic.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during the debate session at Ganden Jangtsé Assembly Hall in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 23, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“The Sanskrit tradition that we received from Shantarakshita entailed the use of logic right from the start. Buddhism has spread in many other countries, but only in Tibet was the Nalanda approach, the use of logic and epistemology, upheld. Nevertheless, what we learn through this approach should not remain mere dry words—we need to apply it to achieve transformation within ourselves. If we can do that in a practical way, we can be confident that Buddhist thought and practice will last long.

“I’ll be leaving Mundgod tomorrow, and we’ll hold the Great Prayer Festival in Bodhgaya, where there’ll be more people.

“Let me repeat that whatever you understand through study and debate needs to be integrated within you. You’ve been doing your best; please keep it up. Once you graduate, it would be very good if any of you were able to teach in Tibet.”

His Holiness noted that the people of the Himalayan Region live in free countries. Although opportunities to obtain an education used to be much more limited for them, now they have grown. They can come to train here and take the teachings back home. He observed that Buddhism is about more than conducting rituals. There are deeper explanations akin to science.

Some of the more than 2000 monks attending the debate session listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Ganden Jangtsé Assembly Hall in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 23, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

Increasing numbers of Chinese are taking a renewed interest in Buddhism and coming to recognise that an intelligent approach to practice is more effective. Even among hard-line political figures there is some awareness that policy on Tibet needs to be more realistic.

“If you learn Chinese, you’ll be able to help people in mainland China. We follow the Nalanda Tradition and the Chinese have a connection to it through Hsuan Xang. It’ll be very helpful if you not only learn Chinese, but study science too.

“Jé Rinpoché became learned after extensive studies in all the major monasteries in Central Tibet at the time. We are his followers and we need to pay attention to how we pass the entire teachings from one generation to the next. I’m now 84 or 85 years old and most of the monks who left Tibet at the same time are no more.

“See you in Bodhgaya.”

A Prayer for the Flourishing of Jé Rinpoché’s Doctrine by Gungthang Tenpai Drönmé was recited to bring events to a proper conclusion. With endless patience and generosity, His Holiness continued to speak and reach out to people who wanted to make contact with him as he made his way from the temple to the elevator. He touched them, signed books and photographs for them, posed to have his photograph taken with them, and finally smiled and waved before going up to his apartment at the top of the building.

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Long Life Ceremony https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/long-life-ceremony Sun, 22 Dec 2019 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/long-life-ceremony Mundgod, Karnataka - When His Holiness the Dalai Lama came down to the Ganden Jangtsé Assembly Hall this morning, the Ganden Throne-holder, Sharpa and Jangtsé Chöjés and the Drepung Throne-holder were there to receive him. They escorted him into the hall where he greeted the audience and guests, lit a lamp before the images of enlightenment and took his seat on the high throne.

A view of some of the more than 15,000 people watching His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the Long Life Offering in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 22, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

Auspicious prayers were chanted, including the ‘Praise to the 17 Masters of Nalanda’. Tea and sweet rice were served.

Seated on thrones facing His Holiness were the Ganden Throne-holder, Sharpa and Jangtsé Chöjés, as well as the former Ganden Throne-holder, Rizong Rinpoché and Jonang Gyaltsap. The Jangtsé Chant-master led the chanting from behind them. To His Holiness’s right sat Ling Rinpoché, Taktsak Kundeling Rinpoché and the Drepung Throne-holder. To his left were the representatives of the Three Pillars of Tibetan Democracy, the Sikyong, Chief Justice and Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile.

Before the ceremony proper began, His Holiness addressed the gathering.

“Today, there are monks from the two monasteries of Ganden, Drepung and Sera here. Monks of the Three Seats of Learning have assembled to offer a Long-Life Ceremony. As I mentioned yesterday, the First Dalai Lama, Gendun Drup, prayed to Arya Tara, “May I strive and persevere in preserving the tradition of Buddhism in general and that of Jé Tsongkhapa in particular”.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the gathering at the start of the Long Life Offering at Gaden Jangtse Monastery in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 22, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“We have representatives of the monastic community on the one hand and of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) on the other. Since this is an auspicious occasion, I decided to wear this Dharma cloak blessed during ordination. I also put on all three monk’s robes.

“As long as space remains, I pray that I may help all sentient beings. I pray that like the four great elements, earth, space and so forth, I may provide sustenance for the multitude of beings. I try to be practical in the way I serve humanity and all sentient beings. Just paying lip service to helping them is not enough.

“The longer I live, the more I think of benefiting others and fulfilling the highest aim myself. In order to fulfil the interests of self and others I generate bodhichitta. This altruistic intention to serve others can contribute to longevity. Selfishness is not conducive to living longer. I am determined to serve the 7 billion human beings alive today and some kind of benefit seems to come from it.

Young monks carry bread to distribute to the over 5,000 people attending the Long Life Offering for His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Gaden Jangtse Monastery in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 22, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“We have members of the monastic community, representatives of the CTA and dharma brothers and sisters from Chinese communities here.

“Just as I cultivate an altruistic intention, I’ve had dreams about living long. In one dream I was climbing steps, 13 steps, which I interpreted to relate to the prediction that I could live to the age of 113”—applause rippled across the audience. “Since the time of Gendun Drup, the Dalai Lamas have had close relations with Palden Lhamo. I had a dream in which she told me I’d live to be 110”—there was more applause. “Meanwhile, Trulshik Rinpoché requested me to live as long as Thangtong Gyalpo. He is said to have lived until he was 125; may I do so too.

“There are many different factors conducive to living long and I am determined to do so. In fact, since I am so determined, there may not be much need to conduct this Long-Life Ceremony.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during the Long Life Offering at Gaden Jangtse Monastery in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 22, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“As part of the proceedings the Nechung Oracle will go into trance. Since the time of King Trisong Detsen, Shantarakshita and Guru Padmasambhava worldly spirits have been working with people to serve the Dharma and sentient beings. Some of these protectors came from India. Others, like Nyenchen Thangla, were indigenous to Tibet. Since formless spirits have no form, there’s only so much they can do. Those of us who have a physical form can be helpful to others in ways that these spirits cannot.

“On this auspicious occasion, in this auspicious place, since you have a spiritual bond with me, I ask you all to please be at ease.”

The Jangtsé Chant Master began to chant the Long-Life Ceremony according to the Offering to the Spiritual Master (lama chö-pa) and many of the guests joined in. At a certain point the Nechung Oracle entered the Hall through the main door and came loping up to the throne. He paid respect to His Holiness, offering him a mandala and the threefold representations of the Buddha’s body, speech and mind. After conversing with His Holiness, he circumambulated the throne and rushed down to salute the Ganden Throne-holder, his predecessor and other hierarchs.

Nechung Oracle tossing blessed barley seeds in the air during the Long Life Offering for His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Gaden Jangtse Monastery in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 22, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

Coming before His Holiness again he brought him a small silver vajra attached to a multi-coloured thread and distributed similar vajras to other Lamas while keeping one for himself. He then sat on a folding stool, holding the vajra to his heart, while he and the other Lamas recited a prayer His Holiness wrote for the flourishing of all major traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. This was a rite that serves to strengthen the bond between guru and disciple. Once the recitation was complete the Oracle got to his feet and left the temple through a side door.

Tsog offerings were conducted. The Ganden Throne-holder made a formal request to His Holiness to live long and offered him a mandala and the threefold representations of the Buddha’s body, speech and mind, as well as a series of other symbols. A long procession of monastics, laymen and women, Tibetans and people from abroad, carrying offerings, wound through the Hall.

Among the concluding prayers was one composed by Trulshik Rinpoché that recounts the incarnations of Avalokiteshvara in Tibet, culminating in the line of Dalai Lamas. Another was the prayer for His Holiness’s long life composed by his two tutors, Ling Rinpoché and Trijang Rinpoché.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama posing for group photos with newly graduated Geshe Lharamapas at Gaden Jangtse Monastery in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 22, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

Finally, a ceremony was conducted for 298 Lharampa Geshés, who graduated in 2017, 2018 and 2019, to be awarded their degrees. The Ganden Throne-holder presented each one with his certificate, following which they gathered in groups around His Holiness in order to have their photograph taken with him.

The morning’s ceremonies complete, His Holiness returned to his quarters at the top of the building.

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Celebrating Ganden Ngamchö https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/celebrating-ganden-ngamchö Sat, 21 Dec 2019 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/celebrating-ganden-ngamchö Mundgod, Karnataka, India - The sky over the Tibetan Settlement at Mundgod was golden as the sun rose this morning. The yard around the Ganden Lachi and Ganden Shartsé Assembly Halls steadily filled with more than 10,000 people. His Holiness the Dalai Lama walked from Ganden Shartsé to the veranda at the top of the steps to Ganden Lachi, where a throne and comfortable chair had been arranged for him. The Ganden Throne-holder, Geluk Hierarchs and Abbots made him welcome. He lit lamps before paintings of the Buddha and Jé Tsongkhapa.

Some of the more than 10,000 people gathered in the yard around Ganden Lachi and Ganden Shartsé Assembly Halls watching as His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrives for the celebration of Ganden Ngamchö in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 21, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

Geshé Ngawang Samten, moderator for the event, observed that this auspicious occasion, the 600th anniversary of Jé Tsongkhapa's passing away and enlightenment, was being celebrated in an auspicious place—Ganden Monastery, the institution he founded. Just as Shakyamuni Buddha gave teachings on impermanence and selflessness in Varanasi, causing a revolution in Indian spiritual practice, so Tsongkhapa left a legacy of change in Tibet. He came to be known as the ‘crown ornament of scholars in the Land of Snows'.

Abbot of Ganden Shartsé Ven Jangchub Sangyé gave a thorough account of Tsongkhapa's life. He began by greeting the guests and thanking His Holiness for presiding over the gathering. He reported that Tsongkhapa was born in 1357 in Tsongkha. At the age of three he was given upasaka vows by Karmapa Rolpai Dorjé. On the instruction of his first teacher he went to Central Tibet when he was 17 and studied in the monasteries at Sangphu, Dewachen and Gungthang, then at Gadong, Kyormolung and Tsurphu. The topics he covered included the Perfection of Wisdom, upper and lower Abhidharma, Vinaya, Pramana and Madhyamaka.

Abbot of Ganden Shartsé Ven Jangchub Sangyé giving an account of Tsongkhapa's life during the celebration of the 600th anniversary of Jé Tsongkhapa's passing away and enlightenment at Ganden Lachi in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 21, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

He went into retreat to study more deeply at Tsal Gungthang and read the Kangyur and Tengyur. At the age of 31, he composed his first significant work, the ‘Golden Rosary’. A year later he was teaching 17 texts at once, which established his reputation for being learned.

The Abbot concluded his talk with a prayer that His Holiness live long and his wishes be fulfilled. He added a hope that His Holiness will visit Ganden again and again.

His Holiness was invited to release a number of books including a six-volume biography of Jé Tsongkhapa compiled by the Anniversary Organizing Committee. There was another biography of Tsongkhapa and his disciples and biographies of the Panchen and Dalai Lamas. These works were in Tibetan. In addition, His Holiness released the South Asian edition of Thupten Jinpa's recently published biography, ‘Tsongkhapa - a Buddha in the Land of Snows’ and a braille edition of His Holiness's ‘Beyond Religion'. The various authors and compilers came up to meet His Holiness.

Books released by His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the celebration of Ganden Ngamchö at the Ganden Lachi courtyard in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 21, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

The Khambo Lama of Mongolia, Choijamtso gave a short talk in which he reminded the gathering that Tsongkhapa was prophesied by the Buddha. He reported that monastics and lay-people gathered recently in Mongolia to recite prayers in honour of Jé Rinpoché.

He recalled that His Holiness first visited Mongolia in 1979 when the Buddhist situation there was still restricted. After 1990, the country gained its freedom, with the result that they could invite him to visit again several times and Mongolian monks began to come to study at Drepung and Sera Monasteries.

A Jé Tsongkhapa scholarship program was announced that will provide six scholars with support for ten years while they conduct research.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama thanking the The Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile for his talk at the celebration of the 600th anniversary of Jé Tsongkhapa's passing away and enlightenment at Ganden Lachi in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 21, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

The Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile praised Tsongkhapa's vast deeds. He alluded to the lack of religious freedom in Tibet since 1959, but expressed satisfaction that due to His Holiness's kindness, it is possible to study and practice in the re-established monasteries and nunneries here in India. Tibetans in exile enjoy the freedom of democracy.

Books completing the series of works on Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics were released. Yangden Rinpoché referred to this project as one of His Holiness's great achievements. Nearly ten years ago he commissioned the Abbot of Namgyal Monastery, Thomtog Rinpoché, to organize the extraction and compiling of materials related to science and philosophy in the Kangyur and Tengyur.

The Abbot of Namgyal Monastery, Thomtog Rinpoché, presenting the most recent publications of the works on Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics to His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the celebration of Ganden Ngamchö in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 21, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

A large team began the work on the basis of a rough outline, but a group of four Geshés working with the Abbot, Dr Thupten Jinpa and Geshé Thupten Yarphel finalised the material. A number of translations into languages including English, Chinese and Hindi have already been completed. Thomtog Rinpoché presented the most recent publications to His Holiness.

Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay noted that Jé Rinpoché brought about change in the way people studied in Tibet. Since 1959, many monasteries there have been destroyed, but Jé Rinpoché's teachings remain vibrant here in the re-established Seats of Learning. This is important because the Nalanda Tradition preserved by Tibetans helps people find peace of mind.

Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay speaking at the celebration of the 600th anniversary of Jé Tsongkhapa's passing away and enlightenment at Ganden Lachi in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 21, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

The Ganden Tripa quoted Tsongkhapa as noting that of all his deeds, the Buddha's giving teaching was the greatest. Jé Rinpoché was as one with Manjushri, but to common perception he undertook the study and practice of sutra and tantra. He integrated what he learned within himself and achieved spiritual attainments.

His written works, particularly ‘Essence of True Eloquence', the ‘Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment' and the ‘Clear Lamp for the Five Stages' are remarkable. We can best commemorate him by engaging, as he did, in study, reflection and meditation.

The Ganden Throne-holder then presented the Jé Tsongkhapa gratitude award to His Holiness. Geshé Ngawang Samten commented that Chinese hardliners have sought to obliterate Tibetan Buddhism in its homeland, but His Holiness has led the effort to keep it alive in exile. He requested His Holiness to address the gathering.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama being presented the Jé Tsongkhapa gratitude award during celebrations to mark the 600th anniversary of Jé Tsongkhapa's passing away and enlightenment at Ganden Lachi in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 21, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

"So today," he began, "we're celebrating Ganden Ngamchö. All the previous speakers have praised Jé Tsongkhapa, his life and deeds. There are people here from many different parts of the world. The number of those taking an interest in Buddhism and Jé Rinpoché's instructions is increasing. I'd like to thank you all for coming.

"Traditionally in Tibet at this time, there used to be a long-life offering at Gyumé on the 24th of the month and again at Gyutö on the 25th, each performed in the colleges' inimitable style. We used to visit the reliquary of the Fifth Dalai Lama and others on Ganden Ngamchö and recite prayers. One of those, ‘Song of the Eastern Snow Mountain', was written by the First Dalai Lama, Gendun Drup. The other, ‘In the Centre of the Lotus at the Heart' was by the Seventh Dalai Lama, Kalsang Gyatso.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the crowd during the celebration of the 600th anniversary of Jé Tsongkhapa's passing away and enlightenment at Ganden Lachi in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 21, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

"I found it quite inspiring to recite these in the Avalokiteshvara Chapel before the statue of Chenrezig. I thought I might read some of them to you. The First Dalai Lama received many teachings from Tsongkhapa, who advised him to go into retreat at Riwo Gangchen in Tsang. I've been there and it was in that place that he wrote this song.

Above the peaks of the eastern snow mountains
White clouds float high in the sky.
There comes to me a vision of my teachers.
Again and again am I reminded of their kindness,
Again and again am I moved by faith.

To the east of the drifting white clouds
Lies the illustrious Ganden Monastery, Hermitage of Joy.
There dwelled three precious ones difficult to describe
My spiritual father Lobsang Drakpa, and his two chief disciples.

Vast are your teachings on the profound Dharma,
On the yogas of the path's two stages.
To fortunate practitioners in this land of Snows,
Your kindness, O masters, transcends thought.

That I, Gendun Drup, who tends to be lazy,
Now have a mind somewhat propelled by Dharma,
Is due solely to the great kindness of this holy teacher and his chief disciples.
O perfect masters, your compassion is indeed unsurpassed.

Although your kindness can never be repaid,
O masters, still I pray to preserve your lineages
At all times and with all my strength,
Never letting my thoughts fall prey
To either attachment or aversion.

“The First Dalai Lama prayed to Arya Tara to be able to persevere in the practice of the Dharma. Later in life, when he was growing old and thinking of the, his disciples told him he would surely go to the Pure Land of Sukhavati. He answered that he had no wish to do that. “I wish to be born among people who are suffering so I may be able to help them.” This is a wish that always moves me.

Some of the crowd of more than 10,000 gathered around Ganden Lachi and Ganden Shartsé Assembly Halls listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during the celebration of Ganden Ngamchö in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 21, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“In a biography of the Second Dalai Lama by Yangra Chöjé, he describes Gendun Gyatso as the non-sectarian Yellow Hat master. He explored other Buddhist traditions, even though he was a Gelukpa. The Fifth Dalai Lama too contributed to all the Buddhist traditions of Tibet. He wrote that some Gelukpas seemed unable to maintain Jé Rinpoché's tradition. Jé Rinpoché had said that those who are intelligent would do well to train their minds with logic. He added that if you gain certainty about the teaching, you’ll not be led astray.

“Study of different systems of tenets is important, just as you judge the quality of a turquoise by comparing it with another. As you whip a horse to make it run faster, you train yourself in logic to find certainty about the teachings of the Buddha. It’s important to study, but it’s also crucial to think about the meaning and not just the words.

“Gendun Drup complained that people who claim to be followers of the Dharma consider others to be its enemy. He asks ‘Are they not merely a cause for shame and embarrassment? Have not demons entered their hearts?’ Not trying to overcome their destructive emotions, such people only engage in gossip and argument. The way they behave is like trying to avert obstacles in the East by offering the ritual cake in the West. On Ganden Ngamchö we used to recite this in front of the statue of Avalokiteshvara. I found this custom of reciting prayers in the Phagpa Chapel inspiring.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama giving a short teaching during the celebration of the 600th anniversary of Jé Tsongkhapa's passing away and enlightenment at Ganden Lachi in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 21, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“The Seventh Dalai Lama’s ‘In the Centre of the Lotus at the Heart’ refers to the subtle mind of clear light and begins with a homage to Jé Tsongkhapa. In Chapter 22 of ‘Fundamental Wisdom’, there’s a verse about the Tathagata.

Neither the aggregates, nor different from the aggregates,
The aggregates are not in him, nor is he in the aggregates.
The Tathagata does not possess the aggregates.
What else is the Tathagata?

“This can also be read to refer to yourself.

I'm neither one with the aggregates, nor different from the aggregates,
The aggregates are not in me, nor am I in the aggregates.
I don't possess the aggregates.
What else am I?

“In this kind of analysis, you don’t find things having some kind of objective independent existence, however much you search for it. You can’t find a final identity. If things had such an objective existence, it would lead to fallacies. Conventional existents would withstand analysis. Ultimately birth and the arising of things would not be refuted.

Some of the special guests among the crowd listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the celebration of Ganden Ngamchö in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 21, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“You need to do analysis into the nature of things to find certainty that they have no objective independent existence. Body and mind are the basis for the designation of a person or being, but even the mind has no intrinsic existence. E ma ho, when you analyse how things exist you might have the impression that things have an objective, solid existence, but can’t find anything.

“If you analyse your hand with its palm, thumbs and fingers, you can’t find its identity as something separate from these parts. Things appear to have objective independent existence, but they don’t.

“The Seventh Dalai Lama writes that just as clouds disperse in the autumn sky, when you analyse things and find they lack any objective independent existence, their appearance dissolves and fades away. Dependent arising was only taught by the Buddha and for that if nothing else he deserves the title ‘Teacher’. We talk about the law of causality, that causes and conditions bring about a result.

Monks waiting to distribute mementos of the event to guests during the celebration of the 600th anniversary of Jé Tsongkhapa's passing away and enlightenment at Ganden Lachi in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 21, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“Realists use the reasoning of dependent arising, but claim that things still have some degree of objective existence. Madhyamakas ask how this could be so. There is a logical contradiction about asserting a self-defined existence. In Jé Rinpoché’s commentary on ‘Fundamental Wisdom’ he states that there are but two ways for things to exist. Either they exist as they appear, or they exist as designated by mind and language. The first is not true, so the second must be so. Since things have no true existence, they are like magical illusions.

“The union of emptiness and appearance convinces me of the infallibility of dependent arising, writes Kalsang Gyatso, due to the kindness of my qualified teacher, Trichen Ngawang Chokden. I have found conviction in the final nature of the way things exist. This is what we used to recite in the Avalokiteshvara Chapel.

“That’s all. This celebration has been successful. Remember Jé Rinpoché and his three principles, the determination to be free, bodhichitta and the correct view of emptiness. These are explained in the 18 volumes of his writings, which reveal him to be a second Nagarjuna. To this we can add study of Shantideva’s ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’”

Geshé Ngawang Samten thanked His Holiness for his talk and the Ganden Jangtsé Abbot offered words of thanks.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama arriving at Ganden Jangtse Monastery in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 21, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

After lunch at Ganden Lachi, His Holiness drove the short distance to Ganden Jangtsé Monastery, where he will stay for the next three days. He received a traditional welcome and sat briefly in the assembly hall while the ‘Praise to the 17 Masters of Nalanda’ was recited.

“Ganden is one of the Three Seats of Learning and I’d like to say ‘Tashi delek’ to all of you here. There seem to be many people with Chinese roots in the audience. When we first came here, we had no grand facilities. Due to the kindness of the Government of India, land was made available to us. We built these monasteries, but even now maintaining them requires resources. I’d like to thank all those of you who are offering support here.

“Tomorrow there’ll be a Long-Life Offering, so we’ll meet again then. Today, I’d like to rest.”

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International Conference on Jé Tsongkhapa: Life, Thought and Legacy https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/international-conference-on-jé-tsongkhapa-life-thought-and-legacy Fri, 20 Dec 2019 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/international-conference-on-jé-tsongkhapa-life-thought-and-legacy Mundgod, Karnataka, India - As His Holiness the Dalai Lama walked from Ganden Shartsé Monastery to the Ganden Lachi Assembly Hall, where 1000 people were sitting inside and more than 4000 more were seated in the shade outside, he was escorted by the Shartsé Abbot, Ven Jangchub Sangyé. At the head of the temple, he lit a lamp before the images of the Buddha and took his seat in front of the throne.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama lighting a lamp before the images of the Buddha in Gaden Lachi Assembly Hall in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 20, 2019. Photo by Jeremy Russell

Moderator for the inaugural session, Khensur Jangchub Choeden welcomed His Holiness, the Ganden Throne-holder, Sharpa and Jangtsé Chöjés, Abbots, Lamas and guests from abroad. He explained that the conference had been convened to discuss Jé Tsongkhapa’s life, thought and legacy on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of his death. He turned to Dr Thupten Jinpa to give an overview of the impending proceedings.

Dr Jinpa remarked that holding this international conference at Ganden, the monastery Tsongkhapa founded, made it really historic. Add to that that the keynote address was being given by His Holiness made it auspicious as well. He said that as a student of His Holiness and a former monk of Ganden Monastery, he was humbled and honoured to be present.

He suggested that Tsongkhapa became one of the pre-eminent figures in the history of Tibetan Buddhism. Born in 1357 in Amdo, by the end of his life in 1419 the three great Seats of Learning had been founded under his influence. He had attracted a huge following as a result of his extensive teaching, but also due to his insistence on developing an integrated understanding founded on critical understanding and reason, as well as a strong advocacy of the role of ethics.

Dr Thupten Jinpa giving an overview of the International Conference on Je Tsongkhapa at Gaden Lachi Assembly Hall in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 20, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

Dr Jinpa explained that the conference would consist of six two-hour sessions over three afternoons. These sessions would focus on several themes, including Tsongkhapa’s life, thought and legacy; his contributions to Madhyamaka and the study of the Perfection of Wisdom; the theory and practice of meditation; the stages of the path and mind training, particularly as they concern bodhichitta and compassion; and his contribution to Vajrayana thought and practice. He highlighted three aims for the conference: to honour Tsongkhapa on this 600th anniversary, to explore his thought and spiritual legacy and to examine what insights from his thought and teachings are relevant to life today.

With regard to conference participants, Dr Jinpa pointed out that it is a truly international meeting. He drew special attention to the presence among the presenters of two Geshé-mas. The award of the highest degree to nuns has come about as a result of His Holiness’s vision and encouragement. He also made a point of welcoming the two most senior international scholars of Tsongkhapa’s tradition, Professor Jeffrey Hopkins and Professor Robert Thurman.

Finally, Dr Jinpa thanked His Holiness for being such an inspiring exemplar of Jé Tsongkhapa’s tradition and expressed gratitude to everyone present for joining in this historic celebration. Before resuming his seat, Dr Jinpa offered His Holiness a copy of his newly published biography of Jé Rinpoché called, ‘Tsongkhapa, a Buddha in the Land of Snows’.

Dr Jinpa offered His Holiness a copy of his newly published biography of Jé Rinpoché after his talk at the International Conference on Jé Tsongkhapa at Gaden Lachi Assembly Hall in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 20, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

Khensur Jangchub Choeden duly thanked Dr Jinpa for setting the scene and invited His Holiness to give the keynote address.

“So, we’re holding this international conference in connection with the 600th anniversary of the great master Tsongkhapa’s death and enlightenment and focussed on his legacy,” His Holiness began.

“Of the many different religious traditions in the world, several of those that arose in India are important because they involve practices for developing a calmly abiding mind and insight into reality. Religious practice remains relevant today inasmuch as the main message of most traditions is the importance of cultivating love and compassion.

“All sentient beings are subject to mental afflictions like desire, anger and ignorance, but only human beings make war on each other. We should have had enough of violence, but arms sales go on. This is why we urgently need to focus on non-violence and compassion. We are social animals, dependent on our community, so it is basic human nature to be compassionate.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama delivering the keynote address at the inaugural session of the International Conference on Jé Tsongkhapa at Gaden Lachi Assembly Hall in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 20, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“There are theistic traditions and non-theistic traditions. People who follow the first pray to God. Those who belong to the second have no place for a creator, instead, as the Buddha declared, ‘You are your own master’. We can make a difference to whether we experience pain or pleasure by bringing about change in our minds.

“Buddhism appeared in India as a result of the Buddha’s three rounds of teaching. During the first he explained how we enter into the cycle of existence as a result of karma and delusion, as well as how free ourselves by following the path and achieving cessation. We need to explore whether it’s really possible to attain cessation or not.

“The Nalanda Tradition stresses the use of logic and reason. It takes as a starting point the Buddha’s advice to his followers, "As the wise test gold by burning, cutting and rubbing it, so, bhikshus, should you accept my words—after testing them, and not merely out of respect for me." Although China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam were influenced by the Nalanda Tradition too, only in Tibet and later Mongolia did Buddhist actively employ logic and reason.”

Many of the overflow crowd of 5000 in the courtyard of Gaden Lachi watching His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the International Conference on Je Tsongkhapa at Gaden Lachi in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 20, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

His Holiness observed that when the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo wanted to create a Tibetan system of writing, he disregarded Chinese methods and adopted an Indian model. When Shantarakshita came to Tibet in the eighth century at the then King’s invitation, he encouraged the translation of Buddhist literature into Tibetan so that Tibetans could study in their own language. At Samyé Monastery he set up a department of translation, as well as departments of concentration and celibacy. The Nalanda Tradition that Shantarakshita introduced was grounded in the use of logic and reason. Dignaga's and Dharmakirti's extensive writings on logic and epistemology were translated into Tibetan. Later, Tibetan scholars like Chapa Chökyi Sengé (1109-69), the Abbot of Sangphu, and Sakya Pandita elaborated on these themes.

“It was with the confidence of an accomplished logician that Gyaltsap Dharma Rinchen set out to challenge Jé Tsongkhapa. Coming to where Jé Rinpoché was teaching he took his seat next to him on the throne. Jé Rinpoché just continued to teach and gave such a profound presentation that first Gyaltsap took off his hat and then conceded Tsongkhapa’s superiority by stepping down.

“Jé Rinpoché had visions of meditation deities, but emphasized study of the classic texts. During such a vision of Manjushri he received instructions that he couldn’t understand. Manjushri advised him to study further. After going into retreat, he dreamt of Nagarjuna and his five main followers. One of them, who had a dark bluish complexion, approached him and touched a book to his head. Tsongkhapa recognised him as Buddhapalita. The next day, while reading Buddhapalita’s commentary to Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom’, he gained insight into emptiness and dependent arising.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the inaugural session of the International Conference on Jé Tsongkhapa at Gaden Lachi Assembly Hall in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 20, 2019. Photo by Jeremy Russell

“Regarding Tantra, Tsongkhapa made a particular study of Guhyasamaja. He also wrote commentaries to Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom’ and Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’. This is why I think of him as a second Nagarjuna. In his writings, where Khedrup-je can be conceited, Tsongkhapa is humble. Butön Rinchen Drup wrote exhaustively on many topics, but by comparison, Jé Rinpoché seems clearer and more profound to me.

“When he was invited to visit the Chinese Emperor, Tsongkhapa replied that he’d be unable to attend because he was in retreat. He sent Jamchen Chöjé in his stead, on whom the Emperor bestowed a black hat. I used to tease the Sera monks when they placed it on the head of a statue of their founder.

“Jé Rinpoché’s tradition has been kept vibrantly alive at Drepung, Ganden and Sera through study and practice. In the last few days I’ve observed debate here at Gomang, Loseling and Shartsé. I plan to go to Sera next March.

Members of the audience listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the International Conference on Jé Tsongkhapa at Gaden Lachi Assembly Hall in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 20, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“If you look at Tsongkhapa’s writings, his ‘Illuminating the Intent: Exposition of Chandrakirti’s Entering the Middle Way’, ‘Ocean of Reasoning’ on Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom’, and ‘Essence of True Eloquence’, as well as his works on tantra like the incredible ‘Bright Illuminating Lamp’, you’ll understand why I consider him a second Nagarjuna. Who else has left behind such a comprehensive legacy? These works are immensely helpful for gaining insight into the correct view.

“As far as bodhichitta is concerned, I’ve studied Shantideva’s ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’. But any transformation I’ve made has also been affected by Tsongkhapa’s works, including the ‘Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path’. Inspired by Tsongkhapa’s prayer—

Wherever the teaching has spread and declined
And wherever it has not spread
May I cause it to spread out of compassion for all living beings.

“I’ve tried to serve humanity and I feel I haven’t let him down.”

Khensur Jangchub Choeden thanked His Holiness for his eloquent insight and invited Prof Donald S Lopez to make the first presentation.

Moderator Khensur Jangchub Choeden introducing the next Prof Donald Lopez during the inaugural session of the International Conference on Jé Tsongkhapa at Gaden Lachi Assembly Hall in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 20, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

Prof Lopez began with personal reminiscences of coming to India, and to Ganden, forty years ago, where his teacher Lati Rinpoché was Abbot. He began work then on Changkya’s book of tenets, translation of which he has recently completed and published. He quoted the Abbot of Gomang, Sogpo Ngawang Nyima telling him, "You're an American, I'm Mongolian. Here we are in India, speaking Tibetan, talking about someone from Amdo (meaning Tsongkhapa). There must be karma."

Lopez asked what we can say about this man who is referred to as the crown ornament of scholars of the Land of Snows? His answer was that because of him there are the Three Great Seats of Learning, as well as Tashi Lhunpo, Labrang and Kumbum, there is the Ganden Phodrang, there are the Dalai Lamas and the Panchen Lamas. This is remarkable because he wasn’t a worldly innovator, but an itinerant yogin.

Lopez drew comparisons between Buddhism, specifically Tibetan Buddhism and Christianity, especially the Roman Catholic church. However, where three men, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas a Kempis and St Benedict effected change in the church, in the Geluk tradition, one man, Tsongkhapa called for the integration of philosophy, meditation and conduct.

Prof Donald Lopez delivering his presentation at the International Conference on Jé Tsongkhapa at Gaden Lachi Assembly Hall in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 20, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

He mentioned that in his long acquaintance with Changkya’s Tenets he has been regularly struck by Tsongkhapa’s presence in the text, because despite not writing on tenets himself, there is hardly a topic on which he doesn’t offer essential insight. He noted that it is Tsongkhapa’s commitment to reason, analysis and evidence that is one of the principal lessons his works have to offer the modern world.

Prof Lopez ended with another reminiscence—when he had to leave for America in 1979, without his teacher being able to finish teaching him the ‘Essence of True Eloquence’, he was assured that it meant they would meet again to continue studying it. This was the text chanted by monks at Ganden 600 years ago when Tsongkhapa passed away.

Professor Lopez stepped up to offer His Holiness a copy of his recently completed translation of Changkya’s Tenets.

Khensur Jangchub Choeden thanked Prof Lopez for his moving account, and since there was time asked Geshé Yama Rinchen to make the next presentation. He spoke in Tibetan about how Tsongkhapa clarified the study and practice of the Vinaya—monastic discipline. He studied many classic texts, including Gunaprabha’s ‘Vinaya Sutra’ and Dharmamitra’s extensive commentary.

Geshe Yaman Rinchen speaking at the International Conference on Jé Tsongkhapa at Gaden Lachi Assembly Hall in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 20, 2019. Photo byJeremy Russell

Geshé Yama Rinchen mentioned two texts one short and another long that Tsongkhapa wrote on Vinaya in Wolka that are not included in the standard editions of his collected works. He focussed on advice for those who had not taken monastic vows before, how to keep the vows, and how to restore precepts that may have been breached.

Tsongkhapa took seriously the adage that if the practice of Vinaya exists, the teaching of the Buddha flourishes. Therefore, he worked hard for its revival and preservation, making the wish, “May monks live in harmony and may the monastic community grow and grow.”

Khensur Jangchub Choeden brought the session to an end, thanking Geshé Yama Rinchen for the insight he had given into the importance Tsongkhapa place on Vinaya. He thanked His Holiness for presiding over the conference’s inauguration and thanked other distinguished guests for their attendance. Before everyone dispersed for lunch, the presenters gathered around His Holiness to have their photograph taken with him.

His Holiness walked from the Ganden Lachi hall back to Ganden Shartsé. On the steps he stopped to smile and wave to the crowd, who laughed, clapped with joy and waved back.

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Debates at Ganden Shartsé https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/debates-at-ganden-shartsé Thu, 19 Dec 2019 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/debates-at-ganden-shartsé Mundgod, Karnataka, India - Before going down to the Assembly Hall this morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama talked to a group of patrons and supporters of the international conference that begins tomorrow—‘Jé Tsongkhapa, Life and Legacy’. He extolled the great value and continuing relevance today of the time-worn Indian traditions of non-violence and compassion. He also voiced his admiration for the common Indian meditative practices for developing a calmly abiding mind and insight into reality. From these emerged a map of the mind and techniques for tackling destructive emotions like anger and fear, as well as guidelines for cultivating positive emotions such as love and compassion.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama with patrons and supporters of the international conference on ‘Jé Tsongkhapa, Life and Legacy’ after their meeting at Gaden Shartse Monastery in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 19, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“Reason and analysis can help us understand the benefits of compassion,” he told them. “We learn that it yields peace of mind, which leads to inner strength, in the context of which fear and suspicion are reduced. If you think about it, you may see that destructive emotions are closely related to self-centredness.

“These findings apply to us all. We all want happiness and, as human beings, we all have the same kind of brain, the same emotions, and the same potential. Scientists observe that we are social animals, because of which it is basic human nature to be compassionate. The future for each of us depends on others. That’s why, wherever I go and whoever I meet, I feel we are all essentially the same.”

Downstairs, in the Ganden Shartsé Assembly Hall, His Holiness observed students, many of them from the Mön region of Arunachal Pradesh, debate. The first group took as their starting point an assertion in Bhavaviveka’s ‘Blaze of Reasoning’ that ‘according to our system, we designate consciousness as self because that is what is reborn from life to life’. Another group referred to Chapter 15 of Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’, which is called Examination of Essence. The challenger wanted to know what the word essence means here. He was told it refers to the object to be negated.

A view of the Gaden Shartse Assembly Hall during the debate session attended by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Mundgod Karnataka, India on December 19, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

Students from the Perfection of Wisdom class, quoting Chapter 5 of the ‘Ornament of Sutras’ discussed what is meant by bodhisattvas pursuing the mind of enlightenment with wisdom. Others examined Buddha nature. Yet another group argued about the practice of exchanging self and others, raising the point that to hold others dearer than yourself, you first have to reflect on their kindness.

Students of logic took quotations from Shantarakshita’s ‘Compendium of Reality’ (Tattvasamgraha) and Dignaga’s ‘Compendium of Valid Cognition’ (Pramana-samuchhaya) as their starting points. On several occasions, wily arguments raised smiles in the audience.

Whereas the earlier debates involved a single challenger being answered by several respondents, the presentation ended with students from the preliminary classes studying ‘Science of Mind’ and ‘Collected Topics’ employing groups of challengers and respondents.

A group of challengers debating Buddhist philosophy at the Gaden Shartse Assembly Hall in Mundgod Karnataka, India on December 19, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

The concluding auspicious verse made the plea that the merit generated in these debates be dedicated to the preservation of the teachings of the Buddha and Jé Tsongkhapa’s doctrine, as well as to His Holiness’s long life.

“This kind of debate only takes place among Tibetans,” His Holiness reflected. “For the last several centuries teachers have taught students this approach, generation after generation, and found it a helpful way to investigate the nature of reality. It’s not a technique limited to discussing certain topics, but can be applied to many other fields of enquiry. You, here, have done your best and I’d like to thank the teachers and abbots who have trained you.

“The nearby nunnery of Jangchub Chöling has produced several Geshé-mas. I’ve visited it before, but it might be difficult to do so again this time. When Shantarakshita first established the Vinaya in Tibet, he was unable to bring any Bhikshunis with him, consequently we don’t have a lineage of Gelongmas. However, there is no difference in men and women’s ability to study.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the congregation during the debate session at the Gaden Shartse Assembly Hall in Mundgod Karnataka, India on December 19, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“These days the study of logic and the practice of debate is being pursued in schools, where the relevant teacher is now referred to not as a religious teacher but as a teacher of philosophy. I look forward to everyone, monks, nuns, lay-people young and old, being able to use reason and debate. The Three Seats of Learning have preserved this tradition so far, please keep it up.

“I remember I was on the top floor of Drepung Lachi when I announced that nuns should be encouraged to study and become Geshé-mas. Gyen Lobsang Nyima asked, ‘How could that be?’ I told him that since the Buddha had granted the Bhikshuni vow as well as the Bhikshu vow, it made sense that nuns too should study up to the level of Geshés.
“Nagarjuna wrote: ‘Desire, hatred and confusion arise completely from conceptualization.’ We misconceive things as existing the way they appear. Today, quantum physics says that nothing exists objectively as it appears. Destructive emotions arise because of our exaggerated outlook. But when we investigate without bias, we find that things do not exist the way they appear.”

Monks attending the debate session listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Gaden Shartse Assembly Hall in Mundgod Karnataka, India on December 19, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

His Holiness noted that some of the debates had dealt with the awakening mind of bodhichitta. He quoted verses in its praise by Shantideva.

If I do not actually exchange my happiness
For the sufferings of others,
I shall not attain the state of Buddhahood
And even in cyclic existence shall have no joy.

All the joy the world contains
Has come through wishing for others to be happy.
All the misery the world contains
Has come through wanting pleasure for oneself.

The Offering to the Spiritual Master (Lama Chöpa) also backs this up:

This chronic disease of self-centredness
Is the cause of unwanted suffering.
Perceiving this, may I be inspired to blame, begrudge
And destroy this monstrous demon of selfishness.

Caring for my mothers and seeking to secure them in bliss
Is the gateway to infinite virtue.
Seeing this, may I be inspired to hold them dearer than my life,
Even should they rise up as my enemies.

The kernel of all these verses is that acting out of concern for others is a primary source of happiness and well-being. His Holiness concluded by encouraging the monks to remember that it will only be through study and practice that the life of the Buddha’s teachings will be prolonged.

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Debates at Drepung Loseling and a Move to Ganden Shartsé https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/debates-at-drepung-loseling-and-a-move-to-ganden-shartsé Wed, 18 Dec 2019 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/debates-at-drepung-loseling-and-a-move-to-ganden-shartsé Mundgod, Karnataka, India - His Holiness the Dalai Lama came down to the Drepung Loseling Assembly Hall to listen to monks debating this morning. Students of the Madhyamaka class discussed dependent arising and assertions such as, ‘for those for whom emptiness is feasible, everything is feasible’. They asked, ‘When you say things are merely designated, what does merely mean?’

His Holiness the Dalai Lama watching student monks debating Buddhist philosophy at Drepung Loseling Assembly Hall in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 18, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

Students of the Perfection of Wisdom class discussed the implications of the Mind Only School assertions about ‘imprints left on the mind’ and the twelve links of dependent arising. They also explored questions such as how to prove that all sentient beings have Buddha nature. Students from the class of Valid Cognition sought to prove the existence of past and future lives and the relationship between cause and effect.

The auspicious words recited to conclude the session were drawn from a verse from the ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’, which states that bodhichitta ‘like the supreme substance of the alchemists, takes our impure flesh and makes of it the body of a Buddha, a jewel beyond all price’.

His Holiness told the students he had found their debates interesting. He recalled that Ling Rinpoché, a prominent Lama of Drepung Loseling and his Senior Tutor, was a master of sutra and tantra. He was rigorous in his insistence on the use of reason. Yesterday, His Holiness recalled an occasion when Ling Rinpoché was debating with Gönpasar Rinpoché during the Great Prayer Festival in Lhasa and his agile arguments left Gönpasar lost for words.

“Using our human intelligence to the full, we can bring about love and compassion in our minds. With our knowledge and experience of these qualities,” His Holiness remarked, “we can make a contribution to the welfare of the whole of humanity. We routinely pray for the happiness of all sentient beings, but in practical terms we are limited to really helping the 7 billion human beings on this earth with whom we can communicate. And we are able to do this because we have kept the Nalanda Tradition alive among us.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during the debate session at Drepung Loseling Assembly Hall in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 18, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“Some of you have just tried to prove the existence of past and future lives, but when it comes to basic human happiness, what’s important is finding peace of mind in day to day life. I mentioned yesterday that when I was asked how I slept, I replied that because of my meditation on bodhichitta, which is focussed on the attainment of enlightenment for all sentient beings, I sleep well. I’m not anxious; I have no fear. I have peace of mind, therefore I’m physically fit and I sleep well.

“Bodhichitta is also the best practice if you want to live a long life. It is the tree that gives relief to those who wander wearily the pathways of existence. It is the mighty sun that utterly dispels the misty ignorance of wandering beings, the creamy butter, rich and full, that's churned from the milk of the holy teaching.
“As Shantideva counsels,

And so, today, within the sight of all the protectors,
I summon beings, calling them to Buddhahood.
And, till that state is reached, to every earthly joy!
May gods and demigods and all the rest rejoice!

“I’ve spent three days at Gomang and three days at Loseling. Now I’m going to Ganden. In Lhasa, we used to say, ‘I’m going to Pawo Ritru’.”

Local people from the surrounding Tibetan settlement lining the road to catch a glimpse of His Holiness the Dalai Lama as he drives from Drepung Monastery to Gaden Monastery in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 18, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

Hundreds of monks, nuns and lay-people saw His Holiness off as he drove away from Drepung. More had gathered at Camp no. 3, where he stopped briefly to bless grain to be used in the consecration of two construction projects.

Arriving at Ganden Lachi he was welcomed by the Abbot of Ganden Shartsé Ven Jangchub Sangyé. Inside the Assembly Hall His Holiness paid his respects before the sacred images of the Buddha, Jé Tsongkhapa and so forth, as monks chanted the ‘Praise to the 17 Masters of Nalanda’. After briefly visiting the protector chapel he took a seat in front of the throne. Tea and sweet rice were served.

“I’d like to greet everyone here, Abbots, Tulkus and everyone else,” His Holiness told the gathering. “Ganden Monastery was founded by Jé Tsongkhapa himself, so it’s appropriate that we celebrate the 600th anniversary of his enlightenment and passing away on the day of Ganden Ngamchö.

“Coming into exile we were helpless in the beginning, but in due course we were able to re-establish the Three Seats of Learning, Tashi Lhunpo and so forth. We’ve done well to preserve the study and practice of the Dharma. As interest in Buddhism in general and Tsongkhapa’s teaching in particular has grown, we’ve been able to share them with others across the world, which is good.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama departing after the welcome ceremony at Gaden Lachi in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 18, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

His Holiness walked from Ganden Lachi to the Ganden Shartsé Assembly Hall and addressed the congregation gathered there.

“Today, I’ve come to Ganden Shartsé and we’ll be able to commemorate Jé Tsongkhapa’s anniversary here. During this short visit, I’ve been able to stay at Gomang and Loseling and now I’m going to stay at Shartsé and Jangtsé. I’ll go to Sera and Tashi Lhunpo Monasteries in March or April next year.

“There seem to be many patrons and supporters here. I’d like you to know that your kindness has been of great help to us. These monasteries have long kept alive the Nalanda Tradition through study, reflection and insight, as well as the practices of composition and debate.

“The Chinese also had a connection to Nalanda through Hsuan Xang, but they didn’t take up the study of logic and reason, which is also true of Korea, Japan and Vietnam. As predicted by the Buddha, explanations of philosophy and logic spread north first to Tibet and to Mongolia. The teachings Drogön Chögyal Phagpa had begun there were reinforced by the Third Dalai Lama, Sönam Gyatso.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the congregation during the welcome ceremony at Gaden Shartse Monastery in Mundgod, Karnataka, India on December 18, 2019. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

“Fifteen years or so ago, we reassessed the content of the Kangyur and Tengyur in terms of science, philosophy and religion. Because they are presented in a logical way, explanations of philosophy and psychology can be of benefit to others in a simply academic context. Anyone can use their mind to transform themselves. The Indian practice of non-violence—‘ahimsa’—has flourished for more than 3000 years and it is put it into effect on the basis of compassion—‘karuna’.

“In Buddhist practice we have a vast knowledge of the workings of the mind and emotions. We check the detrimental effects of anger and the advantages of love and compassion. This is because we all want happiness and happiness is founded on peace of mind. To share this idea with the rest of the world is very beneficial. We have a marvellous human intelligence. If we use it properly, we can really be of service to our human brothers and sisters.”

His Holiness retired for the day to his quarters on top of the Ganden Shartsé Assembly Hall.

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