Dalai Lama https://www.dalailama.com/ en-us Sat, 17 Apr 2021 06:30:34 +0000 Sat, 17 Apr 2021 06:30:34 +0000 Be the Love for One Better World https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/be-the-love-for-one-better-world Sun, 11 Apr 2021 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/be-the-love-for-one-better-world Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - This morning, Sofia Stril-Rever opened a conversation between His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamsala and guests of the French ‘Be the Love’ programme and the Canadian ‘One Better World Collective’. She observed that the key to a sustainable future is an altruistic mindset that values collaboration over competition and benefits people's well-being as a whole. She invited His Holiness to explain how, in the 21st century, cultivating altruistic love can enable us to heal our divisions and move realistically towards global peace, justice and happiness?

Sofia Stril-Rever opening a conversation between His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamsala and guests of the French ‘Be the Love’ programme and the Canadian ‘One Better World Collective’ on April 12, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Now, I’m 86 years old,” he began. “And in my lifetime, I’ve seen a great deal of bloodshed in a variety of wars. The result of such violence has just been suffering and more hatred. This is one of the reasons why I admire the European Union. Historically several of the nations that are among its members, especially the French and Germans, have regularly fought with each other down the centuries. However, after the end of the Second World War they realized that constantly viewing your neighbour as your enemy serves no good purpose. Think how many lives have been lost in this squabbling and how many have been saved in the peace of the last 70 years or so.

“Today, we have to think about the whole of humanity. It’s no longer enough just to think of your own nation or continent. The whole world has to be included. We need to acknowledge that we are all part of a global economy and we are all threatened by climate change and global warming.

“At a fundamental level, we are all the same as human beings. There may be minor differences of the colour of our skin, the shape of our eyes or the size of our noses—but when it comes to our emotions and our consciousness, we are the same.

“I am committed to promoting a broader awareness of the oneness of humanity. When I was still in Tibet, I admit that I only really thought about my fellow Tibetans. But after coming into exile in India, I’ve met people from many different places and made friends with them. I’ve realized that we are all the same in being human.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama delivering his opening remarks during his conversation with guests of the French ‘Be the Love’ programme and the Canadian ‘One Better World Collective’ on line from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 12, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“As I’ve already said, what’s important is that we think of the whole world. It’s realistic. We need to recall the oneness of humanity. Our differences of religion, race or nationality are secondary compared to what we have in common as human beings.

“Whether or not you are religious is a personal matter, but the fact remains that all our religious traditions carry a message of the importance of loving kindness. It’s because of this that religions can live together. So, I’m committed to encouraging inter-religious harmony.

“I urge all of you friends to join in trying to build a happier world and a happier humanity. Now, let’s have some questions.”

Ian Speirs of the One Better World Collective introducing the question and answer session with groups from among the guests of the French ‘Be the Love’ programme and the Canadian ‘One Better World Collective’ online from His Holiness the Dalai Lama's residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 12, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Ian Speirs of the One Better World Collective explained that there were six groups among the guests. Their members would introduce themselves and one of them would ask a question on behalf of the group.

Vivienne Harr, Raheen Fatima and Clover Hogan, members of the Young Activists Group introduced themselves. Clover asked, “When did you decide to make yourself personally responsible, and what brought it about?”

His Holiness replied that he is a religious person who has been trained from childhood to cultivate concern for all sentient beings. “In exile, meeting people from many different parts of the world, I realized that we are all the same as human beings—physically, mentally and emotionally. Despite this we confront widespread division which leads to conflict and violence. In the past it was natural for people to have a narrow perspective; their concern limited to their own country. Now, we have to think about the whole world. This is both realistic and of practical benefit.

Members of the Young Activist Group introducing themselves to His Holiness the Dalai Lama during their interaction online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 12, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Wherever I go, whoever I meet is just another human being. To think of other people only in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’ is out of date and a source of problems.”

For the second group, Michael Render wanted to know why so often fear prevails over love. His Holiness told him that narrow minded thinking is unrealistic. What’s much more important is to be concerned about the whole world.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama listening to Michael "Killer Mike" Render asking a question during their conversation organized by the French ‘Be the Love’ programme and the Canadian ‘One Better World Collective’ online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 12, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

For the next group, Béatrice Martin asked how we can achieve greater equality.

“We are all the same just as human beings,” His Holiness declared, “although there are small differences between men and women. When compared in terms of physical strength, women are generally not so strong. However, the Buddha, for example, granted equal rights to men and women. And as far as intelligence is concerned there’s no difference. Nor is there any difference between men’s and women’s brains. We need to exert greater efforts to achieve the equality of men and women, and when religious beliefs or traditional customs stand in the, it’s time for them to change. More broadly, men and women need each other and the need is equal.”

From the Women’s Influencers’ group, as she introduced herself, Mozhdah Jamalzadah told His Holiness how divided and exhausted Afghanistan, her homeland, has become. Stephanie Benedetto and Susan Rockefeller also introduced themselves and Rockefeller asked His Holiness how his teachings can help women to care for themselves, others and the Earth.

“My main interest,” he told them, “is to encourage people to cultivate warm-heartedness. As soon as we are born, our mothers take care of us. They feed us milk. Women are, by and large, more sensitive to others’ feelings. By nature, they seem more compassionate. Therefore, we need women to be more active. Sometimes I speculate that if we had more women leaders, the world would be a safer place. Look at Finland and New Zealand and the achievements of their women leaders.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering questions from guests of the French ‘Be the Love’ programme and the Canadian ‘One Better World Collective’ online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 12, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“We all have the same rights, but I think it’s time for women to take more responsibility in public life. We need them to be more involved in the promotion of compassion.”

For the fifth group, veteran singer and pacifist Buffy Sainte-Marie asked what steps we can take to compassionately confront misogyny.

“Through education,” His Holiness replied. “Thinking of women as of somehow less value or as inferior must change. In order to achieve a more peaceful world, women must be able to play their part.”

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Massey Whiteknife and Emmanuel Jal introduced themselves on behalf of the Peace Activists Group and Emmanuel, a refugee from Sudan, asked His Holiness how he overcame the trauma of going into exile. His Holiness replied that relations between Tibet and China are long-standing and go back at least to the seventh century when a Tibetan king married a Chinese princess. It’s the unfree, totalitarian system prevailing in China, he said, that is the problem. It extends even to the point that narrow-minded communist officials equate steps to preserve Tibetan language and culture with separatism and try to eliminate them.

“When I went to China in 1954, I was impressed by Mao’s and other communist leaders’ commitment to the welfare of ordinary working-class people. But later, the way they exercised power and brought violent oppression to Tibet created problems and we escaped.

“In the context of the oneness of humanity we all have to live together peacefully and humanely. We don’t dwell on differences between Chinese and Tibetans. We escaped because there was danger. I was met by old friends at the Indian border. Later, I met Pandit Nehru and he was very supportive. He helped us set up education for our children and re-establish centres of learning for monks and nuns.

“I’m a refugee, but I am also a guest of the Government of India. We’re happy to have been able to preserve our culture, which dates back to Shantarakshita’s introduction of Buddhism to Tibet in the eighth century. He established the Nalanda Tradition, a mode of training primarily dependent on reason and logic. As a result, we’ve been able to establish good working relations with scientists.

“If we had not become refugees, our outlook would have been more limited. As a refugee, I believe I’ve become more practical.”

Massey Whiteknife, a member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, asked whether teachings traditional to his people concerning love, respect, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility, and truth can heal humanity and the Earth.

Massey Whiteknife, a member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question during the discussion online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 12, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness replied that native peoples have generally lived more closely with nature. “Ultimately, as sentient beings, we depend on nature, so we must preserve our close relations with her. Sometimes we seem to think that technology will solve our problems and allow us to do whatever we like. But we’d be better to rely on the power of nature. For example, we need to curtail our burning of fossil fuels to generate energy and rely instead on wind farms and solar power.”

In answering Raheem Fatima’s question about whether he’d been a revolutionary when he was her age, His Holiness conceded to an early interest in science and technology. As a result of their conversations together Mao Zedong praised his scientific-mindedness. But when Mao looked him in the eye and declared that religion is the opium of the people, His Holiness concealed his shock. When he was in China, he learned to appreciate socialism, but socialism that allows for individual freedom rather than strict party control.

His Holiness told Stephanie Benedetto that he is able to laugh and remain joyful despite the world's suffering because as a Buddhist monk trained in the Nalanda Tradition, he cultivates altruism. As soon as he wakes up in the morning, he rekindles his sense of altruism and his understanding that everything is dependently arisen. This brings deep peace of mind.

In the normal run of things problems occur, but it is much more fruitful to approach them with a peaceful, happy mind. Feeling worried or demoralized isn’t of much use. Altruism helps. “I believe in the enthusiasm and sharing experience with other people.”

Buffy Sainte-Marie observed that it’s difficult to speed up the ripening of an apple, but wondered if it might be possible to speed up the ripening of a person. His Holiness repeated that human beings learn about kindness and compassion from their mothers. “Scientists say we are social animals. We have a natural concern for our own community. Warm-heartedness brings with it a sense of inner peace. It is an antidote to anger, jealousy and fear. If you persist in being angry, no one will want to be with you. But if you have peace of mind, friends will gather around you. This is common sense.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering a question from Veteran singer and pacifist Buffy Sainte-Marie online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 12, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Ian Speirs told His Holiness it had been an honour to be able to talk with him. Sofia Stril-Rever thanked His Holiness, his office and everyone who had contributed to organizing the online conversation.

“Your unfailing example of love in the service of humanity is a source of inspiration, courage and hope,” she added, “Please take care and stay well.”

“See you again,” His Holiness replied, “as human brothers and sisters we each have a responsibility to contribute to a happier humanity and a more peaceful world. Share this with your friends. Change comes step by step.”

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Condolences on the Passing Away of the Duke of Edinburgh https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/condolences-on-the-passing-away-of-the-duke-of-edinburgh Fri, 09 Apr 2021 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/condolences-on-the-passing-away-of-the-duke-of-edinburgh Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - Following the announcement of the death of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has written to express his condolences to both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles.

To the Queen he wrote: “I am sorry to learn the sad news that your husband, H.R.H. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh has passed away. I will pray for him and offer my condolences to Your Royal Highness and your family at this sad time.

“As we all remember him, we can rejoice that he lived a meaningful life.”

In his letter to Prince Charles he declared: “I have written to your mother, Her Majesty the Queen, offering my condolences at this sad time. As someone who counts you as a dear, respected friend, I would also like to offer my condolences to Your Royal Highness and your family.”

He repeated his appreciation that the Duke lived a full and meaningful life.

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The Four Noble Truths and the Two Truths https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/the-four-noble-truths-and-the-two-truths Tue, 06 Apr 2021 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/the-four-noble-truths-and-the-two-truths Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - This morning His Holiness the Dalai Lama saluted his online hosts, the Italian Buddhist Union, and took his seat. The session began immediately with a recitation of the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Italian. When that was complete, President of the Italian Buddhist Union, Filippo Scianna extended a welcome to His Holiness on behalf of the Union. that he explained includes members from a wide range of Buddhist traditions. Besides their interest in Buddhism, members provide humanitarian aid where it is needed and cultivate friendly relations with other religious traditions. He declared that His Holiness is their source of inspiration and requested him to teach.

President of the Italian Buddhist Union, Filippo Scianna extending a welcome to His Holiness the Dalai Lama on behalf of the Union at the start of the online teachings on April 7, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Today, you Italians have asked me to talk about the Four Noble Truths and the Two Truths,” His Holiness responded. “There are many different religious traditions in the world. They may differ from a philosophical point of view, but they share a common message about the importance of love and compassion. In India, the practice of ‘ahimsa’, non-violence or non-harm, and ‘karuna’, compassion, have flourished over the last 3000 years or so. What’s more, in India, all the world’s major religions live together peaceably side by side.

“Since better contact has been achieved between East and West, more and more people have taken an interest in Buddhist teachings belonging to both the Pali and Sanskrit Traditions.

“When Shantarakshita was invited to Tibet by King Trisong Detsen, he introduced the Nalanda Tradition. He was a great master of philosophy as well as logic and epistemology, as revealed in two books he wrote: ‘A Compendium of Reality’ (Tattvasamgraha) and the ‘Ornament of the Middle Way’ (Madhyamakalalamkara).

“Since the eighth century Tibetans have followed Madhyamaka or Middle Way philosophy through logic and reason. In so doing they took inspiration from the Buddha who counselled, “As the wise test gold by burning, cutting and rubbing it, so, bhikshus, should you accept my words—only after testing them—and not merely out of respect for me.” Because our tradition is based on logic and reason, today, even interested scientists can relate to it.

“The Four Noble Truths are the foundation of the Buddha’s teaching. However, immediately after his enlightenment he is reported to have said:

"Profound and peaceful, free from complexity, uncompounded luminosity—
I have found a nectar-like Dharma.
Yet if I were to teach it, no-one would understand,
So, I shall remain silent here in the forest.

“But when he encountered his five former companions, and they requested him to teach, the Four Noble Truths are what he taught them.

“According to the Sanskrit Tradition, the Buddha turned the wheel of dharma three times—three rounds of teaching. The first concerned the Four Noble Truths, which he disclosed in terms of nature, function and result. When he explained their nature, he declared that suffering is to be known, its origin is to be eliminated, and cessation is to be actualized by cultivating the path. And the origin to be eliminated was karma and mental afflictions, which, in addition to selflessness, were explained in greater detail in the second and third rounds of teachings.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to the virtual audience from Italy during his teachings requested by the Italian Buddhist Union from his residence in Dharamsala, HP,India on April 7, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“With regard to their result, the Buddha stated that suffering must be known and yet there is nothing to be known. Karma and mental afflictions are to be overcome, but there is nothing to be overcome.

"We can understand the words, 'profound and peaceful' in the verse I quoted above to refer to the first round of the Buddha's teachings and the Four Noble Truths. 'Free from complexity' indicates the perfection of wisdom of the second round. 'Uncompounded luminosity' relates to the content of the Buddha's third round of teachings, especially Buddha nature and the 'Tathagatagarbha-sutra'. During the second round he dealt with the object clear light, which refers to emptiness, while in the third round he alluded to the subjective clear light—the mind of clear light.

“Mental afflictions are distorted conceptions. Nagarjuna explained that the ignorance that is at their root refers to the misconception that things have true existence. His disciple Aryadeva pointed out that ‘as the tactile sense [pervades] the body, ignorance is present in all [mental afflictions]. By overcoming ignorance, you will also overcome all mental afflictions.’ He remarked that ignorance can be eliminated by understanding dependent arising.”

His Holiness acknowledged that it is because of Shantarakshita that Tibetans follow the Buddha’s teaching in reliance on logic and reason. He noted that this makes aspects of the Buddha’s teaching, particularly in relation to the workings of the mind, accessible to scientists. This is relevant because there is a growing understanding that talk about peace in the world will only be fulfilled when individuals have cultivated peace of mind within themselves.

A proper understanding of the Four Noble Truths depends on understanding the Two Truths. In this connection His Holiness referred to verses from Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’.

And just as from an empty thing like a reflection
a perception can arise that bears its form, 6.37

likewise, although all things are empty,
they do arise from emptiness in a robust way.
Since no intrinsic nature exists in either of the two truths,
phenomena are neither eternal nor annihilated. 6.38

Since actions do not cease in an intrinsic manner,
they remain potent even in the absence of a foundation consciousness.
Indeed, in some cases, the acts themselves may have long ceased,
yet their effects will come about without fail; this you should know. 6.39

What this indicates is that although the independent existence of things cannot be found under scrutiny, they do exist by way of convention or designation. An ignorant misconception of the true or intrinsic existence of things can be eliminated by understanding emptiness. When you understand that cessation can be achieved within yourself, you will be able to verify this truth from your own experience.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on the Four Noble Truths and the Two Truths during his online teaching requested by the Italian Buddhist Union from his residence in Dharamsala, HP,India on April 7, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness cited verses from the end of chapter six of ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ that shed light on conventional and ultimate truth, finally likening them to the wings on which the king of swans flies to the far shore. He encouraged his listeners to listen, reflect and develop experience of these truths within themselves.

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

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

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

His Holiness reiterated the importance of understanding the Buddha’s teaching in the light of reason and logic. He mentioned the popular saying that compares the Madhyamaka or Middle Way view and reason and logic to two lions yoked together at the neck. These two traditions were introduced by Shantarakshita and Tibetan masters like Chapa Chökyi Sengé (1109-69), the Abbot of Sangphu, later formalized the Tibetan mode of debate.

When answering questions from the virtual audience His Holiness touched on the Bön tradition that existed in Tibet prior to the arrival of the Jowo statue of Buddha Shakyamuni in Lhasa, brought by the Chinese princess who married King Songtsen Gampo. Later, Shantarakshita encouraged King Trisong Detsen to translate Indian Buddhist literature into Tibetan. Buddhism took root, but the Bön tradition survives today.

Although people in the West are showing interest in Buddhism these days, it’s important that the prevailing Judeo-Christian traditions continue to be accorded respect. His Holiness emphasized again that all religious traditions teach the importance of ethics and compassion.

A member of the virtual audience from Italy asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question during his teachings requested by the Italian Buddhist Union online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP,India on April 7, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness observed that the Buddha embraced the homeless life. Many of his followers did likewise. The foundation of their practice was the Vinaya and its precepts. He noted that if you can keep the vows, well and good, but it is not necessary to do so to be a warm-hearted person.

Regarding what the future of Buddhism may be over the next fifty years, His Holiness said it was difficult to say. The era of the previous Buddha, Kashyapa, came to an end. Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings presently continue to flourish. However, the threat that global heating poses simply to water supplies means the future is not guaranteed.

Asked about the arising of destructive emotions His Holiness explained that we develop attachment and aversion to things because they appear to exist solidly from their own side. When we realize that they actually depend on other factors and conditions and are not as they appear, we react to them differently.

Quantum physics also states that things do not exist as they appear, but it also seems to challenge their external existence. This is reminiscent of the Mind Only contention that objects and the subjective perceiving mind are of the same nature. This view may loosen the grip of mental afflictions, but it’s necessary to realize the Consequentialist view that things have no independent existence whatsoever—they are mere designations—to uproot ignorance.

His Holiness advised that suffering can be transformed into an aspect of the path, in particular to the practice of bodhichitta by wishing that through this suffering our negativities may be purified. He cited a verse from the Guru Puja:

Therefore, O venerable compassionate gurus,
Bless me that all the obstructions from misdeeds, and sufferings
Of mother beings ripen upon me right now,
And that I may give my happiness and virtues to others
In order that all sentient beings have bliss.

He stressed that another aspect of bodhichitta, humility, expressed as regarding yourself as inferior to others, is not a matter of being despondent. Since it is linked to the wish to lead beings from across the expanse of space to enlightenment it reflects great courage. As the practice of cherishing others is strengthened it gives rise to such courage, which in turn reinforces great compassion. When you have great compassion, you’ll have the fortitude to help others overcome their sufferings.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering questions from the virtual audience during his online teachings from his residence in Dharamsala, HP,India on April 7, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Invited to compare the nirvana of an Arhat the truth body of a Buddha, His Holiness clarified that whereas for an Arhat who has overcome mental afflictions, obscurations to knowledge remain, the Buddha has eliminated them all.

Asked to recommend verses that aid the understanding of emptiness, His Holiness cited one from Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’,

Through the elimination of karma and afflictive emotions there is liberation.
Karma and afflictive emotions come from conceptual thoughts.
These come from mental fabrication.
Fabrication ceases through emptiness,

He also mentioned several verses from chapter six of Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’,

If the intrinsic characteristics of things were to arise dependently,
things would come to be destroyed by denying it;
emptiness would then be a cause for the destruction of things.
But this is illogical, so no real entities exist. 6/34

Thus, when such phenomena are analyzed,
nothing is found as their nature apart from suchness.
So, the conventional truth of the everyday world
should not be subjected to thorough analysis. 6/35

In the context of suchness, certain reasoning disallows arising
from self or from something other, and that same reasoning
disallows them on the conventional level too.
So, by what means then is your arising established? 6/36

His Holiness disclosed that he regularly repeats these verses to himself and reflects that although things cannot be found under analysis, they do exist by way of convention and designation.

In her brief words of thanks, Giovanna Giorgetti expressed the wish that His Holiness will live long and the hope that he will visit Italy again in person.

His Holiness announced his intention to lead a ceremony for cultivating the awakening mind of bodhichitta. He guided the appropriate visualization of the Buddha and so forth and invited the audience to repeat the standard three verses after him.

Finally, he released the Italian translation of the first volume in the Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics series —The Physical World— and expressed his gratitude to the translator.

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Condolences over Taiwan Train Crash https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/condolences-over-taiwan-train-crash Sat, 03 Apr 2021 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/condolences-over-taiwan-train-crash Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - His Holiness the Dalai Lama has written to Ms. Tsai Ing-wen, President of Taiwan, to express his deep sadness on seeing reports of yesterday’s train crash near Hualien.

“I would like to offer my condolences to Your Excellency,” he wrote “and to those families who have lost loved ones as well as others affected by this most unfortunate accident.

“The Taiwanese people have long been close to my heart. When incidents like this occur, it is as if a calamity has befallen us all.”

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Morals & Ethics—Today & Tomorrow https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/morals-ethics-today-tomorrow Thu, 01 Apr 2021 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/morals-ethics-today-tomorrow Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - This morning Janis Martins Skuja of the Latvian Society for Tibet welcomed His Holiness the Dalai Lama to a webinar organised by a coalition of individuals and organizations from the Baltic States.

His Holiness responded,

“I have visited the Baltic States on several occasions. One of the reasons I visited Latvia more recently was to give teachings to Russian Buddhists. It happened that once, after I’d taught a group of Russians in Delhi, one of them told me that there were more people in Russia who’d like to attend, but who could not afford to come to India. I was moved. We looked into my giving teachings in Latvia, which was easier for Russians to reach. Latvians and their officials supported the idea and looked after me very well, for which I would like to express my deep appreciation.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to the virtual audience from the Baltic States online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 2, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel.

“Now, with regard to morals and ethics, according to various religious traditions, ethics spring from faith. However, we can also refer to secular ethics. These relate to the whole of humanity. All seven billion human beings alive today are essentially the same, and we have to live together.

“In the past we got caught up in war and violence. We spent time, effort and money on developing weapons—most unfortunate. And yet we are social animals. Scientists point out that we depend on the community in which we live and have a natural concern for the members of that community. They are the source of our happiness.

“Sometimes our sense of concern for the wider community has declined and we have focussed on a narrower group in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’. This has led us to fight and kill each other. But today there are no grounds for thoughts of ‘us’ and ‘them’. All seven billion of us not only have to live together, we have to help each other. From this point of view ethics involves taking care of the whole of humanity here and now. It’s not about God or the Buddha, it means regarding all human beings as our brothers and sisters. It’s about cultivating warm-heartedness.

“These days, in addition to our general problems, we have to contend with threats like global heating that affect us all. In such circumstances it’s important that we learn to live happily and peaceably together. We have no need, for example, to develop yet more sophisticated or more powerful weapons. We need to live in peace, conscious of the oneness of humanity.

“And I believe the people of the Baltic States, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, have great potential to promote a widespread recognition of human brotherhood and sisterhood. When I was a child I learned about the outside world from illustrated books and magazines and I was aware of how a larger nation had exploited the Baltic States. Things changed and eventually I was able to visit.

 Members of organizations from the Baltic States listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 2, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel.

“What I want to stress is that ethics rooted in a sense of the oneness of humanity are a source of happiness. War is out of date. Weapons too are out of date and a waste of money and resources. I also have a feeling that smaller countries may have greater opportunities than larger ones to contribute to actual peace in the world.”

In answering questions from the audience in all three Baltic States His Holiness expressed concern for his brothers and sisters who have suffered in a multitude of ways during the Covid-19 pandemic. He voiced great admiration for the way doctors and nurses have looked after those in their care. He mentioned that as a Buddhist monk he prays every day that the ill will recover and that the pandemic will recede. He addresses his prayers especially to the goddess Tara and recites her mantra.

Asked how people can learn to transform themselves, His Holiness observed that human beings have particularly agile brains. We must, he suggested, no longer use them to dwell on divisions into ‘us’ and ‘them’. We must ensure that education talks more about basic human values—cultivating a concern for humanity as a whole.

“Modern education has largely material goals, but we can usefully learn from ancient Indian knowledge of the workings of the mind and emotions. Included in this understanding are non-violence and compassion, both of which we could fruitfully incorporate into our present education system.

“Many scientists today are examining mental health and taking an interest in methods for achieving peace of mind. Part of this involves emotional hygiene, a mental correlate of the physical hygiene with which we protect our health. It involves learning to tackle destructive emotions like anger and fear. It further entails nurturing constructive emotions like kindness and compassion.”

Davis Stalts, former MP and Riga City Council member in Latvia asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question during his talk on Morals and Ethics - Today and Tomorrow, online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 2, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel.

His Holiness observed that in the past many places were dominated by a military presence. However, today, as meaningful democracy continues to grow and with it genuine social concern, things are improving. Many members of the public wish to reduce the gap between rich and poor. Individuals are increasingly taking responsibility for the well-being of all.

People look to their own feelings and experiences to decide when to act rather than waiting for others to give orders or instructions. Feelings are part of the mind. Ancient Indian knowledge, as preserved in the Nalanda Tradition, provides detailed explanations of the workings of the mind and emotions. It is reproduced in several good books that can we can study to learn how to become more peaceful, calm-minded individuals.

His Holiness alluded to the tremendous growth in sources of information available today to everyone with a smart phone. He cautioned against being misled by distorted reports and the dangers of irresponsible free speech. He advised that as people become better educated and more discerning, those who peddle distorted information will be revealed and disgraced. Even great nations, he noted, can be seen to lie.

Whether we like it or not, he said, because we have to live together on this one planet, we need to realize that such differences as faith, colour or race are secondary when compared to the fact that we are all human beings. Because of this basic equality we have to reduce and eliminate the gap between rich and poor. We need society to be based on moral principles.

“I’m optimistic,” His Holiness remarked, “that things are changing for the better.”

Questioned about the place of Christianity and Buddhism in the 21st century, His Holiness discouraged too much reliance on old ways of thinking. He remarked that when he teaches Buddhism these days, he doesn’t just repeat what’s been said in the past. He commended taking a more scientific view in the light of reason. This doesn’t affect the core message of loving-kindness. For Christians, God, like a compassionate father, is the creator, making his children, all human beings, brothers and sisters.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering questions from the virtual audience of members of organizations from the Baltic States from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 2, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel.

His Holiness mentioned that in his view the Tibetan tradition still includes too much meaningless ritual. He reiterated that however much their philosophical views may diverge, the central message of all religious traditions is the importance of loving-kindness. Where there is loving-kindness, forgiveness naturally follows. Being kind-hearted makes for happy individuals, happy families and happy communities. And training in kind-heartedness can be incorporated into general education.

His Holiness told someone who wanted to know how to confront challenges and difficulties that he followed the advice of an Indian master from the past. He recommended analysing the problem to discover if it can be resolved. If there’s a solution, that’s the course to follow. If there’s no solution and the problem cannot be overcome, the best thing is to let it be and accept the situation as it is.

In answering a question about the true purpose of life, His Holiness declared that a key factor is finding peace of mind, which contributes to happiness and good health. It’s important to recognize that emotions like anger and fear destroy peace of mind, whereas compassion and concern for others reinforce it. Therefore, it’s worth discovering how to tackle anger and how increase altruism. We need to use our intelligence. A source of guidance may be preserved in religious texts, but the advice it contains can be applied in an objective, secular manner.

Uldis Budrikis, a Latvian MP and Chairman of the Group for the Support of Tibet in the Latvian Parliament thanked His Holiness for his message of hope and tranquillity. On behalf of the Latvian Society for Tibet he told His Holiness that he has many friends in Latvia and the Baltic states who understand the struggle of the Tibetan people and how they have been deprived of freedom. He expressed support for the opening of dialogue to ensure true autonomy for Tibet. He thanked His Holiness for ringing the bell of peace and for his efforts to make the world a better place.

Uldis Budrikis, a Latvian MP and Chairman of the Group for the Support of Tibet in the Latvian Parliament thanking His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the conclusion of his online talk on Morals and Ethics - Today and Tomorrow from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 2, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel.

In his response, His Holiness explained,

“Although I have retired from any political responsibility, I remain committed to the preservation of Tibetan culture, which is a Buddhist culture. In the seventh century, the Tibetan emperor, despite close links with the Chinese emperor, chose to design a Tibetan form of writing modelled not on Chinese characters, but on the Indian Devanagari alphabet. A century later, the then Tibetan ruler invited a great philosopher and logician, Shantarakshita, from India to introduce Buddhism to Tibet. He instigated the translation of Buddhist literature, the Buddha’s actual teachings as well as the treatises of Indian masters who came after him, into Tibetan. This is the basis of the tradition that we continue to keep alive.

“The Tibetan Buddhist tradition is unique in the importance it places on the use of reason. It is a comprehensive tradition. It encompasses basic human values.

“I am also committed to preserving Tibetan ecology. Since the Tibetan plateau is the source of the major rivers of Asia, providing water for millions, preservation of Tibet’s natural environment, including its forests, is crucial.

“Since 1974 we Tibetans have not sought independence, but have expressed a willingness to remain with the People’s Republic of China. It can provide funds for development, while we can offer them Buddhist teachings. However, we must enjoy meaningful autonomy. I believe that eventually tight authoritarian control will crumble, but Buddhism will survive.

“I appreciate your friendship and support—thank you.”

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Congratulating the President of India on Successful Surgery https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/his-holiness-wishes-president-of-india-ram-nath-kovind-a-swift-recovery Wed, 31 Mar 2021 08:52:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/his-holiness-wishes-president-of-india-ram-nath-kovind-a-swift-recovery Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote to the President of India, H.E. Ram Nath Kovind today to express his pleasure that the bypass surgery His Excellency recently underwent had been a success.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama with the President of India Ram Nath Kovind (then the Governor of Bihar) in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 9, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“I pray for your speedy recovery,” he wrote. Adding, “I feel privileged to have known you for many years and count you as an old friend

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Our World in a Time of Change https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/our-world-in-a-time-of-change Sun, 28 Mar 2021 23:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/our-world-in-a-time-of-change Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived smiling broadly this morning. He scanned the faces of students in Russia, laughed, waved and sat down.

Prof Nikolai Yankovski, Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, introduced himself and explained that he would be moderating today’s conversation instead of Prof Tatiana Chernigovskaya, Director of Institute for Cognitive Research, St. Petersburg State University, who had lost her voice. He clarified that the main participants in today’s meeting were students at Russian universities. He hoped the experience would be as significant for them as meeting His Holiness had been for him.

Prof Nikolai Yankovski, Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, introducing the program with students from Russian universities and His Holiness the Dalai Lama from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 29, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness opened his talk with the observation that we are all the same as human beings.

“We all want to live a happy life. We don’t want suffering. Like other animals, even those as small as insects, we want to lead an undisturbed happy life. What makes a difference is that human beings are intelligent and we try to use our intelligence to find happiness. But sometimes we are short-sighted and narrow-minded about it. In the past, for example, we Tibetans would pray for the welfare of all sentient beings, but in fact we were really only concerned with Tibetans. I expect it was the same for you Russians too.

‘The twentieth century saw two world wars. We used our human intelligence and scientific knowledge for military purposes. We developed ever more destructive weapons including nuclear bombs and missiles armed with nuclear warheads. We only thought of ourselves. Now, we have to think of the whole of humanity, not just this or that nation. Since we all have to live together on this one planet, there’s no room for fighting on the basis of a division into ‘us’ and ‘them’—that’s an old way of thinking.

“When it comes to building a happier world, we have to see cultural and linguistic differences between us as secondary. We need to take the whole of humanity into account. Previously, because we only thought in narrow terms, we stumbled into war with all the misery it entailed.

“Russia is a great nation with great potential to contribute to a happier world. I’m happy to have this opportunity today to talk to you students and to take your questions.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on "Our World in a Time of Change" to students from Russian universities online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 29, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

A student at Kalmyk State University explained that he and his friends had volunteered to help those in need during the pandemic. He asked if they should risk their lives out of compassion. His Holiness replied that if you truly practise compassion, you are primarily concerned with others rather than yourself.

“I greatly admire those who have helped people who were sick or alone, despite the risk to themselves. Active concern for others, even sacrificing your own life, is an expression of real compassion. Those of us who follow Indian spiritual traditions, such as Buddhism, believe that we live life after life. If you give up your life for the sake of someone else, you can be confident of a good life in the future. This echoes the Christian, Muslim and Jewish belief that if you sacrifice yourself for others, God will take care of you.”

His Holiness told a student from Buryat State University that faith should be combined with wisdom. This means examining the teaching in the light of reason. It is said that people with limited education rely on blind faith. Those more able to exercise their intelligence rely on reason.

Asked by a student from St Petersburg State University whether there is anything that is beautiful for everyone, His Holiness responded,

“Warm-heartedness. Even animals appreciate it. If you are motivated by loving kindness, it will be reflected in the happy expression on your face. Real beauty is inner beauty.”

A student from the Tuvan State University wanted to know if there is any conflict between pursuing technological development and spirituality.

“Technology is created and used by human beings,” His Holiness pointed out. “If it is employed judiciously with a sense of altruism, the result will be good. A computer has no emotional response of its own. The effect it may have in any given situation very much depends on the person who uses it. If the person who uses it today is generous and kind, the effect is likely to be positive. But if the same piece of equipment is used tomorrow by someone who is angry and spiteful, the result is more likely to be detrimental.

“We human beings are compassionate by nature. From birth we are sheltered by our mother’s love. We depend on others for our very survival. Scientists observe that because we are social animals, we are naturally concerned about our own community and yet modern education concentrates on external things. If we were to cultivate a sense of emotional hygiene, the way we observe physical hygiene to preserve our health, we’d learn to tackle our destructive emotions and nurture a sense of altruism.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama listening to a question from a student during his talk on "Our World in a Time of Change" online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 29, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

A young woman from Moscow State University wondered how humanity would be if everyone became enlightened. His Holiness clarified that Buddhahood is a state in which the mind has been completely purified of negative emotions. The nature of the mind is clear light and compassion, whereas destructive emotions are rooted in ignorance. However, it is because negative emotions have no sound basis that they can be eliminated and the clear light nature of the mind can be revealed.

His Holiness stated that this was the practice of great masters of the past and is a practice he himself has followed. It’s because the nature of the mind is clear light that we can reduce and eliminate ignorance. This makes us masters of our own destiny.

Another Buryat student enquired why more women than men seemed to be interested in the spiritual life. His Holiness conceded that he’s noticed that in the West, for example, there are more Christian nuns than monks. He speculated that women may be more aware of how dependent we all are on each other. He declared that the Buddha had given the same opportunities to men and to women inasmuch as both could receive monastic ordination.

A young woman from Moscow was interested to know how Buddhism had been affected by greater interaction with other cultures and systems of knowledge in recent times. His Holiness told her that at the time of the Buddha, followers of what later became the Pali Tradition did not scrutinize what he had taught. Later, the masters of the Nalanda Tradition employed reason extensively. Those like Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti had very sharp, independent minds. Chandrakirti taught that nothing exists by itself; things only exist by way of designation, which is a very subtle interpretation of the Middle Way. Other great scholars were unable to accept this because of fear of the notion that nothing exists the way it appears.

His Holiness emphasized that because wisdom is the antidote to ignorance, investigating different ways of thinking in the light of reason is immensely important. This approach, typical of the Nalanda Tradition, is what has enabled His Holiness and thousands of scholars from the monastic centres of learning in South India to engage fruitfully with modern scientists.

After a year in which students have related to their teachers and studied online and His Holiness himself has taught regularly online, he told a young Kalmyk woman that when it is possible, direct personal communication has its own benefits. However, no Buddhist alive today has met the Buddha. What he taught has been preserved in Tibetan in the 100 volumes that record his words, the 220 volumes of subsequent Indian treatises and the 10,000 works by Tibetan scholars and the minds of those who read them. It’s a living tradition.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering questions from the audience during his interaction with Russian university students online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 29, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness assured a St Petersburg student that from a Buddhist point of view everything depends on us. This galaxy arises because of our karma. If we train our minds, cultivating altruism and wisdom we can put an end to the cycle of existence. Mind has no beginning or end. So long as it is shrouded in ignorance, we remain sentient beings. But once ignorance has been eliminated our mind becomes the mind of a Buddha.

However, His Holiness rejects giving in to difficulties that may arise because they are ‘the result of our karma’. He stressed that there are few situations that cannot be changed and that negative karma can be countered by creating positive karma. His Holiness explained that faced with circumstances beyond our control it’s good to be patient, but it is not appropriate to be patient with the suffering in general. Since we each have Buddha nature, it’s much better to try to fulfil it by overcoming ignorance and suffering.

With regard to relations between science and Buddhism, His Holiness remarked that when he was in Tibet, he had virtually no contact with scientists, although as a child he was naturally curious. In India and elsewhere he has been able to meet with scientists and engage in discussions with them. Subsequently, the study of science has been included in the curriculum of the monastic centres of learning. Monks and nuns have learned about the physical world. Scientists have learned about the workings of the mind and emotions, as well as ways to cultivate and preserve peace of mind. His Holiness outlined the varying subtlety of different states of mind.

As to how to maintain peace mind when there is so much trouble in the world, His Holiness cited the example of problems that arise because of global heating. Many of them, such as hurricanes and wild-fires, are beyond our control. However, by cutting our use of fossil fuels and turning instead to renewable sources of energy, such us solar and wind power, we can curtail the carbon emissions that are at the root of the problem.

The moderator, Prof Nikolai Yankovski thanked His Holiness for his helpful answers. He told him it had been a great pleasure to be in touch with him.

In his final advice, His Holiness noted that some Russian republics have traditionally been Buddhist. “People who haven’t had the opportunity to study, who only engage in saying prayers and performing rituals shouldn’t be content with that. Study as much as you can. Compare what you learn with science. Bring the Nalanda Tradition alive. Thank you and see you again.”

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Three Principal Aspects of the Path https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/three-principal-aspects-of-the-path Sat, 13 Mar 2021 15:59:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/three-principal-aspects-of-the-path Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - Once the formalities of reciting the ‘Heart Sutra’ and offering the mandala were complete this morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama began to speak.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to the virtual audience in Mongolia on the final day of online teachings from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 13, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Today, this webcast is intended primarily for those of you in the great nation of Mongolia. The text I’m going to teach is the ‘Three Principal Aspects of the Path’ which is included among Jé Tsongkhapa’s miscellaneous writings. It was written in response to a request from one of his close disciples Tsakho Önpo Ngawang Drakpa who was in Gyalmorong, Eastern Tibet.

“Jé Rinpoché promised him that if he followed his instructions well, when he, Tsongkhapa, became a Buddha, he would share the first nectar of his teaching with him. In the final verse of the text the reference to ‘my son’, can be taken to include all of us too.

“I was born in the same region as Jé Rinpoché and as well as the physical proximity, I feel close to him in spirit too. We should practise as he advised Ngawang Drakpa, remembering that the Buddhas do not wash away unwholesome deeds with water, nor do they remove the sufferings of beings with their hands, neither do they transplant their own realization into others. It’s by teaching the truth of suchness that they liberate beings.

“As it is also said, ‘You are your own master’. We need to learn and practise accordingly, developing single-pointed concentration and applying it in analytical meditation.

“Jé Rinpoché’s writings fill eighteen volumes. We should read them, reflect on what they say and meditate on what we’ve understood. His sources were Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti, whose ‘Entering into the Middle Way’, with its auto-commentary I keep close by and read whenever I have time. As far as the awakening mind of bodhichitta is concerned I rely on Shantideva’s marvellous 'Entering into the Way of a Bodhisattva'.

“In order to help other beings, we need to attain the Buddha’s form body which entails eliminating all defilements and accumulating a powerful collection of merit.

“As soon as I wake in the morning, I cultivate bodhichitta and recite verses from ‘Entering into the Middle Way’. The late Kyörpön Rinpoché said that if you read Tsongkhapa’s five books on the Middle Way: 'Ocean of Reasoning'; 'Elucidation of the Thought'; the ‘Great Exposition of Special Insight’; the ‘Medium Exposition of Special Insight’ and 'Essence of Eloquence', you will gain insight into emptiness. But, it’s not just a matter of reading them once. You need to read them again and again. Doing so will yield conviction.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the virtual audience on the final day of online teaching requested by Mongolians online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 13, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“My own reflections on the Middle Way and bodhichitta are not just an intellectual exercise, they bring me peace of mind. I feel I’m being true to Jé Rinpoché’s exhortation to practise sincerely.”

His Holiness began his reading of the text by clarifying that the three principal aspects of the path are the determination to be free, the awakening mind of bodhichitta and the correct view of emptiness. The text opens with homage to the teachers and a humble promise to ‘explain as well as I am able the essence of all the teachings of the Conqueror’. Receptive disciples are urged to listen to the teaching.

Without a pure determination to be free there is no way to still attraction to the pleasures of cyclic existence, the whole of which is a function of karma and mental afflictions. They are rooted in ignorance. Therefore, it’s necessary to seek a determination to be free. ‘There is no time to waste’ touches on impermanence. Change moment by moment is subtle impermanence; death is its coarse aspect.

His Holiness indicated that verses three, four and five outline the reason for generating a determination to be free, how to cultivate it and the measure of having done so. Next is the need to develop the awakening mind of bodhichitta without which we won’t achieve the omniscience of Buddhahood.

Verse seven outlines the way to do this by reflecting on how sentient beings are swept by the current of the four powerful rivers—birth, aging, sickness and death. They are tied by strong bonds of actions, so hard to undo. They are caught in the iron net of self-centredness—completely enveloped by the darkness of ignorance.

All beings, your mothers, are born and reborn in boundless cyclic existence, ceaselessly tormented by the three miseries. Thinking of them, generate the awakening mind.

Although verses seven and eight were intended to show how to cultivate bodhichitta, His Holiness also likes to change their focus from all mother sentient beings to himself as a means to strengthen his determination to be free.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama reading from Tsongkhapa's 'Three Principal Aspects of the Path' during his online teaching from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 13, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

He pointed out that there are two approaches for developing the awakening mind: the seven-point cause and effect instruction and the method of exchanging yourself with others. He was clear that the latter approach is more powerful and quoted what Shantideva has to say.

For those who fail to exchange their own happiness for the suffering of others, Buddhahood is certainly impossible—how could there even be happiness in cyclic existence? 8/131

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

The key to verse nine, since, even though you may practise the determination to be free and the awakening mind, without wisdom, the realization of emptiness, you cannot cut the root of cyclic existence, is to strive to understand dependent arising.

“As Aryadeva observed in his ‘400 Verses’,” His Holiness declared, “ignorance of reality permeates all mental afflictions just as a sense of tactility pervades the body. By destroying ignorance, the mental afflictions are eliminated. Things appear as if they have some existence from their own side. We don’t see self as something merely designated. There are philosophical schools who posit consciousness as the person. From among the psycho-physical aggregates they pick one thing to be the person. Consequentialists (Prasangikas) do not accept this.”

His Holiness cited three verses from the sixth chapter of Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ which outline the logical absurdities that ensue when objective existence is asserted.

If the intrinsic characteristics of things were to arise dependently,
things would come to be destroyed by denying it;
emptiness would then be a cause for the destruction of things.
But this is illogical, so no real entities exist. 6/34

Thus, when such phenomena are analysed,
nothing is found as their nature apart from suchness.
So, the conventional truth of the everyday world
should not be subjected to thorough analysis. 6/35

In the context of suchness, certain reasoning disallows arising
from self or from something other, and that same reasoning
disallows them on the conventional level too.
So, by what means then is your arising established? 6/36

If things could be pinpointed as this or that, a noble being’s mind absorbed in emptiness would find nothing whatever exists. There would be no objective existence whatsoever. Then that mind would be a destroyer of entities. Moreover, the conventional reality of things would withstand the probing of an analytical or reasoning mind. When you do critical analysis of how things exist, you’ll not find any true identity that you can point at. Therefore, you conclude that things exist merely by designation.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama commenting on Tsongkhapa's 'Three Principal Aspects of the Path' during his online teaching from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 13, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

If you actually assert the objective existence of things, the absolute production of things cannot be denied. In addition to these points, in the auto-commentary to ‘Entering into the Middle Way’, Chandrakirti quotes from the sutras and states that in the face of an assertion of the objective existence of things, the Buddha’s declaration that phenomena lack self-existence would not hold true. He also states that if you apply the seven-fold analysis, nothing can be found and yet things still exist conventionally.

Jé Rinpoché writes ‘strive to understand dependent arising.’ Choné Lama Rinpoché, in his versified commentary to Tsongkhapa’s ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising’, wrote ‘Dependence does not deny suchness; arising does not deny worldly convention.’ The Buddha taught dependent arising and the two truths. Things appear to exist, which is conventional reality. Ultimate reality is how they exist. Dependent arising is like the king of reasons.

Someone who sees the infallible cause and effect of all phenomena in cyclic existence and peace, and destroys all false perceptions, has entered the path which pleases the Buddha. Appearances are infallible dependent arising; emptiness is free of assertions. As long as these two understandings are seen as separate, you have not yet realized the intent of the Buddha. When these two realizations are simultaneous and concurrent, from a mere sight of infallible dependent arising comes certain knowledge which completely destroys all modes of mental grasping. At that time the analysis of the profound view is complete.

Emptiness does not mean there’s nothing there. Things and beings are empty of how they appear to us. Because they are dependent, things have no independent existence. When we don’t analyse them, things exist, but only by way of convention.

“Jé Rinpoché’s final advice to Ngawang Drakpa, ‘Son, depend on solitude and strong effort, and quickly reach the final goal’, can apply to us too. When you are reciting the verses of the Hundred Deities of the Joyous Land, imagine that he says these words to you. The text concludes, ‘This advice was given by the monk Lobsang Drakpai Pal to Ngawang Drakpa from Tsakho.’

“Monks and nuns, my Mongolian Dharma friends among them, are studying well in the great monastic centres of learning. In Tibet, as well as in South India, students are studying sincerely. Remember that the purpose of study is to integrate the teaching within you in order that you become a better person.

“If those of you in Outer Mongolia have the opportunity to help those in Inner Mongolia and so forth, please do so. This is one of the places where the Buddhadharma had spread before, but has declined. I have a connection with Inner Mongolia because one of my debate partners, Ngodup Tsognyi was from there. He coached me in debate. My admiration for and interest in the Middle Way was kindled by him. He told me, ‘Your Senior Tutor is a great scholar and master of philosophical treatises, Your Junior Tutor is an expert in the ‘Stages of the Path’ literature. You should integrate both traditions within you.’

“Those of you who are members of the three Great Seats of Learning have been studying well. I urge you to continue to do so. Despite great hardship, we have kept our traditions alive for more than a thousand years. This Nalanda Tradition we have preserved is like the very core of our culture and identity. The same can be said about Mongolia. These days, scientists are showing interest in what we know. We shouldn’t feel we’ve somehow been left behind. People talk about peace in the world, but we won’t achieve it without first attaining peace of mind. Please continue to do your best.”

While answering questions from the audience, His Holiness explained that prayer, chanting, prostration and circumambulation, as well as the construction of stupas, are all ways to purify defilements and gather merit. In the long run they will contribute to the attainment of enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. In the meantime, he said, it’s good to try to do them within the framework of the three principal aspects of the path.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering questions from the virtual audience in Mongolia on the final day of online teachings from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 13, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

He agreed that the Buddha’s teaching can certainly have a positive impact on family life and the upbringing of children. He pointed out that, from a practical point of view, Shantideva’s ‘Entering into the Way of a Bodhisattva’ is easy to read. Chapters six and eight in particular contain advice that children may heed about not getting angry but behaving with kindness. As Shantideva says:

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

His Holiness conceded that in the past peoples were ruled by kings and queens. There were distinctions of class, caste and social status. These days, increasingly, democracy prevails. When people are equal there’s more opportunity to be concerned for the welfare of others.

As brief prayers were being said for His Holiness’s long life, he remembered that he wanted to conduct a ceremony for generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta. He encouraged the audience to imagine the Buddha in front of them surrounded by Indian, Tibetan and Mongolian masters and to think of him as the Buddha’s messenger. He then led the congregation in reciting the following verses three times.

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

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

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

The ceremony concluded with celebratory verses from ‘Entering into the Way of a Bodhisattva’.

Young Mongolians from the Bayankhongor region performing a musical rendition of Om mani padme hum to the accompaniment of traditional instruments at the conclusion of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's online teaching from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 13, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

A group of young Mongolians from the Bayankhongor region performed a musical rendition of Om mani padme hum to the accompaniment of traditional instruments.

N Tuvshintur, head of an NGO called Lamiin Gegeen Mongol Sunchoi thanked His Holiness for the teaching he had graciously given. He also thanked staff of Gandantegchenling, the Central Monastery of Mongolian Buddhism, and everyone else who had contributed to organizing the event. He ended with the following auspicious verse:

May Your Holiness the Dalai Lama
Remain with us for a hundred aeons
Blessing the people of Mongolia
And may you visit us again and again.

His Holiness expressed thanks in return and waved as the series of teachings came to an end.

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Praise for Seventeen Nalanda Masters https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/praise-for-seventeen-nalanda-masters Fri, 12 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/praise-for-seventeen-nalanda-masters Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - As soon as His Holiness the Dalai Lama appeared this morning, monks in Mongolia began to chant the ‘Heart Sutra’, which was followed by a mandala offering presented before a portrait of His Holiness on the throne in Gandantegchenling Monastery.

The Khamba Lama paying homage to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and offering greetings to him on behalf of the monastery and all the monks and nuns of Mongolia at the start of the first day of online teachings from His Holiness's residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 12, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

In introductory remarks, the Khamba Lama paid homage to His Holiness and offered greetings to him on behalf of the monastery and all the monks and nuns of Mongolia. He observed that Jé Tsongkhapa’s tradition has flourished in Mongolia from the time of Sonam Gyatso, the Third Dalai Lama. The Khamba Lama noted that right from His Holiness’s first visit to Mongolia in 1979 he has encouraged the revival of the Dharma there. The elderly surviving monks were very touched by his concern.

Subsequently, Mongolian monks have been able to go to India to study and some have earned Geshé Lharampa degrees and gone on to complete their tantric studies too. The Nalanda Tradition has been revived in Mongolia, for which the Khamba Lama expressed gratitude. He ended by requesting His Holiness to live long and to continue to turn the wheel of Dharma.

His Holiness began his teaching by reciting the verse of salutation from the end of 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 (distorted) views.

“There’s a verse from the Hundreds of Deities of the Joyous Land— (Ganden Lha gya ma) that we all recite that indicates that however learned you may be, it’s a mistake to use your learning for gain and fame. We must not mix our practice with the eight worldly concerns. The Buddha abandoned them completely when he embarked on path to enlightenment.

“Likewise, Jé Tsongkhapa studied in different monasteries and sat for exams without any thought of the eight worldly concerns. He went into retreat at Wölkha simply to practise. Then at Lhading he engaged in meditation on emptiness. While there he had a vision or dream of Nagarjuna with his five principal disciples. From among them he dreamt that Buddhapalita stepped forward and touched the treatise that bears his name to Jé Rinpoché’s head. Next day, while reading that book, Jé Rinpoché realized dependent arising, that things are devoid of independent existence. He gained a clear realization of emptiness. All his doubts were dispelled.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on the first day of his online teachings requested by Mongolians from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 12, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“If you read the five treatises he wrote on the subject: 'Ocean of Reasoning'; 'Elucidation of the Thought'; the Special Insight Section of the 'Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path'; the Special Insight Section of the 'Medium Length Treatise on the Stages of the Path' and 'Essence of Eloquence', you’ll see how well Tsongkhapa understood the Middle Way.”

His Holiness cited three verses from chapter six of Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ that mention the four logical absurdities that ensue if it is asserted that things and beings exist inherently. They are that a noble being's mind, totally absorbed in emptiness, would be a destroyer of entities; that conventional truth would withstand the analysis of a reasoning mind; that the absolute production of things could not be denied, and that the Buddha's statement ‘phenomena lack self-existence’ would not hold true.

His Holiness repeats these lines to himself and reflects on them daily.

He remarked that Jé Rinpoché states in his ‘Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path’ that the four noble truths are the foundation of both the basic vehicle and the great vehicle. These truths form the framework for all that the Buddha taught.

His Holiness announced that he would read ‘Illuminating the Threefold Faith: An Invocation of the Seventeen Great Scholar-Adepts of Glorious Nalanda’ but would start with the colophon to provide an historical background for the invocations. The sentence that begins: ‘Therefore, in analysing his teachings closely, with an unbiased and inquisitive mind...’ prompted His Holiness to note that unbiased is also mentioned in lines from Aryadeva’s ‘400':

An unbiased, intelligent and interested
Listener is called a vessel.

He clarified that if you are unbiased, you’ll see what is beneficial, if you can’t differentiate between teachings that are right and those that are wrong, you’ll need to be intelligent. In addition to this you’ll need to be interested, to have an aspiration to pursue the path. It’s necessary to analyse the teachings with an unbiased, unprejudiced and inquisitive mind.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the virtual audience on the first day of his online teachings requested by Mongolians from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 12, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness mentioned that among the ‘aspiring Dharma friends who encouraged him’ to compose these invocations was Kyabjé Trulshik Rinpoché.

The first verse offers praise to the Buddha for giving the teaching. In his ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising’ Jé Tsongkhapa writes:

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

Due to the kindness of my lamas,
I have met the teachings of the greatest of teachers.

There are specific antidotes to particular mental afflictions, but His Holiness quoted Aryadeva's observation that ignorance of reality permeates all mental afflictions just as a sense of tactility pervades the body. By destroying ignorance, all mental afflictions are eliminated.

Verse two invokes Nagarjuna who wrote the Six Collections of Reasoning. His Holiness cited verses from ‘Fundamental Wisdom’ that summarize them.

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

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

Verse three invokes Nagarjuna’s chief disciple, Aryadeva, who advised:

First prevent what is lacking in merit,
Next prevent [ideas of a coarse] self;
Later prevent views of all kinds.
Whoever knows of this is wise.

Verse four calls to mind Buddhapalita, while the fifth verse praises the erudite Bhavaviveka who asserted a view that helped those disciples who were unable to accept mere designation. The sixth verse invokes Chandrakirti whose tantric writings include the ‘Clear Lamp’ and who composed ‘Entering the Middle Way’, its auto-commentary and ‘Clear Words’ to elucidate the Madhyamaka view.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama reading from Praise for Seventeen Nalanda Masters on the first day of his online teachings requested by Mongolians from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 12, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Shantideva, invoked by verse seven, wrote ‘Entering into the Way of a Bodhisattva’.

“The transmission of this book had declined in Central Tibet,” His Holiness remarked, “so I made a special effort to receive it from Khunu Lama Rinpoché. And since that time, I always keep a copy with me and read it—especially chapters six and eight.”

The eighth verse calls to mind Shantarakshita who Tibetans have to thank for introducing an approach to the Buddha’s teaching that combined study of philosophy with logic. Next is Kamalashila, his disciple, who warned against the dangers of solely relying on non-conceptual meditation.

Subsequent verses invoke Asanga, Vasubandhu and Dignaga who wrote the ‘Compendium of Logic’ that opens: ‘I salute the one who has become an authoritative person’. Following them are Dharmakirti, Vimuktisena, Haribadra, Gunaprabha, Shakyaprabha and Atisha.

Nagarjuna explained the perfection of wisdom teachings that are alluded to in the first two lines of verse twenty:

Through understanding the meaning of the two truths, the ground reality of how things are,
I ascertain by way of the four truths just how beings arrive in and leave cyclic existence;

Verses 21, 22 and 23 represent an aspiration to study and practise, while the 25th concludes: Due to these invocations, may I work for sentient beings as long as space endures. His Holiness commented that what he had given was a brief guiding teaching of the text he composed twenty years ago.

There followed a brief interlude during which the Director of ‘Achlalt khuukhduud’, an orphanage and nursing home, offered heartfelt greetings to His Holiness. He explained the NGO he leads helps orphans, the destitute, the elderly and disabled. In 2015 they launched a project to build a care centre to fulfil these aims. He expressed great gratitude to His Holiness for his donation supporting their work.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama watching a video about ‘Achlalt khuukhduud’, an orphanage and nursing home in Mongolia during the first day of online teachings from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 12, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness responded: “As human beings we all depend on the community or society in which we live. We are born alone, but we can’t live alone. We are naturally connected to and dependent on others, therefore we need to be compassionate and kind towards them.

“One thing we must work hard to do is to reduce the gap between rich and poor. We need to constantly consider the happiness of the whole of humanity. This is why it is so important that we look after the needy, especially those who are old and infirm.”

While answering questions from the audience, His Holiness advised that if we seek guidance through divinations when we face difficulties, it’s important to consult a reliable, qualified person to do it for us.

Residents and miners from the city of Erdenet sought His Holiness’s advice about mining and protection of the natural environment. He replied that digging the earth for its natural resources has been going on from time immemorial. However, if it is done excessively it can lead to an imbalance of nature. These days it’s evident that, for example, continuing to burn coal results in damage to the environment. There are alternatives. We can rely instead on using solar energy and wind turbines to generate electricity, which are more protective of the environment.

Someone asked what to do when their efforts to do good make others angry. His Holiness recommended cultivating humility, regarding yourself as inferior to all, accepting defeat and offering the victory to them.

Another questioner wanted to know why it seems that those motivated by compassion and truth become victims, while those who are unfair and abusive are successful. His Holiness pointed out that the key word here was ‘seems’. The reality is, he said, that those who abuse their power are not happy. Ill-will makes you miserable, whereas if you are honest and sincere people will trust you and you will feel content.

Asked to compare Mongolians with other peoples he’s met, His Holiness observed that Mongolians are Buddhists living in a Buddhist country. Historically there were great scholars among them who through study, reflection and meditation became learned while remaining humble and kind. He noted that today scientists and neuroscientists are increasingly interested in what Buddhism has to say about the workings of the mind.

Finally, His Holiness explained that ‘ethics beyond religion’ involves taking the whole of humanity into consideration because we all want to survive. Therefore, we need to live here and now as good human beings. We need ethics to guide our thought and behaviour because we all need to live together in harmony. We need love and compassion. Since the gap between rich and poor in the world will only be a source of trouble, we need to find ways to ensure a more equitable distribution of wealth.

The coordinator thanked His Holiness for his teaching, wishing that he will live long in order to benefit the Dharma and sentient beings. He announced that the day’s session was at an end. His Holiness declared that tomorrow he will teach the ‘Three Principles of the Path’—”See you then”—and waved goodbye.

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Speaking to Young Mongolians about Buddhism and Science https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/speaking-to-young-mongolians-about-buddhism-and-science Thu, 11 Mar 2021 13:42:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/speaking-to-young-mongolians-about-buddhism-and-science Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - This morning, after he had entered the room from which he broadcasts online, His Holiness the Dalai Lama stood quietly pondering the images of members of his audience in three locations in Mongolia—Ulaanbaatar, Erdenet and Bayankhongor. Then he waved and sat down.

Lamiin Gegeen Rinpoché offering greetings to His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the start of his talk on Buddhism and Science online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 11, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

A young Mongolian woman who was coordinating the event introduced Lamiin Gegeen Rinpoché who, speaking in Tibetan, offered His Holiness greetings on behalf of all the Mongolian people. He mentioned how grateful they had been when His Holiness agreed to teach them last December, an event that could not go ahead because of the Covid pandemic. He further thanked him for agreeing to speak to young Mongolians about Buddhism and Science today.

Next, the Secretary General of the Mongolian Students’ Union offered His Holiness greetings on behalf of Mongolian Students.

“Today,” His Holiness began, “what we think of as the Great Land of Mongolia includes Outer and Inner Mongolia, Kalmykia, Buryatia and Tuva. It’s where a large number of ethnic Mongolians live with whom we have strong historical connections—greetings to you all.

“The Buddha prophesied that his teaching would travel from north to north, which we understand to mean first to Tibet and then on to Mongolia. Historically, Mongolians have been Buddhist practitioners and there have been unique connections between us.

“Gendun Drub, the First Dalai Lama, studied with Jé Tsongkhapa and prayed to be able to uphold his teaching. He founded Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and extended his influence throughout Tsang. Gendun Gyatso established Chökhorgyal Monastery, which is associated with Palden Lhamo, and was influential in Lhoka and Dagpo. The Third Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyatso went to Mongolia where he spread the teachings by encouraging study, reflection and meditation. He was given the title Dalai Lama. This is how you Mongolians developed a special connection with the Dalai Lamas.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on Buddhism and Science to an online audience of Mongolian youth from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 11, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“At one time there were 100,000 monks in the country, but in the 20th century you faced huge suffering and hardship. When I was able to make the first of several visits to Mongolia, I witnessed your amazing faith. I sat on the throne in Gandan Monastery while elderly abbots and monks wept as they fervently recited prayers and I couldn’t help shedding a tear too.

“However, faith alone isn’t everything. The Buddha himself advised, ‘O monks and scholars, as gold is tested by burning, cutting and rubbing, examine my words thoroughly and only then accept them—not just out of respect for me’. Faith is best based on understanding.

“Buddhism also spread to Sri Lanka, Burma and so forth where followers of the Pali Tradition rely primarily on what the Buddha said. In Tibet, however, King Trisong Detsen invited Shantarakshita from India. He introduced the Nalanda Tradition that emphasized examining the teaching through the lens of logic and reason. This is the approach that was conveyed to Mongolia.

“Tibetans in the past had no connection with scientists and there were those in China who dismissed Tibetan Buddhism as rooted in blind faith. Nonetheless, in exile we’ve met scholars and scientists and came to realize that the Nalanda Tradition’s stricture not to accept things at face value corresponds to a scientific approach. In discussions with scientists, we’ve learned much, but they have little to tell us in terms of psychology and the workings of mind and emotions.

“It’s important to understand the reasoned approach of the Nalanda Tradition and also to appreciate that by integrating what we learn within ourselves we will find peace of mind. Just as we observe basic hygiene to preserve our physical health, we can learn to apply emotional hygiene to reduce our sense of anger, fear and anxiety. Part of this also involves cultivating compassion, which is the essence of what the Buddha taught.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the virtual audience of Mongolian youth during his talk on Buddhism and Science from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 11, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Whenever you have the opportunity, it would be good if those of you in Outer Mongolia were able to help people in Inner Mongolia and Manchus, who have traditionally been Buddhist.

“We have published books that compile Buddhist science and philosophy as revealed in the literary collections of the Kangyur and Tengyur. They have been translated into other languages including Chinese. I’ve received reports that certain professors in Chinese Universities who’ve read these books have been impressed by the scientific approach of Tibetan Buddhism and the Nalanda Tradition on which it is based.”

His Holiness told his audience that that was what he had to say and invited them to ask questions. In answer to the first about how to reconcile Buddhism with modern science, he explained that Buddhism can be thought of as a science of mind because it shows how to tackle disturbing emotions in a scientific way. He noted that in general science deals with things that are obvious to our senses, but when they begin to take interest in the workings of the mind scientists are intrigued by what Buddhism has to say. Meanwhile, science contradicts traditional Buddhist cosmology.

He mentioned that quantum physics asserts that things don’t exist as they appear and that there is a gap between appearance and reality. This is obvious at a sub-atomic level. His Holiness recalled the reputed Indian nuclear physicist Raja Ramanna telling him that while the observations of quantum physics were new in the West, the ideas that underlie them were known in India more than 2000 years ago. He quoted verses from Nagarjuna’s work to make his point.

His Holiness reiterated that where science is mostly concerned with material objects, Buddhism focuses on the workings of the mind and tackling disturbing emotions. He stressed the importance of recognising the oneness of humanity, that since every human being wants to be happy and free from suffering, we all need to find peace of mind. He added that in this context Buddhism, like science, employs reason and investigation.

A member of the audience in Mongolian asking His Holiness the Dalai a question during his talk on Buddhism and Science online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 11, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

A question about care for the elderly prompted His Holiness to acknowledge the example that older people set and the advice they can provide. And yet since they are no longer able to work and look after themselves as they did when they were young, it’s important to serve and help them.

Asked to define a 21st century Buddhist, His Holiness suggested that such a person would accept scientific findings rather than adhering blindly to traditional Buddhist cosmology. Being a 21st century Buddhist, he went on, also involves learning about different states of mind in terms of logic and reason. He recalled his own experience of learning about mind and awareness as well as reason and logic when he was young.

Although these traditions have been upheld in Buddhist monasteries and nunneries, the knowledge involved can be taught in schools and other centres of learning. He declared that Buddhist tradition, particularly as it focusses on the perfection of wisdom, Madhyamaka philosophy, epistemology and logic is something to be proud of. This is what Mongolian and Tibetan monks and nuns study. These days there are about 1000 Mongolian monks studying in India, mostly at Drepung Gomang, Sera-jé, Gyumé and Gyutö Monasteries. They are discovering that modern science and Buddhism don’t contradict each other and that relying on logic and reason brings openness.

Commenting on superstition, His Holiness mentioned that as a child he was teased about whether there were ghosts in the dark corridors of the Potala Palace. He told a story about Milarepa alone in his cave. On one occasion he felt a chill as an ogress appeared as a dog that bit him. The ogress rebuked him saying that it was only because he was superstitious that he was aware of her.

Finally, His Holiness was asked if it is necessary to be a Buddhist to study Buddhism. He replied that if you believe in rebirth, liberation and omniscience, you’re a Buddhist. However, just as you don’t need to be a Buddhist to be a moral or ethical person, you don’t need to be a Buddhist to learn how to tackle your destructive emotions and achieve peace of mind.

The coordinator brought the session to a close by thanking His Holiness for talking to Mongolian students. She wished that he may live long. “Thank you,” he answered, “see you tomorrow.”

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International Conference on the Three Trainings https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/international-conference-on-the-three-trainings Fri, 05 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/international-conference-on-the-three-trainings Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - This morning saw the opening of a virtual international conference on the Tisikkha or Trishiksha, the three trainings in the Pali and Sanskrit traditions of Buddhism. His Holiness the Dalai Lama was invited to give the inaugural address from his residence in Dharamsala.

Ms Ng Wee Nee from the Tibetan Buddhist Centre of Singapore opening the proceedings of the International Conference on the Three Trainings in the Pali and Sanskrit Traditions of Buddhism on March 5, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Ms Ng Wee Nee opened proceedings, welcoming guests and participants and explaining that the event had been organized by the Tibetan Buddhist Centre of Singapore supported by 12 other Buddhist organizations: the Oxford Buddhist Vihara, Singapore; the Theravada Buddhist Council of Malaysia; the Vajrayana Buddhist Council of Malaysia; the Buddhadasa Indapanno Archive Foundation; the International Network of Engaged Buddhists; the Sri Lankan Tibet Buddhist Brotherhood Society; the Buddhist Society of Western Australia; the Buddhist Union of Kalmykia, Russia; the Department of Buddhist Studies, Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts, Taiwan; the Department of Religion and Culture of Hsuan Chuang University, Taiwan; the Kertarajasa Buddhist College, Indonesia and Labsum Shedrup Ling, Korea.

Ms Ng Wee Nee mentioned that there are presently at least 500 million Buddhists in the world for whom dependent arising is their philosophical view and for whom non-violence and compassion are their basic conduct. She observed that the internet has provided an opportunity for a virtual gathering of Buddhist communities. During the conference, which will take place over two days, 38 speakers from 14 countries will address the role of the Three trainings in the Pali and Sanskrit traditions.

Functioning as moderator of the discussions, Ven Mahayano from Thailand introduced the first speaker, the Most Ven Bhikshu Jing Yao, Chairman of Buddhist Association of the Republic of China (Taiwan), who spoke in Chinese. He observed that the purpose of the three trainings in both the Pali and Sanskrit traditions is to help beings overcome suffering. The Buddha taught the noble eightfold path in order that sentient beings cease to develop afflictive emotions and can face death peacefully.

The Most Ven Bhikshu Jing Yao went on to say that the scope of the noble eightfold path is wide. It includes the extensive practices of the four noble truths and the three trainings. We cannot establish the reality of the four noble truths without practising the noble eightfold path. The eightfold path is inseparable from the four noble truths and the twelve links of dependent arising. The twelve links establish the reality of suffering, while the four noble truths embody the process of pacifying these sufferings and the noble eightfold path enable us to pacify completely the causes of suffering—this is the truth of the path.

Most Ven Bhikshu Jing Yao, Chairman of Buddhist Association of the Republic of China (Taiwan) delivering his presentation online during the inaugural session of the International Conference on the Three Trainings in the Pali and Sanskrit Traditions of Buddhism on March 5, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

If we practise ‘sila’, ethics, ‘samadhi’, concentration and ‘panna’, wisdom, we can purify desire, hatred and ignorance. We will understand what is to be adopted and what is to be abandoned. In this way, we will become more peaceful human beings. Ven Bhikshu Jing Yao concluded, “Let us all practise the three trainings for the sake of all mother sentient beings. May all be peaceful and happy.”

Ven Mahayano next requested the Most Ven Dr Dammapiya - Secretary General of International Buddhist Confederation (India) to offer his introductory remarks. He began by reciting the refuge formula, “Buddham saranam gacchami, Dhammam saranam gacchami, Sangham saranam gacchami,” and then continued in English. He noted that Tisikkha and Trishiksha appear to be different terms, but refer to the same teaching of the Buddha. He also remarked that although Buddhist tradition has many branches, it shares a common root. He expressed gratitude for this opportunity for representatives of different Buddhist traditions to come together in discussion.

Previous deliberations have revealed that the Vinaya upheld by all Buddhist traditions is essentially the same. Now there is a chance to examine the three trainings. He pointed out that the Buddha began with objective observation. He saw a sick man, an old man and a dead man and recognised things as they are. There was no blind faith involved, but objective observation.

Understanding is deepened by vipassana, enabling the recognition of unsatisfactoriness, impermanence and selflessness. These days, Dr Dammapiya remarked, there is a growing desire for more, but in representing the middle path of moderation, the three trainings can have a positive impact on society. A compassionate heart, he declared, a clear, purified mind and a right view of the world lead to a balanced mind avoiding violence and extremes and fostering peaceful, harmonious co-existence in the world.

Most Ven Dr Dammapiya - Secretary General of International Buddhist Confederation (India) offering his introductory remarks at the online International Conference on the Three Trainings in the Pali and Sanskrit Traditions of Buddhism on March 5, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Technical difficulties prevented the third introductory speaker, the Most Venerable Makulewe Wimala Mahanayake Thero from joining the conversation at the appointed time, so Ven Mahayano invited His Holiness the Dalai Lama to give his inaugural address. After reciting a short verse of homage, he began.

“People from different Buddhist communities have come together on this occasion. Holders of the Vinaya, of which I am one, have been invited. I hope our exchanges will be marked by openness.

“Buddha Shakyamuni’s teaching has flourished for more than 2500 years making it one of the world’s major religious traditions. However, lately it has also attracted scientific interest. Although we have the terms Hinayana and Mahayana, I prefer to speak of the Pali and Sanskrit Traditions. Vinaya, monastic discipline and the three trainings in ethics, concentration and wisdom, the essence of the Buddha’s teaching, are upheld in both. The Buddha was a monk and the practice of Vinaya is the foundation of both the Pali and Sanskrit Traditions.

“As a human being, I regard as one of my principal responsibilities to increase awareness of love and compassion in the world, irrespective of whether other people believe in rebirth or the law of karma or not. This is my first commitment. As a religious practitioner I appreciate that all religious traditions speak of the need to develop compassion. We may adopt different philosophical positions, but we all have a common regard for compassion.

“One category of religious tradition is theistic and emphasizes the role of God, not only as the creator, but also as the personification of compassion—the quality to aspire to. Buddhism is a non-theistic tradition. It’s foundation, preserved particularly in the Pali Tradition, is the upholding of Vinaya, monastic discipline, the focus of which is keeping vows of individual emancipation. In Tibet we followed the Mulasarvastivadin lineage, in China they have the Dharmagupta tradition and followers of the Pali uphold the Theravada tradition.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama delivering the Inaugural Address for the International Conference on the Three Trainings in the Pali and Sanskrit Traditions of Buddhism online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 5, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Scholars of Nalanda University worked in Sanskrit. When King Trisong Detsen invited the erudite scholar Shantarakshita to Tibet he recommended that Tibetans translate Buddhist literature into Tibetan. The resultant collection included 100 volumes of the Buddha’s discourses and more than 200 volumes of explanatory treatises by subsequent scholars.

“The tradition Shantarakshita introduced to Tibet was a comprehensive presentation of the Buddha’s teachings. It relied on the exercise of reason and logic and encouraged analysis of what was written in the scriptures. Nagarjuna’s work depended on logic and reason. Dignaga and Dharmakirti focused on logic and epistemology, as exemplified by the ‘Compendium of Valid Cognition’.

“The Buddha advised his followers, “O monks and scholars, as gold is tested by burning, cutting and rubbing, examine my words thoroughly and accept them only then—not just out of respect for me.” I recommend followers of the Pali Tradition to adopt this logical approach and examine the Perfection of Wisdom teachings along with 21 extant Indian commentaries to them. These were further clarified by Jé Tsongkhapa in his treatise ‘The Golden Rosary’.

“Tsongkhapa emphasized study of epistemology, the Perfection of Wisdom and Madhyamaka. He didn’t write much about Vinaya or Abhidharma—Higher Knowledge. Practice of Vinaya depends on scriptural authority. Vasubandhu’s account of cosmology and the size, position and distance between the earth, sun and moon, for example, are not to be taken literally, unlike Chandrakirti’s presentation of ultimate reality.

“Study based on reason, not only reliant on scriptural authority, has equipped us to interact fruitfully with scientists. Indeed, Buddhism is now attracting interest and attention from directions not seen before.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India during the opening session of the International Conference on the Three Trainings in the Pali and Sanskrit Traditions of Buddhism on March 5, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“As Buddhists we must cultivate good relations between us. We must also uphold the Three trainings, but nowadays I believe that ethics, concentration and wisdom can be useful even for those who follow no religious tradition.”

The moderator was pleased to announce that previous technical difficulties had been overcome and introduced the Most Venerable Makulewe Wimala Mahanayake Thero, the Chief Prelate of Sri Rammanna Maha Nikaya of Sri Lanka.

He began his address with the declaration that as a Buddhist monk

it is his duty to help everyone to lead a good life. To do this, the ‘Trisiksha’, namely virtue, concentration and wisdom play a very significant role. Virtue here, he clarified, is to tame the body and speech. Concentration is to focus the mind. Wisdom involves seeing the true nature of the world. Consequently, the mind that is born of wisdom will realize enlightenment. He observed that virtuous behaviour leads to concentration and strong concentration leads to the purification of the wisdom of insight meditation.

Virtue includes rules proclaimed by the Buddha, the discipline or taming of the senses, avoiding wrong livelihood and adopting right livelihood, as well as accepting instruction on the consumption of requisites. Concentration involves carefully preserving the mind from becoming scattered. Wisdom entails correct recognition of impermanence, misery, and selflessness.

Most Venerable Makulewe Wimala Mahanayake Thero, the Chief Prelate of Sri Rammanna Maha Nikaya of Sri Lanka speaking online during the inaugural session of the International Conference on the Three Trainings in the Pali and Sanskrit Traditions of Buddhism on March 5, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

The noble eightfold path encompasses three collections of virtuous behaviour (sila), concentration (samadhi), and wisdom (panna). The perfection of the noble eightfold path, the cultivation of virtuous deeds, concentration, and wisdom, is the path of enlightenment spoken of by the Supreme Buddha.

The moderator thanked the Most Venerable from Sri Lanka and explained that although this virtual assembly brought together many languages and traditions, questions for His Holiness would be framed in English.

The first questioner asked about relations between the Pali and Sanskrit Traditions. His Holiness replied that they held the precepts of individual emancipation in common. During meetings like this, in the exchange of views between scholars and practitioners, it’s possible to appreciate how much we have in common. Even in the Sanskrit tradition there are four major different schools of thought and yet for all of them the Vinaya is the foundation.

A questioner from Singapore wanted to know if aspects of the three trainings could be usefully incorporated into secular education. His Holiness agreed that since the essence of the teaching is not to harm others, but to respect and help them, it could certainly be done.

A member of the virtual audience asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question after his inaugural address for the International Conference on the Three Trainings in the Pali and Sanskrit Traditions of Buddhism on March 5, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Finally, from Malaysia came the simple question, “How to be a good Buddhist?” His Holiness’s response was that just repeating the words,

Buddham saranam gacchami—I take refuge in the Buddha,
Dhammam saranam gacchami—I take refuge in the Dharma,
Sangham saranam gacchami—I take refuge in the Sangha

doesn’t make you a Buddhist. You need to understand what is the Buddha, what is the Dharma and what is the Sangha—that understanding is what makes you a Buddhist. And in order to develop such an understanding you need to study.

“As a follower of the Buddha,” His Holiness added, “I’ve studied to some extent. I really appreciate this kind of meeting and I hope it is something that can take place annually. I hope further serious discussions will take place. I’m already looking forward to our next meeting.”

The moderator, Ven Mahayano, thanked His Holiness for his inaugural address to the conference. Ms Ng Wee Nee thanked all the speakers and participants for their contribution. His Holiness recited dedication prayers and, waving to the virtual audience, announced, “See you again”.

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Full-moon Day of the Great Prayer Festival https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/full-moon-day-of-the-great-prayer-festival Sat, 27 Feb 2021 16:17:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/full-moon-day-of-the-great-prayer-festival Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - This morning, as His Holiness the Dalai Lama appeared before the webcast cameras at his residence, the Drepung Chantmaster could be heard reciting introductory prayers in his booming voice. He followed this with a steady recitation of the ‘Heart Sutra’. The Sera Chantmaster then led the chanting of the Lam Rim Lineage Prayer. He was followed by the Ganden Chantmaster making the mandala offering. On the screens before him His Holiness could see the faces of the Ganden Tri Rinpoché, Abbots, former Abbots, Tulkus and members of the Ladakhi Semkye Association.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama joining in introductory prayers at the start of his teachings on the full-moon day of the Great Prayer Festival online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 27, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness briefly put on his pandit’s hat, recited his own introductory prayer and began his discourse.

“Today, we are holding this teaching as part of the Great Prayer Festival. Since we are unable to physically gather together, we are meeting online. The conduct of the Great Prayer Festival is complicated and I remember that I had to prepare and train myself to lead the afternoon prayers. These included the prayer related to Sukhavati. I was so nervous that it wasn’t until I reached a certain point in the prayer that I became aware of the birds around me flying here and there.

“As I said before, we can’t actually gather together because of the pandemic, but it doesn’t really matter because this teaching can be accessed by people everywhere. I shall be glad if that includes people in Tibet and mainland China.

“Following tradition, I’ll read from where we left the Jataka Tales on the last occasion, after which I’ll read from Nagarjuna’s ‘Precious Garland’.

“Today, we’re in the 21st century and many of us Tibetans are living in exile as refugees. The teachings of the Buddha, given according to disciples’ needs and dispositions, have been preserved by the sharp-minded through the use of reason and logic. Recognition of them has now spread to many other parts of the world where many more people can pay attention to them.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the virtual audience during his teachings on the full-moon day of the Great Prayer Festival online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 27, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Historically, in the 7th century, King Songtsen Gampo, who we may regard as an emanation of Avalokiteshvara, was far-sighted in his vision. Although he had strong Chinese connections and married the Chinese princess who brought with her the statue of the Buddha housed in the Jokhang, he elected to commission a written Tibetan script modelled on the Indian alphabet. Consequently, when the great Abbot Shantarakshita was invited to Tibet by King Trisong Detsen, he advised us Tibetans to translate Buddhist literature into our own language so we didn’t have to rely on a knowledge of Sanskrit and Pali.

“Shantarakshita came from Nalanda University, so, right from the start, Tibetans studied according to the Nalanda Tradition. This meant that we relied on reason and logic in a way not found in any other Buddhist country. It is due to the kindness of Shantarakshita, the Tibetan translators and Indian pandits that we have been able to preserve such a thorough presentation of the teachings of the Buddha. People in Tibet continue to have unflinching devotion and faith not deflected even in the face of great hardship. We have a profound tradition that is definitely something to be proud of. Even hard-line Chinese officials should be able to see this.

“When I met Mao Zedong, I was impressed by his socialist motive to care for the general public. However, as time went on that seems to have changed. Now, there is a huge gap between rich and poor. Meanwhile, Tibetans in Tibet, young and old, have upheld our Tibetan traditions, which we can see among those performing prostrations in front of the Jokhang. My message to them is not to let hardship get you down, but make the most of your opportunities.

“Young Tibetans I urge to pay attention to the Tibetan language. These days I hear that even in Siling, despite the circumstances, people are making an effort of studying Tibetan. I appeal to Tibetans in all parts of Tibet to pay attention to our common language. We may speak in different dialects, but the language we read is common between us. Also remember what the Buddha advised: ‘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.’ Be sceptical; study and experiment.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to the virtual audience during his teachings on the full-moon day of the Great Prayer Festival online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 27, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness announced that, as is traditional on this Full-moon Day of the Great Prayer Festival that commemorates the Buddha’s defeat of opponents in discussion and display of miracles, he would read from Aryasura’s ‘Garland of Birth Stories’, the ‘Jatakamala’, which recounts previous lives of the Buddha. He took up the story of Vishvantara, whose principal virtue was his open-hearted generosity. Courtiers approached the Prince’s father the King to insist that because the Prince was too attached to virtue, he was unfit to ascend the throne. They demanded that he be banished before he could give away more of the kingdom’s wealth. The Prince was taken aback to be condemned for his virtue while the King wept with sadness.

Turning to the ‘Precious Garland’, His Holiness remarked that although the author, Nagarjuna, attracted little regard among followers of the Pali Tradition, he was of great significance to followers of the Sanskrit Tradition. He elaborated on what the Buddha taught in his second round of teachings that is recorded in the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras. Besides his six collections on reasoning that deal with the view of emptiness, this text, the ‘Precious Garland’ also explains the extensive path. His Holiness mentioned that he received an explanation of the book from Serkhong Rinpoché.

The first verse expresses homage to the Buddha, who is free of all faults, who is learned and compassionate towards all, and who has accumulated merit and wisdom for three countless aeons. Nagarjuna refers to him as a vessel of the excellent doctrine. In the third verse he points out that in order to practise the Buddha’s teaching, it’s necessary to have the high status of good rebirth. This is obtained by observing the ‘ten gleaming paths of action’, which are to abstain from the ten unwholesome deeds. These in turn are supplemented by ‘not drinking intoxicants, a good livelihood, non-harming, respectful giving, honouring the honourable, and love.’ The fourteenth verse reveals what leads to a short life, while the fifteenth outlines the faults of speech that lead to your own speech not being respected.

His Holiness read briskly through the remaining verses up to verse 25, which, he clarified, completed the explanation of how to achieve high status.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama reading from Nagarjuna's ‘Precious Garland’ during his teachings on the full-moon day of the Great Prayer Festival online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 27, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Finally, His Holiness announced that he had been requested by the Ladakhi Semkye Association to conduct a ceremony for cultivating the awakening mind of bodhichitta. He began by pointing out that if you generate bodhichitta, you will achieve a good rebirth with wisdom in life after life. You will fulfil your own goals as well as others. People will befriend you and you will earn their respect.

“As social beings,” he observed, “we all depend on the community. Therefore, we need to be sincere in showing kindness to others. As Shantideva makes clear:

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

Why say more? Observe this distinction: between the fools who long for their own advantage and the sage who acts for the advantage of others. 8/130

For those who fail to exchange their own happiness for the suffering of others, Buddhahood is certainly impossible - how could there even be happiness in cyclic existence? 8/131

“This is why we need to be altruistic towards all sentient beings.”

His Holiness then led the virtual audience through the visualization and repetition of prayers and verses for generating bodhichitta and taking the bodhisattva vow. In conclusion he declared that bodhichitta is the essence of the dharma.

“Of course, I do deity practices,” he reported, “but my main practice is the cultivation of bodhichitta. The important thing, as Dromtönpa pointed out, is practice of the lineages of extensive conduct and profound view, that is, cultivating bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness. I don’t have much regard for the so-called lineage of blessings.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama joining in closing prayers at the conclusion of his teachings on the full-moon day of the Great Prayer Festival online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 27, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“With that,” he said, “we’re done.”

The session closed with the Chantmasters leading recitations of the ‘Prayer for the Flourishing of the Dharma’, auspicious verses about the Three Jewels and, finally, the ‘Lam Rim Prayer’.

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Empathy and Compassion in Policing https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/empathy-and-compassion-in-policing Wed, 17 Feb 2021 14:43:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/empathy-and-compassion-in-policing Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - At the start of this morning’s virtual conversation, His Holiness the Dalai Lama surveyed the faces on the screens in front of him, waved and greeted them saying, “Good morning and namaste”.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting the virtual audience as he arrives for his conversation with members of the Indian Police Foundation from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 17, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Prakash Singh, Chairman of the Indian Police Foundation (IPF) welcomed His Holiness on behalf of members of the IPF and the Indian Police Force in general. He explained that the Indian Police Force was originally set up by the British to support the imperial hold they had over the country. These days, he said, the police should reflect the democratic values of independent India in being humane, compassionate, fair and just. Singh declared that there is an interest in transforming the Indian police on these lines and quoted His Holiness’s advice that love and compassion are not luxuries; we need them to survive.

Having introduced His Holiness to the audience, he invited him to address them.

“Thank you,” His Holiness replied, “I feel very happy to be able to exchange views with members of the Indian Police Force today. I’ve lived almost my entire life in the presence of security personnel. For nine years in Tibet, they were Chinese police. Since 1959, they’ve been Indian police. Both worked to protect me, but the Chinese police had a second duty, which was to keep an eye on me.

“China is the most populous nation on Earth, it has an ancient culture and has traditionally been a Buddhist country, but there’s no freedom there. It’s a totalitarian regime. In India, on the other hand, there is genuine freedom and democracy. All the world’s major religions flourish here. When I meet Indian Muslims, I find there is no dispute between Shias and Sunnis. For thousands of years, Indians have observed ‘ahimsa’ and ‘karuna’ (non-violence and compassion). These are the principles the country follows and democracy accords with them.

“Religious traditions. local communities, different languages and modes of writing are all recognized and the people they belong to are happy to be part of India. This sets an example to the whole world. People with different languages and cultures can all live together and the Indian Police are protectors of the ‘ahimsa’ and ‘karuna’ that underlie this sense of belonging.

“I’m happy with the Indian Police. I’m not afraid of them. Every morning, when I step out of my house, I see police officers there who protect me day and night. I greet them and we often share a joke.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the virtual audience during his talk on Empathy and Compassion in Policing from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 17, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“So, what I want to tell you is that the present younger generations of Indians should pay more attention to ‘ahimsa’ and ‘karuna’, principles the whole world needs. This is what I want to tell you. The British introduced modern education and technological developments, which are useful. But you Indians should also preserve your own traditions that are thousands of years old.”

His Holiness noted that in the last century, the way Mahatma Gandhi practised non-violence during the Freedom Struggle greatly impressed others, from Nelson Mandela in South Africa to Martin Luther King in the USA. In this century too, India, where people with different languages, different faiths and so on live peacefully together, can set an example to the rest of the world. In a world where there is too much focus on differences of race, nationality and religion, India can promote harmony among people and nations.

“The seven billion people alive today,” he observed, “are all the same in being human. We all have to live together on this planet. We live in a global economy. We face problems like global warming that affect us all. The differences between us are secondary. What’s important is to recognise the oneness of humanity. It’s because I try to do this that I feel at home wherever I go.

“I really appreciate the Indian Police who protect not only the nation, but also these principles of non-violence, compassion and harmony that the world needs.”

In answering questions from the audience, police officers from across India, His Holiness emphasized that the quality of an action depends on the motivation behind it. Sometimes for good reasons, harsh measures may be required. Laughing, he pointed out that among the many deities depicted in Tibetan temples, some are fierce and wrathful. However, they are all expressions of compassion. In responding to particular situations, what’s important is to have a positive motivation and to view the goal from a broader perspective.

His Holiness mentioned that members of the police and army who guard the borders are protecting not only the land, but also the culture and values that have evolved here. They are making sacrifices in defence of principles. Therefore, they should be courageous and determined to carry on.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering questions from the virtual audience during his conversation with members of the Indian Police Foundation from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 17, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Since the Indian Police are defending freedom and democracy, there may be occasions when tough measures are required. He reiterated that the important thing is for them to examine their motivation and remind themselves of the principles on which they act.

His Holiness acknowledged that police work can be stressful and recommended seeing things from a wider perspective. Sometimes there’s a need to be strict. He cited an example from his childhood. One of his teachers, recognizing the young Dalai Lama’s intelligence, energy and tendency to be mischievous, advised another teacher to be strict and stern with him. The point was to benefit the young boy in the long run.

“When we look at things from a broader perspective,” His Holiness explained, “we may notice that human beings are social animals. Even as individuals we survive in dependence on the community in which we live. Therefore, showing compassion and concern for other members of our community is ultimately good for us too. If we’re selfish instead, we tend not to be happy.

“It’s basic human nature to be compassionate. The benefit that simple kindness brings the community is a matter of common sense. To strengthen these positive qualities, we need to combine the ancient Indian principles of ‘ahimsa’ and ‘karuna’ with modern education.

“Just as observing physical hygiene is necessary for bodily health, we need to implement emotional hygiene, learning to tackle our destructive emotions, if we are to achieve peace of mind. Since we all want to be happy, we all need to know how to cultivate inner peace, whether we follow a religious tradition or not. India’s secular tradition, showing respect for all religions is important, but religious practice is a personal matter, whereas cultivating compassion affects the whole community. What’s more, keeping up a compassionate motivation is part of Dharma practice. It’s the way to remain positive and optimistic.”

His Holiness suggested that to inspire public confidence, whatever they do, the police need to combine compassion with intelligence. And in a democracy the police need to be driven by democratic values, while at the same time maintaining a regard for ‘ahimsa’ and ‘karuna’. He added that it’s also important to be practical. Just because this is a free and democratic country doesn’t mean that everyone is motivated by moral principles. When some people are selfish and misbehave, strict measures may be necessary to protect the peace and harmony within society at large.

A member of the virtual audience asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question during his conversation with members of the Indian Police Foundation from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 17, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

Finally, His Holiness was asked about the Buddhist system of justice. He replied that he didn’t know if there was one. Generally, Buddhist practice is a personal matter. If a monk breaks one of the main precepts, he may be expelled from the monastic community, but there are no other punishments. Other religious traditions may lay down rules of conduct and codes of behaviour, but Buddhism is primarily concerned with training the mind — with mental transformation — and the cultivation of inner values such as compassion and self-discipline. Students trained in such a system will naturally be more compassionate.

His Holiness stated clearly that he is opposed to the death penalty, arguing that even the worst wrongdoer can change if given the time and opportunity.

The moderator, N. Ramachandran, thanked His Holiness for his simple and appropriate advice on behalf of the Indian Police Foundation and the Indian police at large. He wished him good health and a long life.

“Thank you,” His Holiness replied. “I would also like to express my deep appreciation of the Indian police who protect me day and night. I have no fear. I trust them and respect them. Thank you.”

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Offering Sympathy and Support to the People of Uttarakhand https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/offering-sympathy-and-support-to-the-people-of-uttarakhand Wed, 10 Feb 2021 04:55:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/offering-sympathy-and-support-to-the-people-of-uttarakhand Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - His Holiness the Dalai Lama has written to Shri Trivendra Singh Rawat, Chief Minister of Uttarakhand to tell him that how sad he is about the loss of life, and also how concerned he is about those who are still missing, as a result of the recent glacial burst in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.

He wrote, “I offer my condolences to those who have lost loved ones, and pray for them. I also pray for the safety and well being of those who are still missing.

“I understand that both the Central and the State Governments are engaged in rescue work and are doing their utmost to provide relief to people affected by this calamity. As a gesture of solidarity with the people of Uttarakhand, I have asked the Dalai Lama Trust to make a donation towards the relief and rescue efforts.”

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Recognizing My Mother - An Experiential Song on the View https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/recognizing-my-mother-an-experiential-song-on-the-view Mon, 08 Feb 2021 16:10:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2021/recognizing-my-mother-an-experiential-song-on-the-view Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - After Zopa Rinpoché in Kathmandu had formally welcomed him online this morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama announced that Rinpoché had requested him to teach ‘Recognizing My Mother - An Experiential Song on the View’ and he had happily agreed to do so.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama waving to the virtual audience as he arrives for his online teaching from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 8, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“First of all, the view referred to here is dependent arising. I often mention that while our view is dependent arising, our conduct is not to harm others. Both these ideas have a bearing on peace in the world. Regarding the authenticity of the Buddha’s teachings, shortly after his enlightenment the Buddha is said to have reflected:

Profound and peaceful, free from complexity, uncompounded luminosity-
I have found a nectar-like Dharma.
Yet if I were to teach it, no-one would understand,
So I shall remain silent here in the forest.

“We can understand the words, 'profound and peaceful' to refer to the first round of his instructions in which he revealed the four noble truths. 'Free from complexity' indicates the perfection of wisdom of the second round. 'Uncompounded luminosity' relates to the content of the third round of teachings, especially Buddha nature and the 'Tathagatagarbha-sutra'.

“In the first round of his teachings the Buddha referred to true suffering, true origin, true cessation and the true path. In terms of their nature, he declared that suffering is to be known, the origin is to be eliminated, and cessation is to be actualized by cultivating the path. The origin to be eliminated is karma and mental afflictions. In order to discover whether true cessation can be attained, we have to examine whether suffering can be overcome.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the virtual audience during his teaching requested by Lama Zopa Rinpoche from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 8, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

In this connection, His Holiness quoted a verse towards the end of the sixth chapter of ‘Entering into the Middle Way’.

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

Then he added a verse from Aryadeva’s ‘400 Verses’

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

He remarked that ignorance can be overcome by understanding dependent arising. Chandrakirti alludes further to the bodhisattva.

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

At the opening of ‘Entering into the Middle Way' Chandrakirti praises compassion and the awakening mind:

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

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

His Holiness clarified that enlightenment is won through a combination of compassion and wisdom. By employing both, all mental defilements are eliminated, mental afflictions and cognitive obscurations. Chandrakirti refers to this at the end of the sixth chapter of ‘Entering into the Middle Way'.

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

His Holiness cited three key verses (6.34-6) in which Chandrakirti outlines the four logical fallacies that would occur if things possessed objective existence; if they had an essential core in and of themselves. These are that the Arya being's meditative absorption on emptiness would be the destroyer of phenomena; that it would be wrong to teach that things lack ultimate existence; that the conventional existence of things would be able to withstand ultimate analysis into the nature of things, and that it would be untenable to state that things are empty in and of themselves.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during his online teaching from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 8, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness considers these three verses to be very powerful. He repeats them to himself and reflects on their meaning regularly. When it comes to reflecting on the nature of self, another verse he relies on can be found in Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’.

Neither the aggregates, nor different from the aggregates,
The aggregates are not (dependent) on him, nor is he (dependent) on the aggregates.
The Tathagata does not possess the aggregates.
What else is the Tathagata? 22.1

His Holiness remarked that he often reworks this to refer to himself and reflects on it accordingly:

I am neither one with the aggregates, nor different from the aggregates,
The aggregates are not (dependent) on me, nor am I (dependent) on the aggregates.
I don't possess the aggregates.
What else am I?

“When you try to pinpoint who you are in this way and fail to find anything that is the self, you can conclude that the self is a mere designation. Emptiness is the mere negation of an absolute self.”

His Holiness touched on the importance, in developing an understanding of the Middle Way view, of listening to a qualified teacher and reflecting again and again on what they have said. He referred in addition to the primary Indian texts that deal with Madhyamaka: Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’, Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’, its auto-commentary and ‘Clear Words’, as well as Aryadeva’s ‘Four Hundred Verses’.

“In Jé Tsongkhapa’s ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising’,” His Holiness continued, “he says, ‘Becoming ordained into the way of the Buddha, by not being lax in study of his words and by yoga practice of great resolve, this monk devotes himself to that great purveyor of truth.’ I feel I too am like this. I received novice ordination before the Jowo Statue in Lhasa and later received the Bhikshu ordination from my preceptor, Ling Rinpoché.

“I have studied the perfection of wisdom and Jé Rinpoché’s texts on the Middle Way: ‘Ocean of Reasoning’ — an extensive commentary on Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom’; ‘Elucidation of the Thought’ — an extensive commentary on ‘Entering into the Middle Way’; the Special Insight Section of the ‘Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path’; the Special Insight Section of the ‘Medium Length Treatise on the Stages of the Path’ and ‘Essence of Eloquence’ — a treatise differentiating the provisional and definite meanings of the scriptures.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to the virtual audience during his online teaching from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 8, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“Therefore, I hope I may be able to achieve some experience of true cessation. As far as the Middle Way view is concerned, I’ve received explanations of it that I have understood, reflected on and familiarized myself with even in dreams. I may not have achieved a complete experience in meditation, but I’ve gained some experience. Texts like this ‘Recognizing My Mother’ remind us of that view. Another work that I’ve found helpful is Panchen Lobsang Chögyan’s ‘Debate Between Wisdom and the Reifying Habit’.

“I received explanations of this text from my Tutor, Ling Rinpoché and from Geshé Tenpa Tenzin of Drepung Monastery.”

His Holiness read briskly through the verses adding comments here and there. He noted that mother here refers to emptiness. Since things do not exist in the way ignorance misconceives them, here is an opportunity for us to understand reality. Duality occurs because of our clinging to the misconception of true existence. Father, here, refers to the object to be investigated.

His Holiness noted that verse eight includes an expression of humility and that in verse nine Manjushrigarbha refers to Tsongkhapa. Kyörpön Rinpoché declared that if you study Tsongkhapa’s five treatises on the Middle Way, you will not be overwhelmed by suffering. His Holiness clarified that we need to find emptiness within ourselves. Some scholars caught up in terminology seem to negate a creature with horns while leaving the object with an everyday appearance of solidity intact.

Other scholars suggest that things must have some existence otherwise it would not be possible to speak of valid cognition and its object. However, what is clear is that things exist, but not in the way they appear to do. His Holiness cited Jé Rinpoché’s observation in the ‘Three Principles of the Path’ that ‘Appearances refute the extreme of existence, emptiness refutes the extreme of nonexistence.’

Verse 13 mentions the Buddhist schools of thought from the Vaibhashikas up to the Svatantrika Madhyamakas who are unable to posit dependent arising precisely. The following verses refer to the ways different Tibetan Buddhist traditions refer to the union of clarity and awareness with emptiness, not only according to the Sutrayana explanation, but also in terms of the clear light mind that the tantras explain. This manifests after the dissolution of the three visions and is the mind employed to realize emptiness. The different terms the various traditions use all refer to the subtlest mind of clear light.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama commenting on the the text "Recognizing My Mother - An Experiential Song on the View" during his online teaching from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 8, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

His Holiness read the Song’s remaining verses and declared that he had given the teaching that he had received from Ling Rinpoché. In his notes he had verses from Panchen Lobsang Chögyan’s ‘Debate Between Ignorance and Wisdom’ and he proceeded to read the following verses from it.

When you have a sense of 'I' by observing the aggregates
And you can ascertain through valid cognition that this 'I'
Is not truly established as it appears to be,
Although that is how it does appear to you,
Then you can undermine [the misconception of true existence], which otherwise you can’t.

When you observe the aggregates and think, "I am…",
And you have a non-affirming negative — the mere negation
Of a truly established ['I'] — as the apprehended object [of the cognition of selflessness],
Without losing the force of [this awareness] and maintaining it with intense clarity,
You are free of mental laxity and excitement, then you destroy the objective existence of that 'I'.

When you have observed the aggregates,
And you have an experience, "I don't exist!"
You become skilled in sustaining this perception of the view.
It counters the sense of a [fixated concrete] 'I'.
You can push away the [false sense of] an 'I'.
Yet, [those who can do that] are as rare as the stars during the daytime.

Next, he observed that since it is almost Losar, the Tibetan New Year, he had decided to take the opportunity to conduct a ceremony for generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta. He offered New Year greetings to Tibetans wherever they are, to Ladakhis, people from the Himalayan Region and Mongolians. He counseled his listeners to check their minds and examine what they have achieved in the year just gone in relation to study, reflection and meditation. He advised them to make a resolution to do their best in the coming year.

He remarked that he is able to see online and on television how Tibetans in Tibet remain strongly devoted to Avalokiteshvara. He is also aware that the faith they have in him brings them peace of mind. Again, he offered them Tashi Delek for Losar.

“Today, even scientists have developed respect for the traditions we have kept alive,” he told them. “You in Tibet and we in exile must continue to preserve our language, culture and religion. In our schools in exile our students also learn about the mind and how to use reason. Our re-established monasteries have trained thousands of Geshés. Some of you may find yourselves under Chinese rule, but you can reflect that the knowledge we have preserved is something we can share with the Chinese people. This is what I wanted to say to you for Losar.”

His Holiness then began the ceremony to generate bodhichitta, recalling what Shantideva had to say about its remarkable qualities.

For those who fail to exchange their own happiness for the suffering of others, Buddhahood is certainly impossible - how could there even be happiness in cyclic existence? 8/131

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

He concluded by reiterating that this was his Losar gift, especially for Tibetans in Tibet, whose spirit remains undaunted.

In answering questions from members of the audience around the world, His Holiness clarified that one of his commitments is to bring peace to the world and within that to encourage inter-religious harmony. Some people believe that everyone is the creation of a God, who they regard as full of love. However, the main message of all religions, he said, is to help others. Even within Buddhist tradition there are proponents of different philosophical points of view, but the main message is not to do harm, but help others wherever you can.

A member of the virtual audience asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question during his online teaching from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 8, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

He advised that it is important for those who are very sick or dying to be in a peaceful rather than an agitated state of mind. Therefore, those caring for them would do well to keep them calm. If the ailing person has faith, it’s good to remind them of it.

His Holiness expressed sympathy for those who are unable to have the kind of social interactions that they are used to because of the Covid pandemic. He suggested that social restrictions offer an opportunity to read and study, pointing out that spiritual practitioners conduct their practice in solitude.

Asked how to reconcile sudden enlightenment with a more gradual approach, His Holiness explained that practitioners of Mahamudra and Dzogchen do not focus on external objects so much as on the emptiness of their own minds. Dzogchen refers to ‘rigpa’, pristine awareness and the practitioner seeks to maintain that awareness untouched by misconceptions of intrinsic existence. The luminous nature of the mind, the clarity and awareness of the mind and the clear light mind that manifests after the dissolution of the three visions all deal with the emptiness of the mind.

The ‘Lamp for the Five Stages’ states that following the dissolution of the constituents the clear light mind manifests. Discursive thoughts are withdrawn. The eighty conceptions and the wind energies are withdrawn. All conceptions dissolve. This is the same in all traditions: Geluk, Sakya, Nyingma and Kagyu.

His Holiness told another questioner that we have a sense of self because we speak of my body, my speech, but if we ask ourselves where is the ‘I’ these faculties belong to, we understand that the ‘I’ is a mere designation. It doesn’t exist in the way it appears. It’s not that if doesn’t exist at all, it doesn’t exist intrinsically, from its own side.

His Holiness acknowledged the polarization that can be seen in many places and attributed it to the habit of seeing others in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Young children don’t draw such distinctions. They only learn to recognize differences among their companions when they go to school. He emphasized that everyone is equal in wanting to be happy and to avoid suffering. He pointed out that since the global economy knows no boundaries and since the climate crisis affects us all, we have to take the whole of humanity into account. He expressed his admiration for the spirit of the European Union, whose members have decided to work for the good of the whole union and put past enmities behind them.

Clarifying that an understanding of subtle impermanence, the recognition that things change from moment to moment, helps counter the sense we may have of a permanent self, His Holiness stated that it was not a sufficient basis for realizing emptiness.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche thanking His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the conclusion of his online teaching from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 8, 2021. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphe

Zopa Rinpoché, speaking in Tibetan, expressed his gratitude to His Holiness on behalf of the FPMT for his teaching today and over many years. He made a formal dedication and offered a mandala.

In response, His Holiness declared, “Zopa Rinpoché and I have known each other a long time. We are trusted friends. You and your teacher Lama Thubten Yeshe founded many centres around the world to help others. Rinpoché, you have done your best, thank you. Please be determined to keep up your efforts. What you have achieved cannot be overlooked. Thank you and Tashi Delek.”

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