Dalai Lama https://www.dalailama.com/ en-us Tue, 07 Apr 2020 20:57:15 +0000 Tue, 07 Apr 2020 20:57:15 +0000 Supporting the PM CARES Fund https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/supporting-the-pm-cares-fund Tue, 31 Mar 2020 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/supporting-the-pm-cares-fund Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - In a letter to the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, today, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his support for his efforts to control the growing threat of the coronavirus, which has also reached India as it spreads across the world.

“I appreciate the enormous challenges that this crisis poses to the world community and the need for strict measures to be taken to meet them,” he wrote. “I would like to thank you for the initiative that you have taken in partnership with other SAARC countries to set up an emergency fund and to exchange information, knowledge and expertise to tackle the spread of Covid-19. Such collaboration will also create a model for dealing with similar problems in the future.

“As a token of my sympathy and support, I am making a donation from the Dalai Lama Trust to the PM CARES Fund set up to provide relief during crises such as this.

“I would also like to mention that members of my Office Staff would also like to contribute one day’s salary to the Fund.

“As I have stated elsewhere, I understand that as a result of the necessary lockdowns across the world, many people are facing tremendous hardship due to a loss of livelihood. For those with no stable income in particular, it is becoming very hard to make ends meet. I hope, therefore, that charitable trusts such as the PM CARES Fund will be able to provide these people with urgently needed assistance.”

In conclusion, His Holiness affirmed his confidence in the steps being taken by the Central Government and prayed that they will be effective in containing the spread of the virus.

A Special Message from His Holiness the Dalai Lama https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/a-special-message-from-his-holiness-the-dalai-lama Mon, 30 Mar 2020 04:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/a-special-message-from-his-holiness-the-dalai-lama My dear brothers and sisters,

I am writing these words in response to repeated requests from many people around the world. Today, we are passing through an exceptionally difficult time due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to this, further problems confront humanity such as extreme climate change. I would like to take this opportunity to express my admiration and gratitude to governments across the world, including the Government of India, for the steps they are taking to meet these challenges.

Ancient Indian tradition describes the creation, abiding and destruction of worlds over time. Among the causes of such destruction are armed conflict and disease, which seems to accord with what we are experiencing today. However, despite the enormous challenges we face, living beings, including humans, have shown a remarkable ability to survive.

No matter how difficult the situation may be, we should employ science and human ingenuity with determination and courage to overcome the problems that confront us. Faced with threats to our health and well-being, it is natural to feel anxiety and fear. Nevertheless, I take great solace in the following wise advice to examine the problems before us: If there is something to be done—do it, without any need to worry; if there’s nothing to be done, worrying about it further will not help.

Everyone at present is doing their best to contain the spread of the coronavirus. I applaud the concerted efforts of nations to limit the threat. In particular, I appreciate the initiative India has taken with other SAARC countries to set up an emergency fund and an electronic platform to exchange information, knowledge and expertise to tackle the spread of Covid-19. This will serve as a model for dealing with such crises in future as well.

I understand that as a result of the necessary lockdowns across the world, many people are facing tremendous hardship due to a loss of livelihood. For those with no stable income life is a daily struggle for survival. I earnestly appeal to all concerned to do everything possible to care for the vulnerable members of our communities.

I offer special gratitude to the medical staff—doctors, nurses and other support personnel—who are working on the frontline to save lives at great personal risk. Their service is indeed compassion in action.

With heartfelt feelings of concern for my brothers and sisters around the world who are passing through these difficult times, I pray for an early end to this pandemic so that your peace and happiness may soon be restored.
With my prayers,

Dalai Lama

Supporting Efforts to Contain Corona-virus https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/supporting-efforts-to-contain-corona-virus Thu, 26 Mar 2020 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/supporting-efforts-to-contain-corona-virus Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - His Holiness the Dalai Lama has written today to the Chief Minister, Shri Jai Ram Thakur, to express his support for him in his efforts to control the growing threat of the corona-virus, which has spread across the world and has even broken out here in this state.

“Since Himachal Pradesh has been my home for almost 60 years,” he wrote, “I naturally feel an affinity for its people. Therefore, as a token of respect and sympathy, I am making a donation from the Gaden Phodrang Trust of the Dalai Lama to the Chief Minister's Fund in order to contribute to providing essential supplies like food and medicine for the poor and needy members of the community.”

His Holiness concluded by expressing confidence that the steps being taken by the Central Government, under the Honourable Prime Minister's firm leadership, will be effective in containing the spread of the virus.

Remembering Nobel Peace Laureate Betty Williams https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/remembering-nobel-peace-laureate-betty-williams Thu, 19 Mar 2020 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/remembering-nobel-peace-laureate-betty-williams Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - On receiving news that Northern Irish peace campaigner Betty Williams had died in her sleep on St. Patrick’s Day, His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote to her nephew, Lawrence Lovell, to express his condolences.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Betty Williams at the 14th World Summit of Peace Laureates in Rome, Italy on December 14, 2014. Photo by Olivier Adam

“With her death we have lost a dear friend who dedicated herself to counter the use of violence in resolving conflicts,” he wrote.

“Over the years, together with other fellow Nobel Peace Laureates, we endeavoured to promote peaceful means to the resolution of problems, through dialogue and diplomacy. Betty was resolute and forthright in pursuit of peaceful solutions, no matter how intractable the problems might have appeared. I have warm memories of our meetings on many occasions and a deep appreciation of her commitment to building a peaceful community of peoples and nations.”

His Holiness ended his letter with the suggestion that perhaps the best way to pay tribute to her would be to create peace in ourselves, with the result that our families and the communities in which we live are happy and at peace.

Lamenting the Passing Away of Patriarch Thich Quang Do https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/lamenting-the-passing-away-of-patriarch-thich-quang-do Sun, 01 Mar 2020 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/lamenting-the-passing-away-of-patriarch-thich-quang-do Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - Upon being informed of the passing away in Vietnam of the Fifth Supreme Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, Thich Quang Do, His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote a letter in which he offered prayers for his senior spiritual brother and his condolences to his many followers.

“Although I did not have the opportunity to meet with the Patriarch in person,” His Holiness’s letter continued, “I understand that he devoted himself to the service of others. As we remember him, we can rejoice that he lived a meaningful life.”

Congratulating Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/congratulating-chief-minister-of-delhi-arvind-kejriwal Tue, 11 Feb 2020 00:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2020/congratulating-chief-minister-of-delhi-arvind-kejriwal Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - Writing to congratulate Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, on his party’s success in the Legislative Assembly elections, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his appreciation of the vibrant democracy that the people of India have enjoyed since the country became independent in August 1947.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama presenting Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with an auspicious emblem at the conclusion of the launch of the Happiness Curriculum in Delhi Government Schools at Thyagraj Stadium in New Delhi, India on July 2, 2018. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“The people of Delhi will continue to benefit from your able leadership,” he added. “As I mentioned to you on 2nd July 2018 when we launched the Happiness Curriculum for Government Schools in New Delhi, I have deep admiration for the efforts that you and your government have made towards shaping better, happier human beings with improved values. These measures will have a positive impact on children's overall education, as well as helping the poor to fulfil their dreams of improving their lives.

“In addition to promoting basic human values and encouraging inter-religious harmony, I am committed to reviving interest in the ancient Indian understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions. I therefore appreciate the Delhi Government's initiative to incorporate aspects of inner mental development into the school curriculum. Through such initiatives, you are showing a path to the rest of India. This is important, as I believe India is the only country that can successfully combine this ancient knowledge with modern education and ensure that people know how to achieve lasting peace of mind. The positive response I have received from young Indians with regard to exploring such opportunities is a sign of hope and encouragement.”

His Holiness ended by wishing the Chief Minister every success in meeting the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in strengthening happiness and fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the people of Delhi.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And a ‘Praise of the Perfection Wisdom’,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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