Dalai Lama https://www.dalailama.com/ en-us Sat, 02 Mar 2024 01:14:47 +0000 Sat, 02 Mar 2024 01:14:47 +0000 Discourse on the Day of Offerings https://www.dalailama.com/news/2024/discourse-on-the-day-of-offerings Fri, 23 Feb 2024 18:30:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2024/discourse-on-the-day-of-offerings Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - The Tsuglagkhang, the Main Tibetan Temple, and the courtyard before it were packed this morning with an estimated 8000 people, Tibetans, people from the Himalayan region, and others from further afield. They had all gathered to hear His Holiness the Dalai Lama give his customary discourse on the ‘Day of Offerings’, the full-moon day of the first month of the Tibetan New Year and the culmination of the Great Prayer Festival.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama walking through the Main Tibetan Temple courtyard on his way to give his teaching on the ‘Day of Offerings’ in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 24, 2024. Photo by Ven Zamling Norbu

His Holiness walked from the gate to his residence to the throne at the head of the courtyard, below the temple. He was preceded by monks playing the Tibetan horn known as gyaling and another swinging a censer. A monk walking behind him carried a large yellow ceremonial umbrella. To the left of the throne, when His Holiness took his seat, was a gathering of eminent monks and to the right sat members of the Central Tibetan Administration. On the table next to him was a white orchid in full bloom.

A chant-master led a recitation of the ‘Heart Sutra’ followed by verses of homage to the Buddha, Manjushri, Maitreya, Nagarjuna from Tsongkhapa’s ‘Concise Stages of the Path. Meanwhile, tea and sweet rice were served. The offering of a mandala and request for His Holiness teach was presented by Education Kalon Tharlam Dolma Changra followed by the Abbots of Gyutö and Namgyal Monasteries. The entire congregation joined together in chanting the verse for taking refuge and generating the awakening mind.

The Chant Master leading a mandala offering during His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teaching on the ‘Day of Offerings’ at the Main Tibetan Temple courtyard in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 24, 2024. Photo by Ven Zamling Norbu

“So, today, we’re all gathered here in this courtyard for a Dharma discourse,” His Holiness declared. “In the world today an increasing number of people are taking an interest in inner development, especially those whose lives have been focused on materialistic concerns. They are taking an interest in training their minds.

“The theistic religious traditions are good, but what distinguishes Buddhism is its thorough understanding of the workings of the mind. This is what attracts the interest of scientists. Our approach to finding inner peace by training the mind is both realistic and scientific. This is a tradition that has been upheld in Tibet and the regions around it.

“I have friends with strong religious faith who seek peace of mind in their belief in a creator god. However, we believe we need to use our minds—to train our minds—to find inner peace. In the West there are people with no religious commitment paying attention to what the Buddha taught to reduce attachment and anger. Indeed, the primary antidote to anger is compassion.

“At the beginning of his work ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ the Indian master Chandrakirti pays homage to great compassion at the beginning of the path to enlightenment, in the middle and even at its fruition. Compassion provides a harvest of benefit.

“Compassion is crucial in our ordinary day-to-day lives. And in today’s world when people resort to violence and do harm to others compassion has an important mediating role.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the congregation at the Main Tibetan Temple courtyard in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 24, 2024. Photo by Ven Zamling Norbu

“I make compassion my primary practice and combine it with an understanding of emptiness. This brings peace of mind, a state of mind undisturbed by afflictive emotions, which brings good health and leads to long life.”

His Holiness explained that the teaching of the Buddha that had come to Tibet from Nalanda University depends not on faith but on logic and reason. Part of it includes an understanding of the workings of the mind. He emphasised the importance of understanding the trouble emotions can cause.

His Holiness mentioned that Songtsen Gampo, the Tibetan religious king, must have been very determined. Although he had married a Chinese princess, when it came to selecting a model for a Tibetan script, he chose the Indian Devanagiri alphabet. Then, during the time of King Trisong Detsen, Shantarakshita was invited to Tibet. He introduced the rigorous study of works by Nalanda masters like Nagarjuna, the key to which is the use of logic and reason.

His Holiness stressed that the more you employ reason and logic, the deeper will be your understanding of the Buddha’s teaching. He reiterated that thinking through what you’ve learned over and over again is very powerful. The combination of study and analysis that underlies the Nalanda Tradition, he stated, is one of the world’s treasures.

“In a world facing great upheaval, it’s important to understand that anger, pride and arrogance are mentally disturbing. In many parts of the world there are people doing harm and hurting others. They could really benefit from teachings of compassion that are at the core of the tradition we have preserved. And we’ve kept this tradition alive by putting the teachings into practice. Our Chinese friends acknowledge that Tibetans are fundamentally good-hearted. Circumstances in the world may change, but peace of mind remains the same.

A view of the crowd of 8000 gathered at the main Tibetan Temple courtyard to attend the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 24, 2024. Photo by Ven Zamling Norbu

“We should try to explain our behaviour and values whenever we can. We have a tradition that gives rise to peace of mind, which is an essential factor if there is to be peace in the world. It’s important to recognise that when you’re overwhelmed by anger you have no peace within, but when you’re moved by love and compassion you do.

“I make the awakening mind of bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness the very core of my practice. And, as I’ve said, it brings me peace of mind. I urge all of you to cultivate compassion and wisdom and base your own practice on warm-heartedness.

“Now, I would like to lead you through the All-Encompassing Yoga Mind, a practice I do every day which I think will be useful for you too. As human beings we are all the same. We all want to be happy not sad. We prefer to hear good news rather than bad. If you have a good heart, you’ll be popular, whereas if you’re proud and arrogant people will be reluctant to praise you.

“In ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ Chandrakirti pays homage to compassion at the outset because it is not only the seed of enlightenment, it’s also the water and soil that enable it to grow. I make compassion my primary practice because it brings me peace of mind and robust good health. Even animals appreciate compassion.

“As soon as I wake in the morning, I reflect on bodhichitta. Then I consider how things appear to be objectively existent, but when I think it through, I see that they don’t actually exist that way. I reflect on these principles every day.

A view of the stage during the His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teaching at the Main Tibetan Temple courtyard in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 24, 2024. Photo by Ven Zamling Norbu

“Let’s meditate on the awakening mind, the wish to be of real benefit to others. Bodhichitta is a factor helpful to others as well as yourself in the short and long term. Now imagine this good-hearted, altruistic mind transforming into a white moon disc at your heart.

“Next, recall how you think of yourself as this or that and the way you appear to your mind as having a solid, independent existence. When you seek and don’t find anything existing that way, you recognize that you exist only as a designation dependent on language and concepts. Now, imagine this understanding of emptiness of a solid, independent existence transforming into a white vajra standing on the moon disc at your heart.

“Realization doesn’t occur immediately, but will dawn if you practise steadily.”

His Holiness led the gathering in reciting the All-Encompassing Yoga Mind mantra: Om sarva yogachitta utpatayami. Then, to stabilize the disciples’ minds and make the mind of all-encompassing yoga firm, he asked them to recite after him: Om surate samaya satvam ho siddhi vajra yatha sukham

His Holiness then recited a verse in praise of Avalokiteshvara—Chenresig—and the six syllable mantra, Om mani padme hung.

Greatly praised by all the Buddhas,
You have accrued all noble qualities,
And you are named the Deity with an Unwinking Gaze,
I pay homage to you, the Everlastingly Compassionate One!

He followed this by reciting a praise to Manjushri and his mantra Om ara patsa na dhih.

I pay homage to Shri Manjugosha
Who bears a youthful form,
Is adorned by the lamp of wisdom
That dispels the darkness of the triple world.

Finally, as is customary on this Day of Offerings, His Holiness read one of the Jataka Tales that recall Buddha Shakyamuni’s previous lives. This story took place when the Bodhisattva was king of the Shibis. He encouraged his subjects to turn away from harm and embrace righteousness.

Members of the crowd listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama teaching at the Main Tibetan Temple courtyard in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 24, 2024. Photo by Ven Zamling Norbu

It happened that there was an exceptionally attractive young woman in the kingdom. She was named Unmadayanti, `She Who Drives Men Mad'. Her father offered to marry her to the king, but he turned him down as his advisors recommended. She was then married to a member of the king’s court. However, when the king encountered her while driving through the city he fell madly in love.

Unmadayanti’s husband tried to persuade the king to accept her as his gift. But the king replied” “"No, that cannot be, and for what reasons? First, all my merit would be lost, and I am not immortal. Second, my wicked deed would inevitably become known to the public. And finally, when you were separated from your wife, you would burn with the fire of sorrow—a fire which would consume you as surely as flames consume dry grass."

His Holiness chose to stop there for the day. A thanksgiving mandala was offered and prayers for the flourishing of the Dharma were said. Then, smiling and waving to the crowd on his way, His Holiness walked steadily, but unhurriedly, back to the palace gate, from where he rode in a golfcart up to his residence.

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Congratulating Alexander Stubb President-Elect of Finland https://www.dalailama.com/news/2024/congratulating-alexander-stubb-president-elect-of-finland Mon, 12 Feb 2024 18:30:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2024/congratulating-alexander-stubb-president-elect-of-finland Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - His Holiness the Dalai Lama has written to Alexander Stubb to congratulate him on having been elected the next President of Finland.

“It has been an honour for me to have been able to visit your beautiful country several times over the years,” he wrote. “I deeply appreciate that on those occasions Finnish people from all walks of life have shown keen interest in what I had to say about developing love and compassion, cultivating an appreciation of the oneness of humanity and acknowledging the importance of inter-religious harmony.

“It is very sad that in various parts of the world today many people are suffering in violent conflicts. As an avowed campaigner for a world free from violence and weapons, it has been my earnest hope that the international community would make concerted efforts to resolve conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy and so contribute to the creation of a more peaceful and compassionate world.”

His Holiness concluded, “May I wish you every success in meeting the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the people of Finland.”

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Congratulating Lai Ching-te, President-Elect, Taiwan https://www.dalailama.com/news/2024/congratulating-lai-ching-te-president-elect-taiwan Sat, 13 Jan 2024 18:30:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2024/congratulating-lai-ching-te-president-elect-taiwan Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - Following yesterday’s presidential elections in Taiwan, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has written to Mr. Lai Ching-te, the President-Elect, to offer his warm congratulations

“Indeed,” he wrote, “observing the exercise of democracy, as has just taken place in Taiwan, is a source of encouragement for all of us who aspire to live in freedom and dignity.

“I have fond memories of the hospitality the people of Taiwan showed me during my visits there, when I was also able to see how firmly rooted democracy has become. The Taiwanese people have not only developed a flourishing, robust democracy, but have also achieved a great deal in terms of economics and education, while at the same time preserving their rich traditional culture.

“I admire the strong devotion Taiwanese Buddhists have to the Buddha dharma. As a Buddhist monk, I try my best to fulfill their requests for teachings and spiritual guidance from time to time.

“Good relations between Taiwan and the People's Republic of China are of utmost importance. It is my longstanding conviction that engaging in dialogue is the best way to resolve difficult issues, whether on a local, national or international level.”

His Holiness concluded by wishing Mr. Lai every success in meeting the challenges that lie ahead in fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the people of Taiwan.

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Congratulating the Prime Minister-Elect of Bhutan https://www.dalailama.com/news/2024/congratulating-the-prime-minister-elect-of-bhutan Thu, 11 Jan 2024 18:30:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2024/congratulating-the-prime-minister-elect-of-bhutan Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - Following the recent general election in Bhutan, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has written to Tshering Tobgay, the Prime Minister-Elect, to offer him a warm Tashi Delek.

“As Tibetans,” he wrote, “we share a historic relationship with the Bhutanese people, and as someone strongly committed to democratic values, I have followed your country’s commendable development in democratic governance, under the farsighted leadership of the Druk Gyalpo, over the past several years.

“Bhutan today is developing along modern lines, while preserving its traditional religion and culture. I am sure under your tenure, you will see that it continues to be strengthened. Our two peoples have a distinct form of Buddhism in common. Our religious tradition is not merely based on faith, but can also be of practical benefit to humanity at large.

“Our Kagyur and Tengyur, which are collections of the translated words of the Buddha and treatises by subsequent Indian masters, contain a wealth of knowledge about the workings of the mind and emotions that can be critically relevant to bringing about a more peaceful world.”

His Holiness’s letter ended: “May I wish you every success in your endeavours for the welfare of your country and people.”

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Gelukpa University Convocation and the Award of Geshé Lharampa Degrees https://www.dalailama.com/news/2024/gelukpa-university-convocation-and-the-award-of-geshé-lharampa-degrees Tue, 02 Jan 2024 18:30:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2024/gelukpa-university-convocation-and-the-award-of-geshé-lharampa-degrees Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - This morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was invited to preside over the Gelukpa University Convocation and the award of Geshé Lharampa degrees to Geshés who had graduated over the last four years. He was met at the gate to the Kalachakra Ground by abbots of the great monastic seats of learning in south India—Ganden, Drepung and Sera—who escorted him to the stage. His Holiness sat in the middle with Ganden Tri Rinpoché to his right and Jangtsé Chöjé Rinpoché to his left.

Proceedings opened with a verse of homage to the Buddha:

I pay homage to the Chief of Shakya clan,
Who took birth in the Shakya lineage out of compassion and skilful means,
Who was invincible and defeated the forces of evil beings
And whose body was like a majestic golden mountain.

Geshé Tulku Tenzin Sherab delivering his opening remarks at the Gelukpa University Convocation and the Award of Geshé Lharampa Degrees at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 3, 2024. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Moderator for the occasion, Geshé Tulku Tenzin Sherab, welcomed His Holiness, as well as other guests and dignitaries, to the stage. He explained that after the onslaught in 1959 that destroyed much of the Buddhist tradition in Tibet, many Tibetans we able to reach India due to the blessings of His Holiness. Monastics congregated in a camp in Buxaduar, where, under the guidance of His Holiness and his two tutors, a Geshé Lharam examination board was set up. Meanwhile, monks belonging to the three great Monastic Universities kept their traditions of study alive. The moderator declared that the kindness of His Holiness in leading and inspiring all this cannot be repaid.

In 1970, a Gelukpa Examination Board was established, comprising abbots and examination officers, who laid out procedures and rules. Since then, more than 1000 Geshés have graduated. Many of them are serving the Dharma in different parts of the world.

Ganden Tri Rinpoché was invited to speak: “The custodian of the Buddhadharma, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is with us here today, as we gather to celebrate the Gelukpa University Convocation and the ceremony for awarding degrees. Those graduating today have studied thoroughly, exercised logic and debate and appeared for their exams. As a result, they will receive their Lharampa degrees. As Jé Rinpoché has advised, we must study, reflect and integrate what we’ve learned within.

“Once you have earned your Geshé degree, it’s customary to enter either Gyudmé or Gyudtö Tantric College to study the four interwoven commentaries of Guhyasamaja. This is a tradition that has been passed down without a break from the time of Jé Rinpoché. There are other texts to be memorized by newly graduated Geshés, but what is particularly important is to be able to pass on the reading transmission of the Guhyasamaja commentary. I urge you all to put effort into this. As Serkhong Tsenshab Rinpoché used to say, it is essential to keep this tradition alive.

Ganden Tri Rinpoché speaking at the Gelukpa University Convocation and the Award of Geshé Lharampa Degrees at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 3, 2024. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“I pray that His Holiness the Dalai Lama and leaders of all our other Buddhist traditions may live long.”

“Today sees the conclusion of the Mönlam Chenmo or Great Prayer Festival,” His Holiness announced. “All of us gathered here are followers of the Buddha. We should recognise that the teaching of the Buddha is not about saying prayers and performing rituals. It’s mainly about using our minds to cultivate the awakening mind of bodhichitta and insight into emptiness.

“As a Buddhist monk, I generate the awakening mind and an understanding of emptiness the moment I wake in the morning, so my day is imbued with these principles. Generating bodhichitta enables me to fulfil the aims of myself and others and I call all sentient beings as my guests at the feast of enlightenment.

“I also do my best to combine bodhichitta with the view of emptiness, which is the way to overcome mental afflictions and disturbing conceptions. However powerful mental afflictions and disturbing conceptions may be, they are rooted in ignorance and so are without any sound foundation. Bodhichitta and emptiness on the other hand are more powerful and are supported by logic and reason.

“Jé Tsongkhapa advised:

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

“Therefore, the more we learn, the more we gain insight and experience. The Buddhadharma is logical and rational. As is mentioned in ‘Entering into the Bodhisattva Way’, there’s nothing that does not become easier with familiarity. The more familiar we become with emptiness, the more our ignorance is reduced.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the congregation at Gelukpa University Convocation and the Award of Geshé Lharampa Degrees at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 3, 2024. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“I work to integrate bodhichitta and emptiness with my mind every day, and I see the impact it has. Deity yoga is important, but being able to cultivate the awakening mind of bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness are even more so. I urge you to really pursue these practices, confident that they will make you feel at ease. Bodhichitta and emptiness are what make life meaningful. Engaging in deity yoga in the absence of bodhichitta and emptiness will be ineffective.

“On this day when you are receiving your Lharampa degrees, we can recognise that studying the Buddhadharma is something incredible. It’s something particular to Tibet. I have friends from many other Buddhist countries, but few of them study as we do. My own studies began when I was a small child. As I told you the other day, when I was about three years old, I visited Kumbum Monastery and was struck by the sight and sound of young monks prostrating as they recited Om ara patsa na dhih. I was moved to imitate them. In due course, I came to Central Tibet to begin my formal studies. These included Collective Topics, Mind and Awareness, and the study of logic and reason. What effectively consolidated these studies was the practice of debate.

“We may be concerned about the current situation in the world. We may be anxious about the environmental challenges we face, but Manjushri will strengthen our intelligence to be able to resolve the problems we confront. That’s all I want to say for now.”

The moderator explained that the more than 300 Geshé graduates would file up onto the stage where Ganden Tri Rinpoché would present them with their degree certificates. This they did, white silk scarves being draped around their necks as they reached the stage. Having received their degree certificates, each of the Geshé bowed before His Holiness prior to leaving the stage.

Ganden Tri Rinpoché presenting degrees to the Geshe graduates during the Gelukpa University Convocation and the Award of Geshé Lharampa Degrees at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 3, 2024. Photo by Ven Zamling Norbu

Groups of Geshés who graduated in each of the last four years gathered around His Holiness to have photographs taken with him.

His Holiness expressed a wish to speak to the gathering once more.

“Jé Rinpoché told us that whatever we hear or read about, we need to apply the fourfold reasoning to really understand it. We might ask in relation to something—'Is it a particle? Or is it not a particle? Is it both a particle and not a particle? Or is it neither a particle nor not a particle?'

“Having gained some understanding we explore and test it in debate. This is how we gain conviction in the teaching. Then we extend our understanding by reflecting day and night on the meaning of whatever we’ve studied. This approach belongs especially to the Nalanda Tradition. Shantarakshita and other Indo-Tibetan scholars reflected on what they had learned and integrated it within themselves. It’s important that we do this too. The point is to study, reflect and practise.

Groups of Geshés gathered around His Holiness to have photographs taken with him after receiving their degrees at the Gelukpa University Convocation and the Award of Geshé Lharampa Degrees at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 3, 2024. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“We must look for the reasons behind the teaching. We can’t rely merely on the words of the classic treatises we must transform what they mean into a living experience.

“Those of you who have received your Geshé degrees today have done well. Now, I urge you to set an example to others by putting what you’ve learned into practice. Through study, reflection and meditation you can integrate what you’ve learned with your minds.

“The day before yesterday a strong earthquake shook Japan. Many people there are now anxious about what’ll happen next. Japan is a Buddhist country where they also recite the ‘Heart Sutra’. Whenever a disaster takes place anywhere in the world we should feel sympathy for the people affected. So, today, let’s recite the ‘Heart Sutra’ together for the people of Japan, especially the victims of the earthquake.”

The entire gathering joined together in chanting the ‘Heart Sutra’ as His Holiness had advised, completing it with a few recitations of the mantra of the Lion-faced Dakini.

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His Holiness’ Message about the Earthquake in Japan https://www.dalailama.com/news/2024/his-holiness-message-about-the-earthquake-in-japan Mon, 01 Jan 2024 18:30:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2024/his-holiness-message-about-the-earthquake-in-japan Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - His Holiness the Dalai Lama has written to Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan, to express his sadness about yesterday’s earthquake that has resulted in numerous fatalities and casualties, as well as the destruction of property and infrastructure.

“I am saying prayers for those who have lost their lives and offer my sympathy and condolences to their families and others affected by this calamity,” he wrote.

“I appreciate that the Japanese Government is doing everything it can to bring relief and support to those in need. As a Buddhist monk who recites the ‘Heart Sutra’ daily, I feel it would be good if Japanese Buddhists were also to recite this text on this occasion. Such recitation will not only be of benefit to those who have died but may also avert further disasters in the future.

“I am at present in Bodhgaya, the sacred place in India where the Buddha attained enlightenment. Together with members of the Sangha, and other people currently on pilgrimage to this holy place, we will recite the ‘Heart Sutra’ for the victims of this disaster in Japan.”

His Holiness concluded his letter by once again offering his prayers.

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Long Life Ceremony https://www.dalailama.com/news/2024/long-life-ceremony Sun, 31 Dec 2023 18:30:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2024/long-life-ceremony Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - This morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama left Gaden Phelgyeling for the Kalachakra Teaching Ground to attend a ceremony of offerings and prayers for his long life requested by the Central Institute of Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, and its alumni, and people belonging to the Tibetan settlement at Paonta Sahib. Monks wearing crested yellow hats and playing horns led the way. A golden umbrella fluttered overhead. His Holiness smiled and waved to well-wishers lining the route.

Monks lining the drive at the Kalachakra Ground waiting for His Holiness the Dalai Lama's arrive to attend a Long Life Ceremony in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 1, 2024. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

From the platform he smiled and waved again to the crowd and many among them waved back. He greeted the distinguished Lamas, saluted the image of the Buddha surrounded by the seventeen masters of Nalanda in a large thangka behind the throne and took his seat.

The ceremony, led by the Chant-master of Namgyal Monastery and presided over by Ganden Tri Rinpoché, opened with a salutation to the Buddha, ‘the Subduer of the world’. Next came a recitation of 'Clouds of Ambrosial Blessings', Trulshik Rinpoché's invocation of the series of incarnations of Avalokiteshvara in Tibet. The long-life prayers focussed on White Tara.

At a certain point Ganden Tri Rinpoché came forward to present His Holiness with the long-life wand, which he accepted. A seven-limb prayer was chanted, and a large ritual cake was presented to His Holiness, who took a token portion. The Chant-master made a full mandala offering.

Next, Tri Rinpoché offered representations of the body, speech, and mind of the Buddhas, the vase, symbols [of the Buddhas] of the five noble families, the seven royal emblems, the eight auspicious symbols, the eight auspicious substances, and so forth. As this was going on, a procession of people belonging to the patron organizations passed across the front of the platform carrying an array of gifts that mostly comprised volumes of scripture. Some of these were books that have recently been newly translated from Pali and Sanskrit into Tibetan.

Ganden Tri Rinpoché presenting ritual offerings during the Long Life Prayer offered to His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 1, 2024. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Ganden Tri Rinpoché, Jangtsé Chöjé Rinpoché, and Sakya Gongma Rinpoché followed by representatives of the patron organizations approached the throne to pay their respects. His Holiness gave each a white silk scarf and a red protection ribbon.

After the chanting of a prayer for His Holiness’s long life by his two Tutors and another by Jamyang Khyentsé Chökyi Lodrö, His Holiness addressed the congregation.

“Today, what I wish to say to my Dharma brothers and sisters, monks, nuns and laypeople, people with an interest in the teaching of the Buddha, who have gathered in this sacred place of Vajra-asana, the seat of enlightenment, and offered this ceremony for my long life, is that when I look back, I rejoice in what I have been able to do in the world. What’s more I will continue to benefit sentient beings until I am more than 100 years old.

“In recent times we have seen conflict breaking out in the vicinity of Russia and other parts of the world as a result of neighbours regarding each other in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’. This creates division and overlooks the fact that as human beings we all belong to one family. It is my hope that if we learn to appreciate the oneness of humanity, that we are all the same as human beings, we will learn to live in harmony and friendship, able to be of help to each other. I consider it my responsibility to bring this to people’s attention.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the crowd during the Long Life Ceremony at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 1, 2024. Photo by Ven Zamling Norbu

“Each of us, when we were born, was nurtured in our mother’s love. We were suckled by her milk. As we grow up, we all want to be happy and not to feel pain, therefore we should remember how important love and affection have been to each of us. That’s why we should help one another wherever we can.

“We don’t need to create divisions on the basis of ‘us’ and ‘them’, we need to live together in peace. Differences in the colour of our skin or the faith we follow are of secondary significance when compared to our being the same as human beings. When we are born, we are not divided on the basis of national or religious labels.

“Today is New Year’s day and I want to say, ‘Tashi Deleg’ to all of you. We must try to make this year more peaceful, putting the problems and conflicts of the past year behind us. We can start by developing a sense of the oneness of all eight billion people alive today. As Buddhists we pray for the welfare of all sentient beings, but at least we should do what we can to help the beings of this world. What’s important is to recognise our companions as fellow human beings—then we’ll be able to create a more peaceful world.

“We increasingly face extreme weather events. Some places have been too hot, others have been flooded, still others have been stricken by drought. We must pray that these calamities subside.

Members of the crowd, some listening to translations, watching the proceedings during the Long Life Prayer offered to His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 1, 2024. Photo by Ven Zamling Norbu

“I often point out how important it is to be warm-hearted, but our good heart must be guided by wisdom and good sense. Short term goals may not be enough, we must also judge what will be best in the long run. The key to leading a meaningful like is to help others as much as you can.”

A final thanksgiving mandala offering was followed by a prayer to Buddha Amitayus.

A financial statement was read, first in Tibetan and then in English, declaring what was received and what was spent in support of the three days of His Holiness’s teaching and today’s Long-Life Ceremony. Norbu Tsering’s family, Nyanang Tashi Dhondhup’s family, Sonam Gyatso’s family and the Lhaden Chotrul Monlam Trust gave significant support for the teachings. The Central Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies and its alumni, Shalu Monastery, the Paonta Sahib Tibetan Settlement, the Gelugpa University and Lhaden Chotrul Monlam Trust contributed to today’s ceremony.

Thanks were offered to His Holiness for the teachings he has given, as well as to the local Bodhgaya administration, the local police for security and to members of Namgyal Monastery for their far-reaching contributions. Thanks were also expressed to others, too many to name, whose help ensured that all went smoothly.

Proceedings were concluded with the steady chanting of the Dedication Prayer from the end of the ‘Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment’, the ‘Prayer for the Flourishing of the Teaching’ and the ‘Words of Truth’, both composed by His Holiness, and lastly the ‘Samantabhadra Prayer’.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama waving to the crowd as he rides a golf-cart back to the Tibetan Monastery at the conclusion of the Long Life Ceremony at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 1, 2024. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Waving once more to the crowd and saluting the image of the Buddha, His Holiness boarded the golf-cart that then carried him back to the monastery.

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His Holiness’ Message for the New Year - 2024 https://www.dalailama.com/news/2023/his-holiness-message-for-the-new-year-2024 Sun, 31 Dec 2023 03:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2023/his-holiness-message-for-the-new-year-2024 On the occasion of the New Year, I would like to thank everyone who has sent me good wishes, and I offer my greetings to you all, brothers and sisters across the world.

Despite the many challenges that we are facing today, I feel optimistic that with a growing appreciation of how interconnected we all are in the oneness of humanity, we can all work to lead more meaningful lives and create a better world.

As human beings we share a common wish to be happy and free from pain. We are social animals who depend on others to survive. Therefore, as I often say, we should work for the benefit of others. If we cannot help them, we should at least make sure we do no harm. I have found that helping others is the best way of ensuring happiness and calm for ourselves.

I also firmly believe that we can find peace in the world only when we find peace within. Every human being has the potential to cultivate inner peace, and by so doing to contribute to the peace of our global community.

We must try to cultivate compassion and inner peace, regardless of our nationality or religion, we can contribute to the well-being and happiness of all mankind. If the last century was the century of violence, it is our responsibility to make this century the century of dialogue.

Once again, I extend warm greetings to you all. I hope that you all enjoy an auspicious beginning to the new year, 2024.

With prayers and good wishes,

Dalai Lama

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Teachings in Bodhgaya - Third Day https://www.dalailama.com/news/2023/teachings-in-bodhgaya-third-day Sat, 30 Dec 2023 19:00:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2023/teachings-in-bodhgaya-third-day Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - This morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived at the Kalachakra Teaching Ground, waved to the crowd, saluted the statue of the Buddha behind the throne, greeted eminent Lamas, and took his seat. A four-fold gathering of Taiwanese— monks, nuns, laywomen and laymen—sat before him and chanted the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Mandarin. There followed a second recitation of the same text in Tibetan. Tea and bread were served.

A group from Tawian chanting the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Mandarin at the start of the third day of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 31, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“In order to give the permission of Manjushri this morning,” His Holiness announced, “I have to do some preparatory practices. While I do so, please recite the mantra Om ara patsa na dhih.

“The Buddha, like a majestic mountain possessed of all qualities, became a Buddha as a result of accumulating merit and wisdom for three countless aeons. He attained Buddhahood beneath the Bodhi Tree near here. He was a teacher who revealed the truth and the path to it as they are.

“When we say I take refuge in the Buddha, we acknowledge the possibility of overcoming all defilements—attaining their true cessation. When the Buddha told us, ‘You are your own master’, he meant that we must practise. His powerful statement tells us that the future is in our hands. It’s not that anyone else can or should practise on our behalf. We spin through the cycle of existence because our minds are unruly. There are antidotes to suffering and its causes. By applying them we can actualize a purified mind, and that’s something to be proud of.

A butter sculpture with the image of Manjushri displayed on the altar behind His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the third day of teachings at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 31, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“As soon as I wake in the morning, I recite the verse for taking refuge and generating the awakening mind, which gives me strength to work for others. So, just as I make the cultivation of bodhichitta my main practice, you, my Dharma brothers and sisters should do so too. It will bring you peace of mind and physical well-being. This is what I say:

Having generated the spirit of supreme enlightenment
I invite all sentient beings as my guests to this feast of temporary help and the ultimate goal of enlightenment.
I will engage in the supreme and wonderful conduct of a bodhisattva,
May I attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all living beings.

“I urge all of you to cultivate a wish to benefit others as well. However many years I have left, I dedicate myself to extending my awakening mind.”

Beginning the process of granting the permission of Manjushri, His Holiness explained that he feels especially close to the mantra Om ara patsa na dhih. He heard it first when he was three or four years old and visiting Kumbum Monastery. There he witnessed young monks, not much older than him, reciting the mantra as they performed prostrations. This was the first mantra to catch his attention and the memory has stayed with him. Indeed, he continues to recite it now every day.

The congregation offered a mandala by way of requesting to receive the permission. His Holiness remarked that he felt very fortunate to be able to give it in this sacred place associated with the Vajra-asana, the Seat of Enlightenment. He mentioned how effective he has found reciting Om ara patsa na dhih to be in burnishing his own intelligence.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama granting the permission of Manjushri on the third day of teachings at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 31, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

He noted that in Buddhist practice it’s important to be able to use intelligence to develop wisdom. This is so necessary when it comes to overcoming mental afflictions and their imprints that function as obstructions to knowledge. He quoted lines from the prayer Jé Tsongkhapa wrote at the end of his 'Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment’.

Wherever the Buddha's teaching has not spread
And wherever it has spread but has declined
May I, moved by great compassion, clearly elucidate
This treasury of excellent benefit and happiness for all.

Having given permissions related to the body, speech and mind of Manjushri, His Holiness led the congregation in reciting Om ara patsa na dhih together, followed by an exhilarating repetition of the syllable dhih.

Members of the crowd listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the third day of teachings at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 31, 2023. Photo by Ven Zamling Norbu

Next, His Holiness gave the reading transmission of a prayer to the Eight Medicine Buddhas that he composed.

A thanksgiving mandala was offered and the occasion was concluded with the stirring chorus of hundreds of monks’ voices in sonorous tones chanting the Dedication Prayer from the end of 'Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment’.

The text of the prayer to the Medicine Buddhas can be downloaded from the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s website: https://media.dalailama.com/En...

A Manjushi Sadhana can be found there too: https://media.dalailama.com/En...

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Teachings in Bodhgaya – Second Day https://www.dalailama.com/news/2023/teachings-in-bodhgaya-second-day Fri, 29 Dec 2023 18:30:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2023/teachings-in-bodhgaya-second-day Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - People lining the road from the Tibetan Monastery to the Kalachakra Teaching Ground were eager to catch a glimpse of His Holiness the Dalai Lama as he passed this morning. He beamed with joy in return. From the front of the stage he again smiled and waved to the crowd before turning to greet the eminent Lamas seated around the throne.

People lining the road from the Tibetan Monastery to the Kalachakra Teaching Ground were eager to catch a glimpse of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the second day of teachings in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 30, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

As soon as His Holiness was seated, a group of eight Indian girls, students at the Root Institute School here in Bodhgaya, with two of their teachers, sat down before him and delighted the assembly by chanting the ‘Heart Sutra’ in impeccable Sanskrit. The same sutra was then recited again in Tibetan, followed by the verses of salutation from the ‘Ornament for Clear Realization’ and Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’.

Members of a group of Indian girls, students at the Root Institute School in Bodhgaya, chanting the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Sanskrit at the start of the second day of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 30, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“Today, in this very special place, Vajra-asana, the seat of enlightenment,” His Holiness observed, “people have gathered from many different countries and have the opportunity to make prayers. All sentient beings are the same in not wanting the slightest suffering, and, especially in the case of human beings, seeking joy.

“As human beings we have the ability to look for reliable methods to overcome suffering and generate happiness. However, far too often, we look at things from a narrow point of view and only end up making ourselves unhappy. We lose our way in pursuit of short-term gratification.

“No other creatures are quite like human beings, who, although intelligent, create suffering for themselves and others. We’ve seen the horrors of the first and second world wars and yet there are those who would have us prepare for the third. We pour energy and resources into constructing sophisticated weapons whose only purpose is destruction.

“We need to be aware of the mistakes we have made and engage instead in practices that will create happiness and reduce suffering for everyone. We must work to avert war and forgo the use of weapons. We should no longer think in terms of complete victory for ourselves and the abject defeat of our adversaries. We must avoid thinking of our fellow human beings in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and seek to live in peace and harmony with each other.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the crowd gathered at the Kalachakra Ground to attend the second day of teachings in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 30, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“The real root of happiness is having a compassionate mind. If we just let ourselves be flung here and there by anger and hatred, there’ll be no peace in the world. But if we cultivate a warm-hearted attitude towards others there will be hope.

“We had no weapons in our hands when we were born. Indeed, at that time we were nurtured by our mother’s love and affection. We would do well to keep this experience alive as we grow up.

“It’s both sad and unfortunate that so many people seem set on killing each other. How much better it would be if they focussed instead on creating a loving atmosphere around them. Because we want to be happy and not to suffer, we should work to cultivate ‘karuna’, compassion, within. Then we’ll contribute to peace in the world. If we have love and compassion in our hearts, we’ll be on good terms with those around us. We have a responsibility to create peace in the world. This means doing our best to build peace within and without.”

His Holiness noted that there are a number of different religions in the world, but all convey a common message about the value of cultivating love and compassion. This leads to an appreciation of the oneness of humanity. He observed that we make prayers that all sentient beings be happy and avoid suffering, but words alone are not enough. We have to take practical steps to help each other.

Volunteer monks racing to serve tea to the crowd of over 50,000 attending the second day of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 30, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

He remarked that yesterday’s text dealt primarily with emptiness. In that context, all sentient beings are the same in that their minds are empty of inherent existence. Applying the insights of yesterday’s teaching we can overcome the attachment, anger and hatred that causes division among us. The more loving and compassionate we are, the happier we’ll be. If we have love and compassion in our hearts, we’ll be able to die in peace.

“Today,” His Holiness announced, “we’ll cultivate the all-encompassing yoga mind. Most of us here are Buddhists, who pray to reach Buddhahood. The first syllable of the Tibetan word for Buddha—Sang—indicates that he has overcome all defilements. The second syllable—gyé—refers to his having acquired all qualities. So, our goal is to reduce the defilements in our minds and acquire all good qualities, thinking not only of ourselves, but of all sentient beings. The more we focus on the welfare of others, the more positive qualities we accrue.”

When it came to cultivating the all-encompassing yoga mind His Holiness advised his listeners to focus on the thought of bringing benefit to all sentient beings, infinite as the expanse of space, aspiring to lead them all to the state of Buddhahood. This amounts to generating conventional bodhichitta. His Holiness prompted the disciples to visualize this mind transforming into a moon disk at their hearts.

Next, His Holiness reminded them that although things appear to exist independently and objectively, they are actually dependent on other factors and exist as merely designated. He added that we too are all dependently arisen and have no objective status. Even the Buddha only exists in terms of designation.

His Holiness advised his listeners to imagine this thought of ultimate bodhichitta, the insight that all phenomena lack of inherent existence, arising in the form of a white, five-spoked vajra standing upright on the moon disk they had already imagined at their hearts. He asked them to repeat: Om sarva yogacitta utpatayami Then, to stabilize their minds and make the mind of all-encompassing yoga firm he asked them to recite: Om surate samaya satvam ho siddhi vajra yatha sukham.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama waving to the crowd of at the conclusion of the second day of teachings at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 30, 2023. Photo by Ven Zamling Norbu

His Holiness declared that this ceremony was sufficient to entail the granting of the Bodhisattva Vow. He stated that what is most important is that disciples make themselves thoroughly familiar with the awakening mind of bodhichitta and the wisdom understanding emptiness.

“What I’ve learned about these two practices I’ve reflected and meditated on over many years. And I’ve seen the impact they have had on my mind. If you also cultivate these practices well, you’ll be able to embark on the path to enlightenment in this life.

“It’s because I recall emptiness and cultivate the awakening mind of bodhichitta from the moment I wake every morning that I am relaxed and at ease. Please keep this in mind. That’s all. Tashi delek.”

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Teachings in Bodhgaya – First Day https://www.dalailama.com/news/2023/teachings-in-bodhgaya-first-day Thu, 28 Dec 2023 18:30:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2023/teachings-in-bodhgaya-first-day Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - A pall of chilly mist lay over Bodhgaya this morning as His Holiness the Dalai Lama took the short drive from Gaden Phelgyeling, the Tibetan Monastery, to the Kalachakra Ground. The street was lined by smiling well-wishers including drummers from Ladakh. His Holiness waved to them as he passed.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama consecrating a new stone statue of the Buddha commissioned by the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMG) at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 29, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Just inside the gate to the teaching ground His Holiness paused before a new stone statue of the Buddha commissioned by the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMG). Members of the committee we there to welcome him. Supported by monks from Namgyal Monastery His Holiness chanted verses to consecrate the image, their recitations punctuated by tossing handfuls of flower petals into the air by way of blessing.

His Holiness was able to disembark from the golf cart right at the edge of the stage in front of the throne, from where he waved to the 50,000 strong crowd, that included approximately 15,000 from more than 50 countries, to the right, the left and straight ahead. Turning around he saluted the statue of the Buddha behind the throne. He greeted Sakya Gongma Rinpoché, Sakya Trizin and other members of the Sakya family. On the opposite side he greeted Ganden Tri Rinpoché and Jangtsé Chöjé Rinpoché, as well as the Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament and the Sikyong Penpa Tsering.

Once His Holiness had taken his seat a group of Theravadin monks gathered before him to chant the ‘Mangala Sutta’ in Pali. This was followed by a lilting recitation of the ‘Heart Sutra’ and a mandala offering in Tibetan. Meanwhile tea and bread were served.

Theravadin monks chanting the ‘Mangala Sutta’ in Pali at the start of the first day of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 29, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“Whatever kind of discourse is being given,” His Holiness began, addressing the crowd, “it’s important that we first check our motivation. This applies to both the teacher and the taught. We should avoid the eight worldly concerns. The teacher should neither be selfish nor only in search of peace. Disciples should not be absorbed by the pleasures of this life. All should seek to benefit others.

“We’ll recite the verse for taking refuge and cultivating the awakening mind of bodhichitta. The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are the objects of refuge and the reason we turn to them is to attain unsurpassable enlightenment in order to be able to lead all sentient beings to liberation.

“Having met with the teaching of Buddha Shakyamuni, it’s good to recognise that whatever he taught was rooted in his own experience. He had overcome all mental afflictions and the obstructions to knowledge that are their residue. As is written in the ‘Sublime Continuum’ (Uttaratantra), all sentient beings have the potential to attain Buddhahood, but their minds are shrouded in defilements.

“Since the defilements are not of the same nature as the mind, they can be eliminated and the intrinsic, luminous, clear light nature of the mind can be made manifest. This means that we can achieve the omniscient state that the Buddha has reached.

“Defilements leave residual stains that function as obstructions to knowledge, but they too can be overcome. Because the nature of the mind is clear light, it is stainless by nature. It is by purifying our minds that we can achieve the same state as the Buddha. And it is possible to purify our minds because the various defilements are adventitious and temporary, while the intrinsic nature of the mind is clear and knowing. It is clear light.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the crowd on the first day of teachings at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 29, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“From my own experience, having reflected long on the awakening mind of bodhichitta and the wisdom understanding emptiness—method and wisdom—I infer that mental defilements are only temporary. They do not obscure our minds forever. Although I have not developed single-pointed concentration, I think that of the five-fold path I can achieve the path of preparation.

“The antidotes to our mental defilements and obstructions to knowledge are two—bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness. It we develop these we can achieve Buddhahood as Shakyamuni has done. We can cultivate the courage and determination to do so because the basic nature of the Buddha’s mind and our minds is the same. The mind we have now will ultimately become the mind of a Buddha.”

His Holiness remarked that Vasubandhu declared the Buddha’s teaching to have two aspects, one consisting of scriptures and the other comprising realization. He added that we will not gain realization or overcome defilements and obscurations just on the basis of words. Having learned what the teaching means, we must apply it within. Then, whatever we may be doing, we’ll be able to see how the mind’s defilements can be reduced and eliminated. His Holiness reiterated that it is the clear light nature of the mind that makes it possible for us to overcome defilements and manifest the omniscient state of a Buddha.

Through the practice of bodhichitta we can fulfil our own goals as well as the goals of others. Therefore, we pledge to generate the awakening mind. Having cultivated this aspiration to enlightenment, we determine to work for the benefit of all sentient beings.

His Holiness announced, “Today, the teaching is focussed on ‘In Praise of the Dharmdhatu’ by Nagarjuna. The text begins with homage to the dharmadhatu that is the Buddha nature that abides in every sentient being. But because they aren't aware of it, they spin through the cycle of existence. However, when what gives rise to the cycle of existence is purified, it becomes nirvana and likewise, dharmakaya, the Truth Body of a Buddha. The empty nature of the Buddha’s mind and our minds is just the same. We can have confidence that because dharmadhatu is stainless, it is possible to attain the Dharmakaya.

Members of the 50,000 strong crowd following the text ‘In Praise of the Dharmdhatu’ by Nagarjuna being taught by His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 29, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“We regard things as having independent existence, which is to cling to ignorance. We must recall instead that the nature of the mind is empty, and things are merely designated. As long as the clear light nature of the mind is shrouded in defilements, we remain sentient beings. When they are removed, we become enlightened.”

His Holiness mentioned that of the five obscurations mentioned in verse 19 he has amended the name of the first from desire to regret. He repeated that when we can understand that defilements are temporary and that there are antidotes to them, we will appreciate that it is possible to attain enlightenment. Although the three poisons, desire, anger and ignorance are powerful, they can be overcome. We must be confident we can achieve this goal.

“We’ve gathered here in this sacred location where enlightenment took place,” His Holiness observed, “and we’ve gone through this text ‘In Praise of Dharmadhatu’. On my part, I do my best to cultivate the awakening mind of bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness every day, not with a view to this life alone, but, as the famous verse says, ‘as long as space remains’. I urge you my Dharma friends to do the same as best you can.”

A thanksgiving mandala was offered followed by a recitation of the Words of Truth, composed by His Holiness. The session concluded with the following prayer:

May the operation of evil thoughts and negative deeds among human and non-human beings
Who harbour malice through their perverted prayers
Against the teaching of the Victorious One
Be totally vanquished by the power of truth of the Three Jewels.

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Prayers for Peace Under the Bodhi Tree https://www.dalailama.com/news/2023/prayers-for-peace-under-the-bodhi-tree Fri, 22 Dec 2023 18:30:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2023/prayers-for-peace-under-the-bodhi-tree Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - Following the successful conclusion of the three day International Sangha Forum, delegates gathered this morning beneath the Bodhi Tree to make prayers for world peace. His Holiness the Dalai Lama came from the Tibetan Monastery, Ganden Phelgyeling to join them. Reaching the west side of the Mahabodhi Temple he greeted Sakya Gongma Rinpoché and Jangtsé Chöjé Rinpoché, who were seated to his right. He waved to the crowd and then greeted the Ganden Tri Rinpoché who was seated to his left.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama arriving at the Mahabodi Temple to join in prayers for world peace in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 23, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Welcoming His Holiness, the eminent guests and respected Sangha members Siliing Tongkhor Rinpoché declared:

“We have gathered here in the shade of the Bodhi Tree recalling that this is where the Buddha attained enlightenment. Let us draw strength from the teachings he gave, which remain relevant and timely today. Amidst the unending challenges facing the world, let us focus on the shared purpose of bringing solace, compassion and a sense of oneness to all in need.

“In the hallowed vicinity of this ancient temple may our prayers transcend borders resounding as a call for peace, compassion and healing. Bodhgaya where enlightenment took place centuries ago is a beacon to a brighter future and a more compassionate world.

“As we join our hands in prayer may this gathering bring humanity enduring strength, and may the blessings we invoke today bring comfort to many and spread like ripples around the world. May our prayers be filled with the wisdom that originated here.”

Ven Mahayano Aun announced that on this occasion prayers would be chanted of by representatives of 11 Sangha communities from the Pali and Sanskrit traditions. "We are all followers of the same Buddha," he added, "May our prayers contribute to peace and harmony among all living beings."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama lighting a lamp to open the gathering at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 23, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

First His Holiness and then Sakya Gongma Rinpoché, Jangtsé Chöjé Rinpoché, the Venerable Abbot of the Royal Thai Temple, Bodhgaya, Ganden Tri Rinpoché and the Deputy Sangharaja of Myanmar were invited to light a lamp of wisdom to give an auspicious opening to the gathering.

President of the International Buddhist Council (IBC), Bodhgaya, Geshé Ngawang Tenzin Gyatso gave a welcome address.

“On behalf of the IBC I welcome you to this land of enlightenment. First of all, let me express deep gratitude to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for blessing us by his presence and for presiding over this gathering. I also welcome the Sangharajas from different countries. The International Sangha Forum, as well as this meeting today, fulfilling the vision of His Holiness, have been coordinated by the South-east Asia representative of the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

“Our primary focus has been to establish an ongoing dialogue and collaboration among the various Buddhist communities belonging to the Pali and Sanskrit traditions. This is a day for joy and happiness as we witness members of these traditions praying together for the welfare of all humanity.

“Once again, I thank His Holiness for imparting the true teaching of the Buddha and for rejuvenating the whole world by revealing the ancient wisdom of India rooted in compassion and wisdom. May the teaching of the Buddha remain long in our hearts and may all our teachers live long and in good health.”

Sangha members of eleven different countries taking turns chanting prayers for world peace at the Mahabohdi Temple in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 23, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

There followed prayers for universal peace chanted by Sangha members from India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Cambodia, all of whom prayed in Pali. Monks from Taiwan recited the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Chinese. Monks from Korea, Japan and Vietnam chanted the ‘Heart Sutra’ in their respective languages as they beat a wooden fish to keep their rhythm. Lastly, Tibetan monks recited the ‘Prayer of the Three Continuums’ and the following verse:

May there be happiness in the world, may harvests be abundant,
Increasing the production of grains; may spirituality flourish;
May we achieve all happiness and benefit
And fulfill all our heartfelt desires.

Before chanting the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Tibetan, they recited this ‘Praise to Prajnaparamita' by Rahula:

Homage to the Perfection of Wisdom, 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.

They ended with this concluding verse:

With the coming of the Buddha in the world
The teaching shines forth brightly like the sun
The custodians of the teaching are harmonious like siblings
Through them may the teaching flourish for long.

Bhikkhu Pragyadeep, General Secretary of the International Buddhist Council, Bodhgaya offered words of thanks:

“His Holiness the Dalai Lama and guests—monks, nuns and lay-people from 33 different countries—today we have assembled beneath the Bodhi Tree, the sole witness of the enlightenment of Siddhartha Gautama. This is the first time that representatives of so many lands have gathered together here in the shade of the Bodhi Tree. We hope there will be many more such assemblies in the future.

A view of the crowd gathered to join in prayers for world peace at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 23, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“It is His Holiness who has explained Buddhism in such a way that it has attracted great interest. Due to your efforts many people in different parts of the world are paying attention to what the Buddha taught. Your presence brings Buddhism alive for people. Therefore, we pray you will live long.

“Many scholars among representatives from 33 countries have presented papers to the conference, full of knowledge and intelligence about consciousness and so forth. We thank you for the inspiration you have given us.”

Ven Mahayano Aun expressed the hope that with a shared commitment to the Dharma and a collective aspiration for world peace the prayers said today would spread love, wisdom and compassion around the world leading all sentient beings to live in peace and harmony.

“May all our efforts contribute to the flourishing of the Buddha’s teaching,” he added, “and may all beings find peace and happiness. This concludes our prayers for the world beneath the sacred Bodhi Tree.”

His Holiness made an impromptu request to address the assembly:

“All of us, including you my Dharma friends gathered here, know that the unique aspect of the teaching of the Buddha is that it deals with dependent arising—pratityasamutpada. When you combine this with the aspiration to attain nirvana, or liberation, you tread the paths of Arhats and Solitary Realizers. But when you combine it with the awakening mind of bodhichitta your path leads to Buddhahood.

“In the Nalanda tradition masters such as Nagarjuna have shown that we should examine the teaching of the Buddha in the light of reason, not relying solely on faith. I was born in the remote north-east of Tibet, but I came to Lhasa to study the Dharma with my tutors. By using my own intelligence through study and reason I discovered how profound were the Buddha’s instructions. In my daily practice I focus on bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness. So, I can tell you that the Buddha’s teaching is not only vast and profound, it is also practical and effective in terms of inner development.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the congregation gathered at the Mahabodhi Temple to join in prayers for world peace in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 23, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“As is indicated by the ‘Heart Sutra’ mantra, we aspire to reach Buddhahood by following the five paths. We are not confined to merely saying prayers, we must follow the direction shown by Nagarjuna and others and examine the teaching in terms of reason and logic. I have acquired good experience of both bodhichitta and emptines such that I can say I have reached the path of accumulation and hope to reach the path of preparation.

“From my own experience I have learned how practical the Buddha’s teachings are. If you integrate them with your mind, you’ll see their effect, which ultimately results in the attainment of Buddhahood. In other words, the Buddha’s teachings are vast and profound.

“I myself am a follower of the Buddha. I have studied his teachings, but I have also meditated on them. Through study and practice I have gained experience of how vast and profound they are. As a person with such experience, being here at this sacred place where the Buddha attained enlightenment, I feel most fortunate.

“None of us wants to suffer; we all want to be happy, but those who cultivate the causes of happiness through actually practising the path are few. Remember, the Buddha told us that the Enlightened Ones don't wash unwholesome deeds away with water, and they don't remove the sufferings of beings with their hands, nor do they transplant their own realization into others. It is by teaching the truth of suchness, revealing reality as they have experienced it, and the means to pacify restless minds, that they liberate beings. What’s more he stated, ‘You are your own master.’

“I can see how we rid ourselves of negative emotions, the causes of suffering by applying the teachings within ourselves. I can feel the impact the Dharma has had on my mind. If you too practise, if you study and practise, you’ll see how doing so brings about peace of mind. When you understand how mental afflictions can be subdued, you’ll see how we can reach the final goal of enlightenment by following the path.

“This is what I wish to share with you—that we should integrate the teaching of the Buddha within ourselves. Thank you.”

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Inauguration of the First International Sangha Forum https://www.dalailama.com/news/2023/inauguration-of-the-first-international-sangha-forum Tue, 19 Dec 2023 18:30:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2023/inauguration-of-the-first-international-sangha-forum Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - This morning His Holiness the Dalai Lama drove the short distance from Ganden Pelgyeling Monastery to the International Convention Centre, Bodhgaya, where he was to take part in the inaugural session of the first International Sangha Forum (ISF). He members of the organizing committee welcomed him at the door. Before going inside, he took a moment to enjoy a group of Mönpas from Arunachal Pradesh dancing on the lawn in celebration of his arrival.

The moderator, Ven Mahayano Aun greeting the assembled representatives of the different Buddhist traditions and introducing the program of the International Sangha Forum at the International Convention Centre Bodhgaya in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 20, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Once His Holiness had taken his seat on the stage between the Ganden Tri Rinpoché and the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Shri Pem Khandu, the moderator, Ven Mahayano Aun paid homage to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, saluted His Holiness and greeted all the representatives of Buddhist traditions in this most auspicious place. He declared the aim of the Forum was to hold a dialogue on role of Buddhism in the 21st century and to discuss how to create understanding and cooperation among the array of Buddhist traditions. He announced that there would be three days of discussions, followed on the fourth by prayers for peace in the world in the vicinity of the Mahabodhi Temple. Siling Tongkhor Rinpoché translated this introduction in English was into Tibetan.

To begin with, a group of Theravadin monks recited the ‘Karaniya Metta Sutta’—'The Buddha’s words on loving-kindness’—in Pali. They were followed by a group of monks from the Sanskrit University in Varanasi who chanted the Mangala Sutra—the Sutra of Auspiciousness—in Sanskrit.

A group of Theravadin monks recited the ‘Karaniya Metta Sutta’ in Pali at the start of the inauguration of the International Sangha Forum at the International Convention Centre Bodhgaya in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 20, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

The moderator requested His Holiness and other leaders to press buttons before them to light a lamp of wisdom and open proceedings. As they did so, a bright multicoloured electric lamp appeared before them, and on the large screen behind them, to great fanfare.

Secretary of the International Sangha Forum Ms Wee Nee Ng welcomed His Holiness, Chief Minister Pema Khandu and all the guests to this first meeting of the ISF. She reiterated that the purpose was to establish collaboration between the Buddhist Pali and Sanskrit traditions and to discuss what it means to be a Buddhist in the 21st century. She expressed the hope that the conference would contribute to making the world a better place.

Secretary of the International Sangha Forum Ms Wee Nee Ng welcoming the participants and guests to the first International Sangha Forum at the International Convention Centre Bodhgaya in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 20, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Director General of the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) Abhijit Halder disclosed that it was an honour for him to speak before such an esteemed gathering. He predicted that the message of this conference would have significant impact. He mentioned that humanity has recently seen an increase in flooding, drought and earthquakes. The oceans are rising, while snowfall in the mountains is declining. We must ask, he said, what we have done to make nature so angry with us. It makes us pause to ask where we’ve gone wrong and what we have to do.

He quoted what His Holiness had said at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992:

“I believe that to meet the challenge of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. Each of us must learn to work not just for his or her self, family or nation, but for the benefit of all mankind. Universal responsibility is the real key to human survival. It is the best foundation for world peace, the equitable use of natural resources and, through concern for the future generations, the proper care of the environment.”

At a time when warfare has broken out in several parts of the world, Halder noted, the primary focus of the Dharma is to develop compassion and wisdom. The Buddhadharma is part of the world’s culture, he went on, it teaches us how to live in peace with prosperity and compassion. We need to shift our attention to what will make human beings more compassionate and peaceful. The teachings of the Buddha, intended to relieve suffering, show us how to live at ease in peace and harmony. These were the instructions that the emperor Ashoka encouraged to spread across Asia.

Director General of the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) Abhijit Halder speaking at the inauguration of the first International Sangha Forum at the International Convention Centre Bodhgaya in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 20, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Halder ended by quoting a verse, so favoured by His Holiness, from Shantideva’s ‘Bodhisattvacharyavatara’,

As long as space endures,
And as long as sentient beings remain,
Until then, may I too remain
To help dispel the misery of the world.

Moderator Ven Mahayano Aun then asked His Holiness, who he referred to as the inspiration for everyone present, to give the conference’s opening address.

“I pay homage to the Buddha with my body, speech and mind,” he began. “Today, we are gathered in this sacred place where Buddha Shakyamuni attained enlightenment. And although we are living in a degenerate era, the Dharma he taught still shines bright.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the inaugural session of the first International Sangha Forum at the International Convention Centre Bodhgaya in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 20, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“The Buddhas do not wash away unwholesome deeds with water, nor do they remove the sufferings of beings with their hands, nor do they transplant their own realization into others. It's by revealing the truth that they help beings to become liberated.

“We make suffering for ourselves due to our destructive emotions. Because of ignorance we create negative karma. This is why the Buddha taught, ‘Do no wrong; cultivate virtue.’ So, we need to generate a good heart and avoid doing others harm. Instead of ill-treating them, we should help people and bring them benefit. Doing that will bring us peace of mind, which, in turn, will enhance our physical well-being.

“To act out of anger or attachment is a mistake. The essence of Dharma is to study what is taught, to reflect on what you’ve learned, and to apply what you’ve understood within yourself. If you cultivate an altruistic attitude, the awakening mind of bodhichitta, you’ll be able to fulfill the goals of yourself and others. “Thinking, may I generate bodhichitta, call on all sentient beings as your guests at the feast of enlightenment. Cultivating bodhichitta is a powerful practice. Along with it we can engage in the six perfections and the four ways of gathering disciples. The focus is serve other sentient beings. Do that and the world will become a friendlier, more peaceful place.”

A view of the hall at the International Convention Centre Bodhgaya during His Holiness the Dalai Lama's address at the inauguration of the first International Sangha Forum in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 20, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

His Holiness harked back to the time of the Tibetan religious king, Songtsen Gampo in 7th century. He caused a Tibetan system of writing to be devised, based on the Devanagiri alphabet. Consequently, when Shantarakshita came to Tibet in the following century he advised Tibetans not to rely on the Pali and Sanskrit languages, but to translate Buddhist literature into Tibetan. The Kangyur and Tengyur collections of scripture and treatises are something we can be proud of. Our having preserved them has not only been good for us but can be of benefit to the world at large.

His Holiness remarked that people are becoming tired of materialism. Under these circumstances, if can cultivate warm-heartedness, we’ll not only feel physically at ease, but our minds will be full of joy. What’s more this will be a cause for being more warm-hearted in life after life.

“Bodhichitta is a precious practice. I’ve found it’s been very helpful for me,” His Holiness revealed, “so I ask all of you too to keep it mind. Help other beings; become a Buddha for them. By cultivating peace of mind within ourselves we’ll make a practical contribution to peace in the world.

Sangha members from different Buddhist traditions listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the nauguration of the first International Sangha Forum at the International Convention Centre Bodhgaya in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 20, 2023. Photo by Ven Zamling Norbu

“I have observed the advantages that cultivating bodhichitta and the wisdom understanding emptiness can bring and I can attest to their practical value from my own experience. I haven’t developed single-pointed concentration, but if I had, I think I would make great progress. In the meantime, bodhichitta brings inner strength and confidence. It gives us the courage to work for all sentient beings.”

His Holiness commented that the mantra of the 'Heart Sutra' indicates the step-by-step path to Buddhahood. When Avalokiteshvara recites it, "Tadyata gaté gaté paragaté parasamgaté bodhi svaha" ("It is thus: Proceed, proceed, proceed beyond, thoroughly proceed beyond, be founded in enlightenment"), he is advising followers to proceed through the five paths. His Holiness also mentioned how useful it can be to study the great treatises: Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’, Shantideva’s ‘Entering into the Way of a Bodhisattva’ and Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’.

“In order to share experience with others,” His Holiness noted, “you have to have experience to share. These two principles, the awakening mind of bodhichitta and the wisdom understanding emptiness are the core of my practice. I invoke them every day from the moment I wake up. This way I gather merit and purify mental defilement. I continuously make a prayer to be of service to others as long as space endures. Being of benefit to others is the way to lead a meaningful life.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the inauguration of the first International Sangha Forum at the International Convention Centre Bodhgaya in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 20, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“If you wish to help others, you need to discipline your own mind. I ask my Dharma friends to take this to heart. I was born in far-off north-east Tibet and was brought to Lhasa to study as a small child. Now I can feel the impact these practices have had on me, which is why I’m able to share them with you. I urge you to reflect on bodhichitta and the wisdom understanding emptiness.

“The essence of both the Pali and Sanskrit traditions is altruism. The most important thing is to cultivate bodhichitta.”

Representatives of the several Buddhist traditions came forward to address the assembly. Ven Ru-Jing, Abbot of the Bliss and Wisdom Monastic Community, Taiwan offered his greetings to the forum. Phra Dhambodhivong, Chief Abbot of the Royal Thai Monastery, Bodhgaya, representing the Thai Sangharaja and the royal family, Thailand, greeted His Holiness and prayed that the Three Jewels bless the forum and its proceedings.

Phra Dhambodhivong, Chief Abbot of the Royal Thai Monastery, Bodhgaya, representing the Thai Sangharaja and the royal family, Thailand, greeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama and and participants of the first International Sangha Forum at the International Convention Centre Bodhgaya in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 20, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Ven Khenpo Sonam Bhumden, Chief of Research and Translation, Office of Jé Khenpo, Bhutan, praised the opportunity the forum presented to conduct a thorough-going dialogue about Buddhism today. May all beings be blessed with peace and prosperity, he prayed.

Preah Iddhimuni Moeng Sang, the President of the Cambodian Buddhist Monk Society, USA, stated that it was an honour to be here in the presence of His Holiness and the Mahasangha. He mentioned that his group had recently completed chanting the entire Tripitaka here in Bodhgaya.

His Eminence Khambo Nomun Khaan, Geshé Jetsun Dorje, Abbot of Ganden Thekchenling Monastery, Mongolia, sent a message that was read on his behalf. He congratulated the organizers for bringing together such an assembly to discuss the role of Buddhism in the 21st century.

Ven Kumdin Na, Member of the State Sanghamahayanayaka, Yangon and Deputy Sangharaja of Myanmar, offering greetings at the inaugural session of the first International Sangha Forum at the International Convention Centre Bodhgaya in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 20, 2023. Photo by Ven Zamling Norbu

Ven Kumdin Na, Member of the State Sanghamahayanayaka, Yangon and Deputy Sangharaja of Myanmar, offered his greetings.

Shadjin Lama, Geshé Tenzin Chödak, Head Lama of the Kalmyk Buddhists of Kalmykia, Russia, whose words were translated by Telo Tulku, offered his greetings and stated that it was an honour for him to take part in this forum in this extraordinary place.

Shadjin Lama, Geshé Tenzin Chödak, Head Lama of the Kalmyk Buddhists of Kalmykia, Russia speaking at the inaugural session of the first International Sangha Forum at the International Convention Centre Bodhgaya in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 20, 2023. Photo by Ven Zamling Norbu

The Ven Tri Mingzen a representative of the Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha invoked the Enlightened One saying “Namo Shakyamuni Buddha” and remarked that the key teaching about impermanence means that things are always changing. He paused for a minute’s meditation before continuing to comment on the significance of observing the precepts.

Most Ven Dr Warakagoda Gnanarathana Mahayanake Thero, the Mahayanake Thero of Asgiriya Chapter of Siyam Maha Nikaya, Sri Lanka, observed that religious conferences are held all over the world. What distinguishes this one is the opportunity to discuss the Buddha’s teaching of harmlessness and kindness here in the birthplace of Buddhism. And in this way, we try to preserve what the Buddha taught.

Most Ven Dr Warakagoda Gnanarathana Mahayanake Thero, the Mahayanake Thero of Asgiriya Chapter of Siyam Maha Nikaya, Sri Lanka, addressing the inaugural session of the first International Sangha Forum at the International Convention Centre Bodhgaya in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 20, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Shri Tashi Namgyal, Hon Executive Councillor, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh, offered greetings on behalf of the people of Ladakh and encouraged spirited dialogue between the Pali and Sanskrit traditions.

Shri Pema Khandu, Hon Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, India, saluted His Holiness, as well as scholars, monks and nuns.

“I thank His Holiness for blessing this assembly by his presence and for setting us an example,” he said. “I’m grateful that forums like this, that fulfil His Holiness’s vision of bringing the Pali and Sanskrit traditions together, are being held. And I’m happy to be able to take part in this sharing of knowledge and wisdom. We try not only to cultivate the Buddha’s teachings within ourselves, but also attempt to make them the basis of policy. May His Holiness live long.”

Shri Pema Khandu, Hon Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, India, addressing the inaugural session of the first International Sangha Forum at the International Convention Centre Bodhgaya in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 20, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

His Holiness asked to be able to add to what he’d already said.

“On this auspicious occasion, in this sacred place, I’d like to mention that when it comes to preserving the Buddha’s teachings, we should not be satisfied with merely wearing monastic robes. We must study and practise. We need to learn about the workings of our mind and emotions. Today, even scientists are interested to learn about the mind and the means for finding peace within.

“There are also different levels of subtlety in the mind, such as the waking state, sleep and dream. I’ve known people who have generated a dream body enabling them to go here and there at will. Practice of the Dharma is not only about conducting rituals and reciting prayers. It entails techniques for training our minds and tackling our emotions.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama delivering his closing remarks at the inaugural session of the first International Sangha Forum at the International Convention Centre Bodhgaya in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 20, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“The Tibetan tradition encompasses the entire teachings of the Buddha from both the Mainstream and Mahayana traditions, which include explanations of the subtlety of the mind. Thank you.”

Ven Khensur Jangchub Choeden, Secretary General IBC offered words of thanks.

“I pay homage to the Holy Sangha led by the great 14th Dalai Lama,” he began. “I’m delighted to express gratitude to everyone who has spoken this morning, to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Ganden Tri Rinpoché, the Arunachal Chief Minister and representatives of many Sangha communities. As we gather here in this most sacred place, we must be thankful for the insight contained in the Holy Dharma and for the sense of belonging and purpose it instills in our lives.

Ven Khensur Jangchub Choeden, Secretary General IBC, offering words of thanks at the conclusion of the inaugural session of the first International Sangha Forum at the International Convention Centre Bodhgaya in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 20, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“Let us pause to recognise the diversity of this meeting. Let us use this gathering to learn, share and improve our mutual understanding. Let us open our hearts to each other.

“I thank all who have given support to this forum. Also, thanks to those who have provided accommodation for members of the Sangha. Thanks to all the tireless volunteers. And thank you all for coming. I hope you will leave Bodhgaya energised and inspired.”

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Pilgrimage to the Mahabodhi Temple https://www.dalailama.com/news/2023/pilgrimage-to-the-mahabodhi-temple Fri, 15 Dec 2023 18:30:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2023/pilgrimage-to-the-mahabodhi-temple Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - Following the teachings he gave at Sed-gyued Monastery, Salugara, His Holiness the Dalai Lama flew yesterday from Bagdogra to Gaya. On arriving at Bodhgaya, he was given a brief formal welcome at the Main Tibetan Monastery, Gaden Phelgyeling.

His Holiness the Dalai Lam bowing reverently before an image of his teacher, Ling Rinpoché, during his visit to the Temple at the Tibetan Monastery in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 16, 2023. Photo Tenzin Choejor

This morning, His Holiness visited the temple hall at Gaden Phelgyeling, where he paid his respects before the statues of the Buddha. This temple was originally constructed in 1938 by a Ladakhi Lama named Ngawang Samten. Returning to Tibet, he offered it to the Tibetan Government. In 1951, Dhardo Rinpoché was appointed Abbot and under his supervision monastic quarters were constructed in 1952. It was at this time that His Holiness gave the monastery the name Gaden Phelgyeling. In 1965, when he was appointed Gaden Tripa, Ling Rinpoché also became Abbot of this monastery. His Holiness this morning bowed reverently before an image of his teacher, Ling Rinpoché, resting on his throne.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama making his way to the Mahabodhi Temple by electric golf-cart in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 16, 2023. Photo Tenzin Choejor

Seated in an electric golf-cart His Holiness then rode to the Mahabodhi Temple and entered the complex from the south side near the remains of the Ashokan pillar. Ramps had been arranged so he was easily able to reach the inner circumambulatory path. As he walked respectfully round the temple, His Holiness smiled and waved to people peeking through the stone railing. When he reached the Bodhi tree and the Vajrasana which marks where the Buddha sat as he attained enlightenment, he stepped through the railing to where devotees were celebrating the Kagyu Mönlam.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting devotees as he makes his way around the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 16, 2023. Photo Tenzin Choejor

At the door to the Mahabodhi Temple His Holiness was welcomed by members of the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee. Within the inner sanctum he paid his respects before the renowned statue of the Buddha and sat down. Monks of Namgyal Monastery then joined him in reciting a praise of the Buddha known as the 'Three Continuums', the ‘Heart Sutra’, ‘Illuminating the Threefold Faith—an Invocation of the Seventeen Great Scholar-Adepts of Glorious Nalanda’, ‘Dependent Arising: a Praise of the Buddha’, ‘The Seven Limbs from the Samantabhadra Prayer’, the ‘Words of Truth’ and so forth.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama reciting prayers in front of the statue of the Buddha in the inner sanctum of the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 16, 2023. Photo Tenzin Choejor

As he was leaving the temple, His Holiness turned once more to salute the image of the Buddha. Below the steps members of the media had gathered. He told them: “I feel it’s a great honour to be able to come to this sacred place and pray before this special statue of the Buddha. These days things in our world, particularly in relation to the climate, are becoming very difficult. We are fortunate to be able to pray to the Buddha that we may overcome these difficulties and if, due to the power of this place, our prayers are more effective—that’s good.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to members of the media at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 16, 2023. Photo Tenzin Choejor

Smiling and waving to people who lined the way, His Holiness then returned to Gaden Phelgyeling Monastery.

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Teachings at Salugara https://www.dalailama.com/news/2023/teachings-at-salugara Wed, 13 Dec 2023 21:30:00 +0000 hhdloffice https://www.dalailama.com/news/2023/teachings-at-salugara Siliguri, West Bengal, India - Yesterday, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was invited to an Official State Luncheon in his honour at Samman Bhawan, the Chief Minister of Sikkim’s residence. As he approached the building, he was welcomed by Tashi Shölpa and energetic Snow Lion dancers. At the door he was offered the traditional ‘Chema Changpu’ and was then escorted to his seat at the head of the hall. Everyone attending enjoyed a sumptuous lunch.

Snow Lion dancers welcoming His Holiness the Dalai Lama on his arrival at amman Bhawan, the Chief Minister of Sikkim’s residence, in Gangtok, Sikkim, India on December 13, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

This morning, His Holiness was given a warm send-off in Gangtok before flying by helicopter to Salugara in West Bengal, where he had been invited to teach at Sed-Gyued Monastery. Members of the public lined the road to the monastery to greet him as he arrived. Tashi Shölpa and Snow Lion dancers welcomed him at the gate. Inside, the monastery the monastery was richly decorated with garlands of marigolds. Even the driveway was strewn with marigold petals.

His Holiness waved to the crowd before climbing the ramp to the temple. Once inside he paid his respects before statues of Jé Tsongkhapa and his chief disciples and lit a lamp. Once he had sat down, Khenpo Wangdu, Abbot of Sed-gyued, offered a mandala and representations of the body, speech and mind of the Buddha.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama paying his respects before statues of Jé Tsongkhapa and his chief disciples inside the temple at Sed-Gyued Monastery in Salugara, West Bengal, India on December 14, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Responding to this warm welcome, His Holiness declared that so far on his visit to North-east India his teachings had gone well and that he has been feeling fit.

“The people of Sikkim showed fervent devotion, but I advised them too of the importance of study. Whether you follow a religious tradition or not is a personal decision, but if you do, you need to study to understand what it’s about.

“People in Sikkim seemed to appreciate that I had come.

“People may think that religion is about prayers and rituals, but it also needs to involve study. When I wake in the morning, I recite Jé Rinpoché’s ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising’. I also advised people in Sikkim that it’s important that we discipline our unruly minds, because this is what leads to happiness.”

His Holiness came out of the temple to take his seat on the veranda and observed that among the estimated 30,000 people present there were monks and laypersons young and old. He repeated what he’d said inside that Buddhism is not only about playing various musical instruments, it’s about using our minds. Those who follow theistic faiths pray to their gods, but Buddhists should be able to identify their mental afflictions, their disturbing emotions, and know how to counter them. This can also be done on the basis of secular ethics.

“As human beings,” His Holiness noted, “we all need love and affection, so it’s important that we help one another. Secular ethics is an ethical code that reflects human values free from the trappings of religion, which I speak of admiringly wherever I go. What is crucial to understand is that whether or not we believe in religion, we all need a warm heart.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the crowd of 30,000 at Sed-Gyued Monastery in Salugara, West Bengal, India on December 14, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“When we’re born we’re nurtured by our mother. This is how our lives begin, basking in her care and affection. We must learn to cherish this kind of love and affection throughout our lives.

“We talk about building peace in the world, but we human beings tend to create divisions among us, seeing other people in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Consequently, we fight and waste precious resources on inventing ever more powerful weapons. If we’re really interested in building peace in the world, the way to begin is by cultivating peace of mind.

“Instead of fostering friendly, harmonious relations we quarrel and fight—and as a result, peace is destroyed. We’ve seen what happened in the first and second world wars; now there are people who talk about a third. We must work to reinforce our naturally affectionate feelings and not let them diminish. Our goal should be peace of mind.

“These days I try to make people aware that all eight billion people alive on this planet were nurtured by their mothers. In this respect we are all the same. Every human being on this earth survived after they were born because someone showered them with love and affection—a mother’s love. Remembering this and building on it will contribute to ensuring peace in the world. Indulging in negative emotions like anger and jealousy will not. Just thinking of other people as being the same as you is a step towards peace.

“We may have different cultures, different ways of organizing our lives, or different ideologies, but in the context of the oneness of humanity, as human beings we are all the same.

“The verse we say expressing the four immeasurable wishes, means we should focus on being helpful to one another. Thinking in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’ is out of date. We no longer need to focus on our victory and the other’s defeat. Peace will not fall from the sky, nor will it spring up from the ground—but as human beings we are naturally disposed to work for peace and harmony.”

A member of the crowd paying her respects during His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teaching at Sed-Gyued Monastery in Salugara, West Bengal, India on December 14, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

His Holiness observed that in Tibet, the Land of Snow, different traditions may adopt different philosophical positions, but they all follow the same Buddha Shakyamuni. Even what the Buddha taught varied from time to time and place to place, depending on the interest and capacity of whoever he was teaching. He did not impose his own view, but encouraged his followers to examine for themselves what he had taught.

The Buddha stated that in his tradition caste and social status were unimportant. What made a difference was collecting merit and wisdom for three countless aeons. Ultimately all Buddhas became enlightened through the practice of love and compassion. There is no factor that better fulfils the goals of self and others than bodhichitta.

His Holiness told the crowd, “Bodhichitta is my main practice, and it brings me peace of mind, which also serves to improve my physical well-being. There are Chinese officials who have caused so much trouble in Tibet, and yet I don’t feel angry with them. Rather I feel compassion because they have acted out of ignorance.

“Bodhichitta is the essence of Buddhist practice. It seems that you all appreciate the Dalai Lama and if you want to feel I’m close to your heart, you can cultivate bodhichitta too.

“In India there were different schools of thought. In Tibet we have different Buddhist traditions. I mainly follow the Geluk tradition, but I’ve also received teachings from teachers belonging to the Sakya, Nyingma, Kagyu and Jonang traditions. It’s crucial that these traditions treat each other with respect.

“I thought I would go through the All-Encompassing Yoga Mind with you. On the one hand, because of seeds sown when they are born, it’s natural for human beings to cultivate an altruistic attitude and put others first. On the other hand, things appear as if they have an objective existence, while actually they exist in dependence. They are dependently designated. Things appear to be independent, but they exist in dependence on other factors.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama preparing to depart from Sed-Gyued Monastery at the conclusion of his teachings in Salugara, West Bengal, India on December 14, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“So, think about bodhichitta and imagine that it transforms into a white moon disk at your heart, then think of the wisdom understanding emptiness and imagine that it transforms into a white vajra standing on the moon disk.”

His Holiness led the crowd in reciting the mantra: Om Sarva Yoga Chitta Utpadaya mi.

“It’s not enough just to know about these practices, it’s essential to put them into effect—please, do you best.”

In response to a request His Holiness gave the transmission of the six-syllable mantra, Om mani padme hung.

“For Tibetans and people of the Himalayan region Avalokiteshvara is their patron-deity. As a consequence, we have all been accustomed to say this mantra since we were children. The mantra incorporates extensive compassion, as well as the profound path. I recite it daily and dedicate whatever merit I accumulated through doing so, in order that I and others may become fully awakened.”

A thanksgiving mandala was offered, followed by prayers to Amitayus for His Holiness to live long.

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