Dharamshala — Marking the beginning of saga dawa, a month honoring the life of Buddha, His Holiness the Dalai Lama blessed devotees with the Avalokiteshvara empowerment on May 27th at the main temple in Dharamshala. The conferring of the Avalokiteshvara Empowerment was aired live and watched by viewers and devotees of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from all across the world.
“Today is a special occasion,” he said, addressing the crowd, “linked to the collection of six-syllable mantras that we generally perform every year in this month that commemorates the Buddha’s enlightenment. We do this recitation for the benefit of all sentient beings, but especially those human beings on this earth disturbed by attachment and anger. As Shantideva says, we don’t want suffering, but we run after its causes—the disturbing emotions within us. The Buddha said, “Don’t commit unwholesome deeds, do virtue”. In general actions that result in happiness count as virtue. Those that result in the suffering of others are unwholesome.
“If we really wish all sentient beings to be free from suffering, we need to explain to them that an unruly mind is a source of unhappiness while a disciplined mind makes us happy. Peace in the world depends on our relating to each other with compassion. The various philosophical views of different religions all constitute different approaches to supporting compassion.
“Here we are following teachings the Buddha gave, according to popular tradition, 2600 years ago. The Buddha was born into a royal family. He left and engaged in six years’ ascetic practice. Here—indicating a statue to his right—is an image of his emaciated body. As a child in the Potala I remember seeing a photograph of Bodhgaya and another of this statue in its original form. I learned that it was housed in a museum in Lahore, Pakistan. Much later it was part of a collection of artefacts displayed in Japan on loan, which is where I saw it. I thought it would be good to have a copy of it here to remind us of the hardship the Buddha underwent to attain enlightenment.”
His Holiness went on to explain how the Buddha completed the path. At dusk, seated under the Bodhi tree he overcame Mara. He was totally absorbed in the middle of the night and attained enlightenment at dawn. Having done so he thought, “I have attained this nectar-like Dharma, this profound, peaceful, unelaborated, uncompounded clear light, but if I were to teach about it, there is no one who would understand.” However, 49 days later he gave his first teaching in Sarnath, explaining the Four Noble Truths, the truths of suffering, its origin, its cessation and the path to it. This would be the very foundation of his teachings.
Just as illness must be diagnosed, a remedy adopted and nurses’ support sought, the Buddha advised that suffering must be known, its origin overcome, cessation must be achieved and the path cultivated. His Holiness commented that once you know what cessation is you can understand suffering and overcome its cause, the three poisons of attachment, anger and ignorance. The principal of these is ignorance, a misconceiving of reality. And when you understand that these negative emotions can be defeated, you’ll see that cessation can be attained by following the path.
His Holiness reported that he received these teachings from Tagdag Rinpoche in the company of his two main tutors when he was a young boy. During that period he experienced several positive dreams. After receiving this empowerment he remembers a vivid dream in which the Fifth Dalai Lama emerged from a thangka on the wall and wrapped him in a very long yellow kata.
“I must have some connection to the 5th Dalai Lama,” he remarked, “because I have been leading the Tibetan people at this particularly difficult time.”
“My job is done,” he said at the end, “now it’s up to you who are going to take part in collecting the 600 million ‘manis’ and the blessing of ‘mani’ pills. As you do so make a wish that through the blessings of Avalokiteshvara all beings may ultimately achieve enlightenment."
Sagadawa, the fourth month in Tibetan calendar is the most sacred month of the year in Tibetan Buddhism, commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and parinirvana (death) and noble activities of the Buddha. Most holy of all is the full moon day of SagaDawa, the 15th day of the month, which is the date most commonly associated with not only Buddha’s birth but also his enlightenment and parinirvana. The 15th day of the month will fall on June 9th.