Dharamshala: - The spiritual leader of Tibet His Holiness the Dalai Lama on December 2, commenced a four-day teaching on Tsongkhapa's Great Stages of the Path (lamrim chenmo) at the request of a group of Mongolians at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamshala, India.
On the first day of four day teaching by His Holiness the Dalai Lama which was atteneded by over 4,000 devotees including 700 international visitors from 49 countries, almost 600 Mongolians and about 10 Chinese devotees. The main Tibetan temple had an ambiance of contagious excitement and lively discussions, but as the His Holiness made his way to his seat, the crowd fell into awe and even the powerful chanting faded into the background.
His Holiness begins by acknowledging the similarities in culture and faith in Buddhism between Mongolians and Tibetans and that despite the decline in Buddhism due to the Communist government in the 20th century, faith was not lost.
"Now that there is more freedom to practice religion, His Holiness warns that those who still believe, should not be led by blind faith, but really focus on understanding the Dharma and reasons in self," Tibet's spiritual leader said.
"Understanding the Dharma is more than listening to His Holiness speak, reading all the scriptures, or just practicing rituals. You must practice and reflect on the teachings on your own and then apply them in order to truly understand the Dharma. One must have reflections of the difficult concept of emptiness, taking refuge of the three jewels: Sangha, the Buddha and the Dharma in order to reach the ultimate goal of Nirvana.
"The basis of attaining Buddhahood lies in the ideas of desire and grasping that often lead us to Samsara; a cycle of suffering. Reciting scriptures such as the Heart Sutra can help one understand emptiness such that there is no 'I' or 'self'. Once Buddhahood is attained, those that have seen the path should help others, regardless of others' conditions, see that same path of wisdom. This allows for uninterrupted consciousness which leads to the path of Nirvana.
"The Buddha's experience and life can teach us because the Buddha was not born an enlightened being but rather he had practiced and trained to become one; his body is formed from ten millions of virtues which indicated that attaining Buddhahood is not something that can be done in one's lifetime, but over several. The belief that finding the path of wisdom and truth would benefit all sentient beings was what inspired the Buddha."
His Holiness touched on the subject of inter-religious harmony that he had discussed a few days ago in New Delhi at the Springdale School, about helping others to understand a universal goal, regardless of their conditions such as those that do not proclaim a faith or those who have faith in a different philosophy.
A 15 minute break was given before the second half of H.H the Dalai Lama's address that would entail questions and answers.
A question referred to ideas of over-analyzing text, scriptures and practices to such an extent can actually undermine the teachings of the Buddha, therefore it should not be taken so literally. His Holiness also referenced to Dharma and the Bon tradition having similar elements of one another.
Another question was regarding guilt and of a fake reincarnation. The fifth Dalai Lama believed that the fake reincarnation was a result of disrupted prayers and would cause harm to sentient beings.
Another answer of His Holiness included the use to alcohol. It is a substance that is harmful to one's health and is something that is brought upon ourselves through conscious choice and can induce anger which leads to a creation of suffering.
Lastly, the answer included a few things already discussed by His Holiness—that the Dharma refers to people who only practice rituals to have little knowledge and those who only read scriptures may not make you skilled in actual practice. He reiterates finding a balance of studying and practicing the Dharma.
His Holiness will confer the Avalokiteshvara Empowerment on the last day December 5th. The second in the series of four day teachings will continue on December 3rd 2014 in the Main Temple; Dharamshala. A live webcast, followed by translations into English, Mongolian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Russian languages available on: http://www.dalailama.com/liveweb