Dharamshala — “With improved communications and travel facilities many more people have taken an interest in Tibetan religion and culture, have offered us support and have been inspired by the teachings of the Buddha. You are new Buddhists and we old Buddhists of Tibet and the Himalayan Region bid you welcome,” said His Holiness the Dalai Lama bidding welcome to devotees at his teaching in Bodhgaya, India.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama returned to the Kalachakra Maidan for his second teaching in Bodhgaya on January 14th, joined by 30,000 devotees and supporters.
His Holiness began: “The last teaching was mostly for an Indian audience and was publicly translated into Hindi,” His Holiness explained by way of introduction. “This time there are many Mongolians among the faithful monastics and lay-people who’ve come to hear the teaching of the Buddha. What’s important to start with is to have a perfect motivation. On the part of the Lama that means not teaching out of any expectation of wealth or fame. Turning the Dharma into a business is very negative.
“In Mongolia too there have been three phases of Buddhism. At the beginning it travelled up the Silk Road and through Mongolia. Then there was the era when Mongolians had relations with the Sakyas and finally the third Dalai Lama engaged with them. In return they gave him the name Dalai Bakshi. Buddhism mostly spread into Mongolia from Tibet. When I first went there in 1979 there were old monks who couldn’t actually speak to me, but were able to communicate through written Tibetan. They were permitted to practice inside the Ganden Thekchenling Monastery but not outside it.
“Their intense chanting at the top of their voices was very moving. It made me think back to the time of Sonam Gyatso, the Third Dalai Lama, to Yönten Gyatso, the Fourth Dalai Lama, who was born there, and to the Fifth Dalai Lama with whom they had close relations.
“Today, Buddhism is being revived and we still have access to the writings of many great Mongolian masters. It was one of my debate assistants, Ngödrup Tsognyi, a Mongolian, who stimulated my interest in the Middle Way (Madhyamaka) School of Thought. Several hundred Mongolian monks are now studying in the monasteries is South India and I’ve advised them how important it is that they keep up their studies.
“We also have here many people from the Himalayan region and there are many monks and nuns from their communities in our monasteries and nunneries. They have made up the numbers since the flow of monks and nuns out of Tibet has declined, something we can be mutually grateful for.
“There are people here too who are not traditionally Buddhist, who come from Judeo-Christian backgrounds. With improved communications and travel facilities many more people have taken an interest in Tibetan religion and culture, have offered us support and have been inspired by the teachings of the Buddha. You are new Buddhists and we old Buddhists of Tibet and the Himalayan Region bid you welcome.”
His Holiness explained that he was going to teach the ????ommentary on the Awakening Mind’ and that the introductory verse derives from the Guhyasamaja Tantra. He mentioned that he had received Nagarjuna’s six texts on reasoning from Serkhong Tsenshab Rinpoche and his ????undamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’ from Khunu Lama Rinpoche, who was able to compare the Sanskrit and Tibetan editions.
Taking up Nagarjuna’s text, His Holiness read every verse of the ????ommentary on the Awakening Mind’. He read briskly with occasional pause to comment and explain. When he was done he read another concise text with a similar title that was a commentary to the introductory verse from Guhyasamaja.
His Holiness began the second day of the three day teaching by preparing for the empowerment he would later give before settling in to address the teaching material.
The first verse of the text advises listening to teachings, reflecting on them and then meditating on what has been understood to thoroughly familiarize the mind with it. His Holiness remarked on Buddha Shakyamuni’s courage and determination to engage in spiritual practice reminding devotees that once he had attained enlightenment he taught the path from his own experience. His Holiness asked, “If you remain selfish, who will trust you? The more altruistic you are, the more you will also fulfill your own goals.”
Following Nagarjuna’s definition of the fourfold sangha as consisting of fully ordained monks and nuns as well as lay men and women holding precepts, His Holiness offered to give lay person’s precepts to those who wished to take them. He followed this with the granting of bodhisattva vows following the style and ceremony described in Asanga’s text, ????odhisattva Grounds’. His Holiness recalled receiving bodhisattva vows, which he now renews daily, from Ling Rinpoche here in Bodhgaya. Prior to that ceremony Ling Rinpoche had taken them afresh before the statue of the Buddha inside the Mahabodhi Stupa.
“The main practice in relation to these vows,” His Holiness clarified, “is to restrain yourself from extreme self-centeredness, to avoid indulging in a self-cherishing attitude. If you can do that, you won’t breach the 18 root downfalls or the 42 secondary commitments.”
His Holiness then proceeded to go through the preparatory procedures for the Avalokiteshvara empowerment that he will give tomorrow. This included distribution of ‘protection cords’ and pieces of purifying kusha grass. Reminding his audience that the appearance of the Buddha and his teaching is as rare as an udumbara flower, His Holiness urged them to rejoice that they had been able to hear apt instructions, and to take the lay person’s vows, bodhisattva vows, as well as the preliminaries for the Avalokiteshvara empowerment.