His Holiness the Dalai Lama attending the Kalachakra Puja at the Kalachakra Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 16, 2022. Photo: Tenzin Choejor

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Dharamshala — “You should cultivate the courageous heart of Bodhichitta to serve others. In this way, we can help develop true peace of mind within ourselves, which in turn will create a serene atmosphere around us,” said His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Vesak or Buddha Purnima.

At the request of the International Buddhist Confederation, His Holiness the Dalai Lama sent a message on the occasion of Vesak or Buddha Purnima, on May 16, 2022.

“First of all, my greetings to you all with my wish that you be well in health and spirit. Today, we are celebrating Vesak which commemorates the Buddha’s attainment of enlightenment after six years of austerity. On the basis of his own experience, the Buddha advised: O monks and scholars, just as gold is tested by heating, cutting, and rubbing it, so likewise you should thoroughly examine my teaching. And only then accept it – not merely out of respect for me. This point of view reveals a special quality of the Buddha,” His Holiness the Dalai Lama said.

“I respect all religious traditions. They are all of great value because they all teach compassion. However, only the Buddha asks us to examine his teachings in the way that a goldsmith tests the purity of the gold. Only the Buddha commends us to do that,” His Holiness added.

“So, the Bhagwan Buddha, the Enlightened one, who is by nature compassionate, says that he cannot simply transfer his own spiritual experience and realisation into his disciples out of love and compassion for sentient beings. Disciples must develop their own spiritual experiences by reflecting on the truth of suchness as the Buddha explained it. Therefore, I find his three turnings of the wheel of Dharma to be very significant. The first turning of the wheel teaches the four noble truths – true suffering, true origin of suffering, the true cessation of suffering, and the true path that leads to that cessation. This serves as the basic framework of the teaching of the Buddha,” the spiritual leader of Tibet said.

“If we pay more attention to the true cessation of suffering, the question arises, “How is it brought about?” The answer to this question involves an explanation of the ultimate nature of the mind. We learn that all mental afflictions such as desirous attachment, hatred and ignorance are rooted in our misconception of the way self and (other) things exist. For this reason, the Bhagwan gave the Perfection of Wisdom teachings at Vulture’s Peak. He propounded the fourfold emptiness described in the Heart Sutra: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form, emptiness is not other than form; and form too is not other than emptiness. The most powerful antidote to our grasping at an independently existing self is the wisdom that realises everything lacks an absolute identity. It’s because of this that it is possible to achieve the true cessation taught in the First turning of the Wheel. We need to find out whether there is a counterforce to our misconception of the absolute self or not, and if there is, whether we can fully acquaint ourselves with that counterforce or not. If we can, then we can eliminate the misconception of an absolute self. So, it is quite scientific,” His Holiness said.

“The Buddha gave the cycle of teachings called the Perfection of Wisdom at Vulture’s Peak. In these discourse, the Buddha taught that everything lacks any inherent existence. However, this was difficult for some of his disciples to comprehend. Therefore, in order to address the difficulty some disciples had in understanding the lack of inherent existence, and to suit the intellectual calibre of such disciples, the Buddha also taught that everything can be identified with the mind. This teaching led those disciples to understand the non-duality of objects and subjects, instead of saying that we perceive whatever appears to our mind as possessing inherent existence. This reveals the profundity of the Buddha’s teaching in philosophical terms,” His Holiness explained.

“As for me, I am a simple Buddhist monk following the tradition of the Buddha. Every morning as soon as I wake up, I recite In Praise of Dependent Arising, and reflect on the interdependent nature of things as well as the altruistic spirit of enlightenment. I find them very helpful to my mind. When you study the great Master Nagarjuna’s explanation of The Perfection of Wisdom Sutras in his Wisdom: The Fundamental Stanzas of the Middle Way you marvel at it. The deeper your understanding of emptiness becomes, the more compassionate you feel about those who are engrossed in attachment and anger due to their not knowing about emptiness. You have a strong wish to help them eliminate their ingrained ignorance of reality, don’t you? It is really helpful. We should not be contented with just considering the Buddha as a holy being. Of course, there are the Buddha’s twelve enlightening deeds such as residing in the Tushita Heaven as a regent, leaving the Tushita Heaven and so forth. Other religious traditions also tell similar stories about their founder-teachers. However, reflecting on the qualities of the founding-teacher, by analysing what he said is something peculiar to the advice the Buddha gave. The more you examine his teachings through logic and reasoning, the more certain you feel about it. What distinguishes it is that it will help you reduce your ignorance about self and phenomena being truly existent,” His Holiness said.

“This person who was born in a remote place in Do-Me (Amdo Province, northeastern Tibet), as indicated by the three letters A-Ka-Ma seen in the lake of Palden Lhamo, with whom I have a karmic connection because of past prayers. Due to the force of my past aspirations, I am convinced about the view of emptiness and the courageous heart of the Bodhichitta. I find these practices really helpful to my mind,” the spiritual leader of Tibet said.

“So, on this special occasion, I wish to urge my dharma friends to pay more attention to the word of our founding-teacher, the Buddha. First study the teaching and reflect on the four noble truths which outline the means within which the Buddha worked to help us. In addition to that you should cultivate the courageous heart of Bodhichitta to serve others. In this way, we can help develop true peace of mind within ourselves, which in turn will create a serene atmosphere around us. My dharma friends, please keep this in mind,” His Holiness concluded.