His Holiness the Dalai Lama Concludes Three-Day Teaching, 29th December – 31st December in Bodhgaya,Bihar,India
Bodhgaya, Bihar, India, 31 December 2022: This morning at the Kalachakra Ground, as soon as His Holiness the Dalai Lama had taken his seat, a group of monastics and lay-people began to chant the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Chinese. Tea and bread were served and the day’s patrons offered a mandala and the threefold representation of the body, speech and mind of enlightenment to His Holiness.
“Here, on behalf of this great gathering of people,” His Holiness declared, “I’ve been requested to give a permission related to Arya Tara. As I have already made clear, this is a special place and the most important thing we can do here is to generate bodhichitta, aspiring to achieve full enlightenment in the interest of self and others. This is how we can make our lives meaningful.
“Tibetans have been cultivating bodhichitta since the time of the religious kings when Shantarakshita was invited to Tibet. If your mind is relaxed and at peace, as a result of developing the awakening mind of bodhichitta, you’ll find you enjoy good physical health and sound sleep. You’ll be happy day and night.
“Today, I’m going to give the permission of the 21 Taras, which is found in the Rinjung Gyatsa and Sukha Gyatsa collections. I received the Rinjung Gyatsa from Tagdag Rinpoché in Tibet among many other empowerments and transmissions. I don’t remember receiving the Sukha Gyatsa from him, but Kyabjé Trijang Rinpoché gave it to me later, after we’d come into exile.
“While I go through the preparatory rites, please pray to Arya Tara that the Dharma may flourish, that people may be well and that teachers and those gathered here may live long. Keep in mind that the longer you live, the greater will be your opportunity to accumulate merit. What’s more, since Avalokiteshvara sits on the crown of my head, you all share a special bond with him, which means you’ll be cared for him in life after life.”
As he began to formally give the permission, His Holiness instructed the disciples to make a request for the teaching. He noted that he had given a general introduction to the Dharma over the last two days. He also acknowledged that Tibetans, Mongolians, Chinese and people from the Himalayan regions have been practising the Dharma for generations and consequently share a karmic connection.
To start with the disciples were to request the bodhisattva vows. His Holiness advised them to visualize the Buddha in the space before them accompanied by Arhats, the Eight Bodhisattvas: Mañjushri, Avalokiteshvara, Vajrapani, Maitreya, Kshitigarbha, Akashagarbha, Sarvanivaranavishkambhini and Samantabhadra, as well as great Indian masters represented by the Six Ornaments: Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Asanga, Vasubandhu, Dignaga and Dharmakirti and the Two Supremes: Gunaprabha and Shakyaprabha.
His Holiness then led the congregation in reciting verses for taking the Bodhisattva Vows three times.
I take refuge in the Three Jewels,
Individually disclose all my unwholesome deeds,
Rejoice in the virtues of all beings and
Mentally take up the enlightenment of a Buddha.
Until I am enlightened, I take refuge in the
Buddha, the Dharma and the Supreme Assembly.
I generate the spirit of enlightenment
to fully attain my own and others’ welfare.
Having generated the spirit of supreme enlightenment
I invite all sentient beings as my guests,
And engage in the supreme and wonderful conduct of a Bodhisattva.
May I attain Buddhahood to benefit all wandering beings.
Next, the disciples were to request the body of Arya Tara. His Holiness confirmed that he had visualized himself and the front-generated deity in that form and recited a description of the 21 Taras with their colours and attributes as follows:
Depiction of the 21 Taras that accords with the textual description starting at the bottom, with the red Tara, and proceeding clockwise.
(1) Tara who is swift and heroic—red in colour, right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding a red vase of subjugation.
(2) Tara of immense peace—white in colour like the moon in autumn—right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding a white vase that pacifies disease and negative forces.
(3) Tara of a golden colour—right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding a yellow vase that increases lifespan and merit.
(4) Tara (of life) who is golden in colour—right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding a yellow vase that extends life.
(5) On a sun disc sits Tara who utters the sound [HUM]—orange in colour, right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding an enchanting (orange) vase.
(6) On a sun disc sits Tara who is victorious over the three worlds—dark red in colour, right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding a (dark red) vase that befuddles evil spirits.
(7) On a sun disc sits Tara who averts the spells of others—black in colour and slightly wrathful, right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding a (black) vase that counters the spells of mantras.
(8) On a sun disc sits Tara who conquers evil forces—dark red in colour, right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding a (dark red) vase that overcomes enemies.
(9) Tara who symbolizes the Three Jewels—white in colour, right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding a (white) vase that protects from fears.
(10) Tara who conquers maras and subjugates the world—red in colour, right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding in her outstretched palm a (red) vase that conquers maras and subjugated.
(11) Tara who invokes (the guardians of the ten directions and so forth) and rescues from poverty—orange in colour, resembling refined gold, right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding in her outstretched palm a (red) vase that protects from poverty.
(12) Tara who brings good fortune—orange in colour, right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding an (orange) vase that brings good fortune.
(13) Tara of blazing fire—red in colour, right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding a (red) vase that overcomes enemies.
(14) On a sun disc sits frowning Tara—black in colour and frowning slightly, right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding a (black) vase that pierces obstructers.
(15) Tara of great peace—white in colour, right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding a (white) vase that pacifies negative actions.
(16) Tara who liberates through the HUM of knowledge—red in colour, right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding a (red) vase that spreads knowledge mantras.
(17) Tara who moves the world—orange in colour, right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding an (orange) vase that subdues knowledge mantras.
(18) Tara who pacifies and removes sicknesses due to poison—white in colour, right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding a (white) vase that removes sicknesses due to poison.
(19) Tara who eliminates disputes and bad dreams—white in colour, right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding a (white) vase that removes disputes and bad dreams.
(20) Tara who eliminates epidemics—orange in colour, right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding an (orange) vase that eliminates epidemics.
(21) Tara of enlightened activities—white in colour, right hand in the gesture of bestowing sublime attainments, holding a (white) vase that accomplishes different enlightened activities.
All these Taras have one face and two hands, the left of which is in the gesture of giving refuge and holds the stem of an utpala (a blue lotus) flower. They are (mostly) peaceful and smile enchantingly. They wear silken garments, are adorned with a variety of jewels, and (most of them) are seated on moon disc seats. They meditate with their legs in the bodhisattva position (which is to say, right leg slightly extended and left bent inward).
Next, the disciples requested the speech of Tara, the mind of Tara and the blessing of the mantra. The ritual concluded with the offering of a thanksgiving mandala.
His Holiness resumed his reading of Nagarjuna’s ‘Commentary on the Awakening Mind’ from verse 67 commenting that we need to overcome clinging to true existence. He added that unless we can overcome the obstructions to knowledge, we’ll be unable to attain enlightenment.
When practitioners see sentient beings overwhelmed by karma and mental afflictions, they recognize that these obstructions can be eliminated from the mind. They reflect that they can help sentient beings do this and resolve to do so to repay the kindness they have received. As verse 105 makes clear, ‘the awakening mind is stated to be the highest ideal of the great vehicle, so with a determined effort generate this awakening mind.’ His Holiness read to the end of the text, including the colophon.
“We have gathered here in this sacred place where the Buddha became enlightened and which was later blessed by the presence of Nagarjuna and others,” he observed. “We are doing our best to become closer to all of them by fulfilling their instructions. Now, please dedicate whatever merit has been created for the benefit of all beings.”
The discourse ended with a recitation of the prayer that concludes Tsongkhapa’s ‘Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path’ that includes the following verse:
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.
Before His Holiness left the stage and the congregation dispersed, Jamphel Lhundrup, Secretary of the Dalai Lama Trust that organized these teachings gave an account in Tibetan of the income and expenses involved in the event. He thanked His Holiness for his teaching and expressed gratitude to local officials for all their support. Zumchung Tashi then repeated the summary in English.
29th December 2022: First day of Teaching.
Theravada monks, mostly from two Thai monasteries, chanted the ‘Karuniya Metta Sutta’ in Pali—the Buddha’s words on loving kindness, which was followed by a recitation of ‘The Three Continuous Practices’ in Tibetan. Tea and bread were distributed.
His Holiness said: “Today, in this special place where the Buddha attained enlightenment, I would like to hold a ceremony for generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta and taking the Bodhisattva Vows,” His Holiness declared. “This, the Seat of Enlightenment, is the most sacred of the sites associated with the Buddha. Elsewhere he taught the Four Noble Truths and the Thirty-seven Harmonies of Enlightenment, but here we are reminded of the essence of all his teachings, which is to discipline the mind for the benefit of sentient beings extensive as space.
“I generate bodhichitta every day, cultivating a concern for the welfare of others. The more you become acquainted with such motivation, the more you’ll find you hold others dearer than yourself. In this way you’ll realize self and others are interdependent.
“Since I received the transmission of ‘Entering the Way of the Bodhisattva’ (Bodhicharyavatara) I have engaged in the practice of equalizing and exchanging self and others every day. Doing so is a source of true happiness. The practice of bodhichitta is the essence of all the Buddha’s teachings. With this in mind we need to remember that all 8 billion human beings alive today wish to be happy and to avoid suffering. As far as this is concerned, we’re all the same. Once you’ve developed bodhichitta, you’ll find unfavourable circumstances become favourable.”
“It’s through practice that you taste the real flavour of the teaching. The Buddha himself cultivated bodhichitta, engaged in the practices of a bodhisattva and became a fully awakened being. We should think, ‘Just as the Buddha has done before me, I will achieve this goal.’ The Buddha will not fail us. He has taught the Four Noble Truths as well as the Perfection of Wisdom. The crucial point is for us to transform our unruly minds into the mind of a Buddha.
“Listen to and study the Buddha’s teachings. Reflect on them over and over again, then meditate on what you’ve understood. Be determined to work for the welfare of others. This is how you will reach the domain of the enlightened ones. If you have bodhichitta within, you’ll be at peace.”
His Holiness again advised his listeners to visualize the Buddha accompanied by the great Buddhist masters of India and Tibet before them.
“We’re all human beings, we’ve met with the teachings, wherever we are we can determine to work for all sentient beings.”
His Holiness then led the congregation in reciting the verses that are at the core of the ceremony:
I seek refuge in the Three Jewels;
Each and every wrongdoing I confess.
I rejoice in the virtues of all beings.
I take to heart the state of Buddhahood.
I go for refuge until I am enlightened
To the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Supreme Assembly,
In order to fulfil the aims of myself and others
I develop the awakening mind.
Having developed the aspiration for highest enlightenment,
I invite all sentient beings as my guests,
I shall enact the delightful supreme enlightening practices.
May I become a Buddha to benefit all sentient beings.
“I feel fortunate to have had this opportunity to give the Bodhisattva Vows,” His Holiness remarked, “you too can rejoice at having been able to take them. Study them and protect them.”
His Holiness took up the text he was going to teach and commented that he wouldn’t finish reading it today. First the title, is given in Sanskrit ‘Bodhichittavivarana’ and next, it is written in Tibetan ‘byang chub sems kyi ‘grel pa’. Both mean Commentary on the Awakening Mind.
His Holiness read up to verse 41 which indicates that the mind is empty of true existence. Reading on, he noted that ‘dependent arising’ is a profound instruction. It demonstrates that things are empty of inherent existence on the one hand, yet do function on a conventional level on the other. He summarized the morning’s events as having taken the Bodhisattva Vow and engaged in profound practice in this most sacred place. He undertook to continue tomorrow.
Coming to the front of the stage, before leaving for his monastery, His Holiness made a point of waving to the audience again, to the right, left and the front, and they responded with cheers and applause.
30th December 2022: Second day of Teaching.
30 December 2022: This morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama returned to the Kalachakra Ground for a second round of teachings. The ground, filled to capacity, was packed with 50,000 people while there were another 15,000 outside following proceedings on large screens. Of these 65,000 people, 3000 were foreigners from 80 countries.
After he had waved to the crowd and saluted the senior lamas, His Holiness took his seat on the throne. A group of children, students of the Root Institute school, sat down before him and fervently recited the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Sanskrit. Meanwhile, Ratö Khensur, Nicholas Vreeland, presented His Holiness with the first copy of a newly published book that contains His Holiness’s spiritual biography composed by the late Ratö Khyongla Rinpoché.
Next, eight representatives—five from Japan and one each from Austria, Israel and the USA—of the project ‘Flame of Hope’ presented a lantern to His Holiness, the flame of which had been lit from the flame of peace in Hiroshima. ‘Flame of Hope’ wishes to change the world by lighting the spark of hope for peace in children’s hearts. Working hand in hand with spiritual leaders and other concerned persons, Flame of Hope aims to spread this wish around the world. Their slogan is One Earth—One Prayer—One Flame.
After tea and bread had been distributed, blessed by being offered to the Three Jewels, and enjoyed, His Holiness spoke.
“Today, we have a second opportunity to hold a discourse in this sacred place, which is most fortunate. Buddha Shakyamuni came, walked this land, and attained enlightenment here.
“I’ve been given this flame from Hiroshima, which was the first place on which an atomic bomb was dropped and so very many people perished. I’ve been there, heard about those who died and met survivors whose health was frail. Thinking of them all I felt immensely sad. I thought how good it would be if the world were free from nuclear weapons, which is something I have deeply prayed for.
“Even now war goes on and weapons are being used by one side against others. Although nuclear weapons have not been employed since the bombing of Japan, too many countries wish to possess them. Today, in this sacred place of Vajra-asana, we have here a flame of hope and an opportunity to pray for lasting peace in the world.
“There may be no immediate danger of a wider war breaking out, but we all face the threat of the Covid pandemic. This is a serious risk and we should all pray for the pandemic to subside. As human beings we are all subject to the sufferings of birth, aging, sickness and death. Let’s pray together that as far as the pandemic is concerned, we may soon find relief.”
His Holiness led the congregation in reciting the mantras of Avalokiteshvara and Arya Tara together for several minutes. He remarked that having the opportunity to gather merit and purify negativity for a second day, being in such a sacred place makes a difference. Doing practice here with a positive motivation evokes the blessings of the Buddha and other great masters who have practised here in the past.
“This is why I remind you to find the time to cultivate bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness while you are here. And if you can continue to cultivate these qualities through calm abiding and analytical meditation in your day-to-day life, after some time you’ll notice that you can bring about change in your mind. You may not yet have experience of these qualities, but if you focus your mind on them, it will come.
“All the flaws within us arise because we cling to the inherent existence of people and things. We can reduce this misconception by meditating on emptiness and combining that meditation with the awakening mind of bodhichitta. If you do this, you will feel some effect. This is just what the Buddhas of the past have done.
“Although Tibet and its surrounding regions come under the care of Avalokiteshvara, where I was born in Amdo, I had no role model to follow. Having come to Central Tibet, I began to study the classic philosophical books with my two tutors, Kyabjé Ling Rinpoché in particular. Then, in exile, I had the opportunity to become better acquainted with the practice of bodhichitta, so I have personal experience of the
change it can bring. If you meditate on bodhichitta and emptiness you’ll be helping yourself and others in this and future lives.
“Study, reflect and meditate on what you’ve understood. If you practise in this way, over days, months and years, you’ll see a change come about in your mind. This is what I wanted to tell you.”
His Holiness resumed his reading of Nagarjuna’s ‘Commentary on the Awakening Mind’ with verse 57 that tells us that just as sweetness is the nature of molasses and heat is the nature of fire, the nature of all phenomena is emptiness. He noted that we all have Buddha-nature. We are human beings who have encountered the Buddha’s teachings and have the opportunity and resources to tame our minds by expanding our understanding.
Reading on, His Holiness observed that to speak of emptiness is to propound neither nihilism nor eternalism. He further stated that when ultimate truth is explained the conventional is not obstructed, but no ultimate truth can be found that is independent of the conventional.
His Holiness mentioned that Buddhist tradition entails scripture and realization and it is kept alive through study and practice, which involves the three higher trainings in ethics, concentration and wisdom. Besides philosophical assertions, realization also requires a knowledge of the workings of the mind. Through daily acquaintance with the minds of whitish appearance, reddish increase and black near attainment, as well as the three empties that presage the subtle clarity and awareness of the clear light of death, we hope ultimately to reach the state of ‘all-empty’ giving rise to the illusory body.
His Holiness concluded: “All suffering comes from ignorance; that is what is to be eliminated. And we can do that by coming to understand dependent arising, the king of reasons. This is what I wanted to say.”
As he left the stage His Holiness saluted several senior Lamas in the traditional Tibetan manner of mutually touching brows. Young tulkus he acknowledged with a pat on the head. Smiling broadly, he waved to the crowd, then rode back to his monastery by golfcart.
After lunch, the Chief Minister of Bihar, the Hon’ble Nitish Kumar paid His Holiness a visit and the two of them discussed the importance of ancient Indian wisdom and the value of culture.
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