Dalai Lama's Heart Sutra Lecture
an account of His Holiness's teachings
by Dave Evans
• His Holiness Does Shoreline
• Buddhist Perspective
• The Scriptures
• Heart Sutra
• Heart Sutra (continued)
Today I was fortunate enough to sneak out of work for a few hours to hear His Holiness the Dalai Lama began a lecture on the Heart Sutra. This is a three day class and I'm going to sneak out of some work tomorrow and Attend Saturday during the day as well. I thought I'd share some of what he said (as interpreted through my notes) with everyone.
Please forgive my spelling, my crutch... er, spell checker is not working currently.
Tickets for the three day class were $150. He also taught a class Saturday at 5:30 pm called "Peace through Inner Peace" and a "Medicine Buddha" class on Sunday 9am at Shoreline in Mountain View. Tickets were available through ticketmaster.com for the Shorelines event. Tickets for Sunday are $45 for lawn seats.
His Holiness started this morning talking about the diversity of religions and then even the diversity of views within buddhism. This set a backdrop for his history of the sutras, and how we end up with the Heart Sutra and where it fits into the greater picture of Buddhist scriptures. By the end of today, he had begun going through the Heart Sutra line by line.
I want to point out that these are just my notes of H.H.'s lecture as seen through me. All omissions and errors are most definitely mine.
I missed some of the afternoon session, couldn't
sneak out of work for the whole thing, but I'll summarize as much detail as
His Holiness Does Shoreline...
The shoreline stage was decorated with a large backdrop picture of the palace in Lhasa, with a small decorated throne like chair in front for the fourteenth Dalai Lama to sit on. Thulka paintings hung on either side of the stage, but it was a simple display. His Holiness sat on his seat, with about 160 monks in crimson and orange robes seated facing him to either side; they were there to hear his teachings too. I had a seat assignment but found it more comfortable sitting in the shade on the lawn. The sun was beating down on us painfully.
He started his lecture in English. He has a charming
voice. He later switched to Tibetan with the help of a translator so he would
have the strength to teach for all four days. The Secret Service mulled in and
out of the crowd, some in plain clothes but still with little ear microphones
and cords descending into their shirts. Some disguised as TV camera men setup
and appeared to be taping His Holiness but they were really taping the audience.
I generally feel threatened by such security, but this time I felt more thankful
for their presence. They were protecting him. No pagers, cell phones, cameras,
or binoculars were allowed. Metal detectors lined the entrance for more security.
In a way this was really nice, we had to "let go" of these possessions
before coming to class.
The majority of people, His Holiness believes, are not part of a faith religion currently. Yet there are positive qualities which faith religion has helped us promote in ourselves. We must consider new ways to promote those same positive qualities, for so many which are not part of a religious tradition.
Many faith religions have complicated and evolved philosophical bases, some have deep ethical bases, but all seem to have a dimension that is metaphysical or philosophical explaining "why" or "what is." They also typically have a second dimension that is ethical derived from the first dimension. The many religions have much diversity in the first dimension, but most arrive at a similar ethical endpoint in some way encompassing love and compassion, etc.
Why is there diversity between many religion's philosophical bases? The Buddha's teachings are diverse. The Buddha believed that there was an appropriateness to each teaching to the recipient. He taught differently to different people, what was suitable for each. By judging the effectiveness of a teaching to a recipient, one can be effective. It is like in medicine, picking the right remedy and strength for an individual patient. Although a specific medicine may be a good medicine and potent, it may not be appropriate for that patient and may do harm instead of good. With this understanding it is easy to see how different religions serve different recipients. Having many religions is important given the diversity of peoples. With this understanding, the appreciation for diversity is increased. It is important to realize that other religious traditions serve millions of people.
Each religion has a unique perspective and strengths. A Christian brother pointed out that the growth of monasteries in Nepal over the last thirty or forty years. But there has not been an increase in schools or hospitals, which is a shame. If those were Christian monasteries, there would be many more schools and hospitals. A Buddhist can only respond that "yes, that is true."
Many Christians are interested in the Buddhist concept of Emptiness. H.H. warns that this is somewhat of a Buddhist business and perhaps they should not go deeply into it.
Many people here today may be pursuing a path that is grounded both in Christianity and Buddhism, but at a certain point we must specialize in one or the other. Like in teaching, one after a certain point must dive in deep into a specialty.
We've talked about the diversity of religions being
a valid viewpoint, but how is this reconciled with the idea that there is only
one truth or one valid religion. H.H. does not see a problem here. one truth/one
religion is valid from the perspective of the individual, many truths/faiths
is valid in the context of the greater society.
There are two world camps. One is theistic - with a creator - and one is non-theistic - without a creator. Buddhism, Jainism, and one branch of Samkia fall into the latter. In this second branch, there are two camps. One accepts that there is an eternal principle, a unitary, unchanging principle of self or "atma" or soul. The other camp is Buddhism, which rejects this concept of soul. Also there is a distinction around reincarnation, which Buddhism believes. And there is a distinction of salvation being in the physical plane or not - and Buddhism believes that salvation is from the point of view of a state of mind, on the physical plane.
These teachings this weekend, are from the Buddhist perspective.
There are three camps on the chronology of Buddhism, when did the first Buddha give his teachings and live. One camp says 2500 years ago, another over 3000 years, and a third says 2900 years. H.H. believes this is somewhat of a heresy that we do not really know when Buddha came to the world. He has suggested that we use modern techniques to test relics and conclude this. <the audience laughs...>
The Buddha Sukyamuni endured many hardships and lived for six years as an ascetic. All leaders of religions pursued the spiritual path through hardship. There is a lesson here. If people follow the spiritual path of their faith, they should expect hardship too. There is often a belief among Buddhist monks that although the Buddha went through these hardships, that they will not need to. This is wrong.
His Holiness then spent time talking about Buddha's
first teaching, about the four noble truths and the 37 aspects of the path to
enlightenment. I couldn't write down all the details on the 37 aspects, but
I did catch that there are two major categories of this approach:
• single point of mind
• penetrative insight
The principle obstacles for attaining these two qualities are an excitement or laxity of the mind. The practices and traditions in Buddhism aim at overcoming these obstacles, of stripping the mind of the distracting objects. The 37 aspects are grouped as a progression, the first developing a foundation of mindfulness, which leads to an enthusiasm allowing development of the next aspects: reducing harmful acts and encouraging positive actions. Then comes skill development to enhance your focus and capacity to concentrate on a single object - which helps develop faculties and spiritual strengths... leading to the ability to apply the eight practices of enlightenment.
His Holiness spent a fair amount of time describing the different scriptures, including the first turning of the wheel of dharma: the direct teachings of Buddha, the second turning of the wheel of dharma: the sanskrit sutras for perfection wisdom, and the third turning of the wheel of dharma: the later teachings of perfection wisdom. These later teachings were for students of the mahayana path, who were not suitable for hearing the earlier teachings of Emptiness, for they were at risk for falling into Nihilism. The first set of sutras from this third turning of the wheel were for them. The second set of sutras were about clarity of mind plus arguments about the authenticity of the mahayana scriptures in general. There must have been doubts about their authenticity because they were not well known.
H.H. spent more time explaining the arguments for the authenticity of the mahayana teachings. The chief argument was this: there were only a few years in which time the Buddha attained wisdom and then enlightenment. There are two aspects involved that are separate. The continuum of consciousness which attains enlightenment and the negative aspects of mind which must be reduced through wisdom. The latter has an antidote in the teachings and attainment of wisdom, which is only a matter of time. The former is not something attained through accumulation of wisdom, so it is unreasonable that Buddha developed enlightened consciousness in six years -- there must be a continuum of consciousness which preexists and continues. Therefore, later scripts written can have the same validity as the original instruction.
How we as practitioners validate the teachings however
the reverse of this. First came the authentic scriptures - directly from the
Buddha. Then came the authentic commentary about the scriptures, then came the
authentic teachers - actualized / realized teachers. Then spiritual experiences
grew in the practitioners. This is the progression of Buddhism. But in validating
these teachings the reverse is true. Practitioners need a degree of authentic
experience first. For example, as we practice Bodhicitta [Ed: open or loving
heart] we can feel in our heart the ordinary spiritual experience. It has an
impact. It leaves a change. It gives us a taste - and we can develop a sense
of validity for the teachings of the Lamas and develop a conviction for that
validity. This is the only way open for us. Inference is blind, and can only
touch tangible objects through some direct experience.
H.H. then spoke more specifically about the sutras, their translation from sanskrit to tibetan and the validity of that translations. Their structure and organization.
He then began talking about the sutra, in what appeared to be a line by line fashion. Here are some random scribbling of notes, I couldn't quite follow it line by line like that:
In the sutra, Buddha is described as someone who has "conquered" the four mayas or obstructive forces. He entered into the "profound" - the emptiness or way that things really are - because of his wisdom and its focus on attaining enlightenment. He was a bodhisattva which translates to "enlightened hero" and in tibetan has another word for bodhisattva translates into two different terms than "enlightened" and "hero", but into "realization of knowledge" and "overcoming negativity". The term itself implies the key qualities: always with compassion, always with an eye to all sentient beings with compassion.
This endeavor is the engagement of the perfection of wisdom.
There are three kinds of scriptures, those spoken by the Buddha, those approved by the Buddha, and those inspired by the Buddha. The Heart Sutra is the third kind. It is written as a commentary between two monks, one the direct disciple of Buddha (or those using his name), inspired by the Buddha.
"Any noble son or daughter who wishes to engage
in the perfection of wisdom should train in this way."
H.H. then took a minute to talk about gender. He feels that the original principles, and then later the monastic principles, do not include any distinction of gender. In fact, the monastic tradition has ordination for both men and for women. But there is differences in the position of fully ordained men and women. This is not a bias based on the fundamental principles, but on the current monastic tradition based on the culture which it is based in. Perhaps this tradition should be looked at carefully now. <applause from the audience>
Some have asked, "Why don't you - the Dalai
Lama - decree that women be equal." But our tradition is one of consensus
of the entire monastic tradition and not decree.
Heart Sutra (continued)
"Noble son" implies an inclination or motivation to pursuit of attainment of enlightenment. This includes some qualities of the individual like a modest desire, a sense of contentment, etc.
The pollutants which obscure our vision of reality are separable. And they are based on an erroneous view that there is a basis of substance. It is this erroneous view that leads us to attach, cause emotional affliction, and so on. Focusing on recognizing the natural emptiness of the mind, practicing the natural nirvana, begins to unravel the erroneous views. That leads to the true nirvanas, including the final Buddha nirvana where the duality between samsara and nirvana also drops away.
"They should seek incessantly, repeatedly, that even the five aggregates are devoid of substance".
There is an emphasis on "even". So too that a person made up of the five aggregates are devoid of substance. So too the "I" reading this is devoid of substance, and all the elements of the "I" including the mind are devoid of intrinsic existence. Even the emptiness itself is devoid of intrinsic existence. So too are the Buddhas who have attained nirvana devoid of substance.
"So... have we arrived at the point where nothing exists?", His Holiness chuckled. "Even I who is experiencing this hot sun am not here? Yet we still feel that something is there, that can be felt, that we can hold."
Because of the difficulty of these concepts of emptiness
and what we experience, we see the diversity of thought even in the non-theistic
traditions. There are those that believe in soul or atma and even in Buddhism
those that believe in no-self in reference to phenomenon, and so on.
Closing Day 1
At this point the day was at an end, and His Holiness thanked us and said we would continue tomorrow morning. And when he stood the entire audience stood in respect, as we had done at lunch so he could leave first out of respect. But instead of walking out with his handlers, he walked to the front of the stage and raised his hands together and he bowed to us.
Intro Day 2
Friday I was again able to sneak out of work for a bit to hear His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama talk about the Heart Sutra. I don't have much time before I will go to the third and final day of lecture - but I'll try to write at least something.
Throne & Self Importance
When His Holiness came out on stage, he prostrated three times before his little thrown before getting up onto it. He also bowed again to us, many times, with his trademark, warm smile. He started the day talking about the throne. He told us that in the old tradition, monks would remove their orange wraps and fold them carefully and pile them up to make a little thrown for a Lama to sit on and teach from. But the veneration is not for the person of the Lama; instead it is solely for the teachings. This is important, and the teacher also prostrates to the thrown to venerate the teachings. It is also a reminder, lest he start to view himself as important.
The teacher is advised to concentrate on the sutras of impermanence of phenomenon as a reminder that he is not self-important. The risk and danger of self-importance is very real. In fact in Tibet from the fifth Dalai Lama's biography we read about the "high throne" syndrome where a Lama would hope to have his throne higher than any other Lamas. At that time they were careful to make all of the Lamas' thrones of equal height. But clever attendants might put a slate in among the pillows for their master's thrown. Although the thrones were still all the same height, the slate would keep the pillows more firm. Over time, the Lama's without a slate would start to sag and those with a slate would then appear to be on a higher thrown. <laughter from the audience>
Though in Tibet Buddhism flourished, there were
negative aspects. People did not understand deeply, and some would judge a Lama
based on the height of his thrown or the number of horses in his caravan. The
quality of a Lama should be judged on the knowledge and the practice. When the
understanding of the people is low, such unfortunate things can happen. Similarly
you may have observed costumes and great hats were emphasized. Perhaps in Tibet
there is some excuse for the hats because it is very cold... <at this point
H.H. interrupted the translator and added "especially if the Lama is bald...">
<much laughter from the audience>
It is important to look at the essence of the Buddha's teachings and the masters. Judging teachers and Lamas should be based on their accordance with the Buddha's teachings, rather than emphasis on external appearances. There is a danger as Buddhism comes to the west - that the wrong Tibetan aspects will be adopted here - like large hats and elaborate costumes. Similarly in the temples, the center emphasis should be on the Buddha Sukyamuni and we should entrust our spiritual focus on him. But more often people would enter and go to the dark, back corner where the protector shrine is. They would whisper there and make offerings of money and tea and alcohol for protection. This room is where the temple would generate the most revenue by far.
An aside - H.H. said he heard from someone in the know... that there was a monk whose main task was to continually pour the offerings to the protector. He was bald but after a time he grew hair. When asked about this, he would explain that sometimes some drops from the offering would spill, and those falling on his hand he would rub onto his head. In this way he grew hair. Perhaps if you too want to grow hair you can do this. <H.H. chuckles loudly>
The Tibetan practice of combining spiritual and
secular leaders has had many malpractices and abuses and problems. It is important
to constantly check oneself. For example, when H.H. sits on a high throne, pride
does not arise in him. But occasionally, in the corner of the mind, his thoughts
stray and he might like a complement for a good lecture or he notices a small
worry of receiving a negative review. This too occasionally happens. "Make
sure your mental states or motivations are not defiled by the eight mundane
considerations." Otherwise, when teaching with some aspect of arrogance
or pride then this leaves oneself open to other flaws - abuse of power, accumulating
wealth, envy of others...
Perfection of Wisdom
Of the six perfections the Perfection of Wisdom leads to Bodhicitta - the realization of emptiness with a factor of skillful means and the motivation to help all sentient beings, to have altruistic intention. Compassion is what brings altruistic intention and the motivation to achieve enlightenment is to help all sentient beings. The Perfection of Wisdom is the most important perfection. It is important to understand the causality of happiness and suffering. It is undisputed that we all pursue happiness. This causality should be our chief concern.
Body, Mind, Self
Who is this individual that experiences happiness and unhappiness? If you hurt your hand, you think "I've been hurt". You identify with the body. However, in some ways you do not. If given the opportunity to exchange your old, tired body with a fresh, new one there is feeling from deep in our heart that we might like that exchange. There is a willingness.
Similarly if we could exchange our mind with a full
Buddha mind, there is also a willingness. So there is an identity other than
our body or our mind, that believes it might benefit from such an exchange.
Some schools chose to separate this self or soul principle. Buddhists reject
the unitary principle. It is undefinable. To Buddhists, self is only in terms
of the mind and the body and can only be understood that way. Some chose to
understand self solely from a metaphysical or philosophical view. But to Buddhists
the self is heavily dependent on the physical and mental aggregates. Also the
naive idea of the self as master over the body and mind is false, because it
is not autonomous or separate from them.
All Buddhists schools embrace the concept of no-self or "anatman". The first seal of Buddhism is "All composite phenomenon are impermanent". Even moment by moment things come and go. We all observe it. However, to have a beginning there must be a process of change going on moment to moment. Without that change it is hard to imagine - so the main Buddhists schools agree that all things come into being with a seed for their cessation. The cause that begins it in a way also begets the end of it. We generally think positively about the beginnings - growth, development - and endings have a negative implication. "Momentariness" is the essential part of impermanence. Constantly going through change, cessation, and destruction.
The second seal of Buddhism is "All contaminate phenomenon are suffering". Suffering here is not here the basic experience of pain but a deeper understanding of condition. Some sutra explain that all three worlds are the mind. Most Buddhist schools believe this passage to mean that the whole world and the people in it are a product of the mind. If we trace our own origins of the body, of the material, we can trace the composite pieces to the beginning of the universe. Even further still to before space particles before that. Even rocks that appear very solid today can be traced back to the emptiness at the very beginning.
This is where karma comes in, from actions that have intention. Karmic acts are rooted in mental afflictions. Which are rooted in erroneous understanding and an undisciplined mind. When you understand in this way, all actions from the frame of mind of mental afflictions are contaminated. These contaminated things are the root of suffering. Suffering not as in perceived pain but as in our condition and our existence. Between these first two seals, there is an inference. The first is a basis for the second. Things in cause and effect are being affected by an "other" power - the unconditioned mind or one of ignorance. Ignorance is the king of mental obstructions. At the root of the contaminated mind is an erroneous mental state and ignorance. With ignorance there is no room for joy or real happiness.
The more you uncover the truth and reality the less
the falseness of that ignorance will apply. It will be more clear that the grasping
at self-existence of things is erroneous belief. The liberation is then possible.
Attachment & Self
What is the significance of this non-self? The stronger your grasping to a self and the stronger will be what is important to the self or its interests. Hostility, Anger, etc then arises. For example, when in a shopping complex and one notices an object that is particularly appealing there may be a craving for it. The object appears to be wonderful. However, once bought and the object is "yours" there is a projection or grasping of it. Attachment for it will increase. Your own attitude toward it has changed, though the object is still the same. There is a self relationship in the dynamic that is involved with the object. The self is a necessary component. Once you have shown the groundlessness of the self, then you undermine the processes that are based on the self.
The first two schools of Buddhism only concentrate meditation on the "no self" of person, but no "no self" of phenomenon. The two latter schools do. The significance is this, if you concentrate only on the person (the self) you will effectively reduce cravings but the improvement is confined to the being that undergoes the learning. The latter schools extend to also the objects and phenomenon - the physical and mental aggregates. Your review and perception of objects may lead you to feel an object is "attractive" or even that it is "unattractive". This will then generate a strong emotional reaction in people. From the object, there is nothing truly "attractive" about it.
The label we apply is subjective and the relationship is relative and contingent. To our naive perception, we see things discrete and separate but in reality subject and object are non-dual. Duality is a projection of our mind. It leads us to strong emotional reactions. Realizing this alone is enough to reduce it's effects.
<Those were the notes I took on Friday... though there were more talks. I ordered a video copy of the lectures which were promised to arrive before September 1st.>
Intro Day 3
with His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama
<I missed the morning session, had to work, so
these notes are from the final afternoon on Saturday.>
The very sanskrit and tibetan words for "affliction" imply suffering and downfall of the individual. Suffering here is the state of mind of suffering, as opposed to physical pain.
Our aspiration is to be happy and to avoid suffering. If we notice there are two kinds of experience, one at physical sensations (pleasure and pain) and one at a mental level. The mental conscious level is more acute and more powerful. Much of this suffering is really caused at the level of our mind, emotions, thoughts. Many are caused by the mental afflictions - jealosy, competitiveness, anger, etc. When they arise they cause a real disturbance in our mind and in our heart.
In the scriptures we see six primary afflictions
and then more secondary afflictions. If we observe day to day, we notice the
role they play. "Today I was peaceful" or "Today I felt restless"
The latter feeling is from the many mental afflictions.
External Blame & Projection
Normally we will blame suffering on external conditions. "I came upon this awful person" one might think, and "it made me very angry." We blame the external. The true practitioner should remain resolute and undistrubed like a tree.
If we reflect further on this quality of a person whose very sight causes us such adversity, we ask "is it real or a projection of the mind?" If it is real, others should have the same aversion. But that's not the case. When this same person, the awful one, meets a close friend of theirs this might cause great delight in the friend. So this quality of being an awful person must clearly be our own projection.
An old, simple example. Aging and death is part of our existance. Yet there is an extreme reluctance to accept that fact. It is almost an insult to point out someone's old age. But some cultures the attitude is quite different - in monastic tibetan society for example, age is almost a basis for respect. Especially for those with a long white beard, they can stroke it and show their age. Some view it negatively, others positively.
One time in Tibet, a Lama was teaching. And he said "amongst the monks those having a bald head and a long beard is seen as a sign of great wisdom." At that time having a thin neck was considered not so good, a thick neck was more mature. Similarly, having a goiter on your neck, one of moderate but good size, was considered a sign of prestige. When the lama explained this about the beard, and the baldness, and the goiter, there was one monk in the group that had a bald head, and a long beard, and a good sized goiter on his neck. He felt very proud at hearing this and he raised up his head slightly and had a new air of importance. But then the lama said, "But if all THREE qualities are present, it is something truly unfortunate." <at this point His Holiness really cracks up laughing>
One's own attitude makes tremendous impact on how
one sees a situation. If one observes dynamics of mental and emotional afflictions
you'll notice two basic types:
1. sense of attraction to phenomenon
2. sense of repulsion to phenomenon
But there are valuable states of mind with attraction or repulsion. Even in the fully enlightened Buddha we find these states of mind.
Self Destructive Acts
Self destructive acts however from minor to major are rooted in mental states of affliction. And over world history, we find the root of minor to major conflicts like war in mental afflictions.
Destructive acts in the future that we didn't realize were the result of our action, these are a product of our ignorance, of not knowing.
Even in animals, all interactions are rooted in mental affliction. Injury upon each other, rooted in desire - mating competitions, territory. It is attachment and anger that give rise to the conflict.
Therefore, there are many different mental afflictions in us - anger, attachment. At the heart is the delusion or ignorance - in an erroneous view of self. At the basis is a clinging to a self-hood which is thought to have independent existance, to be objectively real.
We tend to project objective Good and Bad as if they were absolute qualities of objects. Then we react strongly to them emotionally as a result of this erroneous view.
At the root is grasping at self existance.
So long as we remain in this view, there is no room for joy. This is enslavement by the delusion and ignorance. The whole three realms of Samsara are the slavery of delusion.
And so these afflictions are described as "poisons of the mind." Just like physical poison, they can cause illness and at the extreme even shorten ones life.
Not only do they cause us suffering, they also obstruct
us from happiness. They are our true "enemy," they obstruct our fulfillment
In the case of an external enemy, we can run and hide. But from an internal enemy, there is no refuge or powerful ally we can draw upon. Another difference, there is no external enemy who will stay your enemy for all time - or they may transform into your friend. Also external enemies may harm you but they usually have other roles in life too - like tending their own crops or relating to their own friends.
But internal enemies will never become friends, their only task is to cause us harm. They will perpetually find ways to harm us - it is their only role.
So when you consider this deeply, you will see the true meaning of Dharma. Nirvana is a state beyond suffering and mental afflictions. The Dharma is the only true refuge. The factor which provides us relief is the true path - the wisdom of emptiness - and it is the true Dharma. The jewel of the Dharma.
To put this into practice, adopt a morality to avoid negative actions. That is the first step. The second step is to directly develop antidotes to these mental afflictions. The final step is to eliminate the afflictions completely and also the residues so no propensities remain.
Also one must cultivate empathy.
One method to cultivate empathy is to visualize all things as embodiment of your mother, or embodiment of kindness, or someone very close to you. Extend that to all sentient beings. At some other point, these other beings have been as close to you as your mother... if you trace your origins and theirs back to the beginning of time.
In nature there is a tendency for offspring to be nurtured (not all, but most) - until they are capable of taking care of themselves - the parent nurtures them out of kindness and dependence is so complete. A parent is the sole refuge, a strong bond.
When you have this same perspective for all sentient
beings, no matter how they relate to you, you'll be able to treat them with
kindness and see their inherent kindness to you.
Steps to Reduce Suffering
In terms of procedure:
1st step - cultivate leveling or equanimity
Normally we have a fluctuation in our feelings toward others - some we have closeness - but most we'll go from closeness to anger easily. Closeness grounded in attachment. It can obstruct true compassion. Start with a leveling out of emotions before cultivating true compassion to avoid compassion obstructed by attachments [dave's edit: selfish love]
2nd step - Develop the feeling of unbearableness at the sight of other's suffering.
3rd step - Powerful compassion - wish to see others free from suffering and hold a commitment that you will help make that hapen. This gives rise to the altruistic attitude.. this leads to bodhicitta.
We all have the right to seek happiness. We all have the potential to achieve happiness. We are equal in this.
Sometimes we feel that our own suffering is disconnected to the suffering for others. Since we are part of a community, this is not the case. We are all part of the wider community and even part of the general whole. We are not truly independent to the interests of others.
Further, if by perpetually harboring our self-centered thought to bring about our happiness - then by now we should have been successful! <laughter> For all of us here, almost from the first day of our lives we have been pursuing the self-centered pursuit to achieve some gain.
Many of our sufferings are our own creation, and many can be removed or at least reduced, by changing our attitude or our perceptions.
Some sufferings are not overcomable - aging, death - they cannot be overcome. This is the conventional view. But the Buddhist view, these are raising up from an undisciplined mind. By cultivating antidotes for mental afflictions, and generating insight into the wisdom of emptiness... one can reduce these in some sense. They can possibly be ended.
At the root "are self-grasping" (at self
interests and existence) and "self cherishing". These two join forces
and solidify like a diamond. From these we experience all forms of suffering.
We must proclaim "Today I recognize that these are the roots of my suffering."
The three fold path is:
2. bodhicitta arising from compassion
3. wisdom realizing emptiness
The great objects of veneration, Sukyamuni, and the great objects of veneration, the old Indian masters, - what makes them great? They followed the three fold path and abandoned self-cherishing. Instead they cherished others.
If at some point if we reversed our way of being,
and cherished others and not ourselves - then we would have been by now enlightened.
If we generated bodhicitta before Sukyamuni, by today we would have been more
senior even than he. But that is not the case.
Path of the Boddhisatva
A common theme of other religions, is an emphasis on altruistic pursuits. When you reflect deeply on the short comings of self-centered-ness and the positive aspects of altruistic perspective, one overcomes self- centeredness.
The source of all blames is in one point (self-centeredness.) all our attitudes should be directed to kindness toward other sentient beings. In gratitude, the kindness of other sentient beings is boundless.
From this view, it is possible to develop compassion to all sentient beings. Perhaps you can combine chapters six and eight of the "Path of the Bodhisattva" - the chapters on kindness and also on meditation and focus - to develop kindness especially towards one's enemies.
You may start with an intellectual understanding of bodhicitta. Then as you contemplate more, you develop conviction and start to experience it. Then as you pursue further, when you think about bodhicitta you can realize it. By force perhaps assimilating bodhicitta.
Then it comes spontaneously.
Once you start to experience it, H.H. recommends
encorporating it into rituals like the Medicine Buddha empowerment scheduled
for Sunday morning. Then take the bodhisattva vows and pursue the six perfections.
Especially the last two perfections:
• Meditation: the penetrative insight into emptiness
• Wisdom: the perfection of wisdom
That's it... I didn't take notes for the public lecture that evening, though I did order a copy of the movie on "Tibet's Stolen Child" that was presented on the Panchen Lama.