Archive for the ‘Dalai Lama Happiness Karma Mind Delhi 82 EN’ Category

Happiness, Karma and Mind

Happiness, Karma and Mind

by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama

any billions of years elapsed between the origin of this world and the first appearance of living beings upon its surface. Thereafter it took an immense time for living creatures to become mature in thought—in the development aHis Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Kalachakra empowerment, Bodh-Gaya. 1974nd perfection of their intellectual faculties; and even from the time men attained maturity up to the present many thousands of years have passed. Through all these vast periods of time the world has undergone constant changes, for it is in a continual state of flux. Even now, many comparatively recent occurrences which appeared for a little while to remain static are seen to have been undergoing changes from moment to moment. One may wonder what it is that remains immutable when every sort of material and mental phenomenon seems to be invariably subject to the process of change, of mutability. All of them are forever arising, developing and passing away. In the vortex of all these changes it is Truth alone which remains constant and unalterable—in other words, the truth of righteousness (Dharma) and its accompanying beneficial results, and the truth of evil action and its accompanying harmful results. A good cause produces a good result, a bad cause a bad result. Good or bad, beneficial or harmful, every result necessarily has a cause. This principle alone is abiding, immutable and constant. It was so before man entered the world, in the early period of his existence, in the present age, and it will be so in all ages to come.

All of us desire happiness and the avoidance of suffering and of everything else that is unpleasant. Pleasure and pain arise from a cause, as we all know. Whether certain consequences are due to a single cause or to a group of causes is determined by the nature of those consequences. In some cases, even if the cause factors are neither powerful nor numerous, it is still possible for the effect factors to occur. Whatever the quality of the result factors, whether they are good or bad, their magnitude and intensity directly correspond to the quantity and strength of the cause factors. Therefore, for success in avoiding unwished- for pains and in acquiring desired pleasures, which is in itself no small matter, the relinquishment of a great number of collective cause factors is required.

In analyzing the nature and state of happiness, it will he apparent that it has two aspects. One is immediate joy (temporary); the other is future joy (ultimate). Temporary pleasures comprise the comforts and enjoyments which people crave, such as good dwellings, lovely furniture, delicious food, good company, pleasant conversation and so on. In other words, temporary pleasur

es are what man enjoys in this life. The question as to whether the enjoyment of these pleasures and satisfactions derives purely from external factors needs to be examined in the light of clear logic. If external factors were alone responsible for giving rise to such pleasures a person would be happy when these were present and, conversely, unhappy in their absence. However, this is not so. For, even in the absence of external conditions leading to pleasure, a man can still be happy and at peace. This demonstrates that external factors are not alone responsible for stimulating man’s happiness. Were it true that external factors were solely resp

onsible for, or that they wholly conditioned the arising of, pleasure and happiness, a person possessing an abundance of these factors would have illimitable joy, which is by no means always so. It is true that these external factors do make partial contribution to the creation of pleasure in a man’s lifetime. However, to state that the external factors are all that is needed and therefore the exclusive cause of happiness in a man’s span of life is an obtuse and illogical proposition. It is by no means sure that the presence of such external factors will beget joy. On the contrary, factual happenings such as the experiencing of inner beatitude and happiness despite the total absence of such pleasure-causing external factors, and the frequent absence of joy despite their presence, clearly show the cause of happiness to depend upon a different set of conditioning factors.

If one were to be misled by the argument that the above-mentioned conditioning factors constitute the sole cause of happiness to the preclusion of any other conditioning causes, that would imply that (resulting) happiness is inseparably bound to external causal factors, its presence or absence being exclusively determined by them. The fact that this is obviously not so is a sufficient proof that external causal factors are not necessarily or wholly responsible for the effect phenomena of happiness.

Now what is that Kyabje Ling Rinpoche and Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, Tutors to H.H. the Dalai Lamaother internal set of causes? How are they to be explained? As Buddhists, we all believe in the Law of Karma—the natural law of cause and effect. Whatever external causal conditions someone comes across in subsequent lives result from the accumulation of that individual’s actions in previous lives. When the karmic force of past deeds reaches maturity a person experiences ple

asurable and unpleasurable mental states. They are but a natural sequence of his own previous actions. The most important thing to understand is that, when suitable (karmic) conditions resulting from the totality of past actions are there, one’s external factors are bound to be favourable. The coming into contact of conditions due to (karmic) action and external causal factors will produce a pleasurable mental state. If the requisite causal conditions for experiencing interior joy are lacking there will be no opportunity for the occurrence of suitable external conditioning factors or, even if these external conditioning factors are present, it will not be possible for the person to experience the joy that would otherwise be his. This shows that inner causal conditions are essential in that these are what principally determine the realization of happiness (and its opposite). Therefore, in order to achieve the desired results it is imperative for us to accumulate both the cause-creating external factors and the cause-creating internal (karmic) conditioning factors at the same time. Continua »

 

When the Ironbird Flies

When the Ironbird Flies

By His Holiness the Dalai Lama at New Delhi, India November 1982

Question: Your Holiness, here in Dharamsala and also on your visits to the West you have had considerable contact with western people, who at present are showing a deep interest in the Tibetan spiritual traditions. Whenever the Buddhadharma has been absorbed into a new society, it has always been modified so as to have the greatest impact on the minds or the people. What can and what cannot be modified, particularly in context to Dharma in the West?

His Holiness the Dalai Lama: The fundamentals of the principal practices of Dharma ought not to be changed. For example, the bases of Bodhicitta (the altruistic attitude of` striving for Buddhahood as a means of benefiting all beings) and Shunyata (Emptiness, the ultimate nature of mind and of all things) will always be required by practitioners. However, in order to get at the essence of these practices, their secondary details—such as the sequential order of the ways in which they are approached, the specifics of the visualizations involved in them and so forth—might well be modified to accord with the differing mentalities of given people.

There were certain differences in the practices of ancient India and Tibet, yet the essential factors of Bodhicitta, the core of the Mahayana, were identical. The differences were only in how Bodhicitta was actualized. Even in India there were a number of approaches to it, such as The Exchange of Self- cherishing for the Cherishing of Others, taught in Shantideva’s Venturing into the Deeds of a Bodhisattva (Bodhisattvacaryavatara) and The Method of Six Causes to One Effect, taught in Atisha’s Light on the Path (Bodhipathapradipa). These different techniques were meant to suit different circumstances; both aimed at developing the same Bodhicitta and at outlining the practices of the Six Perfections.

Therefore, the details of various practices can differ to suit the western mentality; and not only to suit the western mentality in general but also to suit the individual practitioner’s disposition.

Question: All the great masters have stressed the importance of having a spiritual teacher in order to avoid misunderstanding either the teachings or one’s meditational experiences. Unfortunately, at present there are few teachers and many who wish to learn. It is advisable for such a person to just read a meditation manual then practise from it?

His Holiness the Dalai Lama: This is possible. Certain advanced meditations are dangerous if practised without the guidance of an experienced teacher but simple meditations, such as those on impermanence, love, compassion or the development of samadhi are good.

Without a teacher, it is best to limit oneself to small and simple meditations. Continua »

 

Death, Intermediate State and Rebirth

Death, Intermediate State and Rebirth

By His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Death

Through the afflictions of desire, hatred and ignorance, contaminated karma (actions) are performed, which establish potencies in the mind in the form of predispositions. When a lifetime finishes, a person who has such predispositions is born again in cyclic existence with a mind and body appropriated through these contaminated causes.

Some persons die upon the full exhaustion of the impetus of that action which, in another lifetime, laid the foundation for this one. Others die without having used up their allotted time, through the incompletion of the causes of sustaining life, such as lack or necessities. This is called untimely death, or death upon the consumption of merit; for the impetus of the action that established this life remains, but external concordant circumstances that are achieved through other meritorious actions in previous lives do not.

A person dies within a virtuous, non-virtuous or neutral mind. In the first case, the dying person might take to mind a virtuous object—such as the Three Jewels (Buddha, his Doctrine and the Spiritual Community) or his own lama, thereby generating a mind of faith. Or he or she might cultivate immeasurable equanimity, becoming free from desire and hatred toward any sentient beings, or meditate on emptiness or cultivate compassion. This can be done either through one’s own remembering to do such or through others’ urging. If such attitudes are cultivated at the point of death, one dies within a virtuous mind, through which one’s rebirth is improved. It is good to die in this way. Continua »

 

Seeking an Inner Refuge

Seeking an Inner Refuge

By His Holiness the Dalai Lama at New Delhi, India 1960s

The purpose of Buddhism

From the Buddhist point of view, the minds of ordinary people are weak and distorted because of the delusions and emotional afflictions they carry within. As a result, they are unable to see things as they actually exist; what they see is a vision that is twisted and defined by their own emotional neuroses and preconceptions.

The purpose of Buddhism is to remove these distortions from the mind and thus facilitate valid perception. As long as we have not uprooted our delusions our perception remains tainted; when we eradicate them we enter a state of always seeing reality as it is. Then, because our mind abides in perfect wisdom and liberation, our body and speech automatically course in wholesome ways. This benefits not only us but also others, in both this life and those that follow. Therefore, Buddhism is said to be a path not simply of faith but also one of reason and knowledge.

How to study Buddhism

Tibetans are fortunate to have been born into a society where spiritual knowledge was both available and highly appreciated. However, having been born into it perhaps we sometimes took it for granted. The Buddha himself said, “Test my words as carefully as goldsmiths assay gold and only then accept them.” The Buddha taught people of all backgrounds and levels of intelligence for a long period of time. Consequently, each of his teachings must be weighed carefully for meaning and evaluated to determine whether it is literally true or only figuratively so. Many teachings were given in particular circumstances or to beings of limited understanding. Accepting any doctrine or aspect of a doctrine without first scrutinizing it analytically is like building a castle upon ice—one’s practice will be unstable and lack fundamental strength and depth. Continua »