Chapter Two of Dharmakirti’s ‘Commentary on Valid Cognition’ – 3rd Day
Ottobre 6th, 2022 by admin

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting members of the crowd attending the third day of teachings as he arrives at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on October 5, 2022. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

October 5, 2022. Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India – His Holiness the Dalai Lama opened the third day of his current set of teachings by announcing that he thought he would give the Bodhisattva vows by way of an auspicious ending.

I take these vows every day,” he explained. “There are 18 root vows and 46 lesser pledges to be kept. The Six Session Guru Yoga lists the 18 root downfalls and clarifies that, in the case a lapse of discipline, if the four binding factors are not complete, the vow is not lost. “

His Holiness first read the final verses of Chapter two of the ‘Commentary on Valid Cognition’ – Establishing the Reliable Guide.

The Buddha is one who trained in the path,” he observed. “He made steady progress. By comparison we ordinary beings are obsessed with selfish attitudes. Shantideva makes this clear in his ‘Entering the Way of the Bodhisattva’.

Why say more? Observe this distinction: between the fool who longs for his own advantage and the sage who acts for the advantage of others. 8/130

The key is to think of bringing happiness to all beings and of harming no one.

All those who suffer in the world do so because of their desire for their own happiness. All those happy in the world are so because of their desire for the happiness of others. 8/129

For those who fail to exchange their own happiness for the suffering of others, Buddhahood is certainly impossible – how could there even be happiness in cyclic existence? 8/31

If you only think of yourself, you’ll not be happy. Thinking of others and cultivating the awakening mind of bodhichitta helps purify negativities and accumulate merit. Cherishing others as you do yourself brings courage and inner strength.”

His Holiness took time to answer questions put to him by members of the audience on a range of topics. In his replies he told them that using reason and logic has its own special benefit because it can be used to dispel doubt about the main practice.

He noted that when Atisha came to Tibet, he taught the ‘Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment’. From this arose the genre of ‘Stages of the Path’ literature that include Jé Tsongkhapa’s ‘Great, Medium and Concise Treatises on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment’. His Holiness suggested that since there is a general affinity for the Geluk tradition in Taiwan, in addition to these books it would be good to study Chandrakirti’s ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ and Shantideva’s ‘Entering the Way of the Bodhisattva’. He then added that if there were the opportunity it would be good to study books belonging to the other Tibetan traditions too.

When I was doing retreat in the Potala,” he recalled, “there were all sorts of thangka paintings hanging in my room. One depicted the great yogi Milarepa. I read the story of his life at that time and found it really inspiring.”

With regard to past and future lives, His Holiness observed that they depend on the continuity of the mind. When we die the gross elements of our physical being and coarse consciousness dissolve one into the other. Then there are experiences described as whitish appearance, reddish increase and black near attainment, following which the clarity and awareness of the most subtle mind manifests. This is what goes on to Buddhahood.

When another question was raised about the manifestation of innate clear light at the time of death, His Holiness clarified that we experience different states of mind. Our normal waking state, dominated by sense consciousness is relatively coarse. The dream state is subtler and deep sleep is subtler still. Finally, the breath stops and the subtlest mind of clear light manifests.

His Holiness mentioned the phenomenon of ‘thukdam’ when advanced meditators remain absorbed in that clear light. While that occurs, their physical body remains fresh. He reported that scientists from Moscow University have launched a project to investigate this phenomenon and explain what is going on from a scientific point of view.

His Holiness reiterated that one of the mental afflictions that most easily disrupts our peace of mind is anger. However, the more we work to cultivate bodhichitta, anger will be reduced and our peace of mind will be restored. When each of us is at peace, we’ll have a beneficial effect on our family and those around us.

Although we don’t ordinarily think of them this way, emotions like anger, pride and jealousy disturb our minds. All such disturbing emotions derive from self-centredness, as is stated in the ‘Offering to the Spiritual Master’ (Lama chöpa).

This chronic disease of self-centredness
Is the cause of unwanted suffering.
Perceiving this, may I be inspired to blame, begrudge
And destroy this monstrous demon of selfishness.

Since self-centredness is the doorway to all torment,
While caring for my mothers is the foundation for all that is good,
Inspire me to make the core of my practice
The yoga of exchanging myself for others.

Asked how to cultivate respect for a spiritual teacher, His Holiness referred to advice in the ‘Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment’, the gist of which is that those who are to discipline others need first to be disciplined themselves.

He confirmed that lay people are quite capable of doing Buddhist practice and that it is possible to present Buddhist teachings in an academic way. He pointed out that the more you practise and the more you integrate the teachings within you, the clearer their benefits will be.

His Holiness advised that perpetrators of great suffering in Xinjiang and Tibet, people who have destroyed monasteries and brutally killed practitioners have created such negative karma that they deserve to be deep objects of compassion rather than anger.

Having encouraged his listeners to work daily to cultivate the awakening mind of bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness, His Holiness remarked that one of the qualities of our minds is that they can be readily made familiar with virtue.

The more familiar we become with particular practices,” he said, “the greater the transformation we will see in ourselves. When I was a child, I knew nothing about bodhichitta or emptiness, but as I grew older, I came to appreciate how valuable they are. I discovered that these two practices are a real source of peace of mind.

An example of familiarization is the way Tibetans learn from childhood not to harm but to protect even tiny creatures like insects. They do this on the basis that all sentient beings want to be happy and not to suffer.“

Addressing questions about the monastic community, His Holiness commented that those who have left the householder’s way of life keep the vows of individual liberation, which involve restraining their conduct of body and speech. One result is that they do no harm. He distinguished between those who joined a monastic community as a result of their own volition and interest and those who were placed in such a community by their parents when they were young. He suggested that it is perhaps understandable that the latter lose interest in such a way of life.

Finally, His Holiness led the ceremony for giving the Bodhisattva Vows. He asked the congregation to repeat the relevant verses three times and then advised them to imagine receiving a set of vows identical to that held by the teacher.

If you keep these vows, you’ll feel relaxed and at ease. You’ll sleep soundly and you’ll contribute to genuine peace in the world.”

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