His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Eight Verses for Training the Mind
Marzo 9th, 2016 by admin

Eight Verses for Training the Mind and a Panel Discussion in Madison, WI

Madison, WI, USA, 8 March 2016 – When His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived at the Madison Masonic Center today, a small group of Tibetans with flags and placards were waiting quietly to welcome him. He was met as he stepped out of his car by President of the Wisconsin Tibetan Association (WTA), Tsetan Dolkar. 1050 people, including about 700 Tibetans, were gathered to listen to him in the theatre inside. Sharpa Tulku moderated the occasion and first introduced children of the WTA who cheerfully sang a song of gratitude to His Holiness. Amdo Yeshi Gyamtso read a report summarizing the activities of the Association.

President of the Wisconsin Tibetan Association, Tsetan Dolkar, introducing His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the start of his teaching in Madison, WI, USA on March 8, 2016.
Photo/Sherab Lhatsang

In her introduction, Tsetan Dolkar spoke particularly about students’ achievements in a wide range of studies up to and including PhD. She noted His Holiness’s advice that compassion is essential for our survival as human beings. She expressed thanks to everyone who had contributed to making the occasion possible.
Local Congressman Mark Pocan stepped forward to offer His Holiness a traditional white silk scarf and Dane County executive Joe Pirisi introduced him to the audience. He observed His Holiness’s three major commitments to the promotion of human values to ensure human happiness, harmony among religious traditions and the preservation of Tibetan Buddhist culture. He mentioned that as a mark of support, the Tibetan flag is flying alongside the Stars and Stripes over the Dane County Executive Building for the duration of His Holiness’s visit. The Executive will lend support to Tibetan observance of March 10th. Finally he expressed gratitude for Geshe Sopa’s presence in the community,
His Holiness responded to these various introductions: “Indeed, it is a great honour for me to have the opportunity to meet all of you Tibetans and friends of Tibetans here. We’ve been in exile now nearly 57 years, but wherever we are local people have been friendly and supportive. Here too the local administration and friends have shown us genuine warm feelings, as well as support for our just cause. Thank you.
“I am glad to hear that our community here has a sense of responsibility both as Tibetans and as local citizens. In Tibet people still face great difficulties, which is why it is important that we preserve our identity. This is not just a matter of how we look, but of knowing our own language, how to use it and the significant body of knowledge, the Nalanda tradition, it is capable of expressing. In the past, only monastics, not laypeople, really studied these things. This needs to change. Already nuns have taken up the study of classic texts and several of them will shortly be awarded Geshe degrees.
“I have also been encouraging laypeople to study the classic texts. You young people should try to do that too. It will enrich what it means to be a Tibetan, which is what maintaining our identity is about.”
is Holiness mentioned that whenever he meets other people he considers himself to be just one among 7 billion human beings. He said that on that level there are no differences between us, whether you think of nationality, faith or whether people are rich or poor, educated or uneducated. He remarked that we are all born the same way, and brought up in the shelter of our mother’s affection. This is why all 7 billion human beings have the same potential to cultivate warm heartedness. Equally, scientific findings that constant anger, fear and hatred undermine our immune system applies to us all. It’s common sense, he continued, that families where love and affection thrive are happy even when they are poor, but families, who, despite their wealth, are riven with jealousy and suspicion are miserable.

His Holiness suggested that the prospect of humanity being more peaceful depends on individuals being peaceful within. He affirmed that because of our marvellous brains we are capable of thinking ahead and planning for the future. Through education and awareness we can cultivate physical health and a calm mind. He said we need to cultivate compassion, yet modern education tends to focus on material development rather than fostering inner values. This is why it’s important to find ways to incorporate ethics and human values into our education, something His Holiness is committed to support.
He explained that as a Buddhist monk his second major commitment, at a time when the unthinkable is happening and people are killing each other in the name of religion, is to promoting religious harmony. He said this is possible because the common aim of all religions is to foster affection and build friendship. He declared that he has many friends among Christians, Hindus, Jews and Moslems, as well as Buddhists. At the age of 81 he said he remains committed to working to promote human values and religious harmony and appealed to his listeners that if they think of him as their friend, they should do so too.

Taking up the ‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’, which is primarily a teaching about altruism, he said:

Members of the audience listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his teaching at the Masonic Center in Madison, WI, USA on March 8, 2016. Photo/Sherab Lhatsang

This is not just about accumulating knowledge but is rooted in taking refuge in the Three Jewels and generating the awakening mind. We can compare the usual four line verse for taking refuge to the words we say when offer our food – ‘To the Buddha the unsurpassed teacher, the Dharma, the unsurpassed refuge and the Sangha, the unsurpassed guides, I make this offering.’ When we say the Buddha is unsurpassed we don’t think of him as powerful like a creator, but as sharing with us the way to liberation, a way he has already gone. When we say the Dharma is unsurpassed we don’t just mean the scriptural teachings, but the realization that arises from implementing them in our minds. This refers to our training in morality, concentration and wisdom. Such a refuge enables us to eliminate the ignorance that is the root of suffering.
“As Shantideva says:
Although seeking to avoid pain,
We run headlong into suffering.
We long for happiness, but foolishly
Destroy it, as if it were our enemy.

“Ignorance is a distortion of reality that we can only overcome through wisdom. And when we refer to the Sangha as the unsurpassed guide, we think not only of those in robes, but of anyone who has actually implemented the teachings. So, in the first two lines of the verse we’re going to recite, we take refuge and aspire to enlightenment for all sentient beings and in the latter two lines we generate the awakening mind of bodhichitta. This confirms our natural inclination to seek happiness and avoid suffering, but as Shantideva says again our tendency to self-centredness leads us in the opposite direction:
Whatever joy there is in this world
All comes from desiring others to be happy,
And whatever suffering there is in this world
All comes from desiring myself to be happy.

“Selfishness leads to shortcomings while concern for others yields advantages. Although the achievement of Buddhahood is to help other beings, we should remember:
Buddhas do not wash unwholesome deeds away with water,
Nor do they remove the sufferings of beings with their hands,
Neither do they transplant their own realization into others.
Teaching the truth of suchness they liberate (beings).

“In the Mahayana approach to taking refuge we take refuge until we attain the essence of enlightenment. The objective is to help all sentient beings alleviate their sufferings. The third line says, ‘through the merit of engaging in generosity and so forth, may I attain enlightenment for all beings.’ However, this is not only about merit but about wisdom too. If we investigate the ‘I’ who takes refuge, we find that our sense of a self that is intrinsically existent is without basis. It’s something we impose on the collection of body and mind.

A view of the Madison Masonic Center Theater during His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teaching in Madison, WI, USA on March 8, 2016. Photo/Sherab Lhatsang

Analysis is not something we accomplish quickly, but it is powerful and effective. It’s something I’ve undertaken for 60 years and it has a real effect. It undermines our misconception of self and in doing so it counters our disturbing emotions. The cognitive therapist Aaron Beck told me that when we are angry, the object of our anger seems wholly negative, but this is 90% mental projection.
His Holiness recommended adopting the Four Reliances: reliance on the teaching and not the teacher; reliance on the meaning and not merely the words; reliance on the definitive and not the interpretable meaning and reliance on noble wisdom and not on (ordinary) consciousness.
Turning again to the Eight Verses, he said they were composed by Langri Thangpa a student of Potowa who belonged to the lineage of those who study the classic texts. The main point of the text, which is brief but effective, is the cultivation of altruism, which relates to the conventional awakening mind. However, he said, we will really only make progress, not by saying a prayer or a mantra, but by contemplating emptiness.
He said that where the final verse speaks of ‘seeing all things as like an illusion’, it refers to the aftermath of meditation and the disparity between what appears to us and reality. His Holiness quoted Nagarjuna:
That which is dependent origination
Is explained to be emptiness.
That, being a dependent designation,
Is itself the middle way.

There does not exist anything
That is not dependently arisen.
Therefore there does not exist anything
That is not empty.

And he related this to the well-known lines in the ‘Heart Sutra’:
Form is empty; emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form; form also is not other than emptiness.
His Holiness was invited to lunch at the Overture Center for the Arts by the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Rebecca Blank. On arrival he was also received by his old friend Richie Davidson. During a brief introduction, Chancellor Blank commended His Holiness’s basic goodness and his support for the effort to build Healthy Minds. She mentioned that although there were 1000 people in the room, 10,000 more would be joining in through the National Geographic’s streaming of the event.
During lunch, Chade Meng Tan from Google, who Richie Davidson referred to as his brother, spoke of his goal to create world peace during his lifetime through peace, joy and compassion.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama participating in a discussion on the importance of peace of mind at the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, WI, USA on March 8, 2016.
Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL

unch over, His Holiness participated in a panel discussion which touched again on the importance of peace of mind and the interest that scientists are now taking in it. His Holiness pointed out that what really destroys our peace of mind is our disturbing emotions. He commended a greater role for women leaders, mischievously suggesting that if the world’s almost 200 nations were led by women the world might be a safer place. He referred to encouraging scientific evidence that basic human nature is compassionate, which means that we can train ourselves further that way.
He noted that corruption is a result of short-sightedness, low moral standards and greed. And while observing that real generosity occurs when there is no expectation of a reward, he reminded those listening of the importance of giving with respect for the recipient. When he joked that it is also possible to visualize being generous, Richie Davidson pointed out that neuroscience reveals that during visualization the same neural circuits are activated as when you are actually giving.
His Holiness suggested that the media have an important role to educate people about positive developments, which would involve taking a more balanced view of human activity and potential. As to what he would like scientists to study to contribute to creating a better world, he replied that they should accept that their knowledge remains limited and to approach their work with an open mind. He recalled warnings he received nearly 40 years ago to beware of science as a ‘killer of faith’. He overlooked this advice and entered into dialogue with scientists that in the course of time has been mutually beneficial and enriching.
His Holiness will participate once more in discussions on ‘The World We Make: Well-Being in 2030′ tomorrow.

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