H.H. Dalai Lama: Eight Verses for Training the Mind
Giugno 24th, 2016 by admin

Eight Verses for Training the Mind and Educating the Heart and Mind

Boulder, CO, USA, 23 June 2016 – After rain yesterday afternoon, the air was fresh and the sunshine bright as His Holiness the Dalai Lama drove to the Coors Event Center in Boulder this morning. He was given a traditional Tibetan welcome at the door. Chancellor of the University of Colorado, Phil DiStephano was there to greet him and escort him into the auditorium. The President of the Tibetan Association of Colorado introduced the event and a large group of Tibetan children sang and danced in front of the stage.
Colorado Congressman Jared Polis gave a rousing speech expressing admiration for His Holiness’s role as Tibet’s spiritual and temporal leader and as a man of peace. He referred to his advocacy of the need for secular ethics in putting an end to the violence of the 20th and early 21st centuries. He described the opportunity to welcome His Holiness to Boulder as a great honour and to cheering applause called on the audience to be people at peace in order to be people for peace.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama wearing a cycling helmet presented by Mayor of Boulder, Suzanne Jones before his teachings at the Coors Event Center in Boulder, Colorado on June 23, 2016. Photo/Glenn Asakawa/CUBoulder

Mayor of Boulder, Suzanne Jones spoke next saying: “His Holiness blesses us by his presence here.” She quoted him as saying it is not enough to be compassionate, we also need to be engaged. Noting that yesterday was ‘cycle to work day’, she made a gift of a cycling jersey and a white cycling helmet to His Holiness, which he promptly put on to widespread laughter. He said we could think of it as symbolic of our need to protect ourselves on the spiritual journey indicated by the mantra of the perfection of wisdom included in the Heart Sutra. He expressed his appreciation of what both the Congressman and Mayor had said and sat down to begin his talk.

Brothers and sisters, I consider we are all the same as human beings, mentally, emotionally and physically. In order to ensure a more peaceful world and a healthier environment we sometimes point a finger at others saying they should do this or that. But change must start with us as individuals. If one individual becomes more compassionate it will influence others and so we will change the world.”
He said he would explain a short text written by the Tibetan master Geshe Langri Thangpa, the ‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’ that he has recited to himself every day for decades. He described it as epitomising the Nalanda tradition that is characterized by its use of logic and reason.
He added that whenever he explains Buddhist teachings abroad, he acknowledges that different countries have their own spiritual traditions and that in the west that is predominantly the Judeo-Christian tradition. While generally advising people to stick to the tradition they were born to, he accepts that people are free to make their own choices and that some people find Buddhism is particularly effective for them. He drew attention to the longstanding custom in India of different religious traditions, both those that, like the Samkhya, Jain and Buddhist traditions are indigenous and those from outside like Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, living together side by side in harmony.

A view of the stage during His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teaching at the Coors Event Center in Boulder, Colorado on June 23, 2016. Photo/Glenn Asakawa/CUBoulder

“All these religious traditions convey a message of love and compassion. For it to be more effective they also teach tolerance and forgiveness. And since anger is often related to attachment and greed, in order to protect the practice of altruism, they teach contentment. In Spain I met a Christian monk who had been living as a hermit in the mountains living on little more than bread and tea. I asked him about his practice and he told me he’d been meditating on love and as he said that I saw his eyes sparkle with compassion and joy. His physical conditions were meagre, but spiritually he was rich. I believe all our religious traditions have the potential to create good human beings.”

Turning his attention to Buddhism, His Holiness explained how the Pali tradition represents the foundational teachings expressed in the Four Noble Truths and the Thirty-seven Factors of Enlightenment. Among these are the four mindfulnesses and he mentioned how mindfulness of the body relates to understanding the nature of suffering, the first noble truth. Mindfulness of feelings relates to understanding the origin of suffering and the second noble truth. Mindfulness of mind relates to true cessation and the third noble truth, while mindfulness of the Dharma corresponds to understanding the path referred to in the fourth noble truth.
Reporting that psychiatrist Aaron Beck had told him that our sense of the complete negativity or desirability of something we are angry with or attached to is 95% mental projection, His Holiness said this corresponds with what Nagarjuna has to say. He quoted a verse from Nagarjuna’s treatise ‘Fundamental Wisdom’:
Through the elimination of karma and disturbing emotions there is cessation.
Karma and affliction come from conceptual thought.
These come from mental exaggeration or fabrication.
Fabrication ceases through emptiness.

He remarked that just as quantum physics asserts that nothing exists objectively, things do not exist as they appear. He quoted ‘Fundamental Wisdom’ again:
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.

Understanding that nothing exists inherently has the effect of loosening our sense of attachment. This is an example of how the philosophical assertions of the Nalanda masters were not made just for the sake of it. Clearer understanding of reality is the weapon we can use to tackle our destructive emotions. Altruism, on the other hand, counters our selfish attitudes.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Coors Event Center in Boulder, Colorado on June 23, 2016. Photo/Tsering Choney

His Holiness declared that we have to use our intelligence to transform our emotions. If we are Buddhists, we need to be 21st century Buddhists, which means we need to study.
“I’m nearly 81 years old, but I still consider myself a student of these great masters. We Tibetans have a saying that until you reach Buddhahood your study is not complete. “
Taking up the ‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’, His Holiness said the author Geshe Langri Thangpa belonged to the Kadam tradition following Dipamkara Atisha, who had widespread influence on Tibetan Buddhism with his ‘Lamp for the Path’ written at the request of a Tibetan king. Belonging to the lineage derived from the Indian Buddhist Classics, the immediate source for this text is Shantideva’s ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’. That in turn is derived from instructions in Nagarjuna’s ‘Precious Garland’ and ‘Commentary on Bodhichitta’. And Nagarjuna’s source in the sutras was the ‘Array of Stalks Sutra’ (Avatamsaka Sutra).
His Holiness commended thinking about the ‘I’ of the first verse. He recalled a Sufi he met at a religious conference who said all religious traditions attempt to answer three questions: Who am I? Where do I come from? And where do I go from here? His Holiness remarked that Buddhists do not accept an independent self, but one designated on body and mind.
He continued to read the text noting that verse two deals with humility, verse three with applying antidotes to the destructive emotions and verse four with cherishing those of unpleasant character. Verse five involves the practice of giving and taking, while verse six explains that our enemies can be our greatest teachers. Verse seven involves another aspect of giving and taking, while two practices are advised in the final verse: ensuring that our practice is not tainted by the eight worldly concerns and considering the appearance of things as inherently existent to be like an illusion.

Members of the audience asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama questions during his talk at the Coors Event Center in Boulder, Colorado on June 23, 2016. Photo/Glenn Asakawa/CUBoulder

His Holiness concluded his teachings by leading the gathering in a short ceremony for generating the awakening mind involving a threefold recitation of the first of the Eight Verses. He followed this with transmission of the mantras of the Buddha, Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri and Arya Tara.
After lunch he returned to the same stage for a public talk. Since the 9000 strong audience needed time to come in and take their seats, he answered a number of questions from the audience. Asked the purpose of human life, he answered happiness. While claiming he, with no experience, was the wrong person to ask about raising children to be more compassionate, he suggested that parents shower them with affection. Although accustomed to having sign language interpreters at his talks, for the first time someone asked His Holiness a question through that medium. He told him we have to find ways to incorporate moral principles into our education system, which at present conveys them inadequately. Such human values would be drawn from our common experience, common sense and scientific findings.
His Holiness’s talk continued this theme, reiterating the need for greater warm-heartedness and compassion. He noted that we are now so interdependent that it is in our own interest to take the whole of humanity into account. He was clear that real hope lies with the generation who, now less than 30 years old, belong to the 21st century. If they start now to learn from the past and shape a different future, by later this century the world might be a happier more peaceful place.

His Holiness concluded:
“If anything I have said makes sense to you, please think more about it, discuss it with your friends and try to put it into effect. Sometimes I tease young women who go to such lengths to make themselves beautiful, carefully applying cosmetics and so on. But the important thing is that while it’s fine to look good, what’s even more important than external beauty is the inner beauty of having a warm heart.”
The audience applauded and cheered as His Holiness waved them goodbye. Tomorrow he will travel to Indiana.

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