His Holiness the Dalai Lama: In the Tibetan tradition if you receive a commentary from someone who is part of an unbroken lineage of transmission, tracing back to the original author of the text – there is an added dimension of spirituality.
1 His Holiness The Dalai Lama: Commentary on The Precious Garland “Ratnavali” of Nagarjuna
The teachings were held at UCLA June 5-8, 1997.
Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Dalai Lama
We are now beginning a series of teachings which will be starting today for 3 and 1/2 days. The first part of the series of teachings will be a lecture on The Precious Garland, Nagarjuna’s text, which I shall present as a lecture, more as a kind of introduction into the basic teachings of Buddhism. The 2nd part of the teachings will be an empowerment ceremony that I will be more of the sort of traditional religious teaching for which there is a requirement for the teaching to be conducted in the traditional format of the guru giving instructions to disciples.
At the beginning of the session today, the elders from the Theravada tradition will be doing a recitation of the Mangala Sutta, which I feel would be very auspicious.
[His Holiness and the Theravada monks, which were led by the late Ven. Havanpola Ratanasara, chant the Threefold Refuge formula, followed by the monks reciting the sutra. See below.] Continue reading
His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Consciousness is transient, it goes through various stages of changes.
2 His Holiness The Dalai Lama: Commentary on The Precious Garland “Ratnavali” by Nagarjuna, UCLA Los Angeles June 5-8, 1997.
We will now begin with a reading from the text. I think that all of you have a copy of the commemorative volume. The name of the text is The Precious Garland, an Epistle to a King. There is The Precious Garland, an Epistle to a King. There is a salutation from the translator, in Tibetan, which reads, “Homage to all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.” And the actual homage from the text itself is in the first verse, which reads,
Completely free from all faults
and adorned with all good virtues,
the sole friend of all beings –
to that Omniscient One I bow.
The Precious Garland was composed by the Indian master Nagarjuna. Nagarjuna was not only a great, accomplished scholar but also he was a highly realized adept. Someone who was revered and admired universally by the Indian Buddhist world and also by masters who may have shared a philosophical persuasion of a different kind, such as the Mind-Only school, and so on. Continue reading
His Holiness the Dalai Lama: The causal process of pain/pleasure or happiness/suffering is understood in terms of a particular kind of process.
3 His Holiness The Dalai Lama: Commentary on The Precious Garland “Ratnavali” by Nagarjuna, UCLA Los Angeles June 5-8, 1997.
The Dalai Lama discusses suffering and happiness, the Four Noble Truths, karma, and motivation.
The second half of the day’s teachings were opened with sutra chanting in Japanese, led by Rev. Noriaki Ito, Abbot of Higashi Hongwanjii Temple in Los Angeles.
Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I would like to express my appreciation to the members of the Japanese Buddhist sangha for their wonderful recitation. I was not able to follow the meaning of the verses, though. [Laugher.]
Now, I will resume our discussion where we left in the morning session.
We were talking about beginninglessness and the continuum of consciousness and also the continuum of the individual being, which is designated upon the basis of this beginningless continuum of consciousness or mind.
However, in the Buddhist schools of thought, as far as whether or not there is a possibility to an end of this continuum, all Buddhists schools converge on the point that it is beginningless. Continue reading
His Holiness the Dalai Lama: What is the Buddha’s dharma? It is the way and means by which the highest good, which is liberation, is attained.
4 His Holiness The Dalai Lama: Commentary on The Precious Garland “Ratnavali” by Nagarjuna, UCLA Los Angeles 1997.
In this section, the Dalai Lama continues with his explanation of the first line of The Precious Garland: “Completely free from all faults/and adorned with all good virtues,/the sole friend of all beings/to that Omniscient One I bow.”
Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Dalai Lama
In the context of our discussion here, when I talk about undisciplined states of mind, I’m talking about a state of mind that is dominated by afflictions of the mind, such as delusions and so on. So the question arises whether it is possible to eliminate these afflictions from one’s psyche. Continue reading
His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Why is liberation or nirvana said to be the highest good?
5 His Holiness The Dalai Lama: Commentary on The Precious Garland “Ratnavali” by Nagarjuna, UCLA Los Angeles 1997.
All of Nagarjuna’s works were written in verse, though I don’t know if you could say they are poetry per se, and certainly they are not as poetic as many of Shantideva’s verses. Nagarjuna was primarily a logistician and his dialectic is often described as a form of reductio ad absurdum (Latin: “reduction to the absurd”), the method of pointing out the contradictory or absurd consequences of an opponents argument. Although, Nagarjuna maintained that “If I would make any proposition whatever, then by that I would have a logical error; but I do not make a proposition, therefore I am not in error.”
Karl Jaspers wrote, “Nagarjuna strives to think the unthinkable and to say the ineffable. He knows this and tries to unsay what he has said. Consequently he moves in self-negating operations of thought.” On the surface, it appears that Nagarjuna’s logic is rather negative, however, as many have pointed out, it would be a mistake to brand it as nihilism.
Here is more of the Dalai Lama’s teachings on one of Nagarjuna’s most famous works. Continue reading
His Holiness the Dalai Lama: In the Buddhist tradition, women are seen as the symbol of compassion and affectionate perfection.
6 His Holiness The Dalai Lama: Commentary on The Precious Garland “Ratnavali” by Nagarjuna, UCLA Los Angeles June 5-8, 1997.
First, a follow-up to previous post: A Chinese court in august 2011 has sentenced 46 year old Buddhist monk Lobsang Tsundue to 11 years imprisonment for allegedly “killing” his nephew, Rigzin Phuntsog, a 16-year old monk who set himself on fire last March. Tsundue was found guilty of hiding Phuntsog which prevented the boy from receiving emergency medical treatment for 11 hours. Eyewitnesses claim that that after Chinese security personnel doused the flames, they severely beat Phuntsog’s charred body. Tsundue, they said, was trying to save his nephew from any further beating. Tsundue’s supporters also claim that young monk Phuntsog died as a result of the beatings and not from his self-immolation.
In related news, the former Tibet Communist Party chief Zhang Qingli who led China’s hard-line policy against the Dalai Lama and his supporters, has a new job and a new target.
Zhang Qingli, aka “The Tibetan bulldog”, has been appointed Communist Party Secretary of Hebei province, home to about one quarter of China’s Roman Catholics. According to the independent.co.uk, Hebei province is “where tensions between the state and the Vatican run at their highest.”
Although there is no evidence that Zhang Qingli plans to mercilessly persecute the Catholics, and perhaps unfair to suggest that he will, it’s still a safe bet things will be no picnic for them in the foreseeable future, because if you know anything at all about modern day China, you know that the government has no use for religion or spirituality. Continue reading
His Holiness the Dalai Lama: According to Bhavavineka, it is perceived that the insight into the no-self of phenomena is more related to the attainment of omniscient states, than attainment of liberation from samsara.
7 His Holiness The Dalai Lama: Commentary on The Precious Garland “Ratnavali” by Nagarjuna, UCLA Los Angeles June 5-8, 1997.
H. H. Dalai Lama’s Commentary on The Precious Garland of Nagarjuna now refers to the 12-link chain of Dependent Origination (pratitya-samutpada). This doctrine is one of Buddhism’s core concepts, thought to have been taught by the historical Buddha himself. It describes the way existence characterized by suffering comes into being. Essentially, it is the Buddhist conception of how Samsara, the world of birth and death, the mundane world we live in, “works.”
Dependent Origination is envisioned as a chain of causes and conditions with 12 links Continue reading
His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Causation is something that can be maintained on the conventional level but not in the ultimate sense.
8 His Holiness The Dalai Lama: Commentary on The Precious Garland “Ratnavali” by Nagarjuna, UCLA Los Angeles June 5-8, 1997.
Tenzin Gyatso, The Dalai Lama
We will begin the session. First, I would like to thank the members of the Chinese Sangha for their recitation . . . So we begin the questions.
Previously questions were submitted on pieces of paper, which the translator reads in English and then in Tibetan. Several of the questions concern virtuous and non-virtuous actions in which the Dalai Lama basically repeats the points about these kinds of actions he has already made in the previous session. Continue reading