Dharamsala 10.01.08: H.H. Dalai Lama’s teaching day 2

We must premise that these are just simple notes from His Holiness teachings listened from english translator and taken by hand and downloaded to the computer immediately after the teaching. Certainly we can not offer you a precise transcription of what His Holiness said in his teachings, who speaks in Tibetan. So please forgive us if there are mistakes or misunderstandings.

Please download the reference text Commentary to the awakening mind by Nagarjuna here.

Luciano Villa e Alessandro Tenzin Villa e Gabriele Erba

Tibetans devotion
Tibetans devotion

The direct method or direct tool, is the one directly associated to the Buddha, to the Sangha, in the form of sensation, which take the form of Bodichitta and understand emptiness. Because of that, we say: we take refuge in Buddha and in the Dharma, which is the protector. This happen through meditation.

One has to reach a strong belief about the path, that is why one has to hear the teachings about the Dharma, so, for you, your teacher has to become someone familiar with the Dharma, better if he has direct experience of it.

Take the case of Bodhisattvacharyavatara. This text offers rich instruction and suggestions in terms of in every day life practice. But in terms of ranks of the different paths, the text does not offer comprehensive and detailed instructions, so you need someone who organize it for you.

Like in Vinaya, it is the local Lama who drives you into the practice and then it will be another Lama who will take you in their specific field. The master has to be someone who generate Dharma into his heart. A genuine lama should be one able to lead you in the path, so he should detain qualities such as equanimity, compassion, wisdom, lovely kindness…

These qualities must represent the Dharma within the heart of the master.

With regard to the root guru, concerning the tantric understanding, the master shall explain and transmit it. The root guru is someone who has given you the vow of liberation, one who has thought you the scripture and one who bear experience on the topic you are asking.

-QUESTION: When one fail to fulfill one happiness, what would be the consequences of that? What would be the cure of this kind of laziness!?

-H.H. The Dalai Lama: What are the causes of laziness? This happens because we fail in understanding the impermanence of the things and their emptiness. Our lucky and high rebirth, together with our precious health, are extremely relevant and at the same time difficult to archieve. Because of that we must take this unique chance to concretely benefit all other sentient beings. In regards to this, there are three principle path to cultivate positive karma in the time we spend during our existence. When Buddha first turned  the  Dharma wheel, he started with the explanation on sufference and the empty nature of it.

Gabri is taking notes
Gabri is taking notes

-QUESTION: Supposing one has the inclination to stay in solitary place and one has not, how can they increase the qualities of bodhisattva in these two different ways?

-H.H. The Dalai Lama: So the question was: how one go training altruistic qualities in solitary place. Even in Tibet and in India many scholars spend years and years practicing in solitary places. One has to prepare himself to the altruistic attitude of helping others, one has to be clear in his mind that the ultimate aim is to lead others to ultimate happiness. So one has to know this way before he can concretely help others. First you have to make sure that you know the true way; only then you will be able to succeed in helping other and finally embrace them.

Take the case of the 2nd Dalai Lama, his teacher spent 40 years in retreat, and it is known that he obtained the Buddhahood. Therefore it is good first, to have a stable mentality and then spend time to develop an altruistic attitude. But if you have a big skill to help others, than you have to make a choice

Another case would be the one of the 1st Dalai Lama after long retreat he understood that he could benefit others if he was among them. He himself recognize that he could have reached a high level in solitary retreat but he sacrifice this selfish realization for helping other in a more immediate way.

Now from Stanza 59 the Nagarjuna text (Commentary on the Awakening Mind) deal with inner world and the dependent origination of it.

Starting with ignorance and ending with aging,

all process that arise from

the twelve link of dependent origination

we accept them to be like a dream and an illusion.

Nagarjuna is taking up the issue of the 12 link of dependent origination, he associated it with mental continuum and he spoke about the dependent origination of the inner world and took the recipient of the perceived world and eventually he said that they don’t have real existence by their own, they depend by their cause, and even the causes depend by other causes.

There is mutual dependency and this rule out any case of independence. When Buddha explained the four noble truths, in the first round he identified the truth itself, in the second one he identified the truth as eliminating the causes of suffering working for the path etc. But in the third round he dealt with the results. If we pursue the path in accordance with the four truths than we will attain a state where no suffering will be left to be felt, no sensation, no perception.

One has to deny any kind of objective reality or eternalism.

Ultimately the two are merely functioning on the base of dependency of objective reality of their own causes.

We now move on to Stanza 64.

Phenomenas are born from causes and cannot be consistent by themself. There cannot be inconsistency as speculated by some schools.

Tibetans are praying
Tibetans are praying

The very fact of depending from the causes is a clear ultimate reasoning of lacking of independence. So it leads to understand the lack of independency of any of the stages of the path which lead to enlightenment.

Then we move to Stanza 77.

The ultimate truth is explained as it is; no ultimate truth can be find. Things are not findable and the non findability is not the deepest meaning of emptiness although it can be a clue to it.

The lack of independence existence of its own can be established when we speak of things devoid to be independent they are actually dependent. The conventional basis of it are finally not existing intrinsically.

Move on to 72

Those who do not understand emptiness

Are not receptive vehicle for liberation;

Such ignorant beings will revolve

In the existence prison of six classes of beings.

When we have sporadic feeling of joy we have a perception of I. With regard to this conception, we tend to see the things as having their own reality. It is helpless for us seeing the thing with ultimate reality. We have to be able to see that reality is something else, we have to give in this appearance and understand that object or feeling do not have an ultimate reality by their own. Then we see the more we conform with the concept mentioned above, the more the feeling of attachment grow. So attachment make hunger grow and the consequences will be unwanted.

The root of Samsara is ignorance, that kind of misconception of existence, lead to a perverted perception and it can only be reverted with the right view: that everything has the characteristic of emptiness.

Like heat and cold, this two feelings can be addressed by the inconvenience of their own extremism, when one of them prevail too much, we wish for the opposite one. Bringing about the balance. The same is for light and darkness. Light move darkness away. We have seen very clearly that, to affect change, one has to look to the opponent form. There has to be on the ground reality and its opposite force otherwise we can not succeed in improving our situation.

The only way to deal with that is to deal with its opposite factor.

In this case one can take the case of Bodhicitta and self grasping, they are two different mentality but not opposite. The first one could have little effect in undermining the latter, but to eliminate it there is not hope, Bodhicitta is not enough. To eliminate self grasping (caused by afflicted wisdom) to attack this kind of mentality, you have to look for the opponent namely the empty nature of it.

So for this, it become very clear that mentality like compassion can be an opponent of hate. But it is not as powerful as those of the type of wisdom. Non wisdom type in terms of not being afflicted, they can not be a good opposite force.

So the understanding of emptiness can eventually lead us to purification of sensation. Only then there will be the possibility of complete elimination of afflictions. And that is how one get rid of afflictions. Remember that on the ground there are indeed the basis of eliminating this self grasping.

Some Tibetan in the remote past asked to another Tibetan: Where is Buddha? The answer was a finger pointed to the sky. He who answered was completely misinformed.

Buddha is something within our self, so the real method has to be found within our self. The actual boundless light is wisdom within ourself that make us understand emptiness that is the real Amithaba.

Earlier I (His Holiness) was in Japan where I came across a statue of Nagarjuna holding a sword. One of his main disciples wrote a manual on Guyasamaja: Enlightenment is not understood by anyone. That is called of having the level of Buddhahood, the very cause of Buddhahood is inside us. The cause of enlightenment is the luminous nature of mind, needed to be actualized and purified by its defect; only then we can acquire Buddhahood that nobody outside can give us, we have to reach it from within.

Stanza 73

When this emptiness (as explained)

Is thus meditated by yogis,

No doubt there will arise in them

A sentiment attached to others’ welfare.

By dwelling in the ultimate existence one obtain the chance to get enlightenment. Then one can extend to other the possibility to reach it.

Also it is possible for him to make them develop a will to get rid of sufferance. The key to develop the conviction for one self and for other to reach liberation is emptiness.

When we develop a wish to free other from sufferance… if we do not know what kind of sufferance is it, how can we help sentient beings get rid of something we do not know?

Once we dwell on sufferance even the wish to be free of suffering is something induced by valid cognition, not simple wishful thinking.

So, we see how understanding emptiness can rise a strong wish to free others from sufferance.


The middle stage of meditation. By Acharya Kamalashila

With examination up to this point we come to understand basic framework of Buddhism. What is suffering and what it takes to analyze and up root suffering.

How can we put it into practice? That is where the text is relevant because it deals with this topic.

So as explained earlier the author of the text is Kamalashila, disciple of Shantarakshita.

In the middle way among the advocate of the philosophy, we make a division into whether they accept self characteristic of phenomena or not, and if they accept external phenomena or not.

Both masters Kamalashila and Shantarakshita have visited Tibet and had a great impact there.

Among the works of Kamalashila there are three stage of meditation: this is the middle one, it was composed in Tibet.

We begin from the stages of meditation; meditation in Tibet means cultivating familiarization.

And this is because when we speak about it and spiritual development it deals with transforming the mind and it can archieved only if we want it, when we desire to familiarize. It has not to do only with pure faith, but it is the will of the mind that needs to develop faith, love and compassion through meditation. There are two kind of meditation: cultivating object and cultivating subject.

They both involve analysis and investigation, through them we arrive to some kind of conviction and then we do not analyze any more but we leave the mind resting on the reached conviction and consequently this is called analytic meditation and concentration.


HH ask if Chinese audience has the translation and they answer yes, but is so difficult that also in Chinese is too hard… 🙂

With regard to the commentary of Nagarjuna on Chandrakirty. The ocean of reasoning illuminating the commentary on Chandrakirty, it seems the Chinese have a special inclination to the Cittamatra.

So it is good to study that work.

-Question: On Compassion and good heartiness, there has been a lot of misunderstanding between Tibetan and Chinese, there has been lot of difficulties in the relationship between them; so as being Chinese living in a free country what can they do for Tibetan people.

-H.H. The Dalai Lama: The main thing they can do is to reach out more and more Chinese and explain them the real situation of Tibetans. For instance: recently the Chinese government passed the impression that Tibetans hate Chinese. Obviously this is not the case, so it is up to the Chinese to clarify this. Historically China has been mainly a Buddhist country with many tradition and monastic institutions flourishing there. So, in that respect, Buddhism is their traditional religion and also the message of love and compassion is still present there.

Monks smiling
Ven Lobsang (in the middle) and two others monks smiling as His Holines the Dalai Lama is quite approaching

There is lot of corruption going on in China. So, with no values, there is no way to wipe out corruption. Moreover, the poor people are even in a worst situation. If Chinese should have been really Marxist, then they should take more care of the poor, but this is not the case.

So we can consider their regim a sort of Communism Capitalism… something very strange.


I always introduce himself as Marxist, but I do not like dictators, I like democracy!!!

But I consider myself as a good Marxist not an hypocrite one.

So I should briefly explain the meditation.

It leads the cause and conditions of Buddhahood. In that state of enlightenment it is a product of cause and conditions and they have to be cultivated to reach this state.

The understatement of causality levels leads to the cause of higher rebirth and understanding emptiness leads eventually to the liberation from the cyclic existence.

In the text, on the page 1, 2nd paragraph:

It is not possible to obtain omniscience without its causes. Somehow this line, stressing the unknowness of these causes, is a statement of humility. But its main reason is because the author has the audience in his mind (Tibetan Buddhist) who already respect and honor the Buddha word.

Nagarjuna in his words on wisdom chose to stress them through reasoning. Otherwise he could have  entirely relayed on the word of Buddha. But because of the wide audience he was facing, he eventually decided to rely on the Buddha words and quote them.

Generally we deal with different kind of phenomena, those content with the obvious phenomena can be investigated by our perception. Inner phenomena require reasoning but only with regard to the very hidden phenomena one should investigate them through the ancient scriptures.

With regard to the extremely hidden phenomena one should not be content just with the scripture but he should reason on it himself.

With regard to the root cause of enlightenment, in the compendium of supra it is said that the very root is compassion. With compassion as root of enlightenment, one give rise to bodhicitta. There are two aim: the good of other sentient beings and aspiration to Buddhahood.

The first leads one to understand that only with Buddhahood one can benefit other at his best.

Enlightenment is not a selfish interest but a strongly rooted aspiration of fulfilling the benefit of other. That is why enlightenment is rooted in compassion.

There are two kinds of compassion: formed and informed. The first one makes us nearly feel compassion for others but then there is the informed one which is much higher.

We devoid to the unlimited compassion. Which can deliver others from suffering. But it is necessary to know the causes of the suffering in order to up root them. With that kind of understanding then one can generate fully the form of compassion, thus there will be all the reasons to develop further the consciousness and eventually take the responsibility of liberate all sentients beings from sufferance.

Understood that compassion is the root to enlightenment, than we have to precisely define it: usually is defined as the wish for other to be freed from suffering. First we have to understand the sentient beings, for whom we generate this wish to be free from suffering, we have to develop a sense of closeness to them and this is not easy.

Usually we develop it only towards those close to us, those who we love and not at all to our enemy. This has to be uprooted.

Now, regarding this, Shantideva and Nagarjuna, extendedly explain the practice of seven point, six causes and one effect and how to equalize our enemy to those who we love. There are two instructions to cultivate bodhicitta: one is to put ourself in others shoes (Taking and Giving practice) the second one is the practice of the 7 point of cause and one effect. Otherwise we can practice compassion in other ways.

One has to be clear what is suffering, otherwise: how can one free others from it?

Buddha himself payed a lot of attention to it in his first round of teachings. And for us, as Buddhist, when we seek freedom from suffering, we have to be trained to see the contaminated aggregates resulting from emotions, at that time the wish to be free will actually lead us to the complete liberation.

Otherwise, is not necessarily a Buddhist peculiarity the mere practice of the ten positivities because in many other religions you will find the same practice.

The ten positivities basically has to do with not harming others and this is common almoust in any religion.

There are some religion that includes other special vows… silence… restraint…

Only when we realize that the root of suffering up root our self grasping, we develop enhantement and aspiration for a state of full liberation. That is the moment  when one become truly Buddhist. Lamas said you can find this enhantement even in non Buddhist practicer or animals.

Turn to page 2.

When we move to the matter of developing compassion, then we  have to develop equanimity and equality. So, if we really want to develop compassion,  we first have to get rid of our attachement in regards only to some people, so we have to deal with discrimination, once it will be uprooted we will be able to develop compassion.

Identifying the nature of suffering.

We first begin with the cultivation of equanimity and then when we have managed to see everybody in the same light then at that time we begin to give rise to the wish to free them and make them happy.

We begin with reasoning that there is not any single sentient being that has not ever been related in any forms, mother father, brother… so we see that we have been equally recipient of kindness and we start developing a sense of closeness to them.

The more we contemplate on that, the more we will generate a sense of gratitude, together with the wish to repay this gratitude. So, other will seem appealing to us, so when we will see them in miserable condition, we will spontaneously wish for a better condition for them and also when we see them more well off we will rejoy of it.

Once we have develop a sense of charity for them, we will naturally do something when they go through suffering.

The three different kind of sufferances are:

-The suffering of pain. Illnesses…

-The suffering of change: temporary pleasure, after which everybody look for but eventually leads to more suffering.

-The omni pervasive suffering. It is a consequence of ignorance which does not allow us to escape from the cycle existence.

Base on this understanding of different level of suffering. It is important to develop comprehensive on the basis of the neutral feelings.

In this regards the text focus on the duty of one self to develop the wish to be free from suffering because until we have that wish for us we won’t be able to develop a true wish to free others from sufferings.

More particular one has to be sure about the sufferings of change, if you  carefully look at the end of every pleasure there is a suffering so based on this we see how even the pleasure eventually leads to sufferance.

With regard to Dharma practice it has to be done 24hrs not only when we are in the temple or practicing. If we forget about Dharma when we go away from the temple, then any kind of practice will be useless.

Concerning the special practice, it is good to put more enthusiasm into them to recharge ourself to be prepared to behave properly always. It has something to do with battery recharge… 🙂

Meditate on compassion for all sentient being…

When you develop a true sense of compassion towards all sentient beings, only then you will have universal compassion that eventually leads you to Bodhicitta.

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