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
The very foundational stone for establishing the edifice of enlightenment is compassion. As a cooperative condition, or support, for that to finally succeed is the understanding of emptiness.
One has to be fully informed to understand bodhicitta. But, then, how can one reach understanding of emptiness? It is not an easy task, indeed.
Even in dream, when we dream of different things, even there, things appear to be existing in a very real way, making us believe in their existence. This should make us understand in what deep darkness we are dwelling.
On the top of that we are imprisoned in the self grasping.
In one of the Prajnaparamita sutra, Buddha said that mind doesn’t posses mind, for the nature of mind is the clear light. Mind is empty of mind, so the first teaching of Buddha on it, in terms of its causes, refer to the mind as empty of mind. Then, in His second turn of the wheel, Buddha underlined how completely empty of whatsoever essence is the mind.
With regard to its clear light nature (3rd turning of the wheel) Buddha developed a teaching on clear light which in its definite form can be understood in the highest yoga tantra. It has neither beginning nor end. When it rise in his complete form it leaves no room for any misconcept or misconceptual thought on appearance.
On this basis we switch on the text of Nagarjuna Stanza 73.
By contemplating these lines when one sees that the sufferance can be eliminated, that is rooted in the elimination of self-grasping. Thus, through seeing the ultimate nature of things as being empty, then arises bodhicitta, which leads to true compassion. The combination of these three causes put the basis for enlightenment.
This is dealing with the 7 point, cause and effect practice of cultivating bodhicitta; not a single being was not in a past lives related to us in some kinds of relations. Speaking from a special point of view we are all hoping for a good rebirth in the next life, but it all depends on our behavior. How we manage to restrain against the ten negativities, and any cause that can drive us to one of this negativities.
Take the case of the spiritual path, during the spiritual training which depends a lot from all other beings, and from our side we have to devote ourselves to morality. While concerning concentration and wisdom, we should receive an external help from our master. So, morality is mostly up to us, while for concentration and wisdom we depend on others, master and root guru to succeed in this fields.
All the miserable sentient beings with all their action, positive or negative, equally contribute to our final goal together with all the Buddhas: Buddhahood. As said in the Bodhisattvacharayavatara, why we pay so much honor and respect to the Buddhas and not to all other sentient being if they equally take part in the path for our ultimate goal?
We move on to Stanza 76
From now on we deal with equalizing ourselves with others so we take the practice of equalizing ourselves with other. This practice is different from the practice of equanimity explained before with the practice of the 7 point, cause and effect. The latter aim is to make us understand being are totally equal one to the other.
On the other hand, the first one has to do with the fact that all sentient beings are the same and each and everyone has the right to pursue happiness. We all want to survive. We all want to pursue happiness and dispelling suffering. Therefore, on this ground, there is no different whatsoever. But then the point here is I, ourselves, it does not matter how highly ranked we are or how great we became. Others are countless, limitless and we equally have the right to be happy, so in this regard we have to develop respect for others wish to pursue happiness, which is just equal to the one we feel.
His Holiness quotes some line from the Bodhisattvacharayavatara by Shantideva.
The cultivation of bodhicitta is awakened through compassion, uprooting sufferance through wisdom. We have to put the conditions for obtaining the joy.
So, it is not just the case that one self is just one and others are countless, but our very same conditions are deeply interconnected with all other beings.
We share a lot with them, the chances for rebirth, good and bad karma… Whatever we see, we should go for helping others or to prevent others from being harmed.
Sometimes we voluntarily remain inactive and this can cause harm to other. So to cut it short as much as we surrend to this self help attitude, self obsessed attitude, no matter how much we aspire to joy, it will turn into forms of suffering. We should develop a genuine concern towards others. Only then we will feel better.
The same with animals. If we use them no respect, they will move away from us, and disrespect us as well. Conversely, if we respect them, they will come and be in harmony with us.
What need is there to go more for details, just look to our conditions and that of Buddha, or that of big soul in the history. The mere thought of them make us feel more inspired, more strong towards the practice of benefiting others.
In the case of those who has exploited others for their own benefit, eventually very few people will trust and love them anymore. Even when those people will die, these oppressed people will feel a sense of relief. Oh, one who has made us suffering is no more!
On the other hand, people who offered compassion and good qualities towards others will find people loving and appreciating them everywhere.
To cut it short, everything good for us come from benefiting others.
Cherish other is the key.
We move to stanza 77 and 78
So the ultimate goal for enlifghtment comes form this sense of caring for others. As well as the high rebirth of higher reams come form the same cause.
HH reads Stanza 79 and 80
Through reasoning the attitude of helping other should be developed by all means and effort just like one would look after his very same body. This is self cherishes attitude.
Eventually, if one develop wisdom, it will be clear that if one does not have this sense of altruism, it will be impossible to completely reach enlightenment.
And also, likewise contemplating on the benefit of helping others we will have an immediate impression of the benefit we can enjoy from it. Under many points of view, including uprooting our self-grasping.
So in terms of courage and all the qualities that allows us to help others, compassion rise and leads them.
H.H. Reads Stanza
86, 87, 88
By contemplating on the drawback of selflessness and the cherish of helping other, one can develop this attitude to the point of being able and genuinely willing to do whatever, one can do for the sake of others. We will spend our life for others, every moment of our life. At the end of the day we would have a sense of satisfaction. And one would never feel any sense of tiredness, one would never be exhausted, one would always feel the energy to benefit other and rejoice of it.
Shantideva said that If we are able to bring bodhicitta altruism to our heart, it would carry away every kind of darkness and every moment we would be experiencing joy and happiness coming from our true altruistic attitude.
In this regards Tsong Khapa said on the greater path although the bodhisattva merely thinks of ohthers, ultimately His own interest is pursued, that of reaching enlightenment.
As it is said in the Bodhisattvacharyavatara, by benefiting others in a pure, genuine altruistic way, you can eventually gain a lot ofwisdom.
We now shift to the text the middling stage of meditation.
Page 3 Paragraph 5
We kept saying that Bodhicitta is of two types: conventional and ultimate.
The path to be a Buddha is the cultivation of the instill thought needed to eventually reach Buddhahood, and release all sentient beings from sufferings.
Within conventional Bodhicitta there are two categories.
Taking the practice of 7 point and exchanging ourselves with others, when we succeed to have this aspiration spontaneously for all sentient being without any effort. That will mark the entry into the great vehicle path. That is the first Gate. Here it is relevant to bring up how the mind goes to the process of transformation.
In cultivating bodhicitta or emptiness, we develop, we get rid from the sense of doubt on where do the practice of benefiting other will lead us to.
We have to contemplate and ponder on what we have learned and develop an intellectual conviction of that. But still there are some kind of will for confirmation may rise within us, then we could easily go back to our selflessness. This period is called to have only an artificial sense of conviction in helping others.
But if we continue pursuing that path then eventually it will arrive at some point when we will develop a genuine and spontaneous wish to help others.
At first we even have the idea that everything is out there has an intrinsic existence. But when we come across the concept of emptiness and when we ponder on it, we can put the causes for the beginning of the aspiration to bodhicitta.
Question by Taiwanese audience: Is it proper to have a female master?
His Holiness the Dalai Lama: It does not matter the sex, what count is that he or she has to be qualified!
Plus, it is up to you the choice of a master. There is no institution that can impose amy teacher on you. It is an individual decision.
In Tantric text, it is written that one can investigate up to 12 years before finding the right teacher. Even if you spend that much time, it is worthed if you do the right choice for master.
With regards to the investigation for the final choice, you can follow some teachings and raise questions; that would be very much of help in the choice.
Question: Suppose that one is taking lessons from one, apparently devoted to a controversial deity, is it proper to take the class or not?
His Holiness: In terms of receiving Dharma teachings, it is good to put an end to that and restrain the practice.
Do you know the background of Shugden, I myself was devoted to this controversial deity. Later I came to know that the Shugden issue came to the floor during the time of the 5th Dalai Lama and I discovered that the devotion to this controversial deity is motivated by perversion, it was sectarian and brings harm to the karma.
Same is the case of the 13th Dalai Lama.
One thing to remember is that the Tibetan tradition is very deep. If we tend to overlook that, we also tend to give too much importance to some superficial details, like the above mentioned, completely unuseful for ourselves.
Even among the hardcore devoted to this controversial deity, If they go through any holy page of the scriptures, they would go against this controversial deity. This practice is clearly harmful.
Among the audience, if you have interest in the background of this divinity there are text available in Chinese. So it’s up to the Chinese translator to make this text available.
Question: If we combine analytic practice and meditation but nothing happen and everything remains in words, how do we go about making sure that our practice really takes effect?
His Holiness the Dalai Lama: There is a kind of tree called TikTa which is very bitter in taste, if we put just a drop of honey on it, it won’t become sweet in such a simple way. So the mental afflictions are so big, it really takes huge time to up root them.
Me my self, I studied Dharma since I was 12, now I am 73 and I achieved very little. Buddha himself needed 3 long eons, so how can you pretend to accomplish something in very short time. You have to keep on pursuing patience.
Maybe it is relevant to remember the story of Asanga who set in meditation to have a vision of Buddha Maitreya. For many years he went on retreat to finally have the vision of that enlighted being. Years were passing but nothing happened. After 15 years he eventually decided to renounce considering how difficult his task was. On his way to home he saw a wounded dog with worms on his flesh.
Moved by huge compassion, Asanga wanted to carry the sufference of the dog. In order not to kill any of the worms he took a part of his own flush and he took the worms away from the dog with his own mouth (so the worms would not be harmed). Since this task was very nasty, Asanga closed his eyes to accomplish it, when he opened them he finally saw Maitreya. This great event happened thanks to Asanga’s compassion.
You should not be short sighted or impatience.
Some said that, with effort, one could achieve enlightenment in 3 years 3 months and 3 days…I say this is merely propaganda.
It is pertinent on your part to practice bodhicitta and understand emptiness, in this way our practice will be conformed and it will be of one taste. That is the case of being camarade! True camerade!! With the same goal!!
In the biography of Lama Tsong Khapa, I recalled how many years he spent into practice and then he eventually dedicated all of them for the benefit of others and to the Dharma.
Now we return to the text.
Page three, paragraph six.
Earlier we where contemplating on the conventional and the ultimate bodhicitta. Its first stage would be aspiration which consequently turn into the bodisattva seeds and then the bodhisattva deeds and the practice of the six perfection.
Bodhicitta can be cultivated through understanding emptiness. Directly perceiving the emptiness is called ultimate bodhicitta. That is explained as transcendental, actually it transcends the level of the ordinary beings is not the case of transcending the lower reams.
At the time of attaining ultimate bodhicitta, one has transcended conventional reality. Ultimate bodhicitta is free from all elaboration: free from duality (any sign of it subject and object seems to be by their own right), free from elaboration of conventional appearance, when one understand this, one is extremely clear in understanding emptiness.
This is achieved with constant familiarity and the highest tantric yoga. This is the fruit of long practice, it does not come out from little effort.
The reason why it has to be based on the combination between calm abiding and special insisght.
The concentration for example is already within our mind. We carry that mental element regardless to our level of consciousness. We are talking about the very basis mental element within us, already there unborn which can be cultivated inside us and developed through protracted practice and the level of calm abiding and one at that level will be free from mental affliction.
Then that mental element will eventually give the power of investigation while not loosing the object which allow us to pursue wisdom.
So why there is the need of combination between calm abiding and the special insight?
The calm abiding is able to make us stay concentrated on an object as long and as much time as one want even without having develop wisdom. But both need to be cultivated.
If you do not combine them, then emotion will distract you again, no other cause can bring peace but the understandment of selflessness.
Initially the yogi requires to live in an environment able to limit his desires, and that is a prerequisite for special insight.
Text at page 6 paragraph 3
These prerequisites, among them there is a refinement to the supreme being but here this means someone who is scholarly and at the same time one who is serious about practice and took teachings to his heart.
Expresses himself clearly, has clear expression, has developed compassion, and one always able to help others showing no sign of weakness or uncertainty in his action for helping others.
WE speak about cultivating the special insight into ultimate reality.
There are three kind of wisdom:
Understanding through studying and reasoning.
Contemplating through meditation.
Practice with meditation.
Only through all these wisdom one can reach the real understanding of emptiness.