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
SALUTATION TO THE BUDDHA FOR THEIR COMPASSION AND THEIR TEACHINGS ON DEPENDENT ORIGINATION.
The founder of Buddhism is Buddha Shakyamuni belonging on the Shakya Clan. Belonging to the clan of conqueror. He have conquered the afflictions and obscuration, he completely overcame them. He conquered demons, on 2 level: emotional abstraction and obscuration to omniscience.
So he has completely overcame them and that is why he is a conqueror. For general calculation he appeared on this earth 2600 years ago. Considering those religion with a philosophical foundation Buddhism is one the oldest. A part from Buddhism we can count Egyptian philosophy as one of the oldest.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama just enquired how old Tao Chao was?
Almost 2000 years was the answer but the audience has some doubt on it. Then also Chinese civilization which is quite old.
Now that we are in the 21st century, we have reached incredible high level on the side of technology. But in regard to mental peace and the cultivation in developing moral values, they don’t seem to benefit a lot.
When we look back in history is then that we had a new awakeness a new raising that people stood up and tried to discover their inner world. That was the case of Hinduism and also of Buddhism. The latter with teachings on the dependent level of phenomena on their empty nature.
WHAT IS THE CORE MESSAGE OF BUDDHISM?
Usually I sum it in this way: non violence not merely in terms of absence of violence but in terms of maintaining restrain in situation in which you could become violent. In these situation you could cause sufferance to other and that will inflict even more sufferance, and it will also generate bad karma. That is way we have to behave in a compassionate way in order to benefit others being and eventually ourselves.
Another fundamental aspect to answer the above question is dependent origination, where everything depend on a cause and effect level. So if I don’t behave in a compassionate way then others would be suffering and then this behavior would turn back to me, generating a perverse cycle from which we must liberate.
NO HURRY TO CHOOSE A RELIGION.
Usually I always give this advice to people: there is no hurry to profess a religion. One should take all the needed time to study it and get all the required information for such an important decision like embracing a faith.
In that respect i have to say that you have to study all religions, do some kind of comparative study. Study the aspect of the self and understand which one you want to associate yourself with. And then in case of Buddhism it has 3 vehicle within it 4 philosophical school. Those as well should be explored, compared and develop understanding and conviction.
Lama Tsong Khapa praise dependent origination, he says that Buddhism is the right choice because all its teachings aims to up root the self grasping which some other traditions seem to enforce.
What I found amazing about Buddhism is the continue attempt to eradicate self grasping aiming to selflessness.
So explore rather than blindly embrace a religion on the basis of faith.
LAW OF DEPENDENCY
It is just in the law of dependency that effect follow its cause. If we don’t want suffering we have to cultivate the causes for joy and restrain form the opposite causes. This is mainly the result of karma. Karma is coming from our motivation and our mental framework, from that it flourish the correspondence experience of pleasure or pain.
EVERYTHINGS STAND UNDER THE LAW OF KARMA?
But it is not something that you can say universally applicable. Take the case of this globe there are different kind of vegetation depending on different kind of energy form. Some need very short exposure to the sun, some other need more exposure… this is called adaptation.
So it is difficult to say that each and everything exist is under the law of karma.
To cut it short, if no sentient beings are present, only the laws of nature rules. On the other hand since being are deeply interconnected to each others and the environment they are living in, Karma can also regulate natural event.
For instance in the bodhisattvacharyavatara it is said with regard to the experience of pain that it comes all from the karma.
In the case of inanimate thing which are directly linked with our experience, they seems to be directly interconnected with karma. This is what I have understood, but one can not claim to have understood everything.
Happiness are joy are linked to previous motivation. It is sure that we do not want to suffer ,so if we really want to get rid from sufferance we have to work on the motivational level. Even in family one has to be sure that the motivational level is well disciplined. We have to avoid our mind goes out of control, and this happens through meditation. Analytic and practice meditation should be combined.
We move on the second paragraph, page seven of the text:
THE MIDDLING STAGES OF MEDITATION.
You should sit in the full lotus….
We will be talking about mediation either pre or post meditation.
Meditation involves the control of one’s senses. One should have the right portion of food, not indulging in sleep especially in the daytime but rather put his time into fruitful practices.
If we don’t behave in this consistent way, it does not matter how much effort we put in meditation, we would not have result if we do not restrain from improper behaviors.
VAYROCHANA POSITION OF MEDITATION.
The shoulders should rest in their natural position so that the elbow does not touch the body, lips should rest in natural position as well and the tongue should touch the upper palate. Our back should be straight. This all is in the text.
The position of the eyes, it is advisable to angle it on the tip of the nose, but some position advise the eyes to look little upward into the sky. Anyway, having the eyes angle on the tip of the nose is the natural position of meditation.
Regarding the hands they have to be put one on the other with the two thumbs touching each other at the height of the liver.
CALM ABIDING AND SPECIAL INSIGHT:THE ORDER OF ACHIEVEMENT
Then on page seven: the practice calm abiding should be achieved first before special insight, this is the case of practitioner of low intelligence. High intelligence practitioner could switch the order.
In our case even if we do not achieve calm abiding, relatively one could have achieved some kind of calm in the mind and then pursue the practice of Lam Rim. Every school of Buddhism have its own level of meditation and one should accurately choose the one which best fit his needs.
PRACTICE OF CALM ABIDING
In the case of low intelligence beings the practice of calm abiding or everything related to it: first we develop stability so that we can follow the practice of Lam Rim, a very useful text is the one of Tsong khapa. Where he extendedly explain the issue.
In this case middling stages of meditation, the text of the commentary on bodhichitta by Nagarjuna or also the bodhisattvacharyavatara it is said that until one can feel some kind of change in his mind, at that time only one can try to remain there and pursue meditation.
One has to make sure that till the attainment of some kind of stability one should use it to pursue restraint and look for bodhicitta, we should not be contempt with shine.
MEDITATION AS A CAUSE FOR ENLIGHTENMENT
In short even if one manage to attain Shamata or Vipassana for them to become a cause for one’s enlightenment, this kind of achievement can not be exclude a sense of altruistic view like bodhicitta. Only then one can be sure that the practice mentioned above are becoming causes for enlightenment.
So it is extremely important to cultivate, familiarize, take teachings and practice into the heart; than one can take Shamata sincerely and intensively.
One should make sure that the kind of confidence flourishing from the practice of bodhicitta, should not turn into any kind of arrogant attitude due to partial achievement.
We move on to the next page
The yogis who are interested in actualizing calm abiding….
This refers to the way we categorize Buddha’s teachings in 12 categories of scriptures. It is mentioned how to obtain calm abiding, with the categorization of the object. First thinking of…, and then conclude that all the teaching end up in the suffering and impure nature of things. The discussions on them are leading to the ultimate reality.
Teaching dealing with selflessness do not discuss the ultimate reality but they have to be seen as a beginning of its discussion. In that regard starting with the 12 categories, through their understandment of the scripture we can obtain calm abiding or shamata.
In order to do that, you begin with a wider picture of the teachings and then the mind focus on a small point. Otherwise, the mind can also focus on a small topic and then elaborate it and open it up to a wider topic.
Both are good, they have to be chose according to the level of understandment of the practitioner.
THREE CLASSES OF SCRIPTURE
We have the scripture classified into three, how the scripture deal with impermanence leads to understandment of the ultimate nature. First we begin with the gross concept of impermanence, meaning how things are seen in the continuum of time. Then we realize that things are changing momentarily, at that time, we can push forward and understand inner existence.
Another way to cultivate Shamata would be to take mind itself as an object. Here when we prepare ourselves to cultivate Shamata we have to make effort to arrive at the object of such a calm abiding mediation, efforts has to be done to arrive to such a stage to bear calm abiding.
1st Stop the mind from any past thought.
2nd Stop ourselves from any thought of the future.
3rd Stop to relate ourselves with object in the outer world
Once we succeed in this, we will be in a state of mind where no object whatsoever will be.
So it will be mere luminosity, this is not to be, mistaken with emptiness, rather here we are merely talking about the luminous nature of the mind.
Another topic we can take up not as difficult as the one of mind. Is breathing. What matter is to focus on the inhaling and exhaling process and put our mind away from any object but the practice of breathing. This will be very much of benefit for us and it can be done by everyone.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama: (to the Chinese audience) Should the fan be turn on?
Some say yes some others say no so who should we listen to? Ok lets turn the middle fan on, so who wants it can go under it who does not can go on the other side.
Question: Is there any relationship between Buddhism ad politics?
His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Some 30 years ago at a meeting in India I was with the chief minister of the state, he spoke before me and he said that he was a politician so he did not know religion. Than my turn came so I mentioned that actually it is a politician that need the Dharma at most. Once they will know Dharma they will be able to rule a country in the best way to benefit others.
So in this regard it is very important to define what is Dharma. If those in politics want their profession to be useful for others than definitely Dharma and religion is what they need. Conversely, If they think that politics is just loot and not benefit people, then they don’t need Dharma.
One thing which is very important remember, very clear that we need to understand, is that the time of religious institutions mixed with politics, is gone. It is no more relevant for our time. Since 2001 even our government have only elected position, even with regard to my role, I see it as a retiring role. That has to be clearly understood.
CONFESSION AND PURIFICATION
Question: For those who have infringed the four roots how do they repair it. Can they just confess, or just stay there or take the vows again?
His Holiness The Dalai Lama: In those case of transgression of the 4 roots, any transgression without exception needs to be expiated confessed and purified, with no exception whatsoever.
In the case of those with bodhisattva vows, they have to go back to their vow of selflessness.
Actually we should remember that each one of us needs to confess any kind of bad action.
Now we switch to the text: The Middle stage of meditation.
Here we need to make a clear differentiation between foggy mind and lethargy.
In the case of foggy mind the mind is unclear. While lethargy one is still on the object but not really clear on it, there is a lack of freshness. That is one of the main obstacle to meditation. So one has to make all the efforts to dispelled that.
TWO OBJECTS TO CULTIVATE MEDITATION.
In terms of the 2 main object for cultivating meditation namely: lethargy and excitement.
Lethargy come when one relax the mind too much, at that time you have to instill some sense of confidence, some sense of freshness. But when one does it too much that is the time of excitation, one has exceeded so one has to calm down. In this terms one has to find his own mental equilibrium, mental balancing.
Page 8 Last Paragraph
In this way if you want, if one pursue the meditation by maintaining the balance between being too intense or too relax. Than you will avoid mental sinking or mental hesitation.
NINE STAGES OF CULTIVATION TO OBTAIN SHAMATA.
And then when mind tend to be distracted at that time, one has to call upon mind freshness, mind strength.
Eventually one will be able to deal with different level of laziness and mental hesitation. There are many different levels of them. If one succeed in understanding this, one can go through the nine stages of cultivation to obtain Shamata.
At the ninth stage either laziness or mental hesitation will be already overthrown.
Following that the text say that after the 9th stage, when a special physical element plant… SHINE???
THE FOUR VEHICLES.
We speak about the vehicle of the humans, the one of Brahma, the one of the listeners and the one of Bodhisattvas.
The mere cultivation or mere practice, limited to restrain to the 10 negativities (common also with other religions) would amount to godly vehicle allow escape only into higher rebirth next life. But in terms of seeing the lower ream faulty and by seeing the qualities of godly reams, the beings would have overcome the desire affliction, pursuing knowledge of the disadvantages coming from attachment, That is the Brahma vehicle where you also realize Shine.
Then comes the vehicle of the listeners and then the one of the bodhisattvas.
Page 9 paragraph 2:
After having analyzed a phenomenon, we end up with some kind of ultimate understanding of it. This is an analytic mind that arrives to an ultimate understanding of the object.
This analytic mind can be applied to several objects.
Here the reference is to the different kinds of wisdom: The one understanding the conventional nature of things and the one understanding the ultimate nature of phenomena.
Here you will find a special mention to selflessness and we refer to the special nature of persons and nature, the latter has to be understood excluding people.
What is this ultimate way of existence of phenomena?
We speak about the lack of the self of the person (that lack of self-perceived by non-Buddhists as unified, independent and eternal) and lack of self phenomena (lack of true existence of external phenomena).
THE 4 SCHOOLS
The Vaibashika and Sautantrika propose the lack of the self of the person but not that of phenomena. They even refuse the self of the person as that claimed by non-Buddhists, these two schools believe that there is a self as if it were the owner of the aggregates.
On the other hand there is the Cittamatra school. It proposes a lack of an intrinsic self of phenomena and the lack of self-perceived by the person not Buddhists, however, these scholars attribute to mind a real existence.
The Madhyamika argue the lack of true existence of phenomena external substantially different from the mind and the lack of intrinsic self of the person, not giving him even an intrinsic existence to the mind.
The school Madhyamika, as we have already said, is divided into two groups: those who accept at a conventional level the existence of phenomena because of their characteristics and those who do not accept even a conventional level the existence of phenomena.
So the emptiness is the nature of all phenomena that are at ultimately free of a self.
The wisdom that understands this mode of existence of the phenomena is only the perfection of wisdom.
THE UNION OF METHOD AND WISDOM
Before practicing the method’ aspects one must generate in mind a clear understanding of the lack of self of the phenomena. And in the same way when you meditate on the emptiness you should generate the mind infused by a desire to help beings through practice.
Practicing this will get the union of method and wisdom.