His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s continues https://www.sangye.it/wordpress2/?cat=73 his 2013 teachings on the 18 Great Stages of the Path (Lam Rim) Commentaries in December 25, 2013 – January 4, 2014, at Sera Monastery in Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India, see here http://www.dalailama.com/webcasts/post/308-18-great-stages-of-the-path-lam-rim-commentaries—2013 . Translated into English from Tibetan by Mr. Tenzin Tsepag. Trascript by Eng. Alessandro Tenzin Villa, first revision and editing by Dr. Luciano Villa within the project “Free Dalai Lama’s Teachings” for the benefit of all sentient beings. We apologize for any possible errors and omissions.
Day 1 – December 25, 2013 morning session. Sixth part .
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
In order to reach the definite goodness, the liberation, we can reach it by using our intelligence, and therefore, in order to be able to use properly this intelligence, we need to obtain higher rebirths and, therefore, there are teaching on how to obtain higher rebirths and definitive goodness. And faith is used for the means to obtain higher rebirths and definite goodness is obtained by using this intelligence which deserves reality as it is. Through this, then we have the five folds paths that we obtain, so the object to obtain the higher rebirths and ultimately definitive goodness.
And so how to go about with these practices, Aryadeva has said in his “Four hundred verses”: “First get rid of the non-virtue actions, then, in the middle, get rid of the grasping to self, finally destroy all distorted views. If such a person is able to do this is wise. By refraining ourselves from committing non virtue actions, we create the root to get higher rebirths, and then, if we act in the practice of generosity and so forth, it leads to higher rebirths as well. With regarding to grasping to self, the second line of Aryadeva’s “Four hundred verses” says: “In the middle get rid of self-grasping”.
So, here we can talk of the selflessness of person with the purpose of obtaining liberation from afflictive emotions. Then meditation on emptiness is done to fulfill the complete purpose to cultivate both realization of selflessness of a person and of selflessness of the phenomena. As Lama Tzongkhapa says in his text “The ocean of reasoning” as in Nagarjuna’s Mulamadyamykakarika: “We have to know the emptiness in a great details by using scientific discernment”. Also in Hinayana text is taught emptiness, but in the way that it was taught in the Mahayana sutra is more extensive by using a huge variety of reasoning.
So first avoid non meritory actions, second avoid grasping to self, third finally get rid of distorting views, so realizing selfness. So, in the text Three Principle Aspects of the Path, Lama Tzong Khapa explains the four ways to turn our mind away from samsara, whereas in the Lamrim text it go thought outlines: having developed the aspiration to get higher rebirths and showing the means to attain that. In the second outlines come the teaching on how to get higher rebirths. The law of karma is taught there. So, this is a general presentation.
In terms of sequence I will start with “The essence of refined gold”.
It was seen in Bodgaya in that time, Rinpoche told me: “I have a dream that someone, who claim to be a relative to third Dalai Lama, came to give me a blue scarf”: I told to Rinpoche that it’s a good sign. The second and third Dalai Lama are the great masters who spread the Buddhist teachings to Central Tibet also to Mongolia and to the eastern part of Tibet; and was the third Dalai Lama who mainly spread the Budda’s teachings and also he wrote one of the Dalai Lama’s texts: so I feel close to him. So, actually “The essence of the refined gold” and “The secret precious votes of Manjustri” are a pure commentary of the sutra. First I will go through “The essence of the refined gold” then followed by “The secret precious votes of Manjustri”.
The transmission is given thought the experience and visualize your masters and your lama with Lama Tzong Khapa with the all great masters, normally we pay importance to the recitation of the texts. When the recitation becomes too long, as stated in the commentary of Vajrabairava, actually, one having resulted from the ritual texts, when the actual time passes, it’s the time to concentrate on the generation state and on the extensive path. If you aren’t able to meditate on this, you can rely on the recitation of the mantra. Now we are focused on the recitation of the mantra, but rather the main practice of the deity visualization isn’t effective, we are lacking in that part and consider the recitation of the mantra as more important. So, once you are too tired and you have stopped the session, there is no other way. If during the visualizing the deity you are tired because of the visualization practices, then, for resting yourself, you can recite mantra, but we are paying more importance to the recitation of mantra and once you are tired, you are may stop and there is no other way to conclude the session. We consider the importance of the recitation of the text but the real importance or concentration on the meaning is neglected. So, even if you can do the recitation of the votes, but the important thing is to understand the meaning, which is relied with the votes. The important thing is to meditate and visualize on the meaning. Ling Rinpoche was used to do meditation and prayers and was used to say that: “Even though the recitation comes from my mouth, I used to recite it and, if constricted, I do it again, so I can concentrate and so I can better focus on it. So, it’s really practical and good.
And Ken Rinpoche says: “Even if you are not able to meditate and visualize everything, joust mentally, if you think one by one, it’s more difficult and you need your own concentration, but, if you do only with your mouth, you aren’t able to concentrate completely on topic. So, the main point that you need is to think to all the teachings, in sequence, every day.
It’s not just transmission that you have heard, but It’s something that you have to generate in your mind. For generating your mind for enlightenment, you need to practice the teachings as much as possible and try to focus about.
It’s eleven thirty now, so we start a bit on “The essence of refined gold, an explanation to the path to enlightenment”.
When we speak about the path to enlightenment, the path is a mean that brings you to high realizations, till the enlightenment state. But when we speak on the path we should refer to our mental state, which always desire happiness and don’t want unhappiness, to the one which is always under the influence of the afflictive emotions and which has the potential to change and become free from all hindrances. One’s able to generate such a mindful liberation, one should be able to generate the understanding of no-self and so, having the basic understanding of no self, can reach further the direct realization of no-self and gradually the path of direct seeing the truth comes.
What we normally recite in Hearth Sutra “that’s gone, gate gate”, one should be able to generate oneself in terms of Mahayana. If somebody is under the afflictive emotions should visualize in such a way that all mental states are progressing from lower path to higher path. This is really important, that we have to think every day about, every day.
(3rd paragraph “The essence of refined gold”)
Lamrim is an especially profound aspect of Dharma, for it is a tradition of practice sound in origin. It has neither fault nor shortcoming, for it is a complete practice perfectly uniting both method and wisdom aspects of the path. It provides all levels and grades of the techniques passed through Nagarjuna and Asanga, from the practices meant for beginners up to and including the final practice before full Buddhahood, the stage of non-practice.
This graduated Dharma of taintless origin is like the wish-fulfilling gem, for, through it the infinite beings can easily and quickly accomplish their purposes. Combining the rivers of the excellent teaching of both the Fundamental Vehicle and Great Vehicle scriptures, it is like a mighty ocean.
When we speak about the means of transforming the mind, in the greatest text we have at first the refuting the other systems and debates and arguments related ti it. But here it’s presented in a concise manner. It’s something that can be practiced easily.
And Lama Tsong Kahapa explained seriously in the Great Treatise of Path to Enlightenment that there is not a teaching that is to be imparted to others and by something other is to be practiced. If we consider these two things, these things as unrelated, we can make mistakes.
From the path to the accumulation of the great omniscience, the path that leads so, to teachings that, concludes into two 200 canons of Kangyur and 200 canons of Tengyur, apart of these great texts of the Buddha, if we look to another source of teaching to be practiced, that isn’t true instructions.
Because instructions doesn’t means something which passes from one person to another but something which passes from one person to another all the essence of the great texts, and can be summarized, suitable to be practiced by one’s own. This is called the instruction. In the Paramita text and the Sutras, everything have been explained in extensive manner, but one should be able to combine and summarize all those essence and summarize into one form, which could be used for practice, which we call instruction. So, even though you are very much trained in the instructions but if you aren’t able to understand the great text, that may be is your own fault or maybe is the text or instructions are non-clear. In these case you should leave the instruction but you aren’t allowed to leave the great texts.
Many people here feels not to understand the great texts and prefer to refer to summarized instructions. Or maybe someone says: I really cannot understand this text, I need to summarize it.
And this is something considerable and something good.
Someone from China, recently and some masters and lamas who come from Tibet and one of the student of this master met another Chinese. The master gave the teaching ordinarily in sequence. At the conclusion of teachings the student said: “You teacher, when I received your teachings, I need to think a lot, I need to contemplate a lot and there are a lot of things to do. When I take teachings from my guru not so much votes are related, and I can easily take it, my teacher says “I will take you to the enlightenment, bring me money and I will bring you directly to the state of the enlightenment”. So, this is really displease and is really a bad example. So if you think that you don’t need to study or practice in order to reach the state of enlightenment this is really a big mistake. And we have to be very careful about such instructions. Lama Tzong Khapa says: “Apart from Lord Buddha, who can give the supreme instructions?
His teachings are extensive instructions. So therefore once should never neglect the content of the great texts othervise he will gain a lot of negative karma as a result of it and it also results in decline of the Buddha teaching in this world.
Revealing the principal points of both the Sutrayana and Vajrayana, it is a complete tradition with complete teachings. Outlining the main techniques for taming the mind, it is easily integrated into any practice, and, being a teaching combining the lineages of Guru Vidyakokila, a sage of the Nagarjuna School, and Lama Serlingpa, a sage of the Asanga School, it is a precious ornament. Therefore, to hear, contemplate, or meditate upon a Lamrim discourse is fortunate indeed. Je Rinpoche’s Song of the Stages on the Spiritual Path says:
From Nagarjuna and Asanga,
Banners unto all humankind,
Ornaments amongst the world’s sages,
Comes the sublime Lamrim lineage
Fulfilling all hopes of practitioners.
It is a wish-fulfilling gem,
Combining the streams of a thousand teachings,
It is an ocean of excellent guidance.
The Lamrim teaching has four especially great qualities:
It reveals how all the various doctrines of Buddha are non-contradictory. If you rely upon the Lamrim teaching, all the words of Buddha will be effectively comprehensible. You will see that there are root practices and branch practices, and that there are direct and indirect teachings, all of which aim at creating helpful circumstances along the stages of spiritual development for a practitioner like yourself.
This is speaking purely from sutra practice. Even in general practices, in Lamrim Cenmo, specifically in particular in the Vajrayana practices, so the sutra of the great extensive sutra path are exposed differently from the vajrayana practice.
You will take all the various teachings as personal advice. You will see the profound teachings of the Sutras and Tantras, the treatises and dissertations written by later masters, and all levels and branches of practice as methods to use to overcome negative aspects of the mind. The significance of all the teachings of Buddha and his successors—from the teachings on how to follow a spiritual master up to those on how to perceive the most profound aspects of reality—will come into your hand. You will learn how to practice analytical meditation upon the words of the teachings and stabilizing meditation upon the central themes of those words. Thus you will see all the teachings in perspective to your life and progress.
You will easily find the thought of Buddha. Of course, the original words of Buddha and those of the later commentators are perfect teachings, but for a beginner they are overwhelmingly numerous, and consequently their meaning is difficult to fathom. Hence, although you may study and contemplate them, you probably will not gain experience of their actual essence; or, even if you should gain it, a tremendous effort and extent of time would be required. However, because the Lamrim tradition has its source in Atisha’s A Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, which incorporates all the various oral teachings of the supreme Indian masters, even someone like you can easily and quickly arrive at the thought of Buddha through it.
The great negativity of abandoning a lineage of Dharma will spontaneously be arrested. When you realize the intent of Buddha, you will see all his direct and indirect teachings as wise and skillful means for satisfying the diverse spiritual needs of the variety of beings. To say that some lineages of Dharma are perfect methods and should be practiced, whereas other lineages are imperfect and should be ignored, is the karma called “abandoning Dharma,” a great negativity indeed. However, if you study the Lamrim you will see how all doctrines of Buddha and lineages coming from him are non-contradictory. Then the great negativity of abandoning an aspect of Dharma will never occur.
These are the four great qualities of the Lamrim tradition. Who with any common sense would not benefit from hearing a discourse on it, a thing the fortunate of India and Tibet have long relied upon, a generously high teaching to delight the heart, the tradition known as the Stages on the Path for the beings of the three capacities. Regarding these four effects arising from hearing, contemplating, and meditating upon a Lamrim discourse, Je Rinpoche said:
(Through it) one perceives all doctrines as non-contradictory,
All teachings arise as personal advice,
The intent of Buddha is easily found
And you are protected from the cliff of the greatest evil.
Therefore the wise and fortunate of India and Tibet
Have thoroughly relied upon this excellent legacy
(Known as) the stages in the practices of the three spiritual beings;
Who of powerful mind would not be intrigued by it?
Possessing such strength and impact, this tradition takes the heart of all the teachings of Buddha and structures it into steps for gradual evolution through the successive experiences of the path, running through the three levels of spiritual capacity. What an approach to Dharma! How can its greatness ever be described?
Consider the beneficial effects of hearing or teaching the Lamrim even once: an understanding of Buddha and his teachings arises and, by means of pure attitudes and application, the person who is a vessel suitable for Dharma collects benefits equivalent to those gained by having heard all the words of Buddha.