First part of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings in Manchester Arena UK June 18-19, 2012 translated from Tibetan into English by Mr Tenzin Tsepag. Trascript by Dr. Peter Lawrence-Roberts, 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 possible errors and omissions.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
It is always better to keep to one’s own faith tradition. But some individuals are attracted to other traditions. This is fine, but it is always good to maintain respect for the original tradition from which one came.
People in modern times believe that with material prosperity all problems can be solved. Yet people, when they face desperate situations, often turn to spiritual things. They pray for support, whether they believe it will help or not.
People ultimately see the limitations of material prosperity. Something is still missing for them.
Medical science now understands the link between mental calm, optimism and physical well-being.
All religious beliefs, whether theistic or not, focus on love, compassion and forgiveness.
Many carry religious faith as a cultural habit. They do not take it seriously. They carry on corruption, lying, cheating etc but still claim to be religious. This does not work. For many, money is more important than peace of mind.
The Pali tradition is the basis of Buddhadharma. There is an emphasis on the monastic approach. Many believe that the different Buddhist traditions are all separate. This is wrong. The bodhisattvayana path would be impossible without the basis of the Pali tradition.
Tantrayana involves special techniques for developing single-pointed mind, developing practice at a deeper and deeper level.
The Prajnaparamita sutras explain the possibilities of the Third Noble Truth. The third turning of the Dharma Wheel then explained the possibilities of the fourth Noble Truth. The texts we will consider look at the possibilities of the second and third turnings of the Dharma Wheel.
The Tibetan emperor, Trisong Detsen, invited Shantarakshita, an Indian scholar from Nalanda, to Tibet. He was already aged about 75 at this time.
The commonly held view is that Buddha lived 2,600 years ago. However, other scholars say 2,900 years ago, or even over 3,000 years ago.
Shantarakshita came to Tibet and under his direction Samye monastery was built. He taught both philosophy and logic and was a very well known scholar. He gave Vinaya vows and translated texts. Padmasambhava https://www.sangye.it/altro/?cat=19 was invited at the same time. Without Padmasambhava the teachings of Shantarakshita may not have survived.
Many thought they didn’t need to study and learn but only focus on single-pointed meditation. Kamalashila, a senior student of Shantarakshita, was also invited to Tibet. He was a very great scholar and showed the need for learning.
Tibetan Buddhism originates purely from the Nalanda tradition. In the Kagyu tradition, Naropa was a Nalanda master. Atisha, https://www.sangye.it/altro/?cat=14 the founder of the Kadampa tradition, also came from Nalanda, as did Padmasambhava and Shantarakshita in the Nyingma tradition.
All Tibetan schools, old and new, follow the philosophy of Nagarjuna, and particularly Chandrakirti https://www.sangye.it/altro/?p=3259 , https://www.sangye.it/altro/?p=3263.
There is no basis in Tibetan Buddhism for sectarianism. All four schools focus on mind training and the development of the clear light mind.
If we are Buddhist we should not become attached to Buddhism. Once we develop attachment we become biased towards our own beliefs. We cannot then be objective about other faiths. From that, ultimately, comes fundamentalism.
What is Buddhism? Fundamentally, it is refraining from acts of non-virtue that are harmful to other sentient beings. Furthermore, we should engage in acts that are virtuous and beneficial to other sentient beings. Thirdly, we should discipline and train the mind. If we practice virtue and avoid non-virtue we are already training the mind. The Buddha said this was the essence of his teaching. Our discipline is not externally imposed or regulated. It comes from a recognition that to practice virtue is beneficial and to practice non-virtue is harmful. How does one eliminate non-virtue? The Buddha cannot wash away negative karma and it’s consequences. Nor can Buddha transplant the realization of emptiness or cessation into the lives of others.
The Buddhas help by teaching, for example the Four Noble Truths,https://www.sangye.it/wordpress2/?p=1918 , https://www.sangye.it/wordpress2/?p=1921 but it is up to individuals to realize the benefits of practice and realise the path within themselves. The attainment of cessation (moksha) is achieved by following the path and practice. The Buddha can show us the way but he cannot do it for us.
In the Truth of Cessation what is ceasing? The causes and effects of suffering, particularly the origin of suffering, is what is being brought to an end. At its root is the cessation of fundamental ignorance. In what does the cessation take place? Nagarjuna explained that sufferings and afflictions arise from karma. These are calmed by the ultimate realization of emptiness. So it is in the great expanse of emptiness that the cessation takes place – that is a true understanding of reality.
It is important to understand the Buddha’s teaching on clear light mind. The afflictions we experience have not penetrated the nature of mind itself.
Nagarjuna’s text brings together the teachings on the second and third turning of the wheel of Dharma. In https://www.sangye.it/altro/?p=5659 Vasubandu’s text he explains ignorance as the opposite side of knowledge, the opposite of wisdom. So to understand ignorance we also need to understand its opposite.
Of the two texts we will consider the Eight Verses focuses on altruism whilst Nagarjuna’s text focuses on wisdom.
All sentient beings, not just humans, love affection and kindness. A compassionate mind eliminates fear, anger and jealousy. Concern for others automatically destroys the very basis for anger and hate. We separate the actions from the person. Although we see the wrongness of a person’s action we should not wish harm or revenge on the person. We should always feel love and concern for their well being as a fellow human being. Anger towards their actions can be useful and bring about change, but anger towards the person is always inappropriate.
In the Pali and Sanskrit traditions the emphasis is on the practice of ‘karuna’, compassion. There are different types of compassion. First, there is the wish to see all beings free of suffering. This is common to all traditions. In the Bodhisattvayana teachings there is also the sense of responsibility to relieve the sufferings of others.
Lama Tsong Khapa https://www.sangye.it/altro/?cat=22 said in the Lam Rim Chen Mo that the primary focus should be the bodhisattva practice. Any advantage to ourselves should be a by-product. An altruistic, warm hearted attitude will bring us maximum benefit.