First part of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings in Klagenfurt Austria May 18-20, 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
Humanity has developed many ways of providing assistance when we face tremendous difficulties. For 5000 years or more man has developed faith in different ways in different places. This is useful.
The major world religious traditions have developed different ways of showing faith. For thousands of years faith was the only real source of hope.
For the last few hundred years science has developed to provide different explanations for things.
Humanity shows more interest in material development than in spiritual matters. They claim faith but they are interested in more wealth, money and power. They have no hesitation in lying, cheating or bullying to achieve what they want. Their religion is simply a tradition but they are not serious about it. There is a lot of hypocrisy. If we practice genuine love and compassion for others there is no basis for lying, cheating or bullying. These are not serious religious practitioners.
We need a serious approach to promote inner values, whether we are a believer or not. There are people who have everything materially but lack something deep inside. They suffer with fear, anxiety and stress and often feel very lonely. Material prosperity alone cannot bring peace, joy or inner strength.
The Buddha stressed the need for scepticism. Scepticism brings investigation. Investigation brings questions, and questions bring answers.
Emotions and biological factors are interdependent. Our emotions can affect our physical bodies and how they react. The world’s major religions have long focussed on the mind and emotions. All the major religious traditions carry the message of love, compassion, self discipline etc, and all of these come from mind.
Single-pointed faith brings inner strength. There are two categories of religion – theistic, with the concept of a god, the ideas of something absolute and permanent, and non-theistic – Buddhism, Jainism and some aspects of Samkhya, which assert that things happen due to the law of cause and effect. This is similar to Darwin’s theory that cause and effect lead to change.
The idea of submission to a god brings a reduction in self-centred arrogance. People then see themselves as nothing other than a creation of God. Their focus should be on the altruism and well being of others.
Buddhism seeks to reduce self-centred arrogance by focussing on the idea of no solid ‘I’, no permanence. So, they are different approaches but with the same intended result, namely to reduce self-centredness and increase altruism and peace of mind.
Texts written by the Nalanda masters always gave recognition to the philosophical views of different traditions. It is beneficial to be aware of these things.
A Sufi scholar in India asked three questions:
What is the self?
Is there a beginning to the self?
Is there an end to the self?
Only Buddhism asserts that there is no independent person. When we talk of the self or ‘I’ this is self-grasping, the source of all unhappiness. Self-grasping is the basis of all distorted and wrong views.
Only Buddhism says there is no ‘soul’. All other religions identify an ‘atman’, something outside the body, something permanent.
As to the second question, all traditions which believe in a creator say yes, there is a beginning when God creates. This life comes from God, so we develop an intimacy with him and are more inclined to follow his guidance and teachings. Buddhism sees no beginning. Since there is no soul the basis of ‘self’ must be body and mind. Mind is the most important since this brings about a sentient being. The main feature of a sentient being is consciousness and cognitive ability.
According to Buddhism, any phenomenon which is constantly changing must have causes and conditions. There are substantial causes. Matter cannot be a substantial cause of consciousness and vice versa. Matter must be a continuation of matter and consciousness must be a continuation of consciousness.
Within the Vaivashika schools there are different views. When individuals reach nirvana the body and mind both cease so the continuation of mind ceases. So, this is one philosophical school that sees the end of the ‘I’. There are two categories of nirvana – ‘reminder’ nirvana and ‘non-reminder’ nirvana. So, in ‘non-reminder’ nirvana the continuation of the ‘I’ ceases according to this school.
When the Buddha died the Vaivashika school flourished. Eventually Nalanda University was established. The Nalanda scholars wrote in Sanskrit. Then came Kamalashila https://www.sangye.it/altro/?p=433.
First turning of the wheel of Dharma – teachings at Sarnath; the Four Noble Truths
Second turning of the wheel of Dharma – Prajnaparamita sutras
Third turning of the wheel of Dharma – numerous teachings and texts
The teachings on the Four Noble Truths were public and available to all. The second and third turnings were given to selected audiences dependent on their ability to understand and use them.
The Heart Sutra belongs to the second turning of the wheel. It is one of the shortest of the Prajnaparamita sutras.
The Pali tradition is not separate. It is the foundation of Buddhadharma. The Sanskrit tradition elaborated on the Pali tradition and gave further explanations.
Buddhism reached China five centuries before it reached Tibet. The main flourishing of Buddhism in Tibet was in the 8th century. The Tibetan Emperor Trisong Detsen invited Padmasambhava https://www.sangye.it/altro/?cat=23 and Shantarakshita to Tibet. Kamalashila, who was the main disciple of Shantarakshita, was also invited.
Shantarakshita introduced the Tibetan Vinaya practice and gave ordinations.
Buddha said that no one should follow his teachings out of faith or devotion but only as a result of investigation and experience.