19 H.H. Dalai Lama ‘08: Teachings on Lamrim Chenmo

His Holiness the Dalai Lama: the view of emptiness cuts the root of cyclic existence and is the heart of the path to liberation.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama: the view of emptiness cuts the root of cyclic existence and is the heart of the path to liberation.

18 His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Teachings on Lam-rim Chen-mo

Day Six, Afternoon Session, July 15, 2008 at Lehigh University, Pennsylvania, USA. Part two. Two Types of Madhyamaka. How to Proceed, Valid Forms of Reasoning. The Heart of the Path to Liberation. The Great Treatise “A Thousand Doses in One Dose”, “Every Day, Learn One Page”.

Two Types of Madhyamaka (cont.)

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: So here, for example in Chandrakirti’s Entering the Middle Way, after the completion of his critique of the Mind Only standpoint, there is a section where Chandrakirti critiques a particular standpoint. And if you examined this standpoint that Chandrakirti is critiquing, it is a standpoint that involves, while rejecting the notion of true existence, yet at the same time according some notion of intrinsic nature or intrinsic existence. So this is basically the Madhyamika-Svatantrika position that is being negated here. So this is a position that, while rejecting the notion of true existence, accepts some idea of…

His Holiness: [discussion with translators in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: So this is a standpoint where the opponent accepts the notion of emptiness of true existence, yet at the same time accepts the notion of svalakshana, existence by means of self-defining characteristics. So here Chandrakirti levels three consequences, you know, undesirable consequences. The first consequence he levels against this is to say that, according to that standpoint, then the wisdom of the meditative equipoise of the noble aryas will become in a sense a cause for the destruction of things and events because they recognize all of these… perceive all of these to be devoid of inherent existence.

The second consequence that is leveled is… His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: So the second consequence that is leveled against the position is to say that the conventional truths will become such that they will withstand ultimate analysis. So an example we can give is that because they take the sixth mental consciousness to be the true essence of the person (in the aftermath of searching for the essence of the person) so the person in that sense becomes a phenomenon or an entity that can withstand ultimate analysis.

And the third consequence that he levels is that then the teaching on all phenomena, all conditioned phenomena, as being devoid of ultimate arising…

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] His Holiness: [brief discussion with Thupten Jinpa in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: So the third consequence is that, according to their standpoint, the ultimate arising still remains un-negated. So these are the three consequences that are leveled, and in that…

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa:…and then also Chandrakirti …

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: He also reveals that the position is in contradiction with scripture that presents all phenomena to be emptiness of their own intrinsic nature. And here a quotation is given from…

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: So then Chandrakirti also points out that the position that he is critiquing also is in contradiction with the statement in one of the Buddha’s sutras, and the sutra here cites from Questions of Upali, which is part of the Ratnakuta collection. And where in this sutra the emptiness is presented as being an intrinsic emptiness, emptiness of intrinsic existence.

So when we use the word rang-tong, intrinsic emptiness, it is important to recognize that sometimes there are two different meanings of intrinsic emptiness. One is the one that is being presented here in this sutra where, for example, if one’s understanding of emptiness of form, for example, is such that you assume the form to have some kind of intrinsic nature and then you take that intrinsically real form to be the basis and then try to understand emptiness in terms of negating some kind of ultimate reality over and above this form, then that kind of emptiness does not become rang-tong. It does not become intrinsic emptiness because you leave the intrinsic nature of the form intact, and you are negating something that is over and above it. So that becomes a form of extrinsic emptiness.

So here, for example, in the Perfection of Wisdom sutras, there is a very important statement, passage, where it says that, “It is not the case that the form and so on are being emptied by emptiness but rather the form itself is emptiness.” And this is a very important point, because if your understanding is that when we are establishing emptiness somehow the form… if the assumption is made that the form is intrinsically real, and it has intrinsic existence, and that emptiness involves some kind of negating extrinsic properties over this, then this does not become real emptiness.

Therefore, when negating the object of negation here, we need to take the form, as we perceive it, and then negate its inherent existence. And when you do that then the emptiness becomes true intrinsic emptiness. So this is a very important point.

Therefore when we use the terms like rang-tong, we need to understand rang-tong (or intrinsic emptiness) can be understood in two different ways. One is the way in which the sutra Questions of Upali suggests, which is the position that Tsongkhapa accepts to be valid. There is also another way of understanding this expression rang-tong, which is to say, for example, form is devoid of form, or form is not form. So that kind of rang-tong, a negation of itself, this is a form of rang-tong that Tsongkhapa does not accept.

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: So on this model, the expression is used that all conventional realities are rang-tong, empty of themselves, and ultimate truth is empty of other…

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: And on this view then, the ultimate truth is also understood to be ultimately real, absolute.

How to Proceed, Valid Forms of Reasoning

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: So then the question is raised that, “If the standpoint that rejects the notion of intrinsic existence rejects autonomous syllogistic reasoning, then does that mean that, in this system, there are no valid forms of reasoning at all?”

Then here Tsongkhapa says that that’s not the case. One can employ different forms of argumentations, including a form of consequential reasoning, and also forms of reasoning that take into account the perspective of the other person.

So for example, when someone is presenting, establishing, emptiness of a phenomenon to a person who continues to uphold the notion of inherent existence, until the view of emptiness arises in that person, until that point, so far as the intellectual understanding of that person is concerned, he will continue to hold onto that subject under examination as possessing inherent existence. Whereas the other member of the party, the Madhyamaka who presents the argument, will not make such supposition. So therefore there will be no commonly verified common subject.

But at the same time, the Prasangikas can still continue to use the forms of reasoning by taking into account the perspective of the other, and on that basis simply accepting a subject that is renowned, that is known, to that opponent. And on that basis one can proceed with the reasoning and analysis.

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: In the conclusion of this section that we have been discussing, Tsongkhapa makes an observation which is helpful. So we read, “So when the person that is…” (this is on page 274, so it’s the fourth paragraph): So, when the reason that is used to prove the probandum is established for both parties with the kind of valid cognition explained previously, this is an autonomous reason. When the reason is not established in that way and the probandum is proven using the three criteria that the other party, the opponent, accepts as being present, this constitutes the Prasangika method. It is quite clear that this is what the master Chandrakirti intended.”

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: So here then, to continue reading, there is an outline which reads, “Which system to follow…” (so that is between the autonomous syllogism system and consequence reasoning) “…which system to follow so as to develop the view in your mind-stream.” So here Tsongkhapa writes: The great Madhyamikas who follow the noble father Nagarjuna and his spiritual son Aryadeva split into two different systems: Prasangika and Svatantrika. Which do we follow? Here, we are followers of the Prasangika system. Moreover, as explained previously, we refute essential or intrinsic nature even conventionally; yet all that has been taught about cyclic existence and nirvana must be fully compatible with that refutation. Therefore, you should…”

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: And then Tsongkhapa explains that… so having stated that it is the Prasangika system that one will follow in establishing the view of emptiness, he then explains in the third major outline the manner in which the view (the correct view of emptiness) arises within one on the basis of such a method. And here this is explained in the following presentation of the selflessness of ‘person’… presentation of selflessness of phenomena, and how, on the basis of familiarizing the view, the obscurations are eliminated.

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: So the presentation of the selflessness of phenomena (the emptiness of ‘person’) is really done by means of drawing analogy with analysis of the chariot. And the chariot, being the composite entity which is composed of its various parts, this is subject to a seven-fold analysis. And when (subject to a seven-fold analysis) the chariot is proven to be un-findable, then in the same manner one analyzes the relationship between the self (or the ‘person’) and the aggregates in the similarly seven-fold manner. And in this way one establishes the emptiness of inherent existence of the ‘person’.

And once you have established the emptiness of inherent existence of the ‘person’, then one will also be able to extend that analysis to the ‘mine’, the things that belong… the possessions of that ‘person’, and in this way also demonstrate the emptiness of not just ‘I’ but also ‘mine’.

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: So this is followed by, then, a presentation of the selflessness of phenomena. And here the principal reason…one of the reasons that is used is by means of analyzing the arising in four possible ways. So it’s the four-fold analysis of arising.

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: So it is in fact in the context of the analysis of the arising by means of the four possibilities where Buddhapalita’s presentation of Nagarjuna’s text was subject to extensive criticism by…critiqued by Bhavaviveka. And it was Chandrakirti who demonstrated that the criticisms, the objections, by Bhavaviveka do not really apply to Buddhapalita’s position. And in the course of this debate, this whole discussion on whether or not one can accept a commonly verified, shared, subject that we discussed came into being.

The Heart of the Path to Liberation

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: So the third outline that we will look at now is how, on the basis of familiarizing these views, the obscurations come to be eliminated.

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: So here Tsongkhapa writes the following (on page 320, it’s the fifth or sixth paragraph), where we read that, “After you have seen that…” This is after the outline, “How to eliminate obscurations by becoming accustomed to those views.” He writes: After you have seen that the self and that which belongs to the self lack even the slightest particle of intrinsic nature, you can accustom yourself to these facts, thereby stopping the reifying view of the perishing aggregates as the self and that which belongs to the self. When you stop that view, you will stop the four types of grasping—grasping that holds onto what you want, and so on—explained earlier.”

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: Sorry. And: When you stop these, existence conditioned by attachment will not occur; hence, there will be an end to the rebirth of the aggregates conditioned by existence; you will attain liberation. Nagarjuna’sFundamental Treatise [Wisdom] says: Because of the pacification of the self and that which the self owns,
The conception ‘I’ and the conception ‘mine’ will be gone.”

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: So here (this is on page 321) there are a couple of sentences where Tsongkhapa really sums up the importance of the understanding of emptiness, and he says that: Thus, afflictions such as attachment and hostility—rooted in the reifying view of the perishing aggregates—are produced from such misconceptions. These misconceptions operate mistakenly only by clinging to the notion, “This is real,” in regard to the eight worldly concerns, or men and women, or pot, cloth, form, or feeling. Since it is these misconceptions that conceive those objects, they are generated from the elaboration of conceptions of true existence.”

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: Okay, so here we read on page 322…

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: So, citing from Chandrakirti, then Tsongkhapa comments, “This passage proves that the view of emptiness…” (this is on page 322) “…the view of emptiness cuts the root of cyclic existence and is the heart of the path to liberation. Hence, you must gain firm certainty about this.”

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: So what this shows is that, unless we don’t want to think about what is meant by liberation at all, so long as we wish to think about liberation, there is no choice but to cultivate the understanding of emptiness.

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: Then the text proceeds with the explanation of the various types of special insight, vipassana; and then the manner in which one should cultivate and maintain the special insight; and then also how to unite the tranquil abiding and special insight.

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: And then there is a summary of the entire path.

His Holiness: [in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: And then there is a section on how to, you know, train in the path of the Vajrayana.

His Holiness: [in Tibetan]

The Great Treatise “A Thousand Doses in One Dose”, “Every Day, Learn One Page”

His Holiness: So,—now completed! Thank you. Thank you. So if you properly… how do you say…if I give teaching of this, then it takes months.

Then properly practice, it takes many decades. But we have to do. There is no other choice. My own case, I think at age around fifteen, sixteen, I developed genuine interest about, you see, these teachings. Now, over seventy-three. Still, this is main text, or main guidance way…

Thupten Jinpa: …guide…main guide. Guide book. His Holiness: [in Tibetan]

Thupten Jinpa: So generally there is a convention in the Tibetan tradition to refer to those texts that are very comprehensive as calling them, “A thousand doses in one—one dose.” So Tsongkhapa’s Lam-rim Chen-mo is like one of those tong thun, you know, a thousand doses in one dose.

His Holiness: [begins in Tibetan] …I think generally the… every Lama Tsongkhapa’s sort of commentary, you see, all those… the hardest sort of passage usually, you see, he tries to explain. This is something very unique.

So therefore, naturally, his own text also becomes difficult. But that is highly necessary. Although his sort of texts only eighteen volumes but hardly no sort of simple sort of text. Every one something really weightful…

Thupten Jinpa:…weighty…

His Holiness: …and then his own writing style—also wonderful. The use, I think, minimum word but bring the maximum meaning. That is a special sort of gift for his writing, like that.

So therefore I, as a simple Buddhist monk, I’m extremely happy, some lecture on this book, on this text.

So of course, my own sort of knowledge—still very limited. And then experience—even far less. But I am very happy—very, very, very fortunate—you see, reading this book.

So, look at teacher. Now, since around sixteen years old, now ‘til seventy-three—still working on it.

So you see you also, you see, have to think—the study, as well as practice, takes many, many years. So should not feel, how do you say… discouraged, or… demoralized.

Even one day, every day, learn one page. That’s enough. Good. Then hundred days— hundred pages. Thousand days—thousand pages. Okay.

Even, I think, the construction of external thing, it takes time. Now construction in our mind, it takes time. So, not easy. But one hundred percent sort of assurance this can change, can improve. That much, from my own experience, I can assure you. If we make effort continuously, without losing interest, without losing determination, things can change. Things will improve.

So then eventually, our aim is genuine experience of infinite altruism and understanding of ultimate reality. Through that way, as a Buddhist, our final destination—Buddhahood.

So, now, let us start, from now to that final destination!

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

His Holiness: [begins in Tibetan]…Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


His Holiness: Now, as a tradition…[continues in Tibetan] Thupten Jinpa: So, as it is customary during the lam-rim teachings, today we will chant the lam rim dedication verse, and we will do that in English so the…

His Holiness: …English, English… Thupten Jinpa: …aspiration part of the dedication verse is on page 368, stanza number 4 on that page. So we will read the lines together. It starts from “By accumulating…”:

By accumulating through long effort
The two collections as vast as the sky
May I become the chief of the conquerors,
Guide of all beings whose minds are blinded by ignorance.

Also, in all lives until I reach that point
May Manjughosa look after me with loving-kindness. After I find the supreme path, complete in the stages of the teaching,
By accomplishing it may I please the conquerors.

By skill in means inspired by strong loving-kindness,
May the vital points of the path that I precisely know
Clear away the mental darkness of beings.
May I then uphold the Conqueror’s teachings for a long time.

In regions where the supreme, precious teaching has not spread
Or where it has spread but then declined,
May I illumine that treasure of happiness and benefit
With a mind deeply moved by great compassion.

May this treatise on the stages of the path to enlightenment,
Well-founded on the wondrous deeds of the conquerors and their children,
Bring glory to the minds of those who want to be free,
And long preserve the Conqueror’s achievements.

As for all who provide conditions that support integration of the good path
And clear away conditions that inhibit that integration–
Whether they are human or not, may they never be separated in all their lifetimes
From the pure path praised by the Conquerors.

When I strive to properly achieve the supreme vehicle
Through the ten deeds of the teaching,
May I be accompanied always by those who have power,
And may an ocean of good fortune pervade all directions.

His Holiness: Thank you. [continues in Tibetan]

Long Life Prayer for His Holiness

His Holiness: [brief discussion with Joshua Cutler in Tibetan] …okay, first, I think…

Thupten Jinpa: You want to do this first?

Joshua Cutler: First of all I’d like to thank Your Holiness for your wonderful teachings. Our teacher, our founder, Geshe Wangyal, always referred to Your Holiness as Yeshe Norbu. And so then I understand that means “wish-granting jewel” so every time I meet Your Holiness I always feel those words, that my wishes are being fulfilled. Your insightful… what can I say?

That just… I understand how… I thought when I invited Your Holiness that you could provide us with the heart of these teachings and I feel you led us to the heart, and though it might take many days, or many weeks, to really teach this book, I feel that we received the heart of this book in these six days of teachings. And only a great scholar of the Buddha’s Dharma is capable of doing that.

So then I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank many people but in particular the translator, Geshe… Dr. Thupten Jinpa.

And then as most of us here haven’t been aware of it but then we’ve had two translators in the back rooms here, Jamyang Rinchen doing the Chinese and also Li Bui doing the Vietnamese. We’d like to thank them.

And then of course there’s all the people who made this possible. Starting with the President of Lehigh, Alice Gast, and all our friends who make up the Lehigh family.

And Chief Shup and all the marvelous security officers who have been our dharma protectors for all these past few days, including all the members of the diplomatic security service that our federal government has provided.

Sorry, it’s a bit of a list because there’s so many people that have done this… And then Rich Fritz who’s the director of Stabler Arena and all his marvelous crew that put this all together for us…

And then of course all the wonderful volunteers who gave their time to spend these past six days with us…

And then finally, but not the least, all our dear friends at the Tibetan Buddhist Learning Center who gave so much I can’t… I kind of got stuck on the words…

And then… well now maybe…let’s see… I’d like all of you to join together with me, as I said before, to say this one verse for His Holiness’s long life, and we’ll recite it together three times:

In that pure land surrounded by snowy mountains,
You are the source of all benefit and happiness.
All powerful Avalokiteshvara, Tenzin Gyatso,
May you stay until samsara’s end.

In that pure land surrounded by snowy mountains,
You are the source of all benefit and happiness.
All powerful Avalokiteshvara, Tenzin Gyatso,
May you stay until samsara’s end.

In that pure land surrounded by snowy mountains,
You are the source of all benefit and happiness.
All powerful Avalokiteshvara, Tenzin Gyatso,
May you stay until samsara’s end.

So now I’m going to do the traditional offering. [conducted in Tibetan]

His Holiness: [His Holiness refuses an offered donation] I do not want to receive any.

[The ceremony continues with scarves being offered]

Thank you. Thank you very much.

His Holiness: [discussion with Joshua Cutler in Tibetan]

Joshua Cutler: I’d like to introduce my wonderful friend who’s made this all possible, the event coordinator, Lynn Teale, and she’s going to read our… well, the results of everything, and our financial statement.

Lynn Teale: As of 2:15 this afternoon, the gross revenues for these teachings were $1,138,798.00. Through today, the expenses totaled approximately $1,110,000.00, but may still increase to no more than $1,175,000.00 once all the bills and expenses have been received over the next few weeks.

The Tibetan Buddhist Learning Center expects to break even, or show only a slight loss. However, any surplus will be donated to charities that have been approved by His Holiness’s Office of Tibet in New York City. Thank you.