Bodhgaya, Bihar, India – This morning the weather was still cold and grey as His Holiness the Dalai Lama drove from the Tibetan Temple to the Kalachakra Maidan. He responded to many people’s greetings as he walked from the car and saluted the crowd from the front of the stage before taking his seat on the throne. Adult members of the Nalanda Shiksha recited the ‘Mangala Sutta’ in Pali and children from the local Maitreya School eloquently chanted the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Sanskrit.
The Nalanda Shiksha group attending these teachings in Bodhgaya number about 2000. They include 300 college students from Delhi, Chandigarh and Jammu, 200 from Buddhist communities in Sankisa, 600 local students from Bodhgaya and other people from Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Sikkim and Odisha. For their benefit His Holiness’s words are being translated into Hindi.
There are also 3000 foreigners in attendance hailing from 69 different countries. For them simultaneous translation of what His Holiness is saying in Tibetan is being broadcast over FM in English, Hindi, Russian, Mongolian, French, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese and Spanish. There are also broadcasts in Central Tibetan, Amdo and Khampa dialects.
His Holiness began by reciting the verses of homage from Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’,
I prostrate to the perfect Buddha,
The best of all teachers, who taught that
That which is dependent origination is
Without cessation, without arising;
Without annihilation, without permanence;
Without coming; without going;
Without distinction, without identity
And peaceful – free from fabrications.
He followed it with the homage from the ‘Ornament for Clear Realization’ and the final verse from Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom’,
I prostrate to Gautama
Who, through compassion,
Taught the exalted Dharma,
Which leads to the relinquishing of all views.
“We have all gathered here, some from far away, because we all want to be happy and to avoid suffering,” His Holiness told the audience. “This is true even of insects. We don’t need to apply reason to understand it; we can just see it for ourselves. What we do need to use reason for is to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of concern for others and self-centredness. Scientists say that basic human nature is compassionate. It isn’t a matter of religious practice so much as a recognition that just as you appreciate it when others show you affection and compassion, others appreciate being treated the same way too. It’s a matter of training the mind.
“In a world where people easily fall under the sway of anger and hatred, we need love, patience, tolerance and contentment. Indian sages have analysed what brings peace of mind and what disturbs it. You may have all the physical amenities you need to be comfortable, but it you have no peace of mind, they won’t make you happy. On the other hand if you have peace of mind, you’ll be happy whether you have those amenities or not. The important goal is to achieve peace of mind. We need to recognise that when mental afflictions occur they give rise to unpleasant experience and disturb our inner peace.”
His Holiness observed that the Buddha was a product of ancient Indian tradition. What he realized was that our problems arise from the mental afflictions or disturbing emotions, such as anger, attachment and confusion, that are rooted in ignorance, our misconceiving things as being inherently existent. There are specific counter measures for each of these afflictions, but the most important is to dispel ignorance. As Aryadeva said in his 400 Verses:
As the tactile sense [pervades] the body
Confusion is present in them all.
By overcoming confusion you will also
Overcome all disturbing emotions.
Although things appear to exist inherently, when they are examined and analysed, no trace of inherent existence can be found, because they are dependent on other factors.
In his discussion of the selflessness of persons, His Holiness cited verses by Nagarjuna,
Just as a person is not real
Due to being a composite of six constituents,
So each of the constituents also
Is not real due to being a composite.
Because the phenomena of forms
Are only names, space too is only a name.
Without the elements how could forms exist?
Therefore even name-only does not exist
He read the extensive discussion of dependent arising in the Rice Seedling Sutra. ‘Why is it called dependent arising? It is called dependent arising because it is causal and conditional… From a seed comes a sprout, from a sprout a leaf, from a leaf a stem, from a stem a pedicel, from a pedicel a pistil, from a pistil a flower and from a flower comes a fruit.’ He concluded his reading of the sutra with a verse from Je Tsongkhapa referring to the realization of emptiness and dependent arising:
When these two realizations are simultaneous and concurrent,
From a mere sight of infallible dependent arising
Comes certain knowledge which completely destroys all modes of mental grasping.
At that time the analysis of the profound view is complete.
His Holiness announced that he will begin tomorrow’s session by conducting a ceremony for generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta, followed by the transmission of certain mantras. He will then complete his reading of the Rice Seedling Sutra. The Honourable Chief Minister of Bihar, Sri Nitish Kumar will then come and take part in the release of the first English volume of a groundbreaking series entitled, ‘Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics’.