Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP – This morning, because of the wet weather, His Holiness the Dalai Lama drove to the foot of the temple from where he took the lift to the upper floor. When he reached the throne in front of the statue of the Buddha, lay-people from the Dharamsala Buddhist Class were engaged in debate. The assembled school-children and other students recited the ‘Heart Sutra’ and the verses of salutation to the Buddha from Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom’ and ‘Ornament for Clear Realization’.
Lay-people from the Dharamsala Buddhist Class debating Buddhist philosophy before the start of the second day of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings for Tibetan youth at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 31, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
“Today, I’m going to give the permission to practise Manjushri,” His Holiness announced, “the Bodhisattva who embodies wisdom and intelligence.
“When I was a child, probably three or four years old, I visited Kumbum Monastery, which was near where I lived. There was a golden reliquary commemorating Jé Tsongkhapa who was born in the vicinity. Jé Rinpoché is renowned as a great being blessed by Manjushri. He studied in monasteries of all the Tibetan traditions—Sakya, Nyingma, Kagyu and Kadam. As I said, he was born in Amdo and when I think about that, I reflect that I’m from there too.
“I remember seeing young monks prostrating before the reliquary and reciting Manjushri’s mantra, ‘Om a ra pa tsa na dhi’, and I remember saying it too. Doing this helps us increase our wisdom and intelligence, enabling us to see reality more clearly. When our minds are clear, we’re better able to use our natural intelligence.
“Gradually, as you engage in outer, inner and secret practices in relation to Manjushri you’ll find your intelligence becomes great, clear, profound and swift. You become more adept in composition, debate and teaching. I’ve received transmission of all the various practices related to Manjushri.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the congregation on the second day of his teachings for Tibetan youth at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 31, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
“As I’ve mentioned before, I generate the awakening mind of bodhichitta, the altruistic aspiration to enlightenment, the moment I wake every morning, but soon after that I say a round of ‘Om a ra pa tsa na dhi’. I’ve felt a strong connection with Manjushri since I was a young child. It’s clear to me that as a result of continuously reciting this mantra and the ‘Praise to the Intelligent One’ known in Tibetan as ‘Gangloma’, my intelligence and wisdom have become sharper. Therefore, I urge you, my Dharma friends, to recite Manjushri’s praise and mantra too. It will enhance your ability to study and learn.
“In the praise it says that Manjushri’s speech, melodious with sixty facets, eliminates the gloom of our lack of awareness. With Manjushri’s support I’ve been able to dispel the confusion and ignorance in people’s minds about what to adopt and what to discard.”
His Holiness pointed out that we create all kinds of negative karma. We build nuclear weapons and fight with each other. He recommended we pray that the clouds of ignorance be cleared away. He emphasized that it’s best to help others, but if you are unable to help, at least you can avoid doing harm.
Guiding his listeners through the Manjushri permission, His Holiness declared that he is confident about his realization of emptiness and bodhichitta due to the kindness of his tutors. When it came to offering the ritual cake to disperse hindrances, he remarked that no one is a hindrance to him. Instead, he summons such beings in order to teach them.
A Namgyal monk assisting His Holiness the Dalai Lama with rituals during the Manushri Permission at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 31, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
When he had completed granting the permission, His Holiness remarked that it was important that students feel convinced that with the blessings of Manjushri they will also realize bodhichitta and the wisdom understanding emptiness. He added that although there are many Buddhist countries in the world, only Tibetan Buddhism retains the ability to explain the Dharma extensively as was done in the Nalanda Tradition.
His Holiness invited questions from the audience. The students would mention where they were studying and often preface their question with a verse of homage to His Holiness or a prayer for his long life.
He told a Men-tsee-khang student that Tibetan medicine is effective in treating chronic ailments, whereas allopathy is particularly helpful in dealing with emergencies. He emphasized that an important aspect of looking after the sick is to have a good heart.
His Holiness agreed with a student who observed that young people today tend to adopt foreign ways. “People do get carried away by Western culture to the neglect of their traditional ways. However, it’s also the case that these days there are a lot of Westerners interested in Tibetan traditions.”
When it comes to different approaches to study, His Holiness expressed satisfaction that Tibetans at school in India have been able to benefit from modern and traditional Tibetan education, which means they have learned about material development as well as the workings of the mind and emotions.
A Tibetan student asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question on the second day of teachings for Tibetan youth at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 31, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
One student observed that many mind-training texts say that bodhichitta alone can fulfil the two accumulations of merit and wisdom. However, this seems to contradict a commentary to valid cognition that states that loving-kindness alone does not counter ignorance. His Holiness told him that sentient beings throughout space are the same in wanting happiness and not wanting suffering. He said that the last but one verse of the ‘Eight Verses of Mind Training’ deals with equalizing and exchanging self with others:
In brief, directly or indirectly,
May I give all help and joy to my mothers,
And may I take all their harm and pain
Secretly upon myself.
This aspiration serves to strengthen your courage and determination to work for the benefit of others.
Asked whether monastics and householders take refuge in the Three Jewels differently, His Holiness replied that the two groups of people may dress and conduct themselves differently, but when it comes to taking refuge and cultivating bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness, there is no disparity between them.
Answering a question about karma and the hell realms, His Holiness cited Chandrakirti’s Auto-commentary to his ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ that states that he does not accept Vasubandhu’s cosmology. His Holiness added that he does not accept it either. With regard to karma, it seems clear that if you help others with a sincere heart, it brings you both benefit. On the other hand, if you deceive others, neither of you benefit.
“It’s because I cultivate bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness that people trust me,” His Holiness revealed. “If I taught one thing but acted in a contrary way, they wouldn’t do that. As I’ve said before, we are all the same in wanting happiness and seeking to avoid suffering. Therefore, it’s important that we restrain ourselves from even small acts of harm.”
His Holiness the Dalai Lama waving to the crowd on his way back to his residence at the conclusion of his two day teaching for Tibetan youth at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 31, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
As he was about to leave the temple, His Holiness came to the edge of the platform once more and told the students that it is because of his practice of bodhichitta and emptiness that they always see him smiling.
“What is most important is to have a sincere, warm heart.”