Bodhgaya, Bihar, India – This morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived at the Kalachakra Teaching Ground, waved to the crowd, saluted the statue of the Buddha behind the throne, greeted eminent Lamas, and took his seat. A four-fold gathering of Taiwanese— monks, nuns, laywomen and laymen—sat before him and chanted the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Mandarin. There followed a second recitation of the same text in Tibetan. Tea and bread were served.
A group from Tawian chanting the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Mandarin at the start of the third day of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 31, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
“In order to give the permission of Manjushri this morning,” His Holiness announced, “I have to do some preparatory practices. While I do so, please recite the mantra Om ara patsa na dhih.
“The Buddha, like a majestic mountain possessed of all qualities, became a Buddha as a result of accumulating merit and wisdom for three countless aeons. He attained Buddhahood beneath the Bodhi Tree near here. He was a teacher who revealed the truth and the path to it as they are.
“When we say I take refuge in the Buddha, we acknowledge the possibility of overcoming all defilements—attaining their true cessation. When the Buddha told us, ‘You are your own master’, he meant that we must practise. His powerful statement tells us that the future is in our hands. It’s not that anyone else can or should practise on our behalf. We spin through the cycle of existence because our minds are unruly. There are antidotes to suffering and its causes. By applying them we can actualize a purified mind, and that’s something to be proud of.
A butter sculpture with the image of Manjushri displayed on the altar behind His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the third day of teachings at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 31, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
“As soon as I wake in the morning, I recite the verse for taking refuge and generating the awakening mind, which gives me strength to work for others. So, just as I make the cultivation of bodhichitta my main practice, you, my Dharma brothers and sisters should do so too. It will bring you peace of mind and physical well-being. This is what I say:
Having generated the spirit of supreme enlightenment
I invite all sentient beings as my guests to this feast of temporary help and the ultimate goal of enlightenment.
I will engage in the supreme and wonderful conduct of a bodhisattva,
May I attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all living beings.
“I urge all of you to cultivate a wish to benefit others as well. However many years I have left, I dedicate myself to extending my awakening mind.”
Beginning the process of granting the permission of Manjushri, His Holiness explained that he feels especially close to the mantra Om ara patsa na dhih. He heard it first when he was three or four years old and visiting Kumbum Monastery. There he witnessed young monks, not much older than him, reciting the mantra as they performed prostrations. This was the first mantra to catch his attention and the memory has stayed with him. Indeed, he continues to recite it now every day.
The congregation offered a mandala by way of requesting to receive the permission. His Holiness remarked that he felt very fortunate to be able to give it in this sacred place associated with the Vajra-asana, the Seat of Enlightenment. He mentioned how effective he has found reciting Om ara patsa na dhih to be in burnishing his own intelligence.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama granting the permission of Manjushri on the third day of teachings at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 31, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
He noted that in Buddhist practice it’s important to be able to use intelligence to develop wisdom. This is so necessary when it comes to overcoming mental afflictions and their imprints that function as obstructions to knowledge. He quoted lines from the prayer Jé Tsongkhapa wrote at the end of his ‘Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment’.
Wherever the Buddha’s teaching has not spread
And wherever it has spread but has declined
May I, moved by great compassion, clearly elucidate
This treasury of excellent benefit and happiness for all.
Having given permissions related to the body, speech and mind of Manjushri, His Holiness led the congregation in reciting Om ara patsa na dhih together, followed by an exhilarating repetition of the syllable dhih.
Members of the crowd listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the third day of teachings at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on December 31, 2023. Photo by Ven Zamling Norbu
Next, His Holiness gave the reading transmission of a prayer to the Eight Medicine Buddhas that he composed.
A thanksgiving mandala was offered and the occasion was concluded with the stirring chorus of hundreds of monks’ voices in sonorous tones chanting the Dedication Prayer from the end of ‘Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment’.
The text of the prayer to the Medicine Buddhas can be downloaded from the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s website: https://media.dalailama.com/En…
A Manjushi Sadhana can be found there too: https://media.dalailama.com/En…