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Empowerment and Visits to Ugyen Ling & the Dorje Khandu Memorial Museum

Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India, 9 April 2017 - His Holiness the Dalai Lama reached Yiga Choezin earlier today in order to do the preparatory rituals required for him to give an Avalokiteshvara Empowerment.

At the request of local MLA Jambey Tashi he signed placards concerning projects in other places. One related to the Dolma Lhakhang that has been built at Lumla, another depicted a statue of Guru Padmasambhava at Lunpo Zemithang near the Tibetan border. He also unveiled a foundation stone for a statue of Maitreya to be constructed near the border with Bhutan.

“The Buddha was someone who taught about dependent arising from his own experience,’ His Holiness explained when he was ready. “It’s important not only to try to be good people, but also good followers of the Buddha. What is unique about his teaching, his explanation of dependent arising free of extremes, is highlighted in the opening verses of Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’.

I prostrate to the Perfect Buddha,
The best of teachers, who taught that
Whatever is dependently arisen is
Unceasing, unborn,
Unannihilated, not permanent,
Not coming, not going,
Without distinction, without identity,
And peaceful - free from fabrications.

“Things exist in conventional terms but are dependent on other factors, causes and conditions.

“We say I take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, but what does this mean. The Buddha is not just someone who appeared at a moment in history 2600 years ago. What is extraordinary about him is the Dharma Jewel within him. This refers to his achievement of the true path and true cessation it gives rise to.

A view of many of the 50,000 people attending the second day of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings at the Yiga Choezin teaching ground in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India on April 9, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
“What he has seen as free from the eight extremes of arising and ceasing, being non-existent and being permanent, coming and going, being multiple and being singular, he has seen as a result of his own effort. He has achieved cessation by overcoming the defilements of his own mind through realizing the suchness of how things are. This corresponds to the quantum physics observation that nothing has objective existence. His achievement of true cessation and the true path qualifies him as a Sangha Jewel.

“The Buddha is the teacher; the Dharma is the actual refuge and the Sangha are those who assist on the path. The Buddha is called a teacher not a refuge because he shows the path through teaching. He teaches the truth that leads us to liberation. He is not someone who washes away unwholesomeness, or removes sufferings with his hand, or who transfers his realization to others. We too should practise the teaching in order to attain the path and cessation. To understand what the Dharma jewel is we need to understand what emptiness is and we can do this by understanding dependent arising.”

Before starting the ritual procedures for the empowerment, His Holiness gave a reading transmission of a Guru Yoga he composed in the 60s called the ‘Inseparability of the Spiritual Master from Avalokiteshvara’. When it came to the name mantra he remarked that one of his names, Jampel or Manjushri, was given to him at his first ordination by Reting Rinpoche and was later dropped. In due course he chose to restore it.

His Holiness distinguished the perfection vehicle from the resultant vehicle of tantra; the sutra system and the tantric system. Of the four classes of tantra, he said the empowerment of the 1000 Armed 1000 Eyed Avalokiteshvara belongs to kriya tantra and the lotus lineage. It came from the transmission of Bhikshuni Lakshmi in India. He said he received it first from Tagdag Rinpoche and again later from his Senior Tutor Ling Rinpoche. He also affirmed that he has completed the required retreat.

A young member of the crowd listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on the second day of his teachings at the Yiga Choezin teaching ground in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India on April 9, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
Before continuing with the empowerment, His Holiness said he would read the ‘37 Practices of Bodhisattvas’ without stopping to explain much because of a shortage of time.

“The author Thogme Sangpo of Ngulchu was a contemporary of Buton Rinpoche, a great scholar and renowned as a bodhisattva. His realization of bodhichitta was such that birds and wild animals, a fox among them, gathered around him. He composed this work to encourage his disciples to practise too. I received it from Khunu Lama Rinpoche.

“Practice of the Dharma is about transforming the mind such that it becomes the mind of a Buddha. We have a pristine awareness, a primordially pure mind, that is our Buddha nature. Drawbacks occur because we have not been able to tame our minds. Suffering arises fundamentally from ignorance. Not just not knowing, but a distorted view that is the opposite of reality as it is. As we appreciate reality, ignorance diminishes. It’s like seeing something in the distance that looks like a human being. The closer we get the more obvious it is that it’s a scarecrow or cairn.”

The text speaks of cherishing your spiritual teachers which His Holiness observed means appreciating their qualities. He remarked that he’d heard that in parts of Kham the greatness of a Lama is measured by the number of horses in his caravan, which he said is just ignorant. He was reminded of the story of someone visiting an Abbot in Kham, finding him away and being told that he’d gone to the village to scare the old people. His Holiness said that since Buddhism is to do with liberation and omniscience it is not to be used to scare people. It should be about generating confidence and inspiration that we have the opportunity of a human life to practise.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama granting the Avalokiteshvara Empowerment at the Yiga Choezin teaching ground in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India on April 9, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
Responding to the line ‘What worldly god can give you protection?’ His Holiness spoke about the worship of Shugden. He said that from 1951 he too had done it, but stopped after having strange experiences. He mentioned that he discovered that historically the 5th Dalai Lama had tried to appease the spirit and had resorted to wrathful means to subdue it. He’d written about how Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen was not the actual reincarnation of Tulku Gelek Palsang, the successor to Panchen Sonam Drakpa. He had also described Gyalpo Shugden as a spirit arisen through wrong prayers who harmed the Dharma and sentient beings. His Holiness talked about how all this emerged from investigating trouble that took place in Ganden Jangtse, how he stopped the practice and investigated whether to encourage others to stop it too.

His Holiness suggested that regarding the protector chapel on the side as more important than the statue of the Buddha in the front as indicating mistaken priorities. In his brisk continued reading of the text, he pointed out where the verses outline the practice of the six perfections.

After giving the upasaka and upasaki precepts of lay practitioners in the course of the empowerment, he remarked that the fourfold Sangha was complete. He noted that although Bhikshuni ordination had not been established in the Tibetan tradition, now there were Geshemas as well as Getsulmas.

From the Yiga Choezin teaching ground His Holiness drove to Ugyen Ling where the birthplace of Gyalwa Tsangyang Gyatso, the 6th Dalai Lama, is preserved. After participating in a brief tsog offering, he had lunch with invited guests in the temple upstairs. After lunch he drove on, stopping on the way to greet children and staff of the Manjushri School, to the Dorje Khandu Memorial Museum.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, accompanied by Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu, viewing exhibits at the Dorjee Khandu Memorial Museum in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India on April 9, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
He was invited to inaugurate the Museum and Jangchub Chorten established in tribute to the present Chief Minister’s late father, who had also been Chief Minister and someone His Holiness counted as a friend. He unveiled the plaque recording the consecration, inaugurated the innovative and well-appointed Museum and took a brief tour inside. His Holiness showed a keen interest in the materials related to Dorje Khandu’s life, and also in the account of his own escape from Tibet and arrival in Tawang in 1959. He recorded his own testimonial to his late friend and willingly complied with a request to leave his handprints on a picture on the wall. He planted a tree in the garden outside.

Back at Tawang Monastery once more, the monks had assembled in the temple. The new Abbot modestly requested His Holiness to give some words of advice to the monks. He said that he was trying to do his best to fulfil what he understood to be His Holiness’s wishes and build on what his predecessors had done to improve education. He reported that there are currently nearly 400 monks resident and more than 100 studying elsewhere.

His Holiness reminded them that the Tibetan Buddhist tradition had been established by Abbot Shantarakshita, but that in Tibet people were no longer free to study and practice as they chose. He recalled that when he took his Geshe exams there were 10,000 monks at Drepung Monastery and several thousand at Sera. He said he’s been told that these days in Drepung there are barely 40 monks. He stressed how valuable it is that throughout the Himalayan region there is a freedom to study and practice and he urged the monks to take advantage of it.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to the monks of Tawang Monastery in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India on April 9, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
He asked about the monastery routine and hearing that the day starts at 4 or 5 o’clock with prayers suggested that the younger monks need more time to sleep. He dwelt on the importance of monasteries and nunneries being of good quality, which he clarified did not mean having big buildings, but study and practice of good quality going on inside.

When it was pointed out to him that there are also two nunneries under the auspices of Tawang Monastery he encouraged the nuns too. He told them that now the first group of nuns have qualified as Geshemas it should be possible for other grades of degree to be awarded to nuns. For example, on completion of the Perfection of Wisdom and Middle Way classes they could perhaps earn a Rabjampa degree.

He also looked forward to more nuns taking up teaching and recounted watching school children skilfully debating in a settlement near Nagpur. He had asked who their teacher and was pleasantly surprised that she was a nun. He said he had praised her good work.

Tomorrow, at Yiga Choezin again, His Holiness will give the Rinzin Dhondup Empowerments in the morning. This will be followed in the afternoon by a public talk at the Kala Wangpo Convention Centre.

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His Holiness the Dalai Lama Gives Buddhist Teachings to 50,000 in Tawang

Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India, 8 April 2017 - Despite forecasts of thunderstorms in the vicinity, this morning the sun shone on the distant hills and there were large patches of blue in the skies over Tawang. His Holiness the Dalai Lama too was in a jovial mood when he emerged from his rooms at the top of the Dukhang, the main temple of the 17th century Tawang Monastery. He stopped frequently to greet well-wishers on his way to a waiting car that would carry him to the Yiga Choezin teaching ground lower down the hill. His first task on reaching there, accompanied by Chief Minister Pema Khandu, was to unveil a plaque inaugurating the Gyalwa Tsangyang Gyatso High Altitude Sports Complex and the foundation stone for a prospective Government Degree College.

His Holiness greeted the crowd, estimated to number 50,000, as he walked to the throne that had been set up at the front of a temple pavilion. He paid particular attention to the senior citizens who had been accommodated in the front rows, leaning over the rail to speak to them directly.

The Chief Minister spoke first, thanking His Holiness on behalf of the people of Mönyul not only for coming to Tawang once again, but also for enduring the long journey by road that brought him to the threshold of many people’s homes. He recalled that after His Holiness crossed the border at Kenzamani in early April 1959 Tawang was the first Indian soil to receive the blessings of his presence. Tawang Monastery was also then the first place where he gave a Buddhist teaching. He praised His Holiness as an ambassador of non-violence, who is to the 21st century what Gandhi-ji was to the twentieth. Noting that Tawang was the birthplace of the Sixth Dalai Lama, the Chief Minister requested His Holiness to consider giving the Kalachakra Empowerment there. He ended with prayers for His Holiness‘s good health and long life.

His Holiness began his address by acknowledging how touched he is by the faith and devotion the Mönpa people show him. He told them how fondly he remembers passing through this region in 1959. He added how pleased he was to have just unveiled the foundation stone for a new educational institution.

“Human happiness arises from affection,” he said. “The greater the love and compassion there is among you, the happier and more contented you feel. When someone among you is angry, it disturbs you all. I believe we can ensure that the 21st century is an era of peace by more widely cultivating compassion. I was due to reach here by helicopter, but as it turned out I came by road with the added benefit of making contact with far more people on the way. I’d like to thank every one of you who came out to welcome me.

Some of the more than 50,000 people attending His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teaching at the Yiga Choezin teaching ground in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India on April 8, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
“In 1959, the situation in Lhasa was desperate and slipping out of control. I tried to resolve the situation without success. Since 1956 the PLA had used military force to effect change in Do-mey and Do-kham and we had run out of means to mollify them. Prime Minister Nehru organized help from the point where I crossed the border. I met him first in Beijing and later in India in 1956 had discussions with him about the situation in Tibet. When I had to flee Lhasa in 1959, it was only once I crossed the border into India here that I felt free of risk and danger. The local people showered me with respect and devotion and treated the many Tibetans who came after me with immense kindness.

“The Chief Minister has requested me to give a Kalachakra Empowerment here. I can’t promise anything now, but I’ll keep it in mind. The main purpose would be for you all to become more acquainted with the Dharma. Right now I’m going to read through the ‘Stages of Meditation’, which explains the basis, path and result, and also touches on how to develop calm abiding and special insight meditation.

“Nyengön Sungrab draws a distinction between Buddhist teachings that belong to the general structure and those that have been framed with particular disciples in mind. The Four Noble Truths and 37 Factors Aligned with Enlightenment that we find in the Pali tradition and the Perfection of Wisdom teachings of the Sanskrit tradition belong to the general structure. Whether the Buddha taught them in the guise of a monk or having arisen as the deity of the mandala, the Tantras are teachings framed for specific disciples. In Tibet teachings of the general structure spread far and wide, there are the 18 treatises of the Sakyas and the 13 classic texts of the Nyingmas, but there seems to have been much more eager interest in tantric instructions.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his teaching at the Yiga Choezin teaching ground in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India on April 8, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
“No matter how long you spend in retreat and no matter how many mantras you recite, if your mind is not transformed the practice isn’t of much help. However, if you think about love and compassion and try to understand emptiness over several years, you’ll see a change in yourself. I myself do deity-yoga practices, but what has really enabled me to transform my mind has been meditating on emptiness and dependent arising, as well as on love and compassion.

“The Nyingma tradition speaks of the Nine Yanas or Vehicles, the three outer vehicles of the Hearers, Solitary Realizers and Bodhisattvas; the three inner vehicles of Vedic-like asceticism, the kriya, ubhaya and yoga tantras and the three secret vehicles of powerful transformative methods maha, anu and ati yoga.”

His Holiness explained that the ‘Stages of Meditation’ was composed in Tibet at the request of Trisong Detsen, while ‘37 Practices of Bodhisattvas’ was written by a Tibetan master, acclaimed as a Bodhisattva, who was known as Gyalsay—Son of the Conqueror—Thogme Sangpo. It teaches about the awakening mind of bodhichitta. His Holiness reminded his listeners that before beginning to read these texts, both teacher and disciples should examine their motivation.

He reported how impressed he had been when he read of a lama called Tseley Rangdol who made three pledges in relation to his teaching: not to ride animals from place to place, to eat only vegetarian food and not to take any payment for his teaching. The hermit Gotshangpa also said that lamas should not teach for material gain. His Holiness added that disciples too should have a proper motivation, quoting Aryadeva’s ‘400 Verses’ as saying, “get rid of unwholesome deeds, get rid of wrong view, and get rid of all distorted views of objectification.” His Holiness recommended looking into the faults of destructive emotions, developing a determination to be free and cultivating the aspiration for enlightenment of the Bodhisattva ideal.

Some of the more than 50,000 people listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teaching at the Yiga Choezin teaching ground in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India on April 8, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
Mentioning that his second commitment is to encourage the development of religious harmony, His Holiness remarked that just as it’s absurd to suggest that there is one medicine that is the best for treating all ailments, it’s absurd to suggest that there is a religion that is best for everyone.

As he began to read Kamalashila’s ‘Stages of Meditation’, His Holiness disclosed that he received it from Sakya Abbot Sangye Tenzin, who had received it at Samye from a Khampa Lama who may have been a student of Khenpo Shenga. He went through it rapidly touching on what the mind is, training the mind, compassion and developing equanimity, the root of loving-kindness. The text also referred to the practice of calm-abiding and how to actualize special insight, the notion that it is not that things don’t exist, it’s just that they don’t exist as they appear to do.

After lunch His Holiness met with members of the press. He started by telling them about his commitment to promoting human values, principally compassion. He told them that scientists’ conclusion that basic human nature is compassionate is a sign of hope that would be absent if it was anger instead. He lamented that modern education is too oriented to material goals and insufficiently concerned with inner values. He announced that later this month he will meet with co-compilers of a curriculum for inculcating secular ethics in school and university students. He also voiced his support for religious harmony and his admiration for the way it has long flourished here in India. Finally, he mentioned having devolved all his political responsibilities to an elected leadership, but remaining keenly concerned about Tibetan ecology and keeping Tibetan culture and language alive.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking with members of the press at Yiga Choezin in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India on April 8, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
Interest in his successor led to His Holiness being asked directly where the 15th Dalai Lama will be born. He replied, “Nobody knows. I pray I’ll continue to be able to be of service to sentient beings, but I sometimes doubt if I’m even the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama.” When another journalist mentioned that the Chinese government has asserted it is their right to make a decision about his successor, His Holiness called it nonsense. He conceded that in the past the Chinese Emperor had taken an interest in the recognition of the Dalai Lama, but that was when the Emperors considered themselves spiritual disciples.

“If the Chinese government wants to be involved in this they should first announce their acceptance of the theory of reincarnation. Then they should recognise reincarnations of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping for their claim to have any legitimacy.”

When it was suggested that the people of Tawang would dearly love to have a Dalai Lama born amongst them again, His Holiness responded that there are people who say the same thing in Ladakh and even in Europe too. He reiterated that as early as 1969, in his March 10th statement, he had made it clear that whether or not there should be another Dalai Lama was up to the Tibetan peoples. He accepts that if they decide that it is an institution that is no longer relevant, it will cease. He expects Tibetan refugees, Mongolians and people of the Himalayan region from Ladakh to Tawang to have a say in this decision.

He mentioned that later this year he may resume discussions with prominent Tibetan spiritual leaders on how to proceed. He admitted that he has answered the question about whether a future Dalai Lama could be a woman with his own question, “Why not? There are already precedents of high female reincarnations.”
He repeated a response he first gave in Newark some years ago, taking off his glasses and challenging his questioners, “Look at my face. Do you think this talk of my reincarnation is urgent?” 

Finally, he was asked how he stays so well and answered,

“I sometimes answer this, ‘That’s my secret,” but the truth is because of peace of mind. That and consistently getting nine hours sleep. I turn in at about 6.30 in the evening and get up at 3.30 the following morning to do 4 - 5 hours of meditation. Not just shutting my eyes and relaxing the mind, but engaging in intense analysis about, for example, dependent arising and how it relates to reality.”

Tomorrow, His Holiness will give an empowerment in relation to the Thousand Armed, Thousand Eyed Avalokiteshvara and visit Ugyen Ling, the birthplace of Tsangyang Gyatso, the 6th Dalai Lama.

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His Holiness the Dalai Lama Drives from Dirang to Tawang

Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India, 7 April 2017 - When His Holiness the Dalai Lama came downstairs to leave Thupsung Dhargyeling Monastery this morning, the sun was shining on the hills in the distance and there was a welcome blue in the sky. From the veranda of the monastery he greeted a group of local people sitting on ground below waiting to see him, telling them once again how important it is to develop a sound understanding of what the Buddha taught. Before leaving Dirang he stopped to visit the temple lower in the town from where he gave the Kalachakra Empowerment to 5000 people in 1983.

The road from Dirang climbed steadily until the 4170 metre Sela Pass which marks the end of West Kameng district and the beginning of Tawang. At each village on the way people were gathered to greet His Holiness as he passed. Adults were mostly dressed in traditional Mönpa costume, while many of the children were in school uniform. On the pass, snow could be seen here and there, but the road was clear. His Holiness and his party were offered tea and refreshments before continuing their journey.

On the descent from the pass His Holiness stopped for lunch at Mönpalpung Jangchub Chökhorling, a Karma Kagyu Monastery in the town of Jang. In addition to prayer flags and the international Buddhist flag, the Gyalwang Karmapa’s ‘dream flag’ flew prominently along the road. Since so many people had gathered to welcome him His Holiness briefly spoke to them from the steps of the monastery. He told them that Vasubandhu wrote that the Buddha’s teachings can be categorized as scriptural and realizational and the only way to preserve them is through study and practice. That is what he urged them to do.

From Jang His Holiness drove on towards Tawang. The closer he reached to the town the more people thronged the road to greet him. Almost everywhere they made billowing smoke offerings from piles of burning juniper leaves. In many places too tables had been set up bearing traditional offerings and statues to be consecrated as he passed. Often chairs were arranged for the expected guest. And in villages all along the way was a profusion of delightful potted plants colourfully in bloom. On the outskirts of the town mixed groups of local people danced and sang and Snow Lion dancers performed in joyful welcome.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama arriving at Tawang Monastery in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India on April 7, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
Arriving at Tawang Monastery His Holiness was accorded traditional hospitality. Monks played horns as he was escorted into the temple under a ceremonial umbrella. Once seated inside butter tea and sweet rice were served while he spoke briefly.

“Tashi Delek to everyone. Today I’ve come through many places that are traditionally Buddhist, where people expressed their devotion by waiting on the road. I’ll be teaching more over the next few days so there’s no need for me to say much now. The real temple should be built in the mind—try to create the wisdom of Manjushri in your brain and the compassion of Avalokiteshvara in your heart. If you can do that, that’ll be a real blessing. It seems to me that since I first passed through this region in 1959 interest in the teachings has revived and developed.

“One of the characteristics of Buddhism is its ability to explain philosophical points of view on the basis of reason. If we study rigorously and develop a sound understanding of what the Buddha taught, his teaching will survive for many more centuries. From Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh people’s interest and awareness of the Buddha’s teachings has lately been growing. In the past there were many monasteries in Tibet and the Himalayan region, but effective study and education took place mostly in the great centres of learning. More and more I am encouraging monasteries like this to organize classes in which anyone who is interested can learn and strengthen their faith and understanding.

“We haven’t got much time, but I daily dedicate my body, speech and mind to the service of others as Nagarjuna advises:

May I always be an object of enjoyment
For all sentient beings according to their wish
And without interference, as are the earth,
Water, fire, wind, herbs, and wild forests.

“So I’ll be explaining how to practice over the next three days. “

Tomorrow, at Yiga Choezin, His Holiness will begin to teach the middle volume of Kamalashila’s ‘Stages of Meditation’ and Thogme Sangpo’s ‘37 Practices of a Bodhisattva’.

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At Thupsung Dhargyeling Monastery an Inaugural Ceremony, Teaching and Avalokiteshvara Permission

Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh, India, 6 April 2017 - This morning the day began in the new temple of Thupsung Dhargyeling Monastery with the recitation of the Guru Puja or Lama Chöpa. As many women’s voices as men’s could be heard. The Hon Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Kiren Rijuju, whose native village is nearby, met His Holiness the Dalai Lama to welcome him to Dirang. Since Parliament is in session and his presence was required in the Lok Sabha, Rijuju was unable to attend the morning’s inaugural ceremony at the monastery.

His Holiness descended from his quarters on the top floor of the temple in the only elevator in the entire district and took his seat between the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, Padmanabha Acharya and Chief Minister Pema Khandu. The occasion began with a mandala of the universe and representations of the body, speech and mind of enlightenment being offered to His Holiness. This was followed by an exemplary debate by members of the lay community, both women and men.

Ven Thupten Rinpoche read a report about the establishment of the monastery during which he was several times overcome with emotion. He attributed the inspiration for the creation of the institution to His Holiness’s persistent advice to establish a centre of learning where people could readily study the Nalanda Tradition in Arunachal Pradesh. He said they had done so, providing the best facilities they could find.

He declared that the intention was to provide opportunities for both monastics and laypeople to study the scriptures and in particular the classic works of the Seventeen Masters of Nalanda. The aim is to educate with a view to training people with moral stature and a kind heart. He described a programme that includes introductory classes three times a week and a more serious course in Buddhism, Bhoti language (Tibetan) and Buddhist history to run for one and a half months a year, for which students will be awarded a certificate after four years. He mentioned plans for a retreat programme and an annual fasting retreat. Thupten Rinpoche expressed gratitude for His Holiness’s guidance so far and sought his further advice.

Members of the media at the inaugural ceremony of the new temple at Thubsung Dhargyeling Monastery in Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh, India on April 6, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
In his remarks, TN Thongdok, Speaker of the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly expressed appreciation of His Holiness’s kindness in coming by road when the helicopter flight was called off. He noted that when His Holiness first came through the region in 1959, although it was historically Buddhist, interest had waned. He said it was due to His Holiness’s repeated visits and the inspiration he gave the people that interest in study and practice had very much revived.

The Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, Shri Padmanabha Acharya welcomed His Holiness on behalf of the people of the state. He called today an auspicious day, saying that His Holiness’s presence was a source of strength and inspiration.

“Dear brothers and sisters,” His Holiness began, “I always start by greeting people as brothers and sisters, because the reality is that this is what we 7 billion human beings are. If this is what we emphasize there’ll be no basis for bullying or cheating, much less killing one another. Scientists have shown through experiments with pre-language infants that basic human nature is compassionate. They have also found evidence that living in constant anger, hatred, fear and suspicion has the effect of undermining our immune system. That compassion is beneficial and anger and fear are detrimental is the same for all of us 7 billion human beings.

“Many of the problems we face today, such as the huge gap between rich and poor, are of our own making. Here in India too there is caste discrimination, which is now inappropriate and out of date. We are all human beings with the same rights and aspirations to be happy. I consider myself to be just one of them. I don’t think about being a Buddhist, a Tibetan or the Dalai Lama in ways that set me apart and create barriers with others that would only leave me lonely. I am fully committed to promoting the oneness of humanity and the importance of our human values, with a view to individuals, families and communities being happy.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, seated between Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, Padmanabha Acharya and Chief Minister Pema Khandu, addressing the audience at the inaugural ceremony of the new temple at Thubsung Dhargyeling Monastery in Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh, India on April 6, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
Citing his changed travel plans as an example of turning a difficulty to advantage he said:

“The other day flying from Guwahati to Dibrugarh there was such turbulence I thought my end had come. As a result we decided to travel by road instead of helicopter. The benefit has been that I have seen far more people on the road that I would otherwise have done and they have been able to see me.”

His Holiness remarked that of the great ancient civilizations of Egypt, China and the Indus Valley, he feels that the Indus Valley ultimately gave rise to a greater number of great thinkers. Buddhism, especially the Nalanda Tradition, as part of this trend, eventually spread virtually throughout Asia. He referred to the key concepts of emptiness of intrinsic existence and dependent arising that in his experience enable us to tackle our destructive emotions.

He suggested that the Buddha was not only the founder of Buddhism, but also a great thinker and a scientist who advised his followers not to accept his teaching at face value but to examine and investigate it in the light of reason. Scholars of the past like Nagarjuna and Buddhapalita had done just that.

Members audience listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at Thubsung Dhargyeling Monastery in Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh, India on April6, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
“Modern Indians are too inclined to emulate Westerners and modern education is too oriented to material goals with too little attention paid to inner peace. We live in a time of moral crisis, which will not be solved by relying only on prayer, but by training the mind and confronting our destructive emotions. On the one hand we need a sense of universal values derived from common experience, common sense and scientific findings and on the other we need to combine modern education with ancient Indian knowledge of the workings of the mind and emotions.”

With regard to his hopes to see a centre of learning emerge at this monastery His Holiness commented:

“You’ve done wonderful work here; I really appreciate what you’ve achieved so far. Thank you.”

In concluding the ceremony Thubten Rinpoche presented a statue of the Buddha to His Holiness, the Governor and Chief Minister. Local MLA Phurpa Tsering, giving the vote of thanks, expressed “gratitude to His Holiness for coming and blessing this land.” The guests convened upstairs for lunch.

In the early afternoon, His Holiness went down to the teaching pavilion perched above an extensive ground on which an estimated 20,000 people had gathered to listen to him. He explained what he was going to do.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to a crowd of 20,000 in Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh, India on April 6, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
“Today I’m here with you again. The original plan had been to fly to Tawang, but the weather changed that. I’m here earlier than anticipated and the teaching I’m going to give is the permission of Chenresig Who Liberates from Unfortunate Realms and before that the ‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’. Right away I’m going to give you a reading transmission of the Guru Yoga, the ‘Inseparability of the Spiritual Master from Avalokiteshvara’ so you can recite it while I do the preparations for the other permission.”

During the recitation of the Guru Yoga and the accompanying tsog offering women notably took an equal part in the proceedings. They took part in the chanting, playing the music and the actual offering of the tsog to His Holiness.

“We’re not here for the purpose of business or entertainment,” His Holiness observed. “What people in the world are failing to do today is to use their minds to generate happiness; they are lost instead in sensory experience. All religious traditions have ways of contributing to mental peace, but where faith otherwise predominates what distinguishes Buddhism is that it employs faith supported by wisdom. It directs us to use our intelligence. Ignorance gives rise to unhappiness, but we can overcome it with insight into reality.

“Some refer to Buddhism as science of the mind and it does help us transform our minds by harnessing understanding. Where disturbing emotions like anger and attachment are rooted in ignorance, the Buddha’s teaching is rooted in insight into reality. Scientists appreciate the ideas of dependent arising and I’ve asked if they have anything corresponding to it, but they tell me ‘not yet’.”

Some of the estimated 20,000 people attending His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teaching in Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh, India on April 6, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
His Holiness asked the audience to open the books they had been given to read the ‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’. He clarified that the text is about using the mind to develop happiness rather than getting lost in sensory pleasure.

He mentioned that Tibetan Emperor Trisong Detsen invited Shantarakshita to Tibet who established Buddhism on Tibetan soil. Two centuries later the tradition had declined and Atisha was invited to restore it. He founded the Kadampa tradition that the author of this text, Langri Thangpa belonged to. His Holiness recalled that he received this teaching first as a child from Tagdag Rinpoche and later from his junior tutor Trijang Rinpoche.

The text teaches Bodhichitta, the compassionate aspect of the path as well as the profound aspect of emptiness. He remarked that a Bodhisattva has two focuses—other beings and enlightenment—and works to attain enlightenment on the basis of wisdom. He read steadily through the verses commenting briefly on them until the advice in the final stanza to avoid being sullied by thoughts of the eight worldly concerns and seeing all things as illusions, without attachment, to gain freedom from bondage.

His Holiness then embarked on the permission of Chenresig Who Liberates from Unfortunate Realms, reporting that the practice derives from a vision experienced by Tagphu Dorje Chang, who was famously blessed by Arya Tara. He said there is a tradition that every time an individual receives it, one life in the lower realm is shut off. In the course of the ritual, His Holiness led a ceremony for generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta, concluding with several verses of rejoicing.

Tomorrow, His Holiness will leave Dirang by road to drive to Tawang, a journey that will take him over the 4170 metre Sela Pass.

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Teaching, Long-life Empowerment, Monastery Visit and a Talk at Bomdila

Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh, India, 5 April 2017 - When His Holiness the Dalai Lama came down to the courtyard of Thubchok Gatsel Ling Monastery this morning he spoke first to a group of young monks and observed them debate. He then also spoke briefly to a group of adult lay people who have formed their own study group. He praised their efforts and urged them to continue.  Before leaving, he unveiled the foundation stone for a new assembly hall.

His Holiness drove the short distance to the Bomdila Buddha Park further up the hill. After saluting the crowd, estimated to number 15,000, he seated himself on the throne. Explaining that he had to spend a short time preparing for the White Tara Long-Life Empowerment he was going to give, he requested the audience to recite Tara mantras while he did so.

“We are gathered today for you to listen to a teaching of the Buddha,” he began. “A long time ago people worshipped the sun and moon in the belief that they gave them protection. Later, religions emerged that also incorporated a philosophical point of view. The common intention of almost all these religions is to help people become better human beings. They all teach love and compassion, tolerance and forgiveness, and have long benefited humanity.

“All the world’s major religions flourish in India. These include indigenous traditions like the Samkhya, Mimamsa and Vedanta schools, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism as well as traditions originating elsewhere. They live here harmoniously. They all teach love and compassion, which accords with basic human nature and is what humanity needs. We are social animals and without a sense of compassion for each other we won’t be happy. Whether we are religious or not there is a need for love and compassion in the world.

Members of the crowd listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Buddha Park in Bomdila, AP, India on April 5, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
“I’m going to talk about what the Buddha taught, which can be differentiated from other traditions by its philosophical point of view. Some traditions believe in a creator god. Others like Jainism, non-theistic Samkhya and Buddhism don’t assert a creator, they teach that whatever pain and pleasure we experience is a result of actions we have done, rather than anything to do with god. What differentiates Buddhism further is its assertion of selflessness. This is not a denial of any self at all, a self functions, but selflessness means there is no independent, autonomous, permanent entity separate from our body and mind.

“I am a Buddhist and I have studied Buddhist philosophy, which I admire, but I can’t say it’s the best, that’s a question of what benefits an individual most. It’s like not being able to say that one medicine is suitable for all occasions. And although all food should be nourishing, it doesn’t make sense to say this or that is the best food. The Buddha gave different explanations according to the dispositions of the people listening to him. According to the 'The Extensive Sport Sutra' (Lalitavistara Sutra) he said to himself:

Profound and peaceful, free from complexity, uncompounded luminosity-
I have found a nectar-like Dharma.
Yet if I were to teach it, no-one would understand,
So I shall remain silent here in the forest.

His Holiness explained that at the time few were likely to be amenable to the idea of selflessness, although the Buddha thought his five previous companions might come round to it. He taught them the Four Noble Truths, the truth of suffering, its cause, cessation and path. He further elaborated four characteristics of each of the Noble Truths.

A view of the pavilion at Buddha Park, venue for His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teaching in Bomdila, AP, India on April 5, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
The truth of suffering, for example, can be understood as being impermanent, in the nature of suffering, empty and selfless. The characteristics of the truth of the cause of suffering are being a cause, an origin, strong production and a condition. The truth of cessation  can be understood in terms of cessation, pacification, being superb and definite emergence (from the cycle of existence), while the truth of the path is characterized in terms of its being a path, awareness, an achievement and deliverance.

Clarifying that the Four Noble Truths reveal the law of causality—suffering arises from its cause, but the path also gives rise to cessation—His Holiness noted that the first two Noble Truths show how suffering comes about, while the second two show to overcome it and leave the cycle of existence. He quoted the Buddha as saying, ‘Suffering must be known, the origin must be overcome, liberation must be achieved and the path must be cultivated.’

His Holiness made clear that along with the Four Noble Truths the Buddha explained the 37 factors aligned with enlightenment, which include the 4 foundations of mindfulness, the 4 supreme endeavours, the 4 miraculous feet, the 5 strengths, the 5 faculties, 7 means to enlightenment and the Noble Eightfold Path. These are all related to the first turning of the wheel of Dharma. He added that during the second turning of the wheel, the Buddha taught the Perfection of Wisdom.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the White Tara Long-Life Empowerment at Buddha Park in Bomdila, AP, India on April 5, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
“In order understand cessation properly, you need to understand what ignorance is and how to overcome it—that’s where an understanding of emptiness comes in. One aspect of the third turning of the wheel is an interpretation of what was explained in the second turning with regard to the three natures and how they are defined: imputed nature has no intrinsic existence; dependent nature is not self-created and ultimate nature has no ultimate, independent existence. And with regard to secret mantra or Vajrayana, the ‘Tathagata-garbha Sutra’ teaches that the mind is primordially pure. All aspects of mind are pervaded by pristine awareness. We use this primordial mind and transform it when we visualize ourselves arising as a deity.”

As he began to grant the White Tara Long-Life Empowerment, His Holiness asked how Buddhas help beings and made clear that it’s by teaching about reality as it is to dispel ignorance. He referred to the depiction of the Wheel of Life pointing out that at the hub ignorance is shown as a pig which gives rise to desire, the rooster, and hatred, the snake. He also mentioned that in the outer rim the twelve links of dependent arising are depicted beginning again with ignorance portrayed as an elderly blind person.

During the Long-Life Empowerment His Holiness led a ceremony for generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta. At the end he urged everyone in attendance whether they were lay people or monastics to study as well as they can.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama arriving at Gontse Rabgyeling Monastery in Bomdila, AP, India on April 5, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
His Holiness drove to the nearby Gontse Rabgyeling Monastery, where the last stretch of the road was lined by small boys who are students there. He was given a traditional welcome and, after paying his respects before the various sacred images, sat on a chair. The abbot read a report that stated that the monastery as it was in Tibet dated back to the time of the 5th Dalai Lama. It was re-established in Bomdila in 1965 and, because of its historical link to Drepung Loselling Monastery, four Geshes were invited from there to teach. It has established a school to provide modern education as well as monastic training. The abbot ended with a prayer that His Holiness visit again and again and that the unmistaken reincarnation of the late Tsona Rinpoche be found.

“The Tsona Rinpoche before last,” His Holiness replied, “was a contemporary of Ling Rinpoche and may have attended the same debate yard. Ling Rinpoche told me he was not an especially distinguished scholar until it came to Vinaya, at which he excelled. In exile, Ling Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche and Tsona Rinpoche were close friends.

“The late Tsona Rinpoche was a brilliant monk when he was young. He was clever and a good scholar and a misfortune occurred in relation to his untimely death. He started building this monastery and it’s to your credit that you have completed it. I’m glad to know that you are making efforts to provide opportunities for study. For some time now I have encouraged ritual monasteries to incorporate such opportunities to study and nunneries too. Consequently, twenty nuns were recently awarded Geshe-ma degrees.”

After he had watched a demonstration of young monks’ prowess in debate, the monastery invited His Holiness to lunch.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the High School Auditorium Bomdila, AP, India on April 5, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
In the High School Auditorium, after lunch, His Holiness spoke to a gathering of 300 of Bomdila’s great and the good. He told them about his own commitments, that wherever he goes he talks about the urgent need for human values, an appreciation of the oneness of humanity, and concern for others’ well-being. He also mentioned his dedication to promoting religious harmony. As a Tibetan, despite retiring completely from any political responsibility, he is concerned to keep Tibetan culture alive and see the Tibetan environment better protected. Finally, after 58 years living in India he seeks to encourage Indians today to take a greater interest in what is to be learned from ancient Indian knowledge, particularly understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions.

His Holiness answered questions about the lack of punctuation marks in Tibetan language and whether Buddhists who are taught not to harm other creatures are vegetarian. He quoted a Sri Lankan monk who had told him that, because they depend on begging for their livelihood, Buddhist monks are neither vegetarian nor non-vegetarian. Questioned about being more effective in education he suggested that expressing affection for and genuine interest in their students rather than teaching merely mechanically is a good start.

Challenged to say why people should be religious when religion seems to have such capacity for causing trouble, His Holiness noted that the Pope recently said it was better to be a good human being than a stupid Christian and agreed that it was also better to be a good human being than a stupid Buddhist. Asked how to prepare for a peaceful death he suggested the first step is to be realistic, accept that death is a part of life and not to worry about it.

Leaving Bomdila by road, His Holiness drove to Dirang which lies in a substantially lower valley. Once again genial people proffering scarves and incense lined the route in villages along the way. Arriving at Thupsang Dhargyeling Monastery on a hill above the town he was given a traditional welcome. He cut a ribbon and pushed open the temple doors by way of inauguration and once inside unveiled a plaque to the same effect.

Tomorrow His Holiness will take part in a more formal inauguration program in the morning and will teach the ‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’ followed by an Avalokiteshvara permission in the afternoon.

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