Preliminary Teachings at Gyumey Tantric College
Hunsur, Karnataka, India, 9 December 2015 - When he left Bangalore yesterday, instead of travelling directly to Gyumey Tantric College in Hunsur, His Holiness the Dalai Lama elected to go to Mundgod. The purpose was to consecrate the newly completed Official Residence of the Ganden Throneholder. Consequently, he reached Hunsur late in the afternoon. Today, he started to teach promptly at 12 midday, after lunch. The elevator brought him from his quarters upstairs directly into the Gyumey temple. He paid his respects before the throne, greeted the pre-eminent Lamas, Ganden Tri Rinpoche, Sakya Dagtri, Sharpa Chöjey, Jangtse Chöjey and Ling Rinpoche, as well as abbots and former abbots and took his seat.
Verses of homage to the Buddha, the Heart of Wisdom Sutra, and the mandala offering were recited, followed by the Praise to the 17 Masters of Nalanda and the Praise to Jetsun Sherab Sengey, founder of the tantric college. Recitations complete, His Holiness began to address the gathering.
“Nowadays, there has been great material progress. At the same time Tibet has been in turmoil. Some of us came into exile and have been able not only to secure our livelihood, but also to preserve our traditions. These include our culture and the wisdom of the Nalanda masters, which can be verified through logic and reason. The Three Great Seats - Sera, Drepung and Ganden - Gyumey and Gyutö Tantric Colleges and Tashi Lhunpo have been instrumental in this.
“We’ve been in exile nearly 60 years. Many who came in 1959 have passed away, but among them were teachers inspired by the masters of Nalanda, who taught and nurtured the younger generation. In the past, when Je Tsongkhapa asked his disciples who would take care of his teaching, especially with regard to Guhyasamaja, Jetsun Sherab Sengey pledged to do so.
“Now, here, I’m going to give a Dharma discourse and the Guhyasamaja empowerment. Guhyasamaja is known as the King of Tantras. The essence of tantra is union and the attainment of the three bodies of a Buddha. Union refers to a union of body and mind. Guhyasamaja has special explanations of how to take the three states of death, intermediate state and birth into the path. Nagarjuna, Aryadeva and Chandrakirti all wrote about Guhyasamaja and of Je Tsongkhapa’s 18 volumes of collected writings, 5 volumes focus on that too. Without the Tantric Colleges, the explanation of Guhyasamaja would not have survived. I would like to thank everyone who has worked to create this opportunity.”
His Holiness mentioned the Stages of the Path teachings he has been giving at the request of Ling Rinpoche and said he will complete them this time at Tashi Lhunpo, where he will also consecrate the new assembly hall. He remarked that Tashi Lhunpo is known for the quality of its study of logic and epistemology; something Gendun Drup had encouraged.
His Holiness said that after receiving the Guhyasamaja empowerment from Ling Rinpoche he has done the generation stage practice every day. Since Je Rinpoche took it so seriously, he said, it’s important to try to implement the five stages of the path within you. Therefore, he urged his listeners to do the sadhana every day and if they can to do the retreat.
He said the common method employs recitation, but as Khedrup Rinpoche advised, if you can do the practice without saying the words it’s even better. His Holiness said that’s what he does when he has the time. He noted that Ling Rinpoche used to do the practice very thoroughly, repeating sections again if he ever got distracted. To do the practice requires training in the common practices of the awakening mind of bodhichitta and understanding of emptiness.
His Holiness announced that he would teach Tsongkhapa’s ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising’ and ‘Destiny Fulfilled’. He remarked that if you engage in the eight worldly concerns you’re not practising Dharma and without the awakening mind of bodhichitta your practice is not Mahayana.
“Before giving a Buddhist teaching I like to give some introductory background. Amongst the many thousands assembled here, nearly 9000 are from countries across the world. We commonly say ‘May all sentient beings have happiness and the causes of happiness’. Shantideva says ‘Those who do not exchange their own happiness for the suffering of others, surely do not achieve Buddhahood. How could they find happiness even in the cycle of existence?’ Meanwhile in the world today, people fight and even kill each other over religious differences. We are all the same as human beings, we all want happiness not suffering. So why do that? Why make others suffer? How can that bring happiness? In this context, the prayer, ‘May all mother sentient beings have happiness,' is very precious’
“We need to do what we can for others. Altruism is the root of happiness. The essence of religion is to have a kind heart. This is what all religious traditions teach. It’s the same message. There are differences of philosophical view, there are those who believe in a creator and those who don’t, but their common purpose is to promote love and compassion.
“Tibetan Buddhist traditions all look back to Indian sources. We all follow the same Buddha and uphold the traditions of Nalanda. Once, Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok attended when I gave the Guhyasamaja empowerment, this time Sakya Trizin is with us and I’d like to thank him for coming. When we were in Tibet it was rare for masters of different traditions to meet, but in exile we have not only been able to meet, but have become close to each other.
“Since we are all the same as human beings I work to promote human values. As a monk, I work to promote religious harmony and understanding. I am also a Tibetan in whom many Tibetans in Tibet have placed their hopes. So, although I have given up political responsibility, I still have a responsibility to help preserve the Tibetan language and the Nalanda tradition with its profound philosophical views and understanding of the functioning of the emotions. And I am very concerned about the state of Tibet’s ecology.”
His Holiness then began to read ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising’ at a brisk pace. He noted the need to overcome ignorance and that dependent arising overcomes the two extreme views. He recalled Ngodrup Tsognyi, who among his debating assistants was particularly sharp when it came to the Middle Way view, remarking on the importance of verse 19:
one will not depend on extreme views.
that renders you orator supreme.
Counselling his listeners to follow in Je Rinpoche’s footsteps, His Holiness began to read ‘Destiny Fulfilled’ which records how Tsongkhapa studied and practised. His Holiness remarked that the purpose of schools is to overcome ignorance, but their aim tends to be towards making material progress. He said that inner development is needed too.
His Holiness said he didn’t want to boast, but he’d heard and studied teachings about the Middle Way view and the awakening mind of bodhichitta since he was a child. To start with bodhichitta seemed a very distant prospect, but after he’d received Khunu Lama Rinpoche’s explanations, he felt cultivating it was at least feasible. He also mentioned that in the ‘60s reading a line in Tsongkhapa’s commentary on ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ - “things are mere designations” - struck him like a bolt of lightning. He said:
He then turned to the Seventh Dalai Lama’s ‘Song of the Four Mindfulnesses’, which deals with mindfulness of the teacher and mindfulness of the aspiration to enlightenment, citing as a source of inspiration verses in Je Rinpoche’s ‘Three Principal Aspects of the Path’:
Swept by the current of the four powerful rivers,
Tied by strong bonds of actions, so hard to undo,
Caught in the iron net of self-centredness,
Ceaselessly tormented by the three miseries
Think of them and generate the mind of enlightenment.
Finally, His Holiness began to read Choney Lama Lobsang Gyatso’s ‘Interspersed Commentary on (Tsongkhapa’s) In Praise of Dependent Arising’. He made clear that he would complete his reading prior to embarking on the preparatory procedures for the Guhyasamaja empowerment tomorrow. His Holiness returned to his quarters and the large crowd, which included 10,000 monks and nuns, began to disperse.