Living, Loving, Laughing and Dying: the Buddhist Way - Mumbai - Third Day

June 2nd 2014

Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, 1 June 2014 - His Holiness the Dalai Lama began the third day’s teaching session with an explanation taken from Shantideva’s book, ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting the audience at the start of the third day of his four day teaching at Somaiya Vidyavihar campus in Mumbai, India on June 1, 2014.
Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

“I’ve chosen to talk about Chapter 6 and Chapter 8 because Chapter 6 deals with anger and hatred, which are the greatest obstacles to developing infinite altruism, so it’s very helpful. Chapter 8 explains how useful altruism is. The awakening mind of bodhichitta involves a combination of infinite altruism with wisdom. The text we looked at yesterday dealt with cultivating positive action and eliminating negativity in the context of seeking higher status as a human being and wisdom as a cause of definite goodness. Today I’ll explain the essence of Chapter 6.”

He said we can distinguish two kinds of compassion, one that wishes for others to be free from suffering and a second determination that says: “May I be able to free others from suffering.” To fulfil this we need to know that suffering can be overcome. We need to recognise that suffering is derived from the three or five principal destructive emotions: ignorance, anger and attachment, to which we can add jealousy and pride. The root of these is ignorance to which the counter force is to know things as they are. Nagarjuna described ignorance as clinging to the appearance of things having inherent existence. His Holiness quoted Aryadeva’s saying in his ‘400 Verses’ that since ignorance pervades all the destructive emotions, when we eliminate ignorance the destructive emotions will be destroyed too.

How do we go about this? By coming to understand dependent origination. Self and others appear to have independent existence. When we recognise that all things depend on other factors, we recognise that they cannot be independent. Therefore, we need to put all our effort into understanding dependent origination. Ignorance is clinging to what is not real, but it is possible to overcome it. Our distorted views can be overcome.

Members of the audience listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the third day of his four day teaching at Somaiya Vidyavihar campus in Mumbai, India on June 1, 2014. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
Chapter 6 of Shantideva’s book focuses on patience and opens with the advice that all the goodness acquired over a long time through such acts as generosity can be destroyed by a moment of anger. Because the transformation of our destructive emotions needs to be accomplished voluntarily, we need to understand the pros and cons of anger and hatred. He points out that we will find neither peace nor joy when we have the thorn of hatred in our hearts. He offers the realistic and practical advice that if there is a remedy to a problem, anxiety and frustration have no place, and if there is no remedy, anxiety and frustration are of no help. Referring to the eight worldly concerns, he notes that we do not want our family and friends, or even ourselves, to suffer contempt or abuse, but we feel the opposite about our enemies.

Overcoming the real enemy of hatred takes courage. In the meanwhile we cultivate compassion for others free from arrogance, pity and condescension. Because the mind is not material, others can do it no harm. Although abusive words do the body no harm, so why does the mind become angry? This again relates to overcoming the eight worldly concerns. Why be angry with those who, in causing us suffering, are kind to us like the Buddhas, because they give us the opportunity to practice patience. Instead, we should feel gratitude and compassion for them.

If it is objected that our enemies have no intention to do us good, why regard medicine with trust and respect when it has no intention to help us either. No one else gives us the opportunity to practice patience than such adversaries; therefore we can regard them with respect. In this life good fortune, fame and happiness come about as a result of helping other sentient beings. Through the practice of patience we are good-looking, healthy, long-lived and happy.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering questions from the audience during the third day of his four day teaching at Somaiya Vidyavihar campus in Mumbai, India on June 1, 2014. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
His Holiness answered questions from the audience. He clarified that he chose to explain the essence of Chapters 6 & 8 of Shantideva’s book because the advice they provide for dealing with anger and generating an altruistic outlook are of value and benefit to everyone whatever their own faith. When someone expressed anxiety about the motives and conduct of other faith communities, His Holiness pointed out that the idea of there being only one faith and one truth may have been appropriate in the past and may be appropriate for an individual today. But as far as society is concerned we have to concede that there are several faiths and several truths. He said inter-religious conflict arises due to insufficient contact and understanding.

He added that some of the problems we face may persist for another 30-40 years, but if take steps to amend them now, in the long run things will change. This is why he promotes the idea of secular ethics, the importance of warm-heartedness based on the notion that we all belong to one human family. Differences of faith, race and nationality are secondary in this context. During his life, the Buddha made no attempt to convert everyone to Buddhism. We need to keep to our own faith, while respecting that of others.

Regarding the curriculum for introducing secular ethics into education that His Holiness has referred to, he said it is still being created. Scientists, educationists and concerned people are working on it in the USA, Europe and in Delhi. He confirmed that when it is ready, it will be made available and it can be run as a pilot project in schools. If it is successful, it can be implemented more widely.

In the afternoon, His Holiness was invited to address a group of business leaders at Somaiya Bhavan in South Mumbai. He greeted them as he usually does, saying:


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to business leaders at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, Somaiya Bhavan, Mumbai, India on June 1, 2014. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
“Brothers and sisters, it’s an honour for me to meet you. We are all the same as human beings; each of us has the ability to express trust and pleasure in a genuine smile. Of course, you may also be aware of the power of the artificial smile too. I’d like to tell you about my interests and commitments.”

He explained his commitment to promoting human values based on everyone’s wanting to live a happy life and each of us having a need for friends. He said that cultivating a genuine sense of concern for others’ well-being is the basis for the trust that makes happiness and friendship possible. It is also good for our own health, because scientists have found that constant anger, fear and suspicion undermine our immune system. He said:

“You may have experience that even though you have plenty of money, if you are full of jealousy and mistrust, you will be unhappy. On the other hand, a family that is poor, but full of affection is content. Warm-heartedness and concern for others’ well-being are a condition for happiness, whether you are religious or not. Simply as a human being, I’d like to share with you the importance of affection in our relations with each other. Secondly, as a Buddhist, I believe that, despite philosophical differences, all major religious traditions convey the same message of love and compassion and so are deserving of our respect.”

He suggested that business leaders can make a significant contribution to the betterment of society. He observed that there are still too many people living in poverty, that among our grand buildings are people living in slums, people who are still human beings like us. He said that the wealthy have some responsibility to help the poor by providing facilities for education and health, but that the poor also have a responsibility to build their own confidence and work hard.

His Holiness suggested that since India is an agricultural country development of rural areas is as important as urban development. In cities, with their increasing number of cars, roads and flyovers are being built, but provision of hospitals, schools and industry in rural areas is also important. He asked those present to think about what he had said so that it might not remain merely wishful thinking.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama autographing books for business leaders he met at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, Somaiya Bhavan, Mumbai, India on June 1, 2014.
Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
Asked whether greed is not part of human nature and how it can change, His Holiness answered by creating awareness of the need for contentment. He pointed out that even a billionaire has only ten fingers and that wearing diamond rings on each of them would be excessive and strange. Similarly, the rich man’s stomach is no bigger than the beggar’s. Regarding competition, His Holiness said he thinks of two types. Competition focussed on eliminating your rivals and adversaries that is essentially negative and competition motivated by a wish that all will succeed. He suggested that the Sangha section of the Buddhist prayer taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha is like this involving some sense of competition and mutual inspiration in order that all achieve liberation.

His Holiness advised that faced with an ever increasing global population, the huge gap between rich and poor, and dwindling natural resources, concern for others is crucial. Asked about the purpose of life, he said it is in finding happiness and satisfaction.

Recalling that Tibetans traditionally regard Indians as their gurus His Holiness quoted a 14th century Tibetan master who wrote a verse saying that although the natural colour of Tibet, the Land of Snows, is white, until the light came from India, Tibet remained in the dark. He mentioned that wherever he goes he praises the Indian traditions of ahimsa, non-violence, and living in inter-religious harmony. He remarked that he often refers to himself as a son of India because his brain is filled with knowledge from the Nalanda tradition, while for nearly 55 years his body has been nourished by Indian rice, dal and chapatis.

After having his photograph taken with many of those present and signing books for them, His Holiness visited the bookshop associated with the Centre for Lifelong Learning in the same building before retiring for the day. Tomorrow, he will give a public talk on secular ethics and complete his explanation of sections of Shantideva’s book.
 

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