His Holiness the Dalai Lama gives an Avalokiteshvara Empowerment at Tashi Khyil Monastery and Visits TCV Selaqui

September 15th 2012

Dehra Dun, India, 15 September 2012 - The garden in front of Tashi Khyil Monastery, Clement Town, was full of expectant faces when His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived early this morning to begin the preparatory procedures for the Avalokiteshvara empowerment he was going to give. To do these he sat with his back to the audience facing the mandala; when he was ready he took his seat on the throne and began.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama prepares for the Avolokitshvara Empowerment at Tashi Khyil Monastery in Clementown Tibetan Settlement near Dehra Dun, India, on September 15, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
“We need to understand what it is to be a Buddhist. It involves transforming the mind, which is something we have to do for ourselves, it’s not something someone else can do for us. The Buddha also encouraged his followers to take the initiative not simply to take his teachings on trust, but to examine them as a goldsmith tests gold to check its real value. To do this it’s necessary to be sceptical, to question whether what is taught is appropriate and what its benefit may be.

“For example, you might ask what the benefit is of avoiding the ten unwholesome actions. If you practise the virtue of restraint from them, people will regard you as a friend and you’ll be happy. In this world, it’s clear that when people are powerful and wealthy, but also dishonest, people don’t like them, even if they don’t show it to their faces. In brief, if you do good, you’ll have friends in this life and when you’re gone you’ll be missed.”

His Holiness advised that studying the Buddha’s teachings is not just a question of reciting prayers about taking refuge, you have to establish for yourself what the Buddha meant. Tibetan Buddhists outwardly observe the discipline of the Vinaya, cultivate a Bodhisattva attitude within and practise Tantra in secret, and it is on this basis that traditions like the Sakya’s Lam Dre teachings present the entire practice of the Dharma.

His Holiness explained that in conjunction with a tantric empowerment, he likes to give the lay practitioner’s vows and the Bodhisattva vows. He explained the lay person’s vows and went through the procedures for giving them. When it came to generating the aspiring awakening mind of Bodhichitta, he reminded his listeners that the Bodhisattva’s commitment is not concerned with only one or two lives but aeon. Such dedication to the benefit of others is a source of great merit. He said,

Members of the audience attending His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings at Tashi Khyil Monastery in Clementown Tibetan Settlement near Dehra Dun, India, on September 15, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
“Prior to the empowerment we have created the fourfold Sangha of male and female lay practioners, monks and nuns, as well as a community of Mahayana practitioners.”

He then briefly gave his customary caution about the practice of Dolgyal.

“Regarding Dolgyal, I said his prayers myself, but once I realised it was a mistake I stopped. This is something that began at the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama, who recorded three observations about Dolgyal: that he was a being that arose from wrong prayers; that he was a perfidious spirit - as he described himself to the Sakya lama he approached after the protectors of Tashi Lhunpo denied him entry - and that he harms the Dharma and sentient beings. So, if there are any among you who continue to propitiate Dolgyal, I ask you not to sit here for the empowerment, because to stay will benefit neither you nor me. This is my advice, but whether you heed it or not is up to you.”

Before going any further, His Holiness completed his reading of the first chapter of Nagarjuna’s Precious Garland. At the end he said he was happy to have completed both the teaching and Avalokiteshvara empowerment, commenting that it is important to be able to take such steps to preserve Tibet’s precious culture.

Students at TCV school at Selaquie take a minute to meditate at the start of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's visit in Dehra Dun, India, on September 15, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
As he left Tashi Khyil Monastery after eating lunch, His Holiness paused to bless the new debate yard and a colossal chörten, before setting off for the TCV school at Selaqui. This branch of TCV is something of an experiment, not only is its intake from among the most gifted children, but also different approaches to teaching are being employed. His Holiness was welcomed in a traditional way and escorted into the school hall. Before making his report, the Principal asked everyone to take a minute to meditate on the awakening mind of Bodhichitta. He then explained the schools several impressive achievements as well as their refreshing approaches to learning through which they hope to inculcate initiative, personal responsibility, ethics, as well as concern for others and the environment in their students.

In his response, His Holiness made clear how happy he was to be able to make this short visit. He noted that the Principal had not merely read through the printed report but given his own spontaneous account of it. Addressing the students he said that he was pleased to know that they were learning to employ meditation in their studies, something he has been encouraging the great monasteries to do.

“First you gain knowledge by listening to explanations from your teachers or you read books, but this tends to be information without any sense of conviction about it. Next you need to analyse what you have learned to clear away any doubts and then you can meditate on what you have understood, to reinforce and gain real insight into it.

“When we were free, we neglected modern education, just as when changes were taking place in the world around us we neglected them too. The 13th Dalai Lama’s visits to China and India opened his eyes. After his return to Tibet, he began to make provisions for some Tibetan students to receive a modern education. If that had succeeded we wouldn’t have faced the trouble we have and we would have been able to preserve our Buddhist traditions.”

Students debate in traditional style during His Holiness the Dalai Lama's visit to TCV school at Selaquie in Dehra Dun, India, on September 15, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
After His Holiness’s talk, students held a debate in traditional style, but applying logic and dialectical methods to a topic from biology. He was pleased and reiterated his view that these methods of logic and dialectical debate that Tibet learned from India can be applied successfully to any topic of study.

From Selaqui, His Holiness drove back to Dehra Dun to the Sakya Rinchenling Nunnery, where he was received by Sakya Dagtri Rinpoche and about 200 nuns. He asked them about what they study and was pleased to hear that Sakya Pandita’s Treasury of Reasoning is one of their main texts. He told them how important it is to make monasteries and nunneries places of learning, pointing out that Nalanda Monastic University isn’t famous for its rituals, just as Nagarjuna is not renowned for ringing his bell or Chandrakirti for blowing his horn.

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