New Delhi, India, 21 March 2015 – His Holiness the Dalai Lama began the day by meeting with a group of Indians who were professionals in different fields.
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to a group of Indian professionals in New Delhi, India on March 21, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL|
|A member of a group of Indian professionals asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question during their meeting in New Delhi, India on March 21, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL|
His Holiness invited questions and the first was about the role of technology in our lives. He pointed out that due to advances in technology our means of communication and travel have improved unimaginably. But we need to keep a realistic perspective. His Holiness remarked that he’s fond of his wristwatch and takes care of it, but it remains completely unresponsive to his emotional needs. Whether technology is helpful or harmful depends on how the user employs it.
Speaking about inter-religious harmony, His Holiness declared that he’d learned in India that all major religious traditions teach love and compassion and have the potential to bring about inner peace. Asked whether he was born wise or became wise later, he asserted that he doesn’t think of himself as anything special and that he gained his knowledge from others. Regarding his suggestion that modern Indians make more of the knowledge of ancient India, he confirmed his thought that fostering secular ethics in schools would be of long-term benefit. He also clarified his intention to make the Kangyur and Tengyur collections of literature translated from Indian texts more widely available as science and philosophy that anyone could study.
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama sharing a birthday cake in honor of his 80th year after his meeting with Indian professionals in New Delhi, India on March 21, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL|
As the meeting drew to a close, a representative of the hotel management stepped forward to thank His Holiness for sparing his precious time. Noting that this is his 80th year he was invited to cut and share the first of what will probably be many birthday cakes, while those present sang ‘Happy Birthday’.
After lunch, His Holiness told the 350 or so people who had gathered to hear him teach Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom’ that he would like to begin by taking their questions. He answered one about emptiness saying that it is essential to differentiate appearance from reality. He said that he has spent 60 years considering the Madhyamaka view and recently told a young woman of 19 that if she kept up her investigations of emptiness she would probably have a good understanding in about 40 years.
He told a woman who said she was afraid of dying that our fear is related to attachment; to our bodies and to ourselves. This attachment is sufficient cause for propelling us into another life. The destination of that life depends on whether we have lived a meaningful life this time. The criterion for social animals like us is whether we have helped or harmed others.
|A member of the audience asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his teaching in New Delhi, India on March 21, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL|
When another member of the audience said that he disagrees with government’s direction and asked what he should do, His Holiness reiterated his belief that despite any shortcomings he still believes in the virtues of democracy. He said that in the huge country that is India, there is a need to make great efforts to spread education. This will require optimism and determination.
As to the future of Tibetan refugees in India, he said this is not something that depends on one person and that he has devolved such responsibilities to an elected leadership. He recalled the great kindness shown Tibetans by the Government of India since the time of Pandit Nehru, especially in the field of education. It was Nehru who recommended that Tibetan schools teach in English because it is the international language. His Holiness confirmed that it is the refugee community’s goal to fulfil the aspirations of the 6 million Tibetans inside Tibet.
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his teaching in New Delhi, India on March 21, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL|
Resuming his account of Nagarjuna’s text, His Holiness stated that emptiness does not mean nothingness or a complete lack of findability. What it means is that there is nothing intrinsic about phenomena, which are dependent on other factors. With regard to gaining insight into emptiness there are several logical arguments that can be employed such as the investigation of essential identity, that phenomena are ‘neither one nor many’ and the investigation of their causes known as Diamond Slivers. He said that although things are there, they have no objective existence, no existence other than by way of designation.
His Holiness told the story of Je Sherab Sengey, one of the principal disciples of Je Tsongkhapa. He was intensely contemplating emptiness following Chandrakirti’s sevenfold reasoning on the selflessness of persons:
1. the self is not inherently the same as the psycho-physical aggregates
2. the self is not different from the psycho-physical aggregates
3. the self is not dependent upon the psycho-physical aggregates
4. the self is not inherently the basis upon which the psycho-physical aggregates depend
5. the self is not inherently the possessor of the psycho-physical aggregates
6. the self is not inherently the mere collection of the psycho-physical aggregates
7. the self is not inherently the shape of the psycho-physical aggregates
All of a sudden he felt there really was nothing and seized hold of his shirt in fear. But then he thought, “If nothing exists, what am I doing holding onto my shirt?” As the text makes clear, things exist by way of designation. His Holiness declared that verses 18 and 19 of Chapter 24 summarize the meaning of the entire text of ‘Fundamental Wisdom’.
That which is dependent origination
Is explained to be emptiness.
That, being a dependent designation,
Is itself the middle way.
There does not exist anything
That is not dependently arisen.
Therefore there does not exist anything
That is not empty.
He remarked that if things were to have intrinsic existence, cause and effect would be unable to function.
|Member of the audience listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his teaching in New Delhi, India on March 21, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL|
From Chapter 24 His Holiness turned back to Chapter 23, the examination of errors, and then to Chapter 18, the examination of self and phenomena, where verse 2 analyzes the self, demonstrating that the self does not exist in the way it appears to us. This understanding helps reduce grasping at ‘I and mine’. Fabrication ceases through emptiness. Finally, His Holiness turned to Chapter 26, the examination of the twelve links of dependent origination.
He pointed out that all Buddhists accept the Four Noble Truths. Of these, the third, cessation, makes clear the possibility of achieving liberation, which is why we then follow the path of three trainings in ethics, concentration and wisdom. This is elaborated in the explanation of the twelve links of dependent origination.
His Holiness stated that what is revealed in this book is a powerful antidote to ignorance. He said wisdom is the powerful weapon and the awakening mind of bodhichitta is like the financial backing required to counter the destructive emotions.
Completing his explanation, His Holiness said:
“My responsibility is fulfilled. Now your responsibility is to read this text again and again and to study the commentaries by Chandrakirti and Buddhapalita.”
He announced that he would be giving a ‘permission’ to practice White Manjushri tomorrow.
“I meditated on Manjushri when I was young and in my experience it really is helpful for improving the sharpness of the mind.”