Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh — “Everything has gone well because of your faith and devotion—thank you. Be happy and take it easy. Of course, it’s in the nature of samara that things can go wrong, but when they do, look at them from a wider perspective and they won’t seem so bad. We’ll see each other again,” His Holiness the Dalai Lama told devotees in Tawang.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama commenced a three day public teaching after his arrival in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh from April 8th to the 10th. Emerging on the morning of the 8th from Dukhang, the main temple of the 17th century Tawang Monastery, His Holiness greeted a crowd of 50,000 devotees.
Following an introduction from Chief Minister Pema Khandu, 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.
“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.
“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 second morning of the teachings, His Holiness began preparations to give the Avalokiteshvara Empowerment.
“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’.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
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 lunch he drove on, stopping on the way to greet children and staff of the Manjushri School, to the Dorje Khandu Memorial Museum.
Speaking with monks and nuns of the Tawang Monastery, 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. Addressing the nuns, 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. He also looked forward to more nuns taking up teaching.
Beginning the third morning of the teaching, His Holiness said, “I received the Rigzin Dungdrub empowerment I am going to give today from Trulshik Rinpoche who, in addition to adopting a genuinely non-sectarian approach, was a truly great practitioner. This cycle of teachings was revealed by Rigzin Godemchen, a forerunner of the Chang-ter Northern Treasure tradition that was later maintained by Dorje Drak Monastery and in which the Fifth Dalai Lama participated.”
After completing the empowerment, His Holiness announced that he’d come to the end of the three days of teachings. He pronounced himself happy to have been able to come and provide the people of Mönyul with some benefit. There followed the offering of Long-Life prayers to His Holiness.
Finally, His Holiness was asked to give his blessings to a project to plant 100,000 saplings. He did so saying that he had learned to value caring for the environment. As he left Yiga Choezin, he and the Chief Minister planted their own saplings and every family took a sapling home with them.
His Holiness’s closing words were, “Everything has gone well because of your faith and devotion—thank you. Be happy and take it easy. Of course, it’s in the nature of samara that things can go wrong, but when they do, look at them from a wider perspective and they won’t seem so bad. We’ll see each other again.”