His Holiness the Dalai Lama waving to audience on the first of teaching, December 29, 2023. (Photo:TPI)

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Bodhgaya — His Holiness the Dalai Lama began his two-day of teaching on Nagarjuna’s In Praise of Dhammadhatu to 50,000 people from 50 countries, at the Kalachakra Teaching Ground, on Friday. His Holiness said, “On my part, I do my best to cultivate the awakening mind of bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness every day. I urge you my Dharma friends to do the same as best you can.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama began his two-day teaching on Nagarjuna's In Praise of Dhammadhatu (choying toepa) to the 50,000 people from 50 countries, mostly Himalayans, Tibetan monks, nuns and laypeople, including around 15,000 foreigners, at the Kalachakra Teaching Ground in Gaya, Bihar, India, on December 29 and 30, 2023.

Before reaching the stage, His Holiness inaugurated a new stone statue of the Buddha inside of the Kalachakra Ground, which commissioned by the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMG). Then His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeted and smiled at people who were keen to see him, while he passing through the street and onto the Kalachakra Ground, Gaya, Bihar, India on December 29, 2023, where people were waiting for him to teach.

After His Holiness reached the stage, he waved to the 50,000 audiences. Then he greeted Sakya Gongma Rinpoché, Sakya Trizin and other members of the Sakya family. On the opposite side, he greeted Ganden Tri Rinpoché and Jangtsé Chöjé Rinpoché, as well as the Speaker Sonam Tenphel of the Tibetan Parliament and the Sikyong Penpa Tsering.

A group of Theravadin monks chanted the ‘Mangala Sutta’ in Pali and followed by a lilting recitation of the ‘Heart Sutra’ and a mandala offering in Tibetan. Meanwhile tea and bread were served to all people.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressed the people, “Whatever kind of discourse we give, it is important that we first check our motivation. This applies to both the teacher and the taught. We should avoid the eight worldly concerns. The teacher must not be selfish or peace-seeking. Disciples should not be absorbed by the pleasures of this life. All should seek to benefit others.

“We will recite the verse for taking refuge and cultivating the awakening mind of bodhichitta. The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are the objects of refuge and the reason we turn to them is to attain unsurpassable enlightenment in order to be able to lead all sentient beings to liberation,” he added.

His Holiness said, “Having met with the teaching of Buddha Shakyamuni, it’s good to recognise that whatever he taught was rooted in his own experience. He had overcome all mental afflictions and the obstructions to knowledge that are their residue. As is written in the ‘Sublime Continuum’ (Uttaratantra), all sentient beings have the potential to attain Buddhahood, but their minds are shrouded in defilements.”

His Holiness declared, “Since the defilements are not of the same nature as the mind, they can be eliminated and the intrinsic, luminous, clear light nature of the mind can be made manifest. This means that we can achieve the omniscient state that the Buddha has reached.”

His Holiness explained, “Defilements leave residual stains that function as obstructions to knowledge, but they too can be overcome. Because the nature of the mind is clear light, it is stainless by nature. It is by purifying our minds that we can achieve the same state as the Buddha. And it is possible to purify our minds because the various defilements are adventitious and temporary, while the intrinsic nature of the mind is clear and knowing. It is clear light.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, “From my own experience, having reflected long on the awakening mind of bodhichitta and the wisdom understanding emptiness—method and wisdom—I infer that mental defilements are only temporary. They do not obscure our minds forever. Although I have not developed single-pointed concentration, I think that of the five-fold path I can achieve the path of preparation.”

“The antidotes to our mental defilements and obstructions to knowledge are two—bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness. It we develop these we can achieve Buddhahood as Shakyamuni has done. We can cultivate the courage and determination to do so because the basic nature of the Buddha’s mind and our minds is the same. The mind we have now will ultimately become the mind of a Buddha,” His Holiness added.

His Holiness announced, “Today, the teaching is focussed on ‘In Praise of the Dharmdhatu’ by Nagarjuna. The text begins with homage to the dharmadhatu that is the Buddha nature that abides in every sentient being. But because they aren't aware of it, they spin through the cycle of existence. However, when what gives rise to the cycle of existence is purified, it becomes nirvana and likewise, dharmakaya, the Truth Body of a Buddha. The empty nature of the Buddha’s mind and our minds is just the same. We can have confidence that because dharmadhatu is stainless, it is possible to attain the Dharmakaya.”

“We regard things as having independent existence, which is to cling to ignorance. We must recall instead that the nature of the mind is empty, and things are merely designated. As long as the clear light nature of the mind is shrouded in defilements, we remain sentient beings. When they are removed, we become enlightened,” he added.

His Holiness said, “We have gathered here in this sacred place, where enlightenment took place, and we have gone through this text ‘In Praise of Dharmadhatu’. On my part, I do my best to cultivate the awakening mind of bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness every day, not with a view to this life alone, but, as the famous verse says, ‘as long as space remains’. I urge you my Dharma friends to do the same as best you can.”