CHOEKAR DUCHEN – THE BUDDHA’S FIRST TURNING OF THE WHEEL OF DHARMA 24 July 2020
Choekhor Duchen falls on the 4th day of the 6th month in the Tibetan calendar, this year on 24 July 2020. It is important to be aware on this day all positive and negative actions are multiplied ten millionfold, an extremely meritorious day to carry out as much practice as possible for the benefit of all sentient beings.
Please enjoy reading this beautiful passage from Jamgon Kontrul’s Treasury of Knowledge, Volume two, describing Choekhor Duchen, the first teachings the Buddha gave at Saranath, Varanasi, India, on The Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path.
The Eleventh Deed
At the request of Brahma and others, He taught in known places Expedient and Definitive meanings in three successive turnings of the Wheel of Dharma.
During the time the perfect Buddha sat beneath the tree of liberation, he thought that no worldly being could realise the profound understanding he had attained.
Thus, he said:
“Deep, tranquil, unformulated, non-composite clear light. This ambrosia-like reality I have gained is unfathomable by anyone I might teach. Thus, I will dwell at the forest’s edge in silence. He sat alone with little activity in his mind.”
Through the Buddha’s power, Brahma with a tufted crown arrived with his retinue of sixty-eight hundred thousand, and beseeched Him to teach the Dharma, but the Buddha did not do so. Brahma then called on Shakra for assistance. After the third request, the Buddha, clearly seeing His disciples’ different capabilities, promised to open the door of ambrosia-like teachings, beginning with the teachings to any kind of sentient being. The tidings, “The Transcendent Buddha will Turn the Wheel of Dharma”! resounded as far as Brahma’s realm.
The Buddha then went to seek alms in Varanasi. When He arrived at Deer Park, Descent of the Sages, the five excellent ones came to greet Him. The Buddha called forth, and they thereby became true fully ordained monks.
At that place, one thousand magnificent lion-supported thrones appeared. The Buddha circumambulated the first three; when He sat in cross-legged posture on the fourth, a great light spread throughout worlds in the ten direction, and a sound arose beings to listen to His teachings. A god called ‘Bodhisattva Who Turned the Wheel of the Teachings to Attain Awakening’ presented Him with a one thousand-spoked wheel made of gold from the Jambu River. He and countless other bodhisattvas and gods assembled.
On the fourth day of the sixth lunar month, the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths in three enunciations: (He first explained) their essence, then their function, and finally their result. In this way, He presented that cycle of teaching in twelve aspects. As a result, the five excellent ones attained (the state of) Arhat (foe-subduer), and for the first time the Three Jewels (Buddha, Teaching and the Spiritual Community) appeared in this world.
Beginning with instruction in the Expedient and Definitive meanings (of Dharma), the Buddha turned the Great Wheel of Dharma ~ virtuous in the beginning, middle, and end in three stages. He taught in known locations such as Gaya Peak, Gandhamadana Mountain, Rajgir, Vulture’s Peak, Shravasti, Jetavana, Kosala, Kapilavastu, and the city of Vaishali, as well as in many places unknown (to humans), such as realms of gods and nagas, and the precious Vajra Place.
The Buddha lead innumerable disciples of the four kinds, including the sublime pair, to the attainment of four results. He foretold the awakening of countless humans and gods who had affinity with the Great Way. In Shravasti, He displayed supreme miracles, both mundane and supramundane. For His mother Mayadevi’s sake, He spent one summer retreat period in Heaven of the thirty-three, then descended from the god’s realm (back to earth) at Sankashya. At glorious Treasure Mound Stupa and other places, the Buddha taught the secret mantra way to exceptional disciples. In these ways, His displays of the Four Taming Miracles were inconceivable and indescribable.
In summary, the Buddha stayed in His father’s royal residence until the age of twenty-nine. He practiced the austerities over six years, and at the age of thirty-five attained enlightenment. From then until His eightieth year, he conducted forty-five summer retreats and set in motion the highest Wheel of the teachings.
From the Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism 31 July 2014
His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama A few short excerpts from His Holiness’ teachings
“This is a bit like a river that is flowing quite strongly, in which you cannot see the riverbed very clearly. If, however, there was some way you could stop the flow in both directions, from where the water is coming and to where the water is flowing, then you could keep the water still. That would allow you to see the base of the river quite clearly. Similarly, when you are able to stop your mind from chasing sensory objects and thinking about the past and future and so on, and when you can free your mind from being totally ‘blanked out’ as well, then you will begin to see underneath this turbulence of the thought processes. There is an underlying stillness, an underlying clarity of the mind. You should try to observe or experience this…”
“Similarly, when mental wandering arises, we can think of an unpleasant subject, such as the suffering nature of samsara. When our mind is low, changing to a happy subject can bring it back up; when it is wandering, changing to an unpleasant subject can bring it down out of the sky and back to earth.”
“The antidote to depression is tightening the concentration; the antidote to wandering is loosening it.
“When counteracting mental sinking with tightness, we must be careful to avoid the excessive tightness that a lack of natural desire to meditate can create; we need to balance tightness with relaxation.
“When our mind gets too tight like this we should just relax within our meditation. If that doesn’t work, we can forget the object for a while and concentrate on happy thoughts, such as the beneficial effects of bodhicitta, until our mind regains its composure, and then return to our object of meditation. This is akin to washing our face in cold water. If contemplating a happy subject does not pick us up, we can visualise that our mind takes the form of a tiny seed at our heart and then shoot this seed out of the crown of our head into the clouds above, leave it there for a few moments and then bring it back. If this does not help, we can just take a short break from our meditation.
“If somebody insults, abuses, or criticises us, saying that we are incompetent and do not know how to do anything and so forth, we are likely to get truly angry and contradict what the person has said. We should not react in this way; instead, with humility and tolerance, we should accept what has been said.
“Where it says that we should accept defeat and offer the victory to others, we must differentiate the two kinds of the situation. If, on the one hand, we are obsessed with our own welfare and very selfishly motivated, we should accept defeat and offer victory to the other, even if our life is at stake. But if, on the other hand, the situation is such that the welfare of others is at stake, we must work extremely hard to fight for the rights of others and not accept the loss at all.
“One of the forty-six secondary vows of a bodhisattva refers to a situation in which somebody is doing something very harmful and you have to use forceful methods or whatever else is necessary to stop that person’s actions immediately - if you don’t, you have transgressed that commitment.36 It might appear that this bodhisattva vow and the fifth stanza, which says that one must accept defeat and give the victory to the other, are contradictory but they are not. The bodhisattva precept deals with a situation in which one’s prime concern is the welfare of others: if somebody is doing something extremely harmful and dangerous it is wrong not to take strong measures to stop it if necessary. Nowadays, in incredibly competitive societies, strong defensive or similar actions are often required. The motivation for these should not be selfish concern but extensive feelings of kindness and compassion toward others. If we act out of such feelings to save others from creating negative karma this is entirely correct.”
In Loving Memory of Wendy Brennen and Jan Proos 27 June and 11 May
Wendy’s enthusiasm and energy for life was wonderful to be around. She brought this into her love of the Buddhadharma twofold.
From 2005, Wendy maintained a close connection with Khenpo la and the centre. She was the co-ordinator of Khenpo la’s community teaching events in and around the Richmond area in NSW for many years. Wendy was always there to run these events, including the regular weekly evening teachings. She often described how she felt so fortunate to have met Khenpo la and the precious dharma in her life. Her warm and friendly nature endeared her to all she met. Wendy always went out of her way to make people feel welcome at events, including baking delicious cakes for the traditional cup of tea after the programme. Wendy volunteered her time and skills with such grace and humour.
Wendy passed away on 27 June from a long and brave battle with illness. We will miss her a lot, and we all pray for Wendy to have a precious human rebirth swiftly.
Jan was one of life’s real gentlemen. When you were with Jan you knew he had a genuine interest and care in you and your life. Though having found the dharma later in his life, Jan embraced it with such openness that was extraordinary to see.
Jan did a lot of work for the Centre, in the garden, and on the road. Even when he was quite ill, Jan continued to turned up to contribute. During the drought late last year, Jan would be seen bringing up containers of water from his home to water the garden, so as not to deplete the centres water supply. He was a regular attendee at Tuesday and Sunday practice, and often shared delicious treats at morning tea afterwards with everyone.
Jan passed away on 11 May, after a long and courageous battle with illness. We all shall miss his beautiful light presence and wish for him too to have a precious human rebirth swiftly.
HELD AT KAMALASHILA TIBETAN BUDDHIST CENTRE 20 June 2020
The first Working Bee for 2020 at Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre, everyone worked extremely hard including Khenpo la, leading from the front! Thank you to everyone who came and contributed. We achieved so much which is to reduce the fuel load for the upcoming summer season and for this we cleared fallen trees and countless branches. The centre will be holding Working Bees every second Saturday until summer.
HELD AT KAMALASHILA TIBETAN BUDDHIST CENTRE May – June 2020
Throughout the month of Saga Dawa over 1,000 candles were lit at KTBC for the benefit of all sentient beings, for COVID-19 to cease, for all those who have passed away to attain precious human rebirth and celebrate the Buddhadharma in our lives. On day 17 of this month, light offerings from many sponsors – may all beings be happy!
On Saga Dawa Duchen Khenpo la lead The Sixteen Arhat Puja with sangha in person seated at social distancing and via Zoom. There were over 100 butter lamps and many more candles lit on this most auspicious day and the shrine was truly extraordinary with so many exquisite offerings.