HIS HOLINESS THE FOURTEENTH DALAI LAMA A FEW SHORT EXCERPTS FROM HIS HOLINESS’ TEACHINGS
Eight Verses for Training the Mind, Ex. 3.
Whenever I associate with others I will learn to think of myself as the lowest among all, And respectfully hold others to be supreme From the very depths of my heart.
“If you cultivate love, compassion, and so forth for your own welfare, seeking happiness only for yourself, you are bound within a selfish viewpoint, which will not lead to good results. Rather, you should have an attitude of altruism, seeking the welfare of others from the very depths of your heart.
Pride in which, cherishing yourself, you view yourself as superior and others as inferior is a major obstacle to the development of an altruistic attitude respecting and cherishing others. Therefore, it is important to rely on the antidote to pride and, no matter whom you are with, to consider yourself lower than others.
If you assume a humble attitude, your own good qualities will increase, whereas when you are full of pride, there is no way to be happy. You will become jealous of others, angry with them, and look down on them, due to which an unpleasant atmosphere will be created and unhappiness in society will increase.”
Eight Verses for Training the Mind, Ex. 8. I will learn to cherish beings of bad nature, And those pressed by strong sins and sufferings, As if I had found a precious Treasure which is very difficult to find.
“When you meet with persons of bad character or those who have some particularly strong sickness or other problems, you should neither neglect them nor create a distance between yourself and them, feeling them to be alien, but rather generate an especially strong attitude of cherishing them and holding them dear. In the past in Tibet, those who were engaged in this type of training of the mind took on themselves the burden of serving persons who had leprosy much as the Christian monks and so forth do nowadays. Since it is in relation to such persons that you can cultivate the altruistic intention to become enlightened as well as patience and the voluntary assumption of suffering, coming in contact with them is to be viewed as like finding a precious treasure.”
“Patience guards us against losing our presence of mind so we can remain undisturbed, even when the situation is really difficult.”
“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation."
Source of happiness is in our mental attitude:
“So, as far as our contact with fellow human beings is concerned, our mental attitude is very crucial. Even for a non-believer, just a simple honest being, the ultimate source of happiness is in our mental attitude.”
“Even if you have good health, material facilities used in the proper way and good relations with other human beings, the main cause of a happy life is within.”
“On the whole, we naturally tend to trust our everyday perceptions; we assume their validity without it even occurring to us to question them. We naïvely believe that the way we perceive things is identical with the way things are. And so, because events and things, including the self, appear to have objective reality, we conclude, tacitly and often without any reflection at all, that they do in fact have an objective reality. Only through the process of careful analysis can we see that this is not so, that our perceptions do not accurately reflect objective reality.”
“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” “We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.”
“To conquer oneself is a greater victory than to conquer thousands in a battle.” “Anger and hatred cannot bring harmony. The noble task of arms control and disarmament cannot be accomplished by confrontation and condemnation. Hostile attitudes only serve to heat up the situation, whereas a true sense of respect gradually cools down what otherwise could become explosive. We must recognise the frequent contradictions between short-term benefit and long-term harm.”
“If your engagement with others is tainted by strong attachment, craving, aversion, anger, and so forth, then that form of grasping is undesirable. But on the other hand, when you are interacting with other living beings and become aware of their needs or suffering or pain, then you need to fully engage with that and be compassionate. So, there can be positive attachment in this sense of active engagement. Buddhist masters have long used the term attachment to describe the quality of compassion for others. For example, a verse from Haribhadra’s Clear Meaning Commentary refers to compassion that is attached to other living beings. And as we have seen, Nagarjuna teaches that attachment for other living beings will arise spontaneously in the person who realises emptiness.”
“I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. From the moment of birth, every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering. Neither social conditioning nor education nor ideology affect this. From the very core of our being, we simply desire contentment. I don’t know whether the universe, with its countless galaxies, stars and planets, has a deeper meaning or not, but at the very least, it is clear that we humans who live on this Earth face the task of making a happy life for ourselves. Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness.”
“From my own limited experience, I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquillity comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease.”
“As long as we live in this world, we are bound to encounter problems. If at such times, we lose hope and become discouraged, we diminish our ability to face difficulties. If, on the other hand, we remember that it is not just ourselves but everyone who has to undergo suffering, this more realistic perspective will increase our determination and capacity to overcome troubles. Indeed, with this attitude, each new obstacle can be seen yet another valuable opportunity to improve our mind! Thus, we can strive gradually to become more compassionate; that is, we can develop both genuine sympathy for others’ suffering and the will to help remove their pain. As a result, our own serenity and inner strength will increase.” His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso
HELD AT KAMALASHILA TIBETAN BUDDHIST CENTRE 11-13 June 2021
The Inaugural Shri Vajrapani Bhutadamara Retreat, which was held at Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre, Tilba was led by Khenpo Ngawang Dhamchoe. It had been a day leading into the retreat with very auspicious signs of many rainbows in the skies around the centre and students reporting rainbows travelling down the coast from far and wide to attend retreat. All arriving were incredibly happy to be here for this wonderful first occasion. We thank all the helpers who so genuinely helped prepare for a most special space for this time.
Although it was a two and a half day retreat it seemed as if it were a week and we could have continued for endless more weeks. It was intensely valuable, profoundly serious, and inspiringly uplifting as Khenpo la went into a depth of teaching that we are continually in awe of, having to rewrite our feeble notes over and over again, contemplate those notes and then try most honestly to meditate on. Khenpo la revealed at the end of this time that he would very much like this retreat to be annual, so for some students that could not manage attending this time, this will be offered each year at this point.
Thank you, Khenpo la, for such profound teachings over this precious weekend. The retreat was such a success, and we are looking forward already to an annual opportunity to revisit this precious practice.
HELD AT KAMALASHILA AND SYDNEY GOMPAS, AND AT ULURU 12 May – 10 June 2021
Commemorating the most auspicious month of Saga Dawa with Khenpo Ngawang Dhamchoe who led programs in Sydney and Tilba.
Khenpo la lead practice, prayers and light offerings to mark Saga Dawa Duchen in Sydney with Praise of ‘The Twelve Great Deeds of the Buddha’. Sangha came in person and via Zoom. It was wonderful for sangha to come together on this incredibly special day. Then on the 30th of May, Khenpo la lead the Sixteen Arhat Puja with sangha at Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre as well as via Zoom that morning, those attending offered 100 candles. After the puja the sangha enjoyed a delicious lunch shared together. During this most special month of Saga Dawa, the centre has offered a number of practices, in person and via Zoom, live from Uluru, Sydney and Tilba. Many people have sponsored the lighting of hundreds of candles. We rejoice in these great meritorious activities for the happiness of all beings.
A big shout out and thank you to our wonderful centre sangha who on behalf of many light offering sponsors, took the day to physically offer the light offerings for our sponsors and all beings benefit, they were Khenpo la, Robert N, Lael, Jennifer, Carole, Penny, Oshan, Robert G, Susanne and Karen. Over the past weeks during Saga Dawa, many hundreds of light offerings have been made at Kamalashila and in Sydney, thank you to all our sponsors. May all beings be free and happy.
Uluru, pilgrims meditating on the morning of the Buddha’s birth day
At Uluru, on this anniversary of His birth, “it was like waiting patiently, in the darkness, for an audience with a Buddha.
“Led by Khenpo la, we chanted OM AH HUM BENZAR GURU PEMA SIDDHI HUNG into the chill morning air on the dawn of the Buddha’s birth. Towering above us, the great heart of Uluru began to glow as if illuminated from within. And, as taught by Khenpo la yesterday, gratitude supported us to remain in the present moment.
“We circumambulated the rock and were struck by the many different faces of Uluru: its majestic folds, its sheer cathedral-like cliffs, its secret waterholes, its textures, its colours.
“Khenpo la’s teaching today reminded us of the qualities of the Buddha. Though they are measureless, these qualities can be summarised into two: infinite skilfulness and infinite compassion. The Buddha never taught what he knew. He taught according to what sentient beings needed. Such was His skilfulness. Why infinite? Because the number of sentient beings is infinite and so then must the range of skilful methods be infinite to meet their unique needs.
“The Buddha also expressed infinite compassion for all sentient beings: his mind being free from self-grasping, there is no longer any discrimination and so the Buddha cares for each being with equal tenderness. Khenpo la reminded us that we all have the seed of a Buddha within us; that we can look beyond the dark clouds of our everyday thoughts to glimpse the vast blue sky of our Buddha mind.” Zara
I liked playing with the paddymelons with Sophia and Ginny, having yummy breakfasts, the red sand, climbing up the sand dune, and seeing Uluru and Kata Tjuta, going to the sunset at Uluru. It looked really nice and colourful, playing in the apartments with Ginny trying to find me around the corner, riding Genghis Khan (the camel) and walking back from the meditation at Uluru with Khenpo la. Hector (7 years old)
Hello. My name is Sophia, I went with my Mum and Dad to Khenpo’s Uluru Retreat. I must admit it was an amazing experience. Early in the morning we would go to Uluru or Kata Tjuta and do a meditation with Khenpo. I went to a couple of the teachings during the day and went to some of the sunset meditations. My favourite part was kicking my soccer ball all the way through the track in Kata Tjuta and after that, playing a big game of soccer with Khenpo and a few other nice people – it was great! Along the way I met some really lovely people who also did the retreat, it was such a nice experience and I am so lucky to have been able to get to do this amazing retreat. Sophia (11 years old)
It is with enormous gratitude that I write a few words to acknowledge the potency, purity, and treasure of our recent Pilgrimage to Uluru. This journey had so many components: firstly, the focus on pilgrimage with a great Tibetan teacher as in Khenpo la, whose knowledge of the Buddha’s teachings is matched to his excellent warm, friendly, and joyful nature and his reverence of place, culture, and people of wherever he visits. Khenpo is a gift who skilfully weaves nature’s gifts with a unique style of teaching and guided meditations to enable deep absorption of each moment spent in these places, with such reverence for country and respect for the indigenous people and ease with every move. There were two beautiful children aged 7 and 11, who enriched the group with their amazing gentle wisdom and delight in every minute. They were so inspirational and gave us all such hope and wonder for the future of the world, as in if such children contribute with generous, sensitivity, worldliness and vital spirit.
The sangha who supported this retreat were also just perfect, ranging from Ann’s gift in organisation, grace and behind the scenes soothing; Tsultim in his jovial warm and clever kindness in driving, picking us all up and softly/quietly attending to anything needed with a gentle grace; Tjenka and Zara’s bright creative grace in every action and interaction whether driving buses, listening, and helping the team or the retreatants with love and service; as well as the delectable creative nourishing food presented with ease and love from Tony’s wondrous ways. The food was amazing, every single person present was fresh, interesting and an individual treasure!
Khenpo never ceases to enrich all with his gentle wise ways along with bringing us the precious jewels of Buddha with practical messages that filter in through us. Each day we witnessed these sacred sites for hours from dawn through sunrise and sunset to dusk it truly was so powerful. I only hope I get to go on many more pilgrimages with Khenpo. The beauty of the teachings and the mind training to remind us of all we can mindfully manage a supreme and loving life by being infinitely joyful, skilful, and compassionate. These teachings were creatively etched in our hearts via the glow of the effervescent colours of those rocks.
Our week pilgrimage honoured these sacred stories of country intertwined with sacred lessons from Buddha to bring us into a presence and honour of each day observing the dawn, huddling out at dark, and softly witnessing the light on those sacred spaces come alive in silent meditation in awe of this. The teachings, the food, the fun, the warm interactions, the divine sunsets, and the presence of each of us present. It is now 2 years since closure of the activity of tourists climbing this magnificent Uluru, to me it felt as if she was saying thank you and shinning an extra vibrancy in all the various lights we were gifted with.
Some information from sacredland.com that I feel is important to share: Rising 1,100 feet above the Australian desert, the red sandstone monolith known as Uluru is not just an international tourist destination but a symbol of the Aboriginal struggle for land rights and a model for collaborative indigenous-governmental land management. Uluru and its neighbour Kata Tjuta, a series of 36 rock domes, comprise an area of spiritual significance to Anangu, the local Aboriginal people whose belief system is intertwined with the landscape.
The traditional owners of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park speak Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara and call themselves Anangu – “we, Aboriginal people.” Anangu lived in the deserts of Central Australia for tens of thousands of years before the arrival of white settlers, leading a nomadic hunting and gathering way of life rooted in a spiritual relationship with the land.
Anangu believe that the world as it is today, was created by heroic ancestral beings that roamed the land before humans existed. As these beings moved from place to place – meeting friends, fighting, having adventures, performing ceremonies – they shaped the landscape and left some of their spirit behind. Thus, the exploits of Anangu’s spiritual ancestors are mapped throughout the land in topographic features like waterholes, rock formations, caves, hills and gorges, and these features are regarded as sacred places.
Anangu culture has always been a vital part of Central Australian life. Anangu Tjukurpa teach that the landscape was formed as their ancestral beings moved across the barren land. For the Anangu people, live revolves around Tjukurpa, the cultural underpinnings of their society. Life and rebirth are vital in their beliefs, with Tjukurpa stories passed down from generation to generation. These stories, dances and songs underpin all Anangu belief systems and society behaviours. Elders pass the stories to younger generations as deemed appropriate. Anangu must share their oral history to keep ensuring the continuation of their culture for generations to come.
Watching the day awaken over Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Cold fingers and big smiles. Peace and friendliness. Khenpo la’s teachings gave guidance on recognising, stabilising, and extending our experience of peace.
He gave 4 preconditions for experiencing peace:
Reduce desire, anger, and ignorance whose influence on our mind steals our peace.
Be grateful. This brings you into the present moment and cultivates positive mind.
Reduce unnecessary activities, which may tire and distract you. Make sure you have energy for meditation.
Live ethically, aiming to cause no harm and help when you can.
The 5th point is the cause of calm, which is a virtuous mind, an honest mind. Freer of desire, anger and ignorance, our mind is less disturbed, less intoxicated, and so can see things more clearly.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for sunset meditation tonight!
It was like waiting patiently, in the darkness, for an audience with a Buddha. This is how Buddha’s birthday began for us on the 3rd day of pilgrimage.
Led by Khenpo la, we chanted OM AH HUM BENZAR GURU PEMA SIDDHI HUNG into the chill morning air. Towering above us, the great heart of Uluru began to glow as if illuminated from within. And, as taught by Khenpo la yesterday, gratitude supported us to remain in the present moment. The cold air on our skin. The rustle of a puffer jacket. Budgies calling to each other. The warmth of tears rolling down cheeks.
We circumambulated the rock and were struck by the many different faces of Uluru: its majestic folds, its sheer cathedral-like cliffs, its secret waterholes, its textures, its colours. It struck some of us that you could never truly describe Uluru. Like the story of the blind men and the elephant (the one holding the tail said an elephant was like a rope; the one at the leg said it was like the trunk of a tree, etc), each different person would describe the rock differently – and each would be partially correct. But, as with any phenomenon, the true nature of Uluru is beyond expression.
On this anniversary of His birth, Khenpo la’s teaching today reminded us of the qualities of the Buddha. Though they are measureless, these qualities can be summarised into two: infinite skilfulness and infinite compassion. The Buddha never taught what he knew. He taught according to what sentient beings needed. Such was His skilfulness. Why infinite? Because the number of sentient beings is infinite and so then must the range of skilful methods be infinite to meet their unique needs.
The Buddha also expressed infinite compassion for all sentient beings: his mind being free from self-grasping, there is no longer any discrimination and so the Buddha cares for each being with equal tenderness.
Khenpo la reminded us that we all have the seed of a Buddha within us; that we can look beyond the dark clouds of our everyday thoughts to glimpse the vast blue sky of our Buddha mind.
“I should be asleep. It’s 12.30 am and I’m in my tent having just finished writing in my diary of one of the best days of my life. I’ve been up since 4.45am and will be up at 5am again tomorrow.
“I’ve been out to the rock (Uluru) a few times now, although this morning we sat at the base of it in the still dark and watched the light slowly come up as we meditated together. It was incredible! I almost had an out of body experience. I saw stories all over it like I was listening to the Dream time. I was one with all those that have sat here for tens of thousands of years in awe of this place. The rock does change colour, like they say, but what I wasn’t expecting is that it seems to be enjoying the light, not just reflecting it.
“That was the highlight of the day, but it was a remarkably close thing because after that we spent 5 hours walking around the base of the rock – it’s 10 km and it’s amazing. I loved every step of it.
“Today enters my top 10 all-time list. These photos and these words do not come close to doing the day justice.”
This day was both Guru Rinpoche Day and an opportunity to walk into the warm embrace of Kata Tjuta. Towering high above us, the massive forms gave us both a sense of vast time and space, but also intimacy and warmth.
I’m not sure if we were simply delirious from lack of sleep or giddy from the uplifting power of this place, but we were all in high spirits as we picnicked before Kata Tjuta at sunset: playing desert soccer – taking creative photos – laughing so much!
Khenpo la’s teaching today was based on the ‘The 37 Practices of the Bodhisattva’: mind which guides us to reframe situations so that we respond in a useful way rather than in a way which causes harm to ourselves and others.
When we suffer (through circumstances or at the hands of others) this is the exhaustion of one negative cause we created in our past. Khenpo la taught today that one cause has one result. Once it is exhausted, we are free of that karma.
At that point it is up to us: if someone takes advantage of us or gossips about us, how do we respond? Without mind training, we almost always respond negatively – getting angry, ‘getting back at’ that person... and in this way, we begin a new cause for our own future suffering. If we implement the mind training, however, we may be able to, at the very least, cause no further negative karma for ourselves or our assailant.
At best, Khenpo la explained, we can realise that they have given us a precious opportunity to deepen our practice of loving kindness, compassion, and wisdom. No-one is completely devoid of positive qualities. Also, all beings in previous lives have been our mother or child. So, we generate love for our assailant. No one seeks to harm others who is not already suffering themselves. So, we have compassion for them.
We are honest with ourselves about our own faults and our capacity to help (Is it better to act or to sit back from the situation and simply offer the person love and care quietly in our hearts?) In this way, we practise wisdom.
We are finding that we have become attached to this wonderful, sacred land. As we pack up our things and close our cases, I think we are not brushing off ALL the red sand. We have made a heart connection to this place and deepened our connection to Khenpo la and the Dharma. And as an aside: it turns out that by camel is a great way to see a Central Australian sunset!
What an amazing experience...
May all who attended be blessed to return with Khenpo la to this sacred place and may all those who have not been, have the opportunity to do so. Most importantly, may all of us keep in our hearts the teachings we have received here and practise them in our everyday life to benefit beings.