Dalai Lama Meets with Participants of Tibet House’s Nalanda Courses

The Buddhist Channel, 4 June 2023

Dharamsala, India -- His Holiness the Dalai Lama recently engaged with nearly 500 students who have recently graduated from or are currently studying in the Nalanda Masters Course, the Nalanda Diploma Course offered by Tibet House, New Delhi. These courses, led by Geshé Dorji Damdul from Tibet House, have attracted over 4,000 students from 98 countries.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the meeting with participants in Tibet House's Nalanda Courses at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 2, 2023. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

During his address to the students, His Holiness expressed his gratitude to the organizers for effectively managing the diploma course. He stated, "Having been in exile for a long time, I've had the opportunity to meet numerous individuals on occasions like this, and we have learned from one another."

Referring to Jé Tsongkhapa's "Great Treatise on the Stages to the Path to Enlightenment," His Holiness highlighted the importance of spreading the teachings of the Buddha in places where it has not yet reached or where it has declined. He mentioned the growing interest in spiritual traditions from countries such as Europe, which were previously focused solely on their own religious traditions. His Holiness emphasized that the essence of the Nalanda Tradition lies in the transformation of the mind, rather than mere rituals and prayers.

He explained the historical significance of Buddhism in Tibet, which began in the 7th and 8th centuries when Tibetan kings became interested in the teachings. King Songtsen Gampo introduced a new Tibetan script based on the Devanagari alphabet, enabling the translation of Indian Buddhist literature into Tibetan by scholars like Shantarakshita. These translations eventually resulted in the creation of the Kangyur and Tengyur collections.

His Holiness also mentioned the debate organized by King Trisong Detsen between Kamalashila, a student of Shantarakshita, and representatives of the Hvashang Chinese monks. Kamalashila's extensive explanations of the Buddha's teachings, compared to the Chinese monks' focus on meditation, led to the establishment of an approach to study and training that involved reading, listening, reflection, reason, logic, and meditation.

While Buddhism has spread to various countries, His Holiness highlighted that Tibetan Buddhism provides a comprehensive explanation of the Buddha's teachings. He noted that scientists interested in the workings of the mind often turn to the Tibetan tradition due to its emphasis on reason and logic. Through these qualities, the Tibetan tradition has made contributions to the welfare of the world in the context of secular ethics.

In his efforts to promote inter-religious harmony, His Holiness acknowledged the philosophical differences among different spiritual traditions. However, he emphasized that all traditions share a common emphasis on cultivating a good heart. He praised India as a nation where multiple religious traditions flourish harmoniously side by side.

During the meeting, His Holiness was requested to give an oral transmission of Jé Tsongkhapa's "Three Principal Aspects of the Path." However, he chose to provide the transmission of Jé Rinpoché's "In Praise of Dependent Arising" instead. He expressed his gratitude and devotion to the Buddha, as it is through the teachings that he has cultivated bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness.

Reflecting on his own inclination as a child to question and investigate rather than accepting things blindly, His Holiness stressed the importance of questioning and investigating within the Nalanda Tradition. He received the transmission and explanation of "In Praise of Dependent Arising" from the Khunu Lama Rigzin Tenpa.

His Holiness explained that dependent arising defines the teachings of the Buddha. He emphasized that everything is dependent and arises in dependence on other factors, highlighting the interconnectedness of all phenomena.

Quoting verses from "In Praise of Dependent Arising," His Holiness underscored the uniqueness and greatness of the Buddha's teachings. He declared that cultivating the altruistic mind of bodhichitta and understanding emptiness are the best ways to repay the kindness of Buddha Shakyamuni. Through these practices, he personally experiences ease and contentment.
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