Dalai Lama Imparts Teachings on the "Middle Way" to Southeast Asian Gathering

The Buddhist Channel, September 6, 2023

Dharamsala, HP (India) -- Under the radiant morning sun, His Holiness the Dalai Lama strolled from his residence to the Tsuglagkhang, a path lined with devotees reciting mantras such as "Om ara patsa na dhi" and "Mig-tse-ma." The spiritual atmosphere was palpable as the Dalai Lama embarked on a significant session.

Members of the audience from Southeast Asian countries on stage during the second day of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on September 6, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Upon reaching the temple, Theravadin monks chanted the Mangala Sutta in Pali, followed by Vietnamese monks reciting the 'Heart Sutra' in their native language. Representatives from various Buddhist groups came forward to offer a mandala and symbolic representations of the Buddha's body, speech, and mind. Following another rendition of the 'Heart Sutra' in Tibetan, tea and bread were distributed among the congregation.

His Holiness commenced the gathering by reminiscing about a profound moment during a pan-Buddhist assembly in Varanasi, where he felt a profound connection with the Buddha. He emphasized how the Buddha's teachings have endured for nearly 2,600 years due to dedicated practitioners who have embraced his wisdom and cultivated the awakening mind of bodhichitta along with an understanding of emptiness.

"Preserving ethical values and practicing the teachings requires us to internalize these principles," His Holiness shared. He recounted his lifelong pursuit of the Dharma, highlighting his studies from the Three Collections and the threefold approach of study, reflection, and meditation. He stressed the need to understand that phenomena do not exist independently but are designated by our perception.

The Dalai Lama noted a resurgence of interest in the Buddha's teachings in traditionally Buddhist countries, drawing parallels between these teachings and science. He expressed hope that individuals would realize that cultivating altruism and a clear understanding of emptiness, initially perceived as unattainable, can indeed be achieved.

"Cultivating a good heart brings benefit to oneself and others, leading to love and affection," he explained. He cautioned against the modern focus on material development at the expense of inner values. According to him, a warm-hearted individual naturally attracts more friends.

The key, he asserted, lies in merging compassion for others with the understanding that individuals and phenomena lack inherent existence, a combination that has brought him immense personal benefit.

Turning to Chandrakirti's 'Entering into the Middle Way,' His Holiness delved into the fourth chapter, which centers on diligence or joyous effort, the source of all virtuous qualities. He humorously mentioned his tutor's nickname for another tutor, "Radiant," due to his shiny, bald head.

The Dalai Lama then guided the congregation through the comprehensive yoga of the mind, stressing that cultivating a good heart is the path to fulfilling one's own interests. He emphasized that even birds and animals appreciate kindness.

He argued that world peace hinges on individuals developing a good heart rather than relying on official resolutions. His Holiness emphasized the importance of experiencing a mother's love and affection as the foundation for global peace. In his view, a good life is characterized by possessing a good heart.

He encouraged listeners to briefly meditate on his words and visualize these thoughts transforming into a moon disk at the heart.

Continuing, the Dalai Lama prompted the audience to examine the concept of self and the illusion of an independent, controlling "I." He guided them in a brief meditation on this insight, visualizing it as a white, five-spoked vajra atop the previously envisioned moon disk at the heart.

These two principles, the awakening mind of bodhichitta and the view of emptiness, constitute the core of the Dalai Lama's practice. He assured attendees that steady meditation on these ideas could transform their minds.

In response to a question from the audience, His Holiness emphasized that cultivating analytical meditation is essential, as mere concentration is insufficient to counter erroneous views.

The gathering left with a deeper understanding of the Middle Way teachings and a renewed sense of spiritual purpose under the guidance of the revered Dalai Lama.
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