Re: Heart Sutra /HH the Dalai lama part II
> It's funny how life works. I had gone to bed and been wokenup by my 17 year old son who was really feeling stomack sick. So, I
got him settled down and feeling a bit better, and by then I was
wide awake again. So, I thought I'd just glance at my E-Mails for a
second. And then I found your entry! Thank you so very, very much,
Karta. The Dalai Lama's words have always been a soothing balm to
my soul. But I have never, ever been anywhere that he is. So, I
have just now read his words through you, with a blissful smile upon
my face. You did a wonderful job!
> So, enjoy the part of tomorrow's class that you are able toattend, and Saturday's as well. And I'll be a little greedy here
and enjoy them vicariously through you. Thanks again!
>I am so glad you liked it Sarojinim here is part II
> Peace and Love Always,
Today I was fortunate enough to sneak out of work for a few hours to
hear His Holiness the Dalai Lama began a lecture on the Heart Sutra.
This is a three day class and I'm going to sneak out of some work
tomorrow and Attend Saturday during the day as well. I thought I'd
share some of what he said (as interpreted through my notes) with
Please forgive my spelling, my crutch... er, spell checker is not
Tickets for the three day class were $150. He also taught a class
Saturday at 5:30 pm called "Peace through Inner Peace" and
a "Medicine Buddha" class on Sunday 9am at Shoreline in Mountain
View. Tickets were available through ticketmaster.com for the
Shorelines event. Tickets for Sunday are $45 for lawn seats.
His Holiness started this morning talking about the diversity of
religions and then even the diversity of views within buddhism. This
set a backdrop for his history of the sutras, and how we end up with
the Heart Sutra and where it fits into the greater picture of
Buddhist scriptures. By the end of today, he had begun going through
the Heart Sutra line by line.
I want to point out that these are just my notes of H.H.'s lecture
as seen through me. All omissions and errors are most definitely
I missed some of the afternoon session, couldn't sneak out of work
for the whole thing, but I'll summarize as much detail as I have.
His Holiness Does Shoreline...
The shoreline stage was decorated with a large backdrop picture of
the palace in Lhasa, with a small decorated throne like chair in
front for the fourteenth Dalai Lama to sit on. Thulka paintings hung
on either side of the stage, but it was a simple display. His
Holiness sat on his seat, with about 160 monks in crimson and orange
robes seated facing him to either side; they were there to hear his
teachings too. I had a seat assignment but found it more comfortable
sitting in the shade on the lawn. The sun was beating down on us
He started his lecture in English. He has a charming voice. He later
switched to Tibetan with the help of a translator so he would have
the strength to teach for all four days. The Secret Service mulled
in and out of the crowd, some in plain clothes but still with little
ear microphones and cords descending into their shirts. Some
disguised as TV camera men setup and appeared to be taping His
Holiness but they were really taping the audience. I generally feel
threatened by such security, but this time I felt more thankful for
their presence. They were protecting him. No pagers, cell phones,
cameras, or binoculars were allowed. Metal detectors lined the
entrance for more security. In a way this was really nice, we had
to "let go" of these possessions before coming to class.
The majority of people, His Holiness believes, are not part of a
faith religion currently. Yet there are positive qualities which
faith religion has helped us promote in ourselves. We must consider
new ways to promote those same positive qualities, for so many which
are not part of a religious tradition.
Many faith religions have complicated and evolved philosophical
bases, some have deep ethical bases, but all seem to have a
dimension that is metaphysical or philosophical explaining "why"
or "what is." They also typically have a second dimension that is
ethical derived from the first dimension. The many religions have
much diversity in the first dimension, but most arrive at a similar
ethical endpoint in some way encompassing love and compassion, etc.
Why is there diversity between many religion's philosophical bases?
The Buddha's teachings are diverse. The Buddha believed that there
was an appropriateness to each teaching to the recipient. He taught
differently to different people, what was suitable for each. By
judging the effectiveness of a teaching to a recipient, one can be
effective. It is like in medicine, picking the right remedy and
strength for an individual patient. Although a specific medicine may
be a good medicine and potent, it may not be appropriate for that
patient and may do harm instead of good. With this understanding it
is easy to see how different religions serve different recipients.
Having many religions is important given the diversity of peoples.
With this understanding, the appreciation for diversity is
increased. It is important to realize that other religious
traditions serve millions of people.
Each religion has a unique perspective and strengths. A Christian
brother pointed out that the growth of monasteries in Nepal over the
last thirty or forty years. But there has not been an increase in
schools or hospitals, which is a shame. If those were Christian
monasteries, there would be many more schools and hospitals. A
Buddhist can only respond that "yes, that is true."
Many Christians are interested in the Buddhist concept of Emptiness.
H.H. warns that this is somewhat of a Buddhist business and perhaps
they should not go deeply into it.
Many people here today may be pursuing a path that is grounded both
in Christianity and Buddhism, but at a certain point we must
specialize in one or the other. Like in teaching, one after a
certain point must dive in deep into a specialty.
We've talked about the diversity of religions being a valid
viewpoint, but how is this reconciled with the idea that there is
only one truth or one valid religion. H.H. does not see a problem
here. one truth/one religion is valid from the perspective of the
individual, many truths/faiths is valid in the context of the
There are two world camps. One is theistic - with a creator - and
one is non-theistic - without a creator. Buddhism, Jainism, and one
branch of Samkia fall into the latter. In this second branch, there
are two camps. One accepts that there is an eternal principle, a
unitary, unchanging principle of self or "atma" or soul. The other
camp is Buddhism, which rejects this concept of soul. Also there is
a distinction around reincarnation, which Buddhism believes. And
there is a distinction of salvation being in the physical plane or
not - and Buddhism believes that salvation is from the point of view
of a state of mind, on the physical plane.
These teachings this weekend, are from the Buddhist perspective.
There are three camps on the chronology of Buddhism, when did the
first Buddha give his teachings and live. One camp says 2500 years
ago, another over 3000 years, and a third says 2900 years. H.H.
believes this is somewhat of a heresy that we do not really know
when Buddha came to the world. He has suggested that we use modern
techniques to test relics and conclude this. <the audience laughs...>
The Buddha Sukyamuni endured many hardships and lived for six years
as an ascetic. All leaders of religions pursued the spiritual path
through hardship. There is a lesson here. If people follow the
spiritual path of their faith, they should expect hardship too.
There is often a belief among Buddhist monks that although the
Buddha went through these hardships, that they will not need to.
This is wrong.
His Holiness then spent time talking about Buddha's first teaching,
about the four noble truths and the 37 aspects of the path to
enlightenment. I couldn't write down all the details on the 37
aspects, but I did catch that there are two major categories of this
single point of mind
The principle obstacles for attaining these two qualities are an
excitement or laxity of the mind. The practices and traditions in
Buddhism aim at overcoming these obstacles, of stripping the mind of
the distracting objects. The 37 aspects are grouped as a
progression, the first developing a foundation of mindfulness, which
leads to an enthusiasm allowing development of the next aspects:
reducing harmful acts and encouraging positive actions. Then comes
skill development to enhance your focus and capacity to concentrate
on a single object - which helps develop faculties and spiritual
strengths... leading to the ability to apply the eight practices of
His Holiness spent a fair amount of time describing the different
scriptures, including the first turning of the wheel of dharma: the
direct teachings of Buddha, the second turning of the wheel of
dharma: the sanskrit sutras for perfection wisdom, and the third
turning of the wheel of dharma: the later teachings of perfection
wisdom. These later teachings were for students of the mahayana
path, who were not suitable for hearing the earlier teachings of
Emptiness, for they were at risk for falling into Nihilism. The
first set of sutras from this third turning of the wheel were for
them. The second set of sutras were about clarity of mind plus
arguments about the authenticity of the mahayana scriptures in
general. There must have been doubts about their authenticity
because they were not well known.
H.H. spent more time explaining the arguments for the authenticity
of the mahayana teachings. The chief argument was this: there were
only a few years in which time the Buddha attained wisdom and then
enlightenment. There are two aspects involved that are separate. The
continuum of consciousness which attains enlightenment and the
negative aspects of mind which must be reduced through wisdom. The
latter has an antidote in the teachings and attainment of wisdom,
which is only a matter of time. The former is not something attained
through accumulation of wisdom, so it is unreasonable that Buddha
developed enlightened consciousness in six years -- there must be a
continuum of consciousness which preexists and continues. Therefore,
later scripts written can have the same validity as the original
How we as practitioners validate the teachings however the reverse
of this. First came the authentic scriptures - directly from the
Buddha. Then came the authentic commentary about the scriptures,
then came the authentic teachers - actualized / realized teachers.
Then spiritual experiences grew in the practitioners. This is the
progression of Buddhism. But in validating these teachings the
reverse is true. Practitioners need a degree of authentic experience
first. For example, as we practice Bodhicitta [Ed: open or loving
heart] we can feel in our heart the ordinary spiritual experience.
It has an impact. It leaves a change. It gives us a taste - and we
can develop a sense of validity for the teachings of the Lamas and
develop a conviction for that validity. This is the only way open
for us. Inference is blind, and can only touch tangible objects
through some direct experience.
H.H. then spoke more specifically about the sutras, their
translation from sanskrit to tibetan and the validity of that
translations. Their structure and organization.
He then began talking about the sutra, in what appeared to be a line
by line fashion. Here are some random scribbling of notes, I
couldn't quite follow it line by line like that:
In the sutra, Buddha is described as someone who has "conquered" the
four mayas or obstructive forces. He entered into the "profound" -
the emptiness or way that things really are - because of his wisdom
and its focus on attaining enlightenment. He was a bodhisattva which
translates to "enlightened hero" and in tibetan has another word for
bodhisattva translates into two different terms than "enlightened"
and "hero", but into "realization of knowledge" and "overcoming
negativity". The term itself implies the key qualities: always with
compassion, always with an eye to all sentient beings with
This endeavor is the engagement of the perfection of wisdom.
There are three kinds of scriptures, those spoken by the Buddha,
those approved by the Buddha, and those inspired by the Buddha. The
Heart Sutra is the third kind. It is written as a commentary between
two monks, one the direct disciple of Buddha (or those using his
name), inspired by the Buddha.
"Any noble son or daughter who wishes to engage in the perfection of
wisdom should train in this way."
H.H. then took a minute to talk about gender. He feels that the
original principles, and then later the monastic principles, do not
include any distinction of gender. In fact, the monastic tradition
has ordination for both men and for women. But there is differences
in the position of fully ordained men and women. This is not a bias
based on the fundamental principles, but on the current monastic
tradition based on the culture which it is based in. Perhaps this
tradition should be looked at carefully now. <applause from the
Some have asked, "Why don't you - the Dalai Lama - decree that women
be equal." But our tradition is one of consensus of the entire
monastic tradition and not decree.
Heart Sutra (continued)
"Noble son" implies an inclination or motivation to pursuit of
attainment of enlightenment. This includes some qualities of the
individual like a modest desire, a sense of contentment, etc.
The pollutants which obscure our vision of reality are separable.
And they are based on an erroneous view that there is a basis of
substance. It is this erroneous view that leads us to attach, cause
emotional affliction, and so on. Focusing on recognizing the natural
emptiness of the mind, practicing the natural nirvana, begins to
unravel the erroneous views. That leads to the true nirvanas,
including the final Buddha nirvana where the duality between samsara
and nirvana also drops away.
"They should seek incessantly, repeatedly, that even the five
aggregates are devoid of substance".
There is an emphasis on "even". So too that a person made up of the
five aggregates are devoid of substance. So too the "I" reading this
is devoid of substance, and all the elements of the "I" including
the mind are devoid of intrinsic existence. Even the emptiness
itself is devoid of intrinsic existence. So too are the Buddhas who
have attained nirvana devoid of substance.
"So... have we arrived at the point where nothing exists?", His
Holiness chuckled. "Even I who is experiencing this hot sun am not
here? Yet we still feel that something is there, that can be felt,
that we can hold."
Because of the difficulty of these concepts of emptiness and what we
experience, we see the diversity of thought even in the non-theistic
traditions. There are those that believe in soul or atma and even in
Buddhism those that believe in no-self in reference to phenomenon,
and so on.
Closing Day 1
At this point the day was at an end, and His Holiness thanked us and
said we would continue tomorrow morning. And when he stood the
entire audience stood in respect, as we had done at lunch so he
could leave first out of respect. But instead of walking out with
his handlers, he walked to the front of the stage and raised his
hands together and he bowed to us.
Read Day 2
Read Day 3
ps: yearning for the loving, questioning, humorious witty Darshan of
> my Sadguru HH the Dalai Lama