Medicine Buddha Empowerment in the Theckchen Chöling Tsuglagkhang

[] DHARAMSALA, Mar 31: His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived promptly in the Theckchen Chöling Tsuglagkhang this morning to commence preparatory procedures for the Medicine Buddha empowerment he was to give. An eager crowd of Tibetans and people from abroad packed the temple area and the garden below.

“Today, the Tibetan Doctors Association have requested a Medicine Buddha empowerment from me, perhaps they think it will improve their skills. Still, reciting the Medicine Buddha mantra isn’t what will make you better at what you do, study and practice are the proper way,” His Holiness began. “We Tibetans have a very profound medical system. During the 8th century, the Emperor, Trisong Detsen, convened an international conference about medicine over which he presided, as a result of which Tibetan medicine became a synthesis of several traditions. Now, in the 21st century, we need to take advantage of opportunities to improve it further.”

He said that whether the teaching taking place is long or short, and whether you are giving it or listening to it, it is important to have a pure motivation. He mentioned a Lama called Tseley Rangdol who made three pledges in relation to his teaching: not to ride horses from place to place, to eat only vegetarian food and not to take any payment. His Holiness said this really impressed him.

He spoke about taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, saying that the Dharma is the real refuge. He added that in the Sanskrit tradition the main practice is generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness and the goal is complete enlightenment. Noting that Tibetan doctors were the principal disciples today, he also made mention of the large number of school students who were attending.

“Although we want happiness, we run after the causes of suffering,” His Holiness remarked, recalling that once he had been enthroned as Dalai Lama he had the opportunity to study the Dharma. However, confined to the Potala and Norbulingka he had little contact with ordinary people and their lives. That only occurred once he started to travel, first to Dromo in Southern Tibet, later to China, where he met many Communist leaders and after that to India where he met freedom fighters who had been followers of Mahatma Gandhi. As his travels extended to Thailand and Singapore in the 1960s and Europe and the USA in the 1970s he met people from all walks of life. What he observed was that everyone looks to material development expecting that happiness will follow. Gradually, though, people have begun to realise that material development by itself is not enough. Nowadays, even scientists observe that peace of mind is what’s important, that peace of mind leads to physical well-being.

“Human beings are all born from their mothers with whom nearly all develop strong bonds of affection. Affection becomes a part of us. The more love and compassion there is in your life, the happier you are. As social animals, like bees, we have a sense of community and within that context love and compassion are the source of genuine happiness.

“I’m a human being first and a Tibetan and Buddhist only second. As a human being what concerns me is how to bring happiness to the rest of humanity. What I have learned is that if you have a warm heart, you’re happier. This is why I make the effort to promote secular ethics. I am convinced that if the Buddha were to appear today what he’d teach would be secular ethics; this is what would be of most help to the 7 billion human beings alive today. What’s clear is that self-centredness is a source of trouble, while concern for others is a basis for happiness.”

His Holiness went on to clarify that while suspicion leads to mistrust and an inability to get on with others, honesty, sincerity, love and compassion attract friends. These kinds of inner qualities that belong to secular ethics cannot be bought, nor can they be manufactured in a factory; they are found by transforming our minds. Followers of theistic religions tend to believe in a creator. Regarding other beings as his creation encourages a sense of love and compassion for them. Non-theistic religions like a branch of the Samkhyas, Jains and Buddhists believe instead in the law of causality, that good actions have good results and lead to happiness and bad actions have bad results. This also encourages a sense of love and compassion for others. What distinguishes Buddhism is its teaching of dependent origination. He remarked that our human intelligence enables us to appreciate how helpful all these different religious traditions can be.

Alluding to the extensive and rigorous study and training that characterize Tibetan Buddhism, His Holiness mentioned the crucial role the Tibetan language has played as the best language for accurately expressing the Nalanda tradition. He expressed gratitude to the early Tibetan Emperors who took up Shantarakshita’s initiative to translate Indian Buddhist literature into Tibetan, an achievement of which every Tibetan can be proud.

In the course of giving the Medicine Buddha empowerment, His Holiness led the congregation through the ceremony for generating the awakening mind.

In his final words, His Holiness spoke about Baba Phuntsog Wangyal who died yesterday. He said that he had known him personally since 1951 and that he regarded him as a Tibetan hero. On the one hand he was a Communist revolutionary, but on the other he was a proud, stalwart Tibetan. Because of this he was imprisoned from 1957. Nevertheless, he remained dedicated to the welfare of the Tibetan people throughout his life. His Holiness fondly recalled that last year, Phuntsog Wangyal had sent him a photograph of himself holding a scarf in folded hands, suggesting that the Communist became a Buddhist in the end. His Holiness invited everyone present to say a round of manis together for Phuntsog Wangyal, for others who have died in the Tibetan struggle, including those who have committed self-immolation.


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