Tagarchief: Buddhism

Great Ancient Masters


      Jampa in Nalanda India                                                                               foto : jampa
Great Ancient Masters ( many of whom taught in Nalanda )

The wisdom teachings of the Mahayana are contained in three primary sets of writings. The first and oldest of these are the Prajnaparamita texts, which date to the beginning of the current era. These wisdom texts go beyond conventional understanding and speak directly to one’s innate enlightened nature. They are the first pointing out texts –transmitting the transcendent wisdom that sees the emptiness of all conceptualized views of reality.

Later, Nargarjuna applied the insights of the Prajnaparamita to classical Indian philosophy and through his articulation of the nature of emptiness beautifully and impeccably dismantled prevailing scholastic views on the nature of reality, establishing the primacy of the inexpressible as the heart of the Buddhist path. In the Mahayana tradition Nargarjuna is seen as the primary spokesperson of the Pranjaparamita literature.

These teachings were united with the meditative and devotional traditions of Mahayana by a brilliant set of teachers from Gandhara, Asanga and Vasubandu, whose works are the culmination of the early Mahayana movement. The school that held this transmission tradition was Yogacara, which became the leading philosophical school in India during the 3rd to 5th centuries, at the same time that Neoplatonism was the leading philosophical school in the Classical Western World. Yogacara teachings still form the philosophical core of the great Buddhist contemplative lineages such as Zen, Mahamudra and Dzogchen. In a similar manner Neoplatonism underlines Western contemplative lineages.

Yogacara translates as “practitioners of yoga” emphasizing the school’s commitment to meditation as the essential nature of the Buddhist path. It is also known as the Consciousness Only School for their central teaching that all reality is a display of consciousness.


According to the Tibetan tradition, Asanga was born in Purusapura, the capital of Gandhara, of a Brahmin woman who was herself a considerable adept in the teachings of Buddhism and who taught him the “eighteen sciences” which he mastered easily. He became a monk and for five years applied himself diligently, memorizing one hundred thousand verses of dharma each year and correctly understanding their meaning.

He then left the monastery to practice the Arya Maitreya Sadhana in a cave at the foot of a mountain. For three years, not a single good sign appeared, and he became depressed and decided to leave his retreat. Emerging from his cave he noticed a bird’s nest by the mountain where the rock had become worn just by the brushing of the bird’s wing as it flew back and forth. Realizing his perseverance was weak, he returned to his cave to practice. For three more years he meditated, but again not a single good sign appeared. He became discouraged and left again. This time he saw a rock beside the road that was slowly disintegrating because of the trickle of single drops of water. Inspired by this, he returned and practiced another three years.

When again no signs appeared, he left his retreat a third time. He encountered an old man who was rubbing a piece of iron with a smooth cotton cloth. “I am just finishing this needle,” the man said to Asanga. “I have already made those over there” and pointed to small pile of needles lying nearby. Asanga thought, “If such effort is put into a mundane task such as this, my effort so far has been merely a trifle.”

He returned and meditated for another three years. Although he had by now meditated for 12 years on Maitreya, he still had no signs of favor. He became extremely despondent and walked away from his cave. After awhile he came across a half-dead dog lying beside the road, infested with maggots, crying out in pain. Asanga thought, “This dog will die if these worms are not removed, but if I try to lift them out with my hand, I will crush them.” So using his tongue so as not to hurt them, and cutting off some of his own flesh for them to live in, he bent down to remove them. At that moment the dog vanished and Maitreya appeared, showering cascades of light in all directions.

Asanga burst into tears and cried, “Ah, my sole teacher and refuge, all those years I made so much effort in my practice, exerting myself in a hundred different ways, but I saw nothing. Why has the rain and the might of the ocean come only now when tormented by pain, I am no longer thirsting?” Maitreya replied, “In truth, I was in your presence constantly, yet because of karmic obscuration you were unable to see me. However, your practice has purified your karma and removed your obstacles. Now by the force of your great compassion you are able to meet me. To test my words, put me on you shoulders for others to see and carry me across the city.”

Asanga was overjoyed. Lifting Maitreya onto his shoulders carried him into town, yet no one saw Maitreya. One old woman saw Asanga was carrying a dead dog and that brought her endless good fortune. A faithful servant saw Maitreya’s feet and found himself in a state of samadhi which granted him all the siddhis. Asanga himself realized the samadhi called “Continuum of Reality”. “What is your desire now?” Maitreya asked him. “To revive the teachings of the Mahayana,” Asanga replied. “Well then, hold onto the end of my robe.” Asanga did this and together they ascended to the pure land of Tushita where they stayed for fifty years. Here Asanga mastered the teachings of the Mahayana and received the famous Five Texts of Maitreya, each of which opens a different door of samadhi.

Dedicated to actualizing these teachings, Asanga returned to the earth and built a small temple in a forest. At first only a few students came to learn teachings from him, but gradually the fame of his doctrine spread and the Yogacara School was established. He became the abbot of Nalanda and lived to be well over 100, but always had a youthful look, with no gray hair or wrinkles.

He compiled many important Mahayana works including what has come to be known as The Five Texts of Maitreya. These include the Abhisamayalamkara (Ornament of Clear Comprehension), the  Mahanaya Sutralankara (Ornament of the Mahayana Sutras),  the Madhyanta-vibhanga (Discourse on the Middle between the Extremes), the Dharma-dharmata-vibhaga, and the Uttaratantra (The Peerless Continuum). His Mahayana-samparigraha (Compendium of the Mahayana), Abhidarma-samuccaya (Compendium of Higher Doctrine), and Yogacharabhumi-shastra (Treatise on the Stages of Yoga Practice) are also famous.

According to the Tibetan historian Taranatha, Tantric teachings were handed down in secret through the Yogacara lineage from the time of Asanga. In the Tibetan canon are several Tantric works ascribed to Asanga including a Maitreya Sadhana and a Prajna-Paramita Sadhana.


The cofounder of Yogacara, Vasubandu, is traditionally said to be the younger brother of Asanga. He was also born in Purusapura in Gandhara and became a monk of the Sarvastivadin school. He went to Kashmir to study their teachings including their renown Abhidharma works. He also was said to possess a complete understanding of the Tripitaka and the tenets of all the Hinayana schools.

Vasubandu wrote Seven Branches of Metaphysics, an encyclopedic work clarifying the main points of teachings of the early Arhats, The Four Oral Traditions of Vinaya on Buddhist discipline, and the most famous compendium of Abhidharma teachings in the Buddhist tradition, the Abhidharma-kosa and a commentary to it called the Abhidharma-kosa-Bhayasa. The Kosa describes the Buddhist path to enlightenment by categorizing and analyzing the basic factors of experience called dharmas.

Impressie uit Nalanda hd from jampa gyatso on Vimeo.

Already famous for his intellectual understanding of Buddhism, Vañsubandu came to Nalanda University and was converted to the Mahayana by Asanga. According to a traditional account, Asanga summoned Vasubandu under the pretext that he was dying. When Vasubandu arrived and asked the cause of his illness, Asanga replied, “I have a serious disease of the heart which arose on account of you.” Vasubandu asked, “How did it arise on account of me?” Asanga replied, “Because you do not believe in the Mahayana and are forever attacking and criticizing it. For this wickedness you will be reborn in a miserable existence. Grieving for you has brought me close to death.” Vasubandu was surprised at this and asked Asanga to expound the Mahayana to him. Upon doing so he became convinced of the truth of the Mahayana and asked his brother what he could do to overcome the negative karma he had accumulated. Asanga answered, “Since your skillful and eloquent speech against the Mahayana earned you this negative karma, you must now use your skillful and eloquent speech to propound the Mahayana.”

De ruines van Nalanda , Bihar , India                                                                                                                           foto : jampa

Vasubandu went on to write many works which systematized the Consciousness Only teachings including On the Three Natures, the Twenty Verses, and the Thirty Verses, perhaps the most famous of the Consciousness Only texts. He also wrote devotional hymns and commentaries on Mahayana texts, including works of Asanga. He is also credited with being the founder of Pure Land Buddhism.

According to one Tibetan account,

Vasubandu was in the habit of reciting daily the Perfection of Wisdom in 8000 Verses. Once a year he would sit in an iron cauldron filled with sesame oil and for fifteen consecutive days and nights would recite five hundred Hinayana sutras and five hundred Mahayana sutras. After Asanga passed away, he became abbot of Nalanda. Every day he taught 20 classes on various Mahayana Sutras and constantly met in debate and defeated the false views of other teachers. For over 100 years he traveled in India and Nepal establishing the dharma and teaching the Mahayana doctrine.

Many of his debates were with Samyka teachers, a school like Yogacara based on yogic experience that flourished at that time. Other debates were with proponents of yoga as reflected in Patanjali’s famous sutras.

After a long life, Vasubandu eventually left this world to reside in the Tushita heaven with Maitreya.


Stirmati was one of the famous disciples of Vasubandu. He was born in the southern Indian city of Dandakaranya of low caste parents, and studied with Vasubandu from age seven. He wrote commentaries on Abhidharma and the works of Vasubandu, including the Trimsikabhasya (Commentary on The Thirty Verses).


Dignaga, another disciple of Vasubandu, was one of the most respected Indian philosophers. Born in the southern Indian city of Simhavakta to a Brahmin family, he became a monk with a Hinayana teacher, but dissatisfied with the Hinayana teachings went in search of further instruction and met Vasubandu.

Every day he would recite 500 Mahayana sutras. From a tantric master who was an emanation of Heruka he received the empowerment and the “Method of Actualization” of Manjushri. By practicing this, he received a vision of Manjushri, and from then on received teachings from Manjushri whenever he wished.

Dignaga is known as the founder of Buddhist logic. He wrote over a hundred works on logic and other matters including Arya Prajnaparamita -samgraha-karika (A Verse Compendium of the Noble Perfection of Wisdom), and the Pramanasamuccaya (The Synthesis of All Reasoning). The later was such a profound and timely text that according to the Tibetans when Dignaga wrote the salutation to the work, “Homage to him who is Logic personified…”, the earth shook, thunder and lightning flashed, and the legs of all the heretical teachers in the vicinity became as stiff as wood. Using his skills at logic, he became famous as a debater. He was also famous for his miracles and had many disciples. He traveled throughout India establishing Mahayana, and spent many years in Kashmir. He completed his life meditating in a remote cave in the jungles of Odivisha.


Gunaprabha, one of Vasubandu’s closest disciples, is famous for his mastery of Vinaya. He was born in Mathura of a Brahmin family. He studied the Vedic teachings, and the Hinayana teachings in addition to receiving Mahayana teachings from Vasubandu.

According to the Tibetan accounts, he recited the Hundred Thousand Vinayas daily and resided in a monastery in Mathura called Adrapuri that had 5000 monks, all of whom kept the Vinaya rules perfectly.

He composed the Vinaya-Sutra, Basic Teachings of the Vinaya and One Hundred Actions. His Aphorisms of Discipline are one of the “five great books” that form the basis for the twenty year study program in Tibetan monastic colleges.


Vimuktasena was another close disciple of Vasubandu. He is famous for his mastery of the Prajna-Paramita sutras. He was born in Jvala-guha in south-central India. He was a devotee of Maitreya and received both advice and teachings from the celestial Buddha.

He wrote a text called Twenty Thousand Lights on the Prajna-Paramitas. Towards the end of his life he became the spiritual guide of a king in South India and supervised twenty-four temples where he widely taught the Prajna-Paramita Sutras.


A disciple of Dignaga, Dharmapala became the head of Nalanda after his teacher died. After that he went to Bodhgaya and became abbot of the Mahabodhi Monastery. He died at the age of 32. He wrote a number of original works and commentaries most of which have been lost.


Dharmakirti was born in the southern Indian town of Cudamani to a Brahmin family. At an early age he became learned in the arts, the teachings of the vedas, medicine, grammar, and the tenets of the various sages. Then becoming inspired by the teachings of Buddha and the lineage of Pure Consciousness, he took ordination as a monk from Ararya Dharmpala and studied the Tripitaka from beginning to end. Every day he recited 500 different sutras and mantras.

He became a great adept at logic, equal to the master Dignaga himself, and wrote a famous commentary on Dignaga’s Synthesis of All Reasoning. He also wrote Seven Treatises of Logic. His works became the basis for debate training in the Tibetan monasteries. He himself was said to be such an excellent debater that the population of Indian sages of other schools was quite depleted by his efforts, since after losing they had to convert to Buddhism or throw themselves into the Ganges.


A disciple of Dharmapala, Silabhadra was born to a royal Brahmin family in the East Indian city of Samatata. He was conversant with the teachings of all sects, famous for his mastery of Buddhist sutras and commentaries, and became head of Nalanda where 104 years old, he taught the Chinese Master, Hsuan-Tsang, the Consciousness Only doctrine through his exposition of Asanga’s Treatise on the Stages of Yoga Practice.


Paramartha was one of the great translators of Buddhist texts into Chinese, Paramartha was already a master in India when he traveled to China in 546 at the age of 47. At the request of the emperor of China, he settled in the capital and began the translation of texts. Political instability in China forced him to move quite often, but he was still able to translate the important works of the Yogacara lineage into Chinese including the Abhidharmakosa, the Mahayana-Samparigraha, and various works of Vasubandu. He is also famous for his translation of the Diamond Sutra. All together, Paramartha translated sixty-four works in 278 volumes. His translations made the later success of Yogacara possible in China and inspired Hsuan-Tsang several generations later to travel to India for additional texts and commentaries.


Hsuan-Tsang in de Hsuan-Tsang Memorial Hall in Nalanda, India foto : Jampa


Hsuan-Tsang was a remarkable spiritual pilgrim who became one of the most famous Chinese Masters. The son of a poor Chinese official, he left home at the age of 13 to study Buddhism. According to a traditional account,

During those early years of study, if there was a Dharma Master lecturing on a Buddhist text, no matter who the Dharma Master was or how far away the lecture was being held, he went, whether it was a Sutra lecture, a Shastra lecture or a Vinaya lecture. He listened to them all. Wind and rain couldn’t keep him away from lectures on the Tripitaka, to the point that he even forgot to be hungry. He just took the Buddhadharma as his food and drink. He did this for five years and then took the Complete Precepts.

In 629 at the age of 27, having been a monk for fifteen years, he secretly left China and made the dangerous journey across the silk road to India. Sixteen years later, having learned Sanskrit and studied with the best Indian teachers, he returned with an incredible collection of 657 Indian texts, a number of statues of the Buddha and various relics. He was acclaimed by the Emperor who supported him the remainder of his life so he could translate the texts and convey the Mahayana teachings to China. On his deathbed he dedicated his merit so that all present would be born again among the inner circle of Maitreya in Tushita Heaven

De reis van Hsuan-Tsang in de Hsuan-Tsang Memorial Hall Nalanda India                                  foto : Jampa

His Cheng Wei Shih Lun (Treatise on the Attainment of Consciousness Only), a compendium outlining Yogacara doctrine, became the standard text for the Consciousness Only schools of China and Japan.

He translated many other Sanskrit texts into Chinese including the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, which filled 600 volumes, Asanga’s Treatise on the States of Yoga Practice, the Master of Lapis Lazuli Radiance Tathagata which established the practice of the Medicine Buddha in China and the Far East.

Yogacara Masters After Hsuan-Tsang

Kuei-Chi (638-682 A.D.) was Hsuan-Tsang’s most prominent Chinese student. He systematized the Yogacara teaching and established Yogacara as a distinct school in China, called Fa-hsiang. He also wrote commentaries to Hsuan-Tsang’s Yogacara works including the Fa-yuan-i-lin-chang and the Wei-shih-shu-chi.

Hsuan-Tsang also had several notable Japanese and Korean students. Dosho (628-700) studied with Hsuan-Tsang for ten years sharing a room with Kuei-Chi. When he left to go back to Japan he was given sutras, treatises and Yogacara commentaries to help him establish Yogacara there which he did, teaching at Bwangoji monastery. His most famous student is Gyogi (667-748). A Korean student Chiho studied with Hsuan-Tsang and also went to Japan to teach. His pupil Gembo went back to China in 716 and was instructed by Chih-Chou, a pupil of Kuei-Chi. Another early Japanese student who studied with Hsuan-Tsang was Chitsu. “Thus,” as Junjiro Takakusu wrote in his Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy in 1947, “Japan received the orthodox teaching sacrosanct from first-hand authorities of the Indian and Chinese Yogacara School and with the Japanese even now it is the chief subject of Buddhist learning.”

Hosso, the Japanese name for Yogacara, thrived during the Nara period and today several prominent ancient temples are still functioning. Yogacara proper in India and China did not fare so well. The Yogacara School in India became part of a Yogacara-Madhyamika School which thrived in the last centuries before Buddhism disappeared in India under Islamic persecution. This school became influential in Tibet through Santaraksita, one of the first Buddhist Masters to teach in Tibet, and today all Tibetan sects have a strong Yogacara component. This is especially visible in the more contemplative Kagyu and Nyingma practice traditions. Several Kagyu teachers have supervised English translations of Asanga’s works in recent years.

An example of the respect Tibetan teachers have for Yogacara is this appreciation taken from a dharma talk by the Venerable Traleg Rinpoche,

People have generally ignored how Yogacara philosophy influenced Buddhist tantra and its development. Even though it’s quite patent in the writings of Buddhist tantra… Yogacara philosophy itself developed as a reaction against too much theorization. It came to emphasize individual experience and practice,hence the name Yogacara, meaning practitioners of yoga… You could not theorize about Yogacara philosophy without meditating. In fact, you could not be a Yogacara philosopher unless you meditate. When we look at the writings of Yogacara philosophy, we discover many tantric concepts mentioned.

The Fa-hsiang School suffered under the general persecution of Buddhism in China during the middle of the 9th century and gradually disappeared. However, its works are still preserved, and it was revived in the 20th century by several Masters including Ou-Yang Ching-Wu (1871-1943), Abbot Taiuhso (1889-1947, and Hsin Shih-Li (1883-1968), who wrote A New Doctrine of Consciousness Only in 1944. This revival led to the Hsuan-Tsang’s Cheng Wei Shih Lun being translated into English for the first time in 1973 by Wei Tat, a member of a Hong Kong Yogacara group.

Perhaps the greatest success of the Yogacara teachings was in Gandhara where it Third Turning was revealed. There Yogacara became the foundation for Dzogchen which flourishes today in Tibet as the summit of Buddhist philosophy. That is no small honor for the remarkable work the early Yogacara Masters accomplished in clarifying the essence of the Mahayana path.


Haat ,gehechtheid en onwetendheid


484512_10151026529126865_661187424_nWe leven in een tijd vol geweld. Niet alleen op wereldschaal maar ook in onze persoonlijke levenssfeer.
Waar komt geweld vandaan ?
Uit gehechtheid.
Gehechtheid aan je ego. Gehechtheid aan bezit en opvattingen.
Uit onwetendheid.
Onwetendheid over de onderlinge afhankelijkheid van alle verschijnselen jezelf inclusief.
Ieder wezen wil geluk vergaren om te kunnen leven . Ieder wezen zal dan ook bedreigingen afwenden en plezierige omstandigheden willen aantrekken.
De haat komt voort uit angst. Angst om te verliezen wat je hebt , en wat je wilt blijven vasthouden om je geluk in stand te houden.
Haat en gehechtheid zijn twee vergiften die beiden voortkomen uit onwetendheid.
Wat is dan die onwetendheid ?
Het is onwetend zijn over de ware natuur van de verschijnselen.
Niets bestaat op zichzelf. Het heeft altijd een voorgaande oorzaak en is in zichzelf weer een gevolg. Door de juiste omstandigheden openbaren gevolgen zich in tijd en ruimte. Jij bent er door de oorzaak van het samenzijn van je ouders en de juiste omstandigheden. Jij bent het gevolg en de oorzaak weer van ontelbare gevolgen.
Door de omstandigheden te onderzoeken in je leven kun je greep krijgen op die omstandigheden en daardoor de oorzakelijkheid ( causaliteit of wet van karma) leren
Een mens die zijn totale karma gezuiverd heeft is een Ontwaakte of wel een Boeddha.
Uit goed karma komen alleen goede dingen voort .
Uit slecht karma komen alleen slechte dingen voort.
Slecht karma zijn alle handelingen die andere wezens en jezelf schade toebrengen.
Goed karma zijn alle handelingen die andere wezens en jezelf helpen minder te lijden.
De Boeddha vroeg zich af waar het lijden ( geboorte , ziekte , sterven ) vandaan kwam. In zijn verlichting zag hij dat alle lijden voortkwam uit onwetendheid.
Vanuit zijn wijsheid ontstond grenzeloos mededogen met alle wezens.
De wijsheid van de onderlinge afhankelijkheid liet hem zien dat het lijden door de onwetendheid van alle wezens ook zijn eigen lijden was.
Mededogen is de wens dat de ander niet lijdt. De lijdende mens heeft niets aan je medelijden maar heeft actie nodig om het lijden op te heffen. Dit is het ware mededogen.
Het boeddhisme is dus een pad gebaseerd op het diepe inzicht in de onderlinge afhankelijkheid van alle bestaan.
Zoek een GU ( donker ) RU ( licht ) die je kan helpen met zijn/haar spiegelende wijsheid om het Pad te gaan naar de grootste vorm van mens zijn : het Ontwaakt zijn.


Het ontwikkelen van gelijkmoedigheid


Root Institute for Wisdom Culture Bodhgaya India                                                                                                     foto : jampa 2011

While in Bodhgaya in october 2011 I stayed with you at the Root Institute.
Between meditation and visiting Holy Places I translated The Wish-fulfilling Golden Sun of the Mahayana Thought Training by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in my native Dutch language. Please accept this translation of this wonderful text. 

Het ontwikkelen van gelijkmoedigheid   De Mahayana Evenwichts-meditatie

door Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Denk : het is nooit genoeg om alleen zelfbevrijding na te streven. Gehechtheid aan persoonlijke vrede en hier alleen naar streven is zelfzuchtig en wreed.
Visualiseer dat je omringt bent door alle voelende wezens , met je moeder links van je zittend en je vader rechts van je zittend. Visualiseer voor je een vijand, iemand die een hekel aan je heeft of die je kwaad wil doen. Achter je , plaats je je beste vriend, de persoon tot wie je je het meest aangetrokken voelt . Aan de zijkant, visualiseer je een vreemdeling, iemand voor wie je gevoelens neutraal zijn.

Denk: Er is helemaal geen reden voor mij om gehecht te zijn aan mijn vriend en hem te helpen of om mijn vijand te haten en te schaden. Als ik alleen maar naar mijn eigen vrede zou streven, zou er geen reden voor mij zijn om menselijk geboren te zijn. Zelfs als een dier , zou ik hiernaar streven. De verschillende dieren hebben het zelfde doel als veel hoogopgeleide mensen – zelfgeluk – en creeren veel negatieve handelingen, zoals vechten met en het vernietigen van vijanden, anderen bedriegen enzovoort, allemaal in het najagen van hun eigen geluk. Er is bijna geen verschil tussen hen en ons afgezien van hun vorm.

Het belangrijkste doel van mijn menselijke geboorte is om te streven naar en het bereiken van hogere doelen : namelijk om ieder levend wezen naar altijddurend geluk te leiden. Dit is iets wat een dier nooit kan doen.

Precies zoals ik lijden wil vermijden en geluk wil vinden zo doen ook andere levende wezens dit. Daarom zijn ikzelf en alle andere bewuste wezens gelijk aan elkaar en is er geen logische reden voor mij om meer om mijzelf te geven dan om anderen of om vijanden of welk ander ander bewust wezen dan ook te schaden.

Ontelbare wedergeboorten lang heb ik onderscheid gemaakt tussen andere wezens als vriend, als vijand of vreemdeling door middel van het zelf-ik-bewustzijn. Chandrakirti zei :”Waar zelf-ik-bewustzijn is , is onderscheid maken naar “de ander”. Uit het onderscheid maken tussen jezelf en de ander komt gehechtheid en haat voort”.
Alle ongeluk komt voort uit het handelen onder invloed van deze negatieve gedachten. Het zelf-ik-bewustzijn veroorzaakt gehechtheid aan het zelf, dat gehechtheid aan mijn eigen geluk voortbrengt.

De hele reeks van negatieve geestesgesteldheden komt uit bovenstaand voort. Kwaadheid wordt veroorzaakt door hebzucht en gehechtheid aan het zelf en laat mij onderscheid maken door het scheppen van het zelf . Het brengt me tot het onderscheid maken tussen wie mijn geluk verstoort en wie niet. Op deze wijze scheppen we de vijand. Gehechtheid creeert de vriend, die helpt en het bepaalt wie de vijand is die hindert. Onwetendheid bestempelt diegenen die noch helpen noch hinderen als vreemden.

Kwaadheid brengt mij ertoe de vijand te haten en te schaden ; gehechtheid brengt mij ertoe aan mijn vriend gehecht te raken en hem te helpen ; en onwetendheid brengt mij ertoe te denken dat de vreemde een permanente natuur heeft. Door zo te handelen onder de invloed van deze negatieve geestesgesteldheden laat ik mijzelf belanden in moeilijke situaties vol lijden.

Gehechtheid schept gevaar en lijden voor mijzelf en anderen. De hele aarde loopt het risico te ontploffen. Gehechtheid brengt geen vrede en brengt allleen maar lijden.

Sinds beginloze tijden hebben de twee negatieve handelingen van het helpen uit gehechtheid en het schade toebrengen uit kwaadheid mij in samsarisch lijden geworpen en daarmee het onmogelijk voor mij gemaakt om de perfecte vrede van bevrijding en verlichting te bereiken.

Negatieve daden laten indrukken achter op het bewustzijn. Deze rijpen daarna in eindeloze ervaringen van lijden. Als ik zo blijf handelen zal ik hetzelfde lijden steeds weer eonen-lang ervaren en zal ik nooit realisaties ontvangen laat staan velichting bereiken.

De drie objecten van vriend, vijand en vreemde zijn vals en verkeerd bestempeld om extreme en tijdelijke redenen. De huidige vriend, vijand en vreemde zijn niet altijd vriend, vijand en vreemde geweest in mijn ontelbare vorige levens. Zelfs de vijand van vorig jaar kan dit jaar mijn vriend worden en de vriend van gisteren kan mijn vijand van vandaag worden. Het kan allemaal in een uurtje veranderen en dat doet het zo vanwege gehechtheid aan dingen als voedsel, kleding en reputatie.

Heer Boeddha zei : “In een ander leven , wordt de vader de zoon, de moeder, de echtgenoot, de vijand een vriend. Het verandert voortdurend. In het cyclische bestaan is niets zeker.” Daarom is er geen reden om gehecht te zijn aan vrienden of om vijanden te haten.

Als het onwetende, zelf-ik concept en zijn objecten waar waren, dan zouden de drie bepalingen van vriend, vijand en vreemde bestaan hebben vanaf ontelbare vorige levens hiervoor en ze zouden voortgaan te bestaan door het heden tot voorbij de Verlichting. Dit zou complete nonsens maken van het concept van Verlichting, want de geest van de Boeddha is volledig vrij van waanbeelden en indrukken die zulk onderscheid maken.

Uit mededogen leerde Heer Boeddha ons de Evenwichtsmeditatie zodat ook ik vrij van waanbeelden, indrukken en onwetende onderscheiding kan geraken…. De concepten van vriend, vijand en vreemde zijn vals want zij en hun basis zijn totale illusie. Er is geen zelf-ik.

Mijn kamertje in Bodhgaya. Foto : Jampa 2011

Mijn problemen zijn niet door de vijand geschapen maar door mijzelf. In mijn vorige levens heb ik anderen geschaad uit onwetendheid en de gevolgen hiervan zijn in dit leven teruggekomen met als gevolg problemen en lijden voor mij.

Heer Boeddha zei : “In vorige levens heb ik jullie allemaal eerder gedod en hebben jullie mij afgeslacht. Waarom zouden we gehecht zijn aan elkaar ? “
Candrakirti sprak : “Het is dwaas en onwetend om een aanval van een vijand met wraak te vergelden in de hoop om er een einde aan te maken, omdat de vergelding alleen maar meer lijden brengt.”
Daarom is er geen reden voor vergelding.

De vijand is het object van mijn beoefening van geduld, die mij helpt mijn kwaadheid te overwinnen. Ik moet deze vijand niet haten want hij brengt vrede in mijn geest.

De vijand is oneindig meer kostbaar dan welke materieel bezit dan ook. Hij is de bron van al mijn vorige, huidige en toekomstige geluk. Ik moet de vijand nooit haten. Welk bezit dan ook kan opgegeven worden voor zijn vrede.

Een vijand is mijn grootste behoefte, de bron van de Verlichting van alle wezens , die van mijzelf inbegrepen. De vijand is mijn kostbaarste bezit. Voor zijn vrede kan ik mijzelf opgeven.
De vijand die me geestelijk en lichamelijk schade toebrengt is onder de controle van zijn negatieve geest. Hij is als de stok die iemand gebruikt om een ander te slaan. Er is geen reden om door boos te worden of door wraak te nemen de vijand kwaad te berokkenen. Het is niet zijn schuld ; net zoals de pijn die ik ervaar door een klap niet de schuld is van de stok.
Vanaf nu moet ik nooit meer de vijand of enig ander levend wezen haten of schade toebrengen. Vanaf nu moet ik nooit meer de vijand of welk ander levend wezen dan ook haten of schade berokkenen.

Als ik heldere wijsheid bezat zou ik zien dat het schaden van anderen uit haatgevoelens het mijzelf schaden is uit haat. Vanzelfsprekend dien ik niemand anders te schaden.

Alle voelende wezens , inclusief de vijand , zijn het object van mededogen van Heer Boeddha. De ontelbare boeddha’s houden de vijand en alle levende wezens liefdevol aan hun hart. Daarom is een ander schaden toebrengen , al is het maar heel weinig , gelijk aan het schade toebrengen aan de oneindige boeddha’s.

De Boeddha beschouwt alle voelende wezens , inclusief vijanden , als belangrijker dan zichzelf. Gedachtenloos een ander schaden ten eigen voordele is de daad van een geest van steen.

De vijand en alle andere voelende wezens zijn ontelbare keren mijn moeder geweeest. Het heilige lichaam, de spraak en de geest van de oneindige boeddha’s zijn de dienaar van alle wezens , de vijanden inbegrepen. Daarom moet ik nooit enig ander levend wezen schaden.

Mijn ergste vijand is de onwetendheid in mijn eigen geest. Een uiterlijke vijand vernietigen in plaats van mijn eigen onwetendheid is als een vriend per ongeluk doden door hem aan te zien als een vijand. Ik moet de uiterlijke vijand niet schaden maar de innerlijke vijand, de feitelijke oorzaak van al mijn lijden, bestrijden.

Door de transcendente realisaties gebaseerd op de evenwichts-meditatie zal geen bodhisattva een ander voelend wezen ooit als een vijand zien, zelfs al zou die zich tegen hem keren.

De vijand is slechts een concept voortgebracht door mijn haat, net zoals vrienden en vreemden concepten zijn voortgebracht door mijn gehechtheid en onwetendheid. Ik dien de vervormde perepties van mijn negatieve gedachten niet geloven.

Als ik met mijn wijsheidsoog onderzoek, zal ik nooit mijn door gehechtheid ontstane vriend of mijn door haat ontstane vijand waar dan ook vinden, noch binnen noch buiten hun lichamen. Wijsheid vertelt mij dat ze slechts benamingen zijn.
Door al deze redenen, kan ik nu duidelijk zien hoe dom en onzinnig ik ben geweest gedurende beginloze levens.
Als je deze evenwichts-meditatie zou kunnen realiseren zou het je kostbaarste zijn. Evenwichtigheid brengt vrede aan ontelbare wezens en aan al je toekomstige levens.

Colophon : Deze meditatie komt uit Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s boek “The Wish-fulfilling Golden Sun of the Mahayana Thought Training’’ Kopan Monastery, 1974 Rinpoche heeft het als meer dan de standaard Evenwichts Meditatie beschreven omdat hij er een aantal technieken om kwaadheid te bemeesteren en geduld te beoefenen aan heeft toegevoegd.
Dutch translation Jampa Gyatso done in Bodhgaya India october 2011.



Tibetan spiritual leader in-exile His Ho

De Dalai Lama is inmiddels 78 jaar oud. Drie jaar geleden heeft hij zijn rol als wereldlijk leider van de Tibetanen opgegeven. Al een decennium eerder droeg hij het ambt van regeringsleider over aan een gekozen leider. Zijn land blijft sinds 1959 bezet door China waar mensenrechten onverminderd onder druk staan.

Tibetanen hebben hun verzet niet opgegeven – in tegendeel, de onvrede met het Chinese bestuur uit zich in een ongekende hoeveelheid zelfverbrandingen van Tibetanen. Een protest dat weinig krantenkoppen haalt, want de wereld lijkt zich te hebben neergelegd bij het feit dat China een wereldmacht is geworden waartegen je niets kan inbrengen. Met andere woorden, het lijkt tijd voor de Dalai Lama om met pensioen te gaan.

Maar niets is minder waar: de Dalai Lama, de winnaar van de Nobel Vredesprijs in 1989, blijft onverminderd actief. Waarom? Wat drijft hem om op zijn leeftijd nog steeds vier maal per jaar de wereld over te reizen? Het antwoord is eenvoudig: de Dalai Lama heeft een missie. En die missie is nog niet volbracht.


Wat is die missie? De Dalai Lama heeft op zijn wereldreizen een groot aantal mensen ontmoet. Onder hen zijn toonaangevende wetenschappers, vooral op het snijvlak van psychologie, hersenonderzoek, gezondheid, ethiek en meditatie. Als boeddhistisch leider pleit de Dalai Lama voor het belang van compassie voor alle levende wezens, mens en natuur. Maar dankzij de inzichten uit de moderne wetenschap is de Dalai Lama in zijn optredens nog meer nadruk gaan leggen op het belang van compassie: het is namelijk goed voor je omgeving EN jezelf, en dit heeft op zich niets te maken met boeddhisme of welke religie dan ook. Dit is de menselijke natuur, zoals modern biologische en psychologische onderzoek diepgaand heeft bevestigd.

In zijn boek Vrij van religie: een pleidooi voor vrede, compassie en welzijn legt de Dalai Lama uit hoe dat zit. Een grote doorbraak heeft plaatsgevonden binnen de neurobiologie. Door de hersenactiviteit te meten van mensen die mediteren op onder andere compassie is vastgesteld dat compassie gecorreleerd is aan functies in het lichaam die gezondheid en welzijn stimuleren. Zo vertoont het lichaam minder stress en meer veerkracht. Vanzelfsprekend heeft dit ook een positieve invloed op de omgeving. Er zullen minder conflicten zijn, minder oorlogen, en meer harmonie en vrede.

In de moderne samenleving is er een grote toename van stress, angststoornissen en depressies. Dit is mede een gevolg van de invloed van de moderne technologie, die mensen dag en nacht kan bezighouden. De kosten hiervan nemen een grote omvang aan. Zorgverzekeraars maken zich daarover zorgen. Deze ontwikkeling is niet tegen te gaan door meer medicijnen te verstrekken. De oplossing ligt in een andere levensstijl. Meditatie en andere toepassingen vormen hiervoor de basis.

‘Educatie van het hart’

De Dalai Lama zegt: “Mijn hoop en wens is dat het formele onderwijs in de toekomst aandacht zal besteden aan wat ik de ‘educatie van het hart’ noem. Ik ben optimistisch dat de tijd zal komen dat het vanzelfsprekend is geworden dat kinderen op school zullen leren over de noodzaak van innerlijke waarden zoals liefde, rechtvaardigheid en vergeving. Ik zie uit naar de dag dat kinderen meer bewust zullen zijn van hun gevoelens en emoties, en een grotere mate van verantwoordelijkheid zullen voelen voor zichzelf en voor de wereld om hen heen. Zou dat niet fantastisch zijn?”

Deze boodschap wordt door vele internationale onderzoekers omarmd. Zo heeft de Stanford universiteit een centrum opgezet dat compassie onderzoekt. Ook in Nederland groeit de belangstelling. De Dalai Lama zal in Rotterdam op een congres met de titel ‘Education of the Heart’ spreken met leiders van vele onderwijsinstellingen.

Op 11 mei geeft de Dalai Lama een openbare lezing met de titel ‘Welzijn, wijsheid en compassie’. Dit zijn niet alleen maar mooie woorden. Het zijn beoefeningen die we ons eigen kunnen maken en die positieve gevolgen hebben voor onszelf en onze omgeving. Daarvan is de Dalai Lama overtuigd. Samenvattend zegt de Dalai Lama: “Als je gelukkig wilt zijn, ontwikkel dan compassie; als je wilt dat anderen gelukkig zijn, ontwikkel dan compassie.”

Auteur: Sander Tideman, organisator van het seminar ‘Education of the Heart’ en lid van het organiserend comité Stichting Bezoek Dalai Lama Nederland.



This is a very condensed and precious explanation of what Buddhism is all about.

So take your time to read this text bit by bit and repeatingly.

When you clearly analyze and feel able to accept the meaning, you more or less hold the key to understand most other Buddhist texts and (very important!):
the main purpose or goal of meditation, whatever technique or method is used (e.g. shine, deity yoga, awareness).

This teaching by HH. Kalu Rinpoche
should be printed in gold letters and illuminated with sparkeling rainbows of enlightenment!

The Mahamudra.(1).experience and approach is perhaps the quintessence of
all Buddhadharma.(2). In order for this quintessential approach to be
effective, we must have some understanding of the nature of the mind that we
are attempting to discover through the Mahamudra techniques.

Mahamudra has three aspects: foundation, path, and fruition.Foundation
Mahamudra is the understanding which is based on our appreciation of the
nature of mind. This must be augmented by the process of path Mahamudra
which is direct experience and acclimatization to that nature of mind through
meditation. Finally, there is the fruition or result aspect of Mahamudra,
which is the actualization of the potential inherent in the nature of mind.
This actual aspect of transcending awareness includes the Dharmakaya.(3),
Sambhogakaya.(4), and Nirmanakaya.(5) as the facets of completely enlightened
experience. It is not beneficial to speak of Mahamudra lightly; we must not
ignore any of these three aspects of the Mahamudra approach.

Foundation Mahamudra implies a deep appreciation and understanding of the
nature of mind. When we say that this is the correct view, we do not use the
phrase in a casual sense. Very often, we say, “Well, in my view, such and such
is the case,” but this does not necessarily mean that we have understood it at
all. We may say, “I believe in previous existences,” or, “I don’t believe in
future existences,” but very often our talk is not based on experience and
appreciation, but merely on an idea to which we give lip service. What is meant
in foundation Mahamudra is a thorough appreciation of the nature of mind
itself, the mind with which we are working, and the mind which we are
attempting to discover.

To get a deeper understanding of the nature of mind itself, we can quotes the
authority of enlightened masters of the lineage as a guide. The third Karmapa,
Rangjung Dorje), wrote a prayer of aspiration for the realization of Mahamudra
in which he said, “It is not existent because even the Buddha could not see it,
but it is not non existent because it is the basis or origin of all samsara.(6)
and nirvana.(7).” It does not constitute a contradiction to say that mind
neither exists nor does not exist; it is simultaneously existent and non existent.

Let us consider the first part of the statement that the mind does not exist.
We take into account that the mind is intangible. One cannot disscribe it or
find it. There is no fixed characteristic that we normally ascribe to things
which we can ascribe to mind. Consciousness does not manifest with any
particular color, shape, size, form or location. None of these qualities has
anything to do with the nature of mind, so we can say that the mind is
essentially empty of these limiting characteristics.

Even the fully enlightend Buddha Shakyamuni.(8).could not find any thing that
is mind, because the mind does not have identifying characteristics. This is
what Rangjung Dorje meant when he said, “It does not exist because even the
Buddha could not see it.”

So, then, is mind nonexistant? No, not in the sense that there is nothing
happening. That which experiences confusion, suffering, frustration and all the
complexity of samsaric existance is mind itself. This is the origin of all
unenlightened experience; it is within the mind that all unenlightened
experience happens.

On the other hand, if the individual attains enlightenment, it is mind
which is the origin of the enlightened experience, giving expression to the
transcending awareness of the various kayas.(9).

This is what Rangjung Dorje meant when he said, “One cannot say that it does
not exist, because it is the basis for all samsara and nirvana.” Wether we are
talking about an enlightened state of being or an unenlightened one,we are
speaking about the state of experience that arises from mind and is experienced
by the mind. What remains if mind neither exists nor does not exist?
According to Rangjung Dorje, this is not a contradiction, but a state of
simultaneity. Mind exhibits, at one and the same time, qualities of
non existance and qualities of existance. To state naively that mind exists is
to fall into one error; to deny the existance of anything at all is to fall
into another error. This gave rise to the concept of what is called the Middle
Way or Madhyamika. Finding a balance between those two beliefs, where there
is simultaneous truth to both, is the correct view, according to the Buddha’s
description of the nature of mind.

When we hear a guru make the statement, “Mind does not exist;mind does not
not exist; but it is at the same time existent and nonexistent, and this is
the middle view,” we may say, “Fine, I can accept that,” but that is not
enough. It is an idea that may appeal to us, a concept with which we are
comfortable, but that kind of understanding lacks any real spirit or depth.
It is like a patch you put on your clothes to hide a hole. One day the patch
will fall off. Intellectual knowledge is rather patchy in that way.It will
suffice for the present but it is not ultimately beneficial.

This is not to say that intellectual knowledge is unimportant.It is
crucial because it is that which gives us the ability to begin to develop
personal experience of what is being discussed. However, mere understanding
on a superficial or intellectual level should not be mistaken for the direct
experience. We can only arrive at that through meditation and the continued
analysis of our own experience. The value of intellectual knowledge is that
it is a springboard to deeper, more intuitive experience.

First, then, we say that mind is essentially empty, that is not describable
as some thing. Other than using the label mind., there is no thing that could
be further described in terms of form, shape, size, color or any
distinguishing characteristic.

Beyond this essential emptiness, we can make the statement that mind is
like space. Just as space is all-pervasive, so is consciousness. The mind
has no problem conceiving of any particular place or experience. While we
have attempted to describe the indescribable by saying that mind is
essentially empty, that is not the complete picture. We are speaking of
something that is obviously qualitatively different from simple space.We
need to remember that when we are using these terms, we are attempting to
describe something that is indescribable. However, that does not mean that
it cannot be directly experienced. The person who is mute is still able
to experience the sweetness of sugar without being able to describe it to
anyone else. Just as the mute person has trouble describing the taste of
sugar, we have trouble describing the nature of mind. We search for examples
and metaphors that will give us some idea of what is being experienced.

Another aspect of the nature of mind is its luminosity. Normally we think
of this term in a visual sense. We think of a luminous body like the sun or
the moon which shines and gives off light. However, this is merely a
metaphor to give us some idea of what is being hinted at. To say that the
mind is luminous in nature is analogous to saying that space is illuminated.
For example, we can have empty space and there might be no illumination;
then the space would be obscured. There is space, but no ability to see
clearly; there is no direct experience possible in complete darkness.
Just as there is clear vision in illuminated space, so in the same way,
while mind is essentially empty, it exhibits the potential to know,which
is its luminosity. This is not a visual experience per se, but the ability
of mind to know, perceive and experience.

In our continuing attempt to describe the nature of mind, to discribe the
indiscribable, we next speak of the unimpeded or unobstructed dynamic nature
of mind. It will be useful to divide this element of unimpededness into a
subtle and a gross aspect. The most subtle or fundamental level of the
unimpeded quality is an awareness of the emptiness and luminosity of the
mind. The mind is essentially empty and has this illuminating potential to
know and experience.

The coarse or gross aspect of the unimpeded dynamic manifestation of mind
is conscious experience, which does not depart from emptiness and
luminosity, but is the experience of, for example, seeing and recognizing
form as form, hearing and recognizing sound as sound, and so forth.This is
the ability of mind to experience the phenomenal world, to make
distinctions, to make value judgments based upon that discrimination.

We may utilize a metaphor here. The Emptiness of mind is the ocean; the
luminosity of mind is the sunlit ocean; and the unimpeded dynamic quality of
mind is the waves of the sunlit ocean. When we take the waves of the sun lit
ocean as an event or situation, it is not as though we are trying to seperate
ocean from waves from sunlight; they are three aspects of a single
experience. The unity of these three aspects forms the seed or potential
for enlightenment. They are the pure nature of mind; the impurity of
obscurations, ignorance and confusion overlays what is inherently the
nature of mind itself.

There has always been the pure nature of mind and there has always
been fundamental ignorance in the mind. The essential empty nature of mind
has never been recognized for what it is; the luminous nature of mind has
ever been experienced for what it is; and the unimpeded or dynamic
manifestation of mind, this consciousness, this awareness, has never been
directly experienced for what it is. Because this level of ignorance is so
subtle and so fundamental, and because it is co-existent with mind itself,
it has been valid as long as mind itself has been valid. We speak of it as
co-emergent ignorance.

Just as there are subtle and gross aspects to the dynamic awareness of
mind that we noted earlier, there are subtler and coarser aspects to the
ignorance of mind. We have already spoken of the fundamental level of
co-emergent ignorance, the lack of direct experience of the empty,clear
and unimpeded nature of mind itself, and this is the subtle aspect of
co-emergent ignorance.

There is second level of ignorance that we might distinguish which is
termed labelling ignorance; it is a more conventional or relative ignorance.
Not only do we lack direct experience of the essential emptiness of mind,
for example but we substitute the self or ego for that experience.The
individual mind as something ultimately real is a distortion that has taken
place, due to a lack of direct experience, and this is an example of
labelling or relative ignorance. Likewise, due to a lack of direct
experience of the clarity and luminosity of mind, there is a projection of
something other than the mind, an object other than the subject. This is
again a relative level of ignorance. Rather than being a simple lack of
direct experience, there has been a distortion into something.

So the second level of obscuration in the mind is the aspectof ignorance
which begins to label things as I and other. Lacking direct experience,
the distortion takes place on a coarser level of dualistic fixation between
subject and object.

Once we have this dualistic framework, of coarse, emotionality develops
and action takes place. Karmic tendencies are reinforced by actions based
on the emotional confusion which springs from dualistic clinging. All of it
is based upon the fundamental ignorance which is the lack of direct
experience of the nature of the mind itself.

The nature of mind is like empty space, like the sky, which at present is
filled with clouds and fog and mist and periodically has all kinds of
activity such as hailstorms, snowstorms, rainstorms and thunder and
lightning. This activity does not change the fact that the empty space is
still present, the sky is still there. However it is temporarily obscured
by all these activities. The reason the Buddha presented his teachings,
which encourage basic moral choices between virtuous and nonvirtuous
actions and encourage the practice of meditation, is to eliminate the
obscuring and confusing aspects of our experience. This permits the
inherently pure nature of mind to become more obvious and be discovered,
just as the sun becomes more obvious as the clouds begin to dissipate.

As the most effective means to bring about that transformation rappidly
and directly, the Mahmudra approach has no equal. It gives us the most
powerful methods to turn the balance, to eliminate obscurations and allow
that manifestation to take place. Our present situation as unenlightened
beings is due to the victory of ignorance over intrinsic awareness;
Mahamudra speeds the victory of awareness over ignorance.

When we are concerned with foundation Mahamudra, then, we first and
foremost need to be exposed to ideas. This should take place in the
presence of a teacher who holds the transmission and can accurately
introduce us to the concepts which are the theoretical underpinnings of
the Mahamudra approach. After we receive the teachings and understand
what is being said, we take them home with us and begin to apply them
to our own experience. We say to ourselves, “Well, mind is empty,
clear and unimpeded. What do I experience when I experience mind? Does
it exist; does it not exist?” We check with our own experience. That
is very beneficial for developing a kind of mental construct from which
we can work, though it is not the ultimate experience. Conceptual
understanding is only a springboard, because the theme of Mahamudra is
spontaneity and uncontrivedness, and it is still a very contrived
situation to think of the mind as being empty. To directly experience
the nature of mind itself requires meditation.

So on this foundation level of Mahamudra, the analytical approach is
followed by, and interwoven with, the more intuitive approach of relaxing
the mind in its own natural state. The particular skill required is that
it must be a state of total relaxation which is not distracted or dull.
It is not an objective experience of looking for the mind or looking at
the mind. On the other hand, it is not a blind process; we are not
unaware. There is seeing without looking; there is dwelling in the
experience without looking at the experience. This is the keynote of the
intuitive approach.

While the mind is poised in the state of bare awareness, there is no
directing the mind. One is not looking within for anything; one isnot
looking without for anything. One is simply letting the mind rest in its
own natural state. The empty, clear and unimpeded nature of mind can be
experienced if we can rest in an uncontrived state of bare awareness
without distraction and without the spark of awareness being lost.The
pure nature of mind calls to mind an image such as the sun or the moon,
a luminous body. The unimpeded nature of mind permits the act of
thinking of this form in the first place, and we can rest in the bare
perception of that form without any further elaboration; we dwell in the
bare awareness of that form.

Thus one’s approach in developing the foundation aspect of Mahamudra
is, at times, an analytical or conceptual approach of examining the mind
from the point of view or trying to locate it, describe it or define it,
and at other times an intuitive approach of dwelling in the experience of
total relaxation of mind, an uncontrived state of bare awareness which
allows the experience of the nature of mind to arise.

The third Karmapa wrote a prayer in which he said that confidence comes
of clearly establishing the parameters of practice by defining the nature
of mind precisely. Then the confidence of actually experiencing and
appreciating it on an intuitive level completes the foundation. The prayer
describes meditation as remaining true to that experience by refining
through continual attention to and absorption in that experience. Path
Mahamudra is the refining of and attending to the basic experience of the
nature of mind and refine it, then at a certain point, an automatic
quality arises; the experience happens without one generating it or
discovering it. The mind is subject to very little distraction at all.
When this occurs, one has entered into the level of path Mahamudra which
is termed.one-pointedness.or focus on a single thing. In this case,the
focus is on a single aspect of experience, the experience of mind nature.
Traditionally there are three degrees of this one-pointed experience:
a lesser degree of intensity, an intermediate, and a very intense degree.

As meditation continues, the next clearly definable stage is a certain
spontaneity, where the experience is no longer the result of any particular
effort; to think of meditation is to have the experience. One begins to
discover the incredible simplicity of the nature of mind, absolutely free
from any complication and this, in fact, is the name given to the second
phase of experience,.simplicity, the freedom from complication.
Traditionally this phase also has three degrees of intensity; a lesser
degree, an intermediate degree, and a very intense degree.

In the beginning, one is meditating for short and frequent periods of
time rather than attempting long periods of forcing the mind. But as
experience accumulates and simplicity arises, one’s meditation naturally
begins to be longer and longer duration. Soon the phase termed one flavor
arises, which is the experience of the essential quality of all aspects
of phenomenal experience. Soon, seeing form, hearing sounds, smelling
smells, tasting tastes, feeling textures, thinking thoughts, formless
states of awareness and form states of awareness all have the same flavor.
One perceives the underlying essential nature of these experiences,rather
than being concerned with the superficial content. This is the third phase
of the experience of path Mahamudra, the unique flavor of all aspects of
one’s experience, and again, it has different degrees of intensity forming
a spectrum of experience, rather than clearly defined steps.

The spontaneity of the experience will take over completely so that there
seems no need to meditate at all. The experience arises without there being
any particular thought of meditating. This is a glimpse which itensifies
further to become the actual experience of the nature of mind without there
being any thought of meditation. The most intensive degree of this stage is
that meditation and being become one. At that point there is no longer any
distinction between meditating and not meditating because one is always
meditating. The full experience of this is the most intense degree of the
fourth phase of path Mahamudra which is termed beyond meditation..The
sustained experience of this phase is the result of all one’s efforts,
Mahamudra. It is the quintessential experience, the pinnacle experience in
terms of the attainment of enlightenment and realization.

It is important to identify the context of the Mahamudra experience.
Tradition assures us that any approach, other than one’s own efforts at
purifying and developing oneself and the blessing that one receives from an
authentic and qualified guru.(10), is stupid. Of course, at a certain
point, the practice becomes spontaneous and the efforts to purify oneself
and to develop devotion to receive blessings from one’s guru become second
nature. However, this does not become spontaneous until the intense level
of the simplicity experience, the second phase of Mahamudra practice,when
the practice of meditation becomes one’s purification, one’s development
and the receipt of blessing from one’s guru. The fundamental identity of
the guru’s mind and one’s own mind begins to be directly perceptible;
one’s deepening awareness assures further development of merit and the
further purification of obscurations and negativity; there is no necessity
to formally supplicate one’s guru, meditate upon one’s guru or generate
devotion in order to receive blessing, because the meditation practice
carries one along.

Up to that point, however, the efforts that we make to purif yourselves,
to develop our devotion and open ourselves to the guru’s blessing are
absolutely crucial. Only present exertions will convey us to the time when
they are no longer necessary; the practice of meditation becomes the process
of purification, the process of development and the process of receiving

– This teaching was given by Ven. Kalu Rinpoche at a meditation retreat in
Marcola, Oregon, USA, in 1982 and edited from tapes by a team of
translators. It is part of the book: H. E. Kalu Rinpoche ‘The Foundations
of Tibetan Buddhism’ (Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, NY USA).

– Some Annotations
(1).Mahamudra = Great Seal (Sanskrit) ~ (2) Buddhadharma = teachings
(dharma) of the Buddha ~ (3) Dharmakaya = enlightened mind  of pure light
and emptiness (our immament etheric Buddha nature of light and sound;the
formless and  non-dualistic ‘reality’) ~ (4) Sambhogakaya = the mind in a
various dreamlike form-body’s (like during sleep or having visions of e.g.
deities, ghosts, various magical emanations) ~ (5) Nirmanakaya = the mind
in a physical body (physical ‘reality’) ~ (6) Samsara = world of illusion,
ignorance and karmic restrictions (our obvious ‘reality’). In the Buddhist
view even the worlds of highly realized gods and goddesses are not free of
illusion and karmic restrictions ~ (7) Nirvana = state of emptiness
(beyond illusion, ignorance and coarse karmic restrictions / our hidden
‘reality’) ~ (8) Buddha Shakyamuni = the historical Buddha ~ (9) kayas=
embodyments/states (Nirmanakaya, Sambhogakaya, Dharmakaya) ~ (10) guru=
spiritual friend, experienced practitioner and teacher (p.s. in case you
don’t find such a person, try to visualize a radiant golden Buddha in front
of you or sitting on top of your head, blessing you with radiating golden
or rainbow-colored light, becoming your personal guru, and by melting into
your heart).

– Thank you for your interest!

Groot Meester


Vul je hoofd niet met nutteloze gedachten.
Waarom het verleden herkauwen en speculeren op de toekomst ?
Blijf in de eenvoud van het nu.

Wie zich scherp bewust is van de waarde van zijn bestaan als mens ,
maar het desniettemin opzettelijk verstrooit en verspilt aan stompzinnigheden ,
drijft de verwarring ten top.

De eerste bewustzijnshandeling van iedere ochtend zou het verlangen
moeten zijn om de dag op te dragen aan het welzijn van allen.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Wat we doen , zeggen en denken bepaalt ons karma ,
met andere woorden , het geluk en het lijden die ons levenslot zijn.

We dienen te beseffen dat wereldse verstrooiingen en beslommeringen ons
gevangen houden in het samsara , en we moeten hevig verlangen ons daarvan
te bevrijden . Elk moment staan we op een kruispunt : de ene weg leidt naar
de bevrijding , de andere naar de lagere vormen van bestaan.

Wie zich inspant om het Ontwaken te bereiken
moet rekening houden met ontzaglijke obstakels :
woede , begeerte , geestelijke verwarring , hoogmoed en naijver.

In plaats van ons in de luren te laten leggen door onze gewaarwordingen
laten we ze beter gewoon verdwijnen terwijl ze zich aandienen –
zoals letters die we met onze vinger op het water schrijven .

Het leven is zo breekbaar als tengere dauw op het gras:
het eerste ochtendbriesje blaast hem in kristallen druppels weg.

Ons lichaam is een werktuig
dat ons maar voor een korte tijd
ter beschikking staat : dit leven.

Zoals kleding door het vele dragen mettertijd tot lompen slijt ,
zo raakt het leven op , dag na dag , van seconde tot seconde.

De dag waarop je bent geboren , ben je begonnen met sterven :
verlies toch geen enkel ogenblik !

Waarom zouden we geen gebruik maken van de korte spanne tijd die we ,
met ons lichaam , aan de dood hebben ontfutseld ?

Liefde is het enige antwoord op haat.

Onze geest , en hij alleen , ketent ons vast of bevrijdt ons.

Rijkelui hebben nooit genoeg geld en de machtigen nooit genoeg macht.
Denk even na : de zekerste manier om al onze verlangens te bevredigen
en al onze plannen ten uitvoer te brengen is ze te laten vallen.

In plaats van ons in de luren te laten leggen door onze gewaarwordingen
laten we ze beter gewoon verdwijnen terwijl ze zich aandienen –
zoals letters die we met onze vinger op het water schrijven.

“De omgang met spirituele vrienden vervult je met liefde voor alle wezens en leert je inzien hoe negatief hechting en haat zijn. Het volgen van hun voorbeeld zal je vervullen van hun goede kwaliteiten zoals vogels die rond een gouden berg vliegen ook baden in gouden stralen.

Een prachtig land is een droomachtige illusie. Het heeft geen zin eraan vast te houden.
Tenzij die innerlijke negatieve emoties zijn overwonnen , blijft het conflict met vijanden van buiten bestaan.

Tussen de wolken van tijdelijkheid en illusie danst het weerlicht van het leven.
Kun je zeggen dat je morgen niet sterft ? Beoefen de Dharma ! “

Citaten van Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche uit “The Spirit of Tibet“.


“De ware natuur van de geest is verlichting.
Mensen met mededogen zijn vriendelijk ook als ze kwaad zijn.
Mensen zonder mededogen lachen zelfs als ze moorden.

De wijsheid van de spirituele realisatie , de ware staat van geest is als de hemel , als de ruimte : zonder centrum, zonder rand , zonder doel. Opgaand in de uitgestrektheid van de leegte zonder grenzen gaat alles wat ik zie of hoor , mijn eigen geest en de hemel in elkaar op. Als je een hoge berg ziet , denk dan aan het innerlijk zicht. Het zicht is de geest van de leraar onafscheidelijk van die van jezelf.

De Boeddha werd verlicht door een grenzeloos mededogen te ontwikkelen. Onze weg zou ook gebaseerd moeten zijn op de medelevende overtuiging om alle wezens te verlossen van lijden. We moeten begaan zijn met onze dierbaren , met hen die we als vreemdelingen beschouwen en vooral met hen die we als onze vijanden zien. Deze lessen staan ons toe om bevrijd te worden van lijden en onwetendheid. In de absolute betekenis is mededogen de ontwaakte toestand van de geest.”

The Song of Metta



The Song of Metta

Aham avero homi
Moge ik vrij zijn van vijandschap en gevaar
abyapajjho homi
Moge ik vrij zijn van geestelijk lijden
anigha homi
Moge ik vrij zijn van lichamelijk lijden
sukhi – attanam pariharami
Moge ik gelukkig voor mijzelf zorgen
Mama matapitu
Mogen mijn ouders
acariya ca natimitta ca
leraar , familieleden en vrienden
sabrahma – carino ca
mede Dhamma volgers
avera hontu
vrij zijn van vijandschap en gevaar
abyapajjha hontu
vrij zijn van geestelijk lijden
anigha hontu
vrij zijn van lichamelijk lijden
sukhi – attanam pariharantu
mogen zij gelukkig voor zichzelf zorgen
Imasmim arame sabbe yogino
Mogen alle medita
tie-beoefenaren in deze ruimte
avera hontu
vrij zijn van vijandschap en gevaar
abyapajjha hontu
vrij zijn van geestelijk lijden
anigha hontu
vrij zijn van lichamelijk lijden
sukhi – attanam pariharantu
mogen zij gelukkig voor zichzelf zorgen
Imasmim arame sabbe bhikkhu
Mogen alle monniken in deze ruimte
samanera ca
upasaka – upasikaya ca
avera hontu
vrij zijn van vijandschap en gevaar
abyapajjha hontu
vrij zijn van geestelijk lijden
anigha hontu
vrij zijn van lichamelijk lijden
sukhi – attanam pariharantu
Mogen zij gelukkig voor zichzelf zorgen
Amhakam catupaccaya – dayaka
Mogen onze schenkers van de vier ondersteuningen , kleding ,voedsel , medicijnen en onderdak
avera hontu
vrij zijn van vijandschap en gevaar
abyapajjha hontu
vrij zijn van geestelijk lijden
anigha hontu
vrij zijn van lichamelijk lijden
sukhi – attanam pariharantu
mogen zij gelukkig voor zichzelf zorgen
Amhakam arakkha devata
Mogen onze beschermengelen
Ismasmim vihare
in dit klooster
Ismasmim avase
in deze woning
Ismasmim arame
op deze plaats
arakkha devata
mogen de beschermengelen
avera hontu
vrij zijn van vijandschap en gevaar
abyapajjha hontu
vrij zijn van geestelijk lijden
anigha hontu
vrij zijn van lichamelijk lijden
sukhi – attanam pariharantu
mogen zij gelukkig voor zichzelf zorgen
Sabbe satta
mogen alle wezens
sabbe pana
alle ademende dingen
sabbe bhutta
alle schepsels
sabbe puggala
alle individuen
sabbe attabhava – pariyapanna
alle persoonlijkheden (alle wezens met geest en lichaam )
sabbe itthoyo
mogen alle vrouwen
sabbe purisa
alle mannen
sabbe ariya
alle edelen ( heiligen )
sabbe anariya
alle wereldlingen ( zij die heiligheid nog moeten bereiken )
sabbe deva
alle deva’s (godheden)
sabbe manussa
alle mensen
sabbe vinipatika
al diegenen die in de smartelijke vlakten zijn
avera hontu
vrij zijn van vijandschap en gevaar
abyapajjha hontu
vrij zijn van geestelijk lijden
anigha hontu
vrij zijn van lichamelijk lijden
sukhi – attanam pariharantu
mogen zij gelukkig voor zichzelf zorgen
Dukkha muccantu
mogen alle wezens vrij zijn van lijden
Yattha-laddha-sampattito mavigacchantu
moge wat zij gewonnen hebben niet verloren gaan
alle wezens zijn bezitters van hun eigen Kamma
Purathimaya disaya
In de oostelijk richting
pacchimaya disaya
in de westelijke richting
uttara disaya
in de noordelijke richting
dakkhinaya disaya
in de zuidelijke richting
purathimaya anudisaya
in de zuidoostelijke richting
pacchimaya anudisaya
in de noordwestelijke richting
uttara anudisaya
in de noordoostelijke richting
dakkhinaya anudisaya
in de zuidwestelijke richting
hetthimaya disaya
in de richting naar beneden
uparimaya disaya
in de richting naar boven
Sabbe satta
mogen alle wezens
sabbe pana
alle ademende dingen
sabbe bhutta
alle schepsels
sabbe puggala
alle individuen (alle wezens)
sabbe attabhava – pariyapanna
alle persoonlijkheden (alle wezens met geest en lichaam )
sabbe itthoyo
mogen alle vrouwen
sabbe purisaalle mannen
sabbe ariya
alle edelen (heiligen)
sabbe anariya
zij die nog heiligheid moeten bereiken
sabbe deva
alle deva’s (godheden)
sabbe manussa
alle mensen
sabbe vinipatika
al diegenen die in de smartelijke vlakten zijn
avera hontu
vrij zijn van vijandschap en gevaren
abyapajjha hontu
vrij zijn van geestelijk lijden
anigha hontu
vrij zijn van lichamelijk lijden
sukhi – attanam pariharantu
mogen zij gelukkig voor zichzelf zorgen
Dukkha muccantu
mogen alle wezens vrij zijn van lijden
Yattha-laddha-sampattito mavigacchantu
Moge wat zij gewonnen hebben niet verloren gaan
Alle wezens zijn bezitters van hun eigen Kamma
Uddham yava bhavagga ca
Zo ver als de hoogste niveau van bestaan
adho yava aviccito
tot aan het laagste niveau
samanta cakkavalesu
in het hele universum
ye satta pathavicara
welke wezens ook zich bewegen op aarde
abyapajjha nivera ca
mogen zij vrij zijn van geestelijk lijden en vijandschap
nidukkha ca nupaddava
en van lichamelijk lijden en gevaar
Uddham yava bhavagga ca
zo ver als het hoogste niveau van bestaan
adho yava aviccito
tot aan het laagste niveau
samanta cakkavalesu
in het hele universum
ye satta udakecara
welke wezens er ook zich bewegen in het water
abyapajjha nivera ca
mogen zij vrij zijn van geestelijk lijden en vijandschap
nidukkha ca nupaddava
en van lichamelijk lijden en gevaar
Uddham yava bhavagga ca
zo ver als het hoogste niveau van bestaan
adho yava aviccito
tot aan het laagste niveau
samanta cakkavalesu
in het hele universum
ye satta akasecara
welk wezen dan ook dat vliegt in de lucht
abyapajjha nivera ca
mogen zij vrij zijn van geestelijk lijden en vijandschap
nidukkha ca nupaddava
en van lichamelijk lijden en gevaar




De geest heeft geen vorm, geen kleur en geen substantie.

Dit is het lege aspect.

Maar de geest kan dingen weten en een oneindige varieteit aan verschijnselen waarnemen.

Dit is het heldere aspect.

De onscheidbaarheid van deze twee aspecten, leegte en helderheid, is de oorspronkelijke, voortdurende natuur van de geest.

Op dit moment wordt de natuurlijke helderheid van je geest verduisterd door misleidingen.

Maar als de verduistering optrekt zul je beginnen met het aan het licht brengen van de straling van gewaarzijn, totdat je een punt bereikt waar, net als een door het water getrokken lijn verdwijnt op het moment dat hij gemaakt wordt, je gedachten bevrijd worden op het moment dat ze opkomen.

De geest op deze manier te ervaren is het ontmoeten van de eigenlijke bron van Boeddha-schap.

Als de natuur van de geest herkent wordt, wordt dat nirvana genoemd ; als zij verduisterd is door misleidingen, wordt dat samsara genoemd.

Maar noch samsara noch nirvana zijn ooit gescheiden geweest van het continuum van het absolute.

Als gewaarzijn haar grootste omvang bereikt zullen de vestingmuren van misleiding doorbroken worden en kan de  citadel van het absolute, voorbij meditatie, nu en voor altijd veroverd worden.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

The Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism


Known as the Ancient Lineage, the Nyingma tradition dates back to the founding of Buddhism in the 7th century during the reign of King Songtsen Gampo (617-698). It was fully established during the reign of King Trisong Detsen (790-858) through the efforts of the Indian scholar, Shantarakshita, the tantric master, Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche), and the scholar-translator Vimalamitra.

Nyingma Masters

Its teachings belong to the Old Translation School, whereas the teachings of the Kagyu (founded by Marpa Lotsawa 1012-1099), Sakya (founded by Kohn Konchok Gyalpo 1034-1102) and Gelug (founded by Je Tsongkhapa 1357 – 1419) belong to the New Translation School. During the late 9th century Buddhism had been suppressed by a hostile king, Lang Darma, and the New Translation school dates from its resurgence following his death. The Nyingma tradition survived during this time through the strength of its yogic tradition that was not dependent on monasteries requiring royal patronage. The tantras unique to the Nyingma are the three inner tantras: Mahayoga, Anuyoga and Atiyoga (Dzogchen).

There are three lineages in the old translation school of the Nyingma tantras: the ‘Distant Oral Lineage’, from the direct oral teachings of the Buddha; the ‘Near Treasure Lineage’ (terma) from teachings of discovered treasure texts, written and concealed in holy places by Guru Rinpoche, Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal and others, for the benefit of future generations, and the ‘Lineage of Profound Pure Visions’, from teachings received by various Saints during visions in meditation and post meditation.

Atiyoga (Dzogchen), the highest teaching, has three divisions: Semde, Longde and Mengakde. Semde and Longde are associated with Vairochana and Vimalamitra, while Mengakde is associated with Guru Rinpoche and Vimalamitra. The latter, the direct oral pith instruction of the master to the disciple, is divided into four cycles: Outer, Inner, Esoteric and Innermost Esoteric Cycles. The Mengakde teachings in general, and especially the Innermost Esoteric cycle became known as the Nyingtik, the Innermost Essence (Tulku Thondup).

The general Nyingma inner tantras were transmitted through three lineages: mind direct, by symbol, and oral transmission, the latter being that of teacher to disciple.

In addition to the 17 root tantras, the Nyingtik includes many other tantras and teachings discovered by tertöns, revealers of treasure teachings. Of all the treasure teachings, the Vima Nyingtik, transmitted in Tibet by Vimalamitra and the Khandro Nyingtik, transmitted by Guru Rinpoche, which were later propagated through the revelations and writings of Longchen Rabjam (1308-1363) are the most profound and elaborated teachings on Nyingtik.

Longchen Rabjam is revered as one of the greatest masters in the Nyingma tradition. He wrote more than 250 treatises on a wide variety of topics, but is best known for his works on Dzogchen, especially the extensive scholastic exegesis of the Dzogchen tantras known as the Seven Treasures, the Chöying Dzöd. Although one of the most realized sages of Tibet, with crowds of disciples following him wherever he went, he remained a simple hermit with minimal belongings, often dwelling in caves. He saw solitude in nature as a source of spiritual awakening. For him, nature’s peaceful and clear environment inspired peace and clarity, enabling practitioners to unite with ultimate joy, to attain the oneness of universal openness and luminous clarity. He avoided building monasteries and lived in solitude, advising his followers to do the same.

In the 18th century Jigme Lingpa (1730-1798), also known as Khyentse Özer, Rays of Wisdom and Compassion, discovered, as mind ter, the vast and profound Longchen Nyingtik cycle of teachings together with some original Nyingtik tantras, at the age of 28 years. The Longchen Nyingtik is the heart essence of Longchenpa, revealed to Jigme Lingpa during a three year retreat at Chimphu.

At the age of 34 years, Jigme Lingpa moved from Chimpu to Tsering Jong in Southern Tibet where he built a simple hermitage with a meditation school. It later became a nunnery until around 1959 when everything disappeared in the political turmoil. Since the 1980s once again Tsering Jon has been re-established as a nunnery.

Jigme Lingpa began to give the empowerments and explanations of the Longchen Nyingtik cycle in 1765, and from then the teachings spread quickly throughout Tibet. Today Vima Nyingtik and Khandro Nyingtik are known as the Early Nyingtik, and Longchen Nyingtik as the Later Nyingtik. It is the most widely practised lineage of the Nyingtik, bringing together the essential elements of both the Vima Nyingtik and the Khandro Nyingtik.


Tantra means the continuum or the continuity that connects or is the nature common to samsara and nirvana. Tantra is the Buddha nature of the ground, the union of the view and meditation of the path, and the bodies and wisdom resulting from spiritual pactice and realization. Thus tantra actually means the ultimate nature of phenomenal existence, its esoteric meaning, which is Buddhahood. While the tantric teachings are the expressions of the ultimate state, dharmakaya, they are ordinarily apprehended through words, indications, and texts of esoteric practices. The transmission of teachings and the esoteric power that comes from the primordial Buddha through master to disciple is the basis of the tantric tradition.

The Nyingma tradition of sadhanas is passed down through two principle means. The karma, or long transmission whereby teachings are passed from the teacher to his disciple through the Mind Transmission between Buddhas, the Sign Transmission between knowledge holders (Vidyadharas) and the Aural Transmission in an unbroken lineage from the time of Garab Dorje, Manjushrimita, Guru Rinpoche, Vimalamitra and Nagajurna.

The other is the short Terma Transmission of revealed treasure teachings. The termas are tantric scriptures, many from the Outer Tantras but the majority from the Inner Tantras. Guru Rinpoche gave esoteric teachings and transmission of Vajrayana to hundreds of disciples, his main students being the Twenty Five Disciples who are the root incarnations of the masters of this day. He concealed thousands of Termas in many places for the benefit of future followers, including in the essential nature of mind of his realized disciples where they were appropriate for the times.

Many realized masters and incarnations of Guru Rinpoche and his Twenty Five Disciples are Tertöns, able to reveal these treasure teachings in the form of Mind Termas, direct realization, or Earth Treasures, dakini scripts recovered from secret places, and only able to be deciphered by the Tertön. As Tulku Thondup notes, ‘Nyingma termas are not scriptures that are concealed in another realm or place as books and then rediscovered or brought back as the same physical text. Rather, they are discovered through the awakening of the teachings from the nature of minds of the realized disciples of Guru Rinpoche and others’.

For an explanation of the Terma Transmission tradition of the Nyingma School, read Tulku Thondup’s Hidden Teachings of Tibet, 1986.

Warm season’s greetings


FPMT Home Page

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Kopan Monastery, Nepal looking out at the mountains. Dec 2012.

Photo by Ven Roger Kunsang

Warm season’s greetings to you –
with our best wishes for peace, happiness and joyous compassion through 2013 and beyond, and may all the holy wishes of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lama Thubten Yeshe
and Lama Zopa Rinpoche be fulfilled perfectly without delay.

We send our heartfelt thanks to everyone who is and who has served the FPMT in the past year
– you make a difference!

To eliminate ignorance and cut the root of samsara we need to realize the right view. Even actions such as having a party, if they are done with the realization of emptiness or with the understanding that they are merely labeled by the mind or a hallucination, like a dream or like an illusion, become an antidote to samsara and a cause to achieve liberation, the ultimate happiness.

–Lama Zopa Rinpoche
With love and prayers from all of us at FPMT International Office

An exclusive interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama (2006)



By Parveen Chopra and Swati Chopra

An exclusive interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Policemen in mufti swarm around the plush hotel room in Delhi, crackling wirelesses in hand. Spared routine security checks, we are ushered into an antechamber and politely asked to wait .His Holiness the Dalai Lama is meeting a foreign diplomat.Minutes (that seem like centuries) later, we are led to an inner suite, a temporary abode of the Yeshe Norbu (‘Wish fulfilling jewel’) of Tibet.
We await him with a mixture of awe and reverence compounded by the presence of his somber attendants. Nothing prepares us for the boisterous, maroon-robed monk who walks in, greeting everyone loudly and shaking hands warmly all around. We are finally face to face with the Presence (Kundun in Tibetan).
The next hour is spent in communion with the man, his beliefs, his faith, and of course, his laughter. It seems that His Holiness has perfected the ‘art of laughing’, if one may call it that. He uses it to punctuate philosophical debate, at times to bridge the awkward silence as he thinks up a suitable reply to a question, but most of all, to convey his innate joie de vivre. It is infectious and we join in heartily each time his laughter booms out.
We are fortunate to partake of the Dalai Lama’s reservoir of loving-kindness, if only for a few fleeting moments.

You seem to exist on numerous planes as a world figure, the temporal and spiritual head of Tibet, a world-renowned spiritual master. Yet you often refer to yourself as a simple monk. Who is the real you?

I see myself as a monk first, then as a practitioner of the Nalanda (the world reknown Buddhist education center of India, established around 200 B.C.) tradition of wisdom. Masters of Nalanda such as Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Aryasangha, Dharmakeerti, Chandrakeerti and Shantideva have written the scriptures that we, as Tibetan Buddhists, study and practice. They are all my gurus. I feel that I might have interacted with them in previous lifetimes. When I read their books and meditate upon their names, I feel a connection. At this point, I don’t say that I belong to the Hinayana or the Mahayana traditions, but to the lineage of Nalanda.

You are called the ‘living Buddha’…?

The term ‘living Buddha’ is a translation of the Chinese word ‘ho fu’. In Tibetan, the operative word is ‘lama’ which means ‘guru’. A guru is someone who is not necessarily a Buddha but is heavy with knowledge. I believe that previous Dalai Lamas were manifestations of Avalokiteshwara (the Buddha of compassion) and the fifth Dalai Lama is believed to be an incarnation of Manjushree. I am fortunate to be the reincarnation of all these great lamas! (laughs)

Can anyone become a Buddha?

Oh yes! All sentient beings have the seed of the Buddha within them.It is also said that eventually all sentient beings will attain Buddhahood?Yes, this is so because all negative emotions of the mind can be eliminated. Once the mind is purified, you are a Buddha.

How would you describe the Buddhist concept of shunyata?

Shunyata is different from Buddhahood. It is the ultimate reality of everything. To purify the mind it is essential to know the nature of reality, which is shunyata. Negative emotions arise from a misconception of reality. In order to remove suffering, you have to meditate on shunyata.

What does our world need to become a better place?

Undoubtedly we need to be more compassionate.

How can we practice compassion?

Through awareness! I think that ignorance and afflictive emotions, called klesh in Sanskrit, give rise to unwanted circumstances. As far as ignorance is concerned, not just Buddhism, every religion recognizes it as the source of suffering. All over the world, much effort is put in education. It is something sacred as it helps to get rid of ignorance. But we have to be careful about the kind of education we impart to our children. Now I see well-educated people who are so unhappy. Sometimes, I think those who use their minds too much are unhappier than the simple people who don’t. Why do they become unhappy? It is because of too much desire, hatred, and jealousy. The antidote to weaken that is increasing the right kind of knowledge. I think, perhaps knowledge coupled with a warm heart brings wisdom.Compassion, or karuna, stems from wisdom. For instance, animals with their limited intelligence, are happier and more peaceful than we are. Even so, I have observed that animals become aggressive during the mating season because there is now attachment to the mate. Attachment awakens feelings of klesh within them. Similarly for us, if there is less attachment and jealousy, we are able to focus within.I believe that whether a person follows any religion or not is unimportant, he must have a good heart, a warm heart. This is essential for a happy life, which is much more important than Buddhahood. This is part of what I call ‘secular ethics’.

Are we not conditioned by our past karma that may not allow us to be loving and compassionate? How can karma be transcended?

By acting with awareness.

How can we live in awareness?

Analyze! Let’s take the example of Mahatma Gandhi. Physically, he was frail. Although he was well educated, there are others who are better educated than he was. Why then did he become a mahatma? It was because of his heart. He did not act for himself or in his own interest; that is karuna. Karuna, I think, is the main element in becoming a good person. Stalin, Lenin, Mao Zedong were powerful leaders. But they lacked karuna and became unpopular.Compassion automatically brings happiness and calmness. Then, even if you receive disturbing news, it will be easier to take, as your mind is still. But if you are agitated, even a minor happening will upset you greatly.How does one bring about calmness? Hatred, jealousy and excessive attachment cause suffering and agitation. I feel that, again, it is compassion that can help you overcome these to move into a calm state of mind. Compassion is not being kind to your friend. That is attachment because it is based on expectation. Karuna is when you do something good without expectations, even without knowing the other person. It is in realizing that the other person is also just like me. That recognition is the basis on which you can develop karuna, not only towards those around you but also towards your enemy. Normally, when we think about our enemy, we think about harming him. Instead, try to remember that the enemy is also a human being. He or she has the right to be happy, just as you do. Talking about myself, maybe I too have some enemies.

Are you talking about China?

No, no! I am talking hypothetically. If one has an enemy, one would want him to suffer. Whenever you feel hatred towards the enemy, think of him as a human being. That is actual karuna because you are feeling it for your enemy. You don’t have the other’s kindness to base your compassion upon; the other is actually harming you! That is why I say real karuna is unbiased. What we normally feel is biased karuna, as it is mixed with attachment. Genuine karuna flows towards all sentient beings, particularly towards your enemy. You must keep in mind that developing karuna might not benefit the other directly. If I try to develop karuna towards my enemy, he might not even be aware of it. But it will immediately benefit me!


By calming my mind. On the other hand, if I keep thinking how awful everything is, I will immediately lose my peace of mind.And that will help the enemy?It is not necessarily helping the enemy as much as harming yourself. By changing your thoughts, you immediately get inner peace. Many people also think that the practice of karuna benefits others and not oneself. That sort of thinking is a grave mistake. It must be overcome through awareness, which, as I mentioned earlier, comes from analyzing.Even modern medical researchers have come to the conclusion that peace of mind is vital to good health. Experiments show that it is easier for those who practice love and compassion to regain a peaceful state of mind after being agitated.In May this year, I witnessed an experiment performed on a monk at Wisconsin University who was subjected to a loud sound. It had little impact on him and he was able to regain his composure without much difficulty. This goes to prove that the practice of compassion actually calms you down considerably.I am not saying that compassion must be practiced because the Buddha taught it. No. It must be practiced equally by the Buddhist, the Hindu, the Jain, the Christian. It is part of the ‘secular ethics’ that I talk about. There is nothing sacred or religious about aspiring to a calm mind. People just need to realize that it is good for our health! My approach is to promote values that enable the individual to have a calm mind.Having a calm mind actually works wonders. Recognizing this would help me want to develop it.This has to be made clear to every individual, even to children. It is important to make the child realize that if he loses his temper, he will suffer. If he is able to be more compassionate, he will feel more joy even while playing. If you smile, life becomes sweeter. After all, if I smile at you, you will smile back!Don’t you ever experience anger?Oh yes, I do. Negative emotions come and go. I do not think they remain within me for long. If you let anger remain within you, it leads to ill-feeling and hatred.

How do you deal with anger?

Through my clear conviction about compassion. I think negative emotions are part of my mind. It is quite natural to feel angry when faced with problems. But you can change.Can we say that awareness of your emotions helps in dealing with them?If you are able to recognize the moment when anger arises, you will be able to distinguish the part of your mind that is feeling anger. This will divide your mind in two parts-one part will be feeling anger while the other will be trying to observe. Therefore anger cannot dominate the entire mind. You are able to recognize that anger is harmful and maybe develop an antidote to it. View your anger objectively. Try to see the positive side of the anger-causing person or event. All these ideas are not Tibetan inventions, they are Nalanda inventions, your inventions! (laughs uproariously) We Tibetans are the chelas (students) and India is the guru. But today, our guru is getting too materialistic, perhaps becoming too orthodox on one hand and too westernized on the other. I think it is time that Indians get Indianized!

Since you have been stressing ‘secular values’, would you not prescribe spiritual practices because they owe allegiance to some tradition?

I would recommend what I call ‘analytical meditation’. It is scientific, as the main job of a scientist is to analyze. When you meditate, you shift your focus from the external to the internal, emotional world.That’s why the Buddha is said to be a great psychologist? Undoubtedly, because he taught the science of the mind.What is the goal of human life? What are we born to achieve?To be happy!What is the purpose of existence?Happiness.Happiness for others or ourselves?Take the example of a plant. What is the goal of its existence?Service to others?May be the plant just is! It doesn’t have fixed goals. It just grows. The plant has no mind, so to speak. Animals also seem to have happiness as their aim.Nature never remains static; growth is essential for a human being. Why do we always say ‘Happy Birthday’ and never ‘Happy Deathday’? Because we don’t want to see the end. The human mind is attracted to growth, beginning and freshness. Compassion thus is the force of growth and development while anger is destruction.If the goal of life is happiness, where does nirvana fit in?Now you are talking about another level. At the first level, you need to practice basic human values. Then, you can talk of nirvana, which means permanent cessation of suffering. So we come back to happiness!

How can nirvana be made possible?

(Laughs) It is possible because it is possible to eliminate all negative emotions! When Buddha Sakyamuni experienced mahaparinirvana, his mind ceased and he was freed from the karmic cycle of birth and death. Nagarjuna says clearly that the pure mind has no counterforce, and only those that have a counterforce can cease, like matter. The mind, and space too, have no counterforce and so have no reason to cease. In the case of other afflictive emotions, they might end if they have strong positive counter forces. But in case of the mind, we cannot say that it will come to an end, as it is difficult to find a strong antidote that will hinder its existence, as in the case of space. Here, you could argue by saying that in that case, could we put an end to loving-kindness or compassion because they have strong counter-forces? On investigation, we will realize that kindness and love usually accompany wisdom whereas anger and hatred might seem strong but have no praman (proof/basis). Everything that is good and right is the result of valid perception. Based on this, the more you analyze, the more you will be able to hold on to reality. If it is something wrong, however strong it appears, as you analyze it, its falsehood will be revealed.Suppose you feel angry with a person called Gupta, ask yourself: ‘Who is Gupta?’ ‘Is he a body, or is he a mind?’ You will see that there is no answer. Immediately, the feeling of hatred subsides, as it has not found a target. But karuna (compassion) is different as it is not dependent on identifying a target. Because of this, Buddhist philosophy refers to karuna as the mind that does not perceive the object. Maitri (amity), karuna and bodhichitta (the matured soul) do not perceive any object. Did you get the point? (laughs)Of course, this is the Buddhist explanation and is very precise. I think it is because of the richness of Sanskrit, which is highly developed in this (metaphysical) aspect.

Aren’t the original Buddhist teachings in Pali?

All the Nalanda masters wrote in Sanskrit but Vinaya and Abhidharma teachings are in Pali.

The Buddha was silent on the question of God. What about you?Why did the Buddha not say anything about God?

Because he talked about the law of causality. Once you accept the law of cause and effect, the implication is that there is no ‘creator’. If the Buddha accepted the concept of a creator, he would not have been silent; everything would have been God! Who caused the law of causality? About that, the Buddha would say ‘the mind’, never God or dharmakaya or even the Buddha himself.How did the mind come about?The source of mind is nature. The word that been used for existence is ‘interdependent arising’. Talking of God, who created God? There is no point arguing. Dharmakirti and Shantideva debate the existence of God and reach the conclusion that if we believe in a benevolent creator, how do we explain suffering? I remember a funny incident. In Tibetan drama, criticism is allowed and even the Buddha is not spared. There was this man acting on-stage and he was saying that he did not believe in God. If God made us, he said, instead of putting both the eyes in the front, one should be at the back! We would have been more efficient that way. Jokes apart, the idea is not to disrespect any religion but to analyze the nature of reality.

Do you see any common ground between Buddhism and Hinduism?

Historically, Buddha Sakyamuni was a Hindu. So I would like to call Hinduism and Buddhism twin brothers. Then there are common practices like samadhi and vipassana. The demarcation comes in the concept of shunyata. Whereas Hindus believe in atma, Buddhists believe in anatma. In practicing ahimsa, Jains are more thorough than either Buddhists or Hindus.

Aldous Huxley talked of ‘perennial philosophy’xe2x80x94the common mystical ground of all religions. Do you believe in that?

That is difficult to say. At one level, all religious traditions have the same aimxe2x80x94to transform the individual into a positive being. At another level, theistic religions do not have the concept of nirvana.You travel all over the world.

Do you think that by and large, the world is moving towards being more positive?

I would like to quote Britain’s Queen Mother on this. On her 96th birthday, I asked her the same question. She said that it was becoming better because when she was young, for instance, nobody was concerned about the environment, human rights or the right to self-determination. Today, these have become universal values. When Gandhiji implemented ahimsa, I think everyone took it as a sign of weakness. Now the entire world, except perhaps China, accepts nonviolence and practices it, like Nelson Mandela. India has not only given birth to great religious tradition like Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism but has also sheltered many, like Zoroastrianism, Islam, Christianity. The religious tolerance we see around the world is also an Indian tradition.

Do you think that China is changing?

Yes, I think China is also in the process of changing.

Any message for the readers of Life Positive?

Life can be pleasant or miserable. To lead a fruitful life, and to make it positive, practice analytical meditation. And remember that calmness and compassion are an important part of human life. I hope that all your readers will pay greater attention to inner values.