MILAN: His Holiness left his hotel early Thursday morning to have time to undertake the preparatory rituals for the Avalokiteshvara empowerment he was giving this morning. By the time he was ready most people had taken their seats in the stadium that was filled to its 10,000 capacity.
His Holiness began by explaining that there are four classes of Buddhist tantra and that this empowerment of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, belongs to the class of Action Tantra. All four classes of tantra involve visualising yourself as a deity and the recitation of mantra and so forth. This is a specific method that combines the practices of calm abiding and special insight. Tantrayana is sometimes referred to as Secret Mantra. It is secret because it is fit for those who have developed the awakening mind of bodhichitta, while mantra literally means mind protector. We all have the potential to attain Buddhahood and visualising ourselves as deities, our speech as mantra and our minds as Dharmakaya is a way of fulfilling it. In this practice we are trying to transform our ordinary experience into a transcendental experience.
His Holiness remarked that he received this empowerment from Tadrag Rinpoche and his Senior Tutor Ling Rinpoche and that last night he dreamt of Ling Rinpoche.
During the course of the empowerment he gave the lay persons’ upasaka vows, as well the ceremonies for generating the aspiring and engaging awakening minds of bodhichitta. In addition, he took care to explain how values and practices found in Buddhism are also to be found in other religious traditions. An Italian Imam, and several Catholic monks and nuns had come to attend the empowerment and he suggested ways in which what he was teaching could be relevant within the context of a different faith. At the end he advised,
“The empowerment is complete, now, if possible serve others and if you find you can’t do that, at least refrain from harming them. Follow your teacher, whoever you consider him to be; the teaching is concerned with being of benefit to others.”
Meeting a gathering of Mongolians and Tibetans resident in Europe he extolled the value of the Tibetan Buddhist culture both peoples share and encouraged them to continue their efforts to preserve it. Addressing the Tibetans in particular he explained how recent changes in his own political status and that of the institution of Dalai Lamas are not because he is downhearted, but for the good of the Tibetan people among whom he has wished to see democracy flourish since he was young.
At the beginning of the afternoon’s public talk speeches were made in His Holiness’s honour by the Mayor of Assago, the Municipality in which the teachings were taking place, and the President of the Province of Milan, at the conclusion of which he was presented with the key of Assago. He responded,
“Dear brothers and sisters, I am extremely happy to meet you and to have this opportunity to share some of my experiences and thoughts – and through your questions I hope to learn some of your concerns. Of course, to begin with I’d like to express my thanks to the organisers here for making such good arrangements. I’d also like to thank the Mayor of Assago for the certificate and key presented to me, which I appreciate as being in recognition of what I am trying to do.
“If we remember that at a fundamental level we are the same, that we all have a right to a happy life, we can understand that there is no difference between us. In this twenty-first century, when we live in such a globalised and interdependent world, our old notions of them and us are no longer relevant. We need instead to think of a great us. The Hawaiians have a marvellous saying ‘Your blood is my blood, your bone is my bone’ meaning that your pain in my pain and your joy is my joy. What this means is that if we must be selfish, it’s much better to be wisely selfish rather than foolishly selfish. In order to derive the maximum benefit the wise thing is take care of others.”
His Holiness repeatedly speaks of his vision for this twenty-first century to be a century of dialogue and today he looked forward to a time when children are so imbued with the idea that problems should be solved that way that they will gently chide their quarrelling parents to sit down and talk it through. Making dialogue the solution depends on having genuine respect for others’ rights, their happiness and their prosperity, after all, he says, we have to live side by side on this planet with our fellow human beings. His conclusion was,
“Whatever you do, take a realistic view and think of the long term interests of humanity. Thank you.”
Before His Holiness left, the organisers of events in Milan made a financial report in the interests of transparency. They announced that of the 10,000 seats available, 1000 had been made available free of charge to monks and nuns and to the needy. Income from ticket sales and donations amounted to €628,000 while expenses for the rental of the venue and facilities cost €465,000, leaving a balance of €163,000. This will be divided as follows, 40% to be given to the Dalai Lama Trust, 30% to be given to Ghe Phel Ling to support future teaching programmes, and 30% to be given to two other Ghe Phel Ling charitable projects: one supporting young Tibetans studies in India and another dedicated to rehabilitation of prisoners in Milan.
His Holiness was scheduled to board a flight back to India on Thursday night.