Some of the many Mongolians with offerings for His Holiness the Dalai Lama during a Long Life Offering ceremony in New Delhi, India on December 4, 2013. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
NEW DELHI: The day was just breaking as His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived at the Kempinski Hotel on Wednesday morning to perform the various preparatory rites for the Vajrabhairava empowerment. When he began the hall was quiet and virtually empty, but towards the end of his rituals, two Mongolian musicians began to play poignant lilting melodies on their bowed, stringed instruments.
Once His Holiness was seated on the throne, the Mongolians proceeded to offer prayers for his long life, based on the ‘Offering to the Spiritual Master (Lama chöpa), which they recited in Tibetan. When it was done, he said:
“First of all, thank you all very much for making this Long-life Offering. I noticed that in the section for eulogy and appeal, you recounted the relationship between Mongolians and the Dalai Lamas. When the Third Dalai Lama, the omniscient Sonam Gyatso, was leaving for Mongolia, an attendant took the reins of his horse and uttered this prayer: ‘May you, the lamp of Je Rinpoche’s teachings, dispel the darkness of sentient beings.’ He went on to establish the Dharma, particularly the Gelugpa tradition, firmly on Mongolian soil.
“When I made my first visit to your country in 1979, a long-life ceremony was offered during which those making the prayers wept, which brought tears to my eyes too. However, the person who brought the tsog had tried to put on a hat that turned out to be too small for his broad skull, so he’d simply laid it across his head instead, which I remember made me laugh. Since then, I’ve been to Mongolia several times, although there may be some who only think of it as a reason they can’t drink vodka. Anyway, we’ll meet again and again in the future.”
His Holiness had a couple more stories to tell. Apparently the great scholar and adept, Serkong Dorje Chang was once teaching in Lhasa when he asked the audience a question which no one answered until a Mongolian offered a reply that greatly pleased him. Then at the time of the 13th Dalai Lama, Ngodrup Tsoknyi, who later became one of His Holiness’s debate partners, was receiving monk’s ordination. There is a point at which the upper fold of the lower robe has to be pulled up for the presiding master to bless and he hadn’t done it. He was taken aback when the 13th Dalai Lama spoke to him brusquely in Mongolian.
In the past, Mongolians studying in the monasteries in Tibet were all dedicated students of philosophy. Today, again, there are many Mongolians studying in Tibetan institutions. He said he was very hopeful of their prospects.
Resuming the Vajrabhairava empowerment he began yesterday, His Holiness referred to his request to the disciples to check their dreams. He quoted Aryadeva’s having written that those who have a strong earth element in their physical constitution tend to have very clear dreams. Having done that, he also resumed his explanation of the ‘Foundation of All Excellence’ with this verse:
The basis of achieving the two attainments
Is the pure vow one takes on entering this path.
Having found real understanding of it,
May I keep this vow though it cost my life.
As he completed the text, he remarked that study should not be the preserve of monastics, but that lay people should take the opportunity to study too. Turning back to the empowerment again he said the purpose of the empowerment is to overcome ordinary appearances. He quoted a verse from chapter 22 of Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Treatise of the Middle Way’:
The Tathagata is not the aggregates
Nor something different.
The Tathagata is not in the aggregates
Nor are the aggregates in the Tathagata;
What else is the Tathagata?
“We can apply this to ourselves as well, when you search, there’s nothing to be found. But it’s not that you do not exist, it’s just that the person is designated on the basis of several factors.”
Regarding the vows, His Holiness mentioned that Pratimoksha or personal liberation vows are intended to restrain us from harming others; the Bodhisattva vows are for restraining selfishness and the Tantric vows are for restraining clinging to ordinary appearance. Whereas the Pratimoksha vows tend to concern the conduct of body and speech, Bodhisattva and Tantric vows restrain the wayward mind. He gave both Bodhisattva and Tantric vows to those present.
His Holiness began the afternoon with the observation that the awakening mind of bodhichitta is a state of mind in which you think of others before self. Bodhichitta is a factor indispensible in the achievement of omniscience. He again quoted from Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Treatise’
Whatever is dependently arisen is empty,
That is dependently designated;
That itself is the middle way.
The practice of tantra needs both the awakening mind of bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness, much as two loads are needed to balance each other.
Before reaching the end of the empowerment, he gave a reading and brief explanation of the 2nd Dalai Lama, Gendun Gyatso’s ‘Two Yogic Stages of Yamantaka Tantra’. Once the empowerment was complete, he remarked that dedicated practitioners take the necessary parts of the empowerment as and when they need them. By request, His Holiness gave a reading transmission of a prayer for the swift return of Kalka Jetsun Dhampa, who passed away in Mongolia nearly two years ago. Proceedings were completed with a tsog offering and His Holiness gave his concluding advice:
“We’ve finished this Dharma discourse for Mongolians. Now the most important thing is to make an effort to cultivate the awakening mind and a realization of emptiness.”