Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India, 4 October 2023: Brilliant light of the rising sun streamed through the Tsuglagkhang this morning as His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived to give a Chenrezig empowerment. He smiled and gently waved to disciples and well-wishers, took his seat, and immediately began to conduct the procedures preliminary to giving the empowerment. Meanwhile, the ‘Heart Sutra’ was chanted first in Chinese and then in Tibetan.
When he was ready His Holiness addressed the gathering.
“Today the main disciples here at the Thekchen Chöling Tsuglagkhang are our Dharma friends from Taiwan. Buddhism has flourished in Tibet, Mongolia and China for hundreds of years. When I visited mainland China in 1955, I saw many Buddhist temples and monasteries. Tibet, China and Mongolia also have special links with Avalokiteshvara.
“Chinese Communists have narrow-mindedly suppressed Buddhism in Tibet, but in China today interest in Buddhism is growing once again. At the same time Avalokiteshvara’s blessings continue to shine over Tibet. What is important to recognise is that whether we are religious or not, we all need to have warm heart. We need to regard others with affection. Avalokiteshvara is the deity of compassion and people throughout the Himalayan region are virtuous and warm-hearted because of their connection to him.
“I’m known as the 14th Dalai Lama, and I’ve had a karmic connection with the people of Tibet for many lifetimes. Today, I’m going to give a short Avalokiteshvara empowerment. Although there have been huge changes in Tibet, China and Mongolia, because of the connection with Avalokiteshvara, we tend to say the six-syllable mantra from an early age.
“These days there’s a lot of talk about peace in the world, but to bring it about as many of us as possible need first to achieve peace of mind.
“Living in human communities as we do, we need to have a warm heart. As children we benefit from our mother’s care and affection. After giving birth to us she nurtures us with loving kindness. This experience leaves a strong impression on us. It is from this that we learn that we too can be loving and compassionate towards others. My Dharma friends I urge you to cultivate a warm heart.”
His Holiness explained that all eight billion people on this earth are the same in not wanting suffering and wishing to be happy. He observed that cultivating the awakening mind of bodhichitta leads to peace of mind. It also brings about a balance in the body and so contributes to our physical health. Those of us who pray to Avalokiteshvara pay attention to compassion. Reciting the six-syllable mantra—Om mani padme hum—helps us cultivate compassion within.
Revealing that he meditates on bodhichitta from the very moment he wakes up in the morning His Holiness added that he combines that thought with insight into emptiness. He cited verses from ‘Entering into the Middle Way’ from which he takes inspiration.
Thus, illuminated by the rays of wisdom’s light,
the bodhisattva sees as clearly as a gooseberry on his open palm
that the three realms in their entirety are unborn from their very start,
and through the force of conventional truth, he journeys to cessation. 6.224
Though his mind may rest continuously in cessation,
he also generates compassion for beings bereft of protection.
Advancing further, he will also outshine through his wisdom
all those born from the Buddha’s speech and the middle buddhas. 6.225
And like a king of swans soaring ahead of other accomplished swans,
with white wings of conventional and ultimate truths spread wide,
propelled by the powerful winds of virtue, the bodhisattva would cruise
to the excellent far shore, the oceanic qualities of the conquerors. 6.226
His Holiness mentioned that King Songtsen Gampo was blessed by Avalokiteshvara. He married a Chinese princess but was also concerned to preserve and strengthen Tibetan culture. He arranged for a Tibetan written script to be devised, which meant that when Shantarakshita came to Tibet in the following century, he recommended that Indian Buddhist literature—the words of the Buddha and the treatises of subsequent masters—be translated into Tibetan.
His Holiness noted that the essence of the advice contained in that literature deals with cultivating a good heart.
“I’ve faced many difficulties in my life,” he conceded, “but none of them have disturbed my peace of mind. I think that what scientists say about having a good heart being good for your health and well-being is true. Bodhichitta not only fulfils our own goals, it fulfils the goals of others. If you can cultivate it day and night, you’ll surely find peace of mind.”
At the start of the empowerment His Holiness offered a ritual cake to the local spirits as a way of including them in the proceedings. He gave the Bodhisattva Vows, relying on Terdag Lingpa’s way of doing so, followed by the Tantric Vows. He then guided the congregation through a series of empowerments including the Vase Empowerment, the Crown Empowerment, the Secret and the Word Empowerments. Having completed them he gave the subsequent permissions, culminating in the permission to benefit others. This prompted him to recite the verse from Shantideva’s ‘Entering into the Bodhisattva Way’ that expresses his core aspiration.
As long as space endures,
And as long as sentient beings remain,
Until then, may I too remain
To help dispel the misery of the world.
“Having received this empowerment,” His Holiness averred, “please do as the principal deity has advised,” which means to say keep the pledges and commitments. The Chinese disciples chanted the prayer for His Holiness’s long life composed by his Tutors that has been translated into Chinese.
As His Holiness got up from his seat, he recited two verses of dedication:
Just as the brave Manjushri and Samantabhadra too
Realized things as they are,
I also dedicate all these merits in the best way
So that I may follow their perfect example.
I dedicate all these roots of virtue
With the dedication praised as the best
By all the Buddhas who appear in the three times
So that I might perform the noble Bodhisattva’s deeds.