Sao Paulo: Geshe Phende, a resident teacher of Drepung Loseling Institute based in Atlanta (USA), visited Sao Paulo at the invitation of Tibet House Brasil from 23 to 30 July.
During his stay in Sao Paulo, Geshe Phende gave a series of insightful lectures on Buddhist Psychology and Philosophy at the Tibet House Brasil.
During the weekend of 28 and 29 July, Geshe Phende gave a three-part lecture on the theme of “Ancient Wisdom for Contemporary Emotional Challenges”.
In the first part of the lecture on 28 July, Geshe Phende discussed at length about the functioning of mind and mental factors. Then he talked on how afflictive emotions along with the self-centered attitude bring all sufferings which everyone wants to avoid and prevent us from attaining the lasting happiness, which everyone quest in life.
In his second part of the lecture, Geshe Phende discussed clearly how love and compassion help to reduce self-centered attitude and combat affliction emotions of hatred, anger and attachment at the surface.
However, Geshe Phende pointed out that until and unless one deals with the ignorance of self-grasping, the root cause of all sufferings, one cannot root out the afflictive emotions and for that, he emphasised, the need of wisdom.
In the third part of the lecture, Geshe Phende talked about self-grasping on the basis of ignorance and gave a profound insight into understanding the concept of emptiness or the dependent arising.
Approaching the complex issue in a very practical way, Geshe Phende emphasised the importance of making a distinction between self and independent existence of a self. This, he said, teaches an individual what to negate and what not to negate to understand the concept correctly. He also said, “One doesn’t need to negate the existence of a self, but the independent and absolute nature of the existence of a self”.
He added that every phenomenon exists or arise dependently or relatively. Once this is clear, it is easier to understand the concept of emptiness or the dependent arising from all phenomenon including self.
Since the wisdom of understanding the emptiness or removing ignorance is based on intelligence, reasoning and logic, he highlighted the importance of having right information and the right approach. He cited a quote from a scripture in this regard:
“Rely on doctrine, rather than on person; Rely on meaning, rather than on words;
Rely on definitive meaning, rather than on pervasive meaning; and Rely on mental consciousness & experiences, rather than on sensorial consciousness or experiences.”
On 23 July evening, Geshe Phende gave an extremely engaging three-hour lecture on Tong-len meditation practice—giving and taking of love and compassion.
While emphasising Tong-Len as an important part of mind training (lo-jong in Tibetan) to deal with self-centeredness and cultivate warm-heartedness, Geshe Phende explained the five stages of effectively practicing Tong-Len meditation. These five stages, he explained, include a) contemplation on equanimity of self and others; b) contemplation on the disadvantages of being self-centeredness; c) contemplation on advantages of cherishing others; d) cultivating determination to seriously practice Tong-Len; e) Learning how to do the practice effectively.
On the evening of 24 July, Geshe Phende let an open session during which he attended to questions and comments from his audience on all aspects of Buddhist Psychology and Philosophy as well as on meditation practices.
On 25 July evening, Geshe Phende gave an extremely engaging lecture on Nagarjuna’s philosophy of Mādhyamika (Middle Way) at the Palas Athena Association—Tibet House Brasil’s neighbor. The talk was attended by over 90 enthusiastic people.
On the afternoon of 26 July, Geshe Phende had a three-hour interaction with the medical students of the Federal University of Sao Paulo in maintaining a sound emotional and physical wellbeing and promote human flourishing.
On the evening of July 27, Geshe Phende gave an interesting lecture on death. He said in the west, people avoid discussing death primarily because of the fear of death. Similarly, for the same reason, Buddhists constantly discuss or recollect death. Keeping this in mind, Geshe Phende then discussed how to overcome the fear of death and gave details of death process—dissolution of a body as well as the mind. Geshe Phende told his audience that once an individual overcomes the fear of death, it assists the individual to lead a more meaningful life without any disturbances.
Geshe Phende’s series of very profound and insightful lectures or teachings left a huge impact on his audience about the importance of seeking right teacher to get a right information. The audience wished him to revisit Sao Paulo soon.
Geshe Phende’s lectures at the Tibet House Brasil were attended by an average of 35 to 40 people.
Geshe Phende left for Atlanta on the evening of 30 July.
-Report filed by OoT, Brasil-