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Kagyu Monlam: His Holiness Talks About White Tara

January 08, 2009

His Holiness said that regarding tomorrow’s White Tara empowerment, He will give preparation Tara teaching practice today.

The image of Tara can be seen in many monasteries and stupas in India. No monastery in Tibet is without Tara.

Tara is one of the most popular yidams in the Buddhist world and is part of Vajrayana practice. Generally, secret mantra should not be taught to those who are not suitable vessels for Vajrayana, mantra meaning mind (man) and protection (tra). Vajrayana is part of the Mahayana Tantra of outer actions and inner yoga (kryiya). When Vajrayana prevailed in China the outer kriya was more prevalent as lower tantras were more emphasised at that time. The main place for translation was Samye Monastery in Tibet and unless permission was obtained from Samye, higher yogas were not allowed.

There are different kinds of practice in Buddhism and different teachings for different people according to their level and experience. Those who are beginners at the first level are taught how to evade negative emotions. Those at a little higher level have paramita teachings, to face negative emotions and fight against them. At a higher level they are taught to consider negative emotions as enemies but to catch them and make friends with them.

Anything which is not an antidote to mind poisons must be given up, for example trying to get rid of circumstances through which we have attachment. Mahayana Bodhisattvas have power to transform attachment into loving kindness and compassion. We need to work against anger and hatred and there are different ways to do this, such as wrathful deities and transformation of whole appearances. The main thing is to transform appearance, to see the impure nature of appearance.

There are five wisdoms, for example mirror like wisdom, which is an antidote to ignorance (marikpa). There are different ways to generate wisdom and rikpa if we practice at that level, but if we are not ready for that practice it doesn’t work and can be a little dangerous.

It is said that if you practice Vajrayana you will be liberated in this lifetime, or eight or sixteen lifetimes. The main cause is the two accumulations together. To attain enlightened Dharmakaya, His Holiness gave two recommendations – positive deeds and respect for the Lama, to welcome him on his arrival and on his departure saying goodbye! These will contribute to the attainment of rupakaya.

Sometimes we talk about karma that is free from negative emotions. When you have completely cleared and purified subtle negative karma you will gain the wisdom body, but it’s difficult to have this.

In order to attain the two rupakayas you have to accumulate the reason or cause right now.

Shamata and vipassana practices directly lead to completing the form Buddha’s thirty two qualities. This is explained only in Vajrayana. There is a special method to lead to attainment, for example when we meditate as the yidam and through rays we purify, heal and transform other beings. So practice now, practice with skilful means. If you do this, there will be less difficulties to attain the result, cause and result must be similar. It is said that Maitreya Buddha, in a simple way of practicing, became enlightened. If we are skilful, directly working on the result of the two accumulations on the path, we don’t have to go through hardships. It is imperative to work on that – through Vajrayana we can swiftly attain Buddhahood.

Attain wisdom and compassion inseparably. You can’t have a result from a totally different seed. A result can only happen with causes, without causes nothing happens. The method is wisdom and compassion as inseparable and of the same nature.

Subtlest mind is clear light, always there from the beginning. Body, speech and mind are inseparable but at our level, we see these three aspects as something “out there”. Mind sees something separate. When you practice Vajrayana, wisdom and compassion together, understand that what you see isn’t separate.

Samsara is beginningless and even scientists are confused about this. They talk about the “Big Bang”, but what comes before that? They don’t know and in the same way we have the same problem. Look at my life. It is a continuation of my last life. After the last and this life, there was clear light, which happens at the time of death. There is white light, dark red light, more and more subtle then becoming natural state of mind, the essence of consciousness which we call clear light. Some people experience that, some don’t. Even though it arises, people don’t see it. Experience and emptiness are inseparable. If you can see it as clear light then death is no problem. At the time of Bardo we can become liberated. We must work on this and practice for the point after death.

We must understand the real meaning of Vajrayana, not just as ritual. It is more difficult to find that the Buddhas. There are thousands of Buddhas, but only Shakyamuni Buddha taught Vajrayana and we have met these teachings. There are three main specialties of Vajrayana. If you extract the essence of Vajrayana this is very good, but if you are only involved in mantra, rituals etc then this is not so good. You must understand the method. Lamas are extremely important. In Tibet they understood the importance of Lamas. Then the statues of Lamas were made and put in the main shrines so maybe you didn’t see Buddha Shakyamuni. That could be why it became known as Lamaism. We must not do what we did in Tibet because now we are connected with others. Practice in secret in our hearts, not to show off. Go according to what is appropriate to you. For example emptiness is important and if misunderstood can become nihilism, which is very bad and dangerous. It’s
the same with Vajrayana. If you meet a true teacher of Vajrayana this will be very good and useful to you.

When we do the empowerment we do not talk much, but you must understand it as well.

Meditate on emptiness. You might be apprehensive, emptiness maybe becomes a dark place. When I was young and had not studied much I had to meditate on emptiness. While examining everything disappeared. There was a kind of darkness, a strong fear in my mind. It was like a television going off. I was too afraid to sit and needed to go out for a walk. My teacher said yes, go for a walk. He had a white beard and I am afraid of him even now. Sometimes in contemplating emptiness people have sat down, gone mad and even vomited blood! For me it was a strong experience. Some say it’s good. Fear means you have thought about emptiness. I thought that this was maybe leading to nihilism.

When you analyze interdependence, there is a danger that it will go into nihilism. It is said that for beginners, it’s best to analyze from negation because if you look from the positive side you will find something. It’s like giving money to someone to buy something, he will find something to buy. From the negative side, every concept is negated then slowly you will understand emptiness. Understanding emptiness as nothingness is wrong, understanding emptiness through interdependence, relativity, is good. If you analyze emptiness through interdependence then nothing can go wrong. For example there is long and short. Long and short are relative to each other. Nothing is long or short within itself. There is nothing that is not relative to anything else.

Everything arises out of causes and conditions and there is nothing that does not have a cause and condition. The emptiness of a vase relies on the vase. Tashi is Tibetan. If there is no Tibet then there can’t be Tashi. If we meditate like this we can understand more clearly. Whatever you see in front of you look at it as emptiness. Everything is dependant of and relative to each other. Poison is poison and it can kill, but some animals eat poison and don’t die. Some do. Poison is poison to some, medicine to others. It is not a poison on its own. If it were poison on its own then it would not be beneficial to anyone.

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