October 12, 2016 – TCV School, Upper Dharamsala
This afternoon the Gyalwang Karmapa celebrated the final day of his three-day visit to Upper TCV by giving a long-life empowerment, a reading transmission for the Twenty-One Praises of Tara, and an openhearted talk on the situation of the Tibetan community. He began by discussing the general attitude towards long life empowerments.
There are many rituals that deal with prolonging life, he said, such as an empowerment, sadhana, life release, ransoming life, or summoning the life force. “However, in order to have a long life, we need to create both inner and outer positive conditions,” he explained. “We need to look after our physical health. Tibetan medical texts speak at length about the importance of diet, sleep patterns, and exercise. If we pay careful attention to these physical conditions, the texts say, they will become a means to prolong our lives. Further, the inner or mental conditions involve a good intention along with a spacious and a joyful mind.”
“Some years ago in England,” the Karmapa related, “about ten thousand people who had lived to be 100 years or more were asked, ‘To what factor do you attribute your long life?’ Many of them replied, ‘A relaxed and joyful mind.’ So if we wish to have a long life, there are two conditions that must be met: we should take care of our physical health and also keep our minds spacious and joyful. If we are Buddhists, then in addition we receive long-life empowerments and practice long-life sadhanas.”
“Many people think that the ultimate purpose of taking a long-life empowerment is solely to lengthen their lives. But that’s not the case.” The Karmapa then explained the classic categories of the three types of individuals—the lower, middling, and superior— along with their related practices. “No matter which teaching of the Buddha we are practicing, there is not one that is not included in the practices of the three types of individuals. The three types of individuals respectively strive for rebirth in the higher realms, for liberation from samsara, and for omniscience. The first type seeks to obtain the pleasures of the higher realms and practices accordingly. The second type practices to reach the level of liberation or nirvana. And the third type practices to achieve omniscience, the level of buddhahood.
“Therefore, even the lowest level of Buddhist practitioners has a goal related to their next life—a rebirth in the higher realms. Many people, however, receive a long-life empowerment or practice long-life sadhanas while focused merely on this life, wishing to live longer or be free of sickness. Actually this does not fall within a Buddhist framework. Buddhists should to be able to think into the future for the sake of their next lives. If this happens, only then is one a Dharma practitioner and an authentic Buddhist.”
Further the Karmapa explained, “The long life we need is one with an essence that is meaningful. For this to come about, it should not be for ourselves alone, but for all other living beings whose life we respect and value.” He spoke of many people becoming vegetarians through the advice of HH the Dalai Lama and the various movements and organizations that encourage giving up eating meat. “In sum,” the Karmapa said, “being vegetarian is similar to engaging in the practice of life release. Just as we wish for a long life without obstacles and just as we want to avoid harm, so do other living beings. It is important to keep this in mind.” With this, the Karmapa concluded the part of his talk related to the long-life empowerment.
The Karmapa then turned to the situation of the Tibetan people as a whole. Many from the exile community are going abroad, he said, and a few others are returning to Tibet. Added to this is the fact that the number of Tibetans coming from Tibet is far less than before, so that the population of the exile community is decreasing. “For this reason,” he counseled, “we Tibetans have come to a place where we need to reflect deeply about our situation. Especially since, for the present, we are experiencing terrible hardships, unique in all of our Tibetan history.”
“Therefore,” he urged, “we Tibetans must all come together as one. People from the three provinces (Utsang, Amdo, and Kham) should unite. We must develop a loyalty to the Tibetan people as a whole, because we are facing difficulties unlike anything we have known before.” The Karmapa did offer hope in that there is the leadership of HH the Dalai Lama and, also importantly, “the large population of our family of Tibetans in Tibet is filled with altruism and courage, and on this basis, all Tibetans can unite. The three provinces and the main Dharma lineages need not be divided: they can align themselves as one and this would be one of our greatest triumphs.”
He added that it would be difficult for one person to bring this about; it requires all of the Tibetan people working together. “Whatever happens in the future,” he advised, “will depend on the vast basis of the Tibetan people as a whole, so it is extremely important that we all have an attitude of unity firmly rooted in our minds. No matter what happens, we need the strength of a unity that never diminishes as well as determination and a mind that is very stable. If this would happen, only then could we have the hope that in the future, things will go well.”
Up until now, he said, “we have placed all our hope and trust in HH the Dalai Lama. And, to say it without honorifics, we have heaped all the responsibility onto this one person. We think he will look on us with compassion, but what we ourselves should do is not very clear. We place our hope in the future and keep on believing, but we cannot always be together. Now we have arrived at a time in our history when each of us has to become very capable and powerful in what we do. Each one of us has to carry responsibility and think clearly. This point is essential.”
The Karmapa also urged people to reflect on HH the Dalai Lama’s teachings instead of engaging in gossip and worldly talk. We should think about the key points he made. The Karmapa further explained, “When we are practicing, we should also analyze using the many categories that the Buddha explained—the intention of the teachings and its basis or the provisional and the definitive meaning. In this way we will find the authentic and unmistaken mind of the Buddha.” In sum, he said, “All of us have to take responsibility and all of us have to think clearly.”
“If we take Tibetan history as our witness,” the Karmapa noted, “we can see that conflict between the different schools of Buddhism has led only to decline and never to a positive development.” He recalled a prophecy that said the destruction of the Buddha’s teachings would not come from an outside cause, but from internal conflict among those holding the teachings.
He reminded people, “The teachings we Tibetans have today are all Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings.” From the ultimate point of view, the four Tibetan schools of Sakya, Geluk, Kagyu, and Nyingma resemble each other, and there are only some small differences in the language used and the ways view, meditation, and conduct are explained. All the schools teach the view of compassion and emptiness, and there are differences merely in how they are explained and the lineages of the lamas. For all these reasons, he said, “It is critically important that everyone holds mutual respect and a pure view of each other. To summarize, we must connect harmoniously and unite as one.”
In conclusion, the Karmapa said, “I am very happy to have had this occasion to make a Dharma connection with all the teachers, staff, and students of the school and with the local people as well. I give my heartfelt thanks to all those who helped to prepare and organize these three days, and pray that you all will have a long life, be free of illness, and accomplish your goals according to the Dharma.”[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”12″ gal_title=”The Critical Issue of Tibetan Unity”]