Minneapolis, Minnesota, 8 May 2011 - On May 8, 2011 His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave the Medicine Buddha empowerment and a public talk on “Peace Through Inner Peace.” Both of these programswere part of the theme “One Heart, One Mind, One Universe” of this visit to Minneapolis, which is co-hosted by the Center for Spirituality & Healing (CSH) at the University of Minnesota and the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota (TAFM).
His Holiness the Dalai Lama leads aTibetan cultural and spiritual ceremony promoting personal and societal healing at Mariucci Arena on the University of Minnesota Campusin Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 8, 2011. Photo/AP
The Medicine Buddha empowerment was hosted by TAFM and took place at the Mariucci Arena. Around 6000 people attended the session where His Holiness placed the Tibetan art of healing from a Buddhist perspective. Termed “A Tibetan Cultural and Spiritual Ceremony Promoting Personal and Societal Healing,” His Holiness began by first talking about the roles of the different religions in today’s society. He outlined the commonality of purpose of all religions saying they all have the same potential for unbiased compassion. He talked of the outreach Tibetan Buddhists have done with other religions.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during the Medicine Buddha Empowerment held at the University of Minnesota on May 8, 2011. Photo/AP
HisHoliness then gave an overview of Buddhism emphasizing on the need to study and practice the philosophy. His Holiness said the root of all problems in this could be traced to extreme self-centeredness. He suggested that serious Buddhist practitioner should meditate on the fourfoundation of mindfulness: mindfulness of body; mindfulness of feelings; mindfulness of mind; and mindfulness of Dharmas.
Bestowing the Medicine Buddha Empowerment, His Holiness, as per Tibetan Buddhist tradition, informed the audience that he had received this empowerment from both his tutors Taktra Rinpoche as well as TrijangRinpoche.
His Holiness explained the nature of “blessing” and how it has to belooked at saying that the Tibetan term for blessing, Jinlap, was composed of two words literally meaning bringing about brilliance or majesty through transformation. He said the connotation was that something impure was being transformed through the power of brilliance to something pure.
His Holiness ended by reminding the gathering that mere recitation of prayers was not enough. He said that peace would not come through prayer; peace will come through action.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama and US Congressman Keith Ellison having a brief conversation before His Holiness's public talk at the University of Minnesota on May 8, 2011. Photo/OHHDL
Prior to the afternoon public talk, His Holiness briefly addressed a luncheon for sponsors of the events. Among those at the luncheon was Congressman Keith Ellison.
His Holiness expressed his appreciation of the support that the local people have been rendering to the Tibetan community. He said although it was a small community over the years they have not only beenable to eke a living for personally but also do something on the issue of Tibet.
His Holiness then explained briefly the nature of Tibetan Buddhism and the serious conversations with modern science. He said study of science has been introduced in Tibetan monasteries in India. His Holiness said that while Tibetan Buddhist religion was for individual believers Tibetan culture was something that was meant for society. HisHoliness included Tibetan medicine in this saying it was a holistic treatment method. His Holiness appreciated the University of Minnesota’s involvement in research on the Tibetan form of healing.
In the afternoon the event began at the same venue with welcome remarks by Ms. Mary Jo Keitzer, director of the Center for Spirituality and Healing of the University of Minnesota, and Dr. Tsewang Ngodup, President of the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama after receiving the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Minnesota on May 8, 2011. Photo/AP
Thereafter, University President Robert H. Bruininks in his welcome remarks talked about a variety of events, including exhibitions and conference that were being organized on Tibet in conjunction with the visit of His Holiness. Announcing the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, President Bruininks and a Regent conferred the honorary degree t His Holiness. The citation said, “Doctor of Humane Letters. HisHoliness the 14th Dalai Lama. Native of Taktser, Amdo; temporal and spiritual leader of Tibet and its government in exile, 1950-present; recipient of the Geshe Lharampa degree, honours, Jokhang Temple, Lhasa, 1959; author of a draft democratic constitution, 1963, and Five Point Peace Plan, 1987, for Tibet; proponent of scientific research through the Mind and Life Institute, 1987-present; Nobel Peace Prize recipient, 1989; initiator of the first direct, democratic elections for a representative Tibetan government, 1992 and 2001; author of more than 72books, including the New York Times bestseller The Art of Happiness; recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal, 2007; founder of The Dalai Lama Trust to support the welfare of the Tibetan people and preserve their culture and heritage, 2009—
“Because you demonstrate that with quiet determination, a compassionate heart, and a curious mind, even the path of a simple Buddhist monk can lead to a place of global understanding and purpose; because your teachings reveal all we share – from the fundamental desirefor happiness and freedom, to the impact we have on our planet; becauseyou remind us that peace is attained not simply when wars cease, but when basic human needs are met and basic human rights are respected; andbecause your embrace of scientific inquiry into the life of the mind has illuminated the symbiotic relationship between health and well-being– inspiring the commitment of the University of Minnesota to transform the delivery of health care, not only through research and clinical innovation, but also by advancing understanding of how diverse cultural beliefs and healing practices can improve health and the human condition–
“The Regents of the University of Minnesota, upon recommendation of the faculties, confer upon Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the 14th Dalai lama, the degree of doctor of humane letters, honoris causa.
“Conferred on May 8, 2011.”
His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during his public talk at the University of Minnesota on May 8,2011. Photo/Tashi Khongtsotsang
His Holiness then gave his public talk. He first thanked the University for the honorary degree, for which he did not have to study. He said in this second visit after ten years people still showed genuine kindness to him. His Holiness talked about the importance of educational institutions like the University incorporatingsecular moral ethics in the curriculum outlining his thoughts on why this was needed. He said fundamentally all human beings were same wanting a happy life. He said the modern education system began over a thousand year ago in Europe. At that time the Church took upon itself the role of promoting inner peace. Over the years, the influence of the Church decline and family values also declined. Therefore, now there was the need for the educational institutions to step in to teach peopleon inner values.
He said the 20th century has been the most important century in human history. It saw innovations in science and technology. At the same time it also saw lot of bloodshed and the use of nuclear bombs and the subsequent impact of these. Thus the marvelous development brought more fear. The need was therefore to promote those ideals that will generate compassion, warm heartedness, strengthen inner values, and build trust and friendship.
His Holiness explained three main reasons for developing inner values, namely common experience, common sense and through scientific evidence. He said when a child is born the mother provides affection that has an impact later on. Here His Holiness recalled the kindness of his mother and said that he learned from her about warm heartedness. Hesaid that those individuals who received maximum affection from their mother when young developed much deeper inner calm when they are grown up. Similarly, those individuals who did not receive affection and who may even have suffered abuse had a negative outlook when grown up.
Mariucci Arena on the University ofMinnesota Campus in Minneapolis, Minnesota, venue for His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teaching and public talk on May 8, 2011. Photo/Tenzin Waleag
His Holiness said extreme self-centered attitude and narrow vision not only did not enable the development of inner peace but also could be harming people physically. He recalled a presentation by a scientist at a conference during which the scientist revealed that individuals who tend to use “I”, “Me”, and “My” were seen to be more liable for heart attack. His Holiness said although the scientist did not explain the reason he felt that this was because of self-centeredness.
His Holiness therefore said compassion was the key factor for good physical health as well as for a positive community. He suggested that there is a need for a project to research on how to tackle these values.
His Holiness outlined three ways in which the promotion of fundamental human values could be done. These were theistic, non-theistic, and secular ethics way.
In the theistic approach there is belief in God the creator and the total submission to God that encourages individuals to cultivate human values. He recalled an event in Jerusalem when a Jewish teacher related an experience. The teacher had asked his students, composed both of Palestinians and Jews, to view their detractors in the image of God. Subsequently, the Palestinian students had told him how they found his message useful as their discomfort disappeared while crossing Israeli check posts. His Holiness also said his Muslim friends have also said that everyone should extend their love to all creatures. He said he found these logical.
For those individuals who follow non-theistic religions, belief in the law of causality where your action determines the outcome was very helpful, His Holiness said. If you do good, you will have a good outcome is the belief that encourages people to develop positive values.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering questions from the audience during his public talk at the University of Minnesota on May 8, 2011. Photo/Tashi Khongtsotsang
HisHoliness said if these religious approaches had to be used then new questions arise as to which religion to adopt, etc. Therefore, he felt that there was the need of a third approach that did not have to touch on religion. He said secular ethics was the way. He said he was using secular here in the way it is promoted in India: not rejection of religion but equal respect to all religions.
His Holiness said from among the different civilizations like the Egyptian, Chinese and Indus Valley civilizations, the Indus Valley region resulted in the growth of different schools of thoughts in India.Referring to one such school that propagated nihilism that denied God, His Holiness said that its propagators were still respected in India andcalled Rishis or sages.
His Holiness concluded by saying that he appreciated the University of Minnesota’s effort in incorporating the study of spirituality. His Holiness’ visit coincides with the official launch of the Tibetan Healing Initiative (THI) at the University’s Center for Spirituality & Healing. The new THI initiatives will include research on the benefits of blending Tibetan healing with conventional health practices and integrating Tibetan practices into regional clinic and hospital settings.
His Holiness mentioned that so far the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Stanford University and Emory University had programs researching the impact of spirituality and science. He jokingly mentioned that he would be coming back after some years to see how the University of Minnesota’s program had developed.
His Holiness then answered some questions from the audience. The first one was about His Holiness’ feeling on China detaining a scholar. His Holiness responded that unfortunately on account of hardline thinking China was tightening control. In the process, scholars and intellectuals, who are its treasure, are being detained or kept under house arrest. His Holiness felt this situation could not go for long. Ifone intellectual is detained a new one will come up, he added. Another question related to his views on the Internet’s development. His Holiness said this was wonderful as this provided more opportunity for people to get all round information from different sources. When asked whether he felt the world was getting better or worse, His Holiness responded that it was getting better and recalled his conversation with the late British Queen Mother in 1996 during which he sought her view ofthe 20th century since she had lived for most of it. The Queen Mother had unhesitatingly responded that the world was getting better because in the beginning of the 20th century there was no concept of human rights and self-determination, which came under active public awareness in the latter part of the century.
His Holiness also related his own experience why he felt the world was getting better. He said unlike in the past there is awareness about the importance of ecology, including the coming up of political parties like the Green Party; scientists are seriously looking at the mind as opposed to their merely limiting themselves to matters that could be measured or calculated; religious summits like the Assisi Summit by PopeJohn Paul II (held in 1986) that are transforming the thinking from “one faith, one truth” to “many faiths, many truths;” politicians are talking about “compassion;” public calls on ban on nuclear weapons, etc.
His Holiness concluded by saying that people needed to think deeper and not just superficially. He talked about inner beauty being more important than external beauty.
On Saturday, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton paid a courtesy call on His Holiness. Minnesota has the second largest concentration of Tibetan Americans in the United States after New York.
His Holiness will have his next program in Dallas in Texas at the Southern Methodist University on May 9, 2011.
The Eight Precepts with Right Livelihood as the Eighth (Ājīvatthamaka Sīla) Dhamma Teachers Certificate
EN074 -__ Feb2010 5 8 Precepts Diacritials
Requirements and Ceremonies for the Five Precepts (Panca Sila),
The Eight Precepts with Right Livelihood as the Eighth (Ajivatthamaka Sila),
Dhamma Teachers Certificate, issued by the Buddhist Group of Kendal
(Theravada) and Ketumati Buddhist Vihara at Wesak 2006).
Updated February 2010
The BEP Buddhist Embroidery Project was started by attendees of the London Buddhist Vihara (Monastery) in 1994. The BEP decided to teach embroidery to people who had not learnt it in childhood. The late Venerable Apparakke Jinaratana, a Theravada Buddhist Bhikkhu (monk), who lived in a cave in Sri Lanka, near a very poor village, was using very old newspapers (supplied by villagers) as tablecloths. The BEP decided to embroider tablecloths, wall hangings and sitting cloths for his use. Although items are given to one monk, they actually belong to the whole of the Bhikkhu Sangha [Order of Buddhist Monks] according to the Vinaya (Buddhist Monastic Discipline). In Asian villages, washing is done in streams and waterfalls, and hung to dry in the hot sun, so items do not last as long as they do in the west.
The Covid-19 pandemic is the most serious disaster the world is facing. The pandemic has a negative impact on many aspects of human life. Although numerous reports and statistics emphasize economic damages, they seem to pay less attention to psychological injuries or problems caused by the pandemic. Whereas, in reality millions of people are living with stress, fear and despair because of Covid-19. According to a report by the United Nations:
People’s distress is understandable given the impact of the pandemic on people’s lives. During the Covid-19 emergency, people are afraid of infection, dying, and losing family members…. Not surprisingly, higher-than-usual levels of symptoms of depression and anxiety have been recorded in various countries. (2020, p. 7)
As a child, my mother Enid often said to me, “There is no such thing as a silly question,” and then would add, “unless.” This latter word was left hanging, and I eventually realised that it was up to me to learn the depth of its meaning.
At the same time that Enid was planting seeds for reflection, my first spiritual teacher, Ven. Lama Senge Tashi, encouraged me to cultivate more skilful thoughts, speech and actions. Sometimes I would try to verbally assert “I” or “Me,” and Lama would respond with, “Who is speaking?” or “Who is asking?”
During the Covid-19 pandemic a dharma sister passed from this life. Her name was Robyn. Although she did not call herself a Buddhist, nevertheless, Robyn had a special connection with the deity Medicine Buddha.
Over the six years that I worked with her, in my role as a hospital chaplain, Robyn frequently asked me to chant the mantra of Medicine Buddha and guide her through the visualisation. During her many stays in hospital, this particular practice brought comfort to her while she was experiencing chronic pain, anxiety and fear of the unknown. The medications she took would sometimes cloud her memory, so I would guide her through the details of the visualisation and begin chanting:
Once, as I was about to hold a summer Dharma class on a beach, as the first students began to arrive for the session I picked up two rocks and carefully placed them, one on top of the other, on to a much larger rock base. Observing what I had just done, three students approached: a young married couple and their five year old son.
True Seeing (Ven. Shih Jingang) One day, while Little Pebble and his Master were walking through a garden, the old teacher stopped to look at a white rose in full bloom. He motioned for his young disciple to join him, and they both sat down near where the flower was growing.
‘Little Pebble,’ said the Master, ‘when you look at this object, tell me what you think about it.’
‘The flower is pretty,’ stated the boy. ‘I like it.’
‘’’Flower,” you say. “Pretty, like it,” you say,’ replied the Master, looking to see how his young disciple reacted. Then he added, ‘Mind creates names like flower, and thoughts of like and dislike, pretty and ugly. This mind is small and closed, but if you can see beyond it to the nature of mind, then all is vast like space, completely open to all things. In this state of awareness, there is neither a flower nor a non-flower. Understand?’
But the young disciple did not quite understand, so his Master continued, ‘Little one, come here each day,
One day, Little Pebble went to his teacher, and said, ‘Master, my friend’s dog Tiger died.’
The look on Little Pebble’s face told the old monk that he was troubled. ‘Little one, do you have any questions?’
‘Master, where did Tiger go?’
‘Where did you come from?’ asked the old monk.
‘From my mummy’s tummy.’
‘And where did Mummy come from?’
Little Pebble couldn’t think of an answer.
The Master regarded his young disciple for a moment, then said, ‘Remember, when you made shapes with mud and named them Mummy, Daddy, Master?’
“Calling forth the Great Compassion, we are one with our True Nature; that which is directly Buddha, also indirectly Buddha. Oneness with the Triple Treasure, endless, joyous, perfect being. Morning thought is Kuan-Shih-Yin, evening thought is Kuan-Shih-Yin. All present thoughts arise from Mind, no thought exists apart from Mind.”
These are the words of the Ten Verse Life-Prolonging Kuan-Yin Sutra. Who is reciting them?
A few blocks away, an old man is crying out for help and someone hears. He is a brother, sister, father, mother from a previous life. A phone is picked up and then there are footsteps running towards the sound, “Help me! Help...” Someone sees the old man sitting on the top step, near the front door of his house.
No past, no present, no future. All created things arise and pass away. All names and labels dissolve. You can observe this in meditation practice and, in experiencing impermanence in life and so-called death.
At the conclusion of the Diamond Sutra, it is said that, this is how we should view our conditioned existence: as a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream, a drop of dew, a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, a flickering lamp, a phantom and a dream.