First VISIT in 1980
His Holiness the Dalai Lama performed the formal consecration and dedication of Nechung Dorje Drayang Ling on October 28, 1980. He came to NDDL at the completion of a tour to Canada. He spent two nights at the temple. It was his second visit to North America (the first was in 1979). Due to political pressures at the time, the afternoon teaching was kept to an invitation-only guest list, making for an intimate meeting with the Buddhist leader in the main hall of Wood Valley Temple.
The outcome of religious practice is exemplified by an increase of compassion and tolerance, along with experience of the wisdom of emptiness. His 1980 talk, one of his first in english, is as follows:
"There are many people sitting together in one room here. Physically there are slight differences but basically, we are more or less the same. Inside our heads, there are many varieties of thought, much different from the face. Our thoughts are coming and going; they are restless. Sometimes due to certain thoughts we feel happy, sometimes due to certain thoughts we become very sad. Sometimes thoughts are without any feelings of happiness or sadness, just neutral. All thoughts come and go, under the deep nature of the illuminating mind.His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings convey the essence and purpose of Buddhist practice. His message brings together all spiritual traditions to show the identical nature of all human beings' desire for happiness and their wish to eliminate suffering
On the nature of the mind, there are two kinds. One nature in the ultimate sense, is emptiness, because if we investigate what the mind or the consciousness is, we find that the mind does not exist by itself. This nature we call shunyata, the ultimate reality of mind.
The second kind of nature is illuminating. Just a clear light, like infinite space. No color, no shape, yet it can reflect everything. On a conventional level, that is the nature of the mind. Take pure water. If we drop some dust into it, for the time being, that water becomes muddy. But muddy is not the real nature of the water. Due to certain causes, the water becomes unclear or unclean temporarily. If this water remains as it is, without shaking, then gradually you see the water become clean again. Similarly, the nature of the basic consciousness or mind is pure and clean. Different kinds of thoughts spoil this basic nature of the mind.
The two natures of mind are the basis of all good thoughts and good practices. The virtuous mind can grow within that. Usually we call the two major natures of mind Citta Buddha or Buddha Nature. We also have that nature. The question is whether we make an effort to realize that nature and concentrate on it. It affects all thoughts at the moment. Thought is superior and very much controls the basic mind. Once we concentrate on the very nature of mind, the other thoughts become less effective. The thoughts come and go like clouds in open space. Clouds form and disappear into space; from space, clouds appear and disappear. Thoughts come and gradually disappear in that nature.
There are many different methods mentioned by various traditions (to aid in the realization of Buddha Nature). While we practice or implement these techniques, we must have a strong virtuous power. Backing the virtuous power is good merit; without this, it is rather difficult to develop satisfactorily. Therefore, strong merit is highly necessary. If we practice genuine compassion, love and kindness we will accumulate great merit. Generally, all the world's major religions emphasize love and kindness.
In Buddhism, particularly, there are many explanations on how to develop kindness and compassion. I want to mention my usual practice. Please listen, concentrate and think. Visualize and think of yourself as a third person. On your right hand, imagine your own self as a selfish being, having very self-centered motivation, appearing stupid and narrow-minded. On your left hand, imagine a group of poor, needy, helpless people, like the Cambodian refugees. Now you have to judge, judiciously, without any partiality. If you are a reasonable person, a logical, wise and kind individual, will you join the right side or the left side? Think of one single selfish being, or many, good, poor people. We always think of ourselves, I-I-I. But if we think properly, quietly, wisely, then naturally our hearts will go to the poor and needy. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, these people are poor and needy. Secondly, they compose a majority, there is a big difference in numbers. Both sides have the right to gain happiness. Both have the right to get rid of suffering. One being has the right to be happy. With many beings, the need becomes more urgent, more important. Our hearts will naturally go to them. What do you think?If we use this kind of practice, our minds will naturally go this way (to the poor and needy). We are the thinkers, the reasoners, the doers. Naturally, certain attitudes or thoughts develop within ourselves. With this method, we can develop a real kindness towards other people. Through this method, we can realize the defect of selfish narrow-mindedness.
First we think of just a few people, then all our neighbors, then all the people on the Big Island of Hawai'i, then people on all eight Hawaiian Islands, then San Francisco. Mentally expand in this way. Then gradually expand to all the people of this earth and further into space. According to Buddhist teachings, there are infinite galaxies and infinite people. Kind thought should extend infinitely like that. This is the way to practice compassion or kindness. From the practical viewpoint, kindness is very necessary in our daily lives. If we practice kindness, we ourselves feel much happier. When we feel anger or hatred we have no peace of mind; we forget the meaning of things. For example at lunch if we had felt angry we would have lost our taste. If we feel peaceful, calm, and tranquil, our food becomes very tasty. So you see, in our daily lives, if we have peace of mind, calmness and tranquility, inside we feel much better and happier. If you feel anger, bitterness or hatred, you have no peace whether you are a president or a millionaire. Hatred and anger are our enemies; they destroy our happiness in daily life. Hatred and anger create trouble in our family, with our neighbors, and on the national or international level. From a practical viewpoint, anger is definitely not good. Nobody respects anger or wants anger.
We want good people, not bad people. If you want to be a good person, it is necessary to make an effort. Without effort, how can you be a good person? We cannot make a farm or empty land become prosperous land without effort; similarly, inner cultivation needs effort. With effort there is possibility, there is a future because the clear mind is there. This clear mind is actually our fertile land, we can grow anything from that. Now we need good seed and good effort. From a Buddhist viewpoint, we use the Buddha's teaching as an implement and our good thoughts as the seed in our mind. This is a Buddhist technique. Utilize constant effort, then we can change this kind of human being from a naughty person to a good person.
That is the way to change the human mind, the way to change human society. This is the outcome, our future.Whether you believe this or not, it's all right. Everybody accepts human society, whether you are a communist, a capitalist, a materialist, or a spiritualist - it does not matter. Whatever you want to explain according to your own theory is all right. One point where there is no argument is that everyone wants happiness. Therefore, the practice of kindness is very necessary, even in non-believers it is necessary. Please practice kindness as much as you can.
As mentioned earlier, I practice constantly, as much as I can. Certainly I get irritated sometimes, but with this constant practice, irritation is minimized. Becoming older is a sign to develop my mind. It gives me more courage, more encouragement, and self-confidence. It is worthwhile to practice; it can produce good results in actual experience. Therefore, Dharma friends, the first superiority is the practice of kindness. This is the Buddha's message, Christ's message, practically all the world's great teachers have the same message on this point. This is an important practice in daily life.
True kindness must cover all sentient beings; in particular, our enemy. If you feel anger and cannot think about kindness towards the enemy, then this attitude must change. How to change it? Through practice. How to practice? Roughly speaking, in order to practice kindness you must have a strong tolerance. We cannot practice kindness properly without tolerance and patience. In order to develop this, we need an enemy. We cannot practice tolerance towards Lord Buddha, since Buddha does not disturb us. There is no opportunity to develop tolerance with our parents since there is great love with our parents. There is only the enemy who we have bitter feelings towards, a bad person is the only object or opportunity to develop tolerance and patience. The enemy is our best teacher, because of the enemy's attitude and ruthlessness, we can develop a true kindness of two types: tolerance and patience. This is the right approach to develop infinite kindness and altruism towards all sentient beings.
With kindness, wisdom is very important. I am talking about the two natures mentioned earlier, conventional nature and ultimate nature. In order to develop wisdom, we must realize the ultimate nature of mind - emptiness, shunyata. If we develop realization of shunya, even a limited realization, it can affect all our concepts to the objects. At the moment, we feel that objects appear as something solid; something good as being one hundred percent good; something bad as one hundred percent bad; because of that appearance, feelings of anger and attachment grow and develop. With realization of shunya or ultimate nature ,this solid appearance will be minimized and diminish. The strong feelings of attachment when you see something good and irritation when you see something bad will decline. Kindness (upaya) and wisdom (prajna) should be combined. Without kindness, the pure realization of the ultimate nature is good, but its effects are limited. Just as the realization of pure kindness without the help of wisdom cannot grow further; it stops. So you see, wisdom and kindness combined are like two wheels; we can go very easily.
This is my main speech. It is not my teaching, but the Buddha's teaching, not the Dalai Lama's teaching. I'm just a Buddhist monk, a follower of Lord Buddha."
- His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s talk at Nechung Dorje Drayang Ling on October 28, 1980
His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited NDDL again on April 17 and 18, 1994, spending one night at the temple. This time, his presence drew over 3,500 people from all the islands, the mainland and as far away as Australia, Japan, Taiwan, and Europe. The afternoon event on April 17 was held outdoors, with His Holiness speaking from the front lanai of the main temple.
People parked from the Wood Valley crossroads almost to Pahala, some walking as far as 2 to 3 miles, as if they were on a pilgrimage, to see the Buddhist leader and international spokesman for peace. The details for the one day visit were multi-faceted. Assisted by a dedicated team of volunteers, the logistics of the visit were coordinated, along with renovation of the lama's quarters and construction of a new room for His Holiness. Monks' quarters, a new office, store, and expansion of the meditation center dining area were also built in a period of ten weeks. Nechung Choktrul Rinpoche, Thupten Ngodrup the Nechung Medium, and several monks from Nechung and Namgyal Monasteries came for the visit.
Upon his arrival at the temple, the Dalai Lama was greeted in the customary Tibetan manner - the road and pathways were lined with colored banners and auspicious symbols, monks played ceremonial horns and His Holiness was escorted up the stone stairs to the temple under a golden parasol. Tea and sweet rice were offered in the main hall, followed by the recitation of Refuge and good fortune prayers. In an afternoon audience, His Holiness remarked on how he felt like he 'was coming home' when driving up the road to the temple. His discourse follows:
"Brothers and sisters, I am extremely happy to be at this nice place once more. In spite of the distance and remoteness, a big gathering people have come here, so I'm very, very happy. First of all, I would like to express my greetings to you. The surroundings with so many trees and fresh air, it seems very nice here; under such circumstances, I think there is a kind of freshness in the minds of the human beings who gather here. Mainly freshness due to a spiritual feeling; that is something good, something useful. First, we are going to discuss spiritual values, then I will give you some Buddhist teachings - mainly the cultivation of the altruistic mind, and the oral transmission of a few mantras. I think it will take one and one half hours.
I've been listening to the sounds of peacocks and this reminds me of my time in Norbu Lingka in Lhasa, Tibet 35 years ago. In our minds, the thoughts of the past often occur quite vividly, as if they are real; but if we were to examine them, they are just memories. We also spend a lot of time thinking about the future, and based upon our past experiences, become preoccupied with anticipations, hopes, fears and so on. If we were to examine what future events are, in reality, they are something in the mind. Even if we were to think about the present moment, there isn't anything absolutely present - it is only a momentary flowing sequence of events. All of these thoughts of the past, present and future occur within the stream of our mind consciousness. Therefore, in Buddhism, the nature of reality is explained in terms of all phenomena being transient. Everything exists momentarily, changing from one instant to another instant. In Buddhism, there is also an understanding of the nature of reality in terms of its intimate relationship with the mind. Because of this, one interpretation is taken to an extreme viewpoint that denies the external reality of the physical world, saying that everything exists only as mere projections of the mind. However, there is no (true) understanding of the nature between mind and reality (in this view). Actually, there is no denial of the reality of the external world, however it is not perceived as an independent entity - something that is independent of the minds of sentient beings.
The transient nature of phenomena does not mean that something first exists, then the interaction with external conditions creates its disintegration and cessation. Within the cause which gives rise to things and events, there is a kind of "mechanism" that is the very factor which causes its disintegration and cessation. Everything is explained as being dependent on this other power.
Within this stream of causal sequences of events, there are principally two types: one which gives rise to the nature of suffering and the undesirable, and another which gives rise to positive and desired consequences. Since results are very much dependent upon their causes and conditions - the more precious the result , the greater are the causes and its conditions. Due to such a philosophical outlook, Buddhist teachings emphasize the internal causes and conditions of the mind, rather than those of the physical world, because the mind has a greater effect or impact upon the experience of individuals. Take for example the majority of the people gathered here. Generally speaking, most of you enjoy a life with a degree of material affluence and the facilities that are necessary for comfort. However, if you were to examine your state of mind, you would feel that there is still a sense of inadequacy and lack of contentment. We try to fill this sense of lacking something by acquiring more and more material possessions, trying to multiply the tens into hundreds and so on. The objective intended is to gain a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment.
These material conditions alone cannot provide the satisfaction that we are seeking, and if the mind is not content , the sense of fulfillment is absent. Within this complexity is a seed for frustration because you always find something wrong, something is not working out. However, if you have a deeper understanding of the nature of existence, along with inner contentment, then even if you face the same problems, you can cope with these situations better due to this attitude.
Buddha states in the Dhammapada: when the mind is disciplined and calm, it leads to happiness and joy; when the mind is undisciplined, it leads to suffering and pain. The difficult point is: how does one go about disciplining one's mind? Ideally, medical science could develop a technique that assists doctors to provide us with this discipline and instant peace of mind. So far, this has not been possible. So, the only choice we have is simply by using mental effort. For example, when you have a physical illness that is a result of physical causes and conditions, it needs to be cured and corrected by using methods which are compatible with it. With the exception of some highly realized meditators who may have gained complete control over their inner energy, in which case, perhaps they can control the biological and physiological processes of the body.
Similarly, in the case of the mind, although there is (in some sense) a physiological base, when you have a thought or emotion, the actual consciousness is in the state of the experience. Therefore, any malfunctioning within that has to be corrected by using predominantly mental means and practice. Training and disciplining of the mind are not only to be respected, but have great value and benefit. We can say all the major religions of the world teach us various techniques and methods of training the mind in order to enhance the positive qualities of compassion, love, forgiveness and so on.
Many religious traditions advocate and emphasize such methodology as the cultivation of faith and belief. In Buddhism, faith is necessary, but there must also be application of intelligence and wisdom. For developing such faculties, it is important to use analysis, reason and examination. This methodology in the spiritual path toward enlightenment has parallels and a certain degree of compatibility with science where analysis is very much emphasized.
Of course, there are many differences in the areas of the initial motivation and objectives of science and Buddhism; however, there seems to be a basic similarity in the approach where, in the initial stage, one remains with an openness or a healthy skepticism. From the result of analysis, one must develop a personal understanding. After developing such an understanding one may accept something as true, so there seems to be a basic similarity between science and Buddhism.
Due to this outlook, we find a distinction between two categories of the Buddha's teaching. One which can be accepted at face value and perceived as definitive, and a second which should not be taken literally, but requires further examination. These scriptures may contradict one's experience and reason, therefore, lead to further interpretation. If then, they still don't conform to personal experience, the only alternative is to reject them, and that liberty has been given to Buddhists.
There are two principal approaches to training the mind: one which deals primarily with emotion, and the other uses the reason. There are emotions such as faith, devotion, love, compassion, and so forth; and others such as attachment, anger, and jealousy which are more impulsive. These are strong, forceful and arise quite instinctually, without any rational thinking and can be very intense. We can attribute these emotions to a physiological condition or to karmic imprints from the past.
In utilizing the intellect and reason, one is able to contemplate the benefits of love and compassion, as well as the shortcomings of anger and so forth. As you think about faith, love, compassion and their value, their basis, and so on, the more you are able to enhance their capacity. You will gain a sound, valid experience and recognize which emotions need to be cultivated and which need to be abandon. This is an important and integral part of the training of mind.
In both of these approaches, it is important to have a stable mind. Therefore, it becomes extremely important to cultivate a single-pointedness of mind as the foundation. Once this is developed, that faculty conjoins with powerful analysis, and you gain the ability to penetrate into the nature of reality. Having this ability, you are in a position to channel your mental energy and successfully develop and discipline your mind. Therefore , the union of Shamatha (single-pointedness of mind or calmly abiding) and Vipassana (penetrative insight) is very much interrelated.
This brief description is a picture of the basic methods common to the entire Buddhist path. Depending upon your motivation and ultimate objective, there are divisions of different yanas or vehicles. One could divide Buddhist teachings into three yanas: Sravakayana, Pratekabuddhayana and Bodhisattvayana. One could also divide the entire Buddhist path in terms of the practices of the three scopes: initial, middling, and great capacity. There are four principle types of people who embark on a spiritual path. Those who seek as their ultimate goal, the attainment of full enlightenment; those whose main priority is to gain liberation from samsaric bondage; those whose primary concern is to have a more positive rebirth; and those who only seek a happy future within this lifetime.
Many of us may feel that although our future lives may be important, but the conditions of the present life are more important. Most of our thoughts and actions are motivated by wanting to improve our present situation. This is a valid attitude. If we are able to live a happy and peaceful existence, then this will definitely contribute towards the betterment of our future life. On the other hand, if we always talk about it, but live an unproductive existence now, then one will be miserable and dissatisfied, let alone benefiting the future. It is beneficial to develop a broad perspective, with a capacity to see life in its wider context, to not be overly sensitive to situations and to not be affected by the slightest disappointment or pleasure. It is also very important to enhance your capacity for love, compassion and tolerance, and to generate a kind heart.
According to my experience, I think the most important factor in our daily life is being more open-minded. This is something very helpful. Now, open-minded means you must have sensitivity, while at the same time, not be too seriously sensitive. In order to develop this kind of open attitude, the main factor is a good heart. This I can say definitely is true. Develop a mental attitude with more compassion, more affection. Think more about others, just as you would think of yourself. Be more concerned about the common people's welfare and well being. This automatically opens our inner door, creating less fear and more self confidence. As a result, we can communicate with other fellow human beings much more easily with a feeling of "Oh, we are a genuine community". "I am a member of a happy community" will arise. That kind of feeling will automatically reduce fear, self doubt and such thoughts as, "I have no value"and "I am just hopeless". Therefore, I think one of the key techniques to have more openness of mind is a compassionate mental attitude. There's no doubt.
So, I always tell people whether they are believers or non-believers, let us try to have a more positive mental state, meaning a more altruistic attitude. Given the extremely complex nature of our existence in this modern world, I am sure if we pay enough attention, we will find many grounds to compel us to think more about the need for an altruistic outlook on life, and about other people's well being.Since we are going to conduct a ceremony of generating Bodhicitta or the mind of enlightenment, I feel that, regardless of whether we are able to actually develop a true aspiration for the attainment of full enlightenment, for the benefit of all sentient beings, what is most important is to develop the resolve and determination that today, at this place, on this occasion, we will make a pledge to enhance our capacity for warm-heartedness and develop a genuinely altruistic mind, aspiring to help other sentient beings.
Sometimes, because of our human nature, it can be very effective to participate in a group ceremony like this with other fellow human beings, saying prayers and reciting verses together, with a strong determination to develop a kind heart. A sheet of paper with three verses has been distributed, and the recitation of these verses is the actual ceremony of generating Bodhicitta.
I will briefly explain the meaning of these three verses. The first verse is a formula for taking Refuge in The Three Jewels - the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. By reciting this verse, you are mentally seeking Refuge in The Three Jewels and developing faith based on admiration and appreciation for the deeper qualities of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. In a sense, you are emulating the example; just as they have become fully enlightened, you also aspire for that state of enlightenment. Then you state the objective, which is to be of service to all other sentient beings and that you are seeking Buddhahood.
When you recite this verse, it is useful and quite effective to do a visualization if possible. Visualize in front of you a host of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, the fully enlightened beings. You can imagine them in many manifestations and forms, including great spiritual teachers of the world whom you admire and have great devotion to; for example, Jesus Christ or Mohammad. From the Buddhist point of view, there is no contradiction in including these great beings as objects of the Refuge visualization. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, in their service to sentient beings, can take many different forms or manifestations, many different emanations corresponding to the diversity of needs and mental dispositions of sentient beings. What is more important is to visualize around you all other sentient beings and reflect on their existence. Just as you have an innate desire and a fundamental aspiration to find happiness and overcome suffering, and just as you have the right to fulfill that aspiration, so do all other sentient beings Thinking in such a way, try to develop a strong and powerful compassion and love towards these sentient beings. It is with these thoughts and visualization that you should do the recitation and take Refuge in the Three Jewels. Let us now recite the first verse together three times.
The second verse is the actual generation of the Bodhicitta. What you are stating here is that through the factors of compassion, wisdom and skillful means, today in the presence of the Buddhas, you generate the great mind of enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. Being enthused by wisdom and compassion, today you are taking the pledge that from now on you shall develop the altruistic mind and try to be a better and warm-hearted a person. During the recitation of the second verse three times, try to do it with as deep a feeling as possible.
In order to stabilize and affirm this courageous state of mind which you have developed, we will recite the third verse. The altruistic mind and pledge should not be influenced by a short -sighted perspective, thinking to attain enlightenment within the next few years or months. Be prepared to maintain your commitment and pledge, to remain unshaken, even if it takes aeons and aeons. For this purpose, we will recite the third verse. Incidentally, this is one of my most favorite verses. I recite it daily and personally find it very effective and inspiring, especially if I'm confronting difficult situations and circumstances. I derive a great sense of encouragement and inspiration from this verse. Let us recite it together.
Okay, good. That's today's teaching, All topics are completed. I'm very, very happy to be here and spend some time with you and to explain some basics about Buddha Dharma. For those people who have a keen interest about Buddha Dharma, if you study further on the basis of these rough explanations, then you will get a deeper knowledge. For those people who really have a deep interest in Buddhism, then eventually, implementation is crucial. Without implementation, simply to have knowledge is not too useful. Study, increasing knowledge and implementation should go together.
Now I will give you some mantras through oral transmission. First the Buddha's mantra. While reciting this, remember Buddha Sakyamuni is the manifestation of compassion and wisdom:
Om Muni Muni Maha Muniye Soha
Next is the mantra of Avalokiteshvara, or the manifestation of Buddha's compassion. Recitation of this mantra is useful to increase altruism:
Om Mani Padme Hung.
Then the mantra of Manjusri, the manifestation Buddha's wisdom. In Tibet there is a custom, especially for children, to make a special effort to recite this mantra when they start studying or learning. When I was young, I made a special meditation for the recitation of this mantra; according to my own experience, there seems to have been some benefit, although very short. (laughter) It seems there is some real effect. Therefore, I believe this mantra is very useful for intelligence and the mind:
Om Ara Patsa Na Dhi.
Lastly the mantra of the Goddess Tara. This is the manifestation of Buddha's energy. This is very useful for everything. For long life, good health, wealth; for those people who want children --the recitation of this mantra is very good; and for those who do not want children, I think the recitation of this mantra may be useful. (laughter) For a good marriage, for everything, this is quite helpful and useful. We describe the goddess Tara as a very able sort of deity. So that' s good, isn't it?
Om Tare Tutare Ture Soha.
Even with knowledge, experience is very useful. Without experience, inner experience, it is difficult to know the exact meaning. For example, the word "emptiness" or "voidness" is difficult to understand. Think, meditate on it and, as time goes on, you will get some experience, and this word will become heavier and heavier. There will be some real meaning. You get a deeper understanding, a sense. So practice and study, these should go together. For those individuals who have no special interest about Buddhism, that's okay. After all, we all are human beings; we all want a happy life. Therefore be a warm-hearted person, a good-hearted person. By that, you will become a happy person - that's our goal, isn't it? One happy person joins another happy person, that means a happy community, happy society. So, that's the way to develop a happier world.
Finally, I shall do the dedication of the merit which all of us have accumulated here through this teaching. The verses which I'm going to recite state that just as the great Bodhisattvas of the past, such as Manjusri and Samantrabadhra, have dedicated their merit for the benefit of all sentient beings to attain Buddhahood, so shall I dedicate the merit and positive energy that have been accumulated here towards the happiness and attainment of full enlightenment of all sentient beings. The second verse is a prayer for great spiritual masters to come into the world to propagate their great wisdom, insight, and spiritual teachings. May all spiritual practitioners live in harmony as brothers and sisters, and may the good spiritual traditions remain for a long time in the world.”