Turning the Wheel of the Dharma

A Sunday Meditation Class given on 21 November 1993 by The Late Venerable Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey

© Copyright 1993, 2000 Dhargyey Buddhist Centre.

For the last few Sundays I have been teaching you how to develop the right view of true existence. That view, being the most important underlying philosophy on which all your practices are based, must be sought by every means.

Lama Tsongkhapa says, all misfortunes and undesirable things which happen in the world are rooted in the misconception of inherent existence, or ignorance.

Once you see emptiness of true existence all misfortunes will come to an end by themselves.

Further it is underlined in the Guru Puja text that all phenomena within ordinary, deluded existence and all phenomena in the state of liberation and enlightenment lack inherent existence. Nothing even the size of an atom in both worlds has inherent existence. Never the less, the dependent arising of cause and effect is non-fraudulent. Although cause and effect of both the deluded and enlightened world are empty of inherent existence, happiness arises miraculously from the performance of positive liberating actions and, sufferings of body and mind arise from the performance of unhealthy or negative actions. There is no doubt about how suffering and cause and effect work in dependence on each other. Thus it will help understanding of the final view of the enlightened if one comes to realise how the lack of true existence of cause and effect and the interdependent function of cause and effect is non-fraudulent. It will also help this understanding if you realise that; if the lack of true existence of cause and effect is true, then the non-fraudulent function of dependent arising of cause and effect must also be true.

So the important thing that we need to remember is that one's understanding of the emptiness of true existence must boost one's understanding of the non-fraudulent functioning of cause and effect, and one's understanding of how cause and effect non-fraudulently function in dependence on each other must boost one's understanding of emptiness of true existence, and the two must be seen as completely compatible with each other.

The translation of this Guru Puja verse (108) is

Both the enlightened and deluded world do not have even an atom of inherent existence,
Yet cause and effect are non-fraudulent in their interdependent arising.
Seeing compatibility between cause and effect lacking true existence yet functioning non-fraudulently on the illusory level is the perfect view of Arya Nagarjuna,
May I be blessed by gurus to come to understand this.

According to lamas of previous ages,( who advised their disciples to memorise this line and try and say it as a matter of prayer each day,) as you say it such a contemplation will leave an indelible impression of right view on your mind.

This lovely verse is extremely beautiful and can only create joy, happiness and delight in the minds of the learned and the enlightened.

It is very important to contemplate the meanings of these. It is also very advisable that you commit these lines to memory and recite it. Accordingly; lamas of previous ages, have advised that these verses be recited again and again in your intervals. Suppose you were doing a retreat, and you have intervals, during the intervals it is very important to recite this verse.

I cannot over emphasise the importance of the wisdom understanding emptiness. I can only say that you can not do without this wisdom. You cannot do any practise without this wisdom. We understand from the teachings that delusions like desire, hatred and so on are the cause of all our suffering, and that these delusions have their root in our misconceiving things to have true or inherent existence. It is very important to understand or develop this wisdom.

However much we practise there doesn't seem to be marked improvement in our actions of body and mind. That's all because our practises have not hit the target of the root of delusions. The purpose of practise is to diminish and finally eradicate desire, hatred and ignorance. If they do not gradually subside, if they seem to remain the same, or to grow stronger, the study that you have undertaken has not fulfilled its purpose.

In this context Gyalwa Gyatso has said that 'we are somewhat preoccupied with finding fault in others despite ourselves being the epitome of a composite of all the unhealthy behaviours there are in the world. While being engrossed by this composition of all undesirable negative behaviour one doesn't notice time going by'.

There is no hope for such a person to liberate sentient beings, leading them upwards. The purpose of practise is to promote the decrease of one's own delusions not to watch the weakness and faults of other people like ones next door neighbour.

Lama Dorje Chang used to ask 'why watch the next door neighbours weaknesses; the next door neighbours faults are not going to harm one in any way'.

Here Srongten Gyalwa Jungya has said that 'if you are aware of your own mistakes you are being wise and you would be being very virtuous to leave others faults to themselves not pick on the others fault'. It is something that we all need to know.

Further Nagarjuna's profound advice for our lifestyles says that a jealous person with little merits will only criticize and be sceptical of others. Scepticism and criticism will not harm others in any way but will only bring disrepute to one.

So we all seriously need to practise ; I who sit on the throne and face you and you who listen. It is not good enough to be able to teach sitting on high throne. If I don't practise, simply teaching others is not going to work for my liberation for the sake of all sentient beings. I have to practise myself.

There is an account of Queen Tiktengma of the ancient Indian religious king called The Prajenasiddha. She said to a monk called Chaka 'Why does your passion not seem to decrease. Look at Upala Dokchen the most passionate of all women of our times. Even she has managed to overcome her delusion and desire, and achieved the state of liberation. What is happening to you.' Chaka thought, 'That's quite right. What has happened to me?'. He couldn't face seeing the Buddha, but rather went to his abbot of full ordination which was Shariputra . Shariputra gave him the right kind of teaching which really hit the spot and brought about quick transformation of attitude and helped him overcome his delusions. He became an arhat who was highly regarded, with a lot of expertise especially in helping the lay community.

So every one can take teachings as instructions that really hit the spot - reducing one's delusions and so on. Here Lama Dorje Chang used to say that 'When we listen to the teachings, particularly Lam Rim teachings, we must listen to them by comparing our behaviour with the teachings. By checking ones behaviour of body speech and mind against the light of Lam Rim teaching; if you think your behaviour is in accord with it then you could be happy and be inspired to continue. However if you find that what you have been doing in the past has been totally against the Lam Rim then one must realise that and stop it.

Lama Dorje Chang used to say that 'One must realise one's mistakes and then determine to change them, and so be a better person'. We have the potential to change, to grow and to attain the state of enlightenment , so this is how we need to listen to the teachings.

There is room for change for the better because in Buddhism it is believed there is not one being who has achieved enlightenment who was enlightened primordially. All the Buddhas were like ourselves in the beginning; deluded. But, like ourselves they met their respective guides who showed them the way of liberation, the way of overcoming suffering , and they followed the teachings meticulously. Such methodical practise of the teaching brought about spiritual growth in them.

Lama Dorje Chang, was himself a Buddha in human manifestation. His instruction in Lam Rim was born of his own experience. In fact there is hardly anyone who has the ability to give Lam Rim teachings as Lama Dorje Chang did. In the line of his life stories, Lama Dorje Chang in fact was Atisha the great Indian Pandita, who introduced the Lam Rim practise. He used to say that when you listen to the teachings on how to manage and overcome anger it is wrong for you to look at the person sitting next to you as if the teachings are about him and not you. It is wrong to think that teachings are for the person next to you, as if you know that person is angry, instead of taking the teachings personally and checking one's own mind. The anger and delusions which the person sitting next to you has are not going to harm you in any way. It is your own anger which is going to harm you.

I am giving these teachings out of my own understanding and recollecting the teachings of my precious gurus with the hope that teachings which I pass on to you independent of texts, would be of use to you; otherwise I have very bad vision now, and I could excuse myself from coming to the teachings.

Like I have taught you in previous weeks I want you to meditate now on the right view. Plus if you could remember some of the things I have said in my advice it would be very beneficial, and it would fulfil the purpose of coming to the Sunday class.

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