Turning the Wheel of the Dharma

Caring for children, and a very special long life practice

Two teachings given by the Venerable Thupten Rinpoche at the Dhargyey Buddhist Centre, 15 September and 6 October 1996. His Holiness the Dalai Lama was in Dunedin on 13 September, consecrating the stupa for Gen Rinpoche, and giving a public talk to a large gathering in the Town Hall. Thupten Rinpoche's first teaching below mentions both of these. From 19 September to 1 October, Thupten Rinpoche and many members of the Centre were in Sydney for the Kalachakra Initiation given by His Holiness. Thupten Rinpoche's second teaching refers to this.

Caring for Children

Sunday 15 September 1996

This morning before I talk about topics that I think would be beneficial for our minds, I have two important things to tell you. As you all know, only two days ago the stupa was consecrated by His Holiness and what a wonderful time it was for everybody. The successful conclusion of our efforts was blessed by the consecration by His Holiness, but that conclusion would not have happened if everybody had not contributed. Everybody gave their best effort, their time and energy. I'm extreme-ly grateful to all who have given their best and I would like to say thank you very much, from the bottom of my heart.

It was not just the completion of a stupa. In fact the stupa that is now on the site has far exceeded my expectations in terms of standard and quality. The high quality and standard of the stupa is due entirely to the vision and the skill of the people involved. Here I would like to say that Ani Chödrön and Dieter were outstanding in their dauntless vision. Although I do sometimes regard myself as someone who is courageous, nevertheless when plans for the stupa went beyond my estimation I started feeling a bit discouraged and was daunted by the task before us. But Ani Chödrön and Dieter said, "Don't you worry, things will come together." And they not only said it but they also worked very hard, and things did come together. This really verifies a Tibetan saying which goes: "If you have courage the size of a mountain the result will also be the size of a mountain." I thought that was quite true and how fitting the adage was. So to them I want to say "Thank you very much," and I am saying it from the bottom of my heart. And it's not just me: I say thank you on behalf of Gen Rinpoche as well.

"... With a kind heart and a sense of mercy and compassion, no matter how dreadful and how deadly the opponent may be, and how wild the other side may be, one can always exert a positive impact on them through kind heart."

As good fortune would have it, on the very day that the stupa was finally completed and adorned with the consecration by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, on that day His Holiness announced to me that Gen Rinpoche's reincarnation has already been conceived. That is obviously very happy news for all of us. There is every reason for celebration and happiness and joy. However I would like to say that we still need to pray for Gen Rinpoche's quick return. He's only in the womb and is due to be born soon. We need to pray that his birth is quite smooth and that everything goes well after he is born. I will fix a day of offerings and puja so that any obstacles that there are for the correct identification of the reincarnation be removed.

I've announced these two pieces of good news at the beginning to start things on a joyful note, knowing that they will make everyone extremely happy.

Now for the actual topic this morning.

First of all I'd like to say that we must always try to recollect the talk His Holiness gave in the Town Hall last Friday. In previous Sunday meditation classes I have laid a lot of emphasis on the need to shape one's own mind, transform one's own heart. His Holiness verified the importance of a good heart and peace of mind. He said that even from the point of view of health, good health is dependent on a good heart and actual peace of mind. For the general public he could only relate good heart and peace of mind from the point of view of their significance to health. He couldn't go beyond that in a talk to the general public. For others like ourselves who claim to be practitioners, followers of Buddhist religious spirituality, kind heart and peace of mind are the foundation of spiritual growth and development. With kind heart and a sense of mercy and compassion, no matter how dreadful and how deadly the opponent may be, and how wild the other side may be, one can always exert a positive impact on them through kind heart. In this connection the great Tibetan master Sakya Pandita has said, "The soft can make the soft softer, and the soft can soften the rough and the raw; whereas the raw and rough will only make the rough and raw even more rough and raw and will also make the peace-ful and gentle rough." Therefore it is very important to have a genuine, gentle and kind attitude, and to be very peaceful.

"... The human mind, in fact the minds of all living beings, is by nature neutral, soft and gentle. The roughness, aggression and cruelty that beings exhibit is entirely conditioned by constant exposure to a rough environment and rough behaviour."

Last night perhaps some of you saw a wildlife programme on television about apes. It was said that apes are really quite rough but when humans show kindness and love to them they respond in the same way. This clearly shows that when you show kindness and love to others and care for others, they will be touched by love and kindness and you will receive the same sort of reaction in return. One can draw lessons about the importance and significance of kindness even from television shows like that. We shouldn't just watch them because they are interesting and fascinating: we should try to draw some lessons as well.

Another point that His Holiness touched upon was about how to make people's minds kind and soft and peaceful. He said that one way to go about that was to set examples of kindness and peacefulness in one's own lifestyle to the younger generation, the future generation, in our own homes and at school. I have been a teacher in various Tibetan schools and have spent a great deal of my life with children, dealing with children, and I have some knowledge about it based on experience. I have experienced and seen for myself that children who have a rough upbringing at home, or who have experienced occasional roughness or unhappy incidents, also manifest roughness at school. However if the teachers are quick to notice this and try to interact with these children in a kind and caring way, things change. There used to be one child who was a really difficult child to deal with. He didn't have any sense of fear or respect for any Indian teachers. Let alone teachers, he didn't even bother to respect the Principal of the school. However the child was there in the school to be educated and trained, to be prepared for his life in the future, and I had to take responsibility. So I intervened and I dealt with him in a most peaceful way. It had a tremendous impact on him, so that he would listen to whatever I said. That clearly shows that when someone like this boy realizes that there is someone who cares for them, looks after them and is kind to them, they naturally respond in the same way. He was a hard case, but at the same time he was hard-working, so I wanted him to change. I had already shown him kindness and love and he had responded to that, but I wanted him to change further and so I wanted to give him a position of responsibility. I thought of appointing him the head boy of the entire school. But that would have annoyed other children who would have said, "How come such a bad boy has been appointed to the head of the school?" In order to avoid the appearance of prejudice by me towards this boy, I managed to appoint him the prefect of a house in Tibetan schools children are put into different houses. When he was elevated to a position of responsibility, the weight of responsibility touched him and he changed tremendously. So when His Holiness was talking about how the young need to be nurtured by love, kindness and a peaceful environment both at home and at school, it reminded me of the experience I had with this boy.

We need to remember His Holiness' talk and in order to bring about change in future generations we need to raise children in kindness and love. In order for that to take place it goes without saying that parents need to show constant love and care and provide a peaceful environment for their children at home. On top of that I feel that what would help children is, as far as is practicable or possible, to have them avoid watching violent TV shows. When they see aggression and violence on television, it really hardens their mind and consciousness. That constant exposure to violence and aggression can harden people's hearts and minds, can be illustrated by two instances: young police recruits, and seasoned police who have been in the service for some time. When young recruits see a bloody scene they feel very upset and are not able to cope with it because it is quite new to them. But for policemen and women who have been in the service for some time it is a matter of fact for them: they don't seem to be much disturbed or moved by violent scenes. If this happens with adults it must happen with the young. I felt that it is very important that we all note these finer points.

Likewise it is bad for young minds to read books which deal with violence, aggression and murder etc. In the beginning children are quite frightened by such books but as they get used to them they become addicted and such things become more and more fascinating, capture their imagination, and they become engrossed in such aggression. It becomes habit for them so that they will want to read only such material; they won't want to read literature that would uplift their mind. With teenagers it could be difficult to control reading and television: they have some degree of autonomy and independence and it would be quite difficult to keep a constant eye on them. But we can make sure that young children do not fall into the trap.

The human mind, in fact the minds of all living beings, is by nature neutral, soft and gentle. The roughness, aggression and cruelty that beings exhibit is entirely conditioned by constant exposure to a rough environment and rough behaviour.

If you note these matters I'm quite sure they will help small children.

Meditation: This morning we need to spend some time reflecting on what His Holiness said about how to transform one's mind in order to get lasting peace of mind, the foundation for good health, and good heart, the foundation for spiritual development. I have reminded you of what His Holiness said and supplemented it with my own experience. Please spend some moments thinking about these topics.

A Long Life Practice

Sunday 6 October 1996

Thupten Rinpoche teaches a White Tara Practice for Gen Rinpoche's Reincarnation

In past Sunday meditation classes I have given general talks, but this morning I have some special things to talk about. As most of you know, Gen Rinpoche's reincarnation is due to be born shortly. What we need to do, those who have been benefitted by his teachings, is to pray for a safe birth, safe and healthy growth both physically and mentally, and safe training. In other words, we need to pray for his all-round success.

Now I want to tell you what you could do for that. For the next few months there will be no teachings at the Centre so I thought it would be a good idea if people engaged in a White Tara Long Life practice and dedicated this to Gen Rinpoche's safe birth and his long, successful life. I would like to tell you what you need to think about, what you need to do, when you do the practice of White Tara. At the end of this session you will be meditating briefly on what I will shortly explain.

I recommend that you do this practice in the morning, before you have eaten any meat. When you do this practice you don't eat meat before the practice has been completed. The practice is going to be done at your home. It can be done either in Tibetan or in English. For those who don't read Tibetan, a two-page manual [i.e. sadhana] in English was given to all the participants at the Kalachakra in Sydney. You could follow that. People who don't have copies will be able to get them here. For those who read Tibetan there is just over one page in the prayer book. [An English translation of the latter is also available from the Centre.]

How to start the practice. You do it at your home in the morning. As always, you start by doing refuge practice and the practice of generating universal altruism, bodhicitta. What we need to think about when doing refuge practice and bodhicitta practice you can recall from the explanations I gave during the teachings on Gen Rinpoche's Guru Yoga practice. With regard to the object of refuge, in Gen Rinpoche's Guru Yoga practice the central figure of the objects of refuge was Gen Rinpoche himself. Now in this case the central object of refuge is White Tara, the female Buddha known for longevity and wisdom etc. It is this female Buddha who is to be seen as inseparable from Gen Rinpoche himself, and who is then also surrounded by a host of Buddhas, meditational deities, etc.

"...I'm asking everyone to say the short Tara mantra 10,000 times or more. I will also do the practice and collect as many mantras as possible. When we meet next time let's have the good news to tell each other, 'I have said ... mantras,' so that we can total up the mantras and dedicate them to the long-life of Gen Rinpoche's reincarnation."

Once you have recited the lines concerning refuge practice and the generation of universal altruism, then you should feel that through your sincerity in taking refuge and generating bodhicitta, the objects of refuge Tara and all the surrounding deities become extremely pleased and, because of their deep pleasure and delight they dissolve into you. When you visualise objects of refuge dissolving into you it would feel a bit cumbersome and awkward for all of them to dissolve directly into you. Rather, you visualize that all the surrounding gurus, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and meditation deities etc, first dissolve into the central object of refuge, Tara, and then the solitary Tara, embodying the essence of all the others, dissolves into you. Due to the dissolution of Tara into you, you experience a great sense of well-being, spiritual, mental and physical, your body becomes extremely light and a kind of bliss overwhelms you due to which feel that your body dissolves into a state of emptiness.

The reason why you need to dissolve your gross physical form into light and then into the state of reality, emptiness, is that if you try to transform your human body straight into Tara's form without first dissolving it into emptiness, you would still have the sense of being an ordinary human being. In order to cut through this conception that one is an ordinary human being, deluded etc, you need to first of all dissolve yourself into the pure state of emptiness. As with all deities, it is from there that you transform yourself into the deity.

From the pure state of vacuity, imagine that first of all there comes into being a lotus. On top of the lotus is a full moon. The lotus and moon signify the very important Buddhist concepts, wisdom and method. In any activity two things are essential: first, some degree of intelligence or wisdom, and then a sense of resourcefulness, the way you go about doing it. Thus wisdom and method are signified by the lotus and moon. It is good to imagine that the lotus and moon are fairly big.

At the centre of the moon imagine a seed-syllable TAM. In English, the Tibetan letter is transliterated as TAM but this would be a bit difficult to visualize, so I suggest that you try to visualize the Tibetan letter. Just as in the case of our ordinary human body the ultimate initial source was the semen and egg of our parents, the seed-syllable is the source from which the physical form of Tara is to be generated. The lotus and the moon are like the semen and egg of our parents. Just as in the fusion of semen and egg our consciousness enters at the time of conception and the embryo begins to develop, in the fusion of the lotus and moon the seed syllable , the mind of Tara which is in fact your mind, is generated and arises as the physical form of Tara.

Imagine that that, signifying your mind, which you have visualized as standing in the middle of the moon, undergoes a dramatic transformation out of which feel that your mind arises as the form of White Tara with all the major and minor marks of an enlightened being. White Tara arises in space and her left hand is raised to her heart with the thumb and index finger touching. The three other fingers are standing. These three fingers, signifying the three refuges, signify that she is the embodiment of the three objects of refuge. Her right hand extends down onto her right knee with the palm showing outwards. That gesture is the mudra of bestowing refuge. White Tara must be visualized as having one face, two hands and seven eyes. She has the two usual eyes, another eye in the centre of her forehead, and eyes in the palms of her hands and the soles of her feet. Many other forms of Tara sit with their right leg folded in and their left stretched forward, but White Tara has both legs in cross-legged position. White Tara must be visualized as being marked with OM on the crown of her head, AH at her throat and HUM at her heart. In fact it is you who is being generated into this White Tara. The practitioner who does White Tara practice must be generated into that deity form.

Once you have generated yourself into the deity, up to the point where your two legs are seated in cross-legged position and your three places are marked with the three seed-syllables, then feel that rays of light go out from the at your heart inviting all real, enlightened Taras and White Taras, Gurus, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Protectors etc from Pure Lands, and these dissolve into you as White Tara. Imagining that you have invited actual Taras, Gurus, Buddhas and so on from Pure Lands and that they dissolve into you, also helps to cut through the feeling that one is still an ordinary human being. When Buddhas dissolve into you, you feel you yourself are a Buddha.

Once you have become a deity, what happens in the manual is that you imagine that you invite actual initiating deities who empower you by giving you the water initiation on your crown. Just as when a human baby is born it is given a bath, similarly when you have freshly generated yourself into a deity Tara, that Tara needs to be bathed. The water to be used, now that you are a fully-fledged Tara with all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas dissolved into you, can't be ordinary water, so you need to invite initiating deities from their respective places. It is only with the wisdom water that you as Tara are washed. Imagine that you have invited innumerable male and female initiating deities who stay in the space above you (remember that you are now female Buddha Tara). From there they shower you with wisdom water. As you sit under this cascade of wisdom water poured by the initiation deities, the wisdom water enters your being and completely fills your body. In order that it does not spill onto the ground, be sure that you put a lid on the top by transforming the excess water into Amitayus, the male deity of longevity, who now sits on the top of your head. At this point you must feel that you are indeed the real White Tara, the deity of longevity.

Next you say the mantra of the deity. This is what you have to visualize for that. You as White Tara now have a moon-disc at the heart level in your central channel. Imagine that standing at the centre of that moon disc there is a white . Whoever's lifespan needs to be increased must be visualized within the circle on top of . As I told you in the beginning, the primary purpose of our doing this practice now is so that the child who is Gen Rinpoche's incarnation, due to be born shortly, has a very healthy, long life. If you were to put into the circle above everyone whose life you want to increase, it might be too uncomfortable. So in the circle put just the figure of a small child, the reincarnation of the guru. Then around the syllable itself, put your parents, friends etc -- all those people whose lives you want to increase. These people are visualized surrounding the syllable . The itself emits rays of light which go out to the ten directions and invite the essence of longevity of the enlightened beings who are dwelling in the ten directions, as well as all those conditions -- nutrients as it were -- that promote longevity. Imagine the essence of longevity drawn in by the rays of light, which then dissolve into the circle of in which the small child is to be visualized, as well as into all the other humans and sentient beings that you have visualized around the . It is good to dissolve the essence of longevity and conditions favouring longevity into the recipients one by one, not all together. If you try to dissolve it into everyone at once you might find it difficult or uncomfortable. Imagine first that light and nectar carrying the essence of longevity and the favourable conditions that support longevity, dissolve into the child inside the circle above . Next, visualize the same rays of light and nectar dissolving into your parents who you could visualize just in front of the . After that you can take the light and nectar and dissolve it into the sentient beings you have imagined surrounding the at your heart.

As to the mantra recitation: Since White Tara's mantra is longer than the mantra of most other Taras, you could recite it about twenty-one times. If you can't say it more than twenty-one times at least do it twenty-one times. The mantra is written in the English translation. Once you have recited White Tara's long mantra you can start saying the usual Tara mantra OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA. I ask those who have received White Tara initiation in a formal way, as people who went to Sydney did, to do the practice according to the manual and say the mantra as many times as possible. Those who have not received White Tara initiation may recite the manual if you want to but I'm only requesting you to say the mantra.

I'm asking everyone to say the short Tara mantra at least 10,000 times or more. I will also do the practice and collect as many mantras as possible. When we meet next time let's have the good news to tell each other, 'I have said .... mantras,' so that we can total up the mantras and dedicate them to the long-life of Gen Rinpoche's reincarnation. It would

be nice if you could say 500 mantras a day, not all in one go but at different times of the day. At the end of the practice do a short dedication prayer. I thought that this would be a good thing that we individually could contribute to the successful birth, healthy growth and long, successful career of the reincarnate guru to be born soon.

Meditation: This morning we will do a short meditation. If you can visualize and recollect all that I've said and do a full process of generating yourself into the deity, well and good; if not, at least imagine/feel that in the central channel at your heart level is a moon disk at the centre of which stands the seed-syllable . Within the circle of the imagine a small child.


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