H.H. the Dalai Lama, the most prominent contemporary figure in Tibetan Buddhism, teaches regularly on a variety of topics ranging from entry level lectures to profound oral commentaries on seminal texts covering subjects such as Wisdom, Compassion, Ethics, Nature of the Mind, Buddhism and Science, and Meditation and Psychotherapy. His office does a great job making the teachings available through its official webcast. Now they are available in a podcast here as MP3 audio files encoded at 64Kbps mono. If you rather see video, check out the “Dalai Lama Video Teachings” podcasts (available in Standard Quality and High Quality).
May 19th, 2009
Episode 41 of 409 episodes
Traditionally, during the first month of the Tibetan New Year (Losar), a Great Prayer Festival (Monlam Chenmo) was celebrated in Lhasa. On the final day, the Dalai Lama would give a public teaching. The subject text was taken from the Jataka Tales, stories of Shakyamuni Buddha’s earlier lives as a Great Bodhisattva. Following this tradition in Dharamsala, India, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama gave the teaching outdoors in a cold morning sun. The assembled devotees came from around the world. Because many of the pilgrims from Tibet will be returning to their homes before the end of the 2007 Spring Teachings, His Holiness announced that this morning he would conduct the ceremony for taking the “Aspirational Bodhisattva Vows”. To prepare the minds of the students for this ceremony, His Holiness gave a beautifully succinct overview of the theory and practice of Tibetan Buddhism. Then he recounted the Jataka tale that follows the story told in 2006. That story seemed particularly relevant today. In one of his lives as a Bodhisattva, Buddha Shakyamuni had been born as a King. Because of his compassionate kindness, he was much beloved by his people. Nonetheless, a time came when a prolonged drought caused great suffering. This environmental disaster was the fruit of the collective karma of the people in his kingdom. Their negative actions in former lives had produced catastrophic consequence. To stop the drought, the King’s councilors advised making animal sacrifices to deities. The King responded that if killing animals could end the drought, then human sacrifice should be even more effective. He declared that from around the country, one thousand people who were engaged in harmful and wicked behavior should be identified and arrested for sacrifice. In response, everyone abandoned even their petty negative deeds and strove to prove their virtuous character. Thus, the karmic balance shifted and the rains came—through virtue; not by killing. Then while conferring the Aspirational Bodhisattva Vows His Holiness gave instructions on how to generate a mind aspiring to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. And he pointed out that the desire to attain enlightenment is not an afflicted emotion like our everyday wishes to obtain love, wealth, or power. Due to our ignorant perception we grossly exaggerate the desirable qualities of such objects so our successes are always mixed with suffering. But the excellent qualities of enlightenment cannot be exaggerated.