Mcleodganj: The Tibetan spiritual Guru Dalai Lama began his teaching on ‘Heart Sutra’ at the request of Koreans. More than 6000 people had gathered to listen to him, of whom more than 2000 had come from 60 countries around the world. “You Koreans have come again to listen to teachings and I thought we could look at the ‘Heart Sutra’, which is both simple and difficult,” The Dalai Lama began. “Today, since we have two days, I’ll give an introduction to the teachings and I’ll see if we can begin the ‘Heart Sutra’. Tomorrow, I’ll also explain the ‘Three Principal Aspects of the Path’, which is short and has been translated into Korean.“Here in the 21st century we’ve made great material progress, so we might ask ourselves what is the benefit of religion today?
There are some traditions whose message of love and compassion is based on their belief in a compassionate creator God. Since followers of such traditions believe that all beings are creations of such a god, making them brothers and sisters, you might ask how they could fight and kill each other? “In India, there are traditions, like some of the Samkhya, Jains and Buddhists, who don’t assert a creator. Instead, they consider the pain and pleasure we experience to be a consequence of our own actions. Therefore, they teach that what happens to us is in our hands.
Some recognise the existence of a self separate from our body and mind. They say that it is this self that goes on from life to life. Buddhists, however, declare that it is the continuity of subtle consciousness that goes on from life to life. “We may experience pain and pleasure physically, but the feelings such episodes entail take place in the mind. Despite this, there are people who have little appreciation of the function of the mind.
In ancient Indian tradition, mind was explained in detail. Although records of this are found in religious texts, such knowledge need not be restricted to the religious sphere. It can be examined in an academic, secular context. “If you want to avoid suffering, you should seek out its causes and examine whether they can be eliminated. Similarly, once you recognise the causes of happiness you should cultivate them, much as we plant seeds in the earth and nurture them with water and manure until they bear fruit. “The Buddha advised his followers not to accept what he taught blindly, but to examine and test it. He said if it is not corroborated by reason, don’t accept it, but look again. Because of Buddhism’s use of logic and its profound philosophical approach, Buddhist students can have constructive conversations with modern scientists. Many of them appreciate the Buddhist notion of dependent arising. Others are struck by Buddhist understanding of the workings of mind and the emotions.”