Speech by Lama Tenzin at International Tibetan Buddhism Study Institute
I have been invited here today to say few words by the International Tibetan Buddhism Study Institute.
Firstly I would like to thank all the members and directors of the Institute. I feel that this Institute is extremely important not only for the expansion and flourishing of Tibetan Buddhism but for the benefit it will provide for countless sentient beings internationally from the East to the West. As I have been living in the West for many years, I would like to say few words about my experience as a monk and a teacher in Western countries.
Tibetan Buddhism, which we have been practicing and teaching, is an extraordinary religion, science and philosophy. Even though these teachings started 2,500 years ago the value of the message benefits more and more people every year in Asia, the West and every part of the world.
The most important thing that we should be concerned with is listening, contemplating, and meditating on the teachings of the Buddha Dharma and all the profound and extensive commentaries that have been written by the many great Indian and Tibetan masters of the past. Th ere are so many things for us to learn, contemplate and practice. In the West, Tibetan Buddhist teaching and publications have only been around for the short period of a half century or so, but more and more people are realizing the great benefit of practicing these precious teachings. It is important for all beings to listen, contemplate and meditate.
The Buddha said “The only thing that I can do is show you the truth, and if you practice on the truth, then you will achieve liberation. I cannot pick you up from samsara and drop you in nirvana, it is ultimately up to you.”.
So based on this, there is much to learn, and more you learn, the more you will understand. The more you understand, the more you will actually experience the joy and happiness that can be gained from the practice.
The practice of Buddhism is not only based on faith, devotion, and receiving blessings from the master. It is more important for individuals to study and then contemplate on what you have studied until you are totally convinced of the meaning. Once you totally understand, then you have to meditate until you actually experience that what you have learned and contemplated. This is the best way to practice Buddhism. When we do it this way, then all the potential of the Buddha’s profound and extensive teachings will lead to the fully realized result.
It is understood that through the practice of Buddhism the result will only occur in the next life, or after many life times. I think that’s a bit of a misunderstanding, because the practice of Buddhism, the whole purpose of doing this, is to reduce our negative afflictions and emotions, as well as to increase our compassion, loving-kindness, understanding, the ability to forgive, and similar aspects. So the more and more practice you do, the more that you will actually see results right away, in this lifetime.
Ultimately, the more and more practice you do, the more you will become a better and better person, which means that your life will have increasing happiness.
Once we develop the qualities such as compassion and loving-kindness, which we actually already have existing within us, called the basic potential or Buddha nature, once we fully develop this nature than we become enlightened. And when we achieve enlightenment, we are freed from all types of suffering.
Whether you go to the East or the West, it is universal that every sentient being wants to have happiness and to avoid suffering. Th is doesn’t mean that if you want to have happiness you will have happiness, and if you don’t want to have suffering, you won’t have suffering. it is essential to know the technique of how to reduce suffering and increasing happiness by listening, contemplating and meditating on the teaching of dharma.
So Buddhism is flourishing, quite speedily from East to West, which is extremely important and beneficial, because it is universal that everybody is trying to achieve happiness and be free from suffering.
The best way to achieve happiness and to be free from suffering is dealing with your inner mind to develop your inner potential, which is also known as “emptiness” or “interdependence”.
Buddha says first you have to learn, and then you have to practice. These two things have to combine to give ourselves and others the way to achieve real happiness. If we lack this listening, contemplating and meditating on the teachings, there is no other way to achieve lasting happiness. Happiness cannot rain from the sky, and blessings cannot grow from the earth. Th e only blessing that we can receive comes through the practice of the precious profound message that Lord Buddha gave 2,500 years ago. This will never be exhausted. The more we practice, the more we will achieve realization.
That is all I have to say today. Again, I really appreciate all the members and directors for their tireless work in providing the opportunity for Tibetan Buddhism to flourish and for providing a root or heart center of the happiness of all sentient beings. Every sentient being has the same wish for happiness and every sentient being has the same fear of suffering. Th e only way to achieve this is to reduce our afflictive emotions, such as anger, pride, jealousy, etc., and to increase our potential for compassion, wisdom, forgiveness and understanding. Th is is the teaching that Buddha Shakyamuni gave 2,500 years ago.