Thursday, October 18, 2007

[ The Random Factor#40 (1 of 5)] A closer look at the Dalai Lama's teachings

Greetings brothers and sisters of Earth!

Some guy took a lot of notes when attending
teachings of the Dalai Lama in Hamburg Germany,
July 2007. Discussed more in issue #39.

These notes inspired the following 5 part

Part 1: Emptiness
Part 2: The interdependence of all things
Part 3: Our mental and physical realities
Part 4: Clearing the Mind of Obscurities
Part 5: Meditation on Emptiness & Compassion

Part 1 Emptiness

The Buddhist term Emptiness describes the
belief that objects have no independent or
"inherent existence." Instead, it's existence
is dependent on other things, your perception
primary among them.

2000 years ago this was no doubt met with
ridicule. "Well, if the pot doesn't exist,
then why don't YOU clean it."

Yet, thousands of years later, science too
realized that it's more accurate to say
the world we perceive is a product of our
mind, not "out there" as our senses would
have us believe.

Einstein's General Theory of Relativity shows
us that the "actual" characteristics of an
object depend on the relative motion of the
observer measuring it.

And, Werner Heisenberg of "Heisenberg's
Uncertainty Principle" said, "The path [of
an electron] comes into existence only when
we observe it."

Richard Feynman showed us that an object
exists as a wave of probability, or energy
with a certain likelihood of appearing
here, or there. This probability wave only
collapses into matter in "reality" when
it is perceived by the mind.

So, at long odds, these monks of 2000 years
ago appear to have been proven correct.

But, if it's true things do not "exist" in
the way we are used to what is the purpose
of focusing on emptiness or anything at all
for that matter?

Since all suffering is caused by ignorant
grasping of the mind to things which are
impermanent and not truly existent, the
recognition that natural phenomenon is
inherently empty is fundamental to the
Buddhist path for freeing the mind and
eliminating suffering.

With this understanding we can release
the mind from grasping at illusions.

The phases to accomplish this are

1) elimination of non-virtuous actions
2) eliminate the mind/ego
3) eliminate everything

Emptiness is not to be confused with
nihilism or nothingness. There is a true
nature of self behind this world and
outside the mind, which is ultimate reality.

see you there,

Some Guy

p.s. Click here to continue reading
about the Dalai Lama's teachings

This text published originally in the newsletter
The Random Factor at

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[#39 The Random Factor] Teachings of the Dalai Lama

Greetings brothers and sisters of Earth!

For those who do not know, I was fortunate
enough to attend 5 days of teachings with
the Dalai Lama in Hamburg Germany in July.
The topic was Aryadeva's 400 Stanzas, also
known as Four Hundred Verses on the Yogic
Deeds of Bodhisattvas, a text at the heart
of Tibetan Buddhism.

The goal of these writings is to explore
the nature of suffering, and to illuminate
the wisdom that dissolves this suffering
and awakens the Buddha in each of us.

The DL also spent time discussing more
general Buddhist concepts such as:

The three poisons: aggression, passion,
and ignorance.

Right Actions: meditation, insight,
discipline, patience, generosity, and

Also discussed, but not fully covered,
were the 37 practices of Bodhisattva's.
Check out this great site for more info
on that.

For today, I will focus, just as the DL
did, on the first eight chapters, pulling
my favorite quotes from each and share
the lessons I took from these teachings.

The first 8 Chapters in the Text:

1) Abandon Belief in Permanence
2) Abandon Belief in Pleasure
3) Abandon Belief in Cleanness
4) Abandoning Pride
5) Bodhisattva Deeds
6) Abandoning Disturbing Emotions
7) Abandoning Attachment to Sense Objects
8) Thoroughly Preparing the Student

1) ----- Abandon belief in permanence -----

We look at the past as having gone so
quickly. Why then do we look into the
future and think that we have so far to
go? - paraphrase stanza 3

I found this particularly profound. So far,
this life has gone so quickly, yet when I
look into the future I don't think of it as
being brief.

This chapter reminds us everything is
impermanent. Possessions, creations, and
lives all pass away in the end... an end
which is not far away. Let go of attachment
to this life and invest yourself in
spiritual practice.

2) ----- Abandon Belief in Pleasure -----

"Ordinary people are bent on pleasure; those
who have pleasure are hard to find. Thus it
is as if transitory beings are pursued by
suffering. " - stanza 29

"The high (people with "good fortune") have
mental suffering; for the common ("bad fortune"
e.g. poor) it comes from the body. Day by day
both kinds of suffering overwhelm people of
this world." - stanza 33

This chapter boils down to the notion that
the world provides more pain than pleasure
and that trying to find contentment through
worldly pleasures is futile.

The truth of this is seen when we recognize
that most of us do not experience pleasure
any significant percentage of the time,
despite the fact that we all would choose
to experience pleasure all the time if it
were that easy.

The problem is, one pleasure is not enough,
we always need more. More fun, more money,
more friends, always more. This text argues
that no worldly pleasure, or pleasure of the
physical body can make you content in that
complete and total, once-and-for-all type
of contentment.

A person who is always seeking more will find
on their last day that they have never found

3) ----- Abandon Belief in Cleanness -----

"If, except to some people, a pot of filth
is objectionable, Why would one not think
objectionable that from which the filth
comes (your body)." - stanza 68

The theme of this chapter is that you are
dirty. Filthy, in fact... your body is a
"poop machine" (DL's actual words) and so
is that person you want to get naked. If
you recognize that they are a filth factory
your desire will wane.

I guess I had a problem with this chapter
which uses negative associations with the
body to reduce physical attraction and sexual

I'm not sure what tradition "your body is a
temple" comes from, but apparently it's not

This chapter made me wonder just how often
they showered back then.

4) ----- Abandon Belief in Pride -----

Even if you become a king with wealth
and power, what good is this when you die.
- paraphrased stanza 94

All beings are interdependent. Even a king
is dependent on his subjects for his wealth
and power.

Even the rich and powerful are dependent on
the poor. Seeing yourself separate from this
web of interdependence is delusional.

5) ----- Bodhisattva Deeds -----

"Not a single movement of Buddhas is
without reason; even their breathing
Is exclusive for the benefit of
sentient beings" - stanza 101

"Without intention, actions like going
are not seen to have merit and so forth.
In all actions, therefore, the mind
should be understood as paramount."
- stanza 104

"In Bodhisattvas, through their intention,
all actions, virtuous and non-virtuous,
become perfect virtue, because they are
in control of their minds." - stanza 105

"Someone may build a precious reliquary
(temple/church) as high as the world; it
is said, training others to generate the
altruistic intention is more excellent."
- stanza 107

"Just as a physician is not upset with
someone who rages while possessed by a
demon, Buddhas see disturbing emotions
as the enemy, not the person who has
them." - stanza 109

"Just as a mother is especially anxious
about a sick child, Buddhas are especially
compassionate toward the unwise." - stanza

"When one thinks of giving gifts, now
there will be a great result, receiving
and giving are like trade for the profit,
which will be criticized." - stanza 120

"Even here, nothing harms one with a
powerful mind, and thus, for such a one,
worldly existence and nirvana are no
different." - stanza 122

The lesson here is that actions of the
enlightened are those supporting the
greater good, not just for one's own

The DL said that stains (wrong thoughts)
of the mind obscure this highest state.
Stains of the mind, like all things, are

And a mind that is clear can be stained
again. It is for this that a "Buddha" does
not refer to one with a pure mind, but a
person who is constantly engaged in the
practice of removing stains of the mind.

Perfect wisdom is the natural state of the
mind. The stains are temporary obstructions
of this perfect mind. By simply focusing
one's wisdom on a stain we see the stain
and can dissolve it with right thought and
right action.

With a powerful mind, and compassion, the
highest path is walked.

6) ----- Abandoning Disturbing Emotions -----

"Desire's activity is acquisition, anger's
activity is conflict. As wind is to all the
elements, confusion's activity is nurture."
- stanza 127

"Desire is painful, because of not getting.
Anger is painful, through lack of might, and
confusion, through not understanding. Because
of this, these are not recognized." - stanza 128

"Desire is no friend, but seems like one, which
is why you do not fear it. But shouldn't people
particularly rid themselves of a harmful friend?"
- stanza 132

"Anger is lasting and certainly makes one do
grave non-virtue. Thus constant awareness of
their distinctions, will bring to an end
disturbing emotions." - stanza 134

"As the tactile sense [pervades] the body,
confusion is present in them all. By overcoming
confusion, one will also overcome disturbing
emotions." - stanza 135

"Buddha told those with desire that food, clothes
and dwellings are all to be avoided and to remain
close to their spiritual guides." -stanza 138

"Whoever is patient with the source of anger
develops meditation. Saying you fear the source
of good qualities is just foolish of you."
- stanza 148

"Who has gone to the next world having ended
all disparagement? Therefore, consider contempt
preferable to ill deeds." -stanza 149

This chapter tells us that wrong action is a
result of disturbing emotions like greed,
hatred, and envy. Wisdom and mindfulness are
the remedy. With our energy focused on these
pursuits our actions will automatically improve.

7)-- Abandoning Attachment to Sense Objects --

"When there is no end at all to this ocean
of suffering, why are you, childish people,
not afraid of drowning in it?" - stanza 151

"On Earth the maturation of ill deeds is seen
to be only deleterious. Thus to the wise the
world appears similar to the slaughterhouse."
- stanza 157

"If 'insane' means that one's mind is unstable,
what wise person would say that those in
worldly existence are not insane?" - stanza 158

"Since all results will not definitely be
achieved, and those that are will certainly
come to an end, why exhaust yourself for
their sake?" - stanza 161

This chapter affirms that objects don't bring
happiness so why waste your energy on such

Rid yourselves of negative thoughts and
recognize delusions in order to break through
the world of illusion and experience the
profound bliss that lies within.

8) ----- Thoroughly Preparing the Student -----

"Just as friendship between people who disagree
does not last long, desire does not last long,
when all things' faults are recognized." -
stanza 176

"While attached to your own position and
disliking others' positions, you will not
approach nirvana. Neither [kind of] conduct
will bring peace." - stanza 185

"Not acting brings about nirvana; acting again
brings worldly existence. Thus, without
complication, nirvana is easy to attain,
but not the latter." - stanza 186

"How can anyone, who has no aversion to this,
take an interest in pacification? Like [leaving]
home, it is also hard to leave worldly
existence behind." - stanza 187

"First prevent the demeritorious, next prevent
[ideas of a coarse] self. Later prevent views
of all kinds. Whoever knows of this is wise."
- stanza 190

"Just as a barbarian cannot be guided in a
foreign language, ordinary people cannot be
guided except by the way of the ordinary."
- stanza 194

"Correct perception [leads to] the supreme
state, some perception to good rebirths. The
wise thus always expand their intelligence to
think about the inner nature." - stanza 196

"Through knowing reality, even if now one does
not attain nirvana, one will certainly gain it
effortlessly in a later life, as it is with
actions." - stanza 197

"On hearing that the body lacks good qualities,
attachment does not last long. Will not all
disturbing attitudes end by means of this
very path?" - stanza 199

This chapter suggests that from a state of
suffering to Nirvana, from darkness to light,
we can break the cycle of suffering and
reincarnation through the cultivation of


"Desire based on wisdom is ok." - Dalai Lama

Best of luck whatever your endeavor,

Some Guy


This text published originally in the newsletter
The Random Factor at

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