Once again I am very happy to have been asked to write a short introduction to the souvenir booklet produced by Tushita Mahayana Meditation Centre for its eighteenth Dharma Celebration and to welcome everybody here.
Tushita was founded by my great teacher, Lama Thubten Yeshe, in 1977, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been the guest of honor at Tushita’s almost-annual celebration since the second, which was held in 1982. Needless to say, we are delighted to host His Holiness again, in this, his seventieth year.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the Buddha of Compassion and in this time of dreadful natural disasters and increasing man-made turmoil his presence among us is not only somewhat miraculous but also extremely beneficial and necessary. His Holiness is the great treasure of infinite compassion embracing all sentient beings, the sole source of benefit and happiness, and the sole refuge. His Holiness is incomparably kinder to us the fortunate disciples in many countries of this world who are able to see his holy body and hear his holy speech, than all the past, present and future buddhas.
And the compassion His Holiness embodies is no less important. In this time of strife, practically the only thing that will be able to save the world is compassion—the wish for others to be free of suffering.
What is it that makes our life easy and free of confusion and problems? What is the source of all happiness and peace? What brings happiness and peace into our daily life and all happiness up to enlightenment, allowing us to bring happiness and peace to numberless sentient beings? It’s our attitude—the unmistaken attitude with which we live our life, the attitude by which we live our life according to its meaning, fulfilling our purpose of having been born human.
What is that best attitude that gives the most meaning to our life? It is living with compassion, for the benefit of others.
When our attitude is that of simply seeking our own happiness, the attitude itself attracts many difficulties and creates obstacles to our own success. Even if we are trying to serve others, when our basic motivation is that of seeking our own happiness, we experience many ego clashes and personality problems in trying to work with other people. Whether we are working in a meditation centre or an office, if we are self-centered, we will bring all kinds of useless garbage into our life, especially when associating or dealing with others. All kinds of emotional problems will arise.
So even though the work we are doing—working for the welfare of others—is good, our self-centered mind generates all sorts of harmful, unnecessary emotional thoughts—thoughts that are totally useless as far as our job is concerned; thoughts that make others unhappy and angry and disturb their minds. Thoughts such as anger and jealousy create much disharmony between us and others. These harmful emotions impede the success of our work, bring no peace, happiness or harmony, interfere with our work and our health, and can even create obstacles to our life, to our very survival. By leading us to suicide, such thoughts can even cause our death—we’re not killed by someone else; we’re killed by our own emotional mind.
The moment we begin to cherish ourselves is the moment we have created an obstacle to success in working for others. Self-cherishing brings constant problems. Broadly speaking, if we have self-cherishing, we cannot develop bodhicitta. As long as we do not renounce self-cherishing, we cannot develop the holy mind of cherishing others. That means we cannot attain enlightenment, cannot work perfectly for the sake of all the numberless sentient beings.
Thus we can see how the self-centered mind is the main obstacle that prevents us from benefiting others. It is from the self-centered mind that desire, anger and all other negative, emotional thoughts arise, obscuring our mind, blocking our wisdom. Even though there may exist many methods for solving a particular problem and we have the potential to apply them, our self-cherishing attitude totally obstructs our wisdom and prevents us from either seeing or applying them. These emotional thoughts obscure our mind and cause it to hallucinate. Therefore, we cannot perceive the methods that would bring happiness, peace and harmony. Even though, simply by changing our attitude—something that our mind is quite capable of doing—we could apply those methods and solve our problems very easily, somehow we never see it or are unable to do it.
Also, when we are not clear about the purpose of life, we are never clear when it comes to making decisions that affect our life. We always hesitate and are always in danger of making the wrong decision. When our only purpose for living is the benefit of others, it is very easy to make the right decision. It is easy because we are very clear about why we are alive.
If there is compassion in our heart, we do not harm others. All other sentient beings receive no harm from us, the one individual. Instead of receiving harm from us, they receive peace and happiness. Not only do we not harm them but, out of compassion and according to our ability, we benefit them as much as we can. On the basis of not harming, we benefit. Therefore, numberless sentient beings receive much peace and happiness from our compassion.
So, whether or not numberless sentient beings receive that great peace and happiness is entirely up to us. Giving great peace and happiness to others is completely up to us because it depends upon what we do with our mind, whether or not we practice compassion toward others. Our own mind makes the decision—either we keep going from life to life harming sentient beings directly or indirectly, or we change our attitude from ego to compassion and offer sentient beings all peace and happiness up to enlightenment. All this depends completely on what we do with our own mind.
Therefore, each of us is responsible for the peace and happiness of all sentient beings, of each sentient being—all happiness up to that of enlightenment.
The purpose of our lives is, on the basis of abstaining from harm, to bring happiness to others, to be useful for others, to free them from all suffering and bring them all happiness. One kind of happiness is the happiness of this life, but long-term happiness—happiness in all future lives—is much more important than that. And, while causing others to experience happiness in all future lives is highly meaningful, it is even more important to lead them to the everlasting happiness of total liberation—cessation of the entire round of suffering and its causes, delusion and karma. This is more important than simply the long-term happiness of future lives because the happiness of future lives is still contaminated happiness while the happiness of liberation never diminishes or degenerates. It is the complete cessation of suffering and its causes. Once the seed, or imprint, of delusion has been eradicated, there is no cause for delusion, and therefore suffering, to ever arise again.
However, as important as leading all sentient beings to everlasting happiness might be, the most important thing we can do is to bring them all into the peerless happiness of full enlightenment—the cessation of even the subtle defilements of mind and the completion of all realizations. However, saying that bringing others to enlightenment is the most important thing does not mean that we should not try to give others the happiness of this life. It means that starting from the intention of enlightening all sentient beings, according to our own ability, we should offer whatever service we possibly can to all other sentient beings. In other words, on the basis of bringing the happiness of this life to others, we lead them to the ultimate happiness of full enlightenment. Or, on the basis of offering others the greatest benefit possible, that of bringing them to enlightenment, we also offer whatever we can of those previous services.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s presence and example serve as an inspiration for us, too, to develop compassion and bodhicitta as he did and to become just like His Holiness—a beacon of hope and wisdom for all sentient beings.
Thank you very much.