The Benefits of the Dharma Center
I’d like to take the opportunity on the fortieth anniversary of the founding of Tushita Mahayana Meditation Centre to thank everyone involved in its creation and continued existence—the teachers, the managers and the students—for making available the precious teachings of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, which explain reality and show us the path that leads us out of suffering to the eternal bliss of enlightenment. If you really think about the meaning of those last few words, it’s an amazing thing. Incredible. Therefore, I’m going to mention briefly how the Dharma center is so important.
But before I do, I would just like to emphasize how fortunate we are to be able to once again be in the presence of the Buddha of Compassion, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who out of his depthless kindness has graced us with his presence at many previous Tushita Dharma Celebrations, the first of which was held in 1981. Your Holiness, thank you so much for being here.
As I’m sure most of you already know, in 1977 my great teacher, Lama Yeshe, who was kinder to us than the buddhas of the past, present and future, suggested that we start a center in Delhi, partly to repay the kindness of the Indian people in creating the karma for the Buddha to appear in their midst in the first place, and then developing the Dharma teachings to their ultimate level, the Vajrayana, and bringing them to Tibet, where they continued to flourish over the past millennium.
During this time, while the teachings faded in India, they were practiced and developed even further in Tibet. Finally, when Tibet was forcibly taken over by the Communist Chinese in the 1950s and tens of thousands of Tibetans fled the brutality of that invasion, India welcomed these refugees with open arms and gave them a new home and the freedom to continue their practice and preserve their culture. All this was the kindness that Lama Yeshe wanted to repay by creating an Indian center where the teachings that had been lost could be reintroduced to the home of their origin.
And so it was that in 1979, Tushita was formally registered and its first physical location established, in Shantiniketan, New Delhi.
I think we can all see why it is important to have such a center. This is where we can learn not only the path to liberation, complete freedom from suffering, but also the path to full enlightenment, the same level of mind that the Buddha himself attained. This is never explained or taught in schools, colleges and universities. The most important teaching, the most practical thing—the education of a good heart, compassion—is totally missing.
Why is there so much killing and war, even among so-called religious people? It is because of the lack of this practice, this education. So, practicing the good heart develops from this kind of education, the kind of education offered by a Dharma center such as Tushita.
If we guard our mind, we don’t need guns. If we don’t harm others we don’t get harmed by them in return. This education is not mentioned in schools and colleges, even though it is the most important thing for world peace. What is it that can bring peace and happiness to the world in general? It is compassion, loving kindness. This is the only answer for world peace, for harmony between people, nations and religions—compassion, the good heart.
The essence of Buddhism is not to harm any sentient being. What differentiates Buddhism from other religions is compassion; compassion for not only human beings—the poor, the homeless, even the rich—but compassion for all. Not only compassion for friends, enemies and strangers, but compassion for every animal, for all sentient beings whose minds are obscured and suffering. Compassion for all.
The teaching of the Mahayana Buddhist path includes the bodhisattva’s deeds, the Paramitayana—living in bodhicitta and the entire bodhisattva path, which leads to enlightenment in order to bring extensive benefit to sentient beings—and the tantric teachings of the Vajrayana—how to quickly liberate numberless sentient beings from the cause of suffering and bring them happiness, especially full enlightenment as quickly as possible. The Buddha gave us all these amazing, profound teachings.
Therefore, since the essence of what we teach here at Tushita is compassion, the center becomes a solution to the world’s problems—war, violence, hunger, pollution, climate change and so forth—because it offers this education and practice of the good heart. This is the real solution for the cultivation of world peace, the peace and happiness of all sentient beings, not only those in this country but throughout the whole world.
Normally, when somebody comes to a center for a one- or two-day course, that person hears about karma—that if we harm others there are consequences, results; depending on the nature of the action, we receive similar harm back. And since, like us, other sentient beings want happiness and do not want suffering, if we benefit others, the karmic result is that all our holy wishes get fulfilled. Thus we can see that other sentient beings are so precious, so kind, and that we receive all our happiness from them.
If someone comes to the center for even just one day’s teaching with this as the main emphasis, that person stops killing other beings, such as by hunting or fishing, for example. That person stops harming others. If that one person stops killing and harming others, then an uncountable number of sentient beings—insects, fish, worms and so forth—don’t receive harm from that person. All these numberless beings receive peace and happiness from that person. So, this benefit actually comes from the center.
Since many people have come to Tushita, where compassion is taught and everybody practices it, over the years, many, many sentient beings have received peace and happiness. If just one person who has come to the center practices compassion and stops giving harm to others, if he or she makes a vow and tries to do that, numberless sentient beings don’t receive harm from that person. This is the benefit to all sentient beings. All sentient beings receive benefit from that one person, and this is due to the center. As many people have come to the center over the years since it started, that many numberless sentient beings have received benefit, peace and happiness from each one of them.
Numberless sentient beings have received benefit from each person who has met the Dharma at Tushita and continue to do so. All the benefits sentient beings receive come from the teachers, the director, the secretary, the other staff members and the whole community. Numberless sentient beings receive happiness from the people who come to the center and put the teachings into practice and from the people who support them in various ways.
My main emphasis is that Tushita and other Dharma centers play a most important role in creating world peace, so this is our offering of service. We offer service to the center and try to develop it so that more sentient beings can have contact with Dharma. Sentient beings’ suffering is a serious emergency, a billion times more urgent than regular hospital emergencies, and I hope you can see how your service to Tushita brings incredible benefit to all sentient beings. There is no question that the center liberates beings from the lower realms and brings them to liberation and enlightenment. Such are the skies of benefits of working for sentient beings and the center.
You can see how wonderful it is, so I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for all your great service and dedication. Thank you very much, thank you so much. Happy birthday Tushita and again, our deepest thanks go to His Holiness for once again blessing us with his presence here.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Buddha Amitabha Pure Land Retreat Center