“One thing that defines the Buddha’s teaching,” His Holiness declared, “is his explanation of dependent arising. Of the two syllables of the Tibetan term for this, ‘ten-jung’, the first means dependent and the second, arising.
This gives us an insight into reality. Everything is dependent. Nothing is independent. Things arise in dependence on other factors. Since nothing is independent, everything comes about through dependent relationships.
“Why is understanding dependent arising important? Because when we don’t have this insight, we grasp at self as something substantial and real. This in turn can lead to our drawing distinctions between ‘us’ and ‘them’ that feed conflict. We develop attachment to those like us and aversion to others who we see as different.“
Compassion too is at the heart of the Buddha’s teaching. Chandrakirti indicates this when he pays homage to compassion at the opening of his ‘Entering into the Middle Way’. He compares compassion to a seed, to the moisture that allows the seed to grow and to the eventual fruit.
“The heart of the Buddha’s teaching is a combination of compassion and wisdom and as Buddhists our task is cultivate these two qualities. Many of the problems we face are to do with how we view reality. We tend to accept that things exist in the way they appear. We project a sense of reality onto what appears before us.”
“The Buddha’s teaching of emptiness helps us see that what we perceive does not reflect reality. Then we can overcome our feelings of attachment and craving. And when we do that, the mind becomes pure.”
“As Buddhists we need to pay attention to the process by which we grasp at the reality of things. If no solution to our problems was presented, to focus only on suffering would be demoralizing. When we achieve insight into reality, we can also see that it is possible for us to attain enlightenment. So, as a result of deep reflection we gain a sense of freedom.”
“I struggle with this, but feel I am making progress. Chandrakirti says when you are able to gain deep insight into reality, compassion for suffering beings arises naturally. He states that on the two wings of insight and compassion we will soar to the further shore of enlightened liberation.”
“I’m now in my late 80s, but I continue to practice and aspire to reach the path of preparation.”
His Holiness mentioned that the Tibetan tradition also includes tantra and meditation on deities, but he feels that what really has an impact on the mind is the cultivation of wisdom, insight into reality, and compassion for all beings.
He had shared his own experience to show that if we take our Buddhist practice seriously, pursuing deep inquiry into reality and nurturing compassion, while also refining the practices of resting and analytical meditation, it will make a difference to our day-to-day lives.
He advised that we can all aspire to higher levels of realization. Therefore, he urged his listeners to make the appropriate effort.
“Rituals are not important,” he continued. “What we need is the cultivation of resting and analytical meditation, an understanding of reality and the practice of compassion. These are the sort of teachings that come alive within you, therefore they’re worth the effort. “
“I can also assure you that paying attention to the courage of compassion enables you to transform adversity into opportunity. I was born in north-east Tibet and came to Lhasa where I studied the works of Buddhist masters who presented ways to develop wisdom and compassion. Their advice had a deep impact on me.”
“Another factor that distinguishes Buddhism is the wide collection of means to effect inner transformation. It’s very rich in meditation practices that have an impact on our day-to-day conduct. Incorporating the Buddhadharma into our lives is a way of expressing gratitude to our teachers.”
Here is a video with the full speech (translated into English):