During April 1985 and then again in October 1986, His Holiness the Dalai Lama delivered a series a discourses on Buddhist view meditation and action.
The discourses and ensuing discussions were recoded at the time, and later prepared into an edited text of the encounter; the result of which is this book.
In his discourses His holiness touched upon all the essential points of the Buddadharma, and practice of meditation. He also goes into depth on how we should proceed in the effort to generate both the heart of compassion and the expansive view of emptiness, the Great Void in our daily life. In addition, the question and answer session that follow each talk make both inspirational and informative reading. Which often leads to issues that arise in the course of a layperson’s practise .
In a sense His Holiness discourses are principally a commentary on how one should proceed in order to cultivate a daily tantric meditational practise. The visualization used as the basis of the contemplation is that of Buddha and the four great Bodhisattvas: Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri, Vajrapani, and the female bodhisattva Arya Tara and explains the symbolic significance of these figures.
The picture that emerges from the totality of his Holiness exposition is that Buddhism in spite of its being labeled as religion is mainly a way of life programmed to ensure that we bring some happiness, peace, meaning and purpose into lives, and that we learn to live in harmony with the environment.
During April of 1985 and then again in October of 1986, His Holiness the Dalai Lama delivered a series of discourses on Buddhist view , mediation and action.
The audience was exclusively Indian. The event has been requested ad organized by an interested group from New Delhi. A number of the members had known his Holiness for several years and the setting was traditional yet informal. The discourse and ensuing discussions were recorded at the time, and a later examination of the materials revealed the makings of an interesting volume on the nature of the Buddhist perspective. We felt that it may be useful to prepare an edited text of the encounter for the international reading public.
In his discourse his holiness touches upon all the essential points of the Buddhadharma and provides a clear and simple map to how we can cultivate a daily practice of meditation. He also goes into depth on how we should proceed in the effort to generate both the heart of compassion and the expansive view of emptiness the Great void, during our daily life. In addition the question and answer sessions that follow each talk make for both inspirational and informative reading being open discussion they often lead to issues that arise in the course of lay person’s practice.
In chapter Three his holiness makes use of two brief meditational texts. The first of these is Eight Verses for Training the mind, a twelfth century work of the Kadampa contemplative tradition. At the library of Tibetan works and Archives we had earlier published a more extensive commentary to this short work as given by His Holiness in a discourse some years ago, in a collection entitled Four essential Buddhist Commentaries. This may also be useful to those interested in pursuing the study of the Eight Verses more deeply.
The other text that his holiness utilizes is a brief work he composed two decades ago at the request of the late Mr. John Blofeld. Entitled a Tantric Meditation Simplified for Beginners we have included it as an appendix. The work is a meditation manual, intended to be used by practitioners as the basis of a meditation session. Thus it begins with the usual procedures of preparing the place of meditation arranging the alter, sitting on one’s cushion and correcting motivation, taking refuge and generating the mind of enlightenment, creating the visualization to be used in the meditation, radiating lights, reciting visualization to be used in the meditation, radiating lights, reciting the mantras, and so forth.
A translation of this piece had been made by Ven. Tenzin khedup in coordination with Mr. John Blofeld and was originally published as a booklet by the Private Office in 1971. Readers may benefit from glancing through it (as reprinted in the Appendix) a few time before venturing into Chapter Three. His Holiness first introduces this text in chapter three and then comes back to it in each of the ensuing chapters, expanding upon traditional Buddhist meditations that can be incorporated into the practice.
In a sense His Holiness’ discourse can be characterized as being principally a commentary on how one should proceed in order to cultivate a daily tantric meditational practice. We have titled the book accordingly. The visualization used as the basis of the contemplation is that of Buddha and the four great Bodhisattvas: Avalokiteshvara, Mankjushri, Varjrapani, and the female bodhisattva Arya Tara. His Holiness explains the symbolic significance of these figures various ways of mediation upon them, and the recitation of their mantras. The order subject that he discusses can be regarded as providing the context of the practice.
His Holiness opened “The Tibetans had a different religion when Buddhism first started to make itself known in the Land of Snows many centuries ago I think that we were intelligent and open enough to compare the two, our older religion with Buddhism and in the end the majority of Tibetans adopted Buddhism has been preserved in country. It brought great benefits to us as a people, both to individual Tibetan practitioners and also to our collective civilization.
Two days later at the beginning of the mid-afternoon session His Holiness commented, “ Many of my foreign friends have said to me that the greatest quality of the Tibetans is that they are so strongly characterized by the good heart, a warm, clear and friendly spirit, This is something that I believe we get from our practice of Buddhism one of the most precious jewels of India. it gives us an inner joy and strength that we would not otherwise have.
“In particular it has been of immeasurable benefit to us over the last three decades of many loved ones and have had to live as refuges in a foreign land. The kindness of India in receiving us is something that we as a people will never forger; nor have we forgotten the spiritual link that we have with you through Buddhism. therefore whenever Indian friends want to come and discuss The Dharma with me, I am especially delighted.”
Just as his Holiness is pleased to speak of the holy Dharma with an Indian audience, descendants, descendants of the civilization that inspired and sustained the original Buddhist masters, the Library of Tibetan works and Archives is also deeply. We were excited at the prospect of publishing the substance of the discussions.
With this in mind, the library of Tibetan works and Archives approached Prof. Dexter Roberts of the University of Montana, an old friends of our institution, with the request to prepare the work for publication.
Prof. Roberts kindly agreed and thus the fundamental structure of the text emerged. The manuscript was then edited and prepared for publication by Jeremy Russell and Glenn H. Mullin, two honorary members of LTWA’s Research and Translation Bureau. I would like to thank them for their efforts.
I would like to offer special thanks to Mr. Rajiv Mehrotra the New Delhi filmmaker who originally requested and organized the discourse, as well as later providing us with great encouragement and support in the preparation of the work for publication.
Thanks must also go to the translator, Ven. Thupten Jinpa; to Anila Ursual, who transcribed the audio recording of the event; to Namgyal Dolman and Tsering Norzom, who did much of the computer work in the editing process; and to Jim Woolsey and Norbu Chophel who set the text on our desktop publishing system.
I would like to comment that the policy of our editors has been simply to sharpen the English expression of His holiness, as is required in publishing a spoken transcript. His holiness taught large parts directly in English; at other times he spoke through his translator. We took the editorial liberty of harmonizing the styles. But we took great paints to ensure that meaning is retained in its entirety and not to interfere with the flavour or directness of His Holiness thoughts and language format. Basic structural sequence and development of ideas is also carefully maintained.
A number of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s discussions with the Indian intelligencia have been published in the past. The content of many of these has appeared as magazine and Journal articles or in related books on Tibet and the Tibetans. Indeed, His Holiness usually speaks to or with Indian friends several times a day, often addressing Indian conferences, universities and so forth
In addition, large numbers of Indians come to many of his public discourses, especially those from the Himalayan areas. But usually these constitute a small fraction of the audience, being far outnumbered by the Tibetans themselves. As a result His Holiness has to direct much of what he is saying at the majority, the non-Indians.
The audience in the October 1986 discourse was from a modern, urban background, consequently His Holiness spoke within something of a difernt framework. The meetings produced remarkable results, and LTWA is delighted to be able to being them to the wider audience made possible through the powers invoked by the printed work.
The picture that emerge the totality of His Holiness exposition is that Buddhism, in spite of its being labeled a religion, is mainly a way of life programmed to ensure that we bring some happiness, peace, meaning and purpose into our lives and that we learn to live in harmony with the environment.
The tantric meditation that His Holiness suggest has this as its aim. By always keeping the five enlightenment figures in the sphere of our mindfulness drawing inspiration from the five qualities that they symbolize –control, compassion, wisdom, energy and beneficial activity we find that our lives become more pervaded by the experience of happiness, peace, meaning and purpose.
Library of Tibetan works and Archives
Dharamsala H.P. India
December 25, 1990
We are happy to bring out this revised edition of Cultivating a Daily Mediation wherein we have corrected the typographical errors, recomposed the type settings and provided a new cover. This title has been printed three times in the past and has benefited many people interested in cultivate a daily practice meditation.
Like in the previous editions, we have retained the original structure and thoughts of His Holiness’ teachings so as to maintain in clarity and simplicity.
We should like to thank Ms. Linda Roman and Ms. Tashi Yangzom for rendering necessary assistance in bringing out this edition.
Library of Tibetan works and Archives
Dharamsala, H.P. India
July 9, 2004
It is said that Buddhism disappeared from India because it was injudiciously liberal. Buddhism in its homeland finally went the way of all dependent things and progressively become so Hinduised that it lost all reason for a separate existence. The Buddha came to be recognised as the ninth in a series of ten incarnations of Vishnu ascending from the theriomorphic (animal form) to the fully anthromorphic (human form) manifestation. Hinduism has been comfortable with the notion of reincarnation, a concept particularly geared to the social role of Vishnu. Whenever the Dharma is in danger Vishnu departs from his heaven, Vaikuntha, and incarnates himself in an earthly form to restore the good order. That His Holiness the Dalai Lama is regarded as a Bodhisattva, are incarnation of the compassionate Avalokiteshvara from of the Buddhas, in this time of churning and seeming chaos, gives him a unique position in India.
During the more than three decades of his exile in India, His Holiness and the Indian people have had a very special relationship. In this land of a multitude of religions and God-men of every hue, His Holiness is universally revered as spiritual master of profound people, from the humble villager to the university revered as a spiritual master of profound wisdom, compassion and insight. He is sought out by all kinds of people , form the humble villager to the university students; from the successful businessman to the activist social worker; the civil servant and the politician , who even if he doesn’t stand up for Tibet’s political cause seeks the blessings of this man of God. He is in demand at conferences, inaugurations, interfaith congregations, and for unceasing private audiences. India never tires of His Holiness.
It turn, His Holiness had looked to India as his spiritual home that gave Tibet its Buddhism more than a thousand years ago and today is host to more than a hundred thousand of its exiles, amongst and through whom it helps keep that very tradition alive. For India, the Dalai Lama is helping to brig Buddhism back to the land of the Buddha’s birth. India, as the west does no always appreciate, long ceased to be a Buddhist county. Buddhism, never a missionary religion, is today carried on his gentle smiling face that even as he reaches out with a serious and vital message is the compelling reminder that the journey can be a joyous one.
The Dalai Lama responded to a request for a set of teachings of Buddhism that could lead to the cultivation of a daily practice. A small group of fifteen- that was urban, educated and exclusively Indian, many of whom describe themselves as Hindu/ Buddhists- came together and traveled to Dharamsala by road from Delhi through the violence in Punjab, then at one of its many peaks for three days of discourses. This went down so well with the Indian and His holiness, that another meeting was organized in New Delhi the next October for a large group of about seventy-five. This book is an edited transcript of the two event.
No one who has ever heard His Holiness speak will think it at all possible to capture in print the enormous impact of his personality and the many levels at which he communicates. Though much of the formal teachings were in Tibetan with and interpreter translating, inevitably in formal English, His Holiness frequently broke into infectious laughter and his own English to establish a more direct and immediate rapport with audience. He touched people in powerful ways that frequently evoked emotions and insights that we were only dimly aware off. It was finely balanced mixture of the transcendental and the every day, of sutra and Tantra that recommended personal contemplation and altruistic action. He constantly surprised, questioned and overturned old habits, shifting entrenched certainties. He never heisted to admit ‘I don’t know! to the imponderable question put to him, he carried and shared his erudition and insights with a gentle easy and comforting grace.
No amount of reading can substitute for the impact and power of a shared experience with a Master. While the discourses touched upon all the essential points of the Dharma, they were aimed at providing a foundation for a daily meditation practice evolved out of the Mahayana tentric tradition. As a rule this depends largely on the oral transmission in an unbroken lineage through a living person in the form of a Guru.
In the more advanced meditation practices it also requires an initiation into the techniques through an empowerment ceremony the makes the practitioners mental continuum receptive to the intricate meditative techniques. An expert guide can then lead him through the successive stages of the path. The meditations suggested here were evolved by His Holiness so as not requiring a formal initiation or empowerment, but rather to sow the seeds for it amongst those who were so interested and motivated. That it proved an inspiring and ratifying practice has been demonstrated by the many in the group who went on to receive a formal initiation and tool the formal bodhichitta vows later, though this was not the assumption of the teachings.
The tantric tradition has remained largely suspect in the popular Hindu perception. It is uncertain whether this is merely a consequence of the condemnation of Tantra by virtually all early Western writers on the subject and their impact on the Indians during British colonialism or, as is more likely, Hinduism itself as it evolved under the impact of foreign invasions and its reforms, misunderstood the sexual element as dominating the entire system of Tantra.
While it is true that one of the basic human drives that the tantric system draws upon is desire, it is not limited too or ruled exclusively by the desire of sexuality. According to Buddhism every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering. He has the potential to achieve this. The Buddhist Tantra tells us that this remarkable transformation is not only possible but can be our most valuable resource because it is the most powerful of our drives. we need to develop the ability to use it effectively for our transformation to become fulfilled, happy human beings. What distinguishes Buddhist tantric practice from the evil manipulative tantric practitioner in pursuit of unholy pleasure whom the Hindu tradition so deeply suspects and fears is the goal to which desire is disciplined and directed.
His Holiness has ever emphasized altruism as the very basis and internal structure of our practice and the need to direct whatever activities we do towards its increase. We need to thoroughly suffuse our mind with it and use words and writings as a means of reminding ourselves of the goals of our training. This forms the essence of one of the texts used by his holiness, Eight Verses of Training The mind.
No words of gratitude are enough to His Holiness for having given us of himself and the teachings and for permission to print and make these available to a larger audience. It is in our striving that we can prove worthy of this.
My thanks on behalf of all us that were privileged to be present at the discourses go first to Ven. Thupten Jinpa for a splendid job as interpreter and for giving us of his time so patiently even after the teachings; and to Mr. Tenzin Geyche of the Private office of His Holiness, and Mr. Tashi Wangdi of the Bureau in Delhi for helping with organizing the event. Mr. Gyatsho Tshering, Director of the Library of Tibetan works and archives who has brought this book together and orchestrated the efforts of so many people to make it possible also deserves our sincere appreciation.
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