This is the first time I have come to Australia and it is very good because it has coincided with the occasion of this particular FPMTA meeting. I am very happy to be here and have enjoyed the visit. I would like to thank everyone who organized and has taken part in that – so thank you very much.
I would like to talk about the history of how exactly the Buddhist teachings spread into Tibet and about the particular era in which they first arrived. Now, things really started moving when King Trisong Detsen decided to invite great scholars from India to come up to Tibet. This is the time when [Shantarakshita] was invited and of course the great master Padmasambava. This was the time when the Buddhist teachings really took hold and spread everywhere in Tibet.
A great number of scholars started coming. The invitation was extended to scholars from Nalanda Monastery, a very well established institution at the time. After the first couple of scholars and officials came, a whole string of the best minds from Nalanda Monastery started coming regularly to Tibet. Tibet had so many visiting scholars that you could say that there was almost a branch of Nalanda in Tibet. The teachings and the different lineages spread everywhere [in the country] and they also started spreading into Mongolia.
The great minds of the era were all in Nalanda Monastery, but because of having been invited over to Tibet, Nalanda was depleted of scholars in a sense. Later on, when Nalanda Monastery went through a period decline, although it was a great loss for India, nothing was [really] lost because all of that knowledge, the great scholars, and the great minds had already gone to Tibet – all of that knowledge was transferred to Tibet.
In 1959 when the Chinese invaded Tibet, the first thing that they did was to restrict or to prohibit any type of religious practice, not just Buddhism, but any expression of religion. The situation became very repressive and as a result of that His Holiness the Dalai Lama decided that there was no other way other than to leave the country and arrive in India as a refugee. Together with him, thousands of great scholars from Tibet came out to India as refugees at that time.
Then through the great and continuous efforts of His Holiness, all the Buddhist teachings started disseminating throughout the Himalayan region – they spread in India, they spread to Nepal, they spread to Bhutan. Again we have another dissemination of the teachings, and in the whole Himalayan region, all of the Tibtean Buddhist traditions.
When the Tibetans first arrived in India, Buxa was established as the center of reassembly; they made every effort to establish schools and branches of the monasteries. More importantly, they tried to gather all the texts and reprint whatever texts that they could.
And there with everybody was Lama Yeshe. Lama Thubten Yeshe was an exceptional being and due to his previous great prayers he was able to gather an incredible number of disciples. He was a great scholar; he had a great understanding as well.
Through his karmic connection with so many students, he was able to travel everywhere and connect with people in an incredible way. First of all, he went to America where he established the first center and then Australia was the second country in which a center was established. From then on there was a center almost everywhere he went. As a result, we now have more than 150 FPMT centers that are all very well cared for and very well connected and established.
The scope and the depth of Lama Yeshe’s vision came from a completely pure prospective. He wanted to benefit as many sentient beings as possible. He wanted to benefit the teachings as much as possible. His activities were driven from this particular motivation, which is the purest motivation.
I had the fortune to meet Lama Yeshe myself. I received many pieces of advices from him and I was not the only one. There were a great number of people like myself who benefited immensely from his knowledge. The advice that he gave and all teachings that he gave had an incredible quality; they were very beneficial and very clear.
Lama Yeshe was an incredible teacher; he was an incredible being and has given advice to [Lama Zopa] Rinpoche. He explained to him about their previous lives and how they had this connection; how they had large number of students and how they had interacted in the past before.
Of course, since we have talked about the greatness of Lama Yeshe, we have to recognize one of his young students, someone who we now refer to as Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche. With incredible devotion, with incredible determination he remained next to Lama Yeshe almost as his shadow, always following him and always helping him and supporting him. After Lama Yeshe’s passing away, it was Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche who would hold the whole vision of the organization. His main intention has always been to benefit the maximum number of sentient beings and to support the teachings and spread the teachings in the most extensive and the most beneficial way. His activities are incredible; everyone has been amazed by the vastness and the scope of what activities he has been carrying out for so many years and how much he has been accomplishing. All of you here today, as his students, are also quite busy carrying out a number of activities. All of this comes back to the kindness of the teacher who has nourished you.
Now, whatever activities Lama Thubten Yeshe and Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche would carry out, they would always be exactly in accordance with the advice of His Holiness. Exactly what His Holiness said, they would practice or implement. As a result, His Holiness has great affection for these two lamas. Rinpoche says I can testify for that; I have seen that, I have heard that, I know that.
Now, to speak more precisely about Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, he is an incredible, amazing being. He only has two thoughts: how can I benefit sentient beings and how can I support the teachings? He is driven by these two thoughts alone 24-hours a day, non-stop, every day. When you see someone who is actually acting or operating in this way, you have to understand that being to be a holy being – it is not an ordinary being – this is how bodhisattvas act, this is how they manifest. This is why he has constantly been working to establish representations of the Buddha’s body, speech and mind. You can see how many stupas have been established, how many statues, how many teachings have been supported. He only has this intention, and despite his personal condition or however he might feel on a particular day, he keeps going motivated by that.
I know Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, but of course, you are his students, and probably know him even better since you spend more time with him and know exactly how he operates. There is only one way to describe it: that his actions are the actions of a holy being. He is an incredible holy being; this is who we are dealing with. He carries out activities in almost every country of the world and attracts a large number of students everywhere he goes, giving advice and taking care of them. He also takes exceptional care and responsibility in supporting the great scholars at Sera Je Monastery. We are talking about thousands of scholars that he continuously provides for and supports. When you act in this way, when you support the great scholars, the great minds of an institution like this, you actually support the very source of the teachings, the source of knowledge.
Rinpoche is someone who spends his entire life acting in this particular way, but he is not alone, he has a large number of followers. Here we are with you as a group of his students. That you are able to go around and carry out your activities and also be successful in your activities, the fact that you are able to carry out these activities, to carry out his advice and implement a part of his vision again comes from the blessing or from the power of the lama himself.
From the bottom of my heart, I want to convey to you how much I rejoice that you are in this situation and I would like to congratulate you all for carrying on in this way and behaving and acting in the way that you do.
There are many holy beings that are amongst us, but there are some who are more holy than others, more special than others, and Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche is not just the holiest being, he is a special holy being. Therefore, you are in an extremely privileged position to be cared for and to be given advice by such a special holy being. It is also very important that you do follow his advice, that you do practice according to how he does, because he is someone who is a fully qualified teacher; he is someone who will lead you along the path in a completely unmistaken way. If you follow someone like him, there is no danger whatsoever to be led astray; you are completely protected when you follow his advice.
I think all of the geshes that have come out here to teach in Australia come from Sere Je. I know very well their level of knowledge of Sera Je Monastery. I studied there myself, spending quite a lot of time (17-18 years). People have to study for a very long time in order to reach that level of proficiency. All of the geshes and the lamas that you have in the centers or visiting them are from Sera Je. Please recognize their status and their knowledge and show the respect that is appropriate to them. Also, not just to the geshes, but to the ordained Sangha (monks and nuns) that you have. They deserve your respect. There is no difference in gender. Whoever is showing you the path, whoever is giving advice with a pure intention, with a pure motivation, that person deserves your respect. So please show your respect adequately to those who deserve it.
The way that we do it in the Tibetan tradition, the way it is in Tibet, is that you have to recognize that the person who is there to teach you, to guide you is someone who has incredible skill, incredible dedication and a high level of knowledge. You need to show your respect to someone who has all these qualifications and who is willing to show you the path. The mere fact that we are here gathered today and having this discussion is the result of the skillful acts of the spiritual guide.
There is now a system with centers with a center director. The directors of the centers must be supported. It is very important that the people do support and that there is harmony in the center. If you look at the whole network of centers, each center should try to support each other. There should be harmony so that there can be progress. We support each other so that we can develop, so that we can all improve instead of sabotaging each other. There should be support for each other, the whole network and for everyone who works for this organization. Please act in this way.
You have to understand that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the regent, is the representative of the Buddha himself and the Buddha’s teachings. One of His Holiness’ efforts is to try to make sure that the teachings are kept pure and clean and that if there is some impurity or some fault in those teachings, that that should be identified and subsequently removed so that the teachings remain pure. When His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that the practice of that particular protector had to be stopped, Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche adpoted this advice and therefore in all FPMT centers this practice is banned. The whole FPMT is free from this particular practice, so this is also something to rejoice about, this is a very good thing.
Another thing that actually makes Buddhism so attractive is its almost scientific presentation. This is a great element that attracts a lot of people and His Holiness has made great efforts to spread the teachings and now people recognize the scientific presentation of Buddhism.
I don’t have much more to add today to this, but I just want to say that of course we are all very fortunate to be in a tradition where we continuously receive teachings on the essence of enlightenment. We know about the importance of generating love, of generating affection, of cultivating the correct view and we follow the tradition of the great Lama Tsongkhapa who has elucidated the teachings in an unbelievable way. My prayers go out so this lineage will remain for a long time; that all the teachers that show us the path have a long and stable life and that they continue to benefit; that the centers continue to flourish and benefit many sentient beings who are in that area; and, of course, that all the students have long and healthy lives and that they continue to practice as they have been. These are my prayers and they go out to all of you.
Excerpted from Dagri Rinpoche’s address at the FPTMA National Meeting on October 23, 2010. Translated by Voula Zarpani. Transcribed by Sandra Stubbings and lightly edited by Lindy Mailhot. Edited for inclusion in Mandala‘s online exclusives.Tags: dagri rinpoche, fpmta