The Dalai Lama is believed to be a manifestation of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and the patron saint of Tibet. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth in order to serve humanity.
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, was born in 1935 in a small hamlet in northeastern Tibet. At the age of 2, the child who was named Lhamo Dhondup, was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso.
The 14th Dalai Lama will visit Ann Arbor for a series of talks in Crisler Arena at the University of Michigan on Saturday and Sunday April 19 and 20. His presentation of the University of Michigan’s annual Peter M. Wege Lecture on Sustainability is in celebration of Earth Day. The Wege Lecture is sponsored by the Center for Sustainable Systems at the School of Natural Resources and Environment. He will also present a two-day program with two sessions on April 19 and 20. The session will focus on ” Engaging Wisdom and Compassion “. The teaching will be based on Acharya Nagarjuna’s Commentary on Ultimate Compassion and Je Tsong Khapa’s “In Praise of Dependent Origination.”
The Nature of Existence – The concept of Sunyata (Emptiness or Nothingness):
Acharya Nagarjuna (A.D. 150- A.D. 250) born into a Brahmin family had lived in the present State of Andhra Pradesh, India. The emptying of the mind and the attainment of an undifferentiated unity is the theme of the ‘SUNYATA’ doctrine developed by Acharya Nagarjuna. ‘Sunyata’ is described as a state of “PURE CONSCIOUSNESS” in which the mind has been emptied of all particular objects and images. The emptied mind reflects or manifests the undifferentiated reality in which the world appears without distinctions and multiplicity. Nagarjuna was critical of both Buddhist and Hindu views on existence. According to Nagarjuna, the individual person is empty and lacks an eternal self. He extended the concept of ‘Sunyata’ to cover all concepts and all entities.
Nagarjuna’s philosophy is also called ‘Madhyamika’ because it claims to tread the middle path. As per Nagarjuna, the nature of existence is relational. There is no eternal reality behind changing forms of existence. There is no soul, no thing, no concept independent of its context, all things are empty of an absolute reality and exist only in relation to conditions.
The knowledge, perceiving the emptiness of all things and hence becoming detached from them, would help us to practice “nonattachment” in our engagement with people. If “EMPTINESS” is the highest Wisdom, it would help us to develop a sense of detachment and enable us to act with Compassion.
H.H. DALAI LAMA’S PRESENTATION -“ENGAGING WISDOM AND COMPASSION”:
“At the root of all our suffering lies a form of ignorance, a form of unknowing”. The origin of suffering is attachment. “Self-grasping( or self-focus) gives rise to suffering. It is the root of all afflictions.” “Self-grasping” leads to attachment to impermanent things or thoughts which gives rise to suffering. Emptiness is created by casting aside the attachment to everyday things and worries. “The ultimate awakening mind is the Wisdom that directly realizes emptiness.”
H.H. Dalai Lama advised practicing loving kindness to eliminate the afflictions caused by attachment. The ultimate goal, he said is “cultivating the Wisdom of no self”, a sense of grand emptiness that leaves behind everyday pollutants that can take both physical or emotional form.