Category: Teachings

Tashi Choeling Centre will commence teaching on 24th of October 2018. We will continue with the Lojong which originated from Atisa, the great Indian master who visited Tibet in the eleventh century.
In the great monasteries of Tibet and now re-establishes in Exile, the students spend up to 15 to 20 years or more in studying the great Buddhist treatises on the five main subjects. These are Prajna Paramita or transcendental wisdom which explains the paths of the Buddhisattvas such as the five paths of the Mahayana. They are: the accumulation stage, Preparation stage, the Path of Seeing, the path of meditation and the path of no learning. Then there are the ten grounds or Bhumis. It starts from the third Path of seeing onwards until the individual achieves the state of Buddhahood. All these facets are taught in great detail in the Prajna Paramita treatise.
Then after studying the Paramita for about four years, they have to study the Madhyamika or the Middle Path. This is about the ultimate nature of phenomena or shunyata as it is known in Sanskrit. The reason why the students have to study this subject is to understand the most subtle nature of things so that once we are able to grasp the true nature of things, we will stop clinging tenuously to things which have no real or genuine value in the long run. Everything in the mundane world or samsaria is very fluid and unreliable. Therefore, relying on the unreliable is not in ones future interest. However, our delusion doesn’t allow us to comprehend this and we cling to things which are by nature unsustainable and when they end or break up, we are severely traumatised. As such, in order to avoid such pains brought about by our own ignorance, we have understand the nature of things in order to prevent suffering. The solution therefore is to cut this ignorance and free ourselves from the self-inflicted sufferings. In order to do this, we need to realise shunyata or emptiness. That is why Buddhist students study this treatise for another four years.
Then there is the treatise on monastic discipline which is vitally important for the monk and nun students. It is infact the path which leads to liberation or nirvana. The vows that the monks and nuns take enable them to avoid the negative impulses which we are used to in our everyday lives. The individuals train in mindfulness and whenever temptations occur, they snuff them out in order to avoid being mislead and transgress ones vows. This training is infact the hardest training which either makes or breaks a practioner. If the individual pracrioner sincerely observe the vows and keep the mind free from attachments and aversion, the pracrioner gains mental stability and inner happiness. How disturbed or peaceful a person is measured by their ability to rein in their disturbing emotions such as desire and anger. This takes another four years to complete.
Then there is the Abhidharma Kosa which explains the Buddhist cosmos and the different negative emotions. Another four years are spent to study this aspect.
Finally, the fifth treatise is the Pramana or Buddhist logic which is supremely vital to understand the Buddha’s teaching and its meaning.
In the west, people don’t have such liberty to study since everyone is busy all the time. Therefore, the only way to get the gist of the Buddha’s teaching is to study the Lojongs or mind transformation teachings. They are the gems of the great masters through their own experiences after years of meditation and study. It is perhaps the most suitable way to learn Buddhism in the West owing to the lack of time and to a certain degree lack of enthusiasm as well. People’s lives are so hectic that they just don’t have time anything. However, many people still have interest in the Dharma and hence many teachers including myself have been teaching the lojongs while teaching great texts like “Four hundred Stanzas” by Arya Deva or “Entering the Middle Way” by Chandrakirti etc whenever time permits.
Study is an extremely important element in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition especially in the Geluk Tradition. Without knowing what you are meditating upon is like a blind person without knowing where one is going. The great Tibetan yogi Milarepa likened it to an amputee trying to climb a steep mountain. One cannot achieve anything. It is therefore very important to study the teachings and then do meditation. One may achieve results only with proper understanding of the Dharma accompanied by grit and perseverance.
Even then, no one should be under any illusion that results will be achieved by merely learning. One needs to practice diligently day in and day out for years and years. Only then, there will be tangible results. So, I hope that people understand this fact and have less expectation and more effort to avoid disillusionment.

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