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Dalai Lama Teachings

Dalai Lama

Below are some words by Dalai Lamas; mainly the fourteenth Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso), who is the head of Yellow Hat order of Tibetan Buddhists. Until 1959 he was the spiritual and temporal ruler of Tibet, and since then a symbol to unify Tibetans outside of their homeland, and has represented Buddhist values and traditions.

The fourteenth in the line of Dalai Lamas was born Tenzin Gyatso in 1935 in what is currently Tsinghai province, China, of Tibetan parents. In 1937 Tibetan lamas recognised him as the reborn thirteenth Dalai Lama. In 1940 he was placed on the throne of Tibet, and was vested with full powers as head of the state in 1950. Late that year Chinese forces occupied the country.

In 1959 the Tibetans revolted against the Chinese occupation forces and failed. Dalai Lama escaped to exile in India in 1959. 80,000 Tibetan refugees followed him into exile in agricultural settlements. Dharmasala in northern India became the place for Dalai Lama's exile government.

Meditation Practice

Dalai Lama is a practitioner of Dzogchen [Great Perfection, a direct translation of the Sanskrit term Maha-siddhi], which is a path to Enlightenment, primordial awareness. That path involves meditation practice and a body of teachings aimed at helping an individual to get aware of the Enlightenment state deep inside in order to get anchored in that state. Dalai Lama gives teachings on this issue, and has expounded many teachings in his many publications. He has also given many public initiations in the Kalachakra ["Time-Wheel"] teachings. The teachings give wordings to the state of Enlightenment that results from the practice - a state that is said to rise beyond words, by the way. There are lower and higher initiations.

Padma Sambhava (Guru Rinpoche) is considered the source of the Buddhist Dzogchen teachings in Tibet. Indian originators are reckoned with too.

Nobel Prizeman

In 1989 Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Price for Peace for non-violent tackling of the Chinese domination of Tibet. Also, Time Magazine in 2008 placed the Dalai Lama on its list of the world's 100 most influential people.

Books and Research

Dalai Lama has also written two dozens of books related to his brand of Tibetan Buddhism.

In May 2001 he met with a group of neuroscientists who conduct research on the effects of meditation on brain function, emotions and physical health and initiated a wave of rewarding research into Buddhist meditation methods. Results have appeared in journals and other media. [Cf.]


On Top of a Dalai Lama Interview

Some of the following sayings are verbatim; others are extracts, and then there are modified sayings too. The latter have been marked off - by with, cf, mod, and abr - to make it easier to access the lama's ideas. They are from an interview with him by Laurence Freeman on 15 May 1993 in the Samye Ling Monastery.

Meditation is the most important thing. It is essential in order to transform one's spiritual life. [Dalai Lama]

Through meditation the positive side is promoted. That is a way of transformation for all. [Dalai Lama extr]

In the Buddhist tradition meditation is very important. [Dalai Lama]

Allowing for some variety in your spiritual practice can be OK. [Cf Dalai Lama]

In certain fields single-pointedness is very, very crucial. [Dalai Lama]

All other sentient beings are just like ourselves in wanting to overcome suffering and to have permanent happiness. Meditating on that nature may increase our compassion. [With Dalai Lama]

Question: What would you say to a Christian thinking of becoming a Buddhist or a Buddhist of becoming a Christian? – Answer: You must be very cautious if you change your religion. Doing it is not an easy thing. [With Dalai Lama]

Buddha taught differently to different people. [With Dalai Lama]

An individual Christian may interpret the Creator. [Dalai Lama]

Appreciate genuine friendship greatly. [Cf. Dalai Lama]

It is not necessary to be a religious believer. Be a warm-hearted person well attuned to the innate spiritual nature of kindness and human affection. [Dalai Lama]

Kindness and loving-kindness may be important. [With Dalai Lama]

In Buddhism you find people treating tradition and custom as more important than the actual source. Buddha himself states that his words are not to be accepted just out of reverence to himself. Rather they should be tested and examined personally. There is such an explicit liberty given to the followers of Buddha. [Dalai Lama extr]

The Buddha made very clear to his followers the liberty to carry investigation even into Buddha's own words. [Dalai Lama]

Buddhists do believe in higher beings. The higher beings have a definite influence. As a result of their solitude and meditation your own spiritual experiences are enhanced. [Dalai Lama, abr]

Some vibration or energy is created in the places where deep meditation is practised. These areas are actually charged by such people. [Mod [Dalai Lama]

In front of other people I feel just a Buddhist monk. When I remain in my own home or house I am just a Buddhist monk. My way of speaking and my behaviour are the same. There is hardly any gap between my behaviour, speech or thinking in public or private. This makes it all much easier! [Dalai Lama, abr]

Other Notable Thoughts

Ecology should be part of our daily life. [Dalai Lama]

When you discover you have made a mistake, set about remedying it to your ability, preferably at once. [With Dalai Lama]

Do not compromise your innermost values. [Dalai Lama]

Share your wisdom. [Dalai Lama]

Our own heart is our temple. Our philosophy is kindness [put in action] [With Dalai Lama]

From Words of Truth: A Prayer for Peace in Tibet and Compassion in the World

Gain the Eye of Wisdom and know what is to be done. [Dalai Lama freely rendered]

Let the full teachings of Buddha blossom. [Dalai Lama, abbr]

Let the ten good ways of righteousness prevail. [Dalai Lama, rendered]

Other Dalai Lama Sayings

Human happiness and human satisfaction must ultimately come from within oneself.

Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles.

I think the ecology problem is very serious.

If you can't help [others], at least don't hurt them.

Live a good honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.

When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

In disagreements with loved ones deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.

Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

I believe in justice and truth.

Consider future generations: a clean environment is a human right like any other.

From one viewpoint, Buddhism is a religion, from another viewpoint Buddhism is a science of mind . . . there are insights to share, and to a certain extent we can work together.

Use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist.

We must consider future generations.

With confidence in one's ability, one can build a better world [Mod].

Learn to consider

Buddha said shortly before his death:

Do not accept any of my words on faith,
Believing them just because I said them.
Be like an analyst buying gold, who cuts, burns,
And critically examines his product for authenticity.
Only accept what passes the test
By proving useful and beneficial in your life.

- In Jnanasara-samuccaya (Mullins 2006, 1-2; also Narada 1988:285)

It may do good to get skilled in proper testing and taking into account the limits or scope of teachings too, even though sound moral basics may not be rejected without repercussions - however much sins may seem to pay on the surface for some time, even a long time and a life-time. That is an old teaching too. There is much to make sense of and apply well.

The fourteen recognised Dalai Lamas

  1. Gedun Drub: (1391–1474)
  2. Gedun Gyatso: (1475–1542)
  3. Sonam Gyatso: (1543–1588)
  4. Yonten Gyatso: (1589–1617)
  5. Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso: (1617–1682)
  6. Tsangyang Gyatso: (1683–1706)
  7. Kelzang Gyatso: (1708–1757)
  8. Jamphel Gyatso: (1758–1804)
  9. Lungtok Gyatso: (1805–1815)
  10. Tsultrim Gyatso: (1816–1837)
  11. Khedrup Gyatso: (1838–1856)
  12. Trinley Gyatso: (1857–1875)
  13. Thubten Gyatso: (1876–1933)
  14. Tenzin Gyatso: (1935–-)


Dalai Lama quotations and teachings, Vajrayana, Mahayana, Tibetan Buddhism, Literature  

Dalai Lama. 2001. Answers. Discussions with Western Buddhists. Ed. Jose Ignacio Cabezón. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion.

Dalai Lama. 1996. Cultivating a Daily Meditation: Selections from a Discourse on Buddhist View, Meditation and Action. The 1996 ed. Dharamsala, IN: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives.

Dalai Lama. 1990. Freedom in Exile: The Autobiography of the Dalai Lama. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Dalai Lama. 2002. Illuminating the Path to Enlightenment: A Commentary on Atisha Dipamkara Shrijnana's a Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment and Lama Je Tsong Khapa's Lines of Experience. Tr. Geshe Thupten Jinpa. Ed. Rebecca McClen Novick, Thupten Jinpa and Nicholas Ribush. Long Beach CA: Thubten Dhargye Ling.

Dalai Lama. 2006. Kindness, Clarity, and Insight. Ed. and tr. Jeffrey Hopkins; co-ed. Elizabeth Napper. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications.

Dalai Lama. 2008. An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life. E-book ed. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

Dalai Lama. 1968. The Opening of the Wisdom-Eye and the History of the Advancement of Buddhadharma in Tibet. Bangkok: The Social Science Association Press of Thailand.

Dalai Lama. 1994. The Way to Freedom. Monterey Park, CA: The Library of Tibet.

Dalai Lama and Alexander Berzin. 2003-16. Fundamentals of Tibetan Buddhism – Level 3: Lojong (Mind Training) Material. Gunzenhausen, DE: The Berzin Archives.

Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams. 2016. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World. New York: Avery.

Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler. 2009. The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living. New York: Riverhead Books.

Dalai Lama and Laurens van den Muyzenberg. 2009. The Leader's Way: The Art of Making the Right Decisions in Our Careers, Our Companies, and the World at Large. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Dalai Lama and Thubten Chodron. 2014. Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions. Boston, MA: Wisdom Publication.

Dalai Lama, Tsong-ka-pa and Jeffrey Hopkins. 1981. Deity Yoga In Action and Performance Tantra. Tr. and ed. Jeffrey Hopkins. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion.

Dalai Lama, Tsongkhapa. Jeffrey Hopkins, tr. 2005. Yoga Tantra; Path to Magical Feats. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications.

Dalai Lama, the First, Gyalwa Gendun Drup. 14th century CE. Illumination of the Path to Freedom. Np. [◦Online] ⍽▢⍽ The First Dalai Lama was Gyalwa Gendun Drup (1391-1474). His work is a commentary to the much older The Treasure House of Knowledge by Vasubandhu. The first Dalai Lama: "A commentary may be excellent, but if you don't put some Sanskrit in it nobody wants to work with it. They think it's just Tibetan."

Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR), Central Tibetan Administration. 2014. His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama of Tibet. Dharamsala, IN: Souvenir / DIIR.

Environment and Development Desk, TPI. Dalai Lama on Environment: Collected Statements 1987-2017. 6th updated ed. Dharamsala, IN: Environment and Development Desk. The Tibet Policy Institute. Central Tibetan Administration.

Evans-Wentz, W. ed. 1967. Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press. London.

Mullins, Glenn H. 2006. The Dalai Lamas on Tantra. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications. Narada Thera. The Buddha and His Teachings. 4th ed. Kuala Lumpur: Buddhist Missionary Society, 1988. ⍽▢⍽ "Buddha's Last Days" is are also in Buddhist Suttas, tr, T. W. Rhys Davids (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1881).

Recent Results of Meditation Research in the Media

Law, Naomi. Scientists probe meditation secrets. BBC News. 31 mars 2008.

BBC 1. Meditation 'brain training' clues. BBC News. 13. juni 2005

BBC 2. Buddhists 'really are happier'. BBC News. 21. mai 2003.

BBC 3. Meditation mapped in monks. 1. mars 2002.

Harvesting the hay

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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