A Short Dharma Teaching
by His Holiness Sakya Trizin
Given on Monday, September 24th, 1984. Bristol, England.
Tibetan Buddhism is one of the richest traditions as it contains all the different levels of teaching give by Lord Buddha: Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana. The teachings have now spread to many countries and many people are practicing them, which is good as they are the only source of benefit and happiness. Through the Buddhas great activity many different schools arose. In Tibet there are four major schools, They are like one family which has 4 jewels, if one jewel is lost, it is a great loss. Therefore it is important that all 4 traditions are preserved and continued.
Lord Buddha resolved to attain enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. He had accumulated a tremendous amount of merit and wisdom over 3 countless aeons. He then appeared in India as a son of the Shakya kingdom and performed the 72 great deeds. He set an example by showing that enlightenment can be attained by an ordinary person through following the noble path.
Each of the deeds performed by Buddha have great meaning, the greatest being the activity of voice. Through His great realization Buddha gave teachings to save sentient beings from the suffering of samsara. Since there is no limit to the number of sentient beings and they all have different minds, different tastes, different propensities and different situations, so one kind of Dharma is insufficient. As one medicine is required for each disease so Buddha through his infinite wisdom, compassion, power and skillful means, taught to suit every mind, and for every defilement. Our defilements are like a disease, the Dharma is the medicine. There are many different kinds of defilement, but the root of them all comes from three: ignorance, desire and hatred. The medicine or antidotes for these are known as the Tripitaka. For desire the antidote is the Vinaya or moral conduct, which describes the way to practice virtue, for lay people, monks and nuns. The antidote for hatred is the sutra in which meditation to overcome anger and related thoughts are explained. The antidote for ignorance is the Abhidharma, the teaching on wisdom, wisdom to see the truth of reality.
All Buddhas teaching can be divided into 2 main schools or traditions for two types of followers: Hinayana and Mahayana. The Mahayana is the greater, which is shown through the cause point of view and the result point view. In Mahayana the aim is greater. The Hinayana only accomplishes self liberation, whereas the Mahayana also accomplishes the purpose of all sentient beings. Through wisdom one realises the selflessness of an individual and the selflessness of the factors of existence. To attain enlightenment great effort must be maintained for 3 countless aeons for the sake of all sentient beings, and then through developing great realisation of wisdom one is completely free from all the impurities of samsara. These are the cause points of view.
The result is the final achievement of Buddhahood which has many great qualities, far beyond that of the Sravakas and Pratyckabuddhas. Not only can one obtain the great qualities, but one can then show other sentient beings the path which leads to ultimate enlightenment.
Within Mahayana there is the general cause Mahayana and the result Mahayana, or the Vajrayana. One can also say there are three yanas: Sravakayana, Pratyekayana and the Bodhisattvayana, which is the Mahayana. The Mahayana and Mantrayana share the first intention or the motivation - The bodhicitta or the enlightenment thought, and the realisation of absolute truth, the view away from all extremes. The final attainment, the final goal, the ultimate enlightenment are all the same, but the difference lies in the method. Mantrayana is greater than the general Mahayana as it has more advanced methods. The body, speech and the mind are used in visualizations, recitation of mantra and physical yogas. Mantrayana also has more methods, and it is also easier to practice as every action in daily life is part of the path. It is meant for intelligent people who understand the deep, more advanced methods. The general Mahayana is called the cause yana because it creates the cause for ultimate enlightenment. One practices the 6 perfections: giving, moral conduct, patience etc. and accumulates a tremendous amount of merit and wisdom. This requires great effort. The result is the Dharmakaya and the rupakaya with the great activities and qualities of voice, body and transcendental wisdom. Mantrayana or Vajrayana is called the result yana because firstly the result is very easy to obtain. Those who have good karma and make great efforts can attain enlightenment even in one life-time. Therefore it is a much more preferable way to achieve the result.
Secondly in Vajrayana the result and cause are the same, because right from the beqinning of practice one visualises oneself in the form of a deity, like a form of the Buddha. So whilst one is creating the cause for enlightenment one is in the form of the result, thus it is called the result yana.
At present we have this birth as a human being, free from all unrestful places. We have the right conditions - externally and from ones own side. We have a great opportunity, so it is very important to practice Dharma for 2 reasons: we all possess the seed of the Buddha - the true nature of our mind is pure right from the beginning. All sentient beings have this seed. Secondly although we have this seed we do not realise it, because it is completely covered with defilements, which creates an illusory vision. The defilements and illusory vision are not the nature of mind, they are only temporal; if they were the nature of mind we could never become enlightened, just like the nature of coal is black, so whatever method you use the coal never becomes white. Therefore since the defilements are not the nature of mind, they are only temporal, the nature of mind is pure.
So when we have this great opportunity to practice Dharma, the possibility to become enlightened, it is very important that we work hard. We do not know when we will have a human life again with such conditions to practice. We have got the essence of the Buddhas teachings, the Vajrayana teaching through which countless masters in all the 4 major schools in Tibet, the 84 mahasiddhas in India and in other countries in Asia, all attained enlightenment,
It is the same teaching that we practice today which has been passed down from Buddha Vajradhara to ones own root guru. The unbroken lineage still continues. So if we make enough effort there is every reason why we can become like the great masters and attain ultimate enlightened.
So therefore everyone must practice. I wish everybody a very successful spiritual path. May the blessings of the Lord Buddha and all the lineage gurus be with you.