The Dalai Lama and Buddhist Science

Flickr-buddha-Akuppa

Gene Hart 

Why does consciousness seem to complicate reality? – A question that arose in my mind upon hearing that His Holiness the Dalai Lama was coming to England to spread his teachings of non-violence. The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, was visiting Manchester to share his wisdom and knowledge, something which he has dedicated his life to doing around the world. Despite leading a life of peace, he has had his share of drama, being in exile since 1959, due to the Chinese government taking over Tibet. Since losing their country, Tibetans have stayed loyal to the Dalai Lama, claiming that they feel alone without him – a bond between a leader and his people we rarely see today. Both have been pleading honorably for Tibet’s independence. Furthermore, the Dalai Lama has been trying to establish a democratic system of governance, speaking with countless world leaders. Parallel to this His Holiness works for the promotion of moral values, harmony and respect for religions throughout the world; not preaching on Buddhism, but teaching how to promote inner happiness and Buddhist science, to which many people take an interest. I had the pleasure of participating in several talks by His Holiness over a period of four days.

I joined a news conference on the morning of his arrival. It’s not every day you see a Buddhist monk being exposed to apprehensive press taking 100 pictures a second. However, like a true Zen master, he seemed barely distracted. I thought how, if every person in the room was of a calmer nature, this would have given him a warmer welcome to a more enlightened country, but then this country thrives off media consumerism.

Immediately, he expressed the purpose of his visit: to spread his message of non-violence, the value of dialogue, universal responsibility and expressing his views on modern education:

“We should implement the teachings of compassion, tolerance and forgiveness by teaching scientific moral education not based on religious beliefs. This has the potential to bring harmony to the basis of human life on all levels. Furthermore, I will be talking about the nature of reality; such as what is really happening in any situation at a fundamental level.”

Why does consciousness seem to complicate reality? – A question that arose in my mind upon hearing that His Holiness the Dalai Lama was coming to England to spread his teachings of non-violence. The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, was visiting Manchester to share his wisdom and knowledge, something which he has dedicated his life to doing around the world. Despite leading a life of peace, he has had his share of drama, being in exile since 1959, due to the Chinese government taking over Tibet. Since losing their country, Tibetans have stayed loyal to the Dalai Lama, claiming that they feel alone without him – a bond between a leader and his people we rarely see today. Both have been pleading honorably for Tibet’s independence. Furthermore, the Dalai Lama has been trying to establish a democratic system of governance, speaking with countless world leaders. Parallel to this His Holiness works for the promotion of moral values, harmony and respect for religions throughout the world; not preaching on Buddhism, but teaching how to promote inner happiness and Buddhist science, to which many people take an interest. I had the pleasure of participating in several talks by His Holiness over a period of four days.

I joined a news conference on the morning of his arrival. It’s not every day you see a Buddhist monk being exposed to apprehensive press taking 100 pictures a second. However, like a true Zen master, he seemed barely distracted. I thought how, if every person in the room was of a calmer nature, this would have given him a warmer welcome to a more enlightened country, but then this country thrives off media consumerism.

Immediately, he expressed the purpose of his visit: to spread his message of non-violence, the value of dialogue, universal responsibility and expressing his views on modern education:

“We should implement the teachings of compassion, tolerance and forgiveness by teaching scientific moral education not based on religious beliefs. This has the potential to bring harmony to the basis of human life on all levels. Furthermore, I will be talking about the nature of reality; such as what is really happening in any situation at a fundamental level.”

Everyone laughed when he used an example of the press, saying that they may all seem pleasant, but at a more fundamental reality, they could just be looking for gain and money.

“I am not here to popularize the Buddhist religion but to respect all religions. The 20th century was one of violence; the 21st century should be one of dialogue. Why do we not see the world as one entity rather than separate places of people… wouldn’t this diminish the violence?”

Afterwards, questions were asked by the press. To my curiosity, the questions all came off the topic of what he was talking about. All the questions were about economic problems and the conflict between him and China. Although these may be concerning issues in mainstream modern news, I felt that they could have found the answers they were looking for through the objective attitude that the Dalai Lama was displaying. Nevertheless, every answer was expressed in a highly detached manner:

“Despite being in a world of tough economic times each must lead a life of compassion.”

Afterwards, he came down to have a handshake with the press. As he approached me, he gave me a two-handed handshake and looking at my dreadlocks, he asked what kind of hairstyle I had. Everyone laughed. Noticing my appearance he asked where I originated from; I replied that my mum came from the Philippines. He remained silent for a moment looking into my eyes. I felt a tranquil presence come over me, and then he proceeded. The intellect and true power of this man was apparent. I was very excited for the next three days of his upcoming teachings to the masses.

The first event was free to ages 15-25. It filled over 10’000 seats in Manchester’s MEN Arena. The Dalai Lama was presented to the stage by actor and comedian Russell Brand; the Dalai Lama entered with a happy, humorous nature and received a lively loving audience. He was impressed with the amount of people who turned up. During his talk, he touched on many subjects including: the reason behind why our species is lacking from compassion and happiness, “Most unhappiness comes from the sense of self-importance and self-centeredness;” how to use dialogue rather than violence; and the relationship between thinking and emotions. Moreover, he expressed how we can perceive ourselves and everyone else on different levels of identity and significance. Using himself as an example, he said that on one level, he was a cellular human. However, on the subsequent level, he is a man, then on the next level, he is a Buddhist Monk, and finally, comically expressing – he is the Dalai Lama. In the laughter of the audience, I felt anyone who was expecting a boring preaching session was in-fact delighted to find such an amusing and honest man. He spoke about things which we could all relate to as human beings.

“For us to live harmoniously we must live and conceptualize compassionately with the ‘human level’ of experience. In this way, we cultivate an authentic realistic way of being, expanding consciousness to finer levels of experience, moving us away from a level of consciousness that emotionally attaches itself to identities, for instance, thinking of ourselves as being greater or inferior to others, which can limit deeper levels of relationship.”

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He emphasized the importance of cultivating an ‘analytical mind-set’ to develop our sense of skepticism about all things and to think reasonably, scientifically and morally. He went on to say there are two types of meditation. Firstly, stabilizing meditation – which focuses on nothingness, awareness and healing. This allows you to become devoid of mind, which is known as ‘clear light’ or ‘luminosity’ in Buddhism. This purity of mind is Nirvana and gives way to expanse of mind and consciousness. The other type of meditation is analytical meditation – which he explained is the key to understanding, and we do it as part of our nature such as when we are studying or contemplating life. This certainly shed some light for me on distinguishing the types of awareness in everyday life.

“However, it is easy to misinterpret reality. The analytical mind can come to a distorted way of knowing. At the root of all distorted perception is ignorance. An example of this would be of people who perceive impermanent things to be permanent, i.e. material objects. In doing so, we can become attached to things whether it be material or thought forms.”

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An interesting fact which struck me: a scientist, with whom the Dalai Lama spoke, said that there are an estimated six billion different perceptions about the world, all defying each other. So how can we know which ones are factual? He said to cultivate what he calls the ‘ultimate perception of reality’, we must question and contradict every view we have with defying ones to come to a more realistic, natural way of knowing.

Another event with the Dalai Lama was named ‘Being western – being Buddhist’ and included a panel of 5 western Buddhist practitioners. This was a Q&A event about any aspect of Buddhism. The panel was surprised to find such a large audience. They only expected a few hundred people to turn up but over 4,000 participated. It is obvious that Buddhist interest is flourishing at an accelerating rate in the western world. One of the answers which caught my attention was from a man who told a story that he once took a group of Monks through a prison where he worked. As they walked through, the prisoners hurled abuse at them, and the man said to the Monks that this must be the worst place to practice Buddhism. In fact, they replied saying it is a perfect place to practice, adding that the best place to practice is in a place of suffering, and the prison was abundant in suffering. A significant message I thought. We conceptualize spirituality as different from everything else. It seems that we are unable to learn vital information from all things. As long as humanity continues to identify all experience as separate, we ignore the fact that all experience can be our spiritual teacher, not just school, books or going to see the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama had also expressed this when he said:

“We should pay particular compassion to people that we wouldn’t usually take a liking to, i.e. criminals, people who get shunned in community. As well as this we should see close relations (who give us pain and suffering) as spiritual teachers in order to analyze experiences. For example, during an argument, check to see if there is any intelligent thinking going on rather than just defensive emotion.”

I think people who participated in these events who had a general problem with religions were surprised to find the Dalai Lama talking about the negative sides of religious beliefs such as God. He also expressed his attitude towards his religion, which I found very viable for all religious people:

“I am Buddhist, but there is no attachment to Buddhism, if there is attachment you become biased; you start to become suspicious about other faiths and start to close your mind to other possibilities. It’s very helpful to have the ability to appreciate other faiths as well as your own.”

After three days of the Dalai Lama connecting, laughing, philosophizing, articulating universal energy, he went on to his next destination in the UK to spread his light.

Why must the Dalai Lama travel across the world discussing our problems? Why does consciousness complicate reality? Are we fooling ourselves for a reason, a purpose? Do we really know deep within ourselves the ultimate truth? Where does common sense originate from? An ‘all-knowing source’? If it is, then we surely have all the answers we need within ourselves. However, it seems evident that the human race currently lives through a perception far-off the ‘cellular human level’ as we tend to seek spiritual understanding from sources we regard as ‘spiritual’. You could say the Dalai Lama was not teaching, but reminding people of what we already know. How have we lost this simple universal wisdom that he was expressing? Are our habitual ego-driven minds holding us back from seeing the truth?

Did you know that there is an inherent nervous system within the heart made up of 40000 neurons similar to brain neurons? Research shows it can learn, remember, feel and sense independently. Maybe in this ‘brain in the heart’ lies the simple universal truth of compassion that the Dalai Lama was expressing.

During the first event, a video of a Mayan woman was played to the audience before the Dalai Lama was presented to the stage. She spoke about her people who predicted an era of peace and harmony around the year 2012. The possibility struck me that the Dalai Lama also sensed this shift happening. Is he going around the world to accelerate the process of the evolution in consciousness? Only time will tell.

After the four days, I was left with a great sense of admiration for the Buddhist religion. Cultivating a fully awakened mind benefits all fellow sentient beings, and as long as every sentient being endures suffering, the practice of Buddhism will remain to dispel and endure the miseries of the world. However, I think that once humanity reaches a tipping point in the awakening of the human psyche, it will flourish in a sense of connectivity, expansion, abundance and purpose.

“Whatever seems impossible now may be a reality in 100 hundred years.”Nagarjuna

About the Author

Gene Hart is a dedicated yogi currently studying Philosophy at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. He is most interested in the multidimensional nature of the universe. Through extensively practicing meditation and out of body exploration, he investigates the links and relationships between the non-physical and physical; dreams, thoughts, emotions, and the root, or essence, of all reality and existence in its entirety. You can reach him at genephart@gmail.com.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

Saṃsāra and Nirvana – the Ultimate Duality

Samsara

I loved this article and happily I just received permission from Ethan Indigo Smith to republish it here . (He mentioned to add that he is giving away books, visit his amazon author page for more info at the link at bottom. I dedicate this to my beautiful granddaughter who’s name is Samara. :)

By Ethan Indigo Smith

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

The more I learn about Buddhism, the more I appreciate the many teachings of Buddha and the subsequent learned people who followed him, and the more I hear people speaking on such lessons – whether they realize it or not.

Truth resonates like that. To find resonating truth in the time of the Kali Yuga – the Fourth Age of Deception – I try to find correlation of information among many subjects, and Buddhism both reveals truth and also correlates with truths from other cultures and also others systems; those of science, psychology and the esoteric.

I will attempt to summarize one of the most profound teachings of Buddhism that can require an immense amount of absorption (another term for meditation or contemplation) to integrate – that there is Saṃsāra and Nirvana. Understanding this duality can lead to a greater understanding, being the ultimate contrast of Buddhism.

First though, here are some teachings as a base to this idea.

Saṃsāra and Nirvana

Saṃsāra literally means “continuous movement” and is commonly translated as “cyclic existence” or “cycle of existence”. In Buddhism, Saṃsāra refers to the continual repetitive cycle of birth and death that is created by our fixating on the self and experiences, specifically, the process of cycling through rebirth after rebirth within the six realms of existence. In the Buddhist view, one can only be liberated from Saṃsāra through Nirvana.

Nirvana literally means “extinguishing”, and refers to the extinction of the fires of attachment, aversion and ignorance. In the Buddhist view, when these fires are extinguished, suffering comes to an end and one is released from the cycle of rebirth.

Buddhists perceive reality and its volatile predictability through a set of conditions or principles, known as the Four Thoughts. One, we have a precious human body capable of gaining enlightenment and assisting others in the process. Two, everything is impermanent; ourselves and the condition of the natural and man-made world, if you will. Three, everything is made up of Karma; you are the result of it and everything that’s been done results in karma bouncing around. Four, we exist in the state of Saṃsāra, this gross physical realm where we can be either animals chasing tails or carrots tied to string – or we can become elevated beings.

An optimal response to these conditions is contained in The Four Immeasurables. These are Love for self, Love for others, Love for the happiness of others, and Love for all in equanimity. The conditions of Saṃsāra require that we take compassionate courses of action via the Four Immeasurables – the four forms of love – otherwise we enhance our suffering and the suffering of others. Buddhists, having addressed reality thoroughly, realize that in every meeting there is parting, in every spring there is fall, and in every birth there is death.

Saṃsāra is the happiness and hell on earth, the everything. Its opposite is Nirvana. Samsara is everything in reality. Nirvana is nothingness; the bliss that just IS, the essence beyond birth and death and even beyond duality. It is oneness.

Here in Saṃsāra, practically everything is polarized and more specifically in a dualistic state of polarity, a state where there is spring, there is fall and for every winter there is summer. Saṃsāra is a war world, a place of ego and power, of total contradiction. We fight in the name of peace, poison our bodies with toxic “medicines” and unnatural foods, and view our religious faiths as a point of separation, not of Oneness. And so Saṃsāra will remain a war world until the Majority of Love takes control from the oligarchical institutions that rule over us globally. Until then, humanity will continue on the treadmill of birth and death, while it struggles to reconcile the duality of its own existence.

Boys meditating

There are lessons and concepts in this Buddhist teachings that can be applied spiritually and intangibly, in a multitude of ways. But Buddhism can all be seen as an allegory for how we approach our daily life and reality.  We all have the ability to manifest Saṃsāra or Nirvana, here and now. We can act on behalf of lifeless institutions, ignoring the Four Thoughts and Four Immeasurables, or we can proceed in peaceful compassionate unison with each other – and remove the roadblocks of failed institutions along the way.

Each of us, in equanimity, is just a wandering sentient being – and most of us are extremely compassionate at heart. In fact there is mounting evidence that humankind is evolving (from necessity) to become more compassionate. We have the technology and resources to provide for the energy, food and water needs of every human being on the planet, but dismayed, we stand back and watch our institutions direct our resources toward war and corporate empire-building.

Something is not right here.

Why is it that we collectively fashion billions of dollars and thousands of people together for war instead of building equal infrastructure to help one another? Why are we allowing the others to dictate priorities to us which are so unaligned to our true nature?

Because the majority of us are living in a state of warring consciousness; we were born into it; we exude that consciousness and manifest it outwardly via what are now long-standing war machines — those military, nuclear and industrial institutions and legislative devices that are either built to kill, or are slowly killing us anyway. But the Powers That Be forget the important lessons of history… the inquisitors and oppressors never win the battle, and no empire lasts forever. 

Choose peace over war, choose individuals over institutions, choose compassionate helping instead of passionate hindering. Remember The Four Thoughts and Four Immeasurables. When institutions try to build another war machine or oligarchical institution, or try to illicit another senseless war, remember: if it’s not done out of love it’s not worth doing. The only way out of Saṃsāra is through Nirvana.

For more information, please check out my previous article Meditation and Intuition in the Fourth Age of Deception (the Kali Yuga)

Previous articles by Ethan (excellent reading!):

About the author:

Ethan Indigo SmithAuthor, activist and Tai Chi teacher Ethan Indigo Smith was born on a farm in Maine and lived in Manhattan for a number of years before migrating west to Mendocino, California. Guided by a keen sense of integrity and humanity, Ethan’s work is both deeply connected and extremely insightful, blending philosophy, politics, activism, spirituality, meditation and a unique sense of humour.

The events of September 11, 2001 inspired him to write his first book, The Complete Patriot’s Guide to Oligarchical Collectivism, an insightful exploration of history, philosophy and contemporary politics. His more recent publications include:

  • Tibetan Fusion a book of simple meditative practices and movements that can help you access and balance your energy
  • The Little Green Book of Revolution an inspirational book based on ideas of peaceful revolution, historical activism and caring for the Earth like Native Americans
  • The Matrix of Four, The Philosophy of the Duality of Polarity on the subject of the development of individual consciousness
  • 108 Steps to Be in The Zone a set of 108 meditative practices and steps toward self discovery and individual betterment, including techniques to develop balance, transmute sexual energy and better the self
  • and the controversial book, Terra-ist Letters, a work that humorously contrasts the very serious issues of global nuclear experimentation promotion and global marijuana prohibition

For more information, visit Ethan on Facebook and check out Ethan’s author page on Amazon.com