业的转化
益西彭措堪布

如果我们造下定、不定业,是否只能被动地感受果报呢?当然,如不依对治力,业不会有丝毫的减弱,定要毫厘不爽地感果。但如依四种对治力忏悔,则可以使重业减轻,轻业变无。

四种对治力即:依止力、破恶力、恢复力、对治力。依止力,如人误服毒后,需依医治疗,造罪之人应归依三宝,发菩提心,然后观想诸佛菩萨的种种功德庄严来忏悔业障;破恶力,如误服毒物之人极想将毒物吐出,造罪之人从内心深处发露忏悔,没有覆藏心;恢复力,如误服毒物的人发誓再也不吃毒物,造罪之人发誓纵遇命难亦不复造罪业;对治力,如误服毒物的人,为了疗毒需服药物,造罪之人以精勤行善,念诵金刚萨埵心咒等来清净罪障。

下面进一步讲述四种对治力。

一、依止力分外依止力和内依止力,外依止力即如理观想诸佛菩萨,内依止力指归依和发心。总之,依止力是归依三宝、忆念三宝功德,诚心祈祷三宝以清净罪障。忏悔时当为一切众生清净业障成就正等觉果位发起无伪的菩提心,从而将往昔的一切罪障彻底清净。如《入行论》云:“如人虽犯极重罪,然依勇士得除畏,依靠何者速解脱,彼者善人何不依?菩提心如劫末火,刹那能毁诸重罪。”

二、破恶力:应对自己所造的罪业生起后悔心,发露忏悔,不覆不藏。如果没有强烈的追悔心,单单口头上改悔,罪业不能得以清净。《弥勒狮吼论》云:“无知所造罪,一切当忏悔,智者若忏悔,不与业同住。”

三、恢复力:发誓今后不再造罪业,指静息十种不善业等。《毗奈耶广释》云:“若无诚意防护之心,所行悔罪,唯有空言。”《入行论》云:“断尽恶心时,说为戒度圆。”所以防护自心后不再作恶业至为重要。

四、对治力:指尽力行持善行以对治所造恶业。所依善法分六:(一)依止甚深经典,指受持读诵般若波罗密多等契经;(二)依胜解空性,指趣入无我空性,安住本来清净的空性,依空性见可灭除种种罪障;(三)依形象,指对佛、菩萨具足信心,造立经像;(五)依供养,指对佛像及佛塔作种种供养;(六)依名号,指听闻受持念诵诸佛名号、诸大菩萨名号。

初学者依靠四种对治力忏悔,便可将感生恶趣的重业转变,或令变成感受轻微苦,或使虽生恶趣但不领受恶趣诸苦,或者现身稍受头痛等即得清净。又使应长时受报的,变为短时受报或全不受报。消除罪业的程度要看净修之人力量大小——是否圆满具足四对治力,忏悔之力猛烈与否,时间相续是长久还是短促,等等差别无有一定。

或疑:经云:“众生之诸业,百劫不毁灭,因缘聚合时,其果定成熟。”此处讲所造罪业经由四对治力忏悔,便能清净,不感果报,如是二者岂不自相矛盾?

答:如果未以四对治力忏悔对治,无因无缘业果定无空耗之理。但如以四力对治,虽是定业亦能清净,何况不定业。因由忏悔及防护等,能破坏感异熟果之种子的功能,虽遇余缘,也必定不能感发异熟果。此与由生邪见或由嗔恚摧毁善根同理。

As long as we don’t recognise our real nature, we suffer. When we recognise our nature, we become free from suffering.

— Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

An Extensive Commentary on the Four Immeasurables
by Buddhagupta

Loving-kindness, compassion,
Sympathetic joy, and equanimity —
How to cultivate with diligence
These great immeasurables, I shall now explain.

Focusing on immeasurable sentient beings brings about immeasurable accumulations, immeasurable qualities, and immeasurable primordial wisdom.

IMMEASURABLE SENTIENT BEINGS

We cannot calculate the total number of sentient beings, saying, “This is how many there are in the three realms.” And sentient beings are thus said to be immeasurable. As the Bhagavān said in the Noble Sūtra Teaching the Great Compassion of the Tathāgatas:

Son of a noble family, the sentient beings living in a space the size of a chariot wheel, visible to a Tathāgata, are extremely numerous. But the gods and humans throughout the world systems of the vast billionfold universe are not like that: the realms of these imperceptible sentient beings are immeasurable.

Therefore, as the immeasurable realms of sentient beings are beyond comprehension, sentient beings are said to be immeasurable.

You might wonder: when cultivating the immeasurables, how should we focus on immeasurable sentient beings and meditate?

All sentient beings of the three realms have been circling throughout the higher and lower abodes throughout beginningless time based on the power of their individual karma. As there is not a single one who, in the course of this wandering, has not been close to us many hundreds or thousands of times, think: “These are my loved ones!” And abide in equanimity, extending the four immeasurables to all sentient beings. This is what is known as focusing on immeasurable sentient beings.

IMMEASURABLE ACCUMULATIONS

The immeasurable accumulations are those of merit and wisdom. All four immeasurables are, in this sense, the cause, since they are the cause or essence of generating boundless gatherings of both merit and wisdom. Thus, in the sūtras, the Bhagavān also says:

Son of a noble family, to make offerings to someone who is meditating on the samādhi of loving-kindness, and who has not yet risen from his or her seat, creates immeasurable merit.

If so much merit can be gained simply by offering gifts to one who is training in immeasurable loving kindness and the rest, what need is there to mention actually practising these immeasurables and meditating on them for oneself? The amount of merit generated thereby will be far, far greater.

This is how immeasurable stores of merit and wisdom are produced. These then serve to generate a boundless collection of qualities, which, in turn, yields limitless wisdom.

IMMEASURABLE QUALITIES

Immeasurable qualities are the great attributes of enlightenment, such as the powers, the fearlessnesses and the rest. They are the result of the accumulation of merit and wisdom gained through abiding in the four immeasurables. As this is what brings about the great qualities of enlightenment, we must earnestly apply ourselves to these four immeasurables.

IMMEASURABLE PRIMORDIAL WISDOM

These four dharmas — the four immeasurables — are the focal object of the Tathāgatas’ immeasurable primordial wisdom. Alternatively, it can be explained that primordial wisdom itself abides in the state of, or as the essence of, the four dharmas of loving kindness and the rest. This is what is meant when we speak of a sphere of experience, or essence, in which the object of cognition is inseparable from cognitive awareness itself.

LOVING-KINDNESS

At the stage of ‘devoted conduct’, a bodhisattva experiences the “four factors of ascertainment”: attainment of appearance, enhancement of appearance, partial engagement in the meaning of suchness, and the unobstructed samādhi. For those bodhisattvas who experience these four factors of ascertainment, the gods, humans, pretas and the like, as well as the realms of hell-beings, are all directly perceptible to their heightened faculties. When they see these gods, humans and others, as well as the beings in the lower realms whose very nature is suffering, these bodhisattvas feel particularly strong compassion for them. At the same time, they realise that these beings have been circling in saṃsāra throughout beginningless time, and, therefore, have all, without exception, been their close relations. As a consequence, they feel great loving kindness towards them all, caring for them as if they were their very own children. They make aspirations that all sentient beings may be liberated from suffering and experience only happiness, and they act to benefit all beings. This is known as loving-kindness focused on sentient beings.

Bodhisattvas on the first to the seventh bhūmis generate loving kindness towards sentient beings by directly realising the nature of things. Although all phenomena lack any true nature, sentient beings fail to realise this, and, by tightly clinging to things as real, they circulate throughout the three realms. These bodhisattvas, therefore, feel loving kindness towards the beings who suffer in this way. They make aspirations that they might realise the true nature, and they act to benefit all beings through the Dharma. This is known as loving-kindness focused on phenomena.

From the eighth bodhisattva bhūmi onwards, up and including the attainment of enlightenment, corresponds to the level of “spontaneous accomplishment, free of focus”. From the eighth bhūmi, bodhisattvas generate loving kindness towards sentient beings while acting for their benefit spontaneously and without thought. They act for beings as in the examples of a precious, wish-fulfilling jewel or a wish-granting tree. Although these bodhisattvas are without ordinary thoughts, great loving-kindness still arises spontaneously through the power of their past aspirations, and they act to bring benefit to beings. This is known as loving-kindness free of focus.

How, then, do ordinary beings, who are just beginning, train in loving kindness that is focused on sentient beings? An ordinary beginner should meditate on loving-kindness focused on sentient beings according to the following stages.

There are three types of sentient beings: 1) those one cherishes, 2) those one is indifferent towards, and 3) those one dislikes. Cherished sentient beings can then be further subdivided into three: greater, middling, and lesser. Likewise, those one is indifferent towards and those one dislikes can also be subdivided into the three categories of greater, middling, and lesser. So, in all, there are nine divisions.

At first, visualise someone you cherish in a middling way and practice feeling towards them just as you do towards those you cherish greatly, such as your own parents. Once you are familiar with this, visualise all those to whom you are indifferent, and practice feeling towards them just as you do towards those you cherish most. Then visualise those you mildly dislike and practice feeling towards them just as you do towards those you cherish most. Once you are used to this, visualise someone you dislike in a middling way and practice feeling towards them as you do towards those you cherish most. Then finally consider those you really dislike and train in feeling towards them the kind of love you feel for your own parents.

Through this, we can train in focusing on all sentient beings, who, throughout the course of beginningless time, have been dear to us and have even been our own parents. And, as we train in this way, even though we begin by focusing on just the members of our own family, we gradually extend the practice until it is infinite.

COMPASSION

Compassion focused on sentient beings who are suffering is the compassionate wish to dispel the sufferings of all beings, who are plagued by the three sufferings (of suffering upon suffering, and the rest) or the eight sufferings (of birth, and so on).

Compassion focused on sentient beings who do wrong is the compassionate wish to eliminate all the harmful actions of beings whose conduct is unvirtuous, as they are the root or cause of the sufferings just mentioned.

Compassion focused on sentient beings who are not completely liberated as they lack the necessary conditions is directed towards those who cannot hear the Dharma as they lack a spiritual teacher. As it says in a tantra, “Those who don’t follow a teacher, who don’t hear the Dharma, and who aren’t liberated, are freed through compassion.”

SYMPATHETIC JOY

Sympathetic joy is a delight in the various kinds of wealth that sentient beings possess: material riches, the Dharma, and happiness.

Sympathetic joy focused on perfectly gathering the accumulations is the joy that we feel towards our own great gatherings of virtue.

Sympathetic joy focused on the taste of sacred Dharma is the joy we feel when we (and others) experience the taste of hearing the Dharma, or the taste of contemplation and meditation.

EQUANIMITY

Those who act for the welfare of sentient beings should have equanimity towards the fortunate and the unfortunate alike. Rather than discriminating, by acting only for the benefit of the fortunate and never for the unfortunate, we should act for the benefit of both in equal measure.

The expression “eight worldly concerns, including gain and loss” also refers to happiness and suffering, praise and criticism, renown and obscurity. Being neither delighted nor upset by these situations, we should remain in equanimity. These eight worldly concerns are so-called because they are well known to, and found among, the mundane.

How do we maintain equanimity with regard to these eight concerns?

Suppose you acquire great wealth or possessions: do not allow yourself to become too elated or attached to them. Conversely, if your wealth or possessions decline or you fail to acquire any, do not feel despondent or sad. This is known as equanimity that is free from happiness and sorrow in the face of gain and loss.

Even if someone you are attracted to were to anoint your body with perfume, sandalwood and the like, to caress you, and to treat you with honour and respect, you must not become overjoyed or attached to such pleasures. And even if an enemy were to abuse you physically, by beating and striking you, you must not become angry. Instead, joyfully accept the pain of being struck and beaten, rather than concentrating on the suffering. This is known as equanimity that is free from happiness and sorrow in the face of joy and suffering.

If a friend were to praise you with sweet words, describing you in glowing terms, you shouldn’t feel delighted or think of yourself as superior. Whereas, if an enemy were to discover your faults and proclaim them, you shouldn’t become sad or depressed. This is known as equanimity that is free from happiness and sorrow in the face of praise and criticism.

Even if many people come to hear and know of your talents, don’t take delight in this acknowledgement of your attributes, thinking, “Now that so many people know of my good qualities, I will surely become famous and never be forgotten!” Alternatively, if few people ever hear of or acknowledge your qualities, don’t feel sad, thinking, “My qualities are overlooked. What a pity!” This is known as equanimity that is free from happiness and sorrow in the face of recognition and non-recognition of one’s qualities.

“Accumulations” refers to the accumulations of merit and wisdom already explained above. Equanimity in regard to gathering the accumulations on special and ordinary occasions means that we shouldn’t differentiate, thinking, “I shall practise virtuous accumulations on this occasion, but not at other times.” Instead, we must practise virtue at all times.

In reference to all the meditative training
In the four immeasurables, the ‘Brahmic’ states,
I have composed and set this down for beings’ sake:
May all be unobscured, swiftly to awaken!

因缘可变,命运可改!

如果要解脱,就必须要修行,千万不能不把修行当成一回事,只是在有空的时候才打打坐、念念经,没有空的时候就得过且过,而应该将修行作为主要的努力方向,这样在我们离开人世的时候,才会有所收获。每一个人都知道,我们都是赤条条地来,两手空空地去,即使拥有全世界的财富,也不可能带走一分一文,在命归黄泉之际,带走的既不是银行的存款、豪华的别墅、名贵的汽车,也不是亲密的伴侣、慈祥的父母、心爱的子女,能够跟随我们来,并伴着我们去的,只有修行以及通过修行所取得的成就,不仅如此,而且也只有它们,才能挽救我们的生生世世,才能改变我们的命运。

佛教徒从来就不相信什么命中注定的说法,我们认为,所有的东西都是因缘和合,都是可以改变的。如果一切都是定数,都不可更改,那又何必修行、何必学佛呢?学佛的目的,不就是为了改变命运吗?因此,为了打破这些观念,为了超越这些因缘,我们就必须修行。

— 堪钦慈诚罗珠仁波切

如何发愿往生极乐世界
希阿荣博堪布

今天是藏历十二月十五日(编者注:本文写作日期),也是阿弥陀佛的节日。在这个吉祥的日子里,我想给大家念诵《极乐愿文》和《上师阿弥陀佛修法极乐捷径》的传承。《极乐愿文》的作者是藏地的大成就者恰美仁波切,恰美仁波切一生通达大乘显密教典,诸佛密义全部了然于心,但在显现上恰美仁波切专志于净土法门,最后以大神通力不舍肉身并携带眷属、家犬等直接飞往极乐刹土。

《上师阿弥陀佛修法极乐捷径》是莲师当年为悲悯我们这个时代的众生而留下的伏藏法,莲师的功德我不必多说。多年前此法依莲师授记由法王如意宝的上一世列绕朗巴大师取出,现在也已由法王如意宝在汉、藏等地广弘。

法王的弘法利生事业,在很多佛经和传承上师的著作中都有明确的授记。法王如意宝也因为他的无量悲心与广大的利生事业,被公认为当今世界最伟大的上师。法王这一世,在密法方面广弘无上大圆满法,在显宗方面则以净土法门为主,并且法王自己也发愿往生西方极乐世界。五明佛学院每年定期召开四大法会,其中之一就是在藏历九月天降日召开的极乐法会。在第一次法王主持的极乐法会上,从西藏、青海和四川等地来的藏汉信众多达四十余万,法会期间法王曾意味深长地对信众们讲道:“你们一生中所造的恶业不少,今生更应求生西方极乐世界,永脱苦难,凡与我结过缘的人,因信愿不足或业障过重,今生未能如愿往生,无论下一世你们转生到哪一道中,我都将化身到你们身边,度化你们,直到你们往生极乐世界为止。”听到法王的教言,在场的几十万弟子无不落泪。二百多年前,大圆满祖师吉美林巴尊者的四大弟子之一多珠根桑银彭在《未来预言》中写道:“色啊当天喇沟处,乌金化身名晋美,赐给四众菩萨徒,显密正法如明月,利生事业高如山,清净徒众遍十方,结缘其者生极乐。”根据这个授记,所有与法王结缘的人都可以往生极乐世界。法王如意宝还曾经讲过:供养他钱财不是与他结缘,修持他所传承下来的法才是真正地与他结缘。法王希望所有发愿往生西方极乐世界的弟子都能圆满念诵阿弥陀佛圣号一百万遍(藏音:炯丹迪得因夏巴,札炯巴央达巴,作波桑吉,滚波奥华德美巴拉香擦洛,巧多嘉森且奥。汉译:皈依、顶礼、供养世尊善逝出有坏圆满正等觉怙主无量光佛),或者汉文“南无阿弥陀佛”六百万遍。

依据佛陀亲自宣说的经典和祖师们的教言,往生西方极乐世界要具足四种因和断除两种障碍,四种因:第一是忆念阿弥陀佛和极乐世界的功德,并生起不退的信心。第二生起菩提心。第三积累资粮。第四发愿往生并回向功德。具足了这四种因,一定能够往生。

需要断除的两种障碍:一是犯下五无间罪,二是犯下诽谤正法罪。五无间罪是指杀父、杀母、杀阿罗汉、出佛身血和破法轮僧。杀害自己的父母一般有良知的人不会做。法轮僧、佛陀和阿罗汉在当今时代我们很难遇到,所以现代人一般不会犯下五无间罪,但有些不如法的行为会成为近五无间罪,这在《极乐愿文》中写得很清楚,如果有,要好好忏悔。

与五无间罪相比,诽谤正法罪很容易在有意无意间违犯,所以一定要注意。大、小乘中所有的显密佛法全部是佛陀为利益众生而宣讲的无伪善说,如果诽谤其中任一教法或者认为佛法中这一教法殊胜、那一教法低劣等,就构成了诽谤正法罪,因为佛法是诸佛与圣者们所宣说的,所以诽谤佛法,也就诽谤了佛陀与僧众。如果造下了这样的恶业,不真心忏悔,下一世不用说往生极乐世界,就是人身都很难得到,果报不可思议。还有一种情况,就是现在有的在家人随意评论和诽谤出家人,作为一个学佛人这是很不如法的。释迦牟尼佛曾经讲过,每四位比丘当中就有一个是佛的化现。所以在出家人中谁是圣者、谁是凡夫我们根本无法判断。有的人讲,这个出家人的行为不如法,对佛法的损害很大。出家人有这样的显现,绝不是佛法的问题。虽然他有这样的显现,但我们依然无法判断;无法判断,就不要诽谤。因为诽谤出家人的因果实在是太大了。你如果认为某个出家人的行为不如法或者对这个出家人没有信心,可以不去拜见、不去供养,但记住不能诽谤。

佛法包括教法与证法,高僧大德们心中内证的是证法,为众生宣讲的是教法。如果诽谤为利益众生正在广转法轮的高僧大德也就是诽谤佛法。佛陀圆寂前也曾对阿难讲道:阿难莫悲伤,我于未来时,化现善知识,利益汝等众。看到佛陀的这些教言,有过这样行为的人应该反观一下自己,从现在就要马上断除诽谤高僧大德的行为,好好忏悔,否则会断送自己的解脱之路。如果诽谤的是一个佛菩萨的话,依据《极乐愿文》等经论的教言,业障和因果不可思议。所以我们大家今后都不要去评论别人,否则会伤害到我们自己。除以上所讲的两个往生的障碍,还有就是已经进入密乘的弟子不能破密乘根本戒。破了密乘根本戒,没有忏悔清净前也是不能往生的。

具足了往生的四种因并且断除了障碍往生的过失,不论是成就的圣者还是普通的凡夫,都可以往生到极乐世界。这是阿弥陀佛发下的广大愿力,也是传承上师特别是法王如意宝通过他们的修持为我们做出的印证。关于极乐世界的功德,我们以前已经讲了很多次,在汉传佛教的《净土五经》和藏传佛教的《净土教言》等经论中都有详尽的宣讲,大家回去后一定要认认真真地修持。

大家都是在家人,在家人生活在社会上肯定需要一些资粮,不仅是你们,我也一样,如果没有一点资粮确实很难生活下去。但作为一个学佛的人,追求的是真正的解脱,平时吃的、穿的够用就可以了,否则人的贪欲是很难满足的。今天有了一百万,就想一千万,有了一千万,就想一个亿,这样下去,永无止境,而生命却会在你追逐贪欲中一天天地缩短。到死亡来临时,不用说你积下的财富,连自己的这个肉身也带不走。前几天我去一位弟子家里,听她讲,她的邻居是一个身价很高的大企业家,平时身体看上去也很好。今年一月初这个企业家的一个项目完成,在庆祝的酒会上,他只喝了两小杯酒就突然死在了酒席上。本来他还计划再开发下一个更大的项目,但下一个顶目没看到,自己却离开了人世。一月初到现在只有二十几天的时间,现在他的家人已经为了争夺他的遗产打得不可开交。一个人如果用自己的所有精力去追求世间的财富,最后的结果可能都会这样。所以我们在满足自己的基本生活所需后,应该用更多的精力修持佛法。

我是五明佛学院一名普普通通的堪布。因为在法王如意宝的座下听闻了二十一年的佛法,所以今天在这里可以给大家讲一讲,但在修行方面应该和大家没什么区别。有时候晚上躺在床上的时候我会常常想,自己这一世虽然没有造下杀生、诽谤佛法等等这样的恶业,但一个凡夫平时肯定会有许多的过失,如果在明天早上我没有醒来,也许没有把握往生到极乐世界,所以我们师徒要一起努力修持,共同发愿往生。

发愿往生后,要常常忆念阿弥陀佛和极乐净土,因为常常观想,在自己突然遇到危险时,就能够想起阿弥陀佛和极乐净土。这样经过长时间的修持,会在梦中见到阿弥陀佛和极乐净土,最后在临终自己非常恐惧的时候,也会想起阿弥陀佛和极乐净土,最终往生极乐世界。

我虽然是一个凡夫,但今天给大家传承的法都是法王如意宝传给我的。法王是真正的圣者,在我依止法王的二十余年中,从来没有扰乱过上师的心,也没有一次让上师示现不悦,所以这两个法的传承是非常清净的。法王现在虽然已经离开了我们,他传承下来的法还在,只要我们按照法王和传承上师的教言修持,一定可以往生西方极乐世界。

All the violence, fear and suffering that exists in this world come from grasping at the self. What is the use of this great monster for you? If you do not let the self go, there will be no end to suffering. Just as, if you do not release a flame from your hand, you can’t stop it from burning your hand.

— Shantideva

A fresh attitude starts to happen when we look to see that yesterday was yesterday, and now it is gone; today is today and now it is new. It is like that – every hour, every minute is changing. If we stop observing change, then we stop seeing everything as new.

— Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

Suffering is the master that teaches the faults of samsara; it is the direct cause for the practice of compassion and patience; it is the delineation point of dharma; it is the condition for purifying obscurations; it has unfathomable [such good qualities].

— Ngawang Tenzin Norbu

When the mind has willingness, openness, and inspiration and is content and happy, then even some weird sound we experience in meditation becomes pleasant. There are even scientific studies that show how the mental attitude toward a phenomenon determines how you experience it. Your feelings, experiences, emotions, thoughts — things that are not normally considered really good for serious meditation — allow them all to be included. Be open to everything.

— Dza Kilung Rinpoche

The Four Noble Truths
by Khensur Jampa Tegchok Rinpoche

The Buddha “turned the Dharma wheel” — that is, he gave sets of teachings — three times. In the first turning of the Dharma wheel in Varanasi in northern India, he taught the four noble truths. As we saw above in the section on the middling capacity, the four noble truths are true duhkha, true origins, true cessations, and true paths. For each of these four, the Buddha prescribed a particular activity. He said true duhkha — all the unsatisfactory and suffering situations involved in being born under the influence of afflictions and contaminated karma — is to be known and understood. Once we clearly understand the three kinds of duhkha, the natural result is that we will want to be free of them.

The way to be free of them is to eliminate their causes — the afflictive obscurations, which are the afflictions and karma that cause rebirth in samsara without choice. Therefore the Buddha explained true origins, stating, “True origins are to be abandoned.”

When we rid ourselves of the origins of all duhkha, we attain true cessation. By means of meditating on the ultimate nature of reality, the afflictions and defilements that are the origin of all our duhkha can be completely removed from the mind in such a way that they never reappear. Thus the Buddha said true cessation, the third of the four noble truths, is to be actualised or manifested. When all afflictions, their seeds, and the karma that causes rebirth have ceased, we attain liberation, the state of being free of cyclic existence.

Liberation is freedom from all of the duhkha of the six realms of cyclic existence. When we attain liberation, true cessation, which is the extinction of all afflictive obscurations — that is, the nonexistence or purity of the afflictive obscurations — is attained in our mind at the same time. So liberation and cessation come down to the same thing. It is like looking at the same object from different angles.

The way to actualise true cessations is by practising true paths, the fourth of the four noble truths. Thus the Buddha said true paths are to be cultivated and to be meditated on. The main true path is the direct realisation of emptiness. The emptiness of true duhkha is meditated on to abandon afflictions pertaining to true duhkha; the emptiness of true origins is meditated on to abandon afflictions pertaining to true origins, and so on for the rest of the four noble truths. Although there is a slight difference in subtlety between the afflictions pertaining to true duhkha and those pertaining to true origins and in how difficult they are to abandon, there is no difference between the emptiness of those two truths. It is the same with the other truths.

Previously I said that the last two noble truths — true cessation and true path — are the Dharma Jewel that is our real refuge. Now we understand why. Actualising the eradication of duhkha and defilements in our own mindstream and realising the paths leading to that is what protects us from duhkha. There is no other door to peace or nirvana. No external being can protect us in this way.

In the second turning of the Dharma wheel, the Buddha taught such sutras as the Perfection of Wisdom sutras that explain the emptiness of inherent existence. The Heart Sutra that we recite at the beginning of teachings comes from this turning of the Dharma wheel that was done primarily at Vulture’s Peak in Rajragriha, India. In the third turning of the Dharma wheel, the Buddha taught sutras such as the Sutra Unravelling the Thought, in which he taught the tenets that became the Chittamatra system. At that time, he also taught the tathagatagarbha, or buddha nature.

Now those of you who are new to Buddhism also have a basic idea of the Buddhist worldview. While older students will already be familiar with these concepts, it is good to review them. I don’t think you will have much trouble understanding these ideas on an intellectual level because you have had a good education that encourages you to investigate and think about things. You can build on this by reading, studying, attending teachings, and contemplating what you have learned.