Dalai Lama Archives - Rootless Wanderer

Tsangyang Gyatso: the Sixth Dalai Lama

Tsangyang Gyatso, who was enthroned with grand ceremony as the Sixth Dalai Lama on the golden throne in the Potala palace in 1697, was a special Dalai Lama. Born in renowned Nyingma family and brought up at a late age in Gelugpa tradition, Tsangyang Gyatso proved to be an uncomfortable blend of the two traditions. But, leaving aside the unfortunate politics that surrounded his desolate life, Tsangyang Gyatso brought to holy Lhasa and Shol taverns some of the purest and most beautiful lyrics of all times.
Extraordinary as a lover of wine and women, melodious as a singer of love songs and above all, tragic as a national hero of the status of a Dalai Lama, reduced to become a heroic pawn at the hands of the Qosot Lhazang Khan, the Sixth Dalai Lama became a legend within his short lifetime. Worshipped and loved by Tibetan people with stainless faith, Tsangyang Gyatso’s songs became famous in every corner of Tibet receiving once again the fascination of simple folk poetry.

“White crane!
Lend me your wings
I will not fly far
From Lithang, I shall return”

So wrote a desolate and lonely Tsangyang Gyatso (whose name means ‘Ocean of Melodious Songs’), the Sixth Dalai Lama of Tibet, wrote to a lady-friend of his in Shol town in 1706, when he was being forcibly taken away to China by the Mongol soldiers of Qosot Lhazang Khan — away from his people and the Potala palace. No one understood the hidden meaning contained in the song nor did anyone suspect that the young Dalai Lama had decided to end his earthly manifestation and yield the Tibetan spiritual and temporal realm to the care of the next Dalai Lama. But when that very year the sad and shocking news of the ‘disappearance’ or more probably the ‘murder’ of Tsangyang Gyatso at Gunga-Nor lake spread across Tibetan landscape, the secret meaning of last of his many songs dawned on the grief-stricken and bewildered Tibetan masses who dearly longed for his presence during a turbulent turn of history, and anxiously looked towards Lithang for the next incarnation. It may be more correct and safer to state that some of the verses indirectly show his deep knowledge and practice of of tantra, as it is clear from the one song in which he has claimed:

“Never have I slept without a sweetheart
Nor have I spent a single drop of sperm”

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The Dalai Lama’s Secret Temple

The Dalai Lama’s Secret Temple

  • The Dalai Lama's Secret Temple
    The Dalai Lama's Secret Temple
    The Lukhang - "Temple of the Serpent Spirits"
  • The Dalai Lama's Secret Temple
    The Dalai Lama's Secret Temple
    The Lukhang - "Temple of the Serpent Spirits"
  • The Dalai Lama's Secret Temple
    The Dalai Lama's Secret Temple
    The Lukhang - "Temple of the Serpent Spirits"
  • The Dalai Lama's Secret Temple
    The Dalai Lama's Secret Temple
    The Lukhang - "Temple of the Serpent Spirits"
  • The Dalai Lama's Secret Temple
    The Dalai Lama's Secret Temple
    The Lukhang - "Temple of the Serpent Spirits"

Amazing space:

A secret chamber in a 17th -century Tibetan island temple contains murals of astonishing beauty and spiritual significance used to teach Dalai lamas through the ages. Chinese rule opened the island to the public, but even so, few have seen them – including the present Dalai lama.

lan Baker explains THE Lukhang – “Temple of the Serpent Spirits” – rises out of a copse of willows on a lake behind the Potala Palace in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. His Holiness the Dalai Lama refers to this little-known island temple as one of the hidden jewels of Tibetan civilisation. On the top floor, reached by a polished wooden ladder and a trap door, is a small room where the Dalai lamas of Tibet retired for periods of deep meditation. As early as three centuries ago, unknown artists embellished the walls of this secret meditation chamber with extraordinary paintings, unique in the history of Tibetan art. A visual presentation of the spiritual journey, these murals inspired successive incarnations of Dalai lamas on their path to enlightesecrettemple51nment.

Originally, only the Dalai lamas and their close attendants viewed the murals on the Lukhang’s walls, much as the religious themes painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome were intended primarily for the eyes of the popes. Like the Vatican, however, the once sequestered sanctuary is now open to the public. Previously reachable only by boat, pilgrims now cross a Chinese style footbridge and, after circling the small Island, wind their way to the Lukhang’s top chapel. With butter lamps in hand, they circumambulate the sacred chamber, the surrounding murals largely obscured behind protective grills of wood and chicken wire.

The Lukhang’s origins are attributed to mystical visions of the Fifth Dalai Lama who ruled Tibet from 1642 to 1682. Unfortunately, the Great Fifth, as he was known, died before he could fulfil his promise and it was left to his next incarnation – Tsangyang Gyatso – to complete his work. The Sixth Dalai Lama was enthroned in Lhasa in 1697.secrettemple41

Although there are no reliable records concerning the Lukhang’s construction, the design of the original island pavilion is credited to the aesthetic vision of the young Dalai Lama and his mentor, the acting regent Desi Sangye Gyamtso. Reflecting cultural and political influences at the turn of the 17th century, the Lukhang combines elements of Tibetan, Chinese and Mongolian architecture.

Its greatest treasure is the Dalai Lama’s private meditation chamber on the top floor. Whereas many of the Lukhang’s original statues were destroyed during China’s Cultural Revolution, the jewel-like murals that enrich this secret chamber miraculously escaped serious harm. These lyrical and mysterious wall paintings represent a unique moment in Tibetan art history. Nowhere else are the esoteric practices of Tibet’s Tantric tradition so boldly illustrated, and nowhere else has Tibetan art achieved such an extraordinary synthesis of creativity and philosophical depth.

Although Tibetan art encompasses a vast range of historical and religious themes, the mystical practices of the Buddhist Tantras have always been transmitted orally from master to disciple. Only in these murals have the secret yogic teachings been expressed so openly. They offer an unprecedented glimpse of what is often poetically referred to as the “whispered lineage”.

On the northern wall, the murals focus on yogic techniques for transforming the subtle essences of the physical body and developing its inner mandala of chakras and psychic energy channels. The western wall illustrates practices used in the tradition of Dzogchen, the Great Perfection, in which the mind directly perceives its in-dwelling Buddha nature. The portraits of revered Tantric sages that cover the eastern wall celebrate the compassion and spiritual powers that spontaneously arise through practising the methods illustrated on the other two walls. Unsurpassed in Tibetan art, these hidden murals reveal the essence of the Buddhist teachings; their style and composition offer insight into one of Tibet’s greatest periods of artistic innovation.

From “The Dalai Lama’s Secret Temple”,
by lan A. Baker with photographs by Thomas Laird
Thames & Hudson.
The Australian, 28-29 October 2000

Prayer For The Long Life Of His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Gang ri raw ea kor wi zhing kham su!
For this realm encircled by snow-covered mountains

Phan dang de wa ma lus jung wi zhi!
You are the source of every benefit and bliss without exception.

Chan rea zig wang tan zin gya tso yi!
Tenzin Gyaltso, you who are one with Avalokiteshvara,

Zab pad trid thi war du ten gyur chik!
May you remain steadfast until Samsara’s end!

Prayer book with english translation
by LLHHDL.org | For free distribution
 Prayer BOOK.pdf

The Medicine of Altruism

In Tibet we say that many illness can be cured by the one medicine of love and compassion. These qualities are the ultimate source of human happiness, and need for them lies at the very core of our being. Unfortunately, love and compassion have been omitted from too many spheres of social interaction for too long. Usually confined to family and home, their practice in public life is considered impractical, even naïve. This is tragic. In my view point, the practice of compassion is not just a symptom of unrealistic idealism but the most effective way to pursue the best interest of others as well as our own. The more we- as a nation, a group or as individuals – depend upon others, the more it is in our own best interests to ensure their well-being.

Practicing altruism is the real source of compromise and cooperation; merely recognizing our need for harmony is not enough. A mind committed to compassion is like an overflowing reservoir – a constant source of energy, determination and kindness. This is like a seed; when cultivated, gives rise to many other good qualities, such as forgiveness, tolerance, inner strength and the confidence to overcome fear and insecurity. The compassionate mind is like an elixir; it is capable of transforming bad situation into beneficial ones. Therefore, we should not limit our expressions of love and compassion to our family and friends. Nor is the compassion only the responsibility of clergy, health care and social workers. It is the necessary business of every part of the human community.

Whether a conflict lies in the field of politics, business or religion, an altruistic approach is frequently the sole means of resolving it. Sometimes the very concepts we use to meditate a dispute are themselves the cause of the problem. At such times, when a resolution seems impossible, both sides should recall the basic human nature that unites them. This will help break the impasse and, in the long run, make it easier for everyone to attain their goal. Although neither side may be fully satisfied, if both make concessions, at the very least, the danger of further conflict will be averted. We all know that this form of compromise is the most effective way of solving problems – why, then, do we not use it more often?

When I consider the lack of cooperation in human society, I can only conclude that it stems from ignorance of our interdependent nature. I am often moved by the example of small insects, such as bees. The laws of nature dictate that bees work together in order to survive. As a result, they possess an instinctive sense of social responsibility. They have no constitution, laws, police, religion or moral training, but because of their nature they labour faithfully together. Occasionally they may fight, but in general the whole colony survives on the basis of cooperation. Human beings, on the other hand, have constitutions, vast legal systems and police forces; we have religion, remarkable intelligence and a heart with great capacity to love. But despite our many extraordinary qualities, in actual practice we lag behind those small insects; in some ways, I feel we are poorer than the bees.

For instance, millions of people live together in large cities all over the world, but despite this proximity, many are lonely. Some do not have even one human being with whom to share their deepest feelings, and live in a state of perpetual agitation. This is very sad. We are not solitary animals that associate only in order to mate. If we were, why would we build large cities and towns? But even though we are social animals compelled to live together, unfortunately, we lack sense of responsibility towards our fellow humans. Does the fault lies in our social architecture – the basic structures of family and community that support our society? Is it our own external facilities – our machines, science and technology? I do not think so.

I believe that despite the rapid advances made by civilization in this century, the most immediate cause of our present dilemma is our undue emphasis on material development alone. We have become so engrossed in its pursuit that, without even knowing it, we have neglected to foster the most basic human needs of love, kindness, cooperation and caring. If we do not know someone or find another reason for not feeling connected with a particular individual or group, we simply ignore them. But the development of human society is based entirely on people helping each other. Once we have lost the essential humanity that is our foundation, what is the point of pursuing only material improvement.

To me, it is clear: a genuine sense of responsibility can result only if we develop compassion. Only a spontaneous feeling of empathy for others can really motivate us to act on their behalf.

– Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

The Reality of War

Of course, war and the large military establishments are the greatest sources violence in the world. Whether their purpose is defensive or offensive, these vast powerful organizations exist solely to kill human beings. We should think carefully about the reality of war. Most of us have been conditioned to regard military combat as exciting and glamorous – an opportunity for men to prove their competence and courage. Since armies are legal, we feel that war is acceptable; in general, nobody feels that war is criminal or that accepting it is criminal attitude. In fact, we have been brainwashed. War is neither glamorous nor attractive. It is monstrous. Its very nature is one of tragedy and suffering.

War is like a fire in the human community, one whose fuel is living beings. i find this analogy especially appropriate and useful. Modern warfare waged primarily with different forms of fire, but we are so conditioned to see it as thrilling that we talk about this or that marvelous weapon as a remarkable piece of technology without remembering that, if it is actually used, it will burn living people. War also strongly resembles a fire in the way it spreads. If one area gets weak, the commanding officer sends in reinforcements. This is throwing live people onto a fire. But because we have been brainwashed to think this way, we do not consider the suffering of individual soldiers. No soldiers want to be wounded or die. None of his loved ones wants any harm to come to him. If one soldier is killed, or maimed for life, at least another five or ten people – his relatives and friends – suffer as well. We should all be horrified by the extent of this tragedy, but we are too confused.

Frankly as a child, I too was attracted to the military. Their uniform looked so smart and beautiful. But that is exactly how the seduction begins. Children starts playing games that will one day lead them in trouble. There are plenty of exciting games to play and costumes to wear other than those based on the killing of human beings. Again, if we as adults were not so fascinated by war, we would clearly see that to allow our children to become habituated to war games is extremely unfortunate. Some former soldiers have told me that when they shot their first person they felt uncomfortable but as they continued to kill it began to feel quite normal. In time, we can get used to anything.

it is not only during times of war that military establishments are destructive. By their very design, they were the single greatest violators of human rights, and it is the soldiers themselves who suffer most consistently from their abuse. After the officer in charge have given beautiful explanations about the importance of the army, its discipline and the need to conquer the enemy, the rights of the great mass of soldiers are most entirely taken away. They are then compelled to forfeit their individual will, and, in the end, to sacrifice their lives. Moreover, once an army has become a powerful force, there is every risk that it will destroy the happiness of its own country.

There are people with destructive intentions in every society, and the temptation to gain command over an organisation capable of fulfilling their desires can become overwhelming. But no matter how malevolent or evil are the many murderous dictators who can currently oppress their nations and cause international problems, it is obvious that they cannot harm others or destroy countless human lives if they don’t have a military organisation accepted and condoned by society. As long as there are powerful armies there will always be danger of dictatorship. If we really believe dictatorship to be a despicable and destructive form of government, then we must recognize that the existence of a powerful military establishment is one of its main causes.

Militarism is also very expensive. Pursuing peace through military strength places a tremendously wasteful burden on society. Governments spend vast sums on increasingly intricate weapons when, in fact, nobody really wants to use them. Not only money but also valuable energy and human intelligence are squandered, while all that increases is fear.

i want to make it clear, however, that although i am deeply opposed to war, i am not advocating appeasement. it is often necessary to take a strong stand to counter unjust aggression. For instance, it is plain to all of us that the Second World War was entirely justified. It “saved civilization” from the tyranny of Nazi Germany, as Winston Churchill so aptly put it. In my view, the Korean War was also just, since it gave South Korea the chance of gradually developing democracy. But we can only judge whether or not a conflict was vindicated on moral grounds with hindsight. For example, we can now see that during the Cold War, the principle of nuclear deterrence had a certain value. Nevertheless, it is very difficult to assess al such matters with any degree of accuracy. War is violence and violence is unpredictable. Therefore, it is better to avoid it if possible, and never to presume that we know beforehand whether the outcome of a particular war will be beneficial or not.

For instance, in the case of the Cold War, through deterrence may have helped promote stability, it did not create genuine peace. The last forty years in Europe have seen merely the absence of war, which has not been real peace but a facsimile founded dear. At best, building arms to maintain peace serves only as a temporary measure. As long as adversaries do not trust each other, any number of factors can upset the balance of power. Lasting peace can assure secured only on the basis of genuine trust.

– Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama