BUDDHIST TEACHINGS AT DHARMA FESTIVAL AT GAUNTS, 11TH-15TH JULY 

DR DECHEN ROCHARD


Wednesday 11 July

 15.30–17.00   Session 1: Introduction to Buddhist Meditation

 In this session Dechen will highlight the most fundamental qualities of human nature and explore in particular the relationship between love and compassion. She will introduce two quite simple Buddhist meditation practices that can be of benefit to anyone who wishes to develop inner peace:

(a) Mindfulness of Breathing

(b) Generating Loving-Kindness

The group will engage in each meditation practice for about 20 minutes, with a break for discussion in between sessions. Those who wish to can then engage in these practices during the early morning meditation sessions of this Dharma Festival without further guidance.

 

The first step in the practice of loving-kindness is to generate loving-kindness towards oneself. The next step is to direct that loving-kindness towards others (friend, stranger, enemy) so that one may gradually “love one’s neighbour as oneself.” Here one uses oneself as an example for every other living being. This approach is common to all Buddhist traditions. It is explicitly found in Theravāda texts where the Buddha is quoted as saying:

 

I visited all quarters with my mind

Nor found I any dearer than myself;

Self is likewise to every other dear;

Who loves himself will never harm another.[1]

Thursday 12 July

 

10.30–12.00   Session 2: Eight Verses of Mind Training, v.1–2

                       

“The Eight Verses of Mind Training” by Geshe Langri Thangpa is a Mahāyāna text, which develops the practice of loving-kindness even further. The teachings here are not to be taken as self-denigrating but as other-elevating.

 

1)      By thinking of all sentient beings

As more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel

For accomplishing the highest aim

I will always hold them dear.

 

2)     Whenever I’m in the company of others,

I will regard myself as the lowest among all,

And from the depths of my heart

Cherish others as supreme.

 

15.30–17.00   Session 3: Eight Verses of Mind Training, v.3–4

 

Commentary on “The Eight Verses of Mind Training” continued:

 

3)     In my every action, I will watch my mind,

And the moment destructive emotions arise,

I will confront them strongly and avert them,

Since they will hurt both me and others.

 

4)     Whenever I see ill-natured beings,

Or those overwhelmed by heavy misdeeds or suffering,

I will cherish them as something rare,

As though I had found a priceless treasure.

Friday 13 July

 

10.30–12.00   Session 4: Eight Verses of Mind Training, v.5–6

 

                        Commentary on “The Eight Verses of Mind Training” continued:

 

5)     Whenever someone out of envy

Does me wrong by attacking or belittling me,

I will take defeat upon myself,

And give the victory to others.

 

6)     Even when someone I have helped

Or in whom I have placed great hopes

Mistreats me very unjustly,

I will view that person as a true spiritual teacher.

 

15.30–17.00   Session 5:  Eight Verses of Mind Training, v.7–8

 

Commentary on “The Eight Verses of Mind Training” continued:

 

7)     In brief, directly or indirectly,

I will offer help and happiness to all my mothers,

And secretly take upon myself

All their hurt and suffering.

 

8)     I will learn to keep all these practices

Untainted by thoughts of the eight worldly concerns.

May I recognize all things as like illusions,

And, without attachment, gain freedom from bondage.

 

 

Saturday 14 July

 

10.30–12.00   Session 6: Praises to the Twenty-One Taras, v.1–7

 

The Praises to the Twenty-One Taras is a devotional practice focusing on Tara, the swift liberator, who is a female embodiment of enlightened activity. It includes visualisation of the Twenty-One Taras and recitation of their praises, which allows one to cultivate one’s imagination as well as one’s devotion. The main aim of this practice is to bring one closer to developing the inner qualities of enlightenment. As a secondary aim, since Tara is believed to be so powerful, this recitation may also be used for protection in life as well as death.

 

In this session, Dechen will offer some commentary on the refuge prayers and on the first seven verses of the Praises to the Twenty-One Taras. To conclude, the group will recite the Praises together in English and chant the Tara mantra together in Sanskrit:

OM TARE TUTARE TURE SOHA

 

 15.30–17.00   Session 7: Praises to the Twenty-One Taras, v.8–14

           

Commentary on the Praises to the Twenty-One Taras continued. This session will also include some discussion, and conclude with recitation as before.

 

Sunday 15 July

 

10.30–12.00   Session 8: Praises to the Twenty-One Taras, v.15–21

 

Commentary on the Praises to the Twenty-One Taras continued. This session will also include some discussion, and conclude with recitation as before. Dechen will close this final teaching session of the Dharma Festival with special dedications, for which participants are welcome to submit written requests.



[1] S.i, 75; Ud. 47: SabbŒ disŒ anuparigamma cetasŒ / NevajjhagŒ piyataramattanŒ kvaci / Evaµ piyo puthu attŒ paresaµ / TasmŒ na hiµse paraµ attakŒmoti //