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Explaining Tantra in Tibetan Buddhism at Shuchi-in University
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April 10th 2014
Kyoto, Japan, 10 April 2014 - His Holiness the Dalai Lama began the day by driving from Osaka to Kyoto, where he was warmly received at Shuchi-in University by the Dean, Ven. Suguri Kouzui, who is also Chief Abbot of the Nakayama Dera Temple.
Shuchi-in University traces its origins back to the Shugeishuchi-in or School for Arts and Sciences established in 828 CE in the grounds of the Toji Temple in Kyoto by Kukai or Kobo Daishi, founder of the Shingon Tradition of Japanese Buddhism.
It was the first educational institution in Japan open to students without regard to their social or economic status. The present Shuchi-in University was re-established in its current location in 1949.
“You have requested me to talk about Tibetan secret mantra. Tibetans began to take an interest in Buddhism in the 7th century during the reign of Songtsen Gampo who had taken a Chinese and a Nepalese princess as wives.
With the first ordinations Shantarakshita established the Mulasarvastavadin Vinaya, while philosophically he was a proponent of the Yogachara-svatantrika-madhyamaka view which combined views of both Asanga and Nagarjuna.
He established the Vinaya as the basis of the teachings.
His Holiness explained that Guru Padmasambhava was responsible for eliminating obstacles and today is remembered as the Master in the trio - Abbot (Shantarakshita), Master and King (Trisong Deutsan) - who laid the foundations for Buddhism in Tibet.
As a bhikshu, Shantarakshita upheld the Vinaya himself, his ‘Ornament of Madhyamaka’ indicates that cultivation of bodhichitta as well as an understanding of emptiness were part of his practice, while another of his writings, a small text called ‘Chapter on Reality’ indicate that he also practised Highest Yoga Tantra. In short he was an exemplar of the Nalanda tradition.
Regarding the origin of tantrayana, he said that the Four Noble Truths are the basis of all Buddhist teachings and from them are derived the 37 factors of enlightenment, which are also common to all traditions.
Then in the Sanskrit tradition we find the Perfection of Wisdom teachings that were given on Vulture’s Peak before gatherings that included disciples like Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri and Samantabhadra.
His Holiness clarified that while the First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma dealt with the Four Noble Truths, teachings given in public, for which there is a historical record, the Second Turning deals with the Perfection of Wisdom teachings.
His Holiness stressed that great Indian masters like Nagarjuna and Aryadeva have examined these issues with reason and logic and vouched for the authenticity of the Sanskrit tradition, the practice of the bodhisattva vehicle, the perfection of wisdom vehicle and the vehicle of tantra.
In Highest Yoga Tantra this also involves taking the Buddha’s three bodies, the Truth Body, Complete Enjoyment Body and Emanation Body into the path through the processes of death, intermediate state and rebirth respectively.
He said he had already mentioned Avalokiteshvara’s role as a person participating in the dialogue of the ‘Heart Sutra’, but there is also the aspect of Avalokiteshvara the bodhisattva embodying all the Buddhas’ compassion, much as Manjushri is said to embody all their wisdom.
“Finally, in this place which has a special connection to Kobo Daishi,” His Holiness said, “I’d like to thank you Japanese followers of the Buddha for this opportunity to hold discussions with you,” and presented the Dean with a statue of the Buddha.
He mentioned that followers of all Buddhist sects had attended the talk. He requested His Holiness to maintain his connection with the University because of its strong links to Kobo Daishi. He concluded saying: