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Dalai Lama Teaches in Tokyo on Liberation From Suffering 
By Catherine Pawasarat 

TOKYO-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV of Tibet spoke to a crowd of ---- people on "Wisdom and Compassion" here last Saturday at Tokyo Big Sight in Koto ward, on his second visit ever to Japan. 

The Tibetan leader's visit was sponsored by the Nenbutsu sect of Buddhism for "The First World Buddhist Propagation Conference" held in Kyoto last week. Saturday's talk was sponsored by the Liaison Office of H.H.Daila Lama, Tokyo (Tibet House). Opening and ending with Japanese and Tibetan Buddhist prayers, His Holiness' four-hour talk focused on the causes of human suffering and liberation from such suffering, seen from both philosophical and practical perspectives. 

"Buddhist practice is about realizing that all one's conflicts are due to afflictive emotions, so it's about eliminating these with skill…how to achieve a state of happiness free from such afflictive emotions," he said. Though the word "enemy" usually refers to someone who brings us suffering or destroys our happiness, all Buddhist teachings recognize the human mind-- as the source of illusion causing afflictive emotions--as the real enemy, he said. "If you have the right attitude, even if the whole world becomes your enemy, you cannot be disturbed. But if you don't have peace of mind, even if the whole world is your friend you cannot be happy," he said, noting that the true source of problems lie within oneself. 

All sentient beings experience suffering--of birth, death, sickness, old age, and others arising from thoughts and actions originating in ignorance--the leader. "The 'law of causality' means 'do good and have good, do bad and have bad,'" the Dalai Lama said, adding that the discouragement and dissatisfaction from observing and experiencing suffering should help one to cultivate a strong desire to achieve nirvana, liberation from this state of suffering. Buddhism can be summarized in two basic points, a non-violent way of life and a view of everything--even the self--as interconnected or interdependent, he said. 

According to some schools of Buddhism, "selflessness" refers to no separateness between subject and object, self and other, he said. "We have this strong grasping of the self [as an independent phenomenon], and so we demarcate ourselves from others. Based on this, we development attachment to oneself, one's friends … one's possessions …. and develop hatred towards others, and so we cultivate al faults and wander endlessly in samsaric (illusory) existence," he said. 

Since all sentient beings want to be happy and free from suffering, Buddhism views all sentient beings as the same, which enables one to engage in compassion for a non-violent way of life, he said. To cultivate compassion, he recommended a meditation in which one exchanges one's own position for another's, or meditation on the cause-and-effect relationship. 

When an audience member asked about the potential benefits of blessings from spiritual leaders or offerings to ancestral spirits, the Tibetan leader emphasized that one's own spiritual practice is the most important "The efforts must come from within you-you are your own master. Whether or not I get an illumined mind is on my own shoulders, not on external blessings," he said. 

He added that there is no best, quickest or cheapest method--success requires continuous effort and is not measured in weeks, months or years, but in lifetimes and eons. "It is important to attain mindfulness about one's activities, which requires a certain kind of modesty. I have made a lot of mistakes, everybody makes mistakes. So it's important to have a strong belief that one can make progress," he said. To practice loving kindness and compassion towards others, it is first necessary to practice it towards oneself, he said.

Meditation and other reflection upon suffering is a kind of preparation so that one will not be overtaken by confusion or shock-as is usually the case--when faced with suffering anew, but will simply recognize it as part of human nature. "For example, if there are some people completely intoxicated by wine, we won't be surprised if we see them fighting. In the same way, we humans are intoxicated by delusions, and we know that suffering has this cause, so we're not surprised by such experiences," he said. "I have been seriously trying to cultivate boddhicitta [loving kindness] for 25 years, but I am still a beginner. But I have a little experience," he said.


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