Dharma Talks: The Teacher and the Diamond Sutra (Part III)

It has been a while!  Here is the final post to a small series I was writing on Dharma Talks.  The posts were inspired by my reading of the Diamond Sutra, so it is fitting that this one brings His Holiness the Dalai Lama and a verse from the Diamond Sutra together!

How should a teacher approach teaching the Dharma?

This question is primarily directed at those we obviously take to be teachers – the ones sitting at the front talking, the ones whose pictures seem to be all over the Buddhist magazines, and the ones we call ‘Roshi’, ‘Sensei,’ ‘Venerable’, and so on.

But the question is wider than this.  It applies to all of us, whether we blog, talk with a friend about Buddhism, sit, stand, walk, or lie down.  The teachings of the Buddha are not just the words we read or hear and so the teaching of Buddhism is not just the speaking or writing about it!

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answers this question.  Before ascending the teacher’s seat, he performs prostrations.  He says, “In so doing, I [am] paying homage to the words of the Buddha that I am going to interpret.  If I were really some very important person, there wold be no need for me to perform such prostrations.  It would be enough for me simply to sit up here and look impressive.  But if the truth be known, I consider myself just a very simple Buddhist monk, a follower of the Buddha who interprets and shares his words.”

He then goes on to say that traditionally, whenever someone takes up the teacher’s seat, they recite this verse from the Diamond Sutra:

Regard all compounded things in this way –
Like stars, hallucinations, and flickering lamps,
Like illusions, dewdrops, and bubbles on water,
Like dream images, flashes of lightning, and clouds.

Why would they recite this?

His Holiness the Dalai Lama goes on: “At that instant, [she] recalls the impermanence of everything; [she] reflects on suffering and brings to mind the lack of identity in things.  Otherwise, when you sit on a throne [teacher’s seat], there is a risk that you might start to feel proud of yourself.  The mind of the one who explains the teaching must be peaceful, tamed, and free from any trace of arrogance and pride.”

With that, I offer these posts on teaching to you.  May we all be teachers of the Buddhadharma!  May we cut through our delusions with wisdom, overturn our pride and arrogance with compassion and loving kindness, and see in our suffering the seeds of peace and happiness!

(Note: The quotes from His Holiness the Dalai Lama can be found in Mind in Comfort and Ease: The Vision  of Enlightenment in the Great Perfection, page 10.  I have made some changes to achieve gender inclusiveness and for explanatory purposes.  These are marked with brackets.  The verse quoted above is from the final chapter of the Diamond Sutra.)

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