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Long Life Initiation of Arya Tara and the Three Principal Paths   – A Dharma Discourse


The Buddha statue stood resplendent as people filed into Buddha Jayanti Park on the beautiful spring day at the close of the Losar week. On February 26, 2012, His Holiness the 102nd Ganden Tri Rinpoche arrived escorted by Geshe Dorji Damdul, Director of Tibet House and circumambulated the stupa in order to consecrate the park.

The proceedings began with the Director expressing the hope that everyone would start the new Tibetan calendar year in an auspicious way. He also pointed out that this was not really a celebration because Tibetans in Tibet were suffering terribly, many committing suicide by self- immolation. Tibetans and Tibetan supporters everywhere were viewing the Tibetan New Year as an occasion to say prayers for them and for those who are mentally prepared to sacrifice their lives to the cause of freedom. By saying prayers and performing virtuous activities, we express our support of all the Tibetans in Tibet.


The Director also thanked the 102nd Ganden Tripa for kindly accepting his invitation to grace this occasion with Teachings on the Three Principal Paths as well as a Long Life Empowerment of Arya Tara.

HH the Ganden Tripa requested everyone to pray in order that the negative thoughts within the minds of the Chinese leaders may be subdued and a peaceful resolution to the Tibetan problem found. He also mentioned that the Buddha prophesied that Buddhism would move North from its place of origin and then back to Central India again, and that part of the responsibility for bringing about world peace lies in the hands of the practitioners of the various traditions. Geshe-la then introduced the main body of the teaching of the Three Principal Paths: renunciation, bodhicitta, and the wisdom of emptiness. 



The Teaching of Three Principal Paths by Lama Tsongkapa and the Graded Path of the Three Levels of Practice by Atisha Dipankara have the same essence explained slightly differently. Regarding renunciation, HH reiterated that not only should we renounce painful experiences, we should also see the drawbacks of pleasant experiences with the understanding that they are within the bounds of samsara. If we feel attached to samsara, we can never be free from it. Bodhicitta is expressive empathy toward others’ pains and the wish that they may achieve the best of the abilities of the Buddha, and thus be able to help all other sentient beings to be free from the fears of samsara. Then he briefly explained about the two systematic methods tocultivate bodhicitta, the awakening mind of enlightenment. Despite having renunciation and bodhicitta, if one is lacking the wisdom to see the interdependence of all phenomena, one will have no escape from the misconception of reality, thus never getting freed from samsara. This ignorance is the final factor in binding us to samsara.

Next, as a part of the Long Life Empowerment, HH the Ganden Tripa gave the bodhisattva vows. He instructed that they were to be received by confessing negativities and rejoicing in the virtue of all others. A compassionate motivation to free all beings from samsara is a pre-condition for taking this vow since the bodhisattva vow is characterized by the commitment to become a perfect being oneself in order to benefit all sentient beings. The Long Life Empowerment was given through the long life pills, the long life nectar, and a protection string. All the gurus in the lineage of the Arya Tara empowerment were visualized. This ended the Teaching and the Arya Tara Long Life Empowerment. There was then an opportunity for the audience to offer khatags. It had been an inspiring morning and the audience departed in gratitude for having been graced with the presence and teachings of the 102nd Ganden Tripa.