The Benefits of the Study Programs
By Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
The following is a transcript of a talk given by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso on the occasion of the inauguration of the Foundation Program at Tara Centre, England, October 1990.
“Beginning the Foundation Program at a Centre presents us with a great opportunity because this Program fulfills both our own and others’ wishes...
Fulfilling Our Own Wishes
How does the Foundation Program fulfil our own wishes? By increasing our wisdom and our experience of Dharma. With wisdom and Dharma experience we can solve all the problems we encounter in daily life and we can protect ourselves from danger in the future. Since beginningless time we have had strong, bad habits that arise from our self-grasping and self-cherishing. We all want to better ourselves and to be happy and successful in life, but our bad habits lead us in the opposite direction. Instead of finding happiness we create the cause of more suffering. None of us wants to suffer and yet, because of our bad habits, we are continually strengthening our deluded minds, which are the cause of all our suffering. With wisdom and Dharma experience we can bring our deluded minds under control. We can reduce our attachment, anger, jealousy, and so forth, and subdue our self-grasping and self- cherishing.
By controlling our deluded minds, we will come to experience permanent peace day and night. We will bring about a permanent cessation of human problems in particular and of samsaric problems in general. In this way we will become our own protectors. With wisdom and Dharma experience we will also become our own doctors. Whether we are young or old, rich or poor, famous or of humble origins, without choice we all have to experience mental pain. Within one day we experience mental pain and discomfort many times, sometimes due to unpleasant circumstances and sometimes due to other people, even our friends. Sometimes for no apparent reason unhappiness, disappointment, dissatisfaction, or pain arise naturally due to the ripening of karmic imprints. We need a remedy for this pain. No one else can give us medicine that will relieve this type of pain, we have to become our own karma-doctor and cure ourselves through Dharma experience.
By increasing our wisdom and Dharma experience we will gradually solve all our problems and eventually we will achieve the ultimate happiness of full enlightenment, the bliss of Buddhahood. This is how the Foundation Program can fulfil our own wishes.
Fulfilling Others’ Wishes
How does the Foundation Program fulfil the wishes of others? If we increase our wisdom and Dharma experience, we can give teachings and spiritual advice to others and set a good example for them to follow. In this way we can lead others into spiritual paths. Generally, everyone, whether Buddhist or non-Buddhist, religious or non-religious, wants to help others.
For example, everyone naturally wants to help their parents, children, and friends, but the kind of help we can give is quite limited. Usually we give only material help, trying to improve the samsaric conditions and enjoyments of others. It is possible that this kind of help will produce some temporary benefit, but it does not produce any lasting benefit. Moreover, if we act without wisdom, Dharma experience, clairvoyance, skillful means, patience, and so forth, we cannot be certain that our actions are actually beneficial. Addressing ourselves to the short-term needs of others may be beneficial, but equally it may be harmful. We have no way of knowing.