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Dalai Lama: Achieving a state of emptiness eliminates suffering

April 21, 2008

Posted by anash April 19, 2008

There is joy in emptiness.

Not in an empty feeling, but in casting aside the attachment to everyday
things and worries, as outlined in the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.

That was among the many messages that came from his Holiness The 14th
Dalai Lama as he spoke during a pair of two-hour teaching sessions on
"Engaging Wisdom and Compassion" Saturday at Crisler Arena.

The lessons resonated with the crowd on various levels.

Longtime Buddhist practitioners or followers enjoyed hearing the Dalai
Lama's interpretations of the teachings of Arya Nagarjuna, a second
century teacher known as the "second Buddha," while others connected
with the general message of rejecting self-absorption in favor of
tolerance and compassion.

The first talk dealt in part with the four noble truths, which note that
the origin of suffering is attachment, but also outlines the path to
cessation of such suffering.

After some opening remarks in the first session The Dalai Lama spoke
through longtime translator Thupten Jinpa.

His Holiness spoke of "self-grasping," or the attachment to impermanent
things or thoughts, which gives rise to suffering.

The Dalai Lama advised practicing loving kindness to eliminate such
afflictions. The ultimate goal, he said is "cultivating the wisdom of no
self," a sense of grand emptiness that leaves behind everyday pollutants
that can take both physical or emotional form.

Reporter Geoff Larcom can be reached at 734-994-6838 or

People who attended the talks said that the message offered an element
of hope.

Hartmut Sagolla, a program coordinator for Jewel Heart, an Ann Arbor
Tibetan Buddhist learning center that helped organized the event, said
the teaching underscored that ending such suffering is possible for
anybody who wants to do so.

"It was very moving for me," Sagolla said.

"The essence was not to grasp onto anything," said Joseph Mold, a
Buddhist from Toledo who attended the event. "That leads to suffering."

To Mold, the message was simple: To be empty means harboring neither
hate nor desire and being happy with who you are and where you are.

Amid such instruction, others noted the underlying message of tolerance
for other faiths.

James Williams, a former pastor on Mackinac Island who was in the
audience, noted how the Dalai Lama advised people to stick to one
tradition, but be open to the teachings of others. The Dalai Lama urged
people to find reality where they are, but noted others may walk a
different path to that same reality, Williams said.

Suzanne Siegel, who came from Kalamazoo to attend the teachings, said
she appreciated the Dalai Lama's "welcoming, embracing" attitude he
projects to everyone.

"He is always very vigilant in making sure he acknowledges the value of
other peoples' religions and philosophies," she said.

The second teaching session dug further into the teachings of Nagarjuna.
Jinpa repeated the Dalai Lama's recitations and clarifications from the
text in a more advanced presentation.
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