Columbia Heights Interfaith Prayer Breakfast

May 1, 2018

Good morning. My name is Taksham Tulku Jalue Dorjee. I attend 5th grade at Highland Elementary. I would like to say thank you for inviting me today to Mayor Donna Schmitt, city council members, county sheriffs, police officers, firefighters, and brothers and sisters who are all gathered here this morning for a warm, wonderful prayer breakfast for our city and the rest of the world. 

I am a Buddhist monk. I am young, and I am very humbled and deeply moved that I was invited by Mayor Donna Schmitt and that all of you trust me to share some time with you in prayer. 

I was born in the United States in the state of Minnesota and in the city of Columbia Heights. When I was two years old, I was recognized by His Holiness the Great Fourteenth Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of a spiritual teacher important to Tibetans. I was recognized as the rebirth of the eighth Taksham Tulku who was both the teacher and student of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama. 

I have a nonprofit organization called Nyingmapa Taksham Buddhist Center, its opening ceremony was in April 2016. It is not that fancy; our meditation center meets in our home where we host meditation practices where people pray for world peace and happiness for all living beings. 

Starting in 2018, we will collect food and clothing for the homeless and needy and donate it to the Catholic Charities, Salvation Army, and The Epilepsy Foundation. 

I am receiving the traditional monastic education that a teacher of Tibetan Buddhism would receive, including Tibetan history, Buddhist philosophy, and ritual education from my father. My father used to be a monk in Tibet and Nepal and studied Buddhist philosophy and trained in Buddhist ritual for many years. He works a lot in a simple job as his English is not the best. But, every morning before school he takes time to teach me what he knows. 

We chant together, pray together, and meditate together every day. I am lucky that my father was trained as a scholar and practitioner so that he can teach me. I hope when I am older that I can teach meditation, world peace, and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy to benefit all living beings, as well as studying science of the mind. 

Now I will talk a little bit about T ibetan Buddhism. Buddhism was taught by the enlightened Buddha about 2500 years ago. The original teachings of Buddhism have been passed down from teacher to disciple via the oral tradition and experiential transmission from Buddha’s time until now. 

When students receive these teachings, they study well by contemplating the meaning and applying it in actual practice. From this contemplation and meditation, they get a great deal of benefit such as inner peace and happiness.

The message of Buddha’s teachings is based on nonviolence. We train our minds to practice compassion, loving-kindness, joy, and equanimity. These four positive qualities are innate to our nature. But due to our ignorance, the qualities are not fully activated. When we meditate, we are activating the qualities within ourselves. 

We can generate via our meditation practice, compassion and loving-kindness to benefit all living beings. We focus our mind on compassion and concentrate it toward all beings who are suffering from sickness, depression, anxiety, and so forth. 

We remind ourselves in our meditation practice that we should love others as we love ourselves and care for them with the same care for them with the same kindness as we would care for our own children. In this way, if we train our mind via our spiritual practice, we can develop and maintain these healthy qualities and never harm other living beings. 

The essence of Buddhist philosophy can be summarized in two main points. The first is compassion and the second is wisdom. We train in compassion by being kind, loving, and caring for all living beings equally, as we would care for our own family. 

We should experience joy when we see or hear that other people have good lives, healthy, or are successful. Try not to be jealous of the happiness of others.
If we realize that all beings are the same in wishing for happiness, like we wish for happiness, and that they also don’t want to suffer like we don’t want to suffer, then we can train our mind in equanimity. Training our mind this way, we let go of aversion toward some and attachment toward others. 

This type of impartial or unconditional compassion and loving kindness is how
we grow our wisdom and can be benefit to others in this world. Otherwise all sorts of problems arise because of our attachment to ourselves or toward our loved ones. 

When we only cherish our own happiness, suffering arises. Buddha taught us to cherish others by realizing that they are the same as we are; they wish for happiness for happiness and want to avoid suffering. Once we realize that all have the same wishes as we do, we can see the wisdom of practicing the
four immeasurables: immeasurable compassion, immeasurable loving-kindness, immeasurable joy, and immeasurable equanimity.

Immeasurable means unlimited or unconditioned. These qualities are not limited to only those we feel close to and we give rise to them without a second thought. We just do it.

To condense the meaning of these four qualities, we can say we should have a kind heart and care for all living beings.

Besides training our mind in the four immeasurable qualities of compassion, loving kindness, joy, and equanimity, the essence of Buddhist philosophy is the union of emptiness and interdependent origination. This is Buddhist wisdom. All phenomena arise due to causes and conditions that are dependent on each other. For anything to function in this world, it needs or depends on others. Nothing just arises by itself, independent of everything. The wisdom of Buddhist philosophy is to recognize the interconnected nature of all living beings and our shared environment.

This understanding or wisdom of interdependence is the center of the Buddhist science of mind. Because we see and appreciate the interconnectedness of all living beings, we work toward global peace and harmony via all of our actions of body, speech, and mind.

Thank you.