This is from the transcript I made of teachings His Holiness gave on Nagarjuna’s Precious Garland at UCLA in 1997. I believe I posted part of this before, but it well worth re-posting and rereading. In this passage, the Dalai Lama talks about the importance of having the right motivation on the part of both teacher and student.
These are also useful guidelines for bloggers to keep in mind. I have not come across much discussion about the role of motivation in “Buddhist” blogging. Our egos are just bundles of thoughts, and it is very easy to fall into the trap of self-aggrandizing one’s thoughts, or writing ability, level of education, or assume some of the other self-driven attitudes that the Dalai Lama describes:
So the explanations I’ve given so far, on the basic tenets of Buddhism and the basic framework of the Buddhist path, are based on the explanations given by great masters like Nagarjuna and other true masters of India. And the explanations given, in their words, should not be viewed only in academic terms, as some sort of scholarly exposition, but they also reflect insights which come from the personal experiences of these great masters.
For example, in my own case, although I don’t claim to have any profound experience or realizations of these facts that the great masters are talking about, I can assure you, that from my own personal experience, as a result of continued persistence, that what is taught in these scriptures is truly powerful.
These teachings can make a difference and they can have an impact on your mind, in the sense that they can bring about an inner-change, a transformation.
One thing I realize as I’m here, so far as the potential for developing within us the wisdom penetrating into the true nature of reality is concerned, we are all absolutely equal. Everybody has these potentials. The question is whether one recognizes that fact and whether one utilizes or develops these potentials. That is entirely in the hands of the individual, but if one recognizes this fundamental fact of equality, the possession of the potential, and utilizes that knowledge, then each of us has a real chance of bringing about real spiritual change within us.
I would like to remind all of you who consider yourself practicing Buddhists to reflect upon the point raised in the sutra that we should relate to the teachings in the scriptures like the mirror. We should see our own thoughts, feeling, actions, and so on reflected in the mirror and constantly judge to what extent of thoughts, feelings, behavior, and motivation are close to that reality reflected in the mirror, or to what extent they are deviating from the scriptures, and it is through that constant comparison and checking that you should adopt the practice.
It is very important for practicing Buddhists to unsure the right kind of attitude and motivation, particularly when participating in a teaching or a lecture like this. For example, if my motivation as a teacher is colored by considerations or thinking that if I give this series of lectures I’ll be famous or that you’ll be impressed by my teaching skills or people will have high regards for me – or worse, if I am motivated by considerations of monetary gain – then of course, on the surface it may seem a spiritual work but in substance it becomes another act for accumulating non-virtuous merit. Similarly, on the part of the students, if your motivations are influenced by considerations like “If I attend these teachings I will increase my knowledge of Buddhism, I will become an expert, I will be able to impress other people, I will be able to write and be famous – such considerations are flawed. In such a case, what you are doing here may seem like a dharma activity but, in reality, it is a non-dharma activity.
Therefore it is very important for us practicing Buddhist to always reflect upon such profound thoughts, such altruistic thoughts like the ones we find in the beginning of the first verse of the Eight Verses on Training the Mind which state, “Whenever I am with others, may I always see myself as lower than others, from the depth of my heart may I always take others as dear and precious.”
It is quite rare, for us as individuals, to engage in the practice of dharma. So when we do find ourselves engaging in a dharma activity, it is all the more important to make sure that it really becomes a dharma activity. Now, behind me are a lot of Tankas of Buddha Shakyamuni. If they are displayed as an object of veneration, admiration, and faith, then that is wonderful. But if they are displayed here a part of a decoration, then I thing that is wrong, sot the point is that we should constantly check our motivation in whatever we do.