Master Shantideva was born to the west of Bodhgaya, the Seat of the Diamond, in a place called Yulkor Mosang. His father was a king named Armor of Virtue, and his mother was said to be an emanation of Vajra Yogini, the Angel of Diamond. He was able to choose the details of his birth, and when he was born he was given the name Armor of Peace. In his childhood he had all the favorable conditions that he needed, and from his earliest age he revealed himself to be a master of the traditional philosophical and other sciences. When he was six years old he met a great practitioner of the secret teachings, and received an initiation and a practice for reaching the enlightened being named Manjushri, or Gentle Voice. As a child he made great efforts in this practice, doing its meditations and reciting its secret words, and was soon able to meet Gentle Voice himself. After meeting this holy being, Master Shantideva was able to receive many teachings from him directly. When his father the King passed away, all the people of the land requested Prince Shantideva to be King. Because he had practiced the bodhisattva path in many previous lives, he had no desire to live a life of royalty, but so as not to upset the people he agreed. The night before his crowning ceremony though he had a dream. In the dream he saw Gentle Voice sitting on the King’s throne, and He said, “Son, this is my seat and I am your Teacher. It would be improper for us to sit on the same seat.” Upon waking he realized that it was wrong for him to enjoy the pleasures of owning a kingdom, and he ran away.
Master Shantideva first went to Nalandra Monastery where he met the supreme leader of all the learned scholars there. His name was Angel of Virtue, and from this teacher he took the commitment to leave the home life. It also was from this master that he received the name Shantideva, which means “Angel of Peace.” At the monastery he served his preceptor well, studied the three collections of scripture, and became a great scholar. He continued to receive many teachings from Gentle Voice himself, and was able to grasp the meaning of all the Buddha’s teachings, both open and secret. He eliminated all the different kinds of distraction, both inner and outer, and with this incredible focus of mind he reached a very high spiritual level. He then composed the works entitled the Compendium of Trainings, the Compendium of the Sutras, and other books which describe the amazingly powerful and effective way of the life of a bodhisattva. Master Shantideva perfected within himself the three characteristics of a great Buddhist master—teaching, debating, and writing—and continued to rise up all the spiritual levels and paths. He achieved the ability to remember everything he had ever been taught, the ability to perform miracles effortlessly, and incredible clairvoyance; thus he became a god among bodhisattvas. This was his inner life, but to the eyes of impure people Shantideva seemed to be interested in only three things: eating, sleeping, and going to the toilet. He thus became known by the name Bhusuku, which means “Mister Three Thoughts.” Because the only fitting activity for a man who has left the home life is to involve himself in teaching, some of the monks who could not see who he really was perceived Master Shantideva as someone who was just living off the kindness of the laypeople, and decided that they should expel him from the monastery. They asked him to recite a scripture from memory before a gathering of the monastery, hoping that their request would cause him to decide to leave on his own. He answered them by saying, “How could someone like me ever be able to recite scripture?” and declined. However they insisted that he do so, and eventually he agreed.
The entire monastery was then invited to this gathering, and a very high throne was set up, one without any stairs—so there was no way for anyone to climb atop it. But when the bodhisattva Shantideva reached the front of the throne, he touched it gently, and without the slightest effort he appeared sitting on top of it. He then asked and said, “Would you like me to recite something you have heard before, or something which you have never heard?” The assembly asked that he recite something that they had not heard before, and so he began to recite that book which we call the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life. He began at the very beginning of the text, and by the time he had gotten about a third of the way through the ninth chapter he began to rise up into the sky. He rose higher and higher, and it seemed as though the sky and his knowledge were pitted in competition, until he could no longer be seen at all, only heard. Then he totally disappeared.
Later on some of the monks who had clairvoyance of the ear, and others who were masters of total recall, pieced the whole book together. The group who were from Kashmir said that it had nine chapters, and the group from central India said it had ten. People then began to get curious about two of his other books which were mentioned in the fifth chapter of the Guide, and so they sent two monks to the place where Master Shantideva was living. They travelled to a stupa in the south of India called Pelyun Chen to invite him to come back to Nalandra. The master refused to come, but he did tell them that the people from central India were correct, and that the two books they sought could be found written in tiny letters hidden in the rafters of his old room at the monastery. He then gave these monks a complete explanation of the both the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life and the Compendium of Trainings. Later Master Shantideva was wondering what he could do to help others, and so he decided to check with his clairvoyance. He saw in the east a great many people whose lives were disturbed by a terrible dispute and, seeing that he could help, set off in their direction. While he was there he acted as the opponent of the great argument maker who was causing all the trouble, and with his great powers he was able to bring everyone back together. He then thought to himself, “What further could I do to benefit people?” The idea then came to him that he should travel to the kingdom of Magada in order to help the people living there who had fallen into the chasm of wrong views. When he arrived, he found a great many people who had extremely weird wrong views, and he decided to stay with them for some time. One day, due to his extraordinary power and to the purity of the prayers these people had made in their past lives, there occurred an enormous blizzard. The storm lasted for seven days, and the community ran out of food and drink. They began to go crazy, and decided that whoever was able to come up with something to eat and drink would become their leader. The bodhisattva Shantideva was miraculously able to fill a single alms bowl with rice, and from it fed everybody in the community. As their leader he was then able to demolish their wrong views, and lead them into the Buddha’s teachings. Master Shantideva next checked with his clairvoyance to see who else needed help. He saw many people suffering from a famine, in desperate need of help, and thousands about to die. He provided these people with sustenance, taught them the teachings of the Buddha, and thus brought them to happiness. Then the great bodhisattva thought to himself, “What could I do to help the teachings of the Buddha?” He saw that if he were to assist a certain king it would aid many people. He journeyed to the crossroads near his palace, and began to assess the situation. He found a great crowd of mighty, but merciless people. There were a lot of them gathered already, and many others like them on their way. These people were aware of the king’s great wealth, and this fact was causing the king much distress. He thought that if he were to use all of his wealth to pay off these people, then having obtained the kingdom would be of no point; but also that if he did not, then they would surely separate his mind from his body. Master Shantideva took a liking to the king, and arranged to be his bodyguard. Because he had limitless power and might, he was able to overpower all of the evil people, and put the king and his people at ease. During all this time Master Shantideva had no weapon other than a single wooden sword, a sword resembling the sword of Gentle Voice.
The whole kingdom began to develop great faith and respect for Master Shantideva, and made many offerings to him. But there was one man who was very jealous of him, and could not bear all of his success. He went to the king and told him that Master Shantideva was a devious man. He told the king that Shantideva had nothing more then a wooden sword, and that he would never be able to protect him if anything happened. He said to the king, “This man is a deceiving you. Even his sword is nothing more than wood, and so he could never be able to guard your body”; and advised the king to investigate. The king became angered, went to Master Shantideva, and told him to take his sword out of its scabbard. The bodhisattva replied saying, “Your Highness will be hurt if I do so,” but the king told him to do it anyway, whether it hurt him or not. Master Shantideva then said to him, “I agree then to take it out, but I advise Your Highness to cover one of your eyes. The king covered one eye as instructed, and when the great bodhisattva pulled out the sword, it blazed with such a light that the king’s exposed eye was blinded. The King apologized, took refuge in Master Shantideva, and entered into the teachings of the Buddha.
After this Master Shantideva thought to himself, “What next can I do to be of help to others?” He checked with his clairvoyance, and saw there were many non-Buddhists who opposed the Teachings and needed to be subdued. He went to where they lived in the south, and dressed himself as a beggar. One day a servant of the King saw him and noticed that drops of water which touched his body instantly began to boil.
There was a non-Buddhist teacher living in this land who decided that he wanted to compete with a Buddhist in miraculous powers. He made a deal with the king that whoever lost this competition would have to convert to the other’s religion, and that the winner could burn all of the monasteries and books of the loser’s religion. The King could find no one of the Buddhist community who would agree to these conditions, and he grieved. Then the servant who had seen the miracle with Master Shantideva told him about it.
The King sent out messengers to seek him, and to beg for his help in defeating the non-Buddhist teacher.
The bodhisattva Shantideva told them that he would be able to help, and that they should prepare a large bowl of water, two bolts of cloth, and a fire. On the day of the competition the whole kingdom gathered, and a throne was prepared for the King. The two opponents began their debates, and because of the power of Master Shantideva’s reasoning and scriptural knowledge, his opponent was unable to even respond. Because of this he thought he’d try to win with his miraculous powers instead, and so he began to draw the secret world of a powerful Hindu god in the sky. But before he had finished drawing even its eastern side, the bodhisattva Shantideva went into a deep meditation on the element of wind and brought about a great storm which began to tear apart the entire area. The King, Queen, and the others assembled ran for cover, and the non- Buddhist teacher and his secret world were thrown about in every direction, like sparrows caught in a hurricane. A great darkness descended upon all the land, and Master Shantideva sent rays of light out from a spot between his eyes to light the way for the King and the Queen. Their clothes had been ripped off and they were covered in dust, so the great bodhisattva bathed them in the water from the bowl, dressed them in the cloth, and put them near the fire, where they could warm themselves.
Master Shantideva’s activities were exclusively dedicated to the benefit of living beings, and to helping the Buddha’s teachings. Everything he did was meant to express the truth of the saying: “Men are like the mango fruit. Sometimes they look ripe on the outside, but are not ripe on the inside. Others are ripe on the inside, but don’t look ripe on the outside. Some look and are ripe both inside and out, and others that don’t look ripe truly are not.” For people like us who haven’t seen emptiness directly, it is very difficult to judge another’s mind. Generally speaking then we should never allow ourselves to think that anyone at all has any bad qualities, and we should realize more specifically that criticizing anyone who has entered the Buddha’s teachings is like playing near a pit of embers concealed in ash. It is important that we not criticize other people, and to try to see all things as pure. It is to express this fact that Master Shantideva lived the way that he did.
He also taught us by example many other lessons. Never be satisfied with wrong or partial paths. Train yourself in paths which are complete. Practice what is taught in this bodhisattva’s books. If you take Gentle Voice as your personal Angel, you will be able to achieve all wonderful qualities. It isn’t fitting to put any faith in books which can’t bring you to total enlightenment. The only entry point for those who wish for freedom is the teachings of Enlightened Beings. So if you wish to practice the teachings of the steps of the path to enlightenment, make supplication to this great bodhisattva; and learn about, contemplate, and meditate on his words.
The following selections are taken from the Entry Point for Children of the Victorious Buddhas (rGyal-sras ‘jug-ngogs), a commentary by Gyaltsab Je Darma Rinchen (1364-1432) on the book called Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Byang-chub-sems-dpa’i spyod-pa la ‘jug-pa) by Master Shantideva (c. 700 AD).
Herein contained is the
Entry Point for Children of the Victorious Buddha
a commentary upon the
Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life.
With deep respect I bow down to the feet of the revered ones,
the holy ones, to those who possess great compassion!
To those whose knowledge has eliminated all bad qualities
And rises high in the sky of the ether of phenomena
As a sun disc of the four holy bodies
Blazing with the glory of the marks and signs;
To those who by their great compassion,
Beam out to an endless number of beings
The immaculate light rays of holy speech
Which possesses sixty wonderful qualities;
To those who dispel the darkness
Of infinite living creatures
Spontaneously in an unbroken stream
Of pure and holy activities;
With great respect I bow down to them,
To the feet of the Lords of the Able,
To my Lamas, to all great beings,
And to He who is of Gentle Voice.
In accordance with the positions
Which the great masters hold to be true,
I shall write about the meaning of the words
In the Guide to the Way of Holy Children
So that it may always be familiar to me
In the string of my future lives,
And with the thought that it may also be helpful
To others who share such an interest.
Those of you who are bound by the noose
Of holding wrong views as supreme
Who say you needn’t realize profound suchness
In order to reach lower enlightenments:
Listen carefully all of you people
Who teach this mistaken position!
First, the Lord of the Able Ones developed the wish to achieve supreme enlightenment. Then over many countless eons he worked to complete the two collections [of goodness and of wisdom) by carrying out the activities of giving and the other perfections. Finally he reached total enlightenment and turned the wheel of the Dharma in three stages.
The Buddha first turned the wheel by teaching the Four Truths of Realization three times through in twelve different aspects. From this teaching on the Four Truths alone, some disciples who belonged to the class of Listeners and whose minds were ripe grasped the meaning of dependent origination, free from the extreme of thinking of things as self-existent. It has been explained by the savior Nagarjuna in his treatises, and by Master Chandrakirti in his work on the Commentary on the Sixty Verses on Reasoning, that the scriptures of the Lower Way even describe explicitly the most subtle form of selflessness on many occasions. The second time the Buddha turned the wheel he taught in great detail about the selflessness of both the person and phenomena as is found in the brief, medium-length and extensive sutras on the Perfection of Wisdom, as well as in other works. The third time he turned the wheel he gave the teaching of the Cycle of No Return which deals extensively with the subject of method.
What I am going to explain is the holy Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life which, in general, comments upon the true intent of all the speech of the Buddhas, the highest of all spoken word. More particularly, however, this book thoroughly explains the true intent of the scriptures of the Greater Way. In so doing, it establishes in detail how every instance of the Buddhas’ speech is a part of a path to reach enlightenment which can be put into practice by any particular person who belongs to the family of the Greater Way. The author of this treatise is that master and realized being, Shantideva, who had perfectly understood the true meaning of every instance of the highest form of the spoken word. Master Shantideva was possessed of the great compassion which treasures others more than oneself, and he totally lost himself to helping others and making them happy; he was completely free of the tendency of thinking only of his own happiness. More specifically, he was a being who succeeded in employing the activities of extreme non- conceptualization found in the Unsurpassable group of secret teachings, and so brought the path of the Greater Way to its ultimate conclusion. The book which he wrote, the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, has four major sections: the meaning of the title, the translator’s obeisance, the meaning of the body of the text, and some concluding remarks.
Meaning of the Title
The title of this book in Sanskrit, one of the four great languages of ancient India, is Bodhisattvacharyavatara. The meaning of this title can be explained in the following way. The word bodhi [jang-chub in Tibetan) means “enlightenment,” the word sattva (sempa) means “warrior,” charya [chupa] means “activities,” and avatara [jukpa] means “to enter.”
Here begins the first bampo:
I bow down to all Buddhas and bodhisattvas!
The purpose of including the line which contains the words “Buddhas and…” is to indicate which section of the scriptures this book is included into. This involves preventing obstacles to the translation, and serves to help you realize that even through this is a commentary upon all of the collections of scripture, it focuses mainly upon the sutra collection.
The words which indicate the beginning of the first bampo, or major textual division, are easy to understand, and thus require no commentary.
Meaning of the Body of the Text
I will explain the meaning of the body of the text in two main parts: first will be an explanation of the preliminaries which precede an explanation of the steps of the path of the greater way, and then the actual explanation of the steps themselves.
The preliminaries to the actual explanation will be in three sections: Master Shantideva’s offering of praise, his pledge to compose the work, and then finally words to prevent pride arising, along with the reasons why he takes joy in composing this work.
The offering of praise can be explained in three parts: its purpose, what it includes, and its wording itself. It begins as follows:
I bow down with great respect
To Those Who Have Gone to Well-Being—
Those who possess the Dharma Body—
And to all of their sons and daughters,
And all others worthy of prostration!
The reason why Shantideva here expresses the wonderful spiritual qualities of an extraordinary being, and why he goes for refuge, is so that other people will understand that he is himself a holy person. Another reason he does so is to prevent any obstacles which may come up as he is writing this book, or in any of his other endeavors. His ultimate purpose is that he may achieve definite good, and that by following in his footsteps other disciples will also be able to achieve every single good thing that there is.
This verse shows us that Master Shantideva in bowing down to the Three Jewels, as well as to everyone else who is worthy of being prostrated to. The Sanskrit word Sugata [Those Who have Gone to Well-Being] can be explained in two ways. We can explain it in reference to either the things which an Enlightened Being has eliminated, or in reference to the things which he or she has realized.
First I will explain it in terms of that excellent virtue an Enlightened Being possess of having totally eliminated every single bad quality there is. Because an Enlightened Being has completely cleaned Himself of all the obstacles which are related to bad thoughts, we can say that he has gone well, or beautifully, and is like someone who has an well-formed body. Because he will never have to return back to this cycle of suffering life by force of things poisoned with the afflictions of the mind, we can say that he has gone like someone who has been completely cured, or made well, from an illness. And because he has totally removed all of those kinds of ignorance which are not related to the mental afflictions, we can say that he has totally gone like a vase which is well-filled. It is in this way that we call such a being One Who Has Gone to Well-Being. We say “well-being” to refer to the different qualities described above with the word “well”, and we say “gone” to indicate that these beings have gone to the nature which embodies those very qualities.
Using the word “well” in these three different ways serves also to distinguish Those Who Have Gone to Well-Being respectively from non-Buddhists who have freed themselves of desire; from stream-enterers, once-returners, etc.; and from lower foe-destroyers.
Now, I will explain “Sugata” in terms of an Enlightened Being having perfected every single realization there is. Such a being has gone well in the sense that His knowledge has directly perceived the suchness of the two kinds of lack of self-nature, that His knowledge is firm, and that His knowledge is total. These qualities of His knowledge respectively indicate how such a being is exceedingly higher then the three groups of practitioners mentioned above. This is Master Shantideva’s praise of the Buddha Jewel.
The second section, the actual explanation of this book, is in two parts. First will be a presentation of the overall structure of the book, and then an explanation of each individual part.
This book presents, in their entirety, each one of the steps of the path to enlightenment. It begins by telling you the way to practice the contemplations for people of lesser and medium capacity as an adjunct to practicing the contemplations for people of great capacity. Then it goes on to teach you how to develop the wish to achieve supreme enlightenment, and how—after you have developed that wish—you should train yourself in the perfection of giving, along with the other five perfections.
The first chapter explains how, in the beginning, you must increase your joyful energy to its very highest by thoroughly contemplating the benefits which come from developing the wish to achieve supreme enlightenment. This chapter also touches upon the way you should practice, as an adjunct, the contemplations for people of lesser and medium capacity.
You must go about developing the wish to achieve supreme enlightenment, that wish whose very root is love and compassion, in the same way that you would go about preparing to welcome a King who ruled the entire world by cleaning your house, and so on. You will be able to acquire this wish by purifying all of the factors which obstruct your spiritual realizations, and gathering together the power of good deeds which promote them. These two subjects are covered respectively in the second and third chapters. The fourth chapter teaches you why you must be careful once you have developed the wish, so that the good energy you have amassed from training yourself in the activities of a bodhisattva does not degenerate.
The chapters which follow teach you how to put the six perfections into practice. With regard to this, the fifth chapter is devoted to an extensive presentation of how to train yourself to live an ethical life through maintaining your mindfulness and awareness, and the next four chapters are successively devoted to how to train yourself in not getting angry, joyfully doing good deeds, meditative concentration, and wisdom.
The tenth chapter explains in detail how you can learn that attitude which wants to give away to others your own body, all of your possessions, along with every good thing you’ve ever done. And it teaches you how to sweeten your acts of giving through dedication. Although the tenth chapter treats with great thoroughness how it is that you should train yourself in the perfection of giving, this subject is also taught on other occasions, such as in the chapter on how to develop the wish for enlightenment. The subject of what it is to be a Buddha, which is the final result, is treated in the ninth chapter.
The names of the ten chapters of the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life are as follows:
I. Benefits of the Wish for Enlightenment
II. Purifying Bad Deeds
III. Acquiring the Wish for Enlightenment
IV. Using Carefulness
V. Guarding Awareness
VI. Not Getting Angry
VII. Joyous Effort
VIII. Meditative Concentration
Reading Two: The Benefits of the Wish for Enlightenment
The following reading is taken from the Entry Point for Children of the Victorious Buddhas (rGyal-sras ‘jug-ngogs), a commentary by Gyaltsab Je Darma Rinchen (1364-1432) on the book called Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Byang-chubsems-dpa’i spyod-pa la ‘jug-pa) by Master Shantideva (c. 700 AD).
The second part [the more detailed contemplation upon the benefits of the wish for enlightenment) has four divisions: an explanation of the benefits of the wish for enlightenment, identifying just what the wish for enlightenment is, a presentation of the reasons why these benefits occur with the wish, and words in praise of persons who are practicing the wish.
The first of these divisions has three sections of its own: a description of how the wish has the power to destroy all bad deeds and to accomplish all good deeds; how those who achieve the wish attain both an exceptional name, as well as the point of the name; and metaphors which are used to explain the benefits.
The first of these sections has three of its own: how the wish has the power to destroy great bad deeds; how it has the power to accomplish the highest form of happiness; and how it has the power to bring about anything you might ever wish for.
What kind of goodness could there ever be
Other than the wish for total enlightenment
That could overwhelm those negative deeds
Of dreadful and awesome strength?
Making great efforts to practice the two forms of the wish for enlightenment is something which is very right to do. This is because we have committed negative deeds of dreadful strength, deeds that would cause us to be born into the hells, or the like. And what kind of goodness could there ever be, other than the wish for total enlightenment, that could overwhelm them? The answer is that there is no such other goodness.
The main point being mentioned here is not the fact that the ultimate form of the wish has the power to eliminate the seeds for spiritual obstacles. The intent rather is to indicate the benefit of the wish where, in its “deceptive” form, the wish functions to clear away those causes already created which would take one to the births of misery, and also functions to prevent the continued creation of these causes in the future.
The Lords among Victors contemplated the question
For many millions of years and saw
That this alone could be of benefit.
Again we can say that making efforts to practice the wish is something which is very right to do. This is because the Lords among Victors have considered and contemplated, for many “countless” periods of millions of years each, the question of what could be of benefit to, or a way to achieve the ends of, all living beings.
And what they saw was that this wish for enlightenment alone would be so.
It is this wish which allows a limitless
Mass of sentient kind to attain
The highest form of happiness, with ease.
It is this wish for enlightenment which is like a special seed, one that has the power which allows a limitless number of living beings, a great mass of sentient kind, to attain the highest form of happiness. And it allows them to do so with ease, with perfect ease—that is, without having to undertake any such difficult spiritual practices as undertaking the life of a cave-dwelling yogi. It’s just as the lines say which go,
What person with any intelligence at all
Would lose heart in going easily to ease?
Those who hope to smash the thousand pains
Of the cycle of life, or to solve
The unhappiness of every living being,
Or bring them to the many thousand forms
Of happiness, must never give up
This very wish for enlightenment.
And we can say once more that it is very right to practice this very wish, for it is the highest means of helping all living things, both oneself and all others. This is because there is no higher method for persons of any level, whether you are one of those who is practicing the attitude of those of medium capacity, and who thus hopes to smash the thousand pains of the cycle of life as they exist within your own being; or whether you are one of those who is practicing the attitude of those of greater capacity—who hopes to solve the unhappiness of absolutely every living being, or to bring them to the many thousand forms of happiness, meaning the happiness of the higher realms and definite good. These persons then must strive to develop this very wish for enlightenment, and never give it up, which is to say, never let it degenerate once one has succeeded in developing it.
Once they’ve succeeded in developing
The wish for enlightenment, then even
Those miserable beings chained in the prison
Of cyclic life are in an instant referred to
By Those Gone to Bliss as their very own
Daughters or sons, and are worthy to be bowed to
By the entire world, of men and gods.
And again we can say that it is a very right thing to make great efforts in developing the wish for enlightenment, for the following reasons. Suppose that any person succeeds in developing the wish for enlightenment, in either the form of a prayer or activity itself. Within the very next instant after doing so they are given an exceptional name, for Those Gone to Bliss then refer to them as their very own daughters or sons. They also attain the point of this name, which is that they become worthy to be bowed to, worthy to have the entire world, of both men and gods, clasp their hands at their breasts and prostrate to them.
And it is not the case that only those great bodhisattvas residing at high levels obtain these benefits, because even those miserable beings chained by their mental afflictions and past deeds in the prison of cyclic life also reap these same benefits in the very next instant after succeeding in developing the wish. Here is the third part, where metaphors are used to explain the benefits of the wish. There are six such metaphors, to express the following: changing the inferior to the supreme; being difficult to find and very precious; giving unending results and continually increasing; being able to protect one from some great fear; smashing bad deeds without any difficulty at all; and finally, being described as beneficial in the sutras.
Keep this thing called the “wish for enlightenment”
As firmly as you can, for like
The highest form of alchemical elixir
It transforms this filthy body you’ve taken
To the holy form of a Victorious One,
Of immeasurable value beyond all value.
Once you have contemplated its benefits, then you are to keep—that is, you must keep—this thing called the “wish for enlightenment” as firmly as you can: find it, and then prevent it from ever lessening. This is because it is like the highest form of alchemical elixir, the kind where you need only a single gram of the elixir to change a thousand grams of iron into gold. And this is so because with the wish, and with it alone, you can transform this filthy body you’ve taken on—a body which is filthy both in the sense of what has brought it about, and from the point of view of the stuff from which it is made—into the holy form of a Victorious One, of immeasurable value beyond all value.
This is an abbreviated presentation of the benefits of the wish explained in the scripture known as Stalks in Array, where it uses the metaphor of that kind of quicksilver known as “goldmaker,” where you can use a single gram of the elixir to transform a thousand grams of iron into gold.
Those who seek to be free of the state
Of living beings should keep, well and firm,
This precious jewel, the wish for enlightenment,
For that single captain of living kind
Has searched at length with a state of mind
Beyond all limit, and found it to be of great value.
Those who seek to be free of the state of living beings—that is, who seek to be free of each and every one of the troubles of this cycle of life—should seek to develop, well, the wish for enlightenment, and then keep it firm, without ever lessening, for it is like the king among the lords of all precious jewels. That single and matchless captain of living kind, the Buddha, is like a master ship captain who guides the merchants of old to the Isle of Jewels. He and all those beings who possess the state of mind beyond all limit—unlimited wisdom—have searched at length, very thoroughly, to find what it is that would be the highest method of clearing away all the poverty of living kind. And they have found that the wish, and only it, is of great value; that is, they have seen that it is a method of great rarity and benefit.
All other good deeds are like the plantain tree,
That gives its fruits and always dies away;
The wish for enlightenment though is an evergreen
That never dies by giving its fruits,
But rather ever increases.
Practicing the wish for enlightenment is moreover a right thing to do for those who hope to see their good deeds never die, but increase ever further. This is because all other good deeds, meaning those that are not imbued by this wish, are like the plantain tree: they give their fruits and, once they have done so, it is always the case that their ability to produce further fruits dies away. The wish for enlightenment though is an evergreen: it is like a wish-giving tree, in that it never dies by giving its fruits, but rather ever increases, higher and higher. As the Sutra Taught by Inexhaustible Understanding states,
A drop of water which falls into the great sea never disappears, even in the period of an eon of millions of years. Virtues which have been dedicated to enlightenment are just the same: they never disappear before the state of perfect enlightenment is achieved.
A person may have committed deeds
That are dreadful in the extreme, and yet
Anyone who relies on this can be freed
From all of them in an instant, as though they relied
On a warrior to save them from some horrible fear.
Why then would those who live with care
Not choose to rely upon this very wish?
For what reason, why, would those who live with care (meaning those who have gladly taken it upon themselves to master the way of life relating to the practice of the wish for enlightenment) not rely upon this very wish? It would be right for them to do so, for the following reason. A person may have committed deeds that are dreadful in the extreme, may have done things to hurt the Three Jewels, or else committed one of the immediate deeds or something similar, and yet they can be freed from all the fears of the lower realms in an instant, if they rely on this wish for enlightenment. This is because it is like relying on a warrior to save oneself from some horrible fear that one might meet with while travelling along some road.
It burns with certainty, in an instant,
Even the greatest of bad deeds, as if it were
The fire that comes at the end of time.
This wish for enlightenment has a tremendous ability to destroy the effects of bad deeds. It is as though this wish were the fire that comes at the end of time, meaning at the end of the eon of destruction—the fire that destroys the entire physical world from the first meditation level on down. This is because the wish can burn, with certainty, and in a single instant, even the greatest of bad deeds: those deeds which would force one into a birth in the hells. If the wish, by the way, has the power to destroy even those kinds of karma which are certain to produce an experience, then there is no need to say that it has the ability to do so with those types of karma which are not certain to produce an experience. Those of the Greater Vehicle can utilize an act of purification, in which all four of the forces of purification are present, in order to purify themselves of the expected ripening of those types of karma which are certain to produce an experience. The expression “certain to produce an experience” then refers to those kinds of karma which are proven, through many cases of scriptural authority and also through reasoning, to be certain to produce an experience unless one practices the appropriate antidote to their power.
The benefits of this wish, beyond all reckoning,
Were spoken to Sudana by the Gentle Protector,
The One who Possesses Wisdom.
The benefits of the wish for enlightenment, as described above, are certain to occur if you succeed in developing it. This is because the benefits of this wish, and its praises, which are beyond all reckoning, really are just as they were spoken to the younger bodhisattva Sudana, in the sutra called Stalks in Array, by the bodhisattva who is the Gentle Protector, the One Who Possesses Wisdom.
This point is explained in great detail in the sutra mentioned on such occasions as where it begins by saying,
Oh son of noble family, this wish for enlightenment is like a seed for each and every quality of an enlightened being. And because it makes all the pure white qualities of every living being grow and increase, it is like a rich field of soil. . .
And continues up to,
. . . It is as well like an excellent [wish-giving] vase, for it fulfills your every wish. And it is, finally, like a spear, in that you can use it to defeat the enemy of anything related to the mental afflictions.
Reading Three: How to Make Offerings
The following reading is taken from the Entry Point for Children of the Victorious Buddhas (rGyal-sras ‘jug-ngogs), a commentary by Gyaltsab Je Darma Rinchen (1364-1432) on the book called Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Byang-chubsems- dpa’i spyod-pa la ‘jug-pa) by Master Shantideva (c. 700 AD).
The second major section concerns how to train oneself in the activities of a bodhisattva, once one has been able to develop the two forms of the wish for enlightenment. This section itself has two parts: how to acquire the wish for enlightenment, and how to train oneself in the perfections, which are the activities of the bodhisattva.
The first of these two parts has two divisions of its own. The first concerns purifying oneself of the hindering conditions that consist of bad deeds. This is done by applying all four of the forces of purification, once one has already performed the preliminary practices of prostration, offering, and going for refuge. The second concerns the actual practice of acquiring the wish for enlightenment, once one has already completed the actions of accumulating conducive conditions, which is done through the various practices which begin with rejoicing in virtue.
We will explain the first of these two divisions in two steps: an explanation of the actual text of the chapter, and an explanation of the chapter’s name. The former of these will proceed in four stages represented by the four practices of offering, prostration, going for refuge, and purifying oneself of bad deeds. For the first of these we will cover the need to make offerings, and then the kinds of offerings themselves.
Make offerings, in an excellent way, to Those
Who have Gone That Way; to the holy Jewel
Of the Dharma, the absence of impurity; and to
Those oceans of high spiritual qualities:
To the sons and daughters of the Buddhas,
In order to acquire this jewel wish.
You should make offerings in an excellent way, meaning that you should offer the most exquisite objects with thoughts and in a manner which is filled with reverence. What should be the goal of making these offerings? You should present them in order to acquire the jewel of the wish for enlightenment, which supplies every single good thing there is to every single living being.
And to whom should you make the offerings? They should be made first of all to Those Who Have Gone That Way. And then they should be made to the holy jewel of the Dharma, so called because it is the Dharma of holy realized beings. This Dharma consists of the truth of cessation, and the truth of the path, in the greater way. The truth of cessation here includes both natural purity and also the absence of any temporary impurities.
And you should finally make offerings to those great ones who are like oceans of high spiritual qualities: to sons and daughters of the Buddhas who are realized beings such as the Lord, Loving Eyes (Avalokiteshvara), and Gentle Voice (Manjushri).
We will discuss the kinds of offerings in three parts: the offering of things which have no owner; the giving of your own body; and the offering of things which you emanate with your own thoughts. For the first we will describe what it is we offer, and then how it is we offer it, and finally the reason for giving things which have no owner.
Give flowers, and fruits, as many as exist;
And all the different herbs, as many as there may be.
Give each and every precious substance contained in the planet,
All the pure and lovely water that exists.
Give the precious mountains, and so too
The forests, quiet places of refuge, and lovely spots;
Give the plants, studded with flowers, and adorned,
The trees whose branches are bent low under fine ripe fruit.
Give fragrances and incenses, even those which are found
In the worlds of pleasure beings and the like;
The wishing tree, and the tree of precious substances.
Give grain that grows without ever being planted,
And any other lovely object which is worthy of presenting—
Lovely lakes and bathing ponds bedecked with lotus blossoms
And water birds of beauty, singing their splendid songs.
You should first give those things in the world which have no owner. Give flowers, flowers like the lotus, and give the fruits of the trees, like the olive, as many as exist everywhere. Then give all the different herbs of the earth, camphor and the like, as many as there may be. Give each and every precious substance contained in the planet: gold, silver, and anything of the sort. Give all the pure and lovely water of every ocean, lake, and other bodies of water that exists. Give the eight precious mountains of gold and all the rest, and so too give all the forests, give all the quiet places of refuge, all the lovely spots, all the many kinds of plants, each studded with a variety of jewel flowers, each adorned in beauty. Give all the trees whose branches are bent low under the weight of fine ripe fruit. Give all the fine fragrances and incenses that exist, whether they be natural, or concocted, or transformed, and include even those which are found in the worlds of pleasure beings, serpent-beings, and the like. Give the wishing tree, which supplies your every wish, and give the tree made of precious substances. Give lovely lakes and bathing ponds, ones that grant your every desire, bedecked with lotus blossoms, and give the waterbirds who live upon them, in all their beauty, singing their splendid songs. Give every kind of grain, growing of its own accord, without ever being planted. Offer these, and offer any other lovely object which is worthy of presenting to the Jewels. Certain authors who failed to understand the commentary have explained the order of the root text in a different way.
I imagine in my mind each and every one
Of those objects owned by no one
Which may exist in all the infinite expanse
Of all of myriad space. I offer these
In an excellent way, to the highest
Of all living beings, to the Able Ones,
Along with their sons and daughters.
May all of these beings of highest spiritual qualities,
Who possess the ultimate form of compassion,
Look upon me with love, and accept all I offer.
Here next is the way in which we offer those things which have no owner. Think to yourself, “I imagine in my mind each and every one of those objects owned by no one which may exist in all the infinite expanse, upon the limitless number, of all the myriad planets there are in all of space. I offer these objects in an excellent way, with great reverence, to certain special beings; that is, to the highest of all living beings, to the Able Ones, along with their sons and daughters. May all of these beings of highest spiritual qualities, all those who possess the ultimate form of compassion, look upon me with love, and so accept all these objects which I offer.”
I am not the kind of person who has merit,
I am extremely poor, and I have no other kind
Of wealth that I might offer. I beg you therefore,
Protector who thinks of what might be
Of benefit to others, to use your power
To accept these offerings, all for my own sake.
Here is the explanation of why we offer things which have no owner. One may begin with the following question: “What is the use of offering things which are only imagined in the mind? Would it not be better to actually offer some lovely object or another?” I am not the kind of person who has been able, in the past, to accumulate any great amount of merit, and so I am extremely poor, in the sense that I possess none of the things that I would like to. And so I have no rights at all to any other kind of wealth that I might offer. I beg you therefore, you who are the Protector who thinks exclusively of what might be of benefit to others, to use your power to accept this offering I have made, this object which has no other owner, and to do so for my own sake.
I offer my own body forever to the Victors,
And to their sons and daughters; and I beg
These supreme warriors to accept me, totally,
For in reverence I offer myself as your subject.
Here next is the giving of your own body. The next section of the text is meant to say, “But I do have a body that I could offer you, and so I do.” I do have the rights to my own body, and I hereby give up, forever and in every way, any concept of it belonging to myself. I offer it instead to the Victors, and to their sons and daughters. I beg these supreme warriors to accept me, my body, totally. I am impelled by my faith and reverence for you to offer myself as your subject, and I will do whatever you command me to do.
Because you have taken me into your care,
I no longer need to concern myself
With the fears of the cycle of life;
I can be of benefit to all living things.
I will transcend, totally, all the bad deeds
Of the past, and from this point on
I will never commit any new bad deeds.
And what will I do, once I have offered myself to you? Because you have taken me into your care, I have reached a kind of protection where I am free of all fear. And because I no longer need to concern myself with the fears of the cycle of life, because I am finally free of every fear, I can be of benefit to all living things. I will transcend, totally, all the energy of any bad deeds which I accumulated in the past; and from this point on, I will never commit any new bad deeds, even should it cost me my life.
There are two major divisions to our third point, the offering of things which you emanate with your own thoughts. The first of them has twelve parts of its own: the offering of bathing, of lovely clothing, precious adornments, ointments, flowers, incense, fine foods, lights, mansions, parasols, and music, followed by the act of blessing, so that the stream of offering can continue never-ending. The offering of bathing covers three subjects: the bathing chamber, the way in which to offer the bathing, and how to wipe dry the holy body.
I make this offering in a great bathing chamber,
Filled with fine fragrance, and with a floor
Made of crystal, perfectly clear, sparkling, gleaming.
The chamber has lovely pillars,
Glowing with precious jewels,
And a canopy stretched across it,
With pearls, and radiating light.
Here is the offering of bathing. Where does one perform this offering? In a great bathing chamber, strewn with sandalwood and other scents, so that it is filled with fine fragrance. The floor of the chamber is made of crystal: it is perfectly clear, and sparkles with light. The entire surface of the room gleams, for it has been cleaned and shined perfectly. The chamber has lovely pillars, rafters, and details; they glow with the light of precious jewels. Stretched above it all is a great canopy, studded with fine pearls that radiate light of their own.
Make this offering of bathing to the holy bodies
Of Those Who Have Gone That Way, and to
Their sons and daughters. Use many great
And precious vases, filled with water
Which is scented, and lovely; make the offering
With a great number of songs, and music.
You should make the offering of bathing to the holy bodies of Those Who Have Gone That Way, and to their sons and daughters, by using many great vases, filled with water which is scented with various fragrances, and made of gold and other precious materials. The water should also be mixed with lovely blooms, and the bathing done while singing a great number of beautiful songs, and playing wonderful music.
Wipe the holy bodies of these ones
Using immaculate towels, beyond all compare,
Imbued with the sweetest of scents.
After this you should wipe the holy bodies of these ones to whom you have made the offering of bathing, using soft and immaculate towels beyond all compare, imbued with the sweetest of scents. Next offer them the highest of all clothing, Stained the excellent color, and wafting With the finest fragrance. Offer them a whole Variety of rich raiments, sheer and soft.
Once you have wiped the holy bodies of those to whom you are making the offering, then next offer them the highest of all clothing, stained the excellent color, and wafting with the finest fragrance. If they are ones who wear the clothes of a householder, then offer them rich raiments, sheer and soft, in a whole variety of styles and hues.
Offer too hundreds of highest ornaments,
Of every different sort, to those realized beings
Such as Excellent One, and the Undefeatable,
To Gentle Voice, and the Lord of All the World.
The “hundreds of highest ornaments” here refers to earrings and other such adornments. “Of every different sort” means armbands and others of the like. These too you should offer, to those realized beings such as Excellent One (Samantabadra), and the Undefeatable (Maitreya), to Gentle Voice (Manjushri), and to the Lord of the World (Avalokiteshvara).
Now take the highest of all fragrant ointments,
With scents that pervade the thousand groups
Of a thousand collections of a thousand planets each,
And use them to anoint the holy bodies of every one
Of the Lords of the Able Ones, those who are like
Pure refined gold, shined to a perfect polish.
Now take the highest of all fragrant ointments, with scents that pervade the thousand groups of a thousand collections of a thousand planets each, and use them to anoint the holy bodies of every one of the Lords of the Able Ones, those whose forms gleam and blaze with light, as though they were made of pure refined gold, free of every impurity, shined to a perfect polish.
Make offerings to the highest object of all offerings,
To the Lords of the Able Ones; offer every
Different kind of flower, like the mandara,
The red lotus, and the blue lotus,
Arranged as well in lovely garlands.
Make offerings, to the highest object of all offerings, to the Lords of the Able Ones.
With what kinds of offerings? Offer to them every different kind of flower: beautiful, fragrant blooms like the mandara, the red lotus, and the blue lotus. Offer the flowers loose, and offer them as well arranged in lovely garlands.
Offer them too supreme incense powders, exquisite,
Great clouds of incense that send forth all their scent.
Offer them too supreme incense powders, exquisite, such as the akaru and others. Give great clouds of incense that send their scent throughout the ten directions of space.
Also offer the repast of the gods, fine foods,
And every sort of refreshment.
Also offer to the Victors, and to their sons and daughters, the repast of the gods: special kinds of fine food, like the sweet likara, and special kinds of drink or the like: every sort of refreshment, in a wide assortment of forms, smells, and tastes.
Offer in addition lamps made of precious jewels,
On lotuses of gold, lined in array.
Offer in addition lamps made of precious jewels, burning forth their light, set into holders that are lotuses of gold, lined in array: that is, set forth in long rows.
Offer, to those whose nature is compassion, The earth, set forth in a lovely way, Smeared with incense powder, and strewn With lovely blooms of loose flowers; And upon it great mansions, palaces, And within them those singing out lovely Songs of praise. The mansions are decked out In jewels, pearls and precious gems, Adorning the sky itself, and blazing.
Offer as well, to those whose nature is compassion, the earth, set forth in a lovely way, smeared with incense powder, and strewn with lovely blooms of loose flowers. Upon this earth offer great mansions, palaces, and within these palaces goddesses, singing out lovely songs of praise. See the mansions decked out in strings of thousands of jewels, pearls and precious gems, and see these great edifices adorning the sky itself, blazing in displays of limitless light.
Constantly offer to the Lords of the Able Ones
Lovely parasols made of precious substances;
They have golden handles, and around the edge
They are covered with lovely adornments that look
Like jewelry. Stand them thus,
With their excellent outlines, exquisite to the eye.
Constantly offer too to the Lords of the Able Ones lovely parasols made of a whole variety of precious substances. Imagine that they have golden handles, and that around the edge they are covered with lovely adornments that look like jewelry, studded with a great many precious gems. In your mind stand the parasols up—raise them—and think of their excellent outlines, exquisite to the eye.
Think then of a whole mass of offerings
Beyond those you have already offered:
Lovely music and song, and think,
“May each one of them be there,
In a separate cloud, to satisfy
The pain of every living being.”
Think next of a whole mass of offerings beyond those you have already offered. Think of lovely music and song, the sounds of the clay drum and others; think to yourself, “May each one of them be there, may each of them come, in a separate mass or cloud of offerings, and may each of them have the power to remove the pain of every living being, and to satisfy them—completely fill them—even if all they do is catch the sound for a moment.
And think, “May a great rain fall,
In a never-ending stream, precious gems,
And flowers, and other such offerings,
Upon each and every expression
Of the Jewel of the Holy Dharma,
Upon shrines of offering,
And upon the holy bodies.”
And now think to yourself, “May a great rain of offerings fall, in a never-ending stream, for as long as the cycle of suffering itself continues to exist. May there be a rain of precious gems, and flowers, and other such offerings upon each and every expression of the Jewel of the Holy Dharma, which in itself includes all twelve divisions of the highest form of the spoken word. And may the rain fall as well upon those places where the holy minds of the enlightened ones stay: on the offering shrines which have at their hearts the relics that come from these beings. And may it finally fall upon the bodily representations of these same beings, whether they be drawn on paper, or in any other form.”
And think, “May I be like those named Gentle Voice,
And all the others, who present
Their offerings to the Victors.
May I, like them, make offerings
To all of Those Who have Gone That Way,
To the Protectors, and to their sons and daughters.
Here secondly is the unsurpassable offering. “And may I be like those named Gentle Voice (Manjushri), and Excellent One (Samantabhadra), and all the other bodhisattvas who have gained the power; those who fill the entire expanse of space with offerings emanated in their thoughts, and present them to the Victors. May I, like them, make these same offerings to all of Those Who have Gone That Way, to the Protectors of gods and men, and to their sons and daughters as well.”
The scripture called the Precious Tala says,
The great ones make offerings to the Victors,
With a shower of flowers, a flower canopy,
With flowers sent forth in rays of light,
With every flower that ever exists,
Strewn all over the earth itself.
Reading Four: The Four Forces of Purification, Part One
The following reading is taken from the Entry Point for Children of the Victorious Buddhas (rGyal-sras ‘jug-ngogs), a commentary by Gyaltsab Je Darma Rinchen (1364-1432) on the book called Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Byang-chubsems- dpa’i spyod-pa la ‘jug-pa) by Master Shantideva (c. 700 AD).
The fourth section here concerns purifying yourself of bad deeds, through using all four of the forces together. We begin with a general presentation. You should from the very beginning make efforts to see that you are not sullied by performing any harmful actions. Despite your efforts, however, such an action may occur, due to some instance of carelessness, an attack of mental afflictions, or the like. It would be a mistake in such a case to simply ignore the bad deed; you should rather exert yourself in the various methods of repairing the damage. These methods were taught by our compassionate Teacher.
Instances in which you have committed some transgression of your vows, at whichever level of vows you may have, should be repaired according to the methods prescribed for those particular vows. For repairing the damage caused by other kinds of bad deeds you should utilize the four powers. As the Sutra on the Four Practices states,
If, oh Loving One, some great bodhisattva has succeeded in the four practices, then even those bad deeds which have been both committed and collected can be overcome. What are the four practices? They are as follows: the activity of destruction; the activity of applying the antidote; the force of restraining from the particular bad deed; and the force of the foundation.
The expression “committed and collected” refers to actions whose karmic results are “certain to be experienced.” If even these types of karmic results can be overcome by the four practices, then there is no need to mention those which are not certain to be experienced.
The first of these four forces involves feeling strong regret over having committed some negative action. In order to achieve this level of regret, you must contemplate carefully the way in which negative actions trigger three different karmic results.
The second force, as described in the Compendium of Trainings, consists of performing practices such as studying the profound scriptures of the canon, meditating on emptiness, reciting secret words, preparing physical representations of the holy bodies of enlightened beings, making offerings, and reciting the names of high beings.
The third force is to restrain yourself perfectly from ever committing these negative actions again in the future. The fourth consists of meditating upon the wish for enlightenment, and similar practices. Here it is the first force which is described in great detail. The points to be considered are the time at which the bad deeds may have been committed, the cause, the mode of expression, the undertaking of the deed, its object, and how the deed was committed.
Next we present some detail on each of the four: the force of the activity of destruction; the force of the foundation; the force of the activity of applying the antidote; and the force of restraining from the particular bad deed.
THE FORCE OF THE ACTIVITY OF DESTRUCTION
We will explain the first force in four steps: an explanation of the process of regret, which you reach by examining the way in which you have committed the negative deed; the practice of developing regret out of fear that you may die while you still possess the negative deed, along with an explanation of how to go for refuge; the practice of developing regret by considering with special attention the way in which you have committed a negative deed which is meaningless; and the practice of learning to fear negative deeds.
The first of these steps has four parts of its own: requesting the one to whom you are going to reveal your negative action to attend to your confession; a method for a general purification of negative actions you have committed, according to time, cause, type, or other detail; a method for the purification of especially powerful negative actions which have been committed towards some special object; and learning to perform purification due to regret inspired by having considered carefully the unwanted karmic results that the action will bring you.
I make supplication, with my palms joined at my breast,
To the totally enlightened beings, and bodhisattvas,
Who reside in every direction of the world:
To those beings who possess great compassion.
Here is the first. I make supplication, with my palms joined at my breast, to the totally enlightened beings, and bodhisattvas who reside in every direction of the world: to those beings who possess great compassion. I request them to hear my confession, which I make out of regret for the negative deeds I have committed.
In the cycle of life without beginning,
In both this and my other lives,
I committed bad deeds without understanding
And encouraged others to commit them;
Overcome by my total failure to understand, I took joy.
Now I see my mistakes, as many as I may have made,
And I confess them to the Protectors
From the bottom of my heart.
Here is the second point. During all the time that I have circled around in the cycle of life, for time without beginning, in both this and my other lives, I have committed bad deeds myself. I have as well encouraged others to commit them. And because of the fact that I was overcome by my total failure to understand the principles of deeds and their consequences, I took joy in the negative actions committed by others. I see now that all of my mistakes, as many as I may have made, truly are mistakes, and with regret that comes from the bottom of my heart I confess these mistakes to the Protectors—I conceal nothing, I hide nothing.
I confess whatever harm I may ever have done towards
The Three Jewels, my parents, and other high objects
With my actions, my speech, and my thoughts
Caused by the mental afflictions.
Here is the third point. The person who was mistaken—that is, I myself—confess whatever harm I may ever have done towards the Three Jewels, or towards my parents, and towards any other such high object of merit; I confess all these actions, which were caused by the mental afflictions known as the three poisons, and which were expressed with either my bodily actions, my speech, and my thoughts.
I am a person full of negative actions;
I have been infected by a great number of bad deeds.
I confess to every one of the Guides
All the dreadful negative deeds I’ve done.
Next is the fourth point. I am a person full of negative actions; I have been infected by a great number of bad deeds, by emotions such as attachment, which will act as causes that will bring me the karmic result of a birth in the hells or the like. All the negative deeds that I have done, actions like killing and the like, are going to create for me immense suffering; they are therefore dreadful, and I confess them to every one of the Guides.
I could be finished off first, before
I can clean myself of my negative deeds.
And so I beg you protect me, speedily,
In any way I’ll be certainly freed.
Next is the part about developing regret out of fear that you may die while you still possess the negative deed, and so on. Suppose that I die while I still possess the negative deed: suppose I was unable to clean myself of the deed immediately after committing it, and failed to clean it from my mind. The Lord of Death then could come and I could be finished off first, and I would have to take a birth in one of the lower realms. And so I must avail myself of any way possible in which I will certainly be freed from my negative actions, and that I do so speedily; and so I beg you protect me, by helping me to do so.
This Lord of Death cannot be trusted,
He waits for no one, finished or not.
He takes all sorts suddenly, those sick and well,
So feel not certain about your life.
“What kind of protection,” one may ask, “is it that we need, so quickly, while we have yet to die, and have still not purified ourselves of our bad deeds?” This Lord of Death cannot be trusted, even for a single moment of time, and he waits for no one: he has absolutely no interest in whether you have finished purifying yourself of your negative actions or not. His coming in no way depends upon whether what you have hoped to do is done or not. All sorts of people die suddenly, before their life has reached its normal length, and whether they have gone through some sickness or whether they are well. Therefore you should feel no certainty about your life, no assurance even that you will not die this very day. And since this fact that you can feel no certainty is true, you should quickly purify yourself of your negative actions.
Next is the point about meaningless misdeeds. Here first we cover the kind of regret you have about negative actions you have committed for the sake of your relatives, or for the sake of your body or possessions or anything of the like, all because you failed to realize how they were nothing you could ever depend upon. After that will come a metaphor to show how, at the moment of death, none of these is anything more than a memory. Then we will cover the kind of regret you reach about having committed these kinds of negative actions once you have seen directly as well how none of the things for whom you committed the actions were in any way something you could depend upon. And then finally we will discuss the regret that you develop over the negative deeds you committed because you failed to realize that there was no certainty at all when you would die.
I’ll have to give up it all and travel,
But I’ve failed to realize this fact,
And so I’ve committed an entire variety
Of bad deeds for friends and enemies.
Here is the first of the four points. I will have to give up it all—my relatives, and all my possessions and the rest, and even the flesh and blood and such which came with me when I was born—and travel on to the life beyond, alone, by myself. But I have failed to realize this fact, and so I have committed an entire variety of bad deeds for the sake of protecting my friends and defeating my enemies. This is one reason why I should now feel regret.
The enemies cease to exist,
The friends too cease to exist,
I myself cease to exist as well;
And everything else ceases too.
And it was wrong to commit bad deeds for these reasons, because shortly afterwards the enemies cease to exist, and the friends to cease to exist, and I myself cease to exist as well. Just so everything else, the relatives and the possessions and so on, ceases too. Nothing is in the least bit dependable, and so I should also feel regret at having committed negative actions due to any attachment or dislike for any of them.
All the objects you use are the same
As something experienced during a dream.
They are soon nothing but some memory;
All things that have passed are no longer here.
Think of some minor pleasure that you might experience during a dream. When you wake up, the pleasure is no longer anything but a memory. All the objects that you might deceive yourself into thinking are pleasant in this life, and which you use, are the same. When you die they are soon nothing but some memory. Therefore you should resolve, from this moment on, and time and time again, that you will only practice the Dharma. All those things that have passed are no longer here, and so they become nothing more than a memory.
Even here in the present moment,
In the time that we have lived,
Many friends and enemies have slipped to the past.
But all the negative that we committed
For their sakes lies before us still.
Even here in the present moment, in the time that we have lived, we have seen many who were our friends, and many who were our enemies, slip into the past. But whatever dreadful consequences there may be from all the negative that we committed for their sakes still lies before us. It’s like the lines that say,
Since they can never take upon themselves
Any share of the suffering,
What use then are the best of friends,
Who only serve to hinder us?
Thus we must feel, over and over again, deep regret at having committed bad deeds for their sakes.
As I live in this condition, suddenly,
Without my even realizing it,
I commit a great number of different bad deeds,
Due to my ignorance, to liking and disliking.
In just a single instant of time as I live in this condition, of having no certainty when it is that I will die—that is to say, suddenly, without my even realizing it, I commit a great number of different bad deeds, due to my ignorance, my tendency of liking some things, and disliking other things. These now will take me to a birth in the lower realms. I must contemplate thus the facts of how my death is certain, and how the time that I will die is not certain at all, and how when I die there is nothing at all that can help me except the Dharma. I must think carefully too of all the problems of these lower realms. I must feel, and feel again and again, deep regret then at having committed these negative deeds. This brings us to the fourth step in the explanation of the first of the forces: the practice of learning to fear negative deeds. Here too there are four parts. The first is learning to feel fear about the certainty of death, which is a fact because you cannot add any time onto your life, which is melting away constantly, without a moment’s hesitation; and to feel fear that you might die while you still possess negative deeds. The second is thinking about how, if you fail to purify yourself of the power of negative actions, you will be forced even in this very life to experience suffering. The third is a description of the reason why great fear will come, and the fourth a description of how, in your future life, you will be tormented by pain.
Day and night, without hesitating
This life is forever dropping,
There is no extra life set aside
That is ever going to come to you.
How then could it ever happen
That someone like me wouldn’t die?
Here is the first of the four. No matter which of the three kinds of activities you may be engaged in—going somewhere, sitting somewhere, or sleeping; and during all the day and all the night, without hesitating even for a moment, this life is forever “dropping,” which is to say, decreasing. There is no extra life set aside somewhere that is ever going to come to you later. How then, for what reason, could it ever happen that someone like me would not certainly die? It is definite that I will die, and there is no certainty when I will die. Therefore I must make great efforts to purify myself of all my negative actions. If one reads the Tibetan word for “drop” in this verse with an alternate spelling, it becomes the word for “mark,” and the section could then be read as “life marked by days and nights.”
Our discussion of the suffering in this life has itself three sections, which are all based on what would happen if you failed to purify yourself of negative actions. These are descriptions of how people like your family and friends have no ability to protect you; how you will have to fear if you have not been able to perform any good deeds; and how you will be tormented by regret.
You may be lying down on your bed
Surrounded by your friends and family,
But it’s only you, and you alone,
Who will have to undergo the pain.
When Lord Death’s messengers take hold of you.
What’s the use of your family,
And what use are your friends?
Here is the first. If you fail to perform good deeds, then when you die you experience the sufferings caused by the sensations of having life stop; you may be lying down on your bed surrounded by your friends and family, people who love you with their whole hearts, but it is only you, and you alone, who will have to undergo the pain. And the problem is not only that there is no one there who can stop the terror—the messengers of the Lord of Death, in hideous forms, take hold of you. What is the use of your family at this point? And of what use are friends? Only the Dharma can protect you at that moment.
At that moment protection is good deeds alone,
Though I failed to follow them during my life.
Here is the second point. At the moment of death, the highest of all protection is good deeds, and good deeds alone: practices such as going for refuge, and maintaining an ethical way of life. I failed though during my life to follow these practices. These lines are describing another kind of regret, the kind you feel about having failed to do good deeds during your life.
Oh Protectors, I’ve been careless, and wasn’t aware
I’d be faced with terrors like this;
And so I accomplished many negative deeds,
All for the sake of this fleeting life.
Here is the third point. Here you are calling out to the sources of protection, with the words, “Oh Protectors.” I have been careless, I was not aware, I did not know, that I would be faced like this with the terrors of the lower realms. And so I accomplished many negative deeds, all for the sake of people such as my relatives of this life, this life which is so fleeting, so impermanent.
There are people who are about
To have one of their limbs cut off;
And on the day they’re dragged away
To the place, they are seized with terror.
Their whole appearance from before is transformed:
Their mouths go dry, eyes bulge, and the rest.
Suppose then that you are taken hold of
By the messengers of the Lord of Death,
By those monstrous and terrifying creatures,
And are stricken by that great fear, the unique pain.
If one can go through the change before
Then what need then is there ever to speak
Of this most desperate of all situations?
This brings us to our description of the reason why great fear will come. There are kinds of people who are about to undergo some punishment where they will have one of their limbs cut off; on the day that the guards drag them away to the place where the sentence is to be carried out, they are seized with terror. Their whole appearance is transformed from what it was before: their mouths go dry from the fear, their faces go pale, their eyes bulge from their sockets, and the rest. Suppose now that you are taken hold of by the messengers of the Lord of Death, by monstrous and terrifying creatures from another realm altogether. And suppose as well that you are stricken by that great fear, by the unique pain of death itself. If people who are about to have nothing more than a limb cut off go through the change we just spoke of before, then what need is there ever to speak of the incredible terror that you will, in this most desperate of all situations, come to experience? This is another reason why you should feel regret for the wrong things you have done.
Where is there now anyone who can
Save me completely from this horror?
Your face takes on a look of terror,
Your eyes open wide with panic,
And you turn in every direction
To look for someone who can help.
You realize that there is no one to protect you,
No one in any direction at all,
And the darkness then comes and envelops you.
In this place, there is no one at all who can protect you;
At that moment nothing you can do for yourself.
Here now is the fourth part: the description of how, in your future life, you will be tormented by pain. And once you have taken your birth in the hells, and you see the hellguards coming for you, then will you be overcome with fear, and scream out, “Ah! Where is there now anyone who can save me completely from this horror?” Your face takes on a look of terror, your eyes open wide with panic, and you turn in every direction to look for someone who can help. You can look, but then you realize that there is no one to protect you, no one in any direction at all, and then the darkness comes and envelops you. Thus it is that you must, from this very moment, take refuge in the Three Jewels. Once you are in this place, in the hells, there is no one at all who can protect you from the terrors of the hells, there is at that moment absolutely nothing that you can do for yourself. And so you should, right now, make efforts in those practices which can save you from the terror later.
THE FORCE OF THE FOUNDATION
With this we have reached our explanation of the second the four forces, which is the force of the foundation. We proceed in three steps: instructions on seeking refuge in the Three Jewels from this very moment; seeking help in the sons and daughters of the Victors, those who possess the power of prayers; and carrying out their wishes, once you have taken refuge in them.
The Victorious Buddhas, the Saviors of all living kind,
Exert themselves in order to protect beings.
Thus it is that you should take refuge today itself,
In those of great power, who remove every kind of fear.
Here is the first. Once you have taken birth in the lower realms, you can seek for some kind of protection, but you will find none. The Victorious Buddhas, the Saviors of all living kind, exert themselves in advance, in order to protect every sentient being, and they possess a consummate ability to achieve this protection. Thus it is that you should take refuge quickly, today itself, in those of great power, who have the ability to remove every kind of fear.
You should as well take total refuge
In the Dharma which they have grasped completely,
The Dharma which eliminates this cycle’s every fear,
As well as in the assembly of bodhisattvas.
You should as well take total refuge in the Dharma which they, the Victorious Buddhas, have grasped completely, the Dharma jewel which, when you rely on it properly, eliminates every fear in this cycle of life. And you should do so too with the assembly of bodhisattvas who have been able to reach the state of a realized being. You should accept them as companions in helping you to practice the path.
And so I offer myself to the Excellent One.
I, myself, offer this body of mine to Gentle Voice.
I call out in a voice from a desperate situation,
I cry out to the savior Loving Eyes,
The one who lives in compassion, who is free of all error;
And I beg you to protect me,
A person who had committed great bad deeds.
I seek protection in all those saviors
Whose hearts are filled with great compassion:
I cry out, from my heart to the realized pair
Named “Essence of Space” and “Essence of Earth.”
I take refuge as well in the One with the Diamond;
When those full of hate, such as the messengers of death,
Catch sight of him, they’re filled with fear,
And forced to flee in every direction.
I feel absolute terror over the fears of the lower realms, and so I offer myself to the Excellent One (Samantabadra), that son of the Victors who possesses the power of prayers, and beg him to protect me from these fears. I myself—that is, without the urging of anyone else at all—offer this body of mine as well to Gentle Voice (Manjushri), with thoughts of great faith. And I call out in the voice from a desperate and frightening situation, I cry out, to that one who accomplishes the aims of others in two ways—with perfect spontaneity and in an uninterrupted flow: to the one who lives in compassion, who is free of all error, to the savior—whose name is Loving Eyes (Avalokiteshvara). And how is it that I cry out? In the words, “I beg you to protect me, a person who has committed great bad deeds.” Just so do I seek protection in all those saviors whose hearts are filled with great compassion: those realized bodhisattvas such as the pair named “Essence of Space” (Akashagarba) and “Essence of Earth” (Kshitigarba), and so too Loving One (Maitreya), and the Ender of Obstacles (Nivarana Vishkambi). “I cry out, from my heart, so please, protect me.” And finally I take refuge in the One with the Diamond, in the Holder of the Diamond (Vajrapani). When those full of hate living beings—when those such as the messengers of death or the hellguards—catch sight of him, they are filled with fear, and are forced to flee in every direction.
I have, up till now, acted against your wishes:
Now though I have seen the great terrors
And so I take refuge in you, and beg you
To remove my fears with all speed.
I have, up till now, acted against your wishes: I have committed negative actions, and I have failed to engage in positive actions. Now though I have seen the great terrors of the limitless cycle of life, and the lower realms. And so I take refuge, and commit myself to carrying out your every wish concerning those things which I should take up, and those things which I should give up. I beg you to remove my fears with all speed.
Reading Five: The Four Forces of Purification, Part Two;
Rejoicing; Asking the Lamas to Teach and to
Stay; How To Dedicate
The following reading is taken from the Entry Point for Children of the Victorious Buddhas (rGyal-sras ‘jug-ngogs), a commentary by Gyaltsab Je Darma Rinchen (1364-1432) on the book called Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Byang-chubsems- dpa’i spyod-pa la ‘jug-pa) by Master Shantideva (c. 700 AD).
THE FORCE OF THE ANTIDOTE
Here next is our expanded explanation of the third of the four forces: the force of the activity of applying an antidote. Here there are two parts: the reason why it is fitting for you to make efforts in purifying yourself of your bad deeds, and why it is fitting to do so quickly. The first of these parts has itself two points: using the metaphor of a patient in order to demonstrate why you must purify yourself of your bad deeds quickly, and then using the metaphor of a cliff to demonstrate why you must purify yourself. The former of these contains three sections: setting forth the metaphor and what it refers to; a description of the very serious problems caused by the illness of the three poisons, and of the rarity of the medicine used to cure them; and finally why it is therefore appropriate to follow the advice of the supreme physician, the Teacher.
Even in a case where you’re endangered
By some normal illness, you must still
Follow the advice of a physician.
There’s no need to mention then
What you should do in the clutches
Of the disease of a thousand evils,
Of liking things and the rest.
Even in a case where you are endangered by some normal illness—that is, where the components such as wind or bile within your body are in a state of disturbance, and you have reason to fear that this might be fatal—you must still follow the advice of a physician, as a method for curing your disease. People like you and I though have been in the clutches of the greatest and most chronic disease of all, the three poisons of liking things and the rest, constantly, for time with no beginning. And these three are a disease which acts as the source for many thousands and millions of evils. If we would listen to the advice of a physician in the case of the normal disease, then there is no need to mention how fitting it would be for us to follow the antidote that has been prescribed for us by the highest of all physicians, by the victorious Buddhas, as an antidote for removing our sickness. Therefore it is fitting for us to make great efforts in applying the antidotes for negative deeds.
Even a single instance of these is enough
To waste all the human beings in our world,
And you will never find anywhere at all
Another medicine that can treat them.
Even a single instance of these deeds such as anger at a bodhisattva is enough to waste all the human beings living in our world; that is, to send them to the hells. Where then could you ever find an antidote, other than the holy words that impart teachings such as how to practice the path—where could you find any other medicine for treating these great harms? You could search everywhere, even in the realms of the worldly god named Pure One, or other such beings, but still never find another; and thus it is extremely rare.
The Omniscient One is a physician for this;
He’s given instructions for uprooting all pains,
Though we fail to follow and concentrate.
It’s incredibly ignorant, disgraceful.
Here is the third point. The Omniscient One is a physician for this illness; he is one who removes all of it, all the sickness of the mental afflictions, and who has spoken the instructions for uprooting all the pains of these afflictions. We though fail to follow these instructions, and concentrate on the causes that keep us in the cycle of life endlessly, that throw us to the lower realms. This is, as the text says, “incredibly ignorant,” meaning a situation which is disgraceful. As such you must, from the bottom of your heart, go for refuge in the Teacher, and practice the teachings of this Teacher in the proper way.
A person must be very cautious
Even of small, ordinary cliffs;
There is no need to say then
That we must take care around
Those many thousands of yojana high,
And where a fall means a very long time.
A person must be very cautious whenever there is any danger of falling even from one of those small, ordinary cliffs, the kind around a mountain or the like—the type of cliff where, if you fall off, all you can hurt is one of your arms or legs. There is no need to say then that you must be cautious about the kind of cliffs such as the one which is 32,000 yojana high [about 154,000 miles, or the distance at which the hell of No Respite is said to be located below the earth). This is what the expression “many thousands of yojana” is meant to represent; a special kind of cliff from which, once you fall, you must stay at the bottom for a very long time. This too is a reason why you must make efforts in applying the antidotes for the mental afflictions.
Here next is the discussion of why you must purify yourself quickly. This section has two parts of its own: instructions to make efforts in applying the antidotes to negative deeds, beginning today itself; and an explanation of why, since there is no reason at all that we can feel free of the threat of suffering, it is inappropriate to feel laziness about practicing the path.
It is not right to relax and think,
“I will never die right now, today;”
For without a doubt the time will come
When you have disappeared.
Here is the first of the two. You might think to yourself, “Admittedly I should make some efforts in applying the antidotes; but I think I will do so next month, or perhaps next year.” The correct thing to do though would be to start making efforts today itself, because it is not something right to simply live in laziness, and to relax without making any efforts towards the antidotes, thinking to oneself, “I will never die right now, today.” There is absolutely no certainty though that you will not die today, and we can fairly say that, without a doubt, the time that you have died and disappeared will come tomorrow. Thus you should stop this tendency to be lazy, and begin to make your efforts today itself.
It is just as the Epistle of Kanika states:
It’s no good thing for a human being
Ever to say, “I’ll do it tomorrow;”
The tomorrow when you are no longer here
Is a day that beyond any doubt will come.
Who was it that granted you the power not to fear?
How could you ever gain any certain freedom
That you would, beyond doubt, not disappear?
Why is it you sit there relaxed?
Here is the second point. You might then say, “Even if it’s true that we’re going to die, it’s no use to be afraid of it—there is no point to being frightened.” But you are here in the midst of the fear that comes from seeing and hearing of the deaths of everyone else, and the fear that you might fall into the lower realms. So who was it, what holy being, that blessed you and granted you the power not to fear: to say that, despite all this, there is “no point to being frightened,” no need to fear death, or your own bad deeds? The fact is that there is no being who could grant you any such power. So if you fail to make efforts towards applying the antidotes, then how could you ever gain any certain freedom from your negative deeds, and from death itself? You never could be free. And then when you died you would, beyond any doubt, disappear. So why is it that you fail to make any efforts in applying the antidotes, and why is it that you sit there, relaxed, lost to the effects of laziness? It is wrong to do so, and thus you should make every effort in practicing the path.
THE FORCE OF RESTRAINT
Next is our expanded explanation of the fourth of the four forces: the force of restraining yourself from bad deeds in the future. Here there are three parts: restraining yourself from negative actions because of your feelings of regret; purifying yourself of what you have already done; and pledging to restrain from negative actions, which is done once you have requested holy beings to listen to your resolution. There are two sections to the first of these parts: giving up bad deeds, which are meaningless; and making efforts, day and night, to practice the methods for freeing oneself from negative actions. The first section has two steps of its own: why being attached to your possessions is so inappropriate, since they are in no way reliable; and why it is wrong to be attached to relatives and the like. Here is the first.
All which you have enjoyed
Up to this point has fallen apart;
And what further do you have?
All because of your craving for these,
You’ve acted against your Lama’s wishes.
All of the possessions which you have enjoyed up to this point in the cycle of suffering have been unreliable; that is, they have fallen apart. And can we say that, among those possessions which you still have now, there are any further ones which have any essence? No, none at all. And yet, all because of your craving and attachment for these objects with no essence, you have acted against the wishes of your Lama, and committed negative deeds. You must feel regret for this.
You will give up this, that was
While you lived, and just so
With friends and relatives;
Then go on alone to who knows where.
Of what use then are any of
Your friends or enemies?
Here is the second point. You are going to have to give up everything: this body that you have here, while you are alive, and just so your friends and relatives as well. And then you will have to go on alone, to “who knows where;” that is, to a place which you cannot now know for sure. And so what is the use of any of your friends or enemies? They can be of no help at all, and thus it is wrong for you to feel any attachment for them.
Suffering comes from negative actions;
It is fitting that you spend all your time,
Day and night, devoted to only
This contemplation, and think to yourself:
“How can I gain definite freedom?”
Here next is the point about making efforts night and day. The suffering of the hells and the like all comes from negative actions such as taking life. As such it is fitting that you spend all your time, day and night, devoted only to this contemplation of good and bad deeds, of the principles of actions and their consequences, thinking to yourself, “How can I gain definite freedom from all these sufferings?” If you are unable to find with certainty, if you are unable to contemplate deep within your heart, the principles of actions and their consequences, then you will never be able to grasp with any certainty, with any of the kind of certainty which pleases the victorious Buddhas, any spiritual teaching at all.
Therefore it is right that you make great efforts in all these things. There are certain people who claim to have reached the point where they grasp emptiness clearly, and who still do not consider the principles of actions and their consequences to be of any importance. This is obviously a complete misunderstanding, and reflects a failure to grasp clearly the fact that emptiness is a reflection of dependent origination.
Deeds which are wrong by nature,
And deeds which are forbidden,
Any bad deed at all that you might
In dark ignorance, due to your failure
To grasp, ever committed at all.
Here next is the part about purifying yourself of what you have already done. We proceed in two steps, concerning the thing it is that you purify, and then the way in which you purify yourself of it. You are purifying yourself first of those deeds which are wrong by nature: those that are negative actions no matter who commits them; that is, regardless of whether the person in question is one with vows or not. And secondly there are the deeds which are wrong because the Buddha has forbidden them: those which are wrong only for those who have taken vows. What you are purifying yourself of is whichever of these you may have committed; in short, you are purifying yourself of any bad deed at all that you may ever have committed, out of your lack of understanding and your dark ignorance, your failure to grasp, the principles of actions and their consequences.
You stand here in the Protector’s direct presence,
Joining your palms at your breast,
And with a sense of fear for suffering
Prostrate, over and over again,
And thus undertake to purify
Yourself of all these.
To purify these deeds you stand here in the direct presence of the Protectors, before the Buddhas and their sons and daughters; you express yourself by joining your palms at your breast. In your thoughts you develop a sense of fear for suffering. And then you prostrate, over and over again, and undertake thus to purify yourself of all these negative actions.
The bad deeds I have committed, my Guides,
I ask you to consider mistakes.
They are nothing good, and from this moment on,
I’ll never commit any single one.
Next is the pledge to restrain ourselves. For this reason I make the following request to the Guides: “The bad deeds I have committed are mistakes, and I ask you to consider them mistakes. The bad things I have done are nothing good, and from this moment on, even at the cost of my life, I will never commit any single one of them at all, ever again.” By doing so we stop the flow of our bad deeds, and restrain ourselves from them again.
The teachings of the Buddha, and the commentaries upon them, present a great number of ways in which we can clean ourselves of our bad deeds. The one antidote which is totally complete though is this purification, this practice of using all four forces together to do the purifying. It is stated in a number of scriptures—for example, in the Blaze of Reasoning and in the Great Commentary to the Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Verses—that this practice can erase even those bad deeds which are definite to lead to the experience of a karmic result.
People like you and I have no great knowledge of the various laws of actions and their consequences. Even that very little bit which we do understand we are unable to put into practice as we should. Every single day then we commit negative actions in a great variety of different ways. Because of this we must follow the path of purifying ourselves of our bad deeds on a continual basis. And we should make efforts in the practice especially with the intention of purifying ourselves of those thoughts and actions which block us from being able to develop the true wish for enlightenment.
I was crushed by the mistake
Of being filled with the arrogance
Of deluded desire and jealousy,
And it kept me from reaching
The highest wish of all.
Before the Protectors then,
From the depths of my heart,
I confess every error
That I may have made
In thought or word or deed.
This is just a brief verse to summarize the chapter.
This concludes the second chapter
Of the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life,
Entitled “Purifying oneself of negative deeds.”
Here lastly we cover the name of the chapter. This then is the explanation of the second chapter, the chapter on purifying oneself of negative deeds, from the “Entry Point for the Sons and Daughters of the Victorious Buddhas,” a commentary upon the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life.
Here is the second major section, which is actually acquiring the wish for enlightenment, once you have already assembled the conducive conditions for its development: rejoicing in good deeds, and so on. This section has two parts, which are an explanation of the text of the chapter, and then a note on the name of the chapter. There are three steps to the first of these two parts: what to do for the preliminaries, for the main stage, and then for the conclusion. The preliminaries are five—rejoicing in good deeds; urging teachers to turn the wheel of the Dharma; requesting holy beings not to pass into “nirvana;” dedicating good deeds; and, as a step towards the practice of the perfection of wisdom, cultivating the state of mind in which we give up our bodies, our possessions, and the power of all the good we have done.
Rejoicing we will cover in three steps: rejoicing in those good deeds which act as a cause for birth in the higher realms, and in the result they cause; rejoicing in good deeds which act as a cause for freedom alone, and in the result they cause; and rejoicing in good deeds which act as a cause for unsurpassed enlightenment, and in the result which they cause.
I rejoice, with joy, in the virtuous deeds
Which relieve the torment of the lower realms
For every being; and in the fact
That these suffering beings could ever come
To live in happiness.
Here is the first of the three. I rejoice in the good deeds which act as a cause to help relieve the torment of the lower realms for every being in the cycle of suffering; and I rejoice as well in those which act as a cause for all of them to achieve a very special form of birth in the higher realms. I also rejoice in the result which these causes bring about: I rejoice in the fact that these suffering beings could ever come to live in the happiness of the higher realms. How do I rejoice? I think to myself, with thoughts of joy, about what a wonderful thing it is that these good deeds exist in the world.
I rejoice in their having collected together
Good deeds which act as enlightenment’s cause.
I rejoice in living beings’ certain freedom
From the sufferings of cyclic life.
Here is the second. I also rejoice in the fact that beings have collected together good deeds such as those which are consistent with reaching freedom: those deeds which act as a cause for the enlightenment of the listeners and self-made Buddhas. I rejoice as well in the result which these good deeds bring about: the certain freedom from the sufferings of cyclic life which living creatures can attain through these deeds—that is, I rejoice in the fact that they will achieve nirvana.
So too I rejoice in the enlightenment
Of those who protect, and in the levels
Of the sons and daughters.
I rejoice with gladness in the ocean
Of the goodness of the wish for enlightenment
Which brings every living being to happiness;
I rejoice too in what they undertake
To help all living kind.
Here is the third. So too I rejoice in the total enlightenment which has been reached by those who protect all other living beings; and in the ten levels which the different sons and daughters of the victorious Buddhas have attained. I rejoice as well in the causes for all these states, in the veritable ocean of the goodness of the wish for enlightenment: the thought to attain highest enlightenment in order to bring every living being to happiness. Beyond this I rejoice in the actual deeds of the beings with this wish: in the activities they undertake to help all living kind. I rejoice, with gladness, and I dwell in the faith of admiration, which is mixed in my mind with feelings of great happiness.
ASKING THE LAMAS TO TEACH
I join my palms at my breast and make
Supplication to all the Buddhas in every
Corner of the universe.
I request them to light the lamp of the Dharma
In order to illuminate every one
Of the living beings who wander confused
In suffering and darkness.
Here is the second. I think of all the Buddhas in every corner of the universe who have only recently achieved their Buddhahood, and who have yet to teach the Dharma. Physically I join my palms at my breast and, with great respect, make supplication to them. What is the goal of my supplication? I request them to light the lamp of the Dharma, of both the Dharma in the minds of people and the Dharma in the form of words, in order to illuminate the path which frees every living being from wandering confused in suffering and the darkness of ignorance.
ASKING THE LAMAS TO STAY
I join my palms at my breast and make
Supplication to those Victorious Ones
Who’ve determined to pass into “nirvana.”
I beg them not to leave behind
All these living beings so blind,
And to remain for countless eons.
Here is the third point. I also join my palms at my breast and make supplication to those Victorious Ones who have determined to pass on into “nirvana.” All these living beings are blinded—their eyes of wisdom are blinded—by ignorance, and I beg the Victors not to leave them in this condition: I ask them to remain for countless eons, so that they might remove from these beings the darkness of ignorance.
There are four parts to the fourth point: dedication in general, dedication for the sake of the sick, dedication so that hunger and thirst may be removed, and dedication so that everything they ever wish for comes true.
Through performing all these activities,
Great goodness have I gathered.
I pray that, by this virtue,
The pain of every single living
Creature may be removed.
Here is the first of the four. I have gathered together a great deal of goodness through performing all these activities: through everything from making offerings on up to the supplication just mentioned. And I pray that, by this virtue, the pain of every single living creature may be removed.
I pray as well that I may become
The medicine, and the physician,
As well as nurses for all who are sick,
Until the day they are cured.
Here is the second. I pray as well that, through the power of these same acts of virtue, I may myself become the medicine, and the one great physician, and the nurses for all these sick living beings, until the day they are cured of their illness.
I pray that a shower of food and drink
May fall and that, when the intermediate eon
Of famine arrives, I may become
Food and drink as well.
Here is the third. I pray as well that there falls a shower of food and drink—that is, a whole variety of sustenance and refreshment—all with the power to remove every kind of harm in the form of hunger or thirst. There are three types of intermediate eons, and one of them is the intermediate eon of famine. I pray that, whenever this kind of eon arrives, I may become food and drink, and thus be able to remove the hunger and thirst of every living creature who needs me.
I pray that I may become myself
A great treasure house,
One that can never be exhausted,
For all living beings who are poor, and lack.
May I become too anything they need
Or want, an entire range
Of the different necessities for life,
And so appear to their very eyes.
Here is the fourth. I pray too that I may become a great treasure house, one that can never be exhausted, for all those living beings who are poor, and lack the things they need. I pray that I can become anything they need and want, an entire range of different necessities for life, and then appear before their very eyes, without any effort at all to make it happen.
Reading Six: Taking Joy
The following reading is taken from the Entry Point for Children of the Victorious Buddhas (rGyal-sras ‘jug-ngogs), a commentary by Gyaltsab Je Darma Rinchen (1364-1432) on the book called Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Byang-chubsems- dpa’i spyod-pa la ‘jug-pa) by Master Shantideva (c. 700 AD).
The third part in our explanation of the actual body of the third chapter of the Guide is the conclusion. Here there are two sections: practicing the taking of joy yourself, and bringing joy to others. The first of these has two sections of its own: how the wish achieves your own goals, and how it achieves the goals of others. The first of these will come in three steps: taking joy by uplifting your heart; practicing care once your have attained the wish; and practicing the taking of joy, over having attained a wish that is very hard to find.
Those of intelligence should in this way
Then attain the wish for enlightenment
With great devotion, and in conclusion
Lift up their hearts, in the following manner,
To engage in an ever increasing way.
Those of intelligence, meaning bodhisattvas, should in this way then attain the two forms of the wish for enlightenment, and attain it so it is firm, through thoughts that are filled with great devotion, and gladness, and faith. And they should then, in conclusion, undertake as well a method to keep this state of mind from being lost, and to increase it ever further. It is in order to engage in this state of mind in an ever increasing way that your should take joy, and uplift your heart, in the following manner. [The Entry Point seems to read 'jug here for mjug by mistake.]
With this moment my life has become fruitful;
I have truly achieved a human life
Today I have been born into the family of the Buddhas;
Now I have become a child of the Buddhas.
How is it that we uplift our hearts? With this moment—that is, at the point where I develop the wish and take the vows—my life has become fruitful; now I have truly achieved a human life, in the sense that I have given meaning to the spiritual leisure and fortune with which I was born. Today I have been born into the family of the Buddhas: I have become a bodhisattva. Practice the feeling of gladness, thinking to yourself, “Now I have become a child of the Buddhas”—for this is the prayer wherein one thinks to oneself, “When is it that I will become a child of the Buddhas?”
Now, no matter what, I will undertake
Only those actions which are fitting
For those who belong to the family,
And I will assure that this holy
And faultless family is never defiled.
Here is the second point. You may wonder whether this act alone is enough. It is not, for you must then make the resolution: “Now, no matter what, I will undertake only those actions of the three doors which are fitting for those who belong to the family of my new fathers, the Buddhas. I will keep my family one which is holy, one which is at all times—in the beginning, and during, and at the end of any action—forever made beautiful: faultless, and filled only with wonderful qualities. I will make every effort I can to assure that my mind is never defiled by breaking my vows—the rules that have been set forth for those that are following the wish both in the form of a prayer, and in the form of action.
Suppose a beggar were to find
Some precious jewel in a pile of garbage.
I am just the same, for by dumb luck
I have been able to develop
The wish for enlightenment.
Here is the third point. Suppose a poor and penniless beggar were to find some precious jewel in a pile of garbage. I am just the same, for by “dumb luck”—that is, through simple good fortune—I have been able to develop this precious wish for enlightenment. It is surely only something that has happened through the miraculous power of the Enlightened Ones.
How the wish achieves the goals of others we will cover in three steps as well, describing how it has the power to remove the sufferings of living beings, how it has the power to remove the obstacles that cause these sufferings, and finally how it has the power to accomplish all help and happiness. The first of these three has five parts of its own: descriptions of how the wish destroys the Lord of Death within every living being; how it destroys poverty; how it destroys illness; how it destroys the general suffering of the cycle of life; and, more particularly, how it destroys the sufferings of the lower realms.
The supreme nectar of deathlessness,
Which acts to destroy the Lord of Death
Within every living being, is as well this wish.
Here is the first of the five. There is a supreme nectar of deathlessness, one which acts to destroy the Lord of Death within every living being—which stops this condition of having helplessly to die. And the nectar is this wish for enlightenment, because it leads us to the state where there is no aging, and no death.
This same wish is an endless
Treasure house which removes
The poverty of every living thing.
Here is the second. There is as well an endless treasure house which removes the poverty of every living thing, for it grants never-endingly a wealth of both material things and the Dharma. The treasure too is this same wish for enlightenment.
This same wish is a supreme medicine
Which puts a final end
To the illness of living kind.
Here is the third. There is a supreme medicine which puts a final end to every illness of living kind, and it too is this same wish.
The wish is a great tree which refreshes
All those beings who have tired themselves
Wandering along the road of cyclic existence.
Here is the fourth. There is a great tree which provides a cool spot that refreshes and clears away the sufferings of all those beings who have tired themselves by wandering along the road of the cycle of existence. This too is the wish.
The wish is a great span
That allows all living beings
To escape from the lower realms.
Here is the fifth. There is a great span, a bridge, that allows all living beings to escape from the lower realms. This too is the wish.
The wish is a moon that rises
In the mind, to clear away
The mental afflictions
That torment living creatures.
The power of removing obstacles we will cover in two parts: how the wish removes the obstacles that are mental afflictions, and then how it removes the obstacles to total knowledge. Here is the first. The wish for enlightenment is a moon that rises in the mind, to clear away with its cool light all the heat of the mental afflictions, which torment living creatures. This is because it has the power to destroy each and every one of the obstacles which are mental afflictions.
The wish is a great sun
That rises to obliterate,
To rip out, the cataracts,
The lack of knowledge,
In every living being.
Here is the second part. The wish is also a great sun that rises to obliterate—that is, to rip out from its roots—the cataracts of the obstacles to total knowledge in every living being: the lack of knowledge which is not directly related to the mental afflictions. This is because the state of wisdom which perceives emptiness, and which is further enhanced by great accumulations of good deeds, functions to terminate completely the very seeds of the obstacles to total knowledge.
The wish is the very essence
Of butter, distilled from churning
The milk of the holy Dharma.
Here thirdly is how the wish achieves the goals of others, in two stages of how it brings about every kind of benefit, and how it brings about every kind of happiness. This wish for enlightenment is the very essence, something that has been distilled from the great ocean of the milk of the holy Dharma, the highest of all spoken words. It has been distilled through the process of churning this milk with the great paddle of wisdom which has come from listening and contemplation. It is like a great heap of the very essence of butter, a butter that has a special nutritional value, in that it can help everything of any kind of benefit at all to grow. As such, everyone should make efforts to reach this state of mind.
Sentient beings are travelers
Wandering here and there
Along the roads of the three realms,
Hoping to win pleasant experiences.
This wish remains the highest method
Of all for happiness: it brings
Satisfaction to all these travelers,
Every living being.
Here is the second point. Sentient beings are like travelers who are wandering in the cycle of suffering: they wander here and there along the roads of the three realms, and hope to win all the pleasant experiences of a birth among humans, or the pleasure beings. It is this wish for enlightenment which remains the highest method of all for achieving happiness: it brings satisfaction to all these travelers, every living being. This is because it allows all living kind to reach the higher realms, and definite goodness.
I stand today in the presence
Of all the Protectors.
I invite every living creature
As my guest, to partake
In the very state of Those
Who have Gone to Bliss, and in
Happiness until they reach it.
I call on every pleasure being,
On near pleasure beings, and
All such creatures, to take joy
In this as well.
With this we have reached how to bring joy to others. I stand today in the presence of all the Protectors: the victorious Buddhas, and their sons and daughters. And in your presence I invite every living creature, every being, to come here as my guest, for I will serve them to their heart’s content the very state of Those Who have Gone to Bliss: the ultimate culmination of every kind of help and happiness. And until they reach this state I offer them as well to partake, to their own satisfaction, all the happiness that can be found among humans and pleasure beings. And once I have made this invitation, I ask others to take joy as well: I call on every pleasure being, and near pleasure being, and serpent-like naga, and all such creatures to feel gladness.
As Master Shantideva’s text explains, there are certain preliminaries that must be fulfilled before one can develop the wish for enlightenment. We must purify ourselves of the obstacles which are factors that work against being able to develop the wish, and we must gather together all the factors that are conducive to reaching it. You should understand that this process, of undertaking all the preliminaries and then reaching the wish itself, is the very highest way of all to get the essence out of having achieved this human body and mind, with all their spiritual leisure and fortune. As such we must make great efforts in the practice of these preliminaries.
All those ones of intelligence
Who have reached a body
With spiritual leisure and fortune
Should make every effort in finding
The two forms of the wish,
For this is the essential point
Of all the highest of words—
The teachings of the Victors,
And the one and only road
Travelled by many millions
Of their sons and daughters too.
This is just a brief verse, to summarize the chapter.
This concludes the third chapter of the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, entitled “Attaining the Wish for Enlightenment.”
Here finally we cover the name of the chapter. This then is the explanation of the third chapter, the chapter on attaining the wish for enlightenment, from the “Entry Point for the Sons and Daughters of the Victorious Buddhas,” a commentary upon the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life.
Reading Seven: How to Fight the Mental Afflictions,
The following reading is taken from the Entry Point for Children of the Victorious Buddhas (rGyal-sras ‘jug-ngogs), a commentary by Gyaltsab Je Darma Rinchen (1364-1432) on the book called Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Byang-chubsems- dpa’i spyod-pa la ‘jug-pa) by Master Shantideva (c. 700 AD).
The third part, which is taking care to eliminate the mental afflictions, has three divisions: considering the problems of mental afflictions; the reasons why it is wrong to feel discouraged over any hardships one may have to put up with during the process of eliminating the mental afflictions; and practicing the emotion of joy over the fact that, should one make serious efforts to eliminate them, the mental afflictions really are something that can be eliminated completely.
The first of these divisions has three parts of its own: considering how the mental afflictions hurt us; reasons why it is wrong to tolerate the mental afflictions; and developing courage for the task of destroying the afflictions. There are four separate steps to the process of considering how the mental afflictions hurt us: thinking about how they leave us powerless; how they send us to unthinkable suffering; how the time that they hurt us is infinite; and the reasons why it is wrong to make friends with the mental afflictions.
The great enemies of anger, desire and the rest
Are not creatures with hands, legs, or the like.
Neither are they great warriors, or wily masters.
So how did it happen, that they
Have made me like their slave?
Our great enemies—”anger and desire and the rest,” which incorporates all the primary and secondary mental afflictions—are not some kind of creatures with hands or legs, that could carry weapons in their hands, or the like. Neither are they great warriors, full of energy, or wily masters who can find clever ways to get what they want. So how did it happen, that these mental afflictions have made me powerless, like I were their slave?
They live in my mind,
And hurt me at their absolute will,
It’s completely wrong that I should tolerate,
And not feel anger for them:
My patience with them is a disgrace.
Here is the second point. The mental afflictions live in my mind, and at their absolute will they hurt me, and drag me to the sufferings of the lower realms, and other kinds of pain. It’s completely wrong that I should tolerate them, and not feel anger for them: my patience with them is a disgrace. Therefore I should see the mental afflictions as my foe, and make great efforts to stop them. We should exert ourselves in studying the definitions, divisions, causes, functions, and other details of the mental afflictions, as presented in the treatises on higher knowledge. Most importantly we must think over and over again about the problems which the afflictions bring to us.
Suppose the mighty pleasure beings, and
Near pleasure beings, all rose to be my enemy;
Still they would never be able to lead me to
The fires of No Respite, and throw me in.
But my great enemies, the powerful mental afflictions,
Can in a single instant throw me into fires so powerful
That if the great Mount Meru were to brush against them
Not even dust would remain.
Suppose the mighty pleasure beings, and near pleasure beings, all rose together as one to be my enemy. Still they would never be able to lead me to the fires of the hell called “No Respite,” and throw me into the fires, so long as I could prevent myself from falling under the power of the mental afflictions. Just one of my great enemies though, one instance of a powerful mental affliction within my own mind, can in a single instant throw me into the fires of this same hell, into fires which are so powerful that—if the great Mount Meru were to brush against them slightly—it would be totally destroyed, and not even dust would remain. Thus I should make great efforts to smash this enemy, the enemy of everything related to the mental afflictions.
This great enemy of mine, the mental afflictions,
Can live for a very long time:
For time without beginning or end.
But there is not a one of my other enemies,
None of the worldly ones, who can live so long.
Here is the third point. Consider now another problem with the mental afflictions. This great enemy of mine, the mental afflictions, can live for a very long time: for time without beginning or end. But there is not a one of my other enemies, none of the worldly ones, who can live so long. If I apply the various antidotes for everything related to the mental afflictions only occasionally, nothing will change at all. Thus I must not only make great efforts to destroy the mental afflictions, but I must do so continuously, in a steady stream like a great river of water.
All look to help you and make you happy,
If you make an effort to relate to them
And serve them in a friendly way;
But if you try to relate to the mental afflictions,
They turn on you—hurt you, and bring you pain.
The other kinds of enemies—that is, the worldly ones—all befriend you, and look to help you and make you happy, if you make an effort to relate to them and serve them in a friendly way, with food and the like. The mental-affliction enemies though are different: if you try to relate to them, or get friendly with them, then they become stronger and stronger; and then they turn on you, and hurt you, bring you pain. The best way to help yourself then is to concentrate on this one task: destroying them completely.
They’ve been thus my constant enemy for a very long time;
And are the one single cause that feeds and nourishes
The entire mass of harmful things.
How could I ever be free of all the terrors
Of cyclic life, and feel gladness so long as
They are rooted and fixed in my very heart?
There are two parts to the explanation of why it is wrong to tolerate the mental afflictions: considering how they hurt the mind, and considering how they hurt the body. Here is the first. They—the mental afflictions—have been thus my constant enemy for a very long time, for time with no beginning: they are the one single and matchless cause that feeds and nourishes the entire mass of harmful things, of suffering and all the rest. How could it ever happen then, so long as these afflictions are rooted and fixed in my very heart, that I could ever reach any point where I was free of all the terrors of cyclic life, and feel any kind of gladness?
Happiness would be an impossibility. I must therefore make true efforts in destroying my mental afflictions.
They are guards for the prison of cyclic life,
For the hells and all the like;
They are butchers that kill you.
How could it ever be possible
That I could have happiness,
So long as they are living
In the net of desire that stays in my mind?
Here is how the afflictions hurt the body. The mental afflictions prevent you from getting beyond the cycle of life, and so they are guards for the prison of cyclic life—they throw you into the dungeon of the hells and all the like. They are also butchers that kill you, whether you are living in the lower realms, or the higher realms. How could it ever be possible then that I could ever have a moment’s happiness, so long as these mental afflictions are living in the net of desire that stays in my mind—that is, so long as they exist among the misimpressions within my thoughts? The answer is that I never could have a moment’s happiness, in my body or my mind.
Even in temporary situations
Where someone does me some minor harm,
I feel anger, pride comes, and until I ruin them
I do not even stop to sleep.
Therefore I must exert myself,
Without letting up in my effort for even a moment,
Until such time as I have directly,
And finally, destroyed this enemy.
Each and every thing which ever happens that I don’t want is caused by something related to the mental afflictions. Therefore the right thing for me to do is to exert myself, without letting up in my effort even for a moment, until such time as I have directly, and finally, destroyed this terrible enemy. Even in the everyday world, in temporary situations such as where someone does me some minor harm, does no more than say a few hard words to me, I immediately feel anger, and then some kind of pride comes where I begin to dwell on hard feelings for the person, and then do whatever I can to ruin this enemy, and don’t even stop to sleep until I do so. If I act this way with worldly enemies then it is completely appropriate then that I make great efforts to smash the other enemy, the mental afflictions.
Here next is the second general division, on the reasons why we should never be discouraged by the hardships necessary to destroy the afflictions. This division has three parts of its own: putting on armor that allows us to destroy the mental afflictions, and refusing to be discouraged by any hardships that this effort brings us; considering the benefits of making every effort to destroy the afflictions; and a description of why it is therefore completely proper to exert ourselves in actually undertaking to destroy the mental afflictions.
There are poor deluded ones who are willing to suffer
For those who are going to die by their very nature;
They advance to war with fanatical hopes of destroying:
Completely ignoring the pain of being hit,
Never to turn back, never to withdraw from the field,
Until they have achieved their aim.
With the true enemy, an enemy who is an enemy by nature,
Who is the cause of all of our sufferings, all the time,
There is no need to say that I must be the same.
Whatever comes, I must never become discouraged,
I must never lessen in my resolve,
Even if it brings me hundreds of sufferings.
Here is the first. There are those “poor deluded ones,” meaning people who are worthy of our pity, who are willing to suffer to kill those who are going to die by their very nature; that is, who will die by themselves anyway, without anyone having to kill them. These people “advance to war,” meaning they go to fight in a war, with fanatical hopes of destroying their enemy. They are so intent on this goal that they completely ignore whatever suffering is inflicted upon themselves, the pain of being hit by some weapon like an arrow or spear. They have decided never to turn back, never to withdraw from the field, until they have achieved their aim of destroying their opponent. We on the other hand are faced with enemies that are the cause of all of our sufferings, all the time. They are the true enemy, a pure enemy: an enemy who is an enemy by nature, and who has always been so, from the moment we were born. There is no need to say that I must be the same as those other fighters: I must never become discouraged, never lessen in my resolve, never lose my warrior’s heart, no matter what hardships I may have to face in the task of destroying this enemy. I must bear with whatever comes, even if it brings me hundreds of sufferings such as cold, hunger, thirst, or anything of the like. And it is right that I must never let up my efforts until I have been able to subdue the enemy of the mental afflictions.
The second part has three sections of its own: how it is right to bear with hardships for the reason that they are a cause for the culmination of my own goals; how it is right to bear with them for the reason that they are a cause for the culmination of the goals of others; and the reasons why I must bring to a final end the pledge I have made before.
Like some ornament for their body
A person treasures even the mark of a wound
Meaninglessly put there by an enemy.
So why should we consider a problem
The pain we feel in our quest
To attain a very great purpose?
Here is the first. Consider how, in the everyday world, a person treasures, like some ornament for their body, even the mark of a wound that was put there by an enemy for some meaningless reason, over some insignificant thing, and then shows it off to other people, saying “This is how I got this one…” We, on the other hand, have undergone some kind of hardship, some kind of pain, for a very great purpose: that is, in our quest to attain total enlightenment. Why should we consider these pains then a problem? We should rather embrace them, for they can only help us.
Even fishermen, butchers, farmers, and the like
Endure willingly all kinds of harms
Such as cold or heat, thinking of nothing
More important than their livelihood.
Why then shouldn’t someone like myself
For the sake of the living being’s happiness?
Here is the second point. Consider now fishermen, who make their living by killing fish; butchers, the slaughter-house workers who are by tradition considered an inferior caste; farmers, those who make their living through tending the earth; and the like. Even they endure willingly all kinds of harms, such as cold or heat, thinking of nothing more important than their livelihood. Why then should someone like myself not be able to endure hardships for the sake of bringing about every sort of happiness for all living beings? I should endure them.
You have pledged yourself to free all living beings
In the ten different directions from their mental afflictions.
At the same time you have failed to free you yourself
From your own mental afflictions,
Are you not some kind of madman then,
To say so while you’ve failed to judge your own level?
Here is the third point. Someone might make the following statement: “I admit that I am a person who has agreed to undertake the destruction of the mental afflictions within the minds of other persons. It would be wrong though for me to work to destroy the mental afflictions in my own mind, because if I succeeded in doing so I would have fallen into what is called the ‘extreme of personal peace.’” You have though pledged yourself, and developed the wish, to free all living beings, beings as vast in extent as the ten different directions of space itself, from their mental afflictions. If at the same time you have failed to free you yourself from all your own mental afflictions, then you have failed even in the endeavor of accomplishing all your own needs, much less those of others. Are you not some kind of madman then, to say that you are going to free every other living being from their mental afflictions, while at the very same moment you have failed completely to judge your own level—the fact that you yourself are still at the mercy of your own mental afflictions? No one chained in the cycle of suffering of life themselves could ever accomplish all the goals of other living beings, and so you should rather make efforts to destroy the mental afflictions within your own mind.
Reading Eight: How to Fight the Mental Afflictions,
Why the Perfections are Mental
The following reading is taken from the Entry Point for Children of the Victorious Buddhas (rGyal-sras ‘jug-ngogs), a commentary by Gyaltsab Je Darma Rinchen (1364-1432) on the book called Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Byang-chubsems- dpa’i spyod-pa la ‘jug-pa) by Master Shantideva (c. 700 AD).
The third section, on why it is right to make great efforts to destroy the mental afflictions, has two parts: making efforts in applying the antidotes to the mental afflictions, and making efforts never to become controlled by the mental afflictions.
I should therefore never turn back
Even for a single moment from the task
Of destroying the mental afflictions.
I should get attached to them,
And learn to hate and make war.
These kinds of mental afflictions
Act to destroy the mental afflictions
And so are not counted among them.
Here is the first of the two. The mental afflictions are, therefore, things which deserve to be eliminated. As such, I should never turn back, either in my thoughts or my actions, from the task of destroying them, even for a single moment.
I should get attached to these antidotes for the mental afflictions; that is, I should make use of the antidotes. And I should learn to hate the mental afflictions, and make war on them, and smash them.
Someone may ask the following question: “You seem to be describing some kind of bias in the attitude we should have towards the antidotes that eliminate our mental afflictions, and you have spoken about hating the thing that the antidote is supposed to eliminate. Aren’t these types of thoughts themselves just another kind of mental affliction—that is, the very thing which we are trying to eliminate?” These kinds of attitudes—of being attached to the antidotes for mental affliction, and of hating the mental afflictions we are trying to eliminate—are themselves only apparent mental afflictions. Because they are included into the antidote side—that is, because they are part of what acts to destroy the mental afflictions—they are not counted among the objects which we seek to eliminate from our minds. There are commentaries which do state that these are themselves something to be destroyed later, but what they mean by saying this is that, once one has finished off all the objects to be eliminated, one need no longer make war.
You can tie me to a stake and burn me, kill me,
Or you can cut off my head—that would be fine.
But I will never in any shape or form submit
To my great enemy, the mental afflictions.
Here is the second. Someone may ask another question: “Wouldn’t it be easier just to cooperate with the mental afflictions, rather than possibly having to undergo infinite thousands of sufferings during the task of eliminating them?” You can tie me to a stake and burn me, kill me. Or you can cut off my head—that would be fine. The only thing that would happen is that I would lose the body which I possess in this life. But I will never in any shape or form submit to—that is, I will never allow myself to come under the control of—my great enemy, the mental afflictions: those things which create the great sufferings of the hells and such, those things which block me from reaching the goals I hope for.
The third section from before describes how we should take joy in the fact that, if we make efforts, the mental afflictions can be removed. Here there are three parts: describing how, if we are able to eradicate the mental afflictions completely from our minds, they have nowhere else to go; how, because the mental afflictions spring from a cause which is a misperception, they really can be eliminated if we make great efforts; and how, if they are eradicated completely, there could be nowhere else for them to go at all—and should thus be eliminated.
If you push a normal enemy out of your country,
They can still go on to other lands,
Make their home there, and get reinforcements;
And then they can return.
The way in which the mental afflictions behave
As enemies though is not the same.
Here is the first of the three. “Still,” one may begin, “it would be better to simply coexist with the mental afflictions, because if they are like normal enemies in the everyday world, they can—if you remove them from the mind one time—go back and regroup, then return to hurt you again.” But they are not the same as normal enemies. If you push a normal enemy, a worldly enemy, out of your country one time, they can still go on to other lands, stay there, make their home there, and then regroup—get reinforcements. Then they can return to seek revenge upon you. The way in which the mental afflictions behave as enemies though is not the same. Once you eradicate them completely from your mind, there is nowhere else for them to go, and it is completely impossible for them to regroup and return.
The mental afflictions are such that
Once I have eliminated them,
Cleared them from my mind
By using the eye of wisdom,
They have nowhere else to go—
No place they can make their home,
No way to return and harm me.
It all comes down to the fact
That my mind is so very weak:
I do not have the energy.
Here is the second point. The mental afflictions are such that, once I have managed to eradicate them from my mind a single time, they have nowhere to stay. I should therefore make efforts in using the eye of wisdom—the perception of emptiness—to eliminate the seed of the mental afflictions: for everything related to mental affliction springs from a root which is a misperception. Once I have eliminated these seeds, once I have cleared the mental afflictions away from my mind in this way, they have nowhere else at all to go, no place they can make their home, no place to regroup, no way to return to do me harm—it would be a complete impossibility.
Even though this is the case, the mental afflictions do continue to hurt me, and it all comes down to the fact that my mind is so very weak: I do not even have the energy to throw the mental afflictions out even the single time that would be needed.
It’s not true that the mental afflictions
Exist among objects, neither do they exist
Among the group of the powers,
Nor somewhere throughout, nor somewhere other.
There is nowhere at all that they can stay
To do harm to every living being.
They are like an illusion, and so
I should eliminate this fear from my heart,
And rely on the practice of making great efforts,
Working to develop wisdom.
Why should I subject myself pointlessly
To the pains of the hells and the rest?
Here is the third point. Someone else might come and assert the following: “We could never be able to eliminate mental afflictions even once, because they grow with the mind itself, and exist as part of the very nature of things.” It’s not true that the mental afflictions exist by nature among the objects which we perceive: visual objects and the rest. If this were the case, then mental afflictions would start to grow even in enemy destroyers, as they looked upon visual objects and such.
Neither do the mental afflictions exist in this way among the group of the physical powers, such as the eye. This is because a person who is directing his or her thoughts towards the meaning of the actual reality of things may still possess the power of the eye, and yet not have any mental affliction.
Nor do the mental afflictions exist somewhere throughout these two possibilities, nor somewhere other than the two: once you have eradicated them from their very root, there is nowhere at all that they can stay: that they can by some kind of nature go and remain, to return then to do harm to every living being.
One might have the following thought: “These mental afflictions are empty of any natural kind of existence, but at the same time they do appear to have natural existence, and so they are like an illusion. As long as this is the case—because they do exist through some nature of their own—I could never eliminate them from their root.” It is good though if I can eliminate this fear from my heart, and rely on the practice of making great efforts to remove my mental afflictions, through working to develop the wisdom which perceives emptiness. Given that I therefore have at the present moment the ability to remove these afflictions, it is not good on the other hand that I subject myself pointlessly to the sufferings of the lower realms, to hells and the rest. Why should I put myself through these pains? Some commentators have also explained the previous lines as referring to the fact that, once we remove the seeds for the mental afflictions, they can no longer stay in these various places.
In this way we must engage in different
Kinds of contemplations and make great efforts
For the purpose of accomplishing the rules
As they have been described.
If you—a patient who absolutely had
To be treated with specific kinds of medicine—
Refused to listen to your physician’s advice
How could you ever be cured?
Here is the third overall section, which is the summary of the chapter. In this way—that is, as explained above—we must engage in contemplations of many kinds, and make great efforts in the practice of carefulness, just as the Teacher has taught us to do, for the purpose of accomplishing the ends of both the wish for enlightenment, and the various rules for bodhisattvas, as they have been described earlier. Suppose you were sick, but refused to listen to the advice of your physician. How then could you ever be cured, if you were a patient who absolutely had to be treated with specific kinds of medicine? I would never be cured. Therefore we must exert ourselves in the task of eliminating our mental afflictions, just as that Great Physician, the Teacher, has taught us to do.
Freeing yourself of the dirt
Of the faults in your own mind
And keeping your good deeds increasing,
And never becoming less,
All depends without a doubt
On the practice of carefulness;
As such the wise should ever after
Live their lives with care.
This is just a brief verse, to summarize the chapter.
This has been the fourth chapter, the presentation on carefulness, from the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life.
Here finally we cover the name of the chapter. This then has been the explanation of the fourth chapter, the presentation on carefulness, from the “Entry Point for the Sons and Daughters of the Victorious Buddhas,” a commentary upon the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life.
The second section, a demonstration that the fine qualities depend on the mind, has six different parts, consisting of an explanation of how giving, an ethical way of life, not getting angry, joyful effort, meditation, and finally wisdom each depend on the mind.
We will present the first of these in two steps of its own: a demonstration of the fact that the culmination of the perfection of giving does not depend on removing the poverty of each and every living being; and an explanation of how one can reach the final end of a generous state of mind through continual practice.
Suppose something were the perfection
Of giving when it removed
The poverty of every living being.
If there were living beings though
Who suffered still from hunger,
How then could the Protectors of
The past have reached the perfection?
Here is the first. Suppose someone were to assert the following: “We can posit something as the perfection of giving when the culmination of this perfection of giving results in removing the poverty of each and every living being.” If though there were living beings who still suffered from hunger, and there are, how then could the Protectors of the past, the Buddhas, ever have reached the culmination of the perfection of giving? It would be illogical.
It was spoken that the perfection
Of giving is the thought
To give all that one has,
Along with the results,
To every living being.
This then is the reason why
It’s the state of mind alone.
Here is the second point, which is a kind of summary: “Therefore it was spoken that the culmination of the perfection of giving occurs when one has perfectly accustomed oneself to the kind of thought where one wishes to give all that one has—one’s body, one’s possessions, and the total sum of one’s good deeds, along with the power of the virtue that results from giving these things away—to every living being. This then is the reason why, it is because of this, that giving is only something that depends upon the state of mind.”
The second part, on the ethical way of life, has two sections of its own: a demonstration that it would be incorrect to say that the culmination of the perfection of an ethical life depends on the final end of any living being who is being killed; and that the culmination of the perfection comes from constant practice of the attitude of wanting to give up harm to others.
How could you ever chase fish and such
To a place where no one could kill them? Here is the first point. It must be incorrect to say that the culmination of the perfection of an ethical life should depend on trying to reach the end of the last living being who is being killed. Because how could you ever chase every wild beast, and every fish, and every other such being to some place where no one could kill any of them? You never could. It is explained that the perfection Of an ethical way of life consists of
Attaining a way of thinking wherein
One wishes to abandon.
Here is the second. Therefore, for this reason, it is explained in sutra that the culmination of the perfection of an ethical way of life consists of attaining the culmination of the constant practice of a way of thinking wherein one wishes to abandon any idea of harming someone else, or of stealing anything. The sutra at this point says, “What is the perfection of an ethical way of life? It is the way of thinking in which one abandons anything that is harmful to others.”
It would be a complete impossibility
Ever to destroy altogether those
Irritating people, vast as space.
But the destruction of a single object,
The thought of anger, is comparable
To destroying each and every enemy.
The third part, on the perfection of patience, has three sections: the point, a metaphor, and the connection between the point and the metaphor. Here is the first. You have reached the culmination of patience with the destruction of a single object—the thought of anger, which is comparable to destroying each and every one of your external enemies. You would have to admit that the culmination of this perfection is not something that depends on finishing off every possible object which could make you angry though, because it would be a complete, or entire, impossibility ever to accomplish the destruction of every single irritating person, for these are as limitless in extent as space itself. Therefore patience is also something that depends upon the mind.
How could you ever find enough leather
To cover the entire surface of Earth?
Covering simply the soles of your feet
Is comparable to the entire surface.
Here is the second point. Suppose you decided to cover the entire surface of Earth with leather, in order to prevent the thorns and so on there from hurting your feet. How could you ever find enough leather to do so? Even in this case you would simply wrap your own feet in enough leather to cover the area of the soles of your feet, in order to keep the thorns and such from hurting you. This would be comparable then to covering the entire surface of the Earth with leather.
Just the same it would be an impossibility
For me to stop every single outer object;
Rather I should stop this tendency of my own mind.
Why should I stop all the others?
Here is the third part. My present case is the same as this metaphor. It would be an impossibility for me to stop every single outer object that might bring me any kind of pain. Rather I should stop this tendency of my own mind to focus on these same objects and then feel anger. It is through the constant practice of this action that I could eventually bring patience to its culmination. Why though should I try to stop all the other objects, everything that could ever make me angry? I never could, and there is no need even to try.
A single instance of clear mind
Can as a result lead you
To the Pure One or the like.
Along these same lines the related actions
Of body and speech are unable to give
A result if one’s efforts are feeble.
Here is the fourth point. Joyful effort as well is something that depends upon the mind, something that depends on your constant practice of it to bring it to its final conclusion. Consider the fact that a single small instance of clear and focused concentration, in which with a joyful state of mind you are practicing meditation upon something like the first concentration level, can as a result lead you even so far as a birth in the place of the Pure One (Brahma), or the like. Along these same lines, an instance of the mind, and the related actions of body and speech, which are not related to a powerful state of mind are unable to lead to a desired result, such as the development of the the state of mind of the first concentration level, if one’s efforts are feeble—meaning where one has little joy in the task. Therefore it all depends on a powerful state of mind.
Suppose you attempt every kind of practice
Where you repeat, or do other asceticisms,
Over a long period of time.
If you allow your mind to be distracted
To other objects, then understanding
The true nature is meaningless.
Here is the fifth point. The culmination of the perfection of meditation as well is something that depends on the mind—a mind which is free of dullness and agitation, and which is lucid; a mind which is under the constant influence of thoughts of sadness over this life. Suppose now that you attempt every kind of practice where you repeat a great number of secret mantras, or asceticisms, such as fasting or the like, over a long period of time. If you allow your mind to be distracted to other objects as you do these practices, then you will be unable to understand the true nature of things.
As the Buddha himself has stated in scripture, “Oh monks! The practices of asceticism or of recitation, or any of the like, are fruitless when the mind is distracted to the objects of desire.” What Lord Buddha is saying is that practices done this way are meaningless, in the sense that they can never lead to the desired result.
Suppose any particular person fails
To understand this secret of the mind;
The highest import, the principal teaching.
They may hope to reach bliss and smash all suffering,
But will wander nonetheless, just as they
Always have, without reaching their goal.
Here is the sixth point. Wisdom is also something that depends upon the mind. Suppose any particular person fails to understand this secret of the mind, ultimate reality, because they are no proper vessel for being taught the highest import of all, the principal instruction of this teaching. It may be the case that they hope to reach matchless bliss, and to smash all the sufferings of the cycle of life. They will nonetheless be left without reaching the goal they wish for; they will be left wandering here and there, wherever, just as they always have been. Therefore the perfection of wisdom depends on the mind.
Reading Nine: Awareness
The following reading is taken from the Entry Point for Children of the Victorious Buddhas (rGyal-sras ‘jug-ngogs), a commentary by Gyaltsab Je Darma Rinchen (1364-1432) on the book called Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Byang-chubsems- dpa’i spyod-pa la ‘jug-pa) by Master Shantideva (c. 700 AD).
The third section covers how to develop awareness through recollection. There are two steps to this explanation: how to develop recollection, and then how awareness is developed from this.
Because of this, recalling to mind
The Buddhas will also come
To him or her again and again.
Here is the first. If any particular person performs the contemplation described above then, because of this, recalling to mind the high qualities of the Buddhas, along with those of the Dharma and the Sangha, will also come to him or her again and again. They will thus be able to develop with ease the practice of recalling the Three Jewels.
Suppose a person reaches a point
Where they’re able to keep their recollection
Very solid; where they are able
To use their mind to protect.
At this point it will lead to awareness,
And even should these two
Disappear, they nonetheless return.
Here is the second point. Suppose a person reaches a point where he or she is able to keep their recollection very solid—is able to use their mind to protect themselves against mental afflictions. At this point then the recollection will lead this person to gain a kind of awareness, where they are able to watch themselves and grasp properly the distinction between occasions when their actions are proper, and when they are improper. It is also the case that, even should these two attitudes slip and disappear at some point, they nonetheless return. Therefore the question of whether one becomes a master of Buddhist practice or not hinges upon how well one can maintain their recollection and awareness; and thus one should seek to become a master of these two attitudes.
Here next is the third point from before, which covers how one should train oneself in the act of using recollection and awareness to guard one’s mind. We proceed in three separate sections: how to train oneself in the ethics of restraint, in the ethics of collecting goodness, and in the ethics of working for the benefit of all living beings.
The first section has two parts of its own, which are striving for purity in the actions of all three doors of expression, and protecting oneself from slipping. The first of these three has three divisions: how to watch one’s physical and verbal behavior; how to watch one’s mind; and then an explanation of situations which are allowed, and those which are not. Watching one’s physical and verbal behavior will be presented in terms of examining one’s motivation prior to any physical action; advice concerning how to look around, and other subjects; applying this advice to other activities; and then finally watching how one is staying.
At the particular moment
You should decide:
This state of mind has something
Wrong with it.
At this point freeze
Exactly as you are—
Stay like a bump on a log.
Here is the first. Whenever one is about to go somewhere, or do anything of the kind, one should at the particular moment—that is, before anything else—examine one’s motivation: one should decide, “This state of mind has something wrong with it,” or “This state of mind has nothing wrong with it.” If at this point you find that your motivation does have something wrong with it, then you should apply the appropriate antidote, which is to freeze exactly as you are, like a bump on a log, and refuse to be moved by something which is not good.
The advice relating to how one should look around comes in four separate steps: a general presentation on how you should undertake the activity of using your eyes to look around; instructions on what to do if you become tired; what to do if someone approaches you; and what to do when you have finished refreshing yourself.
I should never look around
Meaninglessly or with distraction,
But rather be sure to fix my mind,
And always keep my eyes lowered.
Here is the first. I should never, at any time, look around from side to side meaninglessly, with my mind distracted. This is because of the fact that, should I do so, my mind will get worse. Rather I should be sure to fix my mind on a virtuous object: whenever I look around, I should always keep my eyes lowered, looking ahead no farther than the length of a plowshare, [which is explained in scripture as one armspan].
To refresh myself
From looking this way,
I should look around
For the time being.
Here is the second point. If the time should come to invigorate myself—that is, if I find that I have become tired looking this way—then to refresh myself I should for the time being raise my eyes, and look around.
It may happen that someone
Comes into my line of vision;
I should look at them and say,
“It is good to see you.”
I should look around me
On all sides again and again,
To check if there are dangers
Or the like on the way.
Here is the third point. When I have started to look around this way, it may happen that someone comes into my line of vision, and approaches me. At this point I should look at them and give them a smile, and say, “It is good to see you.”
Moreover, as I move down the road it may be necessary to check whether or not there are any dangers or the like on the way, and in such a case I should look around me on all sides, again and again.
When I’ve finished refreshing myself
I should then turn around,
And look at the things behind me;
I should check
In front and in back of me,
And then either go, or come.
Here is the fourth point. When I have finished refreshing myself and it is time to go on, then I should turn around and look at the things behind me. I should check in front of me and in back of me—to see if there is anything there like a cliff—and then either go, or come, as may be fitting.
I should act the same way
In every circumstance,
Acting only after determining
Whether there is any meaning.
Next is the third section from above, on applying this advice to other activities. I should act the same way in every circumstance in which I am about to engage in any physical or verbal action. That is, I should act only after determining whether there is any meaning, any benefit, to myself and others.
I should prepare myself and say,
“This is how my body is engaged now.”
And then I should look at myself and say,
“For this particular length of time
Just how will my body be engaged?”
Here is the fourth part, about how to stay in different states. Whenever I am engaged in anything at all, I should consider myself, prepare myself, and say, “This is how my body is engaged right now.” And then I should look at myself and say, “Now I am going to undertake some activity for a particular length of time; just how will my body be engaged, in what kind of activity?” After this, go and try your best to undertake some activity which is free of any kind of wrong.
My mind is a wild elephant:
I must tie it properly to the strong stake
Of a spiritual object of focus.
I must try with my every effort
To watch that it stays this way,
Without ever getting loose.
Next comes the second point, on how to watch one’s mind. Here again there are two divisions: tying the mind to some virtuous object, and checking whether or not you are keeping your mind one-pointedly fixed upon a virtue or not.
Here is the first. My mind is an elephant that has yet to be trained, and is still wild. I must tie it properly to a strong stake; that is, to the spiritual object where I have promised to keep the focus of my mind, one-pointedly. I must try now with my every effort to watch that it stays this way, without ever getting loose.
No matter what I will make efforts
In single-pointed concentration
That never for even a second slips.
I will examine my thoughts
Constantly in a certain way, saying
“What is my mind engaged in?”
Here is the second division. Now no matter what I will make efforts to achieve a kind of single-pointed concentration which is focussed on a virtuous object, and which is never distracted elsewhere. I will see that my concentration never slips away, for even a single second, to any other object. And I will examine my thoughts constantly in a certain way, which is by saying to myself, “What is my mind engaged in right now; is it something which is proper, or something which is improper?”
Suppose that in danger or celebration,
Or anything related, I find myself unable;
I should do then the convenient.
It’s stated that, at any specific moment
In the act of giving this way,
You should leave the ethical way of life.
Next is the third point, an explanation of situations which are allowed, and those which are not. Suppose there is a situation where there is some danger that threatens my life, or I am engaged in some celebration such as an offering to the Jewels, or else I have to do anything related to something which is of even greater benefit to living beings, or anything of the like. And suppose that during one of these occasions I find myself unable to maintain very fine scrutiny of the actions of my body and my mind.
In such a case we are allowed to continue as we may find most convenient. The Sutra Requested by Unending Understanding states, “At any specific moment, when you are performing the act of giving in this way, then you should withdraw somewhat from the practice of the ethical way of life, and leave it for the moment.” This quotation is saying that, if you are unable at the same moment to maintain both of these two practices, then assuming it is the time for giving—that is, assuming you are concentrating primarily on learning the practice of giving at this point—then you should leave off the practice of an ethical way of life, as far as those fine points which you are unable to maintain at the moment. The point of this verse is that we must become masters in understanding the proper order of the path, and then complete each step of the path in its proper order.
With any action first consider,
And then undertake it,
Without thinking of any other.
If you focus your mind on this,
Then for the time being undertake
To practice it alone.
If you keep this way then everything
Will come out perfectly;
Otherwise you will fail in both.
If you follow this too then
The secondary afflictions of failing
In watchfulness will never grow.
One may raise the following objection: “The practice of an ethical way of life is superior to the practice of giving; how is it then that we are supposed to leave off the former practice for the latter?” With any series of actions that you must practice in a definite order, you must be careful to consider carefully which should come first. Then you should undertake this first action and not think of some other one.
If you are starting with the practice of giving, if you are focussing your mind on this, then you should for the time being undertake to practice it only. If you train yourself this way where there is a path that must be followed in a certain fixed order, then everything will come out perfectly; whereas if you do otherwise, and reverse the order somehow, you will fail in bringing both the earlier and the later steps to their proper conclusion.
There are secondary types of mental affliction which are a kind of failure to understand the stages of the path, a failure of watchfulness, and if you follow this understanding of the stages then they will never grow strong within you. As such you must become a master in understanding the proper order of the stages of the path.
Here is the second major section, on how to prevent oneself from slipping. This section itself has two parts: preventing yourself from slipping in the rules for the body, and preventing yourself from slipping in the rules for the mind. The first of these has three divisions, which are keeping yourself from falling under the control of distraction; giving up activities which are meaningless; and checking your motivation whenever you engage in any action.
Even if I must engage
In all sorts of useless conversation,
Or all those many kinds
Of interesting spectacles,
Still I should abandon
Any desire for them at all.
Here is the first. I should keep myself from engaging in all sorts of useless conversation such as talk about the leaders of countries, and criminals or the like; I should as well avoid all those many kinds of interesting spectacles such as performances of music or dance. Even if there is some pressing need to engage in these things, or if I do so out of consideration for others’ wishes, I should still abandon any desire at all for these things.
One should recall the rules
Of Those Who Have Gone to Bliss,
And out of terror desist immediately
From any activity such as digging the earth,
Cutting living plants, or drawing in the soil
Without any particular need.
Here is the second division. Even though one may not be a fully ordained monk, one should still recall the rules established by Those Who Have Gone to Bliss, and out of terror for the problems that would come to oneself desist immediately from any activity such as digging the earth, cutting living plants, or drawing in the soil without any particular need to do so.
Whenever I feel a wish to move
Or any wish at all to express myself,
I will first check my own mind;
I resolve firmly to act
In accord with what is right.
The third division has three parts of its own: the teaching, its explanation, and a summary. Whenever I feel a wish to move my body, or any wish at all to express myself in speech, I will first check my own mind. I will not allow myself to fall under the power of anything wrong, and I resolve firmly to act in accord with what is right: with what I know should be done, and should not be done. The explanation comes in five sections: what to do when you feel as though you want to have a mental affliction; what to do when agitation or similar thoughts come; what to do when you feel desire for material gain or fame, or anything of the like; what to do when you should be thinking of the benefit of others; and what to do when you feel as though you want to have a feeling like anger, depression, or such.
Whenever I feel as though I want
To have attachment, or else anger,
I should keep from going into action,
I should keep from speaking out,
I should stay as a bump on a log.
Whenever I feel as though I want to have attachment, or else anger, I should keep my body from going into action, and I should keep my speech from speaking out. I should stay as I am, working on the antidote, and stay as still as a bump on a log.
Suppose I feel agitation,
Or an urge to humiliate someone,
Or pride, or else conceit;
Suppose it occurs to me
That I should expose
Another person’s faults,
Or deceive another
By pulling the wool over their eyes.
Here is the second section. Suppose I begin to feel agitation, where my mind floats from one object to another, or else an urge to humilate someone, by laughing at them derisively. Or say that I start to feel pride, where I am puffed up by thinking of my own qualities, or else conceit, which comes from thinking of my own youthful vitality or the like. Suppose as well that it occurs to me that I should expose another person’s faults publicly, or that I should pull the wool over another’s eyes; that is, deceive another person by some devious action motivated by my own lack of contentment, my desire for some kind of profit for myself.
Or suppose a time comes
That I feel the urge
To sing my own praises,
Disparage others, or else contend.
In every such situation
I should stay like a bump on a log.
Or suppose a time comes that I feel the urge to sing my own praises, describing to everyone my good qualities; or else to disparage others by criticizing them, or to scold them with words of contempt. Suppose finally that I feel the need to engage in some argument with someone else, to contend with them. In every such situation I should stand completely still, and not move the slightest, and stay like a bump on a log.
Suppose as well that I feel
A desire for gain, or else for honor;
For a great circle of servants,
Or else the service of others.
On these occasions too I should stay
Still as a bump on a log.
Here is the third section. Suppose as well that I feel a desire for gain—in the form of money for teaching or the like; or else honor, such as when others prepare a seat upon which I shall teach; or reputation. Or perhaps I may begin to hope for a great circle of servants, or else desire the service of others, who come to honor me by massaging my body. On these occasions too I should stay still as a bump on a log, stay concentrating on the antidotes that work against these attitudes.
Suppose I ignore the needs of others,
Or strive only for my own needs,
Or else get the urge to simply talk;
When I am like this, I should stay
As still as a bump on a log.
Here is the fourth section. Suppose that, while I am supposed to be intent on reaching the goals of both myself and others, I ignore the needs of others, or else begin to strive only for my own needs, or else get the urge to simply talk. Whenever
I am acting like this kind of person, I should stay as still as a bump on a log.
Suppose I can no longer endure,
Or feel laziness, and fear.
Just so I might want to act
In some uncontrolled way,
Or engage in some irrelevant chatter,
Or get the thought to feel
Some bias for my own kind.
At such times too I should stay
As still as a bump on a log.
Here is the fifth section. Suppose I reach a point where I feel I can no longer endure another’s anger, or some suffering, or anything of the like. Or suppose I fall under the power of laziness, meaning a lack of joy for performing virtuous deeds, and so develop a fear for accomplishing good deeds or such. Just so I might want to act in some insistent, uncontrolled way, lacking any selfrestraint at all, or else feel the urge to engage in some irrelevant chatter. Or else I may get the thought to feel some bias for my own kind, my own relatives or the like. At such times too I should stop myself, and stay as still as a bump on a log, and maintain the antidotes for all these actions.
I should in this way check myself
For thoughts filled with mental afflictions,
Or those thoughts where I want
To make some kind of meaningless efforts.
Whenever they do come,
I should act like a warrior,
Using the antidotes
To keep my mind firm and steady.
Here finally is the third part from above: the summary. I should then in this way check myself for thoughts which are filled with mental afflictions, or else for those thoughts where I want to make some kind of meaningless efforts. Whenever they do come, I should act like some great and powerful warrior: I should use the proper antidote attitudes, and keep my mind firm and steady, preventing it from engaging in any negative action.
Reading Ten: The Perfections of Giving and Ethical Living
The following reading is taken from the Entry Point for Children of the Victorious Buddhas (rGyal-sras ‘jug-ngogs), a commentary by Gyaltsab Je Darma Rinchen (1364-1432) on the book called Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Byang-chubsems- dpa’i spyod-pa la ‘jug-pa) by Master Shantideva (c. 700 AD).
Here is the third part, [which is advice that you should involve yourself only with virtuous activities). This part has three sections of its own: advice to perform the act of giving towards exceptional objects; advice to perform virtuous activities on one’s own accord; and advice to develop the perfection of giving ever higher, and to act after once one has examined the purpose of acting.
The power of the virtue
Is so much more powerful
If done all the time,
Motivated by strong enthusiasm,
Only by the antidote, or performed
Towards objects of high spiritual qualities,
Those who’ve been of great benefit,
Or those who are suffering.
Here is the first. Since the power of the virtue is so much more powerful, I should exert myself in the following kinds of virtuous activity:
- Giving which is done “all the time,” meaning on a regular basis;
- That which is motivated by strong enthusiasm—performed with fierce good feelings;
- That which is motivated only by attitudes such as a lack of attachment—by thoughts which provide the antidote for negativities;
- That which is performed towards the highest objects: objects of high spiritual qualities such as the Three Jewels or the like, and objects who have been of great benefit, such as your parents;
- That which is performed towards objects which are suffering—the poor and the like.
I should become a master, and learn
To have great faith and enthusiasm;
They will lead me to perform deeds at all times.
I will learn to accomplish all kinds of virtue
Even if there’s no one else at all
On whom I can depend.
Here is the second. I should become a master of engaging in those actions which are to be taken up, and of avoiding those actions which are to be abandoned. And I should learn to have great faith and enthusiasm for virtuous deeds. These then will lead me to perform virtuous deeds at all times. And I will not perform these good deeds only because others have induced me to do so; I will learn to accomplish all kinds of virtue even if there is no one else at all on whom I can depend to help me.
I will perform the perfections
Of giving and the rest
So they are heightened ever further,
And never give up the greater for the less:
Concentrate on others’ aims.
Here is the third. I will perform the perfections of giving and “the rest,” meaning all of those up to wisdom, in such a way that they are heightened ever further; that is, so they increase in strength. Whenever I engage in the perfections of giving, an ethical way of life, or any of the others, I should never give up activities which are of greater virtuous power for those which are of less—I should rather concentrate my efforts on the greater.
These lines are indicating, by implication, the following: where one is unable to perform both the action of lesser power and the one of greater power—where a time has come where one must choose between the two—then we should give up the deed of lesser virtue to prevent the greater one from being lost. How do we establish which deeds are greater, and which are lesser? If for example there is a choice between accomplishing one’s own aims or someone else’s aims in this present life—if by bringing about one you would lose the other—then you should concentrate on others’ aims.
The third general section concerns training oneself in the ethical way of life in which one acts for the benefit of others. Here there are three parts: throwing oneself into the service of others; acting in ways which attract others to the teaching, while still striving to avoid being sullied by any bad deeds oneself; and training oneself in ways to preserve the opinions of others, and acting so that one is left unsullied by bad deeds.
They should in this way learn,
And then make efforts always
To fill the needs of others.
Those who possess compassion,
Who see the distant, have allowed
Even the prohibited.
Here is the first. One may ask the following question: “Bodhisattvas should, in this way mentioned above, learn the art of which actions to take up, and which to give up. And then they should always make efforts to fill the needs of others. Isn’t it true though that, because filling the needs of others may require us to undertake a wide variety of different actions, we might ourselves become sullied by some bad deeds?”
Those who possess compassion, the Buddhas, see directly even those objects which are “distant,” in the sense of being abstruse. There are certain actions, like the seven bad deeds of body and speech, which they have prohibited for listeners—for those who are working primarily for their own aims. On certain extraordinary occasions though, they have allowed even these same actions to bodhisattvas; when such persons perform these acts they are not only not a bad deed, but rather become the accumulation of great goodness.
The Sutra on Skilful Means, the Great Secret, for example mentions the ship captain named Great Compassion, who killed evil persons and thereby erased many eons of his future suffering in the cycle of life. There is also the incident that is stated to have occurred with the Brahmin youth named Karma. The phrase “those who possess compassion, who see to a distance” can also be explained as referring to these bodhisattvas—the ones for whom the seven deeds of body and speech are allowed—themselves. [It should be noted at this point that the practice of performing one of the seven bad deeds for great goodness is severely restricted, to those who have been practicing the bodhisattva path literally for millions of years, and should not be construed as allowed for others.]
The second part has two of its own: attracting others to the teaching through the use of material things, and attracting them through the Dharma. The first of these has three further sections: an explanation of the distinction between when to give food and clothing, and when not to give them; advice not to harm the body in order to accomplish some minor deed; and a description of the time and purpose when it would be appropriate to give up even one’s own body.
I should offer an equal share
To those who have fallen wrong,
Who have no one to protect them,
Who are engaged in asceticism.
I myself should eat only the proper amount,
And give away any possession
Except for my three dharma robes.
Whenever I partake of food, I should also offer an equal share to each of the following, should they be present: to “those who have fallen wrong,” meaning animals and tormented spirits; to the sick and others who have no one to protect them; and to those “who are engaged in asceticism”—referring to celibate, ordained persons.
I myself should follow the advice expressed in the phrase, “In all things judge the proper amount,” and eat only the proper amount of food, without committing any of the inappropriate deeds which relate to partaking of food. The motivation and such for eating should be the same as that described in the Letter to a Friend.
A bodhisattva who is a fully ordained monk should be ready to give away any possession he has, with the exception of his three dharma robes: his outer robe, his inner robe, and his lower robe. Even with these three robes, the bodhisattva may give away any extra ones that he may have, but may not give away those where he has no more than one, since this would be an obstacle to his practice of celibacy.
I carry out the holy Dharma
With my body; I should never harm it
For some minor benefit.
If I am able to act this way,
Then I can quickly fulfil
The hopes of every living being.
Here is the second section. My body is a base from which I carry out the holy Dharma; it is something with which, if I care for it properly, I can accomplish vast purposes for myself and others. I should never do any kind of harm to it merely for some minor benefit that it might do for someone else—I should shield it in the same way I would an open wound. Why is this so? Because if I am able to act this way, then I can—by using the spiritual leisure and fortune which I’ve found—reach the culmination of the practice of the three trainings, and in this way quickly fulfill the hopes of every living being. As the Four Hundred Verses says,
We should admittedly view this body
as though it were the enemy;
But all the same it is a thing
we must protect as well.
It is an action which creates
tremendous stores of merit
To live a life of many years
maintaining one’s morality.
I should never give away my body
With impure thoughts of compassion.
I should no matter what give away
My body, to achieve great goals
In both this and the future.
Here is the third part. It is admittedly true that bodhisattvas do, from the very beginning, offer their own bodies and the like to living beings from the very bottom of their hearts. I should never though perform the asceticism of giving away the flesh of my body or something of the like to someone who requests it in a way which involves an impure version of the thoughts of compassion where I am supposed to cherish others more than myself; that is, in such a way that I would feel distaste, or regret my offering later, or anything of the like. This point is expanded upon in the Compendium of Training, where a sutra is quoted which states that giving away things at the wrong time is the work of demons.
When there comes a time however when I have, on my side, freed myself from stinginess and other obstacles to the perfection of giving, and when I could without any problems thereby accumulate a great deal of virtuous energy, then I should no matter what give away my body, for this would act as a cause for me to achieve great goals in both this and all my future lives. Here is the second part from above, about attracting others to the teachings through the Dharma. Here there are three points: notes on the proper behavior of a person who is listening to the Dharma—that is, a description of persons to whom it would be improper to teach the Dharma; learning to judge details of the state of mind of the person who is to receive the teachings; and instruction not to take a person who has an aptitude for the wide-reaching path and introduce them to one which is lesser.
I should not teach the Dharma
To those who have no respect;
To those not ill wearing veils;
Who hold an umbrella, staff, or weapon;
Or who cover their heads with cloth.
Here is the first. I should not teach the Dharma to those who have no respect for the Dharma, or no respect for the one teaching the Dharma. Nor should I teach the Dharma to those who exhibit certain kinds of behavior, such as wearing veils or the like (assuming they are not doing so because they are ill); holding an umbrella, a staff, or some weapon; or covering the tops of their heads with cloth or such.
I should not teach the profound
And far-reaching aspects to the lesser,
Nor a woman without a male.
I should follow the behavior
Of respecting all Dharma equally,
No superior or inferior kinds.
Here is the second. I should not teach the profound and far-reaching aspects of the Dharma to those of lesser minds, to those who are not fit to receive these teachings. Nor should I teach the Dharma to a woman alone, without another male present. It is further stated that one has committed the bad deed of rejecting the Dharma if one discriminates between different parts of the teaching, by saying for example that the teachings of the greater and lesser ways are, respectively, superior and inferior kinds of Dharma—one better than the other; one more proper than the other; one a way to enlightenment, and the other not; or anything of the like. I should therefore follow a code of behavior where I respect all of them equally, and put each of them into practice.
I should never take one who is fit
To receive the teachings of the far-reaching
And introduce them to a teaching which is lesser.
Neither should I ever abandon the code
Of behavior, nor abuse the open and secret
Teachings through deceiving someone.
Here is the third. I should never take a person who is the type who can follow the greater way, one who is fit to receive the teachings of the far-reaching way, and introduce them to a teaching which is lesser—that is, I should never lead them along the path of the listeners. This is because it is stated that, should I do so, I will have committed a transgression of my vows.
Neither should I ever abandon the code of behavior contained in the morality of restraint: I should never abuse the open and secret teachings through deceiving someone who is fit to receive their actual content by telling them that, to make themselves pure, all they need to do is to recite the open and secret teachings out loud.
Here is the third overall section from above, which concerns training oneself in ways to preserve the opinions of others, and acting so that one is left unsullied by bad deeds. Here there will be an expanded explanation followed by a summary. The former of these two has three parts of its own: giving up physical actions which are wrong, and anything which would cause others to lose their faith; how to act when pointing out a road, or something of the like; and how to undertake the act of sleeping.
I should, whenever I throw out
The cleaning stick, or spit,
Cover them up.
Disposing of urine or anything similar
In water or on a piece of ground
Which others use is rebuked.
Here is the first. Bodhisattvas who have also left the home life must, except in those cases which are specifically allowed, strictly maintain each detail of the code of behavior spoken in the collection of scripture devoted to discipline, which is something shared by both the greater and lesser ways. And even those bodhisattvas who are still leading the home life must as well maintain these points, in order to preserve the faith of others.
Therefore I should—whenever I throw out the so-shing stick which I use to clean my mouth, or whenever I spit—cover them up with dirt or the like. And since I would be rebuked by the powerful pleasure creatures and other such beings if I did so, I should avoid ever disposing of excrement or urine, or else mucus from my nose, or anything similar in water or on a piece of ground which others use along with me.
I should never eat with my mouth stuffed,
Nor with noise, or with my mouth open.
Neither should I stick my legs out while I sit
Nor rub my shoulders together.
I should never eat in such a way that my mouth is totally stuffed with the food, or so that I make a loud smacking noise or anything of the like, or else with my mouth wide open. When I sit on a Dharma throne or similar seat, I should never stick my legs out touching the ground, or such. Neither should I rub myself on my shoulders together, meaning at the same time. It is however no fault if you rub yourself on your shoulders one at a time.
I should never stay in or on
A single conveyance, a single bed,
Or in the same place with another
Who is a woman. I should avoid
Any kind of behavior which might cause
People of the world to lose their faith,
Whether the obvious or the acquainted.
[As a monk,] I should never stay in or on a single conveyance, something like a horse or the like, or on a single bed, or in the same place with another person who is a woman. Even those bodhisattvas who are laypeople should avoid staying together with women who are not their own relatives.
In brief, I should avoid any kind of behavior which might cause people of the world to lose their faith, whether it is behavior that is obviously a problem to everyone everywhere, or whether it is something peculiar to that particular place or time, and therefore something that I might not already be aware of, but would have to acquaint myself with.
I should never point something out
With my individual fingers,
But rather use all my right hand,
Right and with respect.
Thus too should I guide
Any person along a way.
Here is the second. When I am pointing out something to someone, I should never do so with individual fingers of my left hand, since this would be something insulting them. Rather I should point with an attitude of respect, using all the fingers of my right hand, and turning it palm up, right. This too is the manner in which I should guide any person along a way.
I should never gesture with my hands
In a very animated way, but rather
Move them only a slight bit
And make some type of noise
Or snapping with them.
Were I to act differently though
It would show a lack of control.
Unless there is some specific purpose to be served by doing so, I should never gesture with my hands in a very animated way, since this might lead me to become careless. Rather I could move my hands only a slight bit, and make some type of a noise or snapping with them. It would though show a lack of controlled behavior if I were to act differently, and make this noise too loudly.
I should sleep in the desired direction,
In the way the Savior laid down in “nirvana,”
With awareness from the very beginning
I should be sure to rise up quickly.
Here is the third. Whenever I go to sleep, I should emulate the way that the Savior acted when he laid down and pretended to pass into “nirvana.” That is, I should first lie with my head in the desired direction. Then I should lay with my right side down, and place my left leg atop my right. I should put my head down on my right hand, and wrap myself nicely in my dharma robes, and sleep.
As I go off to sleep I should place my mind on a virtuous object, and utilize the attitudes of recollection and awareness. From the very beginning, as sleep comes, I should be sure to keep a very luminous state of mind, where light fills my mind, and I should reflect upon how I will rise up from my sleep quickly. As I drift off I should think of how I am about to sustain my body with the sleep, and then afterwards make great efforts in performing virtuous deeds.
The different types of activities
Described as something that bodhisattvas
Should undertake are limitless.
I must acquaint my mind with them,
And practice til the time arrives,
As it surely will, when I can
Put them in my own life.
Here is the second point from above. The various scriptures, and the commentaries which explain their true intent, describe different types of activities to be undertaken by bodhisattvas, activities which are unlimited. I would never be able to accomplish each and every one of these at present. Therefore from the very beginning I must, as mentioned above, acquaint my own mind with these activities, and practice until the time arrives, as it must, when I can put in my own life each and every one of these ways of living.
Class One: The Author, and Structure of the Text
The reason you’re in this class is because you’re going to die. Getting old and dying has a cause. The purpose of the class is to study the forces which cause your world, and the causes which give you things and also will take it all away (including your life and identity). The point of class is to study and change those forces, so that life isn’t endlessly about change, loss and suffering. The Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life is a handbook on how to affect those forces so that you don’t have to suffer and die. The point of Buddhism is to learn how not to suffer— to live in paradise forever. This is the guidebook on how to do that.
The Root Text and Author: JANG-CHUB SEMPAY CHUPA LA JUKPA Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life,
Buddhahood warrior way of life entering the main text for the course
Bodhisattva – charya – avatara (skt.) into
CHUN JUK The short name for the text.
learning how to act
GYALSE SHIWA HLA skt: Shantideva (c. 700 A.D.) The author of the Guide Bodhisattva peace angel
GYALTSAB JE DARMA RINCHEN (1364-1432) is his monk’s name. He throne holder of Je (Tsongkapa) was Je Tsongkapa’s student, who wrote the commentary:
GYALSE JUK-NGOK Entry Point for Children of the Victorious Buddhas child of Buddhas entry point
DUSHE SUMBAWA (skt: Bhusuku) “Mister Three Thoughts.” This was Master on your mind only 3 things Shantideva’s nickname in the monastery
Outline of the 10 Chapters:
1. JANG-CHUB KYI SEM KYI PEN YUN Benefits of the Wish for Enlightenment.
Getting you excited about being a bodhisattva and having bodhichitta, which means to be a spiritual warrior and to fight against the mental afflictions in your own mind, the true battleground.
2. DIKPA SHAKPA Purifying Bad Deeds. The process by which you set your mind up to become a bodhisattva; you clean your mind and its negative energies in preparation to becoming a bodhisattva.
3. JANG-CHUB KYI SEM SUNGWA Acquiring the Wish for Enlightenment. Includes
a) developing the state of mind of a bodhisattva, and
b) the ceremony to commit yourself to becoming a bodhisattva. It covers many techniques for collecting good energy. You learn to draw in the spiritual energy of the universe, after first getting rid of negative energy through the methods described in chapter two; you clean out your mind and then build up positive energy so that you have the basis to acquire bodhichitta.
4. BAK-YU TENPA Learning to Be Careful. Once you learn how to think and act like a bodhisattva, you must take good care of that new frail ability, like a newborn baby.
5. SHE-SHIN SUNGWA Guarding Awareness (and recollection). Setting the watchman which alerts you when you’re about to misbehave, and keeps you focused on what you’re supposed to be thinking about.
6. SUPA TENPA The Chapter on Not Getting Angry. The art of not getting angry when circumstances warrant becoming angry.
7. TSUNDRU TENPA Joyous Effort. Having a good time doing good things; being excited or enthusiastic about doing good.
8. SAMTEN TENPA The Chapter on Meditation. Meditation is the platform from which you can see emptiness directly.
9. SHERAB KYI LEU The Chapter on Wisdom.
10. NGOWAY LEU The Chapter on Dedication. Taking a good thing you’ve done, trying to see the long-term effects of that deed, and dedicating it towards a particular goodness. Seeing the outcome of what you did.
The Six Perfections—A bodhisattva’s activities, and how they correspond to the chapters:
1. Giving ………………………….. Chapter 10 4. Joyous Effort ……………. Chapter 7
2. Morality ……………………….. Chapter 5 5. Concentration ………….. Chapter 8
3. Not Getting Angry ………. Chapter 6 6. Wisdom …………………… Chapter 9
Class Two: Bodhichitta, the Five Paths
JANGCHUB SEM KYE Bodhichitta
Enlightenment mind develop
The Five Paths:
LAM NGA The Five Paths. Five stages you progress through in order path five to become enlightened, five levels of spiritual development:
1. TSOK LAM Path of Accumulation. Real renunciation is reached on this accumulation path path. It’s very hard to reach.
2. JOR LAM Path of Preparation. It’s marked by four stages. You begin preparation path to understand more about emptiness with each stage, which leads to…
3. TONG LAM Path of Seeing. You see emptiness directly in the first seeing path instant of the Path of Seeing, while in very deep meditation. It lasts 15-20 minutes the first time. The second part of the Path of Seeing is what you experience when you come out of the direct perception of emptiness. It leads to…
4. GOM LAM Path of Habituation. You are getting used to what you saw habituation path during the path of seeing. You’re applying what you saw at the path of seeing to your everyday life. It leads to…
5. MI LOB LAM Path of No More Learning. If you have bodhichitta at this no more study path level, you reach total Buddhahood; if not, you reach nirvana. This path is the final result, the ultimate goal.
Maitreya’s Definition of the Wish:
SEMKYE PA NI SHENDUN CHIR YANGDAK DZOKPAY JANGCHUB DU wish for enlightenment for sake of all beings total enlightenment want bodhichitta to reach
“Bodhichitta, the Wish for enlightenment, is the desire to reach total enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.”
Bodhichitta Felt after Seeing Emptiness:
You feel a very special instance of bodhichitta just after seeing emptiness directly; this is very different from the general bodhichitta. It relates to two types of wisdom:
1. NYAMSHAK YESHE The wisdom attained in extremely deep meditation, the direct extremely deep wisdom perception of emptiness. meditation
2. JE TOB YESHE The wisdom you attain just after the direct perception subsequent wisdom of emptiness. If you’re on the Mahayana track, then you have an extraordinary, almost orgasmic thought to help every living being, as though a flood light is emanating out of your chest. All your relationships, all your money, everything is for others. It’s great to be released from the attitude of taking care of yourself alone. One minute of this feeling is worth everything. You overcome selfishness. You must meditate 1-2 hours every day to reach this state.
Two Kinds of Bodhichitta:
(This description of the two kinds of bodhichitta specifically relates to seeing emptiness, not to general bodhichitta without seeing emptiness.)
1. MUN SEM The wish for enlightenment in the form of a prayer. The emotion that you will devote all of your future lives to helping others. It’s like planning and wanting to do it, having this ideal.
2. JUK SEM The wish for enlightenment in the form of action. All throughout every day you constantly look around to see how you can help others. It’s not a conscious thought, but an undercurrent which leads you to always be looking for opportunities to help others. Committing yourself to bodhisattva vows and doing the six perfections.
Class Three: Preliminaries to Gaining Bodhichitta
GEL KYEN TUN KYEN
hindering condition conducive condition
There are things which block you from reaching a state where you care about others as much as yourself, and there are things which are conducive which you must gather and arrange. The blocks are inner spiritual obstacles, which you are not even aware of, that prevent you from reaching your spiritual goals.
After you have aspiring bodhichitta and engaging bodhichitta you must remove the obstacles to achieving real bodhichitta. You do that by removing negative imprints (karma).
Before you can purify negative karma, you must clear the obstacles to successfully purifying negative karma.
DIKPA SHAKPA Purification.
bad deeds split yourself open
Three Preliminaries to Purifying Karma:
1. Doing prostrations
2. Taking refuge
3. Making offerings.
You must do these to collect the positive energy needed to be able to purify karmic imprints.
You can’t purify karma without doing these. If you do not purify karma, you will never be able to develop real bodhichitta.
1. CHAK TSELWA Prostrations.
hand to look for something
When you prostrate the idea is that you think, “I’m in the presence of the Dharmakaya, and I must get down on the ground.” You think, “I believe the Dharmakaya is present, and the Buddha exists, and I acknowledge it.” That’s the point of prostrating; if you don’t think that, then there is no point in prostrating. It’s a chance to do something that is purely a sacred act, not commercial, admirable to others, etc. The objects of our prostrations (also of taking refuge and making offerings):
KOYN CHOK SUM The Three Jewels:
very rare highest three
A. SANGYE KONCHOK Pictures representing the Buddha are the “nominal” (so Buddha Jewel called) Buddha Jewel. They are not the main Buddha Jewel. The main Buddha Jewel is the Dharmakaya, the emptiness of the Buddha. (The Buddha Jewel is different than the Buddha.)
B. CHU KONCHOK The books and teachings are the nominal Dharma Jewel. The Dharma Jewel real Dharma Jewel is seeing emptiness directly, the five Paths which lead to the direct perception of emptiness, and the cessations which result from seeing emptiness. So we bow down to the direct perception of emptiness and its resulting cessations. (The Dharma Jewel is different than the Dharma.)
C. GENDUN KONCHOK The nominal Sangha Jewel is ordained monks and nuns. Sangha Jewel The real Sangha Jewel is everyone who has perceived emptiness directly.
2. KYAM DRO Taking Refuge. You take refuge in the Three Jewels. Taking refuge is what makes you a Buddhist. You take refuge for protection from suffering and death. **** Buddhism offers almost no protection until you understand emptiness well. Emptiness is the protection. ****
3. CHUPA Making Offerings. You should offer things that are significant to you, and without any ulterior motives of personal gain. It’s a statement that you believe there are beings beyond this world. Those beings derive no benefit from your offering. They experience everything as bliss all the time; your offerings give them nothing unique—offerings are not for their benefit, but for your own. You are preparing for purification—you must change yourself, your mind, and its predispositions. Offering creates positive energy for that.
Three Kinds of Offerings:
1. DAKPU MASUNG WAY DZE Offering things that no one owns: mountains, the sky, etc.
2. RANG GI LU ULWA Offering your own body: putting yourself your own body offer at the service of the Three Jewels; spending your life doing service.
3. LU TRULWAY CHUPA Offerings you send out with your own mind: with emanate offer Fantasize beautiful things in your mind and mind and offer them. Really get into it and enjoy it. It changes your thoughts and behavior. Master Shantideva mentions twelve such offerings.
If you go for refuge, prostrate, or make offerings without thinking about the emptiness of the Buddha, the direct perception of emptiness, and those who have seen emptiness, you’re not doing it properly and it won’t prepare you to purify negative karma. You won’t be able to purify negative imprints and gain bodhichitta.
Class Four: How to Purify Negativity
Removing Obstacles to Getting Bodhichitta:
Preparing and setting things up properly is critical for succeeding in any undertaking. If all the causes and conditions are established, the result must happen—you can’t stop it. Acquiring bodhichitta is very difficult, and to get it all of the preliminaries must be in place. If you establish the causes and conditions it must, and will, arise in your mind. Prostrating, going for refuge and making offerings are a warm-up to prepare you to purify your mind of bad deeds. Purification is necessary to develop bodhichitta, and if you don’t do these, purification won’t work.
To become enlightened you must stop collecting negative karma (doing non-virtue), eliminate all old bad karma, and collect only good karma. Purification is the practice of wiping out old negative mental imprints (karma).
Purifying Negative Mental Imprints:
TOB SHI Four Forces. If you have these four elements, you can wipe out the forces four negative imprints (karma) in your mind, or reduce their effect so those that would lead to a hell rebirth ripen as merely a headache, for example. All four forces must be present for this to work.
CHU SHI TENPAY DO Sutra which Teaches the Four Practices. Lord Buddha practice 4 which teaches sutra taught the four forces. This is the name of the sutra which Gyaltsab Je refers to in his teaching of the four forces.
The Four Forces:
1. NAMPAR SUN JINPAY TOB Destruction Force: Regret. The “intelligent regret of rip out, destroy force an educated Buddhist.” This is the one that badly damages the imprint—regret is behind the destruction. This is the regret of a person who understands how karma is planted in the mind, and how once you have commited a bad deed you have just set yourself up to suffer in the future. This intelligent regret is very different from feeling guilty.
2. TEN GYI TOB Foundation Force: Refuge and Bodhichitta, the foundation of force foundation which you use to get back up after falling. You need some solid ground to stand upon. By remembering refuge (emptiness) and bodhichitta (the wish to help others) you re-establish that correct motivation as your foundation, as the ground and basis of your behavior.
3. NYENPO KUNTU CHUPAY TOB Antidote Force. Undertaking an activity to make up antidote activity force for what you did.
Six Antidote Activities:
1. DODE SAMBO LA TENPA Study the scriptures that teach emptiness. You must sutras profound study have in mind that you are studying for the purpose of purifying a specific misdeed. Even just fifteen minutes of study is okay.
2. TONGPA NYI GOMPA Meditate on emptiness. This is the most powerful emptiness of meditating antidote.
3. DEPA LA TENPA Recite secret mantras. In order for a mantra to work, repeat practice it must have been composed by a very holy being, and the person who is reciting it must have a good heart, and pure motivation. If both of these elements are present, mantras can be incredibly powerful. To use a mantra for purification, think of the bad deed, and wish to purify it as you recite the mantra.
4. KU SUK LA TENPA Practice of the holy bodies. Making altars, statues, holy body practice paintings, stupas, and so on of the images and forms of holy beings.
5. CHUPA LA TENPA Practice giving offerings. offering practice
6. TSEN LA TENPA Practice the names. Learning and reciting the names name practice of holy beings, with devotion.
4. NYEPA LE LARN DOKPAY TOB Restraint Force. The resolution not to do the deed bad deed turn away from force again. This is the one which makes the four forces work. Resolve not to do the bad deed for a realistic amount of time, so that you will not also be telling a lie by saying that you will never do it again when you will slip, or forget and do it again. Promise that, “I won’t have that negative thought for the next hour,” or “I won’t do that deed at all in the next month.”
We collect vast amounts of karma (mostly non-virtuous) each day. Doing purification once in a while will not be significant enought to destroy vast accumulations of negative karma. You must do karmic purification consistently and frequently, or it will never keep pace with and overcome your negativities. You should do the Four Forces every day, and you don’t have to be in meditation to do it. Every time Master Atisha had a bad thought, he would stop immediately to purify it.
Class Five: Collecting Goodness and Removing Obstacles
The Antidote to Negative Karma:
NYENPO KUNTU CHUPAY TOB The antidote force for purifying negative karma.
Understanding emptiness is the ultimate antidote.
Two thoughts can’t co-exist in one mind at the same time. When you have an understanding of emptiness in your mind, other afflicted reactions/thoughts can’t be there at the same time.
This is why emptiness is the ultimate antidote to negative afflictions and karma. This antidote is applied to:
The Three Poisons:
DUK SUM The Three Poisons, the main disease in our minds which causes poison three afflictions. These poisons are in our mind all the time, circulating constantly like poison in your blood. They hurt you, and are always with you. If could you get rid of them, you would feel much better. The three poisons are: liking things ignorantly, disliking things ignorantly, and ignorance itself.
The technical definition of liking things ignorantly (aka, desire, attachment):
SAK CHE KYI NGUPO LA YI-ONG DU NGANG NE impure of thing attractive appears to be
RANG TOB KYI MI DREL WAR DUPAY SEM-JUNG SEMPA independently doesn’t want to lose wants mental function thought
A mental function (thought) that doesn’t want to lose something which is actually impure, but which appears as attractive.
Liking something ignorantly means to like something which is impure, and will later change into suffering—being attracted to things in a way which can’t bring you ultimate satisfaction or happiness. The karma behind the object you’re attracted to will wear out and you will lose it. Ignorant desire misapprehends or mistakes its object; it sees the object and misunderstands it. When you see the object as anything other than your own projection forced upon you by your past karma, you are misperceiving the object. When you misperceive the object, then you can have mental afflictions toward it-”stupid” desire, or “stupid” disliking. When you perceive the object correctly—as an empty object which you’re perceiving a certain way because of your past karma—you can’t have stupid desire or disliking toward it. “Stupid” implies you would do something non-virtuous to get it.
Four Steps for Collecting Negative Karma.
1. You misunderstand the object; you think it exists independent of your own projections
2. You want the object
3. You are willing to do something unethical to get it
4. You collect bad karma
If step number one isn’t present, you can’t collect bad karma. If you understand that good objects only come from doing good, you won’t commit non-virtue to get good objects. “Stupid” liking and disliking is based upon being willing to do non-virtue because of ignorance about the nature of where good things come from.
Non-stupid liking or disliking is to have wisdom, to understanding the emptiness of an object while you are experiencing it. For example, wanting good things while understanding that you must do virtue to experience empty objects as enjoyable; or disliking unpleasant things and thinking that you must avoid non-virtue to avoid experiencing empty objects as unpleasant things.
Intelligent liking is enjoying something while understanding it’s emptiness, while understanding that the experience is forced upon you as a result of virtue done in the past, which you must experience as a good result. Revel and rejoice in your past virtue!
Three Reasons to Use the Four Forces to Purify Negative Karma:
1. LENDRE KYI NAMYE LA MIKEPA actions/consequences all details don’t understand
We don’t understand what’s right and wrong very well. Therefore we must purify the bad deeds we do, even through we may not be aware that we did anything non-virtuous.
2. CHANGSE SHE-KYANG DOR LEN TSUL SHIN DU MI JEPA a bit may understand, but take up/give up in the proper way don’t do
Even if we understand karma a little, we can’t control ourselves to do the right thing: we can’t apply what we do know very well; we are unable to do what benefits us and avoid what hurts us. We are constantly collecting bad karma at a vast rate. Purification must be well applied, serious, and consistent to overcome our non-virtues. If you do this, the purification overcomes the bad deeds and things will improve in your life in a noticeable way. Wimpy purification won’t have much noticeable effect. As you purify old bad karmas they ripen as small sufferings and things will seem worse to you. After the old collection of bad karma is used up in this way your life will begin to improve, unless you generate more non-virtue than you purify.
3. JANG SEM KYEWAY GEK – JONG
bodhichitta able to develop obstacle remove it
Purification clears away the obstacles to reaching the state of mind where you can love others as much as you love yourself.
After you have cleared away the obstacles (negativities in your mind) to getting bodhichitta by doing the Four Forces, you must collect some positive energy—conducive conditions—which help bodhichitta to grow.
Five Practices for Collecting Positive Energy Needed to Gain Bodhichitta:
1. YI RANG Rejoicing. Be happy about the good things that you and others do. Feel joy about them.
Three Levels of Rejoicing:
1. Being happy about anything good you’re doing to get to a higher realm is called first-level rejoicing. This mostly involves avoiding the ten non-virtues.
2. Being happy about you or another doing good things to get to nirvana. This mainly involves doing things to permanently remove your mental afflictions, and most specifically involves seeing emptiness.
3. Being happy about things done by yourself or others to become fully enlightened.
2. KULWA Asking holy beings to teach dharma. Buddhist teachers normally won’t teach you unless you ask (three times is traditional), and you must ask in the right way. Asking in the right way means primarily to demonstrate that you’re applying what they’ve already taught you, and are making others happier rather than the opposite.
3. SOLNDEB Requesting your teachers to stay, not to pass on to nirvana, not to pass away. The act of asking them to remain creates the karma for them to continue appearing to you. If your karma wears out, your teacher will leave you.
4. NGOWA Dedication. Putting your good virtue in the bank to be saved and used for enlightenment, rather than cashing it in on temporary pleasures. If you don’t dedicate your virtues, they can be destroyed by non-virtue.
Four kinds of Dedication:
1. General dedication: “May all beings become enlightened by this deed.”
2. Dedicating virtue to help sick people.
3. Dedicating virtue to help hungry and thirsty people.
4. Dedicating virtue so that all beings can get anything they want.
5. TONG SEM Generosity, Surrender. Total willingness to give up everything you have for other people—your body, anything you own, and all your goodness (good karma). This isn’t the perfection of giving, but a warm up for it.
If you don’t practice all five of these strongly and sincerely, you won’t get bodhichitta.
Class Six: Taking Joy
We have thus far described three steps that must be taken to successfully develop bodhichitta:
1. Doing the three preliminaries prior to purifying negative mental imprints.
2. Purifying the negative mental imprints which are obstacles to gaining bodhichitta with the four forces.
3. Collecting the positive energy needed to gain bodhichitta through the five practices.
The next step is to take bodhisattva vows for aspiring and engaging bodhichitta. After that there is another step, which is tonight’s subject. Traditionally, there are two bodhichitta ceremonies.
The second ceremony was to commit yourself to engaging bodhichitta; the first ceremony was to vow to try to get bodhichitta “in the form of a prayer.” This initial ceremony includes:
1. Purifying obstacles
2. Collecting positive energy
3. The ceremony to get the wish
4. Taking joy, after the ceremony occurs:
GAWA GOMPA Taking Joy. Being totally happy that you took the bodhisattva joy meditating on vows. Having joy and dwelling on the emotion of joy. Being very happy that you took the ceremony and the pledge. This is a very important step after you have taken the ceremony; it cements it into your mind and sets the stage for your bodhichitta to increase and flourish after the ceremony. You must sit down and feel happy after the ceremony. This is very important.
Being happy after the ceremony has two parts: being happy for yourself, and making others happy.
Being happy for yourself: Think about how bodhichitta is going to accomplish your own goals. This has three parts:
1. SENG TUPA Uplift your heart. Be happy and pumped up that you made a commitment to help all others for the rest of your life. Just making the commitment is a great thing, even if you keep it weakly.
DENGDU DAKTSE DREBU YU; MIYI SIPA LEKPAR TOB
from this moment my life fruitful human rebirth well achieved
DERING SANGYE RIKSU KYE; SANGYE SESU DAK GYUR TO
today Buddhas their family born into Buddhas royal child I have become
From this moment on, my life has become fruitful;
I have truly achieved a human rebirth, been born again;
Today I’ve been born into the Buddha’s family;
Now I have become a child of the Buddhas.
2. Now that you have this commitment, you should wish to keep it, and to keep it nicely. 3. Think about the rarity of what you have just done. You are one in a million. Of all those in existence, almost no one has bodhichitta. You have determined to make every act be for others’ benefit, to devote everything, to give up your whole life to try to reach enlightenment to help all beings be happy. This is the incredible rarity of getting the bodhichitta commitment.
Being happy about how you can help others by having bodhichitta:
Think about how you will be able to destroy all of the sufferings of others by having bodhichitta. You now have some ammunition to destroy others’ sufferings.
Five ways you can liberate others from suffering by having bodhichitta:
1. DROWAY CHIDAK JOMPA Destroy the lord of death for other beings. The lord beings lord of death destroy of death is inside you. It is the condition which you are born with, your impending death. If you develop real compassion, you will be able to stop other people’s death, as well as your own. Only by developing compassion can you become fully enlightened and stop your own death, and then you can teach others to do the same.
2. ULWA JOMPA Destroy material and spiritual poverty. If you get poverty destroy real bodhichitta or take the wish, you are taking the first step toward being able to remove the poverty of others. You get to that state yourself (being freed of poverty) and teach others how to do it.
3. NE JOMPA Destroy the mental afflictions and physical illness illness destroy of others (using the same process as above.)
4. CHIR DUK-NGEL JOMPA Destroy the suffering of others in general—every in general suffering destroy kind of suffering in all the realms.
5. KYEPAR NGENSON GYI DUK-NGEL JOMPA Destroy the suffering of the particularly 3 lower realms of suffering destroy three lower realms (hells, craving spirits and animals) in particular. You eliminate the sufferings of beings, and you also eliminate the two causes of those sufferings:
Two Causes of All Sufferings:
1. NYUN DRIP Mental affliction obstacles are obstacles which primarily prevent mental affliction obstacle you from reaching nirvana, and secondarily prevent you from reaching full enlightenment. There are certain states in your mind which are preventing you from reaching nirvana. These obstacles are: mental afflictions themselves, and the tendency to see things as self-existent. Once you remove these obstacles you have reached nirvana. You must see emptiness directly to do this.
2. SHE DRIP Obstacles to total knowledge (omniscience). When you remove knowledge obstacle these, you become an enlightened being. You destroy the subtlest seed for seeing self-existence. After you have removed your mental affliction obstacles (which occurs on the eighth bodhisattva level), you must remove the obstacles to your omniscience (on bodhisattva levels nine and ten you are working mainly to gain omniscience) and destroy your subtle imprints to see things as self-existent. Obstacles to knowledge and mental afflictions obstacles cause all sickness, suffering, and death. By stopping them, you stop the cause of suffering. Be happy that you have committed yourself to ultimate compassion. Ultimate compassion involves finding out what really makes people get sick and die, and then stops those things.
Take joy that you will be able to identify what it is in people’s hearts that makes them get sick and die, and that you’ll learn to stop these things.
Class Seven: Mental Afflictions and Wrong World Views
NYON MONG Mental afflictions, bad thoughts, thoughts which harass you; skt., klesha from “klish,” to bother, bug, disturb, distress, harass you
SEM-GYU MASHIWAR JEPAY SEM-JUNG
mind stream no peace makes thought
The definition of a mental affliction is, “A thought which ruins your peace of mind.” Reaching nirvana is to remove all of your mental afflictions forever. Mental afflictions hurt you because they make you unhappy. They ruin your day. Their function is to ruin your day. There is no unhappy state of mind which is virtuous, other than regret. Any unhappy state of mind is a non-virtue.
The Top Six Mental Afflictions:
1. DU CHAK Liking things ignorantly (elsewhere called desire or attachment.) For this to be a mental affliction and therefore a non-virtue, you must like a thing which you see as self-existent in your mind. You like something self-existently and don’t want to lose it. To be a mental affliction you must misunderstand the object; this implies that you would do a non-virtue to get or keep the things you like.
2. KONG TRO Disliking things ignorantly (elsewhere called anger or hatred.) It means seeing something in your mind as self-existent and being willing to do non-virtue to avoid it. For example, yelling back at someone to get them to stop yelling at you.
3. NGA GYEL Pride, literally, “I, the king.” Feeling like you’re better than others, based upon real or imagined qualities. Self-confidence or pride which uplifts and motivates you is fine, and is similar to rejoicing in true goodness. But pride where you are very full of yourself and treat others badly, arrogantly, condescending, etc. is an affliction. Pride afflicts our mind. Pride also karmically leads to stupidity and dull mental faculties. You should focus on the impermanence of your good qualities.
4. MA RIKPA Ignorance. Not clearly understanding things like the laws of karma (this does not refer to seeing things as self-existent).
5. TE TSOM Doubt, lazy doubt. Not analyzing and evaluating things with your mind. You don’t accept and fully pursue a teaching or practice because you’re too lazy to find out about it, to investigate, and to pursue it actively. You don’t feel like making the effort to clarify things because then you’ll have to act.
6. TAWA Wrong view. There are five primary wrong world views which are big time mental afflictions:
Five Wrong World Views:
1. JIKTA Perishable view. This focuses upon something which will be destroyed. It focuses upon “me” or “my things”, and think that these things are self-existent. “Me” means my body, self, arms, legs, etc. “Mine” means my house, clothes, etc. You do all your non-virtues because of this; it’s the source of all the mental afflictions.
2. TARTA Extreme view. Holding that things are either non-existent, or that they never change. Having extreme views that things exist in the way that they appear to exist, or that nothing exists at all.
3. LOKTA Wrong views. Actively believing that there’s no such thing as karma and future lives. Actively means having decided and firmly holding the conclusion.
4. TAWA CHOK DZIN Having the attitude that your wrong views are best, world views best believe that they are superior. Rejoicing in your own ignorance.
5. TSULTRIM DANG TULSHUK CHOKDZIN GYI TAWA
morality and asceticism believe they’re the best
To believe that mistaken spiritual hardships and morality are the best; including spiritual practices like starving yourself, causing yourself pain, beating yourself and the like. It’s no help spiritually to intentionally hurt yourself, to damage your body or mind.
Master Shantideva’s Battle Cry:
These six primary mental afflictions are the scourge of humanity, and are your enemy. They are your mortal enemy and cause you great suffering. This enemy has ruined you for all time. Make war on this enemy and annihilate it. Recognize, seek, and destroy them, literally; don’t tolerate them for even an instant in your mind. Cancer and aging are caused by the mental afflictions that created this suffering body. Stress, bad habits, every nasty thing in our lives come from them. So make war against them and don’t stop until the job is completely finished. The main weapon is to understand the emptiness of the object, to know where it’s coming from. Another tactic is to study karma and understand what mental afflictions will do to our future, and then to intelligently smash them. If you realize the severity of this problem, you will pay the price and do anything it takes. Ultimately, understanding emptiness is the only way to stop mental afflictions.
Class Eight: Secondary Mental Afflictions; The Six Perfections
20 Secondary Mental Afflictions:
NYE NYUN Secondary Mental Afflictions. These follow after and along with the six primary mental afflictions.
1. TROWA Anger. It stems from ignorantly not liking things, and is a prelude to hurting someone. It’s the first few minutes of anger.
2. KUN DZIN Retaining Anger over a longer period of time, after the initial anger.
3. TSIKPA Irritation. Starting to get annoyed; pre-anger which leads up to anger.
4. NAM-TSE Malice. Being willing (deciding in your mind) to hurt someone either verbally or physically.
5. TRAK DOK Jealousy. Because of your desire for gain or admiration, you’re unwilling to let others have good things. This is a form of anger. Jealousy is common and very dangerous in dharma centers.
6. GYU Insincerity, denial, falsity. You won’t admit your faults or shortcomings, and so can’t receive knowledge because you feel you know it all.
7. YO-WA Pretense. Pretending you have qualities which you don’t have so that others will honor you.
8. NGO-TSA MEPA Shamelessness. Not having a conscience which keeps you from doing non-virtue when no one is looking.
9. TREL ME Inconsideration. Not caring what anyone thinks or feels when you do something, not avoiding a bad deed which will cause other to lose faith.
10. CHAP-PA Hiding your faults. The longer you hide a fault the more the karma grows.
11. SER-NA Stingy, cheap, not generous, don’t want to give anything.
12. GYAK PA Conceited, puffed up, focusing on your own temporary good qualities (like being rich or beautiful) and being stuck up about them.
13. MA DE PA Lack of faith. Feeling lazy and having a lack of admiration toward holy beings who deserve our devotion.
14. LE LO Laziness. Spiritual laziness, a lack of joy in doing goodness. Lying around your home on the weekend instead of going out doing good deeds.
15. BAK MEPA Carelessness. Not being careful with your spiritual life; being careless and thereby doing non-virtue.
16. JE NGE Forgetfulness, losing focus. Not remembering your commitment to ethical behavior throughout your daily activities.
17. SHE-SHIN MAYINPA Losing watchfulness, not being aware. Not watching yourself to catch your non-virtuous behavior. Losing the mental watchdog, your vigilance against non-virtues.
18. MUKPA Dullness of body or mind, torpor, fogginess, like when you eat too much or don’t sleep enough. This will lead to other mental afflictions.
19. NAM-YENG Distraction towards a pleasant object; it comes from wanting things ignorantly.
20. GUPA Scattering. Not being able to stay focused on one thing; distractedly going from one thing to another.
Where afflictions abide:
Is it possible to totally destroy the mental afflictions? The afflictions all come from ignorance— seeing things as self-existent—and they can be removed from our mind stream when we reach nirvana. Once we remove them from our mind, could they possibly hide out somewhere else, then re-infect the mind? There are three possible places where mental afflictions can reside: in your mind, in the outer objects we perceive, and in the senses doing the perceiving.
1. SUK SOK YUL LA MI-NE In the outer world. If mental afflictions resided in the outer world, then everyone would be infected by them, including arhats (who have eliminated mental afflictions permanently). So afflictions can’t be based in outer objects.
2. MIK SOK WANGPO LA MI-NE In our sense powers. Anyone perceiving emptiness has their sense powers, but not a mental affliction, so the afflictions can’t reside in the senses.
3. BAR LA MI-NE There’s no place else for them to go. If they’re not in the outer world, or in your mind, or in the sense powers linking the mind and the outer world, then there’s no place else for them to exist and they have been completely eliminated, with no basis to ever return and arise again. Once they are eliminated from your mind, they’re gone forever.
The Six Perfections: These are the six general activities of a bodhisattva. If you do these things, your world will change.
PAROL TU CHINPA skt., param-ita PAROL TU CHIN JE other side to went other side to take you “Went to the other side,” to perfection. These six activities are called perfections because:
1. When you reach Buddhahood they can be done perfectly.
2. They will bring you to perfection, to Buddhahood.
1. JINPA Giving. Material objects, dharma, or protection.
2. TSULTRIM An ethical way of life. Keeping your vows, from avoiding the ten non-virtues up to tantric vows.
3. SUPA Not getting angry when the time is ripe.
4. TSUN DRU Joyful effort. Enjoying doing good things.
5. SAMTEN Meditation, concentration.
6. SHERAB Wisdom. Understanding emptiness.
These are the activities which can give you the karmic energy to become enlightened in this life. You must spend your life doing these things. “Perfection” means that you have perfected the state of mind which wants to do, and does these things. You want to give everything you have to help others, for example. Perfecting giving doesn’t mean that everyone has everything they want. It means that you are willing to give because you enjoy giving, regardless of the outcome; regardless of whether or not anything seems to improve from what you gave. You have perfected your attitude of giving.
Class Nine: Recollection, Watchfulness, and Freezing
DRENPA SHESHIN Recollection and Watchfulness. You must have these two recollection watchfulness states of mind in order to think and act like a bodhisattva.
Recollection is holding a virtuous object in your mind and not losing it. This refers to recollecting several specific things. Recollect your ultimate goal to become fully enlightened, recollect your virtuous practice for the day, and recollect the three close recollections:
The three close recollections:
1. First Close Recollections: Buddha Jewel. Walk around thinking, “I’m going for the ultimate goal, and I want to have omniscience, a body in paradise, and the ability to emanate countless bodies everywhere to help all beings.” Also remember the Buddha’s emptiness and your emptiness; this emptiness functions to allow you to become a Buddha. This last point is the essence of the Buddha jewel, and is very important.
2. Second Close Recollection: Dharma Jewel. The most important aspect of it is the direct perception of emptiness. As you walk down the street recollect the quality of seeing emptiness directly.
3. Third Close Recollection: Sangha Jewel. Those beings who have seen emptiness directly. As you walk around, think of those who have seen emptiness. So, as you walk down the street, recollect your final ultimate goal (enlightenment), recollect the emptiness of a Buddha, the direct perception of emptiness, and those people who have seen emptiness directly. This is the ultimate recollection, thinking about various aspects of emptiness.
There is also another kind of recollection. With this kind of recollection you choose your virtuous activity for the day (for example, giving), and you keep it in the back of our mind and recollect it all day long. You should pick one thing and keep it in your mind as a practice until you get good at it.
Watchfulness is the mental alarm. When you lose your recollection of giving or emptiness, etc., the watchfulness in the back of your mind sounds the alarm that you’ve lost the object of recollection and concentration. Watchfulness watches your thoughts, speech, and actions.
Master Shantideva states that if there is too much sensory stimulation, it’s not possible to keep your recollection and watchfulness. There are methods to keep your mindfulness and to help tune out distraction and regulate your sense stimulation. One practice is dropping your eyes:
- keep your eyes down, look at the ground.
- look up to refresh your mind if you get bored, don’t get distracted.
- if you meet someone you know, look at them and greet them normally, don’t be weird or unfriendly, then go on your way.
- when you look up to refresh yourself, check for cars, telephone poles, etc. and be careful not to physically endanger yourself by looking down.
The Order of the Six Perfections:
As you go through the six perfections each perfection is more serious and important than the prior one. Wisdom is the highest perfection and giving is the lowest. The bodhisattva levels (bhumis) are ordered according to the increasing sophistication of the six perfections. Level two is more important and difficult than level one. On the first bodhisattva level you have already seen emptiness directly with bodhichitta in your heart. Even though you have all six perfections on the first bodhisattva level, you are concentrating on perfecting giving. You get very, very powerful at the practice of giving. On the second level you are still practicing all six perfections, but you get really good at living an ethical way of life. When you are practicing the six perfections, concentrate on number one (giving) and get good at it. Then focus sequentially on getting good at numbers two, three, etc. Generally accomplish the perfections one at a time in the proper order. First get good at number one, then focus on number two, then focus on number three, etc. The reason that one perfection leads to the next is as follows: when giving, not being concerned with possessions, and not being attached to things are important attitudes to have. These attitudes leads naturally to an ethical way of life—if you’re not too attached to material objects and worried about keeping them, then it’s much easier to keep your morality. You’re not going to harm others, lie, etc. for those objects. An ethical way of life includes restraining yourself from negative actions, which leads naturally to the next perfection of not getting angry. Learning to restrain yourself, and to fight and struggle with your negativity is hard, and sets the stage to be happy when you do good things (perfection number four). If you have joyous effort, you will be doing good things non-stop day and night. You will focus on doing only that. The activity of concentrating your life single-pointedly on one thing leads naturally to concentrating during meditation. You must be in deep meditation to see emptiness directly, which is the ultimate form of perfection number six.
Situations in which you should “freeze”:
SHING SHINDU MEPA Stay like a piece of wood, freeze. This is mindfulness. When you wood like stay catch yourself in a misdeed, just stop mid-stream. Basically, when any primary or secondary mental affliction arises, catch yourself and stop it. Master Shantideva gives some examples of situations in which bad habits and bad deeds are likely to occur:
1. CHAKPA Liking something ignorantly. Ignorantly means you misunderstand its nature, and wanting it would make you do something unethical to get it.
2. TROWA Disliking things ignorantly. Disliking something to the point you would do something non-virtuous to avoid it.
3. NGA GYEL Pride, literally, “I king”
4. GYAKPA Conceit, when you feel superior to others.
5. TSANG DRUWA Criticizing, when you want to publicize others’ faults or mistakes.
6. YO-GYU Deceiving others, when you want to put on a facade or hide your bad qualities.
7. DAK-TU Praising yourself.
8. SHEN MU Putting down others.
9. SHEWA Scolding, yelling at someone.
Class Ten: The Perfections of Giving and Ethical Living The six perfections are activities to undertake once you’ve decided to become enlightened for the sake of all beings. This class covers the first two perfections: giving and living an ethical life.
The Perfection of Giving:
I. JIMPAY PARCHIN The Perfection of Giving. There are three categories of giving:
1. SANG SING GI JINPA Giving material things like food, clothes, shelter, etc.
material things of giving
2. MIN JIKPA JINPA Giving protection from fear. Protecting others from harm,
not fearing giving thieves, muggers, etc.
3. CHU KYI JINPA Giving the Dharma. This is the highest form of giving. It’s trying to lead people to having realizations in their hearts.
dharma of giving
Things that make a karmic result more powerful: (giving is the example used)
1. GYUN DU JAWA Doing it in a stream. Give over and over again, continually. in a stream giving
2. DUNPA DRAKPO Doing it with very strong feelings, like intense caring, compassion, motivation fierce etc. Have a strong intention to lead someone to enlightenment when you give them something.
3. MI TUN CHOK Doing it as an antidote for the three poisons in your mind. For example, give away stuff toward which you feel attachment, or give praise to someone you’re jealous of.
4. YUNTEN GYI SHING Give to a powerful object. Your Lama and the Three good quality of powerful Jewels are examples of powerful karmic objects. object
5. PEN DOKPAY SHING Give to people who have helped you greatly, such as your helper to do special object parents who gave you a human body and mind with which you can reach ultimate paradise. Acknowledge this benefit.
6. DUNGEL CHEN GYI SHING Give to someone who is suffering, in trouble, tired, suffering someone of powerful stressed, someone who badly needs your help. object Anyone in real, dire need is a powerful karmic object.
Prioritizing the Perfections:
JAWA NYI DOM When there are two options, which one do you choose? Should action two converge you give to person number one or person number two? You need to prioritize your choices. You must do the higher perfection rather than the lower one when you can only do one or the other. For example, you should meditate rather than give, in a situation where both activities can’t be done. The higher perfections ultimately are of greater benefit to us and to others. Also, when practicing a single perfection, focus it toward a higher object rather than a less powerful karmic object. For example, give to the Three Jewels rather than to a person who doesn’t need your gift and is not karmically powerful, if the choice must be made. Prioritize to do the highest perfection to the most powerful karmic object to get to enlightenment the fastest.
The Perfection of Living an Ethical Way of Life:
TSULTRIM GYI PARCHIN The Perfection of Living an Ethical Way of Life.
morality of perfection
There are three kinds of ethical behavior:
1. Keeping your vows.
2. Undertaking behavior which collects good energy.
3. Behavior aimed at liberating yourself and other beings. Master Shantideva concentrates on this third type of ethical behavior, which itself has three parts:
1. SHENDUN HLURLANG Totally go for it, do everything you possibly can to serve for others’ benefit go for it others.
2. SHEN DUWAY LAPPA Attract and entice others to practice Dharma. Make it others gather train affordable and easy to access. Don’t proselytize or preach, but if they’re somewhat interested lure them sweetly with either material things or through offering the dharma in a way that will attract them:
How to attract people to Dharma:
A. Use material things:
a. SEGU JIN MIJIN Share your resources (food, clothes) appropriately. food, clothes give not give If it will help to attract them, give things away, but don’t break any of your vows to do so.
b. LU LA MI NU Don’t hurt your body. Take care of your health and body to don’t hurt basic comforts, and your family’s basic needs. Don’t prematurely hurt yourself for minor goals before you’re able.
c. LU JIN DUGU When the time comes and you’re ready, give up body giving time, your body and your life. “Ready” means that you purpose would have no regrets in the intermediate state after death.
B. Attracting others to Dharma by how you give the Dharma:
a. NYENPOY KUNCHU If the student doesn’t behave well (with the student the behavior respect for the teacher and the Dharma) then don’t teach them.
b. NU KYI SAMPA The level the student is on. Judge their level vessel of level and teach at their level, not above or below it.
c. GYACHEN MULA MEN MIJAR If you find a student with great potential, vast attracted lower don’t don’t teach them lower paths. Teach them capacity to teachings put the highest possible level.
3. SEM JESU DZINPA Keep others’ faith. Behave in a way that sets a good mind keep others’ example for others and inspires their faith and admiration faith for Dharma. Represent bodhisattvahood well.
Three kinds of behavior to attract people:
A. MA DEPA PANG Prevent others from losing faith. Your activities as a losing faith prevent bodhisattva should prevent other people from losing their faith in Buddhism because of the way you’re acting.
B. LAM TUN PA Have good manners when you give directions and interact the path showing with others. Have a generally pleasing manner; be polite and sensitive to others’ needs. Be considerate and thoughtful.
C. NYELWAY KUNCHU Go to sleep properly, in a nice way. Lie on your right side going to sleep proper as you fall asleep. Think of some very virtuous object as behavior you fall asleep. Think that you’re going to sleep in order to wake up rested, so that you can do great virtue.