Thirty Seven Actions of a Bodhisattva
So accumulating merit with self grasping is a skilful means that eventually will lead to selflessness. It's only because of our fear of samsara that we take refuge in the three jewels sincerely. Why do we have to liberate all beings from samsara? Think about that.
The difference between samsara and nirvana is our mental state. Enlightened beings are free of self grasping and afflictive emotions. If we are controlled by afflictive emotions, we will experience suffering.
For that reason we need liberation. How do we liberate ourselves? Shantideva said that it's not hard to figure out. Buddha became a buddha by working for the benefit of others. And we have remained in samsara because we have acted selfishly. Buddha generated bodhicitta with renunciation.
When we also practice with this attitude, our practice becomes very profound. Virtue done from a selfish motivation is samsaric and will not have much benefit. Action performed from bodhicitta will remain until we are enlightened.
They are the antidotes for the three root passions: Vinaya for passion, sutra for aversion, and abhidharma for ignorance. When the Buddha first taught, his monks kept their morality flawlessly, so there was no need for the precepts. But then monks behaved improperly and the Buddha introduced the Vinaya as this happened.
The second training is samadhi, or calm abiding practice. This is also not just a Buddhist practice, many religions practice it. But without wisdom, there is no liberation. Emptiness is the antidote for all afflictive emotions.
And without practicing samadhi, we cannot realize wisdom. Our wisdom is already present, but it is covered over, like a blanket covering a lamp. The more we practice samadhi, the more our wisdom becomes clear. So if you train in virtue, samadhi is not hard.
This text was written by Thogmay Zangpo. His mother died when he was very young. He was raised by his father, but his father also died. So he was raised by his relatives. This is similar to the life of Jigten Sumgon. Thogmay Zangpo was very compassionate.
It often happens that a great teacher has a parent die when they are young. So when negative things happen to us, we shouldn't think the dharma is not working. It is the purification of your karma, your victory over Mara.
To pay homage with the speech is to recite verses of praise.
In dedication, we already have gained the merit, in aspiration, we have yet to gain the merit. Avalokiteshvara is called the protector here. He realizes that beings neither come nor go, but he works continuously for their benefit and joy. Once suchness is seen, there is no coming and going.
The buddhas are the source of temporary benefit and permanent happiness, ultimate liberation. Both come from practicing the dharma. The buddhas do not directly give us good things, but they tells us how we can achieve them.
Now comes the explanation of each of the thirty seven verses.
Now that you have obtained a precious human body,the great boat so difficult to find,
In order to free yourself and others from the ocean of samsara,
To listen, reflect, and meditate with diligence day and night
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
It is difficult to achieve human birth because its cause, keeping the precepts purely, is difficult. By analogy, it is as difficult as a blind turtle that only comes to the surface every hundred years to put its head through a yoke floating on the surface of the ocean.
The Jewel Ornament mentions beings of the three capacities, those who practice for temporary benefit, those who practice for individual liberation, and those who practice for the liberation of all. To practice in any of these three ways is to use you human life well.
Passion towards friends churns like water. Hatred towards enemies burns like fire. Through dark ignorance, one forgets what to adopt and what to reject. To abandon one's homeland is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
Today it's impossible to abandon your fatherland, because communication has made the world small. But in the past people left their home to break attachment. Even if you have no enemies, your loved ones will have enemies and they will be your enemies.
Giving up negative places, Mental afflictions gradually decrease. With no distractions, virtuous activities naturally increase. When mind becomes clear, Certainty in the Dharma is born. To rely on solitude is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
Old friends and relatives will separate. Possessions gained with effort will be left behind. Consciousness, the guest, will leave the guesthouse of the body. To let go of this life is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
What we need is diligence. When we should do good things, we become lazy.
When friendship with someone Causes the three poisons to increase, Degrades the activities of listening, reflecting, and meditating, And destroys loving kindness and compassion, To give up such a friendship Is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
We should not abandon our compassion for bad people, but we must avoid them, so we don't also become a slave of negative emotions. If a person with good habits associates with a person with bad habits, it's much more likely that the person with good habits changes their behavior.
But until we stabilize our minds, we should stay away from them.
Sometimes people ask me what qualities a teacher should have. If that person changes your attitude for the good, they are a good teacher for you. If they make your attitude more negative, then they are not. If you become less interested in this life's benefit and more in the next life, they are a good teacher.
In Buddha's time people worshipped lots of local gods. Buddha taught that you cannot take refuge in these because they cannot liberate you, because they are not liberated themselves. They are still subject to karma.
All the great teachers have said that wisdom depends upon the first five paramitas. If your preliminary practice is profound, your subsequent practice will be profound. The Tibetan word for Sangha means those inclined to virtue. Sangha includes both the monastic and lay sangha, all those who keep their respective vows.
This saying is for persons of lesser potential. Attachment is the cause for rebirth as a hungry ghost. Aversion is the cause for rebirth in hell. Ignorance is the cause for rebirth as an animal. As long as you are angry, you will never be happy. If you are attached, you suffer from want, as you will not spend what you have. And when you suffer from ignorance, you suffer like you were an animal. Many sufferings come from misunderstanding.
Like dew on the tip of a blade of grass Happiness in the three worlds evaporates in a single instant. To strive for the supreme state of liberation that never changes Is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
Nobody suffered because of a slow Internet connection fifty years ago.
From beginningless time your mothers have cherished you. If they now suffer, what good is your own happiness? Therefore, in order to liberate limitless sentient beings, Giving rise to bodhichitta is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
All suffering comes from yearning for your own happiness. The perfect Buddhas are born from the intention to benefit others. Therefore, to truly exchange your own happiness for the suffering of others Is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
When we think of our own benefit, it is easy for afflictive emotions to arise. But when we think of others benefit, afflictive emotions will not arise and we will give rise to positive states instead, eventually leading to buddhahood.
Even if someone driven by desire steals all your wealth Or incites someone else to steal it, To dedicate to this person your body, possessions, and all your virtue of the three times Is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
No matter how much you get angry it will not repair the damage others do to you. So you should feel compassion for them instead. Why feel compassion? Because that person is overcome by afflictive emotions.
A bodhisattva has to deal with many beings. Some will do crazy things. After your practice is stable, it will be easy to deal with them. Before then, one should keep to solitude. You should care for a person who acts this way as if they were your child.
Even when someone who is your equal or inferior Driven by spite seeks to defame you, To place him on the crown of your head With the same respect you would accord your guru Is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
Though gripped by poverty and always scorned, Though stricken by disease and tormented by evil spirits, To take upon yourself the negativity and suffering of every being And never to get discouraged Is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
Though famous and prominent, someone to whom others bow, Though you amass the riches of the god of wealth, To see that worldly splendor has no essence And thus to be without arrogance Is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
No matter how rich or powerful you are, your gains have no essence. The enjoyment from the realization of suchness is not like that. Chetsang Rinpoche's father was friends with a rich man in India. But when he visited him, he only heard of his problems. The wealth of this life is like borrowing someone else's jewellery.
If you have not tamed the enemy of your own anger, Combating outer opponents will only make them multiply. Therefore, with an army of loving kindness and compassion, To tame your own mind is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
It is impossible to get rid of enemies by defeating them, you will only increase them. The only way to get rid of them is by doing good things for them. Shantideva's metaphor says wearing shoes is equivalent to covering the earth with leather.
Sense pleasures are like salt water. The more you partake of them, The more your craving will increase. Therefore, when something arouses attachment, To abandon it immediately is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
All appearances are your own mind, and Mind itself primordially transcends all mental fabrications. Knowing this is the precise nature of reality, To remain free from dualistic conceptions Is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
All appearance is the play of mind. If objects could exist by themselves, then everyone would see them the same way. Through long habit, we see our perceptions as real and solid. In reality phenomena are free of the eight extremes. Phenomena are like the reflection in a mirror.
When you encounter objects that please your mind, Know they are like rainbows in the summer season. Though they seem beautiful, To see they are not real and to give up attachment to them Is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
A rainbow is beautiful, but you cannot catch it.
All suffering is like the death of your child in a dream. To take such delusive appearances as true, how exhausting! Therefore, whenever you encounter unpleasant circumstances, To see them as delusions is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
If those who aspire to enlightenment willingly give up their bodies, What need is there to mention external objects? Therefore with no hope of reward or benefit, To give with generosity is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
If lack of discipline prevents you from benefiting yourself, Then your wish to benefit others is just a joke. Therefore, to guard discipline With no longing for worldly existence Is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
If Shravakas and Pratyekabuddhas, who strive for their benefit alone, Expend effort as if to extinguish a fire burning on their heads, Then for the benefit of all beings, To cultivate joyous effort, the wellspring of positive qualities, Is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
Transcending the idea of consciousness, because consciousness implies duality, one achieves the level of nothingness. Transcending even the experience of nothingness, one achieves neither perception nor non-perception.
Without superior knowledge, It is not possible to attain perfect enlightenment through the first five paramitas alone. Therefore, joining it with skillful means and not conceptualizing about the three spheres Is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
Liberation is not possible without wisdom. This is why prajnaparamita is called the mother of the three aryas. The six perfections need each other. Atisha said meditation without wisdom is bound. The three spheres refer to subject, object, and action.
If you have not analyzed your own confusion, You might put on a Dharmic façade While behaving in a non-Dharmic way. Therefore, to continuously analyze your delusion and discard it Is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
We have to look at our actions and check to see if they are contrary to the dharma. We have to investigate our purpose. A Kadampa master cleaned his shrine when his sponsor was going to arrive. He looked at his motivation, and saw it was selfish, and threw dust on the shrine. Our practice should not be done from the eight worldly concerns.
If, compelled by your own afflictions, You speak of the faults of other Bodhisattvas, You, yourself, will degenerate. Therefore, never to mention the faults of those Who have entered the Mahayana path Is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
Desire for gain and honor leads to argument, And activities of listening, reflecting and meditating decline. Therefore, to relinquish attachment to the households of friends, relatives, and sponsors Is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
Once you become accustomed to the mental afflictions, They are hard to cure with antidotes. Therefore, with the remedies of mindfulness and awareness To eliminate afflictions the moment they arise Is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
We always need mindfulness and awareness. Mindfulness tells us what to adopt and abandon. Awareness checks to see what we are doing. Mindfulness is like a guard at the gate. Awareness is like a guard looking from the roof. Without mindfulness the four madras can attack easily.
To clear away the suffering of all infinite beings, With superior knowledge free of concepts of the three spheres, To dedicate to enlightenment the merit accumulated through these efforts Is the practice of a Bodhisattva.
Whenever you do a virtuous deed dedicate the merit without attachment. Without dedication, your anger can destroy your merit. Thogmay Zangpo says he is only following the teach of the sutras and the commentaries.