Put the Blame on the Self-cherishing Thought

Put the Blame on the Self-cherishing Thought

Date of Advice:
August 2018
Date Posted:
July 2022

A student wrote to Rinpoche about disharmony in her family. She said the family disliked her, they smoked and drank and had an aversion to Buddhism. There was additional tension because she had rescued many animals and at the time of writing had thirty cats and three dogs.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Kurukulla Center, Boston, USA. August 2018.  Photo: Amdo GT Photography.

My most dear, most kind, most precious wish-fulfilling one,
Thank you for your kind email. I am sorry for the many eons of delay in replying to you and to your relative, who I just replied to also.

According to my observation, if you can, look at a picture of the Buddha and then recite the two mantras for success (The Holy Name that Fulfills All Wishes), found in The Method to Transform a Suffering Life into Happiness (Including Enlightenment). Also, it would be very good to do this daily motivation, The Method to Transform, anyway.

The two mantras for success are:


It is best if you recite at least five malas a day of this mantra if you can, but it is so important to recite with bodhicitta.

For success you should also recite:

If you can read Tibetan, then you can do all three or do one each day. This would be unbelievable and most powerful for purification and for success. Recite these for sixteen months if you can. After that you can continue or you can recite one. It can be checked again after that.

Kadampa Geshe Chekawa said:

Put all the blame to one—that means the self-cherishing thought.
Toward others, meditate on their kindness.

This is the greatest instruction. On the basis of Buddha’s teachings, everything comes from the mind. Happiness comes from the mind and suffering comes from the mind, because the mind creates the cause through nonvirtue and virtue.

We have to remember these words in our daily life and when some undesirable things happen, we have to quickly rush and put the blame on our self-cherishing thought. When meeting unfavorable conditions, we want to subdue the self-cherishing thought and make it nonexistent.

The buddhas and numberless sentient beings were suffering like us before they became enlightened, but then they changed their mind. They were suffering like us, but instead of cherishing I, which is only one among the numberless sentient beings, they changed and cherished all sentient beings most. They renounced the I; they let go of the I. That’s how they achieved enlightenment.

We are not enlightened yet because we didn’t change our mind. We still renounce others and cherish the I. That is the source of all our sufferings, the door for all the sufferings from beginningless rebirths up to now. We have to experience all the sufferings of the six realms again and suffer in samsara.

When we cherish others, it is the door to all the happiness, and we receive happiness on the same day, right away. The minute we change our mind and cherish others, right away we create happiness, right there, and not only that, we also receive satisfaction and fulfillment. Then we have unbelievable happiness in our everyday life and happiness in all our future lives, liberation from samsara and ultimate happiness, the peerless happiness, the total cessation of all the obscurations and completion of all the realizations. We are able to cause this not only for ourselves, but for numberless sentient beings in each realm. We cause all this happiness up to enlightenment by cherishing others.

For example, the people downstairs who treat you badly, who don’t like you, who don’t love you, who are angry with you and complain to you, who do whatever is worst—if you look at these people as most positive, then you generate great compassion. You generate compassion for every suffering, obscured sentient being and then from compassion, bodhicitta is generated; from bodhicitta come bodhisattvas; and from bodhisattvas come buddhas.

From the buddhas come their two holy actions. One is the buddhas’ omniscience and one is within us, the virtuous thought and actions, so that is the buddhas’ holy actions. All our past, present and future happiness up to enlightenment—every single happiness—comes from the buddhas’ holy actions. Our virtuous thoughts come from the buddhas and they come from bodhisattvas; bodhisattvas come from bodhicitta; bodhicitta comes from great compassion; and great compassion comes by depending on the kindness of obscured, suffering sentient beings, especially these people downstairs who don’t like you, who blame you.

So now you can see how all your happiness from beginningless rebirths, endlessly— all the happiness, every single happiness, every single comfort—everything is received from the kindness of those who have anger, negative thoughts and blame you. It all comes from them, so they are most precious for you, most dear, most kind, most wish-fulfilling. You should meditate on this every day, doing analytical and fixed meditation on this. After you have realized that they are so precious, so kind, then hold on to that positive mind. Hold that in your mind, then your mind becomes positive. Develop that and keep that in the mind for as long you can.

The other [technique] is to think how sentient beings have been our mother numberless times from beginningless rebirths in different forms, and they have been kind to us. Just as a mother takes care of her child, we can see how much they suffer. There is the kindness of giving birth and the kindness of enduring so much pain, the kindness of protecting our life from hundreds of dangers every day, numberless times. Then they died for us, trying to protect us as much as they could, bearing so many hardships for us, and giving us an education. We have experienced their kindness from beginningless rebirths—wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. It’s amazing, amazing, amazing!

If we don’t cherish others and practice patience with them, there is no enlightenment for us. If we cherish them and practice patience, then they give us enlightenment. We get enlightenment from them. They are most precious, most kind, most dear, wish-fulfilling, so we should meditate on all of that.

Those animals that you take care of, it’s excellent, because Buddha sacrificed his life, giving charity for three countless great eons. He gave up his eyes, his body, his limbs, to us sentient beings for three countless great eons, as well as practicing morality for three countless great eons, for us to achieve enlightenment. He practiced patience for three countless great eons for us to achieve enlightenment, to be free from samsara, and he practiced concentration and wisdom for three countless great eons for us to be free from samsara and to bring us to enlightenment as quickly as possible.

Therefore, what you are doing for others, it is nothing [compared to the Buddha], but compared to most people, who don’t do anything to help or to benefit others, it is a great thing for you to do, so you should take care of the animals, but not with attachment. You should take care of them as I already explained, thinking how incredibly kind they are, how precious they are, and with that mind you take care of them.

Every second, every minute, every hour becomes an incredible way to purify our past heavy negative karma and to collect the most extensive merits, and a quick way to achieve enlightenment for ourselves and a quick way to free sentient beings and bring them to enlightenment.

Put all the blame on the self-cherishing thought—that means all the undesirable things that happen in this life are the result of our past negative karma, done with the self-cherishing thought, harming others.

Kadampa Geshe Khamglungpa said:

By experiencing this small suffering now,
It finishes my past negative karma
And there will be happiness in the future.
Therefore, rejoice in this current suffering.

In the future lives we will have happiness like the sun shining. The sunshine is for everyone to enjoy, for people to enjoy, for animals to enjoy and for the plants grow. Like that there is so much happiness and we attain freedom from samsara and go to enlightenment. So, look at the suffering as positive.

In our lives, whether we experience happiness or suffering, everything comes from our mind. What has been done in the past with the self-cherishing thought becomes suffering and we experience the results in this life, even in one day. We can understand all this by reading about the ten nonvirtues, which are done with the self-cherishing thought, anger and attachment. So we can understand and get the idea from that.

Also it’s very, very important to think that there is no suffering, no problem that we experience in this life without having created the cause, without having caused the problem to others in the past. Therefore didn’t we deserve to receive harm from others as a result of this?

It is now even more important when others harm us to use that situation to generate compassion and to only help others and not harm them.

There is another quotation from the great bodhisattva Shantideva in A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life:

[6:47] First my own karma persuaded others,
Then I received this harm from them.
When others harm me they create negative karma
That makes them fall from the human rebirth.

So they get reborn in hell due to that negative karma; they fall from the human realm and they get reborn in the hole of hell. That means they fall from the precipice; they fall down in the hole where there is hell. If we really understand the quotation, this [result] came from us. If we didn’t harm others in the first place, then we would never receive harm from them. They don’t have to create negative karma and then they won’t have to be born in hell due to their negative karma. Then there is peace and happiness, so much happiness, up to enlightenment.

By harming us they get reborn in the hell realms and suffer for so long, for an unbelievable length of time. They experience the heaviest suffering, and it’s the fault of our self-cherishing thought, our mistakes. In this way we should generate compassion for those who are harming us, and help others in whatever way we can. At least we need to pray for them to be liberated, to not suffer from that karma, to be liberated from the lower realms, to be quickly freed from samsara and to achieve enlightenment. At least we can do prayers and dedicate our merits for them, as much as we can.

This is what I can tell you about how to practice in the situation you mentioned, how to use it for enlightenment.

Please try this as much as you can and live your life with bodhicitta, the thought of benefiting others night and day and in every action you do.

With much love and prayers ...