Eight Verses of Thought Transformation (Audio and Unedited Transcript)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
San Francisco, CA USA (Archive #1448)

A commentary on Eight Verses of Thought Transformation, an essential mind training text composed by Kadampa Geshe Langri Tangpa. This teaching was given at Tse Chen Ling Center, in San Francisco, California USA, in November 2003.

See also His Holiness the Dalai Lama's commentary on this text.

Day One: Shortcomings of Desire Part B

So, what I was saying before, as I brought up this during this talk, as far as relationships – if you don’t have compassion in the relationship, if you don’t have compassion to the other person, then the life become only suffering; if you don’t have compassion, if you don’t have unconditional love or if you don’t have genuine mind of compassion to the other person to offer service. Any sentient being who want happiness, who don’t want suffering, so you’re there to serve. This is the purpose of your life, to benefit, to serve others whatever you can - whatever education you have, whatever capacity you have, to benefit others. Otherwise if this positive, loving kindness, this compassion, is not there then life become, the life or relationship become only suffering. So like that.

So, either for yourself, either concerning for yourself, your own benefit, or concerning benefit other person - must have compassion; unconditional loving kindness, must generate. So then the purpose of being together, living with somebody, it fulfils the purpose. Meaning then you can have inner peace and happiness from that. You can have inner peace and happiness. Otherwise, the pleasure, what you call, is just [pause] not….. as I mentioned before, if you analyse it, it’s only suffering. If you don’t analyse what it is, if you don’t do scientific analysis nature of that feeling, then it appears as pleasure and you believe it as pleasure. In the view of the hallucinated mind it’s pleasure but, the minute when you analyse with the Dharma wisdom, then you discover only suffering. So in the view of wisdom, the point here is, it’s only suffering. But in the view of attachment, in the view of hallucinating mind, see as pleasure.

Like we take drugs and see something like that. You see, you’re living in mud house but you see you’re living in a diamond palace or something, jewel palace by taking drug. When the drug is gone, when the power’s gone, you see living in mud house. Anyway, so that’s how it is.

So I would like to bring up this issue again. I think it’s very important because all the time we hear, we see in stories, examples in movies. When we watch movies there’s many, if one know how to watch a movie, TV – there’s so many teachings there. So many teachings there: shortcomings of samsara. By clinging to the samsaric pleasure what happens to your life by following the desire, clinging to the samsaric pleasure, these temporary pleasure, world pleasure, what happens. That whole life like drowned in the mud; got stuck in mud or something, drowned in the mud like that.

However, from that desire, from the root, then many branches – so many thousand thousand branches or leaves grow from these desire. Then many problems comes, arises; so many problems in the life; hundred thousands, so many, from the root, from this desire, the worldly samsaric pleasures.

You see in the world, not only the movies that people made it up, which actually happened, which is similar happens everyday different parts of the world. The problem of desire happening – even though people made it up, somebody wrote the story like that but, actually, it’s happening, showing the problem of desire, what happens. How the life completely get into this oceans of problems. It leads to so many – anyway, like that.

Actually, here, many stories, and you see in the TV that actually happened. So because of desire, the body pleasure, such pleasure like that, so many people become jealous, angry, they kill - kill many other people whose life is so precious. You kill many other people then you kill yourself; commit suicide when you can’t stand anymore the problem. Then your desire kills you.

Thought doesn’t come: ‘your desire can kill you. Your mind can kill you.’ Normally, except for people who are meditating, you never think of that. Your desire can kill you. Your desire can be really enemy; can destroy your life. That, I think, is a very important meditation. It’s a very important meditation if you want to achieve freedom; freedom to yourself, freedom to achieve realisation, freedom to practice, freedom from delusions, freedom from sufferings. To achieve liberation, everlasting happiness and, especially, full enlightenment to be able to liberate other sentient beings, numberless other sentient beings, bring them to enlightenment. Even for peace of mind, peace and happiness in the day to day life, very important to know and to discover, to meditate, to reflect, shortcomings of desire. Desire looks very, as often His Holiness the Dalai Lama says, attachment rises like a kind of very loving one to you, very kind – how that appears to you, kind of very loving to you. But, actually, is very mean; enemy which is very mean, cheating you, deceiving you. And at the end, finish your life like that, brought into so much problems at the end. His Holiness says, when anger arises it appears to you like somebody, like you have some powerful person behind you protecting you. Like that. I’m trying just to say the essence, describe the essence of what is Holiness said. You feel like anger is like somebody powerful behind you, can protect you.

So these desires are very cunning. You don’t see, immediately, it’s harming you. You don’t see harming. After everything’s done, after everything’s finished, if somebody’s living in the vow or something – precept or vow, then everything’s finished. Only then you discover, you see, how it’s cheated you. At the beginning you don’t realise it. Even you can use many of your situations, as a lay, in business also desire cheats one’s self. Because, here, wanting more, more, more, more, more – then one day, your business completely collapsed. You want more, more, more, more then, one day, you made millions at the beginning then, want all. Then want more, more. Then one day, whole business completely collapsed. Normally you don’t worry about paying rent but then, that day, you worry about rent, you worry about taking care of children, families because of following the desire. You didn’t limit, make a limit, in following desire to gain the profit. You didn’t make a limit because of following desire. So, in the case of business like that how the desire cheated. Before a million then, next day, become poor like that. I have seen like that friends or students in the business. I’ve seen like that. In the business life, how the desire cheats, there are many examples.

When you meditate we should discover how different - same in the case of friendship, same in the case of relationship at the end. In the beginning desire, it didn’t analyse at the beginning, didn’t use your wisdom, so desire to offer your mind to that object. Then it leads to unimaginable problems, on-going problems. You can’t escape from that and have to go through this for years and years and years because of not being careful at the beginning. From just not analyse with wisdom, shortcomings of desire. Like that. In many cases, so many examples - so this is study on desire. That’s very important. Study.

In the West there are many studies. Studies on how many people in the country who have goitre In Solu Khumbu in west do operation immediately. But in Solu Khumbu we have many people who have goitre because they don’t do operation. Nowadays, they come to Kathmandu to do operation.

But anyway, there are many studies. I mean, I think how many people who has big head, how many people have big nose – study on that, research on that. Anyway, study on the mind, study on the desire, I think is very important. It’s so helpful for your discovery, for your own insight, for your own development, for your own protection. I’ll just finish this then we’ll stop there.

Then it says it causes to rise – from this desire, following the desire, clinging to worldly samsaric pleasures - all the sufferings of this life, all the sufferings of future lives rises. One shortcoming went before so I want to bring that up again with these examples, many stories. You would know much more stories, your own experiences and many, many stories about shortcomings of desire. Other people suffer but for you it’s incredible teaching if you know how to look at it – if it’s a movie or whatever it is. So then, from this, delusion rises. From this worldly pleasure delusion rises, attachment and so forth.

Then it says, I think I mentioned this already before, regards the numbers outlines here. So, next one, many vices, many negative actions rises, many negative karmas, you get by killing and so forth, it says. That means stealing, sexual misconduct, telling lie - all those things - ill-will, covetousness, slandering. All these non-virtuous actions rises from that.

Then it says here, now enjoying the Dharma, the happiness of enjoying the Dharma, it says, covers the whole body. I think, for example, through Dharma practice when your mind is living in Dharma, when your mind is in the bodhicitta - thought to benefit others – experiencing the suffering of others, when you have problems in your life you use your relationship problem or cancer or whatever sicknesses you have, you use that to benefit other sentient beings, to free others from suffering, including cancer or whatever it is, cause others not only temporary happiness but ultimate happiness – liberation and enlightenment.

With the bodhicitta practice, by generating the loving kindness, by generating compassion, you take other’s sufferings including their cause – delusion and karma, everything, the complete thing: cause and result suffering, completely. You take it on yourself. And you experience on behalf of one sentient being, on behalf of numberless; one person who has cancer you experience on behalf of that person, that one sentient being, or numberless sentient beings. When you do that [pause] your mind has incredible joy when you do that very sincerely. Your mind is in incredible joy.

Depending how much you feel precious even if it’s one sentient being, how precious it is for you; how kind, how precious it is for you. Depending on that, then even if you have to suffer, even if you’re thinking I’m experiencing this cancer, this relationship problem for the sake of this one sentient being, there’s incredible joy in your heart to experience this for the benefit of even one sentient being, one person. Incredible joy more you see that person as so kind, most precious. More you see so precious, so kind, then to experience the suffering for that even one person, even one sentient being, you have incredible joy.

Now similar to all sentient beings who have sufferings, there are numberless who have cancer, who has karma to get cancer by that, or AIDS, whatever - no question that kind of mind, when your mind is in that kind of stage. Strong thought to benefit others, to sacrifice oneself for others, so happy to give up yourself for others, to experience suffering for others. Then no question – you have the pain, you have all this but because your mind is so enjoying, so happy, so joyful, it overcomes so you don’t feel the pain or very little. So by happiness of mind, joyfulness of mind, like His Holiness often says, importance of the good heart, importance of the mind to be Dharma, good heart.

So, if the mind is happy, even if the body has problem but it doesn’t bother you much. Your mind overcomes. So even by thinking that oh, by experiencing this, I’ve recited mantras, also I did many good service to other sentient beings sincerely, so they’re very, very powerful means to purify negative karma with serving other sentient beings with the sincere heart. Taking care of parents, or taking care with sincere – not as my child, my this, my that, not that way, attachment. But as a sentient being, kind sentient being. Then taking care of children with this sincere loving kindness, compassion, like that. Or parents. Taking care of other sick people. Doing service to others.

Either meditation practice or chant mantra, or whatever, service to Dharma or meditation centre, or spread Dharma to other sentient beings, or service to Guru.

So my past very heavy negative karmas that I planted, time without beginning, even one negative karma which results to be in the lower realm, to be born in the lower realm, to be born in the hell realm for incredible length of time, even aeons, such heavy suffering. So all these negative karmas purified by my doing this. Purified. And sign of the purification is that instead, in the next life after this life, reincarnated in the lower realm, experience heavy suffering and for an incredible length of time – so finished all that suffering by experiencing this sickness, cancer, whatever. Whether there’s a relationship problem or whether there’s sicknesses, whatever it is, many people criticising you, everybody criticising you – even that, or even nightmare happen to you, by my experiencing this catastrophe, this problem, this life, I don’t have to experience all those heavy sufferings next life and for many aeons. I don’t have to experience. This is the sign this is my achievement. Actually having these sicknesses, my achievement. It’s a good sign. It’s achievement that I don’t have to experience all those heavy sufferings next life and for many aeons.

So mind feeling having this, you don’t regard it as a loss but you regard it as a gaining. You regard it as achievement in the life because you did many as I mentioned before. I’m not going to repeat again. Then mind is such a great joy, feel so lucky, so fortunate I had this sickness, cancer, whatever sickness one has, whatever problem or there’s relationship problem, the other person gave up you, whatever, your mind is in an incredible state of joy, happiness. So you don’t see as problem. This joy covers, overpowers your body. It can be understood like that, then it can have other meanings.

“Dharma, happiness of Dharma covers the whole body.” So could be when you achieve shi.ne, there’s calm abiding, then you have extremely refined body, extremely refined ecstasy of the body and mind. Like that. Covers everything you see. Then after you achieve very high tantra realisation: the clear light, isolation of speech, isolation of mind, the clear light then the illusory body, unification of those two. As Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche, recently mentioned, when Rinpoche was explaining tantric grounds. The meditator who has actualised clear light illusory body unification, that person, even if something hits, that person only experiences pleasure, bliss. Even if that person – I don’t remember exactly what Rinpoche mentioned. Even if something hits, that meditator only experience bliss.

I have a story that one great meditator – old students they know. They’re familiar. Here the Sangha, some older Sangha, old students have received the teachings from this great meditator who had great success in actualising Path – guru devotion, renunciation, bodhicitta, emptiness, then tantric stages, Six Yogas of Naropa. Begin to meditate from Tibet, in Kadampa Geshe Kamalarungpa’s?? cave. Then in Dalhousie he achieved shamatha, calm abiding meditation. Then Dharamsala, I think down below His Holiness Ling Rinpoche where there’s a cave, one rock, then he darkened and made a cave. There, this meditator, Gen Jampa Wangdu he realised emptiness there. And while he was in Dharamsala, after coming from Dalhousie he achieved bodhicitta during those years. After that he had great success of achieving the Six Yogas of Naropa. He was Lama Yeshe and myself, best friend before Lama passed and before I took teachings from – then, of course, Guru, not old friend but Guru, virtuous friend.

After receiving teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the Six Yogas of Naropa, then we came back to my room. Gen Jampa Wangdu used to explain, clarify points from his own experiences. However, somebody who has great success in actualising very high tantric path.

So what Rinpoche said, exactly same happened to this great meditator Gen Jampa Wangdu. When we are were taking teachings many years ago from His Holiness’ palace, this is teachings I think might be Chakrasambhara root tantra. Maybe that time but I’m not sure, probably that time. There was a lot of rain. So during the pee-pee break, during the teachings there’s pee-pee break, so His Holiness’ office outside there’s cement steps. So Gen Jampa Wangdu went for a pee-pee. He fell down, sliding, very wet due to rain. Fell down. Head knocked on the floor, knocked on the cement step. I didn’t see it but when someone came inside there was small blood, so His Holiness blew on the head but I didn’t see. Later I heard. So anyway His Holiness immediately sent to hospital. But what Geshe Jampa Wangdu told me, after that he told me his experience, when he fell down on this cement outside His Holiness’ office – the teaching was given in there. There’s office and there’s, inside, a place where to give teaching, private teachings to limited people. He told me that when he fell down his head knocked on the cement floor but he felt, he told me he didn’t feel pain. He felt so much bliss. Not blister – bliss! He felt so much bliss. Bliss. That’s exactly what Kirti Tsenshab mentioned, recent time, when he was teaching tantric grounds, or person who has achieved clear light, illusory body unification. So has no pain.

If you think this way, the meditator who has achieved the Mahayana right-seeing path, third path, the right-seeing path, Mahayana right-seeing path the meditator then, that being, has a spiritual body. That being is free from suffering of rebirth, old age, sicknesses, death. So that meditator, that bodhisattva, that meditator who achieved third Mahayana path, free from all these samsaric sufferings. So that being has spiritual body. Maybe that gives some idea to understand the one who has achieved these realisations, how there’s no pain. Even if something hits, only bliss; experience only great bliss. I think there might be different ways to relate to this Dharma – the pleasure of Dharma happiness covers the whole body.

Then he says, next one, happiness of Dharma rises any time you want. This happiness of Dharma covers all three realms: desire realm, form realm, formless realm. Then from the happiness of Dharma you achieve the seven exalted beings’ wealth, which I didn’t remember so I asked Geshe La, before. Then by happiness of Dharma more you enjoy. It does not finish. Only it increases. That’s the special advantage of happiness with Dharma. The samsaric pleasure, worldly pleasure, more you have it doesn’t last. It finish. But here, happiness of Dharma, only increases. Then it says there’s, enemies there’s nothing can do; enemies, so forth, nothing can do. Also, one can take to next life. One can take the happiness of Dharma to the next lives. You can get satisfaction. From happiness Dharma, complete. You continue put effort, continue, complete. You get satisfaction, fully satisfied.

When you achieve liberation, total cessation of the delusions, karma, including the negative imprints of delusions, then, especially when you achieve full enlightenment. And then, it doesn’t cause to rise sufferings, problems of this life and problems of future lives. It doesn’t cause that.

I think it this might be my mistake in the writing the note. It says, ‘it is merely labelled by mind’; the pleasure merely labelled by mind. The previous one, samsaric pleasure, is just only merely labelled by mind. But here, I think, probably should be not just merely labelled by mind. Here the pleasure is not just merely labelled by mind.

The way to understand it is this. If somebody made false money, not issued by the government, or somebody did magic to hallucinate you and that person give you billions of dollars – is the dollar, money, merely labelled by mind? In that case same. But it doesn’t exist. It’s merely labelled by mind but it doesn’t exist. There’s no billion dollar. It’s not dollar because it doesn’t have the valid base. This one is not officially produced. So if it’s found out then problem.

Here, the other person through magician power hallucinated your mind and you see the person giving you billion dollar, so there’s no valid base. There’s no valid base. It’s not that official paper produced, with all the design, produced by the office, government. Doesn’t exist. It’s not there so, same, merely labelled ‘dollar’, merely labelled ‘money’, same. Previous one, worldly pleasure - that is like that; merely labelled by mind. Which implies it is not, it doesn’t exist. That’s only suffering. What it’s saying: that’s only suffering. Same here. It’s same – same merely labelled but doesn’t exist.

Now the Dharma happiness, what he’s saying here, is not just merely labelled by mind. Should be opposite to the previous one. So here means it exists. What he’s saying is it exists. Is not merely labelled by mind, which meaning is doesn’t exist. Here it’s not saying that. The previous one is like that. This one here is not merely labelled by mind means that it, if someone finish by that, it doesn’t exist. It’s not like that. It exists. It exists because there’s valid base, that pure happiness, which can be increased and complete, that which is not in the nature of suffering. So that’s the base. That feeling is the base.

In regards to merely labelled by mind as dependent arising, this doesn’t negate that. In regards to, the happiness of Dharma exists because it is merely labelled by mind and depending on the valid base. That feeling or that experience which is not the nature of suffering can be continued. So here, this case, mere labelled by mind which means existing.

Next one. The happiness Dharma is so special, exalted; so special because it can destroy completely all the delusions, all the negative actions. So very good for meditation: one by one, to compare worldly pleasures and Dharma happiness. I just went over the outlines what Arya Asanga, Pakpa Tokme, said but, of course, one can go into depth the explanation. And, also, by discovering the differences the happiness, pleasure and their effect, it helps to courage the mind to overcome the delusions, to let go the desire, this painful mind, desire which keeps our life, continuously, to suffer, now and in the future. To give courage to practice Dharma, to achieve Dharma happiness, to overcome the delusions, desire; it helps renunciation. Then the renounced mind, the contented mind that is what you need in order to achieve liberation. If you have that quality of mind then you can have pure life. You can have pure life, pure morality. Only then you can live in pure morality. Then you can have perfect meditation, shamatha. You can have realisation and, from that, great insight, realisation of emptiness. That experience – great insight combined with shamatha, the extremely refined virtuous ecstasy of the body and mind, by doing analysis on shunyata, and emptiness combined with shi-nä. If you are able to achieve that then you’re able to achieve the direct realisation of emptiness. Then you’re able to cease the defilements - intellectual, the delusions, then the simultaneously-born delusions. Then one can cease the negative imprints completely, able to achieve the total liberation. Then by ceasing even the subtle negative imprint one will achieve full enlightenment. Then able to do perfect work to liberate, enlighten, all the numberless sentient beings.