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 Two: Commentary on Eight Verses: Part A

So [pause] here says loving kindness to oneself as well as thinking, lacking loving kindness to oneself, however, if you are practising Dharma, what I want to say is if you are practising Dharma, that time, your thoughts virtue, your actions are virtue, result: only happiness. You achieve result only happiness when you’re practising Dharma. So then whenever there’s danger to rise anger, when somebody criticise or badly treat, whenever there’s danger to rise anger, when you try to, every time when you practice patience that time you’re protecting to yourself. You’re not harming yourself. When you get angry you are harming to yourself. And when you harm others is harming to yourself – with body, with speech, with mind. When you harm others, itself, is harming to yourself. It has consequences – the suffering result. From dependent arising from that action, suffering result you have to experience receiving harm from others, either your sicknesses or other problems, or with relationship others receive harm from others. So when you allow anger, that time, you’re not loving to yourself. When you’re angry, when you’re not practising patience you are harming to yourself. You are not loving to yourself.

When you’re practising patience then you’re taking care of yourself; you’re loving to yourself. You are protecting yourself whenever you’re practising patience. Protecting from anger, protecting from the most unbearable sufferings of the lower realms and so forth. And present unhappiness and all the problems you experience due to anger that day, in this life. And then in future lives. Like that. So whenever you practice contentment, whenever you try to achieve satisfaction, the practice of contentment, renunciation, letting go the painful mind of desire which brings so brings so many problems, whenever you do that, that time, you are protecting yourself. You are giving liberation to yourself. You are loving to yourself. When you don’t do that, when you follow desire, then brings so many problems. It makes your life caught into so many problems. So that’s not, you’re not taking care of yourself. You’re abandoning yourself. You’re not taking care of yourself. That’s not loving yourself. And when you meditate compassion, loving kindness, bodhicitta, thought to benefit other sentient beings, that’s the best loving yourself. That’s the best taking care of yourself.

When you follow self-cherishing thought, when you follow self-cherishing mind, that’s harming to yourself. That’s abandoning yourself. Torturing yourself, not loving yourself.

When you meditate on emptiness that time you are taking care of yourself. When you practice mindfulness of emptiness in daily life, not following the ignorance holding things as truly existent while they’re not, while they’re empty of that. Every time when you meditate on emptiness, ultimate nature, even one second touch on that emptiness, reality, even one second purifies unbelievable – it’s like atomic bomb. So many lifetimes, so many heavy negative karmas – so much get purified. And, every time, you become closer to liberation from samsara, from the oceans of samsaric suffering. Every time when you meditate on emptiness you come closer to that. It becomes like atomic bomb – so powerful to purify negative karma.

So when you’re practising mindfulness in the daily life, that time, you’re really taking care of yourself; you’re loving to yourself. Like that. So same when you practice Guru devotion, Three Principle Paths, twa stages; whenever you practice that, especially with bodhicitta. Because cherishing ‘I’ is only opening the door for all the problems; inviting all the problems this life - doesn’t allow to achieve happiness even this life, future lives, all the realisations. Doesn’t allow to achieve liberation from samsara even for oneself; doesn’t allow to achieve Mahayana path, to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. It doesn’t allow to benefit for other sentient beings. So following the cherishing the ‘I’, that’s opening the door for all the problems; root of all the problems, obstacles to develop Mahayana path.

Therefore cherishing others is the seeking of happiness for others, that one, is opening the door for all the happiness – yours and numberless sentient beings happiness. Not only yours, but numberless sentient beings’ happiness. So with that thought, bodhicitta, you’re able to offer all the happiness to numberless sentient beings -temporary, ultimate, up to enlightenment, every thing. With that bodhicitta, doing any practice, thought to benefit others, doing business, or doing job, eating, walking, seating, sleeping, taking care of children, looking after family, whatever – with the thought of benefiting others, bodhicitta, all these actions become - not only Dharma -all these become cause to achieve full enlightenment. It becomes best Dharma, purest Dharma because it’s unstained with the self-cherishing thought. So like that. So living life with this, whatever lifestyle one lives, living life with this bodhicitta, with this pure mind, it’s like iron with mercury. Iron turned out, turning thousands of irons turn into gold.

So your whole life, with bodhicitta, whatever lifestyles you’ve got, lay life or ordained life, whatever, doing business, job, - the whole life become like transformed to gold; become most meaningful. Every action that is done with bodhicitta you collect limitless skies of merit and every time you’re getting closer to enlightenment because so much merit you collect. Unbelievable. Most powerful purification all the time - continuously. So like that becomes most beneficial life to all the sentient beings.

Talking about loving kindness to oneself, this is how. If you’re throwing yourself in the fire, if you’re harming yourself creating negative karma, harming to oneself - that’s not loving yourself. So like that. That’s my interpretation.

So I think ten o’clock, maybe lung Eight Verses. [pause]

I don’t remember the life story of Kadampa Geshe Langri Tanggpa but I have, in Tibet, when we went pilgrimage beginning of this year, last year – I got mixed up all the years. Become soup! Last year we went Tibet. Anyway, we went to Kadampa Geshi Langri Tangpa’s monastery. Very large stupa – inside there was statue, Kadampa Geshe Langri Tangpa’s statue. With the Tibetans waiting outside, inside there may be also some Tibetans, did just for us went over the Eight Verses in the monastery. [pause]

So ideas from the foundation of quality, go through the verses, obtaining the, how the life is highly meaningful. By going over that, on the basis of that, then to do the Eight Verses. Since there’s much time went the other things, without going the preliminaries just go straight as can be. So first understand how the sentient beings are so precious, kind. To achieve the sublime success, here it says, I myself, dak nge, myself, whatever the sentient being does to me, how they treat me doesn’t matter. I, myself, dak nge sem chen tam che la. We should understand, we should remember that. The way it’s presented. Of course it might not come in English. Dak nge sem chen tam che la – the reason why nge comes. So doesn’t matter how sentient beings from their side treat me, think of me, doesn’t worry about. From my side how harm, can practice this towards all the sentient beings, more special than the wish-granting jewel.

The next one become commentary to that – why special than wish-granting jewel; why sentient beings are more special than wish-granting jewel. With the thought obtaining the sublime success, with their help to achieve supreme success for you. Then I practice always to cherish. So here think the person who doesn’t love you, or think the person who always criticise or angry to you – we use that person, particularly. Not the friend but we use the person who harm, who abuses you, who harms you, whom you call enemy. We think of kindness of that person. Now, this person [pause] so [pause] I’m going to, maybe I use Bin Laden probably. It took me a while to decide whether to bring Bin Laden or not, or your own personal enemy; anyway, Bin Laden, whomever one hate, call enemy. You achieve, from that person you regard enemy, all the happiness of future lives. You achieve from that. future life, perfect human rebirth, deva rebirth.

How you receive all the future lives’ happiness, rebirth, the birth of the happy transmigratory being – deva, human, including perfect human rebirth; how you receive all those happiness: from him.

So, I just use that example there but you can use individual if you have enemy, use that for meditation. Because cause of all those births of the happy transmigratory being, good rebirth, cause of all those, is the morality. Morality. What is morality? On the object, sentient beings, no discrimination. Any sentient being, on the object, you made a vow to not harm. You made a vow to not kill, to not tell lie, to not steal from them. You made a vow like this on the basis of the object of sentient beings. That includes Bin Laden. It’s there. It includes there. So, on the basis of that object, we made a vow to not kill, to not steal, to not lie, all these things to not harm others. So the good karma, morality, is the cause of all the future lives’ happiness – good rebirth, so forth. We are able to collect this by depending on the kindness of sentient beings. So, here, by depending on him. There’s no such thing as the vow, ‘I won’t kill sentient beings, except my enemy’. There’s no such thing. Except those who harm me – there’s no such vow like that. On everyone made vow to not kill, to not tell lie, all this is to not harm. That includes Bin Laden is there.

All this good karma we collect practising morality, received by kindness of him, due to his existence. I’m not saying only him, but I’m saying received by kindness of him. Then making charity, also, you can’t make charity if there’s no sentient being we have no opportunity to make charity. So making charity also depend on kindness of sentient beings. Then we dedicate those merits to receive good rebirth and happiness of future lives. So the complete cause, the morality, dedicating the merits and achieving all this happiness of future lives, the good rebirth – completely we receive by the kindness, from Bin Laden; by depending on the kindness of Bin Laden. But I’m not saying only him. I mentioned to you all the sentient beings – on the basis of all the sentient beings made a vow. Because of sentient beings we have opportunity to practise morality by precepts. So definitely Bin Laden is there. He’s there. No matter how much one hate, but he’s there in the object, kindness, that we are able to collect, able to live in the vow practising morality. And then achieve all these results of happiness in the future lives, rebirths, so forth.

So here, the first ten.chog?, first sublime success is there. You achieve by kindness of Bin Laden. All the future good rebirth, then perfect human rebirth, whatever - the precious human body which has the seven qualities, or which has eight ripening aspect qualities, all this, and four Mahayana Dharma wheels - all these by depending on the kindness of sentient beings we have to achieve. So, by depending on him.

So then, now, second great success, achieving liberation from samsara. That depends on fundamental path – actualising the great insight. That depends on actualising shamatha, calm-abiding. That realisation depends on morality, pure morality – the higher training of morality. So, again, morality; root here, even to achieve liberation from samsara depends on the path. Root: morality.

So morality, as I explained before, we take a vow, we make a vow, on the object every single being, including Bin Laden, to not harm others. So practice morality and then, from that, calm-abiding shi-ne, then great insight hlak-tong –all these we receive by kindness of Bin Laden. Then all the rest of the Path – five path to achieve liberation, all that. The whole path and liberation, totally, we receive by kindness of Bin Laden; the second great success. So, now, become even more precious. Before very precious but now even much more precious.

Now the third great success. The root, the great compassion, the root of bodhicitta, then all the Mahayana path, six paramitas, all that, then including full enlightenment. The five paths, ten bhumi, tantric path; the whole thing we receive, root of the great compassion and enlightenment, everything. We receive by depending on kindness of Bin Laden.

Now, much more, far more, unbelievable precious it become. Way to receive realisation, bodhicitta, great compassion: by depending on his kindness. So by depending on the kindness of every single sentient being – that includes Bin Laden. He’s there. So now he become unbelievable precious. Now there’s big mountains of gold. There’s Bin Laden here, big mountains of gold. Who is more precious? Bin Laden is more precious or the gold is more precious, the big mountain of gold is more precious? If you compare, the big mountain of gold, diamond, whatever it is, not only that wish-granting jewel that in the past bodhisattvas in the past, all those who have so much merit, able to find from the ocean and then clean three ways, then put on the top of the banner on the fifteenth day, then whatever your prayer – the person’s side also has so much good karma, merit, so mainly because of that. The jewel has power so whatever prayer the person makes, any material enjoyment, due to the power of the object and the person’s good karma, immediately, able to get. So now why wish-granting jewel, how precious this sentient being is you cannot find any other material objects. You can’t. You cannot find. You cannot compare how precious it is. You cannot find any other material objects.

So among all the material possessions, most valuable precious one is wish-granting jewel. There’s a piece of a jewel which is extremely rare. Only those who have good karma can find. Like only those people who have merit much like they’re able to win billion dollars from lottery. Similar.

So, therefore, wish-granting jewel is the most precious one among the material possessions. Why the wish-granting jewel is brought here because that’s the most precious one among all those, among all the materials. But cannot compare the value of this, one sentient being’s kindness; how precious it is. Let’s say whole sky filled with wish-granting jewel, now even if you have whole sky filled with wish-granting jewel, that much, that man wish-granting jewel alone canot stop your rebirth. That alone – sky filled with that many wish-granting jewel, cannot make you free from samsara, achieve liberation. Cannot. And that many, sky filled with wish-granting jewel, cannot – oyu can say that many billions of dollars or however, or sky filled with wish-granting jewel, that many. Even if you have, cannot from there achieve enlightenment because how can you generate compassion on the gold? There’s no opportunity to generate compassion on the gold. How can you generate compassion on the billions of dollars? They don’t have mind so how can you generate compassion on billions of dollars? How can you generate compassion on the wish-granting jewel? They have no mind. How can you generate compassion on numberless wish-granting jewels?

But on Bin Laden, the practice of morality, all this, you achieve all the happiness. You achieve liberation form samsara. You generate compassion and bodhicitta. You achieve whole Path to enlightenment; cease all the gross subtle defilements, and complete all the realisations to achieve full enlightenment. And then you’re able to liberate numberless sentient beings from the ocean of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment. So you’re able to do incredible things by the kindness of this sentient being – Bin Laden. So like that.

Therefore, sky filled with wish-granting jewel is nothing. The value is nothing when you compare to the value of one sentient being – Bin Laden. So all that wealth is nothing, how precious it is. So think of how precious one sentient being, Bin Laden, is. So like that. Now that is very important to get this idea. Then you can understand..

Now the sentient being become – Bin Laden or whoever it is – most precious one in your life; most kindest one in your life. That explanation comes more – even when you practice the patience there, the group of patience, comes there.

So here now we can say that even the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, whom we take Refuge, to whom we request blessings – even they came form the sentient beings. So came from Bin Laden – Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, came from Bin Laden. So from where they came, our objects of Refuge came from sentient beings. That includes Bin Laden. So then become even more precious.

So now here, I myself, no matter how sentient beings treat me, they like or they don’t like, whatever, however they treat me, from my side, I myself, towards all the sentient beings – that also includes enemy, friend, stranger, that includes everyone – I myself towards all the sentient beings, with the thought obtaining the supreme success, higher, more special than wish-granting jewel. By looking at it that way, with the thought I will cherish them. I will practice cherish them forever not just for few minutes or time to time, not like that – all the time. All the time means, even when I’m happy, I’m going to do this practice: only cherish others. Even when I’m unhappy, even when I have problems, even that time, what I’m going to practice is cherish other sentient beings. So ‘always’ means, whatever circumstances you are – happy, unhappy, whatever – but no change. From my side, that’s what I’m going to practice: practice cherish others all the time.

The next stanza is, I think, in order for success to that practice - similar in “Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas”, Thogme Zangpo composed. Even the other sentient beings, other people who are equal oneself, who are same, even they treat me with pride, being under the control of pride, even if they treat me bad, from my side I’m going to respect them as guru. Like guru I respect. I take them on my crown – means you bow down. I take them on my crown like guru. So that’s practising others higher than yourself, lower, even others treat like that. So this, I think maybe that’s enough otherwise go on and on. So maybe lung; lung or lung? Maybe lung.

I’m just going to read with my broken English.

With whomever, wherever, in English I don’t know which translation, there’s missing ‘where’. With ‘whomever’ is there, but kang.du is a place, that’s not mentioned, the ones normally we use. With whomever or wherever one company, I look at always myself lower from all.