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 B

So that depends on I think the individual person to not rise pride, to practice humbleness, respect to others. Looking at oneself lower by realisations or by knowledge, so many different ways – by wealth, many different ways; and by looking at one’s own mistakes. When you think of your own mistakes, then humble, pride doesn’t rise. When you think of your own mistakes that helps to be humble; looking at others as better, and the respect comes. With the sincere thought, not political, not diplomatic - in the mind, ‘I’m better, the highest, than them’ but you’re doing politics, physically kind of bowing down. Not like that. Diplomatic. Not like that. Playing with the eight worldly dharmas but sincere.

With the thought, sincerely, to others: I’m going to practice others’ sublime. And I’m going to practise to look at others as sublime, and cherish. Then in order to do this, to be able to continue to do this practice – cherishing others and keeping humble oneself, respect others, how to do this, in the daily life in your conduct, in one’s own conduct, with the remembrance and awareness. Always you watch the mind, your mental continuum. Always examine, watch, your mental continuum, your attitude, with the remembrance, awareness whether the delusion is rising or not.

Like this, always examining one’s mental continuum, attitude. Then, the minute when delusion arises, endangers, makes evil oneself and others – you get angry then makes others to get angry; or you can say also desire. What mind desire also causes others desire. So like that. The minute delusion arises it makes oneself and others evil. So, therefore, forcefully or diligently – by looking at the delusion as enemy, one’s own enemy, diligently, forcefully - what’s the word? Anyway, destroy our practice. Diligently. Forcefully. Dispel? [student: Confront overtly.] Forcefully. Quickly.

The minute when the delusion arises, immediately, [Tibetan] avert. If you don’t do that then if you go late to smash the delusion, to avert the delusion, if you become late then, how many seconds you become late then the delusion harms you. You missed out. Then the delusion already harm you, already destroy you. So like enemy - in the teachings use ‘thief’. However, for example, in the war, if you become late to destroy the enemy then the enemy will harm you and you’re finished.

The minute when you encounter enemy, immediately, without delaying even a second, shoot, destroy enemies. So like that. Here, the minute when the delusion arises, the enemy, without delaying a second, immediately, forcefully, [Tibetan sen.cha??] and avert it. I’ll practice forcefully, diligently, to avert it. So like that.

How? With the method and the wisdom. Anyway, so this is just summarising the techniques: method and wisdom. I’m not going into all the different techniques or that. I’m not going to do that. Here then, normally, you can elaborate various techniques, diverse techniques how to destroy desire; various techniques about the patience, anger. So like that.

Then here [pause] the, not going to mention the – what is normally mentioned, the antidote to attachment: looking at it suffering, ugly, dirty. Antidote to the anger: practising loving kindness, like that. Antidote to the ignorance: meditating on dependent arising, looking at emptiness, things like that.

Remembering the result of negative karma - the lower realm suffering, most unbearable sufferings of the lower realm, and that so many lifetimes even when you’re born in human realm you have to experience the result of those karma, those negative thoughts. You have to experience so many lifetimes, even in the human realm, all those things. Then the other thing is it makes, it obscures the mind more. The delusion, the negative karmas, makes more difficult to have realisation to develop the mind in the Mahayana path to liberation and to achieve enlightenment, to be able to liberate other sentient beings, to enlighten them. So then think that.

The other thing is that [pause] there is a quotation from Sutra, but I don’t remember; very useful quotation. You become habituated in these negative karmas, the delusions, and the negative karmas. As you follow them, as you create them, you become habituated with them. You become so habituated with them it makes it much more difficult next lives; makes it much more difficult in your next lives. Then, again, as a result of previous habituation with these delusions, negative karma, you’re creating - Again those delusions rises and produce negative karma and that makes continue to circle in samsara and continue to suffer. This is very powerful thing to remember. The habituation and the negative imprint, this is extremely harmful: obstacle for realisation then, besides heavy suffering in the lower realms, and also many sufferings in the human realm for many lifetimes.

As Lama Tsongkapa explained in Lam-rim Chen-mo, everything, all the phenomena, what they are, is merely labelled by mind. What they are is merely labelled by mind so, therefore, they’re empty. They do not exist from their own side. They’re empty. They do not exist from their own side. This is the nature of the phenomena – I, action, object. So, therefore, the ignorance, the concept holding phenomena as inherently existent, leaves negative imprint on the mind, and then that projects the, decorates the truly existing hallucination, this truly existing appearance on the merely labelled I, merely labelled action, merely labelled all the phenomena. So then, here now, you have this total hallucination – covered the whole phenomena, truly existing appearance. You have this total hallucinated world. Then, on the basis of this, by reasoning this is beautiful then attachment rises, grasps, clings the object. It exaggerates the object. It clings the object and becomes so extremely painful to us to separate from.

So, on top of this fundamental hallucination, you have total - a hallucination, which is view of attachment, projected on that. Then, also, on the basis of this fundamental hallucination of truly existing appearance, you think reason that person harms you, then anger rises. Then anger has its own projection that ‘this is bad’, something very undesirable. So anger has its own hallucination, projection. Therefore, there’s double, triple, hallucination in our view. So, in reality, there’s nothing there to attach to. In reality there’s nothing there to get angry to. That’s the whole point. It would take time to read the quotation from Lama Tsongkapa so I just - that is by analysing the view of the ignorance and view of the attachment and anger. They are all projected. In reality, what is believed, all these do not exist. Then there are other different techniques.

Next one. When I see evil natured sentient being tormented by, overpowered, tormented by the negative karma, heavy negative karma, suffering, may I be able to practice - difficult to find, may I practice cherish as it is difficult to find like having found precious treasure. So like that, again same in the case of Bin Laden who did so much harm in the world, created unbelievable negative karma, so much suffering to so many – millions and millions of people, so heavy negative karma, so much suffering. Completely overwhelmed by all these delusions so will have to experience in the lower realm, in the hell realm, for uncountable number of aeons.

When you think of all the delusions, all the strong delusions, self-cherishing thoughts, all the heavy karma – unbelievable. And then so many aeons that have to suffer in the lower realm, in hell realm. By thinking that, if you generate compassion – by thinking that compassion rises without choice then, from the compassion, bodhicitta arises, then you’re able to develop the whole path to enlightenment. From that you achieve full enlightenment. So, therefore, somebody who has created so much heavy negative karma, somebody who has suffered so much, to see, to meet, to find, is not easy. Rare. It’s rare. Once you find it, once you see it, if you think this way you’re able to generate compassion, actualise bodhicitta, whole path, and you’re able to achieve enlightenment, from that person. So, therefore, that person is so unbelievable, most precious one, like having found precious jewels. I will cherish this person as difficult to find.

Anyone with the jealous mind to me, that’s criticising, blaming to me, something undeserved, what I’m going to do from my side: I will take the loss upon myself, whatever it is, and then offer the victory to others, to that person – sincerely, from the heart. So like this.

His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, you can understand from this, you can understand an example from this Rinpoche. His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche explained that Kadampa Geshe, maybe Sharawa, or Cheng.ngawa one of them. While he was giving teaching, Kadampa Geshe Sharawa or Cheng.ngawa not sure; while he was giving teaching one girl stood up and put a child on his lap. One who is giving teaching to so many disciples, many other people, while it is happening one girl stood up, brought a child and put on his lap on throne, by saying this is your child. Of course, Kadampa Geshe was monk. The girl came out, brought child, put on his lap on throne, saying this is your child. So Kadampa Geshe didn’t react, this is not my child, or nothing. He didn’t react at all. He put his zen around the child and he kept. Then one day the mother came, I want back the child. Then he gave back. This is a very good example, just an example, what His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche explained.

Of course, this is in public. She did this in public to disgrace. She did this, purposely, in public. While it’s not his child, he’s a monk, but Kadampa Geshe Chen.ngawa never reacted, not the slightest reacted, didn’t say no; just put the zen round and kept the child. Then one day the girl came and said I want my child back. Then he said yes. Didn’t fight – oh how can this be my child, blah, blah. Didn’t do that. So like that. Taking the loss on ourselves and offering the victory to others. Like this.

Now you have to understand here, as I mentioned to you this, I must mention next one otherwise it looks some kind of stupid – if you don’t see the benefits you think stupid you see. It’s kind of why it’s done.

I think must be same reason why His Holiness, fight to the mainland China even though so many countries, many Tibetan people, they want war, fight, especially young Tibetan people like that, but why His Holiness emphasise so much to not do violence. To achieve, still to look for freedom but not by violence. If you make war, violence, harm them, then that itself becomes negative karma. Then there’s consequences, natural consequences. From that then, later, because you created the cause by harming them, you’ll be harmed by them again. Take over all the country, the same thing will happen. You will suffer the same thing. Than again you harm them and then has consequence again. You experience suffering result to be harmed by them, the Tibetans to be harmed by mainland China. So unending. Can never stop this. There’s no end for that. Harming each other - consequences, there’re karmic consequences, so there’s no end for suffering.

Therefore, the way His Holiness’ method is non-violence, doing that way, is peaceful way. That is very wise. So the Tibetans don’t have to suffer and other mainland Chinese people don’t have to suffer.

So, here, same thing in the two person’s case, same. If you defeat that person then you have consequences, natural consequences, from that. You’ll receive harm; you’ll be defeated by others in the future – this life or next life; you’ll be harmed by others. So there’s endless suffering.

Now, here, if you took the loss onto yourself and offer the victory to others, then by doing this, result of taking loss upon oneself and offering victory to others now, after from this consequence, from this karma, you’ll get victory in the future. You’ll get victory without need to harm at all to others. You’ll get victory. From that you will have success. Now you take victory but the result you will have success, victory, is so many lifetimes – enlightenment.

So, therefore, here making decision, offering victory to the other sentient beings and taking loss on yourself, become very wise. You have long-run happiness from that. So that’s the reason. Then anyone who benefit to me. In this great bodhisattva’s, Buddhas, great yogis, who are making war is holy beings, that’s only benefiting them, benefiting other sentient beings. That’s different. Otherwise, if it’s ordinary being then there’s always these karmic consequences. Even if you defeat them, from then again, war comes; then next, the country or oneself have to suffer, tortured or harmed by others again. So there’s no ending in that kind of way of defeating, with that kind of way of destroying enemy has no end – violence way. But the best way is by changing the mind. By helping the mind change the mind to generate compassion is the best way. So it helps you. It helps the others in all future life times. It brings to enlightenment.

So anyone who benefit to me, whom I have great hope, even gives me terrible harm, may I be able, I will look at it as virtuous friend – the guru of the patience. The lama, Buddhas, give teachings on how to practice patience. The person who has anger towards you makes you to put that teaching into practice; to practice patience. Because of that, that’s how that person become friend or guru of patience. From that you’re able to complete paramita of patience, able to achieve enlightenment. Then you’re able to liberate numberless sentient beings, able to bring them to enlightenment. So all this comes from that person who has anger towards you. So that’s how they’re most kind, most precious one in your life.

Next one. In short, directly or indirectly, all the benefits, happiness, are offered to the mother sentient beings. The happiness of this life and the happiness of the future lives, all those things, the indirect ones including enlightenment, offer to sentient beings – the merit and all the result of all the happiness like that. The benefits of happiness, benefits of temporary happiness, and the ultimate happiness – so benefits and happiness, everything offer to them. Then I will practice to offer this and then to take all the mothers’ harms and sufferings, secretly, on me, on myself. It means take it into one’s own heart, on one’s self-cherishing thought. So here doing tong-len practice, taking other sentient beings’ suffering cause on oneself with compassion, then giving one’s own merit, happiness, body, everything, belongings, to other sentient beings with loving kindness.

Doing this visualisation to train the mind then in the everyday life what you can actually do, even small, that you can actually take other’s problems on yourself – if there’s difficult work to do, something very difficult others have to do, or somebody carrying a very heavy load, then you share on yourself. You help to carry; you share. Instead of the other person experiencing difficulties, you carry that, share that load on you. So like that. Any practice in the daily life taking other sentient beings problems or difficulties on you and give the happiness, comfort, to the other sentient being. Doing that practice as much as one can.

Then the tong-len practice, it is said in the Bodhicaryavatara, [Tibetan] even just the mere thought – here this is very important to understand how tong-len is so powerful; this practice of taking and giving, this thought. Even the mere thinking, the mere thought, to benefit sentient being it is much more higher than making offerings to the Buddhas; so therefore if you, actually, attempt to benefit sentient beings, then no question. Here what is saying is the mere thought to benefit even one sentient being is much more special, much more extraordinary, than making offerings to the Buddhas. When you compare the mere thought to benefit one sentient being and making offerings to the Buddhas, the mere thought to benefit even one sentient being is much more extraordinary, much more special.

I think same all the bodhisattvas. All the Buddhas discussed what is the best thing for sentient beings; in the Bodhicaryavatara. I don’t remember the quotation. They discussed what is the best thing, much than, bodhicitta. They discussed. Same.

Here you have to understand the benefit is unbelievable. The mere thought – you’re not doing anything, but the mere thought to benefit one sentient being is much more special that making offerings to Buddhas. I’m not going to elaborate how powerful it is to make offering to Buddha. If you offer one tiny rice, one tiny flower, to Buddha, picture of Buddha, statue of Buddha, the result of that, the benefit of that, all the samsaric pleasures, all the samsaric happiness that we experience from beginning-less rebirth up until now, and what we will experience in the future, it has that much but still doesn’t finish the result of making one tiny flower, rice, to picture Buddha or statue of Buddha. It is said in sutra, until you achieve liberation the result of making that one flower offering to a statue of Buddha, picture of Buddha, doesn’t finish. Even if you achieve great liberation and enlightenment, I think it still doesn’t finish the merit, enjoying the merit, offering one tiny flower to the statue of Buddha. Even after you achieve enlightenment, you enlighten numberless sentient beings, you benefit them, still you’re enjoying the merit of offering that tiny rice or tiny flower to picture or statue of Buddha.

That’s unbelievable the benefit of making one tiny rice offering to statue Buddha is like limitless skies. So now here is saying the mere thought rising to benefit one sentient being is much more special to the Buddhas. Here when you do tong-len practice, taking and giving, you are thinking of all the sentient beings, not just one sentient being. The Bodhicaryavatara comments on one sentient being but see, here, all the sentient beings so that’s how unbelievable merit you create that makes to achieve enlightenment quickly.

Next one. I will practice, all these practice unstained by the eight worldly dharmas. There are two types of worldly dharma – general eight worldly dharma, then there’s, truly existent birth, existing, cessation, [Tibetan] - truly existing coming and going. [Tibetan] Eternalism and nihilism – unstained by these eight worldly dharma the normal to the attachment eight world dharma, then there’s other to do with the mental fabricator or the truly existent dharmas. So, unstained by those concepts, superstition – by realising how all the phenomena are illusion. By realising they are empty, then by looking at them empty, with that understanding appear things as illusion. With that thought, without clinging, doing practice with that thought. Then there’s no clinging, attachment, or the concept of truly existing. Without that bond I will liberate the sentient beings. So like that.

I meant to do very quick lung. I’m sorry it became some mumbling, so sorry. It went long time. I hope some people have found there is some benefit in that to meditate, practice, to develop the mind on the path to enlightenment to benefit other sentient beings. So I think that’s it. I think my eyes telling it’s time to stop, so thank you very much. Thank you.