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: Meaning of LIfe

...so then life become so meaningful, so fruitful, so meaningful. Even how much wealth one has, everything become meaningful, beneficial for sentient beings. How much reputation one achieve, along with that good heart, with that pure mind, Dharma mind, good heart, then it becomes so beneficial for sentient beings the more reputation one gain or fame. More education one has become so beneficial for sentient beings. No harm. The education does not become harm, not used to harm others, only to benefit others. Benefit to oneself, benefit to others. Like that.

So now whatever happens in the life – whether one is wealthy, whether one is poor, whichever way happens, life become so meaningful. Even one has sicknesses, cancer, AIDS, whatever sickness one has, become so meaningful, so beneficial. Even one is healthy - so meaningful. That is not only to have, to practice good heart and to develop, it’s not only for the happiness, not only for the benefit of oneself. There’s a great need, there’s incredible need as I mentioned yesterday, there’s incredible need for others; for the happiness of other numberless sentient beings. There’s unbelievable urgency and need you are practising this, developing this good heart.

As I normally mention [pause] if one has the good heart of compassion, then from that attitude, it doesn’t produce harmful action towards others. Others do not receive harm from that. Including family members, people, animals, who are around oneself, who are around you in every day life, from there to numberless other living beings, they don’t receive harm from you, from your compassion. They receive the absence of harm. Absence of harm is peace. Numberless other living beings, they are receiving peace from you, from your compassion. And then, not only that, not only stop giving harm but, with the compassion, you benefit. The more you develop compassion others receive – on the basis of not receiving harm, they receive deeper benefit, more benefit from your compassion; from you, from your compassion. The numberless sentient beings receive limitless skies of benefit: peace and happiness, temporary and ultimate – the everlasting happiness, liberation, and the great liberation of full enlightenment, the peerless happiness -numberless other beings they receive from you.

So all this peace and happiness, they don’t receive harm and they receive all this peace and happiness – limitless skies of peace and happiness what they receive form you, temporary, ultimate, up to enlightenment – it’s completely in your hands. It’s completely in your hands. It’s completely up to oneself. It’s in your hands. If you generate compassion towards others then numberless sentient beings they receive all this peace and happiness. If you don’t, then they don’t receive all these limitless skies of benefit, peace and happiness, temporary, ultimate. Therefore, every one of us has a full responsibility. Every one of us has a total, full responsibility of each and every single living beings’ happiness, including family members, anyone who is around oneself – outside the house, inside the house, wherever.

So here we meditate a little bit, just short, feeling, meditating on universal responsibility; feeling, by thinking this way as I explained, then meditate on the feeling that I have responsibility of each and every – there are numberless sentient beings - each and every single living being’s happiness. On that feeling do one-pointed concentration, in other words, holding that feeling.

Even though there are many educated people in the world, many people have wealth in the world, even though there are numberless Buddhas, bodhisattvas, fully enlightened beings, those great saints who totally renounced self, cherishing self, and only cherishing others and seeking only the happiness of others, completely renounced seeking happiness for self, only seeking happiness for others, the numberless sentient beings – even though there are numberless Buddhas, bodhisattvas like that, but how other sentient beings, they’re depending on you. Their happiness depends on you. Only after that person met you, or that animal, only after they met you then, that animal or that person able to receive, able to get means of living to be able to survive. Able to save from dying from starvation or by sickness – only after meeting you that person got better the sickness, or able to get medicine. However there are many examples like that.

Only after they met you, then they receive help. Their problem is solved only after that person met you. Then that person had opportunity to learn meditation, able to understand the need to practice meditation in the life, the need to practice Dharma, the great need to develop the spiritual path with one’s mind – especially, need to develop one’s mind.

So, after come to understand all this awareness of life only after the person met you, open the door. Only after met you then opened the door for that person’s happiness; door for the person’s liberation from the whole entire suffering and causes. Only then open the door for that person, opportunity to learn path to enlightenment and to practice. Opened the door toward enlightenment. That all the time happens so we can see just from these daily examples, we can see how we’re responsible, that everyone of us has a responsibility of other sentient beings – to free other sentient beings from suffering and causes and bring them in full enlightenment and great liberation.

So, therefore, again here there’s a great pursue. That we need to learn more Dharma, the teaching, the Path shown by the fully Enlightened Being. That we need to learn more and that we need to develop – that we need to learn and that we need to practice, that we need to make our mind better and better, develop good heart, more and more pure. So there’s great pursue or there’s incredible need, unbelievable need when you look at the sentient beings especially. Incredible need. They need your help. Only through the development of your mind in the path to liberation and enlightenment, only then can liberate others, can offer deeper and deeper benefit to other sentient beings.

So from this there’s something that we have to put effort day and night how to help others, how to develop yourself, develop your mind in path of enlightenment; to be more and more compassionate, more wisdom, to be more qualified to benefit others. Something that we have to put our effort day and night, all the time in this: listening, reflection, meditation, practice making better. As we have incredible opportunity now this time, having learned teachers living now, that we can learn. That incredible opportunity we have that we can learn and really practice as much as possible and actualise – really to actualise. So whether others practice compassion towards you or not, however, first, one’s own side, from your side, must practice compassion to others. [pause] As I normally mention that there’s a great risk if oneself, if you, do not practice compassion. There’s a great risk, incredible danger that you’re the one person harm to not only the family members, those sentient beings who are around you in everyday life, but there’s danger numberless of other sentient beings they receive, in this life, so many other sentient beings receive harm from you and from life to life. So there’s even the body, condition of the body, stops. But the mind, continuity of the mind, goes after, beyond this life to next lives.

So, therefore, without compassion what is there is ego, self-centred mind. If this is there then the other afflicted mind – anger, jealous mind, all those things – those harmful thoughts also rises. The self-centred mind and so forth continues next life. So life to life like this it harms so many sentient beings, numberless sentient beings. If you think the ego continuing from life to life then, along with all those other support, like entourage, army, all those other delusions, then harm to numberless other sentient beings.

Therefore, usually one person harms numberless other sentient beings. So there’s this great danger, risk. Even the numberless other sentient beings, even they get angry, they harm you, but you are one person. You’re just one living being. How much one thinks, ‘I’m most important, my happiness is most important’, however, is just one living being. Even if one is able to achieve the everlasting happiness, liberation from samsara for oneself, not much to be surprised or to be excited about. You just achieve happiness for yourself. So, here, now if one do not in this life, now while we have all the opportunities having this perfect human body, having the qualified virtuous friend who can show you the whole Path, from whom you can learn the whole Path, opportunity to practice. If one doesn’t develop the compassion, the good heart, the one person, there is danger harm from life to life the innumerable numbers of sentient beings. So, thinking like that numberless sentient beings receive harm from you.

So real meaning of life here – to develop good heart of compassion, thought of benefit others, and making life meaningful, making life beneficial to other sentient beings.

In regards to benefiting other sentient beings, as I mentioned also yesterday, causing happiness with this life to others then, second, causing others the happiness of all the coming future lives. How to make life meaningful to benefit others: second level of benefiting other sentient beings. Then, third, making the life meaningful or benefiting other sentient beings, causing them to, bring them to the everlasting happiness, total liberation from all the suffering and causes. And then the fourth benefiting, which is the most important: bringing them in full enlightenment, great liberation. So, in regards to benefiting other sentient beings there are different levels of benefiting to other sentient beings - same in making one’s own life meaningful, beneficial.

To free the numberless sentient beings from the whole entire suffering of samsara and bring them in full enlightenment, to do this perfect work towards other sentient beings, first one need to achieve oneself, need to become perfect guide, fully qualified – having all the qualities to save, to guide other sentient beings. Only the Buddha, the Enlightened Being has infinite qualities of holy body, holy speech, holy mind; the perfected understanding, the compassion, the power. So oneself to become that, to achieve this, it doesn’t happen without cause, conditions. It doesn’t happen. That depends on the cause actualising the Path, gradual path, with one’s own heart. Just having realisation of some, having partial, having some of the realisations of the path to enlightenment, that’s not sufficient. One needs to have complete realisation of the whole Path, one has to actualise the whole path to enlightenment. Happens by following step by step, without mistakes, the graduation – so what kind of Path one needs to actualise. Then one need to actualise whole Path. Comes in the three levels, integrated into Lam-rim, the graduated path of the higher capacity being, depends on preliminary actualising path of middle capacity path, and that depends on actualising the gradual path of the lower capacity being. And the very root of these is Guru devotion.

Very root of all this, what makes successful all the rest of the path is the guru devotion. Correctly devoting to virtuous friend. In Lama Tsongkapa’s Lam-rim, Foundation of Good Quality, there’s mentioned that, “please grant me blessings correctly devoting kind – if the term ‘Lord’ if it’s not interesting, say kind lord or kind, perfect, Je [Tibetan ____ yeshe kue tin jen je?] – kind, perfected guide [Tibetan] kind, perfected guide. If the word ‘lord’ is a bad one, if that’s a bad word, then we can say ‘perfected guide’. If that word ‘lord’ is uninteresting then, ‘perfected guide’ .

So, correctly devoting the kind, perfect guide who is the basis of all the qualities. Seeing this as the root of the Path, discovering, realising, this is the root of the Path, with much effort, great veneration, great respect. So what he’s saying – as Kadampa Geshe Potowa mentioned in the Lam-rim, even the works of this life that by looking with the eyes, like handcraft, something you can learn by looking with the eyes, even that you need teacher to teach you. You can’t learn by yourself without, even something that by looking at with the eyes to learn, even that, works of this life, something easy, but without teacher you can’t learn by yourself. Even for that you need teacher so why not the Path that you’ve never been before, the journey, the Path that we had never ever been before - the Path to enlightenment. How is it possible by your self? Impossible without guide, the virtuous friend as Kadampa Geshe Potowa mentioned like that.

So that’s why there’s need guru; why one needs to look for guru. And, after on has found through analysis, then this is how one should practice, Lama Tsongkapa is saying.

So here, “please grant me blessings to be able to discover, or to be able to realise, or see, correctly devoting the perfected guide, the kind perfected guide, basis of all the qualities.” Now, here, basis of all the qualities - every single Dharma understanding that we have now, for example, any intellectual understanding of Dharma that we have now came from, this quality came from whom one has received is the guru, from the virtuous friend. Then by putting this into practice, by listening teaching, what we learned and what we put in practice, all the merit, all the purification that happens in our every day life, purifies not only today’s negative karma, past life negative karmas, negative karmas from beginning-less rebirth that we are able to purify by doing the practice. So, came from the guru; all these qualities came from guru.

Every cause of suffering, every cause of the lower realm, every cause of the obstacles to actualise Path, every cause of problems of this life – sicknesses, whatever it is, catastrophes, that we’re able to purify, every negative karma that we can make less is by kindness of guru. Every single negative karma that we can purify and in that way stop experiencing the result of these problems, obstacles to practice Dharma, to have realisation. Even those sicknesses and so forth, whatever, that we’re able to make less or stop experiencing – every single experience that we generate, even if it’s not actual realisation, but every single experience that nears to realisation when we do meditation on Lam-rim, when we do meditation practice, every drop of experience which nears to realisation, all came from guru.

Every wisdom that we have, every compassion that we generate by learning the teachings, every positive thought that we generate, good heart towards others, every wisdom that we have, discriminating wisdom to know what is right, what is wrong, what’s wrong to abandon, what’s right to practice – al these qualities come from the guru. All these qualities we receive from the guru. Every single merit we collect, every single cause of happiness we collect by learning Dharma came from the guru. Every single cause of happiness that we create, that we’re even collecting now, will collect in the future – all came from guru. Every mistake of our body, speech and mind, every delusion we make less, every anger in our life, every time we practice patience, every time we make one anger less, one negative karma less – all by the kindness of guru. All these qualities came from the guru.