THE BENEFITS OF BODHICITTA: THE FRUIT IS NEVER FINISHED
Think, “I am going to listen to oral teachings on the thought of enlightenment, which is the essence of the graduated path to enlightenment, the wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all the kind mother sentient beings.”
So, I stopped yesterday with the benefits of actualizing bodhicitta. No other sentient being, human or non-human, can give you any harm. Like for instance, sometimes a doctor with a very good mind can just touch a patient to examine him, without even giving any medicine, and the patient will be cured.
Another benefit is that the fruit is never finished. The fruit of a water tree grows, ripens and then dies, but the fruit of the bodhicitta tree is born but is never finished. The bodhicitta tree always bears fruit and it always increases and increases, without ever finishing.
The great bodhisattva Shantideva explains it this way. Other virtues you collect, even the realization of shunyata, voidness, even the mind renouncing samsara, done with a virtuous motivation not possessed with the attachment seeking pleasure in this life, even those virtues are like a water tree, bringing fruit once a year in spring. Having eaten the fruit, there is nothing left. You don’t continuously get fruit once you have picked it. The bodhicitta tree, on the other hand—once you have actualized bodhicitta—the more you experience the result, the more the fruit comes; it never finishes and it continuously increases.
Even the merit created by cultivating the motivation of the bodhicitta causes you to actualize the path, and actualizing the path, once you attain the mind of bodhicitta, you receive the result, enlightenment. After you attained enlightenment, you constantly work for every sentient beings until they attain enlightenment. Therefore, with just the wish to attain bodhicitta you are working for the benefit of all sentient beings, and attaining enlightenment you are actually able to benefit billions and billions of beings by showing different methods with your holy body and with your holy speech and holy mind, constantly benefiting all the sentient beings, until every sentient attains enlightenment.
All this comes from just having the merit of having the wish to attain bodhicitta, from cultivating the motivation of bodhicitta. The merit of even one thought of attaining bodhicitta is billions of times more than making charity of jewels filling this whole Earth to every sentient being every day for hundreds of eons. Even giving just a tiny plate of food to a dog with the motivation of bodhicitta creates far more merit than this. Even if you made charity for hundreds of eons of this whole Earth full of jewels to every human being, every animal, every preta and narak being—all the different beings on this Earth—the merit that creates is nothing compared to giving even a grain of rice to an ant with the motivation of bodhicitta. Making even the smallest act of charity with the motivation of bodhicitta creates the merit equaling the infinite space.
In his teaching, The Lamp for the Path of Enlightenment, the great bodhisattva Atisha explained the benefits of bodhicitta like this. Even the most unbelievable acts of charity done without the bodhicitta motivation are nothing compared to the tiniest acts of charity done with it. It creates infinite merit. That’s why the great yogis encourage us to make strong determination to devote our whole life to doing nothing but this. We should plant our feet firmly and not waver from this task. Plant your feet, you know, like a child does when they want to fight. When people are incredibly determined to get their way, they have incredible energy and they plant their feet so nobody can budge them. It signifies they are trying very hard. This is how we should be.
By planting our feet and determining to only do this, we can actualize the subjects such as impermanence and death and practice the Dharma so purely, no matter what difficulties arise. That’s what I think “planting the feet” means.
So, I think we’ll have a pipi break.
THE BENEFITS OF BODHICITTA: WE ACHIEVE ENLIGHTENMENT
The essential thing is this: how many others gain happiness depends on us achieving enlightenment quickly, and that depends on how much we train our mind in the two bodhicittas, absolute and relative bodhicitta, the cause of enlightenment. So to receive this depends on understanding the meditation techniques.
I must achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings therefore I am going to listen to the teaching on the practice of the bodhicitta. Then, listen with this motivation.
The part of the subject where I stopped last time that is the stanza:
“In short both, directly and indirectly do I offer all the benefits and happiness to all my mothers. I will take upon myself, all their harm and suffering.”
It is necessary to cultivate the motivation of the bodhicitta, in order to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all the kind mother sentient beings. I am therefore going to listen to the oral teachings, the training the thought of enlightenment which is essence of the graduated path to enlightenment.
The last benefit of the bodhicitta is quickly attaining enlightenment. If you have actualized bodhicitta, then without taking much time, it is very quick to actualize the rest of the path. Once you have laid the foundation of the realization of bodhicitta, then the rest of the whole path, even the Vajrayana path, can be actualized very quickly without many hindrances. In that, you attain enlightenment quickly.
One reason why you can attain enlightenment quickly by having bodhicitta is because with bodhicitta, every action of body, speech, and mind is always without the self-cherishing thought; it is always dedicated for other sentient beings, it always becomes work for other sentient beings, without much effort. All of daily-life’s actions—eating, eating, sleeping, talking—becomes work for other sentient beings. Because of that, after bodhicitta is actualized, you never do meaningless actions, actions that don’t benefit other sentient beings, that don’t benefit yourself, that harm. Meaningless actions become much less.
Any action that is done with this realization, without needing much effort, becomes virtue, it always becomes method to create infinite merit and to purify so many obscurations, negative karma. That’s why having bodhicitta, it is very quick to attain enlightenment.
It also makes the Vajrayana path the profound quick path to attain enlightenment in just in one short life, even in the next life. Without having actualized bodhicitta, then even if you practice the Vajrayana path for a hundred eons, you can never attain enlightenment. Without having actualized bodhicitta it’s impossible. By taking initiations and practicing the Vajrayana path, even if you have the complete understanding of the whole Vajrayana teaching, there’s nothing that you don’t know about the quick path, the Vajrayana Path, but since there is no bodhicitta, it is impossible to attain enlightenment.
Without mind training in bodhicitta, such as the relative bodhicitta, the precious thought of enlightenment and right view, emptiness, even if you practice the yoga method, [able to control the nadis and chakras] it is possible you could be born in the lower realms, such as the animal realm, and even in the narak realm. It is possible that it can become the cause to be born in the lower realms if you do not train the mind in this principle path, but by just being hung up on what’s called yoga practice, without knowing how to practice the graduated path.
So this is just a very brief description—like a tiny seed—of the benefits of bodhicitta in order to train our mind in this precious thought of enlightenment, bodhicitta.
BODHICITTA: THE SEVEN POINTS OF CAUSE AND EFFECT
In this course the subject of the teachings we will debate is the seven-points of cause and effect of thought transformation. The practice of thought transformation has been handed down, came from Lama Serlingpa. There are two ways of presenting the teachings, one is according to Lama Tsongkhapa, who is the embodiment of the buddha of wisdom, called Manjushri. Lama Tsongkhapa, the one who has completed the whole path the whole gradual path to enlightenment, who has destroyed the wrong conceptions that people had about the practice of the Buddhadharma. Lama Tsongkhapa, after he took birth in that time, he completely spread the pure teachings, with much detailed explanation. Teachings were not so clearly explained before, but he made them very clear, such as teachings on the absolute nature of things. Things that were not so clearly explained before, not in much detail, he made clear. He completely destroyed people’s misconceptions and spread the pure teachings, not only the teachings on shunyata, but also the Vajrayana teachings, which had not been clearly explained before, not in so much detail. He gave certain practices of the Vajrayana path, such as obtaining the illusory body.
After he took birth in Tibet, in his life, Lama Tsongkhapa made very clear explanations on the Vajrayana practice, the profound and quick path to enlightenment, just for a simple idea of what Vajrayana is.
As I said, there are two ways of presenting the seven-points of cause and effect, one according to Lama Tsongkhapa and the other by the highly realized bodhisattva called Geshe Chekawa. This time, I present the teaching on the basis of the commentary given by to Lama Tsongkhapa. It will take much time, it will exceed a month if I go through the commentary in detail, as it is here, so I’ll just go through the main points. It wouldn’t be an exact translation of the whole commentary given by Lama Tsongkhapa.
This is from the root text, it is good to write down the words of the root text:
The essence of the advice nectar has been handed down from Serlingpa.
These two verses show the qualities of the teaching, the particular preeminent qualities of this teaching. There are many teachings but one specifically mentions the qualities of this teaching on the seven points of though transformation in order for devotion to arise to the oral teaching. It talks of the general qualities of the teaching and the particular qualities, the preeminent qualities of the teachings, in order for devotion to arise to the oral teaching, and it explains the stories of the lineage lamas of this oral teaching, in order to show the pure reference.
The normal title of the teachings is “The Oral Teaching for Training the Precious Thought of Enlightenment, the Great Mahayana Thought Training that Has Been Handed Down from Ear to Ear.”
This is an extremely important, a very precious teaching. It has been handed down from ear to ear. These teachings are sometimes called thought training and sometimes thought transformation. “From ear to ear” means that this teaching is so profound, so precious that in former times, the lineage lamas did not give it in public. The teaching was only given privately from one disciple to another disciple. And some lineage lamas would even only teach it in a private place where there were no other people.
So now, just to talk about the details of the commentary to this verse. Generally, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha has shown 84,000 teachings as the remedy to the 84,000 delusions. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha gave all these teachings in three different places, in three different sermons, which are called the three turning of the Dharma wheel.
Firstly, what is totally contained in this subject is the method to completely finish, completely cease the delusion of the I-grasping ignorance. Not only that, it contains the whole method, the whole path to develop the mind, taking the burden of the work for other sentient beings. It contains the path, the method to develop the mind which takes the burden the work for other sentient beings—not forced but voluntarily, with freedom, the path which develops the mind to take the burden, the work for other sentient beings, freely.
So this contains the method which completely destroys the delusion of the I-grasping ignorance, and the three baskets, three divisions of teachings of the Hinayana path, which explains the gradual Hinayana path to attain nirvana, the blissful state of peace for oneself.
The method developing the mind taking the burden of work for other sentient beings, the subject it talks about is the Mahayana path, the resultant enlightenment, and the causal Mahayana path And also the Mahayana Sutra teachings. There are two different types of teachings, Sutra and Mantrayana. What you call Vajrayana is included in the Mantrayana. Here in this method is contained the teaching, the Mahayana Sutra and Mantrayana teachings. So this is all that is explained by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha.
Here, the main teaching is the method for the fortunate one to attain enlightenment, the state of the omniscient mind. The oral teaching on transforming the mind in the precious thought of enlightenment, which is the goal to enter into the great vehicle, Mahayana. All the oral teachings to transform the mind into the precious thought of enlightenment, all explained by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, have traditionally been presented in three different ways, three individual traditional ways by the different great expounders, great propagators, who have completely experienced the whole path, and who have clearly expounded the different practices of transforming the mind in the thought of enlightenment.
All these teachings immediately give the cessation of suffering, nirvana, by completely destroying the disease, the 84,000 delusions, also by completely destroying sufferings such as rebirth, old age, sickness and death and many others, which arise from the 84,000 delusions. Therefore, this is the best, the most sublime, the principal or the most holy. From those methods, the 84,000 teachings are the nectar which immediately destroys the root, the 84,000 delusions and destroying completely even the results, the sufferings, old age, sickness, death and many others that arise from the 84,000 delusions. So these 84,000 teachings are nectar. Nectar is to cure disease or to pacify suffering. So the 84,000 teachings, as they benefit like this, are nectar.
But this Mahayana thought training is the best nectar, is the sublime one, the principle one, the most holy nectar from those other nectars, the 84,000 teachings.
THE ESSENCE OF ADVICE NECTAR
The arhats and higher bodhisattvas, who have completely removed all the gross delusions, the disturbing negative thoughts, even the seed of it, don’t die under the control of delusions and karma. Put it this way, we get born and we die without any freedom, without choice. Under the control of delusion and karma we get sick and become old, we die and get reborn, without choice.
But arhats and those higher bodhisattvas who have reached the higher of the ten levels have completely removed disturbing negative thoughts, and have no karma that is produced by delusion, but even so, they need to exert mental effort during the death transformation. Why there is still mental effort? Because the she-dup, their subtle obscurations, the obscuration to full knowledge, has still not been purified. The subtle obscurations are still not purified, not finished. When at death they transfer their consciousness to a different aspect, a different body to work for other sentient beings, their work still depends on the mental effort, because the subtle obscuration, she-dup, is not purified.
But when the subtle obscuration is completely purified, then there is no need for effort to work for other sentient beings with your body, speech and mind. There is no need for motivation, like before doing action, “I must do this.” Before you do action, you have to think, then you do the action. But when the subtle obscuration, the obscuration to full knowledge, is completely purified then at that time that being doesn’t does not depend on mental effort to work for other sentient beings with his holy body, holy speech and holy mind.
That’s why for the buddhas to work for other sentient beings there is no mental effort. It is not that first they have to have the motivation to give teaching or whatever, transforming his holy body into different aspect. There is no mental effort, just like when the sun rises, there is a reflection of the sun on the water—on the ocean, the lakes on all the bodies of water—without any effort from the sun. Wherever there is water, the sun’s reflection automatically appears, thousands and thousands and thousands of reflections appearing on the water, but it does not depend on effort; it does not depend on the sun’s motivation, “Oh, I must reflect.” [GL] “In all this water, I must reflect.” Before it rises, the sun cultivate the motivation and then rises.
Just like this, having completely removed all the subtle obscurations, the dualistic mind, how the buddha works for others does not depend on effort. The whole work for sentient beings is done effortlessly.
What the Hinayana path can offer is release from all the samsaric suffering, by completing the whole Hinayana path. But if one actualizes this thought of enlightenment, which is the highest and develops the mind in the whole Mahayana path, what it gives is it makes to completely finish the unimaginable change, the death transference, that which is not purified, that which is not finished, that which is not finished, by the higher bodhisattvas who are living the pure level and the arhats. And it gives immediately enlightenment or the omniscient mind.
“So therefore, relating to the teaching, among the nectar, which gives the undying state, the essence, the principle, the best, that is the precious thought of enlightenment.”
This is the commentary to that verse, The Essence of Advice Nectar, handed down from Lama Serlingpa.
In the Hinayana path, all those other teachings, generally what it is advising, it is nectar because it cultivate relief from all samsaric suffering. With The Essence of Advice Nectar, from that advice nectar, the essence is what? The essence is the precious thought of enlightenment, bodhicitta.
All the oral teachings of training the mind in bodhicitta, the thought of enlightenment, were originally explained by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha then handed down to Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom and Maitreya Buddha. From Manjushri, the oral teachings of this thought training were handed down to Nagarjuna, one the most famous Mahayana propagators who attained enlightenment in one life by completing the whole Vajrayana path. From Maitreya Buddha the oral teaching of thought training were handed down to the great pandit Asanga. From there, the teaching have been handed down to many other Indian pandits.
Then, the different traditions that came from those highly realized propagators who made new commentaries, amplifying them, and then all the three different traditions of teachings came from them. From Lama Serlingpa the great bodhisattva Atisha received the whole oral teachings on the thought training, training the thought of enlightenment. It is just like whatever nectar is in one pot is completely transferred to another pot. Whatever oral teachings on training the mind in the thought of enlightenment Lama Serlingpa received, he passed on to his disciple, the great bodhisattva, Atisha.
I think I’ll stop here.
THE SEVEN POINT OF CAUSE AND EFFECT: EQUANIMITY
One method of generating bodhicitta is through the meditation called the seven oral teachings of the Mahayana Cause and Effect.
According to this process, the first thing you need to address is partiality. Now, when you see a friend attachment arises and when you see an enemy aversion arises. When you see beauty there is attachment, and ugliness causes aversion, it is seen as undesirable. When you see a stranger, an indifferent person, an indifferent thought arises, also from that ignorance arises.
So, the first step in this process of the seven point of cause and effect is to equalize all sentient beings. Normally we discriminate between sentient beings based on the help and harm that they give us. This one helps me so he is a friend, this one harms me so he is an enemy, this one neither helps nor harms so we just ignore him. That is unrealistic, because our friend has not always been our friend and the same with our enemy. In previous lives if not this life our friend has harmed us countless times and our enemy has helped us countless times and every stranger has done both countless times. It’s impossible to discriminate, thinking that over countless previous lives this one has been of more help than the that one.
In that all beings have given us help and harm countless times over our infinite lives and so to discriminate now is wrong. Therefore, we need to equalize the feelings we have towards others. We can’t actually make all beings equal, we can’t go around to every beings and ask , “Please be equal” but we can equalize the feeling we have towards them. We can lose the discrimination we now feel, the attachment for some and the anger for others.
When you see all sentient beings as equal through this meditation, then that realization brings so much peace in the mind; it destroys the uptight, painful mind, the painful mind that clings to the friend and the painful suffering mind of anger that we feel towards an enemy. These emotions we felt before this meditation are gone, disappeared. Even before you gain actual realizations with this meditation, just contemplating the reasons, thinking about how this is happening in our mind, brings great calmness in the mind.
Even from very beginning, visualizing the enemy you dislike and the friend you are incredibly attached to, after you have equalized friend and enemy, the very moment, that uncomfortable feeling, that painful feeling, that uptight, unhappy mind dissolves. It feels like a lump of metal, a rock in the heart, but when you equalize, it feels like this has gone. Immediately, the mind becomes so comfortable and so relaxed. The equilibrium meditation means cutting off attachment and anger, which discriminates one person as friend and one as enemy, these minds that make your life unhappy, that bring all the ups and downs, all the time. After you have actualized this meditation, it is very difficult for anger and attachment to arise.
With this realization, even if somebody acts very badly towards you, harming you, cheating you, or conversely if somebody does everything possible to win your favor, by giving you incredible presents and flattering you greatly, you mind doesn’t get confused at all. There are no ups or downs, no matter how people treat you. Enemy and friend are equal and the mind is so happy.
THE SEVEN POINT OF CAUSE AND EFFECT: ALL SENTIENT BEINGS HAVE BEEN OUR MOTHER AND INCREDIBLY KIND
After you have equalized all the sentient beings, you should check up on what you think of your mother. Look at all your family and relatives and think which one you are closest to. If you asked most people whether they felt closer to their mother or father, most of them would answer they like their mother best. This is why this next part of the seven-point meditation focuses on the mother. Because we are closest to our mother, we now try to see that all sentient beings have been our mother.
By contemplating how [because you have had infinite lives] all sentient beings have been your mother, again and again. This is what you need to understand fully here. This is what you need to meditate on. Perhaps you didn’t know your mother very well—maybe she died when you were very young—or you had difficulties with her. In that case, you can think of somebody who was incredibly kind to you, such as your father or the relative who raised you, and think on them, rather than the mother.
Think of how your mother, or this other person, has benefitted you so much. They have been unbelievably kind to you. Try to feel the wonderfully warm feeling you have for your mother, and they transfer that to every other sentient being, because they too have been extremely kind to you.
THE SEVEN POINT OF CAUSE AND EFFECT: THE KINDNESS OF THE MOTHER
After remembering the kindness of the mother, the next step is wishing to repay that kindness. So, the steps of the meditation are first to know that all sentient beings have been your mother, then to remember their great kindness and then to wish to repay that kindness.
Even if you do this meditation effectively, at first there will be a big difference in meditation and out of meditation. Perhaps, because you can see all sentient beings as your mother and as incredibly kind, they look very beautiful to you. But when you don’t meditate, you forget that, you don’t remember that they have been your mother and their kindness and all these things and so you don’t constantly see the heart-felt beauty of all sentient beings.
I think I’ll stop here.
At this time, normally, we have been doing the graduated training of the meditation on bodhicitta, starting with, the equilibrium meditation, then see all beings as the mother, their kindness and remembering the kindness . Usually the explanations is done in that way, but according to the practitioner of high intelligence, the great bodhisattva Shantideva has explained another method in his teaching [called equalizing and exchanging oneself with others]. This is one way how to see all the sentient beings in beauty, but this basic meditation will come with those other techniques according to Shantideva’s teaching.
Even a sentient being who we have benefitted but who has returned that benefit by harming us, in return we should meditate on great compassion. The holy beings of the world repaid negative actions with good actions in return.
What it is saying here is that sentient being whom we benefited so much whom we gave our home to him for free, all his food is free, we worked very hard for him all our life and let him enjoy our property, he has benefited so much from us and we expect to receive help in return. But the person is in prison, and he owes so much money. He needs billion dollars, which we lend him, thinking for sure this person will never forget my kindness. He will repay all my kindness. We expect to receive help or reputation or things like that from that person. However, in return, without benefiting us, he even gives us harm in return for receiving help from us. Without retaliating against the harm, what we should do is meditate on great compassion. Meditate on great compassion, great compassion for him, that sentient being.
As I explained before, what it is saying here, the ordinary beings who do not know the Mahayana thought training, they don’t know how to deal with it, they don’t know how to make their life happy, they have no method, so they retaliate with harm, by harming. But the holy beings in the world, they who realize the sentient beings are the field from where Buddha is born, from where they can receive enlightenment so he only return good things, good actions, he repays only good things, good actions in return of the harmful, the bad actions, the harms that is given by other sentient beings.
So I think I’ll stop here.
EQUALIZING AND EXCHANGING SELF AND OTHERS
The actual body, the training on the thought of enlightenment, the graduated training of the mind in bodhicitta, has both relative bodhicitta and absolute bodhicitta. When explaining the graduated training in the thought of the relative bodhicitta, the thought of enlightenment, relative bodhicitta, and the oral teachings on it, there are branches. The actual oral teaching training on the thought of enlightenment has two things: the graduated training in the thought of enlightenment seeking the work for others and graduated training in the thought of enlightenment seeking enlightenment.
The first one is the graduate training in the thought of enlightenment seeking the work for others. The second one is the graduated training in the thought of enlightenment seeking enlightenment.
The graduated training in the thought of enlightenment seeking the work of others has two things: exchanging oneself with others by thinking of the shortcomings [of self-cherishing] and the benefits [of cherishing others], then actually training in the thought of enlightenment seeking the work of others.
The teachings about the training in the thought of enlightenment that is shown by the great propagators such as Nagarjuna and Asanga show these two things: seeking the work for others and seeking enlightenment. First, you must see the other sentient beings, for whom you work, you should feel beloved, kind-hearted towards them. Just like when you see your dearest friend, who is more important than anything else in the world, or the son who loves his mother so much, when you see that friend or your beloved mother, she seems to be so beautiful to you, even though maybe she isn’t so physically beautiful—maybe a nose missing or no cheeks, or blind, missing an arm, full of wrinkles, extremely thin—nothing but bone—but to the son who only sees the kindness of the mother, who loves his mother very much, she appears very beautiful, and that’s how we should see all sentient beings. We should see the sentient beings for whom we work as extremely beautiful. We should feel for them like a mother feels towards her beloved baby, heart-felt in beauty. There are two ways to meditate in this.
This part of the text comes after the meditations which are preparatory, the different levels of practice, which lead to bodhicitta.
Before in the course we talked about the shortcomings of the self-cherishing thought and benefits of cherishing others. Then after that the outline says “it is worthwhile to exchange others with others.” First we see that it is possible to exchange oneself with others and then the next outline is actually exchanging oneself with others.
Then after that, there is this special practice called tong-len. This is very a powerful, practical practice to generate and increase compassion and great love.
The practice is like this. By clearly visualizing the object of compassion, the practice of taking other sentient beings’ sufferings is done. Then, by clearly visualizing the object of great love, the practice of dedicating one’s body, possession and merits to other sentient beings is done. This meditation practice has incredible benefits. After describing the actual practice, how to do it then according to time, I will talk a little about the experience of other beings who actually practice tong-len and the benefits they have received.
THOUGHT TRANSFORMATION: THE SHORTCOMINGS OF SELF-CHERISHING
In the graduate training on the thought of enlightenment, according to Shantideva’s teaching, you need to understand the shortcomings of the self-cherishing thought and the benefits of cherishing others. Also to understand that the self-cherishing thought is what has to be renounced and cherishing others is directly what has to be practiced, has to be achieved. According to the root text:
Put all the blame on one.
This quotation is from Entering the Path to Enlightenment by Shantideva. This is very useful to remember. It explains the whole thing, all the harm we experience in life, all the dangers we experience in life, everything we experience in the world—where it all came from. And also the harm that other sentient beings experience in the world—where it came from. Usually we question where fear comes from. Why are people afraid? Because they dislike fear, people study it and try to find the cause, but it is this.
All the fear we experience in our life, all the fear other people, the sentient beings in this world experience, every single suffering we experience in our lives—the whole thing comes from grasping the I. Therefore there is no greater devil than this. This is the real devil. This is the real devil and this is the real enemy. There is no enemy worse than this, there is no greater devil than this.
Why it’s called a devil, I’m not sure. [GL] I think devil is one who harms your happiness, who never gives help, who misleads you, who misguides your life, who cheats you, who interferes with your life, who causes a shortage of life. Ordinary people point to an external devil outside, another sentient being who only gives harm and who never benefits. But Shantideva says that there is no greater devil than this, the self-cherishing thought.
What benefit can this great devil offer me?
Which implies not one single benefit to yourself or your happiness, not one single benefit from the great devil, the self-cherishing thought. It gives only harm to oneself.
Grasping, ignorance, all the delusions, all the disturbing negative thoughts arise from the self-cherishing thought. The principal cause of these delusions is ignorance grasping the I, and also the self-cherishing thought. Their harm is real harm, their harm to yourself is the real harm. That is much more harmful than the harms given by other sentient beings. The harm that is given by the delusions is very deep harm. The harm received from other sentient beings we recognize as the enemy is nothing compared to this. The length of time others have been harming us is nothing compared to the length of time the self-cherishing thought has been harming us.
The disturbing negative thought, self-cherishing thought, has been giving you harm to us since beginningless previous lifetimes. As the continuity of our previous lives is beginningless, so are the disturbing negative thoughts, which are principally caused by the ignorance grasping the I, the self-cherishing thought. It is the principal, the king of the disturbing negative thoughts. From beginningless previous lives they have been dwelling in our mind; our mind has been their home, it has been the home of the disturbing negative thoughts, the delusions and the principal one, the ignorance grasping the I, and the self-cherishing thought. Our mind has been their home, our heart has been their home, and they have been dwelling in our heart from the beginningless previous lifetimes. Constantly they have been giving harm to oneself. In all those numberless previous lives they have been torturing oneself.
Water and fire can sometimes be dangerous, but they also help. Without fire and water there is no way to live, even though they can be extremely dangerous sometimes. This is the same with sentient beings. People who we recognize as enemy, might temporarily give us harm, but even so, we receive more help from them than harm. We call this person an enemy, but if we examine it we will see we receive more help than harm from them. In general, sentient beings are more helpful than harmful, and if we use the skillful method of thought transformation, we can use criticism to transform our mind in to positive ones, and in that way even the enemies who criticize us are helping us. Their criticism can show us our mistakes, like holding a mirror up to us so we can see our face. This is the mirror of your mind. When we look into a mirror we see our face, our nose, whether it is straight or not, [GL RL] whether we need an operation to make it straight.
By being criticized we can see our mistakes and learn to correct them. We have the opportunity to change our personality, our behavior, our actions. Therefore, there is no point in getting angry at this object, because all it is doing is showing us what we are, holding up a mirror so we can see ourselves. If we look in a mirror and see there is something wrong with our body, we don’t break the mirror! [GL RL] It is useful to see this in order to be able to do something about what is wrong. If we break the mirror, we can’t correct whatever is wrong and we just have to go out to the market and buy a new mirror.
So actually, just like this example, the enemy is similar in that he helps us see our own mind, whether we are miserly or attached, whatever. You might think you have no attachment. This is common for young people to think. They say they have no ego, even though there it is, as big as Mount Meru. They think that just by saying they don’t have an ego, that makes it non-existent.
When something dangerous happens, it makes you to discover your own mind, it gives you the chance to understand it. You can see what state your mind is in. You say you don’t have attachment, but when a precious object is stolen, then you can easily see how much attachment you really do have. If you watch your mind, if you are skillful, things that harm are in fact much more helpful in transforming the mind, because they show us what we need to work on.
We receive help from even our enemies, but we don’t receive one single piece of help from the self-cherishing thought, not one single benefit. Throughout our beginningless lives it has not brought us one single benefit, only harm. By constantly dwelling in our heart it has caused us to suffering with sentient beings and non-sentient beings alike.
This is how harmful it is. If we follow it for even a minute, it causes us to create negative karma. The self-cherishing thought uses us as its servant, and it has been since beginningless time, obliging us to suffer. Forcing us to create negative karma, it makes us experience nothing but suffering, now and forever in the future.
The self-cherishing thought makes us create immoral actions, such as killing, where even on result is terrible, and even if we are reborn as a human being, we do the action of killing again, because of the previous habit. Then we again have to experience the four suffering results. Even if we do manage to attain another human body, we are forced to repeat the action again and again, due to the self-cherishing thought. With that we are making preparation for a future life of great suffering and this goes on and on and on, all the time, in a constant circle. The negative karma will cause us to create more negative karma and that will increase our delusions, bringing us so much suffering.
So, you see how harmful it is to follow this mind, to become a servant, working only for the disturbing negative karma, the self-cherishing thought. Instead of receiving the benefits it promises, we receive only harm—not only in this life but in all future lives. Following it for just one minute, we become its servant and are forced to create negative karma. So, you see harmful it is.
The great bodhisattva Shantideva said in his teaching,
The enemy that abides in my heart constantly becomes the cause for all the groups of harmful minds and makes them increase constantly. As long as it abides in my heart, how can I be happy and live in samsara without fear?
What he says is extremely effective for the mind. It means as I have been disturbed like this from previous lifetimes how incredible this disturbing negative thought, the self-cherishing thought has been at giving me harm; it has constantly been my enemy. This is where the root of all our problems come from, all the harm we have received and all the harm we do others. So, therefore, how can we ever be happy in samsara without fear, when this is the cause?
It is like the person who knows there is poison in the food, even if it looks very delicious, very beautifully decorated—even if it is like a pizza and has many raisins and nuts, [GL] good shape, good color. Without wasting a second you want to have a bit. [GL RL] One of the monks when he was a young child in England, if his parents gave him ice cream with a cherry on top he would always eat the cherry the very first thing then the ice cream, in case he might die before he could get to it. He didn’t want to waste the cherry. Mentioning the pizza reminded me. It’s interesting, isn’t it? [GL]
It’s a small red fruit, you know, it doesn’t make a difference whether you get it or not. Not getting this small red thing doesn’t mean you’re going to die. But he used to think like this. It is a good example. Even for meaningless things, people think like this, so why not meaningful things, actions. Why not try to do meaningful actions before doing the meaningless actions, in case you might be dead, in case death happens before you can do something meaningful.
So, if there is poison in the pizza then no matter how delicious it is, once you know there is poison, then rather than be happy with it, you will only have fear of it. You won’t be happy with it. Likewise, as long as there are disturbing negative thoughts, the principal one being the ignorance, grasping I—as long as this delusion is living in your heart, then you are always living in the samsara. There is no way to be out of samsara as long as you let delusions, the disturbing negative thoughts, live in your heart. As long as you keep it, there is no way that you can be free from samsara. As long as you keep delusions in your heart, you continuously get born in samsara, and these disturbing negative thoughts, this self-cherishing thought, this ignorance, grasping the I, makes you suffer in samsara.
That’s what great Bodhisattva Shantideva is saying in the last verse, “how can I be happy, without fear, while I am in samsara?”
For example, with the self-cherishing thought and those other disturbing negative thoughts living in your heart, they make you create negative karma to born in the human samsara. You have been obliged to create the karma in a past life to be reborn in this human samsara, to take this samsaric body, in this life. And after taking this human samsara then you experience so many problems, thousands and thousands of various problems in this life, from since you were born until death. With this human samsara, with this mind and body. That’s how the self-cherishing thought and disturbing negative thoughts forces you to be born in samsara and obliges you to experience all the problems such as rebirth, old age, all the sicknesses and death, as well as so many other problems within this samsara.
So, I think I’ll stop here.
This meditation is on the shortcomings of self-cherishing thought but there is also a very good teaching on the shortcomings of the self-cherishing thought called The Thought Training: The Wheel of the Sharp Weapons. The Wheel of the Sharp Weapons has spokes which are swords which like in previous times—also maybe using certain mantra powers—cut and destroy the interferers; they destroy the enemy. I heard that if a person wishes, as this wheel turns it can cut off the enemy’s neck.
This is the example. Thought transformation is so powerful and quick at destroying the deadly self-cherishing thought from where the whole of samsaric suffering comes. This text is very good, the way it explains karma. We can understand karma well through its explanation. There are many examples of karma and it makes you see the shortcomings of self-cherishing thought and the harm it does.
[We are human beings but we are still in human samsara. We should not] be judged to be human just because of the shape of the body. Just because of the shape of the body, that being is called “human” but from a Dharma point of view, a human being is somebody who makes preparation for the happiness of future lives. Non-human being such as animals cannot do this; with such a body they have no capability to make preparation for the happiness of future lives.
So, actually I am born as human being, I am recognized as human being, but if I didn’t do the work, even though I have received the name “human being,” I haven’t done the work.
Maybe, pipi time.
SHORTCOMINGS OF THE SELF-CHERISHING THOUGHT: THE FOUR SUFFERING RESULTS
According to the other technique, before working for other sentient beings, the first thing is trying to see, trying to see the other sentient beings in beauty. According to thought training, what comes first is the meditation on the shortcomings of self-cherishing thought.
First, remember again, remember again the four types of sufferings of each negative karma of the ten immoral actions.
Then think, those four things, what we have experienced in this life, are the results of, what we can remember, , are all caused by the self-cherishing thought. How the sufferings are given to me by the self-cherishing thought, how the self-cherishing thought obliges me to experience suffering.
In previous lives or in this life, with the self-cherishing thought, we who experience these problems, we created the negative karma with self-cherishing thought. With the self-cherishing thought, thinking of my own happiness, for my own happiness, I want this, for my own happiness, we produced negative karma. So, because of that negative karma, that what is collected, the result is the suffering result we experienced. So that’s how the self-cherishing thought obliges us, tortures us, tortures us, it obliges us to experience all these problems.
So first meditate like this, meditate on the four results of the ten immoral actions, then if there’s still time, meditate, remember all other problems in your life, all the problems you experienced each year, with people, with yourself. Then think how it is caused by self-cherishing thought, try to realize, not just an intellectual understanding, that is not enough. We must realize this, we must feel it. In order to destroy the self-cherishing thought, we must realize this, we must realize the shortcomings of the self-cherishing thought, all the harms that the self-cherishing thought has given us, so far, from beginningless previous lifetimes, this we should recognize, we should feel it, we should realize. In that way we get the courage, in that way, within our mind, we can face the self-cherishing. Our mind is strengthened; it gets strength so that we can control the self-cherishing thought. Then all other problems, what we remember in this year and the other years, how that is caused by self-cherishing thought. Like this, you check. That is the way to meditate.
THOUGHT TRANSFORMATION: SELF-CHERISHING, THE EVIL BUTCHER
This is part of the subject is training the mind in the thought of enlightenment. There are two bodhicittas, absolute and relative bodhicitta, and this is training the mind in the thought of enlightenment, relative bodhicitta. First, the meditation technique is to see sentient beings for whom you work in aspect of the deity. Then, you meditate on the shortcomings of the self-cherishing thought and the benefit of cherishing others and understanding that what has to be avoided is the self-cherishing thought, what is to be practiced is cherishing others.
The self-cherishing thought is the mind that renounces other sentient beings, from whom you receive all your own happiness and perfections, and to cherish the self from where all suffering arises. This self-cherishing thought is derived from the unknowing mind, ignorance. This self-cherishing thought is like an evil butcher who rips the heart out of life with his sharp weapons. Wherever the root of life is, the heart, or if you think of it as the brain—it doesn’t matter—this evil butcher uses his sharp knife to cut it out. The self-cherishing thought makes you careless, not respecting what is virtue and thoughtlessly doing negative actions. It doesn’t care at all about the root of the temporal happiness and ultimate happiness, nirvana and enlightenment.
The root is avoiding negative karma and collecting the good karma. This is like the heart, the root of temporal happiness, the root of ultimate happiness, nirvana and enlightenment. It is like the heart. If the person’s heart is taken out while he is living, there is no root of life. This self-cherishing thought destroys the root. It doesn’t care whether an action is negative karma and the good karma; it doesn’t care. Because it doesn’t care, that gives rise heresy, to wrong view. Wrong view is such as thinking there is no such thing as reincarnation or from good actions you receive a good result, happiness, and from negative action you experience suffering.
Heresy is like the sharp weapon that the self-cherishing thought uses to cut off the root of the temporal and ultimate happiness. So, the self-cherishing thought is the worst; it is the most evil butcher. If an outside person comes and rips out your heart—I’m talking about the physical heart here, not the mental heart—that alone can’t disturb you from receiving happiness in your future life, and all temporal and ultimate happiness. Even you died in such condition, if you haven’t followed the self-cherishing thought then you wouldn’t create negative karma, so you would definitely attain a better rebirth and happiness in future lives, as well as being able to attain ultimate happiness. This will happen, even if the condition that is normally called an “enemy” gives you harm by cutting your heart to pieces with a sharp weapon, causing your death. That enemy can’t cause you any suffering at all in your future life.
What causes suffering in your future life, what blocked you from attaining a rebirth as a happy transmigratory being, is not the enemy who killed you but the self-cherishing thought, this mind that makes you careless with karma, not thinking about creating good karma and thoughtlessly creating negative karma. By holding the sharp weapon of heresy, of wrong view, it completely cuts off the root of all temporal and ultimate happiness. This is the real evil butcher. This is nothing more evil than this.
The self-cherishing thought is also like the robber who steals the crops growing in the field. It steals all your enjoyment, the crops, on which your life depends. The self-cherishing thought is just like the robber carrying a big sack, putting all the crops in the sack and then taking them away so there is nothing left for you to enjoy. The self-cherishing thought is the real robber, because it completely robs you of all enjoyments, carrying them off in the big sack of the three poisonous minds, ignorance, anger, attachment. It completely takes away the crops of your virtue, leaving nothing for you to enjoy.
Because the self-cherishing thought’s only concern is for your own happiness, is thinks “I am more important than others, than any other sentient being. My happiness the most important than any other sentient beings’ happiness.” Because of that, in taking care of yourself at the cost of others, ignorance arises, and from ignorance attachment arises. Then, because of this, anger also rises. The self-cherishing thought causes anger to arise, which completely destroys any undedicated merit, leaving no virtuous thoughts at all. Not the slightest thing is left for you to enjoy as the result the happiness. Not the slightest virtue is left.
Therefore, this self-cherishing thought is the root, the real robber, the worst robber than, much worse than any physical robber. Let’s say that one night while you are comfortably sleeping, a hundred robbers come and completely strip all your crops so that not even one stalk of your crops is left. Everything is completely taken away. But even if they do this, and also take every material possession you own in the world, if you still have your virtue, if you can still refrain from anger, then you still have the root of all temporal and ultimate happiness. Your virtue is still there. Your dedicated and undedicated merit is still there; it’s not lost.
Only if you follow the self-cherishing thought and, concerned only with your own happiness it lets anger arise, then your virtue is destroyed. Then you lose the root of all your future happiness. As the anger arises, the undedicated merits are disturbed and then it postpones the chance of experiencing the result of happiness quickly, for many hundred years or thousand years, even for eons. The undedicated merit completely gets destroyed. Therefore, the self-cherishing thought is the real worst robber. We can really recognize this if we check.
The self-cherishing thought living in your heart is what invites all harm in—all the harm that humans and non-humans, such as animals or spirits, do you, as well as the harm from fire, water, and so forth. Like in the cities in the West such as New York, all day and all night there are those trucks that make so much noise, what are they called?—fire engines, driving here and there all the time, making so much noise. There is always the danger of fire. You can see this all the time on television—people being killed, shops or big hotels burning down. So, there is the danger of fire, the danger of non-living things such as floods, all the time. In the East, there is always the danger of floods, where so many thousands of people are killed or become homeless. There is also the danger of earthquakes and many things like that, such as cyclones and typhoons.
One time when we were in Hong Kong, people were talking about a typhoon coming, and although in the end we didn’t experience it, they were so scared with the typhoon alert. It was so difficult to travel, with all the buses packed as people tried to leave their offices to get home, although I don’t know the difference between how safe an office or a house is. There were big pictures of the typhoon coming, like the visualization of the merit field, with Lama Tsongkhapa in the center and the many familiar deities you have received teachings from. It was kind of shock, it was seen without expecting it. However, I think the weather people made a mistake that night, the people, the people who figured out there would be a typhoon, because it never came.
The self-cherishing thought also invites various forms of spirit harm—epidemic disease, paralysis, sudden death, diseases that block the speech, things that make a person crazy and so forth—as well as harm given by other human beings.
When we receive harm from a mosquito, that is due to the self-cherishing thought. Some people never get bitten by mosquitoes, even if they are in the same room as other people who are getting bitten all over. Even if that other person is under a net, he will still get bitten, whereas the other person is exposed but won’t. And the same thing with bed bugs and jumping fleas. One person can be covered with bites and another completely free from them. He goes out and gets bitten; he comes back in and gets bitten. All this is the mistake of following the self-cherishing thought. The self-cherishing thought which lives in our heart invites all harm. This is the source of all our problems. With the self-cherishing thought, thinking only of our own happiness and renouncing others. In previous lives we, in a previous life also we were mosquitoes, we were fleas, we were those different types of bugs such as lice, and at that time we only had concern for our own happiness, biting other sentient beings for our own happiness.
It is like the animals we use to get meat from to eat. Or the people who feed us. We receive so much enjoyment from them; we are in their debt, and so if we don’t repay them in some way, it is like a pollution in our mind. Not paying back that kindness because of self-concern is a pollution; it creates obscurations and because of that we receive harm, such as being bitten and having tiny worms eating into us. This is the result of previous karma that was collected with the self-cherishing thought, actualizing in this way.
There have been many examples of people experiencing harm like this. It happened in India and also in Tibet. In India during Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s time, there was a teacher with many followers, many disciples, who made so many offerings to him which he did not pay back. Because of that, he received pollution and so was reborn in a lake somewhere in Bodhgaya as an animal—I don’t exactly remember name—full of worms, attacking it completely and biting it all over. I think this karma story comes from the time Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was in the nirmanakaya aspect in India.
It also happened one time in Tibet. A lama, a teacher didn’t purify the self-cherishing mind from the many offerings made by his disciples—he did not pay them back—and so, because of the pollution he received, he was reborn in a stream as that animal they have in the big hotels, you know, the ones where the person with a tall white hat and gloves takes them and puts them live into a boiling pot. What are they called? [Student tells.] Lobster. Are you sure it is a lobster? It’s sort of red and round. A crab! That’s it. He was born as a crab, with his body full of worms, eating him. Another lama who has psychic powers was able to see this crab in a small waterfall, and he could see the karma involved in its rebirth.
I think I’ll stop here.
It is also good to maybe to tell you about what happened one time in Tibet. There was a lama who has two benefactors who offered him so much milk. Because he didn’t repay them in any way, after he died he was reborn as their cow—actually I’m not sure if it was a cow or a dzo—who gave them so much milk. One day, the cow fell into a creek and drowned and the family pulled it out and cut the body up for meat. When they did they saw on one of the bones we inscribed the words, “With this milk and meat I have repaid my debt.” [GL RL]
When there is pollution like this, if you eat with a self-cherishing thought, without the thought to repay the kindness of the sentient being who has provided your food, but just eat for your own enjoyment, then there will certainly be suffering in your future life, such as being attacked by others or having a body full of worms and so forth. If you eat with the motivation of bodhicitta, however, that pollution doesn’t happen, because you are doing it for the sake of all sentient beings including the being that gave you that enjoyment, and so you are repaying that kindness; that is your repayment.
It’s very clear that when the self-cherishing thought lives in the heart, in our heart, way inside your heart, that is an invitation for all possible harm to visit, from human beings and non-human beings.
I think I’ll stop here.
PUT THE BLAME ON SELF-CHERISHING
It is very useful and beneficial to remember whenever there is a problem in your life, that this invoked by the self-cherishing thought; it is invoked by the devil living inside in your heart. This is the thing that has arranged all these things; it has invited all these other sentient beings to harm you like this. This is the one who has led you to this suffering. You should always think like this when there are problems, although that thought might not come until afterwards, but it doesn’t matter.
Without putting the blame on the self-cherishing thought, you blame yourself. Then you feel down and depressed. You scream a lot, screaming up and down, screaming at your parents, screaming at your friends, screaming, screaming, making other people unhappy, making other people crazy. Jumping up and down, going to the toilet, smoking one cigarette after another, smoking in the toilet, then going into the garden and smoking in the garden, then going into the dining room and smoking there. Then, in the kitchen! [GL] You can’t relax. Your hands are shaking; you are almost flying! [GL] Then, every five minutes making phone calls to your friends even though they were nicely sleeping, disturbing them, making them worry too.
By remembering how this problem comes from the self-cherishing thought, however, you can reconsider the whole thing like this. “Why should I suffer? There is no reason I have to suffer like this when it’s not my fault at all. Let the self-cherishing thought, let that devil, suffer instead. There is no reason why I have to suffer. Let him suffer.” In your mind you completely make this determination, completely giving the whole suffering to the self-cherishing thought. One thing is this. The psychological thing is that as long as you blame yourself, thinking it is your suffering and you are sick, then you will certainly get sick. But if you completely put the blame on the self-cherishing thought, you will reverse that destructive mind. The thought training is like this. Do to the self-cherishing thought what you used to do to an external enemy. With an external enemy you would normally be cruel and rude, wishing to harm him in as many ways as you can. You don’t want to exist anymore; you want to cease right away, to disappear completely so he will never be the object of your eye consciousness again.
Instead of this sort of mind for an external enemy, we have this mind for the real enemy, the internal enemy, the self-cherishing thought. For such a long time we have been training our mind in the wrong way; we have been using the wrong thought training. With Mahayana thought training, it is just a matter of turning that mind onto the correct object. The old thought training only caused suffering; this one brings us happiness.
So now we change our thought training. Instead of blaming the external enemy, we try to recognize that all of our problems come from self-cherishing thought. It is the real enemy. We should recognize that because this is the truth. Then, we should act with this internal enemy the way we have been trained to act with the external enemy, the self-cherishing thought. That is essentially what this new thought training is. By doing this, we can control self-cherishing; we have more power than the self-cherishing thought. And that’s how we receive all the happiness, both temporal and ultimate.
So, I think I’ll stop here. Not so much time for meditation but I think…
Whenever we give the whole suffering back to the self-cherishing thought, whenever we make complete determination in the mind, right at that second there is a great change in the mind. There is a huge difference between that mind and the one before. Before, we were experiencing the suffering, but if we really see how all this has come from the self-cherishing thought then we have the way to stop that suffering, right at that second.
Mentally we have to check. We have to completely make the determination in the heart and when we do, right at that second we don’t feel that pain any more. We feel completely comfortable. We are kind surprised at ourselves, how it happened so quickly and so easily. Even if the pain doesn’t completely disappear, it becomes much weaker.
Maybe meditate on what I just explained. See how the self-cherishing thought it is the worse, the most evil butcher, destroying the root of all temporal and ultimate happiness, with the sharp weapon of wrong view, heresy. Also, try to understand how it is the worst robber, carrying the sack of three poisonous minds, completely stealing all the crops of the virtue. Then how the self-cherishing thought is the animal eating away at you—in the teaching I think it is related to an owl, but it doesn’t matter—how this enemy invites all the thousands and thousands and thousands of various problems, how this invites all the harm. Try to see clearly. Try to feel it clearly.
THE SHORTCOMINGS OF SELF-CHERISHING: THE SUFFERING IN THE SIX REALMS
Start with the motivation, “I am going to listen the oral teachings, the training on the thought of enlightenment. Therefore, it is necessary to listen to the teaching on the graduated training the thought of enlightenment, bodhicitta.
With Shantideva’s technique to actualize bodhicitta, which is according to higher intelligent beings, in order to equalize ourselves with all sentient beings for whom we work, we should first realize the shortcomings of self-cherishing thought and the benefits of cherishing others. The self-cherishing thought is the farmer who, through its actions, the karmic formation, plants the seed on the field of consciousness which makes the sprout grow, ripening it by the water of craving and grasping. The farmer self-cherishing waters the crop again and again with craving and grasping, until it finally ripens in the many, various forms of suffering that we experience, such as the sufferings of the lower realms.
In the naraks, there are the eight different cold sufferings, eight different hot sufferings, as well as the other branches of the narak sufferings such as the occasional naraks. The self-cherishing thought also causes us to be born in the preta realm where we have to experience those unbearable preta sufferings, such as outer and inner obscurations and through those obscurations many different sufferings. They search for food and drink for hundreds of years and even if they find it, they are stopped from getting it by karmically-created guardians. Or they see a beautiful lake in the distance and because they haven’t had a drop of water to drink in hundreds of years they run to it, completely believing its beautiful water, but when they come to it, all of a sudden it disappears. There is no water, just a completely dry desert, and even if they see water it is completely full of garbage, full of pus, blood and things like that, totally undrinkable. They are so incredibly upset; there is so much suffering. It is like this because of their karma. In the same way, because of the food obscuration, if the preta sees food, it changes into something else when it approaches.
Without any other hindrances, even it can get water, the preta has such an incredible unbelievable ugly body. The mouth is like the eye of a needle, so tiny and so difficult for any find food it finds to get in. It is so difficult to take it as they have strong incredible craving. Even if it manages to get a drop of water through the tiny mouth, like the eye of a needle, because of their karma, it disappears before it gets to the stomach or it becomes poison, like pouring kerosene in the fire. When you put kerosene in a fire, even the small flame, it becomes a huge fire. It is like this if even a drop of water manages to reach a preta’s stomach, causing incredible burning and phlegm coming to the mouth. So, there is unbelievable suffering because of the inner, outer and food obscurations of a preta. And these are all caused by the self-cherishing thought. Besides being the cause of being reborn in the preta realm, it causes us to experience all those sufferings.
In the human realm, it causes us to experience the various sufferings, such as those eight sufferings and many other various sufferings; it causes thousands and thousands of problems.
When a being is born as an asura, self-cherishing brings great suffering, especially the chief suffering of the asuras, which is being extremely being jealous of the greater enjoyment of the suras. Because of that, asuras are always fighting the suras, and always being controlled and killed by them. They suffer from so much miserliness and incredible attachment to their wives.
Even in the sura realm the self-cherishing thought causes so much suffering. Like the human realm, lesser suras are controlled by wealthy suras, being kicked out from one place and sent to another by wealthy suras who have power. There is so much worry and suffering at the death time, when there are five signs during their last seven days. According to human time, it is many hundreds of years but for them it is seven days. After they hear a karmic voice from the space saying they are going to die in seven days they have to go through all the five signs of death. This is unbelievable suffering because with their psychic power they can remember their previous lives and they can see their future rebirth, as an animal, a preta or a narak. Seeing how their life of the most incredible enjoyment is finishing and a life of the most incredible suffering is about to begin, they feel unbelievable fear.
The suras, the gods, are called also “the three-time beings,” because at the death time they can remember all these three lives, the previous life, the present life with all its enjoyments and the future life with its incredible suffering. So, the self-cherishing thought not only causes us to be born in the sura realm, it again causes us to experience all these unbearable sufferings of death, the five signs of death. You can read this in the meditation course book.
It is the same thing with the animal realm. The self-cherishing thought causes us to be born in animal realm and that then causes us to experience all those unbearable sufferings, like being eaten by another, being extremely foolish, having to suffer heat and cold, being tortured and used by people and so forth. These are the general sufferings and then there are particular sufferings. Animals have particular sufferings, such as being kept by people and things like that.
We can relate this to ourselves like this. All the sentient beings who are now sura or asura realm and all these six realms, including the human realm—all other sentient beings who are suffering now—those realms and that suffering have all been caused by the self-cherishing thought. They are obliged to experience all those sufferings because of the self-cherishing thought that is living in their own heart.
From beginningless previous lifetimes until now numberless sentient beings, such as Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, present founder of teaching and numberless other buddhas, have received enlightenment already. Also on the earth, in the human earth, numberless buddhas have descended, even though Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, a great numbers of buddhas have descended and given teachings but because we have been following the self-cherishing thought all the time, trying to be born in all those different realms, when there was opportunity to see an actual buddha and to receive teachings directly from him, we were somewhere else. We have been wondering in other realms. As we have been following the self-cherishing thought we have never been born in the right time and right place where there is an actual buddha giving teaching. We could not become one of the disciples who received teachings directly from that buddha. Instead we have been wandering in other realms, experiencing so much suffering. From beginningless lifetimes until now it has been like this. We have been is samsara so long even the buddhas cannot count. The time spent is samsara doesn’t have a beginning. Despite that great length of time, the mind is still empty of realizations. We have failed to attain any of the ordinary beings’ realizations let alone the noble beings’ realizations.
Even if we manage to meet the teaching, the Dharma, because of the self-cherishing thought, we run away from it. Even if we are in a place where there are teachings and we have the opportunity to listen to them, we purposely try to escape; we block our ears. Even though this is an opportunity that has only happened after an incredible number of eons. And even if we listen and manage to understand some of the teachings, because of the self-cherishing thought, we are too lazy to put them into practice. This is clearly because of the self-cherishing thought.
Even though we read the entire teachings of Buddha, all the scriptures of the Buddha, and all the commentaries written by highly realized pandits, the lamas; even if we hear all the oral teachings from our own guru, and each explains how wherever we are born in samsara, it’s always suffering, and how any friend we are with is a friend of suffering, because of the self-cherishing thought, we don’t listen.
If you are eating an incredible, unbelievable cake, but then if you eat that cake for breakfast, and if you eat that cake for lunch time and at dinner time—and tomorrow morning and afternoon all you eat is that cake… [GL RL] This happens. Sometimes, when a person likes that type of food so much, then that is all that other people give him. Then after one day, two days, three days go by, he starts liking that cake less and less, and afterwards he never wants to see that cake again. He hates that cakes. Maybe he prays never to see it again. I think it happens. It is my experience; it’s happened to me. [GL] This is samsaric suffering.
What was enjoyment becomes suffering, the cause of suffering. That’s how enjoyment is the enjoyment of suffering. It’s the same with friends. At first, it’s unbelievable. You are inseparable. On the first day, when you see each other, you both say such nice things. The first time you meet, on the first day, in the first hour, it’s unbearable, you’re inseparable, you almost becomes oneness, as we were talking about this morning. [GL] If the person has choice to become oneness with you, that’s what they would choose. You met this morning, and you became so inseparable this morning, as you live hour by hour, hour by hour, then it goes talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. Then after some time, in the evening then many times it happens, even it’s just not one day. In the evening you kick the other person out from the house, or maybe they have to have a separate room. There is a big fight, and nothing can be done. You stay in your room and the other person stays in her room. [GL] She closes the door. You are both angry, each in your own room, behind closed doors, with all the noise, all the big noise. It can be like this even in one day, even in one hour, many times. And usually in one month, it is very easy.
If you really check up, if you just watch your own story and other people’s story, you can find so many times it happens like this. It’s really true. Then you can see whether Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is telling a lie or not. Whether Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is telling a lie or he is telling the truth. There are many scriptures and commentaries, many teaching you hear from your guru, talking so much on the nature of samsaric suffering.
THE SHORTCOMINGS OF SELF-CHERISHING: GRASPING ONTO POSSESSIONS
How terrible it is, how harmful it is that [with self-cherishing] no one can benefit. How matter much you listen, no matter how many teachings you have heard or text you have read—Vajrayana tantra, sutra, all these things—no matter how many times you have heard how harmful anger is, how harmful attachment is, how samsaric enjoyments are the cause of suffering—all these things explained clearly with logic—still somehow the mind never changes. It never changes in the slightest. Even if you have so much intellectual understanding of the teachings, there is not the slightest change in the mind. Just like me, you still have great miserliness, seeking material possessions, never having satisfaction. Even when a person says one or two little bad words, enormous anger arises. Maybe they say you are selfish. Just hearing these three words—just hearing “selfish”— incredible anger like Mt Everest rises up. With one word like that, just by hearing one word, “selfish” like this. Anger is formless, but if it could take form then it would be the size of the Earth. Mt Everest would be this small. All these things as difficult to control. There is not even a slight change in the mind. You are unable to practice even one thing, even one teaching. All that is cause by self-cherishing thought.
Even for a person who retires with enough money and material possessions to be very comfortable for six years, for thirty years, even if it can last seventy or a hundred years, still that person has so much worry in his mind. There is still dissatisfaction, still the thought that he doesn’t have enough. “What I have is nothing. I must work. I must work, I must collect money or I could struggle the next year, I might starve, I might starve.” There is so much doubt, so much worry about life in the mind. He is full of doubt and full of expectation. There is so much incredible concern about his own happiness; he is completely concentrated on that.
Then he keeps himself so busy, not even sleeping at night. Even if he works all day he still has to do another job at night. If his material possessions were to help others or something, if they could become virtue, to make charity or something worthwhile, that would be different. But they are only to take care of himself, bringing so many doubts about future problems. “I might suffer like this. I might not get food next year,” things like that. There are so many doubts; his mind is so full of expectations, and because of that, he is kept so incredibly busy, even when he has holidays, on Saturdays and Sundays, he has no chance to relax. He is so busy at home, making so many arrangements, making so many arrangements, fixing so many things, with his mind filled with doubts, worried about experiencing difficulties in the future. Not in the future life, but just in the future in this life.
He worries that maybe thief might come. If you have many material possessions, there is so much worry over those possessions. They become such a burden to the mind, with all that worry that a thief might come. This keeps him so busy. All that worry, all those doubts keeping him so busy, all these things are caused by the self-cherishing thought, because he is completely concerned for of his own happiness.
Also many people who have received teachings on meditation, even though they understand the teaching, still there is no time in the morning to meditate, or in the evening after coming back home. There is never time to meditate or to study, because time goes by doing something else. Putting it off, after coming back home from work, there’s work to do in the house or else spending time just talking, just sitting around and gossiping. Just spending the whole time like that, either sleeping or either busy going to parties, things like that. The person never finds time to meditate, but there is always time to spend by doing something else. All that is caused by the self-cherishing thought. Instead of sleeping, why can’t he find time to meditate even for fifteen minutes, even one hour in the morning? Why? Why? He has time. He says he doesn’t have time to meditate and things like but why? He has time for other things. He has time to sleep in the morning. If he didn’t have time he wouldn’t sleep. So it’s not true. If he has time, he wouldn’t sleep, he wouldn’t do anything, he wouldn’t exist. [GL RL] So he has time. So you can see very clearly how it is caused by the self-cherishing thought. He has time to sleep or he has time to talk or he has time to go to see a movie or to watch television.
Many people kill themselves by going car racing. In the West, when somebody says they have no time, it’s so obvious, it’s so clear, it makes you laugh. [GL] People get themselves killed in motor car racing, getting in these small cars and putting all these things, hat and big glasses, all these things. [GL RL] Then they rush about [GL] Even though it’s so dangerous they do it. Just driving normally is dangerous, but in spite of that, in spite of all that danger of death, with car racing there is great expectation in the mind to get something from it. They expect they will get a big reputation from other people and lots of money, and with that expectation they purposely put their life at risk. Then they either get killed or by chance nothing happens.
They break their leg or their head, they get themselves killed; their body is smashed to small pieces—they purposely put their life in danger for reputation. The same with climbing very high peaks of the snow mountains, or going to war, volunteering to kill other people, all with the expectation to get pleasure, reputation or money. Putting their life in danger, dying on a mountain and so forth, all this is caused by the self-cherishing thought. The self-cherishing thought is what makes all these expectations.
I think I’ll stop here.
MEDITATION ON THE SHORTCOMINGS OF SELF-CHERISHING
Maybe do a meditation, based on what I just explained, how the self-cherishing thought produces karma, and the produced plants the seed of different rebirths on the consciousness to keep being born in the narak, preta realms, animal realms, the sura, asura, like this. From beginningless previous lives, having to suffer like this. And still in human realm suffering like this, experience all these problems. First meditate on this.
I haven’t attained enlightenment or even the higher bodhisattva’s stages, one of the ten bhumis, ten stages. I can’t actualize that. I still haven’t actualized bodhicitta. Even the door of the Mahayana path, bodhicitta, I haven’t received. All this is caused by the self-cherishing thought, because I have been following the self-cherishing thought. The self-cherishing thought has been preventing me from receiving all these realizations.
Also, I haven’t attained nirvana. I haven’t even attained any of the lesser vehicle path’s realizations. I haven’t attained even the fundamental, the fundamental path, the wisdom realizing shunyata. And I haven’t atained even the fundamental realization, the mind renouncing samsara.
Besides that, I haven’t even attained the realization of impermanence life and death or even the preliminary meditation, the perfect human rebirth and the difficulty of attaining it. I haven’t attained any of these realizations. All this is fault of me following the self-cherishing thought. The self-cherishing thought has been preventing me from attained all these realizations.
Now I recognize this is my enemy, the one who disturbs me, who doesn’t let me to practice Dharma who disturbs my ultimate and temporal happiness. Now I recognize my enemy. From now on, without letting myself be under the control of you the enemy, you the devil, the enemy.
[Break in tape.]
THOUGHT TRANSFORMATION: MOTIVATING ON CHERISHING OTHERS
Shantideva says that even if the benefit of just thinking to benefit other sentient beings is more excessive than making offerings to all the buddhas, then without question if you actually work for all sentient beings without leaving out, the benefits you receive are out unimaginable, incredible.
Then also if a person has taken the bodhisattva vows, , day and night, even when he is unconscious, sleeping, , that person constantly receives infinite merit. Continuously that person receives merit equal to infinite space. It is said in the great bodhisattva Shantideva’s teachings,
A person who has taken the thought of wishing bodhicitta in order to release all the infinite sentient beings from now on, person who has taken this thought in order to release all the infinite sentient beings from now on, with unchangeable irreversible thought will receive merit constantly.
This means person who has made a vow to generate the wishing thought of bodhicitta to work for all infinite sentient beings to release from all suffering from now on, with irreversible, unchangeable thought—which means a complete determination in the mind—from that moment on, even though he is sleeping or even unconscious, the strength of that merit continuously arises, equaling infinite space. This way, you can make the perfect human rebirth highly meaningful constantly, day and night, every second. There is incredible profit you can receive constantly without wasting even one second of collecting merit.
Even in such a short time, with the motivation bodhicitta, even making an incense offering, you can think, “I am going to make an incense offering in order to receive enlightenment for the benefit of all the kind mother sentient beings.” Thinking this and making the incense offering either by visualizing the Buddha or any holy objects becomes great purification. Thinking like this in such a short time again you collect infinite merit.
Similarly, even when you are cleaning the room or washing the dishes, if you think that all your own delusions and karma and those of all sentient beings are absorbed in the garbage and being cleaned with the dust and the dirt, all coming out in the form of pollution in whatever you clean.
Then think, “In order to receive enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings I am going to clean all my own and sentient beings’ disturbing thoughts, the delusions and negative karma, and also their impure ugly suffering places.” Also think, “The garbage is also the impure ugly places of the sentient beings, which are undesirable objects.” For instance, where the naraks and preta beings are suffering there is no water. They cannot find even a drop of water; it is a very ugly place, either extremely hot or extremely cold. Also all the human beings’ ugly places that humans do not like, uncomfortable, impure, ugly places where they suffer, full of stones. I think the essence of the garbage is also the impure ugly places of the sentient beings, which are produced by the disturbing negative thoughts and their negative karma.
Motivate like this, contemplating like this while you are cleaning. Just by motivating already you have received infinite merit. Then without question while you are cleaning with the meditation like this, “I am cleaning the disturbing negative thoughts, negative karma and impure ugly places of the suffering sentient beings,” while you are meditating like this, without question you receive incredible merit.
It’s the same thing if you are washing cloth. If you can meditate like this, if you can transform the action into virtue like this, by cultivating the motivation of bodhicitta, again it becomes great purification.
In daily life, if you continuously remember the practice of bodhicitta, if you know how to transform actions into virtue, and constantly try to have a virtuous motivation instead of nonvirtuous motivation to do the daily work, even if you don’t do meditation sessions, with your daily life’s work, such as cleaning, talking and so forth, that can make life highly meaningful.
MEDITATING ON CHERISHING OTHERS
The subject is the actual body, the training in the thought to enlightenment. In equalizing and exchanging oneself with others, there are two things: the benefits of cherishing other and the ability to do that. Then there are the two thoughts: the thought seeking to work for others and the thought seeking enlightenment in order to work for others. You should realize the shortcomings of the self-cherishing thought and benefit of cherishing others in order to see all sentient beings, for whom you work, in aspect of beauty. So this part is the benefits of cherishing others.
The way to meditate is like this. The benefits of cherishing others. As it is said in the root text: Meditate on the great kindness of all the sentient beings, on each and every single sentient being. This is not like only remembering the kindness of people you like, your friends, but not remembering, forgetting the enemy, you ignore the kindness of the enemy.
As it is said in the root text, the way to meditate is like this. After meditating on the shortcomings of the self-cherishing thought, then realize how all the sufferings come from oneself. After realizing that then meditate on kindness of others and then cherishing others. As you think of the kindness, the thought of cherishing others comes, automatically. The more you see the kindness of others, the more you see how all the happiness, all the perfections, how everything is received only from other sentient beings. More you see this, the more you discover this, the stronger and stronger the thought cherishing others becomes.
THE SUFFERING OF THE SIX REALMS
Before, we were talking about taking other sentient beings’ sufferings. As I explained before, but I’m just repeating again briefly, when we practice the thought of taking the suffering of others, and all the sentient beings’ causes of suffering, we should think that the cause of all suffering is delusion, the negative mind that sentient beings have, not only the previous causes of suffering, not only the delusions what the sentient beings have in the present time, but also the future delusions. Then the negative karma, not only the present but also the future negative karma. Then the suffering which came from negative karma, which they experience now and all the suffering they will experience in the future. To remember these three is very important: the cause of suffering, the negative karma, the delusions and negative karma and the result, all the suffering, present and future.
Here we are talking about the chu. [??] Chu means the potential ones, which means sentient beings. It means the place of the sentient beings. Where the sentient beings suffer, we can see this as an ugly place, a suffering place. It can be visualized like that.
In regards suffering, when you have a little bit time you go into details, and try to remember the outlines of lam-rim, which describes the different suffering of each realm. Try to remember all the suffering, such as the naraks, the hot sufferings and the cold sufferings and the four dangers. Then the pretas, with the three hindrances such as the outer hindrance, inner hindrance and hindrance to food. Feeling hot and cold, feeling hunger and thirst, fear, being attacked by others. You can remember all these three outlines from the outline.
Then the general sufferings of the animal, such as feeling hot and cold, being in danger, being ignorant and afraid, being extremely exhausted, being tortured and forced to work for people, things like this. You can remember the outline.
Similarly with the sufferings of the human realms, such as the eight sufferings. Then the suras and asuras, such as the gods of the senses, the gods of desire, that includes also the asuras, besides the suras, some part of suras. Remember how suras and asuras are always fighting each other and how the asuras suffer from jealously of the suras. Try to remember the sufferings like this, according to the outline.
Also in the form and formless realms, there is also delusion. Even though they don’t have visible sufferings or the gross sufferings, they have sufferings because they have delusion. They are under the control of karma and delusion so they are living in pervasive compounding suffering. Even though their mental state, the realm, compared to animals and the other realms, even though it is high, there is less chance to practice Dharma, and so it is more difficult to attain enlightenment quickly. It is just like a bird. A bird flies very high, no matter how high it flies, in the end it has to come down on the land, without choice. There is no possibility to be always there in the space. Like this, even though the form and formless realms gods have reached the incredibly high mental state, without choice, because of previous karma, they have to be born again in the narak.
As you can remember the outline, you can think like this, giving each a little bit of time. In regards the result suffering, like this, you can go through more detail.
MEDITATING ON PURIFYING THE LOWER REALMS
So the part of the suffering is like this. Then in regards to generating great love, make the practice of dedication. In regards dedication there are three things to dedicate: body, possessions and merit.
When you dedicate the body, although you think it’s clean, your current body is dirty; it has an impure nature. [GL RL] It’s dirty, so you cannot dedicate a dirty thing, we cannot dedicate kaka to all sentient beings. You should dedicate pure things to others. If you get a bad smell, then you dedicate it for all sentient beings, it’s not like this. [RL GL] You don’t dedicate things like that for other sentient beings. When you dedicate your body, you should transform this body into a wish-fulfilling body. By transforming into a wish fulfilling body, then you dedicate it to all other sentient beings.
This is talking about how to dedicate the body. First, transform it into a wish-fulfilling body, then dedicate it to all sentient beings. For instance, the body which becomes a wish-fulfilling body, dedicate it to all the narak beings, such as all the beings in the hot naraks. Think, “Just as I have received this wish fulfilling body then I dedicate it to all the beings in the hot naraks, so that whatever they are suffering will cease and whatever they want to receive, they will receive.” That’s the connotation of a wish-fulfilling body.
Then, with the beings of the hot naraks, from the wish-fulfilling body they receive a rain of nectar, a blissful rain that completely, right away in a second, stops all the suffering places, the fiery places, the hot-red, burning, iron ground and so forth. The places where they suffer is mostly the hot ground that is oneness with fire, just like this when we put iron in the fire, when it becomes red-hot and oneness with the fire, completely red, like that. This is the red-hot, burning ground. The visualization is that. So, from the wish-fulfilling body a rain of nectar comes, pouring down on them from space. Beautiful white clouds form and blissful nectar rain coming falls, completely stopping all the fires. All the hot blazing iron ground and the blazing houses, everything, completely disappears. And all those narak beings who were suffering from the incredible, unbelievable heat, receive this blissful nectar rain, and they feel incredible bliss and wonderful coolness.
All the hot-red iron ground is transformed and becomes beautiful. If it is possible then visualize as it is described in the teachings, how to visualize a pure land, like when you purify the meditation place, when you practice purifying the ground. You know how to visualize the place as beautiful, like a pure land. The teaching explains that practice, and so here you visualize it as it is described there.
Visualize it as beautiful as possible, the whole ground full of beautiful flowers, with many ponds to swim in, very clear and clean, not dirty at all, with a very blissful nature. Visualize it as beautiful as possible, like this. And so many beautiful scented flowers. Even if you can’t visualize it exactly as pure land, at least as a beautiful garden. It’s not hard for you to visualize a beautiful garden. Think of all the beautiful gardens you have seen and visualize the land of the narak beings at least like that.
The red-hot burning house which doesn’t door or windows, in which they have to suffer for eons and eons, due to the wish-fulfilling body, that house is completely transformed into a beautiful palace, like a beautiful palace in the pure realms or in the realm of the gods, well decorated, as beautiful as possible, very shining, radiating, like that.
Then, the beings of the first hot narak, called being alive again and again, are attacked by rains of weapons, all kinds of weapons pouring down on them, but due to the wish-fulfilling body, all these weapons transform into beautiful scented flowers, and become a flower-rain. Instead of suffering, the beings experience much bliss by receiving this rain of flowers.
In the same way, the place that is full of very sharp swords covering the ground, these swords are transformed into beautiful flowers. You don’t have to visualize small flowers; you can visualize them as big flowers, big scented flowers and they are walking on the flowers.
Also the fearful narak karmic protectors, creations of the narak beings’ karmic visions, instead of harming them they are transformed into beautiful gods and goddesses benefiting them, You can visualize them in this way. Those protectors can also be visualized also as Avalokiteshvara. Then those narak beings, having received the blessings of the wish fulfilling body, they also receive the perfect human rebirth and meet the perfect spiritual friend and receive teachings.
Before talking about cold suffering, there are narak beings who, when the karma finishes and it is released from one suffering place, again he has to experience another suffering. So the karmic vision changes. Sometimes the narak beings hears someone is calling him from the top of a tree, like a relative, a brother or someone is calling his name, asking him to come up, calling him. Feeling such incredible desire he wants to go up to see that being who calls him, so he runs to the tree, then all the branches of the tree become weapons and go through the body. All these branches are sharp weapons, pointing down like this. And even when the being reaches the top, when he comes down all the branches, which becomes, very sharp weapons, again they turn up like this, blocking him from coming down. Even the person tries to come down they go through the body. All of these kinds of suffering come from the tree, it is called the tree which cuts the body. Visualize this.
With the wish-fulfilling body, it transforms into various beautiful leaves and flowers, completely without thorns, very soft, very scented, having flowers and beautiful, very flexible trees, giving much happiness to the living beings. Even by touching it there is much bliss. Visualize like this.
Then the narak being in the cold suffering. They can’t see because it is completely dark. There is no light, not even the sun and the moon. But, having received the wish-fulfilling body, they receive sun, which melts the ice and, instead of feeling cold, they feel is warm, they feel the heat. Just like we need heaters in the cold time. Then the ice melts. Usually it’s completely dark, they can’t see even their legs; they can’t see even their body, their hands. Their body is completely stuck in the ice mountain; their body becomes oneness with ice and besides they usually suffer from having so many little sores, blisters, which open up and gets more and more cracked, more and more cracked. They are extremely cold, their body is oneness with ice, and there are more and more cracks, more and more cracks. Also inside the body, there are so many insects eating and a bird with a very long beak, like a needle that pierces right through their body.
So, think by having received the wish-fulfilling body, they receive the perfect human body. And also they meet the perfect spiritual friend and receive teachings. Usually their bodies are naked, oneness with ice mountain, but now they receive beautiful clothes and delicious food. If you can think of it as in the nature of nectar, then like this.
Then all the narak beings gradually attain the path to enlightenment and depending, you can think either they become Guru Shakyamuni Buddha or you can think they become Avalokiteshvara. Think, “Now I have enlightened them in the essence of Avalokiteshvara.”
Then do the same thing with the pretas. Again dedicate your wish-fulfilling body to them. One of their main sufferings is feeling hunger and thirst. So due to the wish-fulfilling body they receive plenty of food. You can think of many stores. The food they enjoy is all nectar, relieving their suffering, hunger and thirst like that. Then also you can visualize pretas who suffer incredibly with the heat receive blissful nectar rain, which you can also think is purifying their delusions. Then also they have received plenty of beautiful forms, they have received perfect human rebirth and they have met perfect teacher, receiving teachings, actualizing path. Also they receive a beautiful house, a beautiful palace made of jewels. Also their place is like a pure land, very beautiful. All the ugly desert-like places, all the suffering places are completely changed, they all become beautiful places, like a pure realm, with many lakes, very clear, very clean, very beautiful, very cool, and there are many beautiful trees or flowers.
Then also think, enjoying all these things cause the pretas to receive the whole path and achieve enlightenment. Think they all become Avalokiteshvara. Then think, “I have enlightened all the pretas in the essence of Avalokiteshvara.”
Then again dedicate the wish-fulfilling body to the animals. Having received the wish-fulfilling body they have received everything what they wish and it stops all their suffering. All the animals who have suffered from heat, by having the wish-fulfilling body they receive coolness. Those who have suffered from cold, they receive warmth. Those being eaten by other animals, due to the wish fulfilling body, are released from their suffering, and those exploited by people, instead of harming them , people become their helpers. By receiving the wish-fulfilling body they are released from the suffering of being tortured or used for difficult work, carrying all kinds of things, serving people, having nails under the feet, putting holes in the nose, being tortured in many ways. It makes them to be released from that.
One of their main sufferings is being deeply ignorant, so also by having receive this wish fulfilling body it makes them to receive the discriminating Dharma wisdom, which discovers what is virtue, what is nonvirtue; what is the cause of happiness, what is the cause of suffering. The discriminating wisdom, knowing the nature of their suffering and the path, the knowledge of the Triple Gem, the dharmakaya. You can think like this. Then also think they have received the perfect human rebirth, having met the perfect spiritual friend and received the teachings and actualized the graduated path.
Then think the enjoyments they have received from the wish-fulfilling body make them purify all the delusions, all the negative karma and it causes them to receive the whole graduate path. Then think they have received enlightenment. Think, “I have enlightened them in the essence of Avalokiteshvara.” If you using Avalokiteshvara as a basis you can think like this. Visualize all the animals in the manifestation of Avalokiteshvara.
Similarly, dedicate the body that is the wish-fulfilling body to the suras; the suras, the worldly, the samsaric gods who are in the realms of form and formless and the gods of the desire. Also by having received the wish-fulfilling body, it makes them to receive perfect human rebirth, having met the teacher, actualizing path and they receive whatever they wish. Whatever happiness they wish, they receive.
What the gods of the desire realm usually enjoy is the object of the five senses. By dedicating the body and transformation of the wish-fulfilling body, it makes them to receive whatever object of senses they want, but these objects bring only virtue, not nonvirtue and so they receive the perfect human body and meet the perfect teacher and receive teachings, actualizing path like this.
[Break in tape.]
[Editor's Note: Rinpoche seems to be explaining about the four motivations, such as for saying a prayer, of somebody who says it with the motivation for enlightenment, for liberation, for a fortunate rebirth and for the happiness of this life. The actions of the first three people are Dharma actions, but that of the fourth, wishing only happiness of this life, is not Dharma, even though he is saying a prayer.]
So therefore, this is extremely important for a Dharma practitioner, for a person who wants to practice Dharma. The last person’s actions does not become Dharma, but all the others become Dharma. The first person’s actions become Dharma, the second person’s actions become Dharma, the third person’s actions become Dharma. Even the third person’s actions become Dharma and that brings happiness in this life and in the future life even though the person only thinks of future life, but the result of karma, good karma, practicing Dharma, can be experienced in this life. Even these three people did not precisely motivate for it, did not precisely concentrate on it, still [happiness] happens in this life, even though they did not have that specific motivation.
So the last person, with the same practice, that did not become Dharma. Therefore this is the secret point. This is the secret point, if you does not understand this point, what mind makes the action Dharma, if your mind is not clear on this secret point—what is virtue and what is nonvirtue, what is Dharma and what is non-Dharma—there is always the chance to make a mistake, believing you are doing good, believing you are doing the right action. This is extremely useful to remember.
Think, “It’s not right that I think only of myself, having achieve the blissful state of peace, by being free from all the samsara, the suffering realm. I must reach the enlightenment in order to release all the sentient beings from all their suffering and lead them to enlightenment. Therefore, I am going to listen to the profound Mahayana thought training teachings.”
BIOGRAPHY OF ATISHA
Atisha, this great bodhisattva, was born in western India. He went through the life of a prince. His home was extremely wealthy and his father was one of the most wealthy kings, as was the whole family. Then afterwards he escaped this and went to find a guru. By meeting many gurus he received so many teachings on bodhicitta and refuge. As he met one guru, this guru sent him to meet another guru who he had contact with in a previous life, and that guru then sent him to meet another on, and so on like. Then, the gurus sent him back home to realize the shortcomings and the problems of the worldly life, to be able to receive the mind free of samsara Atisha followed 157 gurus. He had that much number of teachers. Then, just briefly talking about his life.
He was in the same school in Nalanda where there were thousands of pandits. Besides having a general education in medicine, art, and becoming experts in each point, of the many basic ordinary subjects, each of those pandits were fully distinguished in the knowledge of Dharma, the whole teaching of the Dharma, not only having an intellectual understanding, but also having great achievement of the path in their mind. Such as Atisha, the great bodhisattva, who had the achievement the loving-compassionate mind, the precious thought of enlightenment. His actions of body speech and mind were dedicated only to benefit other sentient beings, whose mind was concerned only with releasing other sentient beings from suffering and to obtain happiness. Not only that, he had the realization of all the three higher practices, the higher practice of moral conduct, concentration and penetrative insight and he lived purely in the two-hundred and fifty-three precepts, without any breaking any of the small vows, even the branches of the precepts. Not only that, there are bodhisattvas and the tantric vows; there are different levels of ordinations like this, and he also lived purely in those other precepts besides the fundamental precepts. So like this, he had an incredible realization of the practice of moral conduct.
He had an incredible realization of the practice of one-pointedness. Even if hundreds of big drums were beaten around him, even if big airplanes flew nearby him, they could not disturb his concentration, having a realization like that. He also has the perfect realization of penetrative insight, perfectly seeing the absolute nature. And he had attained a very high tantra path, where nothing, no impure object appeared to his senses. For his senses there was no impure object With his very high Vajrayana realization, he could transform all impure appearances of objects as well as see himself in the aspect of deity. This is not like us, who see ourselves as ordinary persons and everything around us as impure objects. He could turn impure views into pure views. Even though we try to visualize the Vajrayana mandalas, as it is explained in the Vajrayana teachings, nothing happens in the mind, nothing comes, nothing is revealed. On the other hand, he held the great mandala all the time in his mind; his mind was oneness with the mandala. He has always got mandala. With such power, he could transform the impure, such as kaka, into nectar. Highly realized yogis are like this.
In relation to the teachings in Tibet, the king of Tibet was very worried the people were on the wrong path, filled with wrong conceptions. They were ignorant, not knowing how to practice Mantrayana or the other teaching, Sutra. The people had much confusion, thinking that people who practiced Mantrayana could not practice Sutra, and the people who practiced Sutra could not practice Mantrayana. They had much confusion in the mind, many wrong concepts.
So the king of Tibet chose twenty-one intelligent boys and sent them Nalanda, the famous school, to be educated, to learn the language and also to educate in Dharma, so they could come back and spread the pure teachings. But as Indian was very hot and Tibet was very cold, only two students survived. Those two came back after they were educated and explained to the king when they got back that at Nalanda all pandits talked about this pandit Atisha. They said that if he came to Tibet, he could definitely benefit for the teachings. Many pandits talk about this pandit called Atisha in this way, but other pandits were not sure. Everyone talked about Atisha, that he could benefit the best in Tibet. Just by hearing the name Atisha, incredible, unbelievable devotion arose in his mind of the king of Tibet. Right at that moment he decided to invite Atisha to Tibet.
Then he sent translators, other pandits, with many offerings of gold, to invite Atisha. While the king himself was searching for the gold, in one place in Tibet, an irreligious king put him in prison. The king of Tibet his name was Halama. His nephew tried to release him from the prison but the irreligious king told to the king that he either had to give up working to spread the teachings in Tibet or his life. He had to choose If he didn’t want to lose his life, if he didn’t want to get killed, he had to give up the teachings. The king decided to give up his life, in prison. He thought, “I’m old now, and if I live, there’s only several more years. Since beginningless numberless future lifetimes until now I never gave up my life for the Dharma, so it is fortunate that I have the opportunity to give up my life for the teachings.”
The irreligious king told the nephew to find gold equaling the size of the king. After he found gold the equaled up to the neck, the irreligious king was still not satisfied, he said there’s still the size of the head missing. When the nephew he explained everything to the king who was in prison, the king he said: “Don’t give even a handful of gold to the irreligious king. He can never be satisfied, no matter how much you give him. Instead, take all the gold you have to Atisha.” And the king of Tibet sent a message to Atisha: “I give up my life under this irreligious king for you and the teachings, so please may I see you after this life. What I have in the mind is only the teachings and to invite Atisha and to establish the teachings in Tibet. That’s the only thing I have in mind, so please guide me in all the future lives.” That was the message he sent to Atisha with the Tibetan translators.
At the beginning they had much difficulty to finding Atisha, but they finally they met him and explained what happened to the king in Tibet. When then they offered the gold offering to Atisha, he did not accept it right away. He didn’t give the answer that he would come right away. He told the great pandit Tibetan translators, “Keep it. I will first check up whether going to Tibet will be beneficial or not and whether there will be hindrance to my life if I go to Tibet.”
Then he checked up with the female aspect of Buddha, called Tara, and Compassionate Buddha called Avalokiteshvara. They predicted him that if he didn’t go to Tibet he could live to ninety-two years old but if he went to Tibet he would only live until seventy-three years old. But if he went to Tibet it would be greatly beneficial for the teachings and for the people in Tibet, even though his life would be shorter. Then, even though his life would be almost twenty years shorter, he decided that didn’t matter; it was better he went to Tibet. Then he gradually went to Tibet where he was requested by king’s nephew, whose name is Jangchub Ö, to write a very simple text on how one person could to practice the whole sutra and Mantrayana, and to write a very simple teaching explaining about karma and refuge.
ATISHA: THE LAM-RIM AND LO-JONG TEXTS
So then like this Atisha wrote the teaching called Lam-drön, The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment. Actually the text, the meditation, has the title lam-rim, the graduated path to enlightenment, even though the entire teachings originally had been handed down from Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, but putting the title like this on the text and on different practices, shows that it is set up for a person to practice the different teachings without confusion. Atisha clarified and simplified the teachings so a person can practice right away. This is The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, written by Atisha.
Then Lama Tsongkhapa wrote a commentary to it, and then many other lineage lamas, followers of Lama Tsongkhapa, wrote the commentaries using their experiences of the path.
This is just to have a small idea about who Atisha is, because this teaching you are going to practice, these meditation techniques you are going to practice, come from Lama Serlingpa and Atisha. Therefore, if you know a little bit about who Atisha is, if you know little bit about his knowledge, there is a feeling in your mind. Also his teachings will benefit to your mind, as there is feeling, devotion to his knowledge. When I say “Atisha” it won’t sound like a robot. [RL GL]
So Atisha was incredible benefit to the people in Tibet who were ignorant. The teachings were spread so much, so purely, through one of his close disciples called Dromtönpa, who is recognized also as an embodiment of the Compassion Buddha.
So this oral teaching, training the thought of enlightenment, has been handed down from Atisha to Dromtönpa. Atisha had many disciples but specifically the lineage of this teaching has been handed down to his disciple Dromtönpa, then Dromtönpa had many highly realized disciples who were great bodhisattvas but he handed the lineage of this teaching to Potowa, who has the whole entire teachings, the sutra and mantrayana. Then Potowa wrote also many teachings. He had more than 200,000 disciples. Also many of his disciples were great bodhisattvas who achieved the graduated path. Then Potowa handed down the lineage of this teaching to his disciple Sharawa, who had also 8,100 disciples, and many of them experienced this graduate path. Then he handed down the lineage of this teaching to Geshe Chekawa.
From a person called Nyalchashingba, Geshe Chekawa heard the words of The Eight Verses of the Thought Training, written by a great bodhisattva, Geshe Langri Tangpa. Then, from this Geshe Chekawa he received devotion to the Kadam tradition of teachings. The Kadam tradition had been handed down from Atisha. So all the followers of Atisha, all those geshes, were called Kadampa. Ka means “order,” the teachings of Buddha, dam means “oral teaching.” Neither Atisha himself or any of his followers ever found any contradiction at all in the different teachings explained by Buddha, not even two or three words. There are many teachings that seem contradictory, like in one saying you can drink wine and in another saying you can’t or in one you should eat meat and in another you shouldn’t, or keeping a wife or not keeping a wife. The Kadampa practitioners understood that these teachers were for different levels of students and so they never saw any contradiction at all in anything the Buddha taught. They knew that even two or three words of Buddha is an oral teaching for one person to practice in order to achieve enlightenment. So therefore those followers of Atisha are called Kadampa.
After Geshe Chekawa heard this Eight Verses of Thought Training, he wanted to find out more about this thought training teaching. He went to Lhasa, the kingdom of Tibet, where he talked about this to his friend who had a great mind. He suggested to him that a Mahayana guru should be like a sun and moon that you can carry on your shoulder and display and show others. His friend, who had great thoughts, suggested he went to see Geshe Sharawa and Chiyurwa.
Geshe Sharawa was giving teaching, he was giving teachings to some disciples, explaining about the Hinayana path, the path of the nyentö. In the Hinayana path there are two different paths. One is called path of the self conqueror [solitary realizer], and the other is nyentö, the path of the listener and announcer. That means that they listen to teachings and they announce them, they explain the teachings to others. When he was listening to that teaching, it doesn’t precisely inspire his mind, he didn’t find any of it interesting. It was kind of boring, kind of tiring, like what you experience. [GL RL] I think that’s clear.
So Geshe Chekawa questioned whether or not Sharawa had this oral teaching on The Eight Verses of Thought Training. He had some kind of doubt. He asked whether this can be practiced or not. He thought if Sharawa said it could not be practiced, he doesn’t have that teaching, then he thought to go some other place.
So one day, when the monks had been invited by a benefactor, Geshe Sharawa was circumambulating the stupa. Then Geshe Chekawa met Geshe Sharawa and he put his robe on the ground and said, “Please sit down here, I have something to ask you.” Then Geshe Sharawa thought what doubt is there for this person cannot be decided. I have decided, I have cut all doubts, I have clarified the doubts. What has to be discussed is already on the throne. That means he was giving teaching before sitting on the throne, so he was saying this. So then Geshe Chekawa said, The Eight Verses written by Langri Tangpa, this tradition teaching has been so beneficial for me. When I didn’t find a lodging place, when people do not offer me a place, when people treat me badly, during those times I practice this and it benefits to me. If I practice this, can it become cause to receive the result of enlightenment or not?” Sharawa had a rosary in his hand. While he was passing each bead he was saying from his holy mouth, “There is nothing to talk about whether it can be practiced or not. If you wish to receive result, enlightenment, do it; if you don’t wish to receive the result, enlightenment, then give it up. Since you wish to receive the result enlightenment, without entering in the path it’s impossible to receive enlightenment.” So Geshe Chekawa thought what Geshe Sharawa said in his short talk is great experience, there is incredible great experience.
I think I stop here.
ATISHA: HIS KINDNESS
At the beginning before the meditation, just a little about the lineage of this teaching, how it happened, it came down. Then the particular benefits of practicing this teachings. So there is brief explanation that has to be given before explaining the actual meditation.
[Break in tape.] …again it is necessary to remember to cultivate the pure motivation, to listen to the teachings in order to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all kind sentient beings.
Many young Western people have a chance to receive teachings on the graduated path to enlightenment, and having chance to hear the precious oral teachings of the graduated path to enlightenment. The essence of the teaching is graduated path to enlightenment, the oral teaching of the training thought of enlightenment. Then even having a little bit intellectual understanding of the meditation on the graduated path to enlightenment, knowing how to make life meaningful and even there is a problem in the life but since having method, you can manage to make your own mind happy, by remembering the meditation, by remembering the teaching. Then having chance to make preparation, having the Dharma wisdom to see what is the cause of happiness, what is the cause of suffering and making preparation for the happiness of future life. That is by the kindness of the great bodhisattva Atisha, and the king of Tibet, who was a bodhisattvas. And if the king of Tibet had not given up his life, and many of the pandit translators had borne great difficulties going to India to invite Atisha and spread the teaching in Tibet, if they did not do the work, if Atisha did not come in Tibet, did not write this teaching, The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, then nowadays it would be such an incredible loss then. This is such a profound oral teaching on the graduated path to enlightenment, which is very easy to practice, without confusion and very convenient to study or to practice the different teachings.
If the great bodhisattva Atisha and the king of Tibet hadn’t borne the difficulties or didn’t do the work then these days there wouldn’t be these precious oral teachings on the graduated path to enlightenment and especially the oral teachings on training the thought of enlightenment. So having possibility also such method which brings happiness to oneself and other sentient beings, which brings enlightenment to oneself and other sentient beings, in these days then spreading in the West. That is also by the kindness of these great bodhisattvas.
TALES OF LINEAGE LAMAS
So Geshe Sharawa told Geshe Chekawa, “There is nothing to talk about whether The Eight Verses of Thought Training can be practiced or not. If one do not wish to receive enlightenment then give it up, leave it. Since one wishes to receive enlightenment, it’s possible to receive enlightenment without entering this path.”
Geshe Chekawa thought that the way Geshe Sharawa talked showed he had great experience. So then Geshe Chekawa asked Sharawa, “Where is this quotation, where is the reference of this teachings, The Eight Verses of Thought Training?” This was written by the highly realized Tibetan bodhisattva, Langri Tangpa and usually any Buddhadharma text that is written by anyone should have reference, the root of that teaching should be in the teaching of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. If it’s opposite to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings, if it is different teachings from what Guru Shakyamuni Buddha gave to the different sentient beings who have different level of mind, if the root of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s teaching is not there, then it is recognized as not pure teaching, especially if it is contradictory, because there is not one single method for the happiness of sentient beings missing in the teachings explained by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha.
So Geshe Chekawa asked Sharawa, “Where is this reference of this teaching, this oral teaching The Eight Verses of Thought Training?” And Geshe Sharawa replied, “Who is who doesn’t believe the noble Nagarjuna? Who is there who doesn’t trust the noble Nagarjuna?” So he mentioned the quotation what Nagarjuna said in his teaching called, The Jewel Rosary.
“May I receive and experience others’ negativity and may they receive and experience all my merits.”
“Others” means other sentient beings. So what it is saying, “May I receive and experience all other sentient beings’ delusions and the negative karma.” “May I receive and experience,” means to suffer. When it says experience it means suffer. “May I receive and experience all other sentient beings’ delusion, negative karma and may I receive and experience all their sufferings. And may they receive and experience all my virtue, every single virtue of mine.” Virtue means the cause of virtue, even the happiness, may other sentient beings experience this. This is the reference quotation said by the very highly realized Indian pandit Nagarjuna.
So then Geshe Chekawa asked Sharawa, “I have interest to this traditional teaching, so please guide me.” So Geshe Sharawa told to Chekawa, “If you are able to, you should make yourself able to stay here then you will understand by the conditions.” Then Geshe Chekawa asked Sharawa, “When you were giving teaching before in the group, there was nothing of this teaching mentioned.” He means the thought training teaching. So Sharawa told Chekawa, “What is the benefit of explaining this? There is no-one who can practice it.” That’s what Geshe Sharawa said to Chekawa. Then Geshe Chekawa made three prostrations to Geshe Sharawa. In the house where he stayed, the owner of the house had the text, so first he made three prostrations then he took the text out, then he checked The Jewel Rosary written by Nagarjuna and he saw exactly what Geshe Sharawa said the quotation, those two verses of Nagarjuna’s. He saw it exactly there.
Then he stopped, he gave up other thoughts, other works. Then he completely concentrated on this thought training. He spent a total of fourteen years in different places, training the mind in this thought training, in the presence of gurus, virtuous friends. Then he got incredible experiences.
Then he thought, “Now it makes meaningful that I sold all my property in gold, and business, and that I slept under the rug,” The piece of rug, what you cover on the horse. Not this thing that you ride on but the cloth you put on the horse’s backside?
Rinpoche: Saddle sleeping bag. [RL GL]
I think what he’s talking about is he sold all his property into gold and he offered the gold to his teacher, the virtuous friend, to receive teachings. I think that’s what he saying. He thought, now it becomes worthwhile that I, I sold all my property in gold before and then I slept under the horse’s saddle. What is it called? [RL GL] Rug?
Rinpoche: Saddle cloth, piece of carpet, in Tibet they put piece of cloth they put on the horse then they put [GL] then they put the saddle, like that. So he sold all property and become very poor and even sometimes he slept by using the horse-carpet. [RL GL] He is saying that even though he experienced much difficulties now it became worthwhile.
Geshe Chekawa handed down the lineage of this teaching specifically to his disciple call Tse Chilbuwa. He received all the oral teachings, all the basic scriptures, all the complete oral teachings on thought training from Geshe Chekawa. Tse Chilbuwa handed it down to Lha Chenpo Lungu Wangchuk. Then from there to, again the teachings has been handed down from Lha Chenpo Lungu Wangchuk to Sakya Sonam Gyalchen.
There are also the other thought training teachings, commentaries on the seven points of thought transformation written by great bodhisattva, Tongme Sangpo. They are thought training teachings which have been handed down from Ranpa Kadingpa. Then the lineage of those teachings is received from the great pundit called Gyaljop Palsang.
When Kadingpa received the teachings on the seven points of thought transformation, the commentary with experience, he took this commentary from Lama Tsongkhapa who is embodiment of Manjushri. There are different traditions, the oral teachings of training in the thought of enlightenment. So when Lama Tsongkhapa gave this teaching on training in thought of enlightenment, he gave teachings according to the famous Indian pandit Shantideva, a very highly realized great bodhisattva. Lama Tsongkhapa gave Geshe Chekawa’s thought training teaching.
Anyway Lama Tsongkhapa received the lineage of this oral teaching. From Lama Tsongkhapa, from his followers to my root guru, whose holy name is Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo. Then from him the teaching has been handed down to my guru who is incomparably, unimaginably kind, who is the holder of the whole Buddhadharma, whose holy name is His Holiness Ling Rinpoche, the elder tutor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. From His Holiness Ling Rinpoche then I have received it. I received but I forgot. [GL RL] I hope I can remember!
So usually this teaching of thought training is presented according to Shantideva’s teachings, Shantideva’s basic scripture, because Shantideva’s basic scripture about thought training, that is the basis from where Geshe Chekawa quoted the thought training teaching. So that’s just a very brief history of the lineage lamas and the qualities of the oral teaching.
Now in order for devotion to arise for the oral teaching, it’s mentioned the particular benefits or the qualities of this teaching, this oral teaching by mentioning the specific, the particular functions, what this thought training teaching does.
The words from the root text:
Just like the diamond, the sun, the medical tree, the meanings and the basic scripture and so on should be known.
Maybe it’s more comfortable this way:
The meanings of the basic scripture and so on should be known as the diamond, the sun and the medical tree. The explosion of the five degenerations is transformed in the path to enlightenment.
These are the verses from the root text.
Why should the meaning of the scriptures be known as a diamond? How is it like a diamond? It is without question that complete jewel ornament, the diamond can relieve a person from the poverty. And it can give whatever the person wishes.
By saying the diamond, it means the person can get whatever other things he wishes.
Even a small particle of it, which is not complete ornament, can control all the special ornaments made of silver, gold and other jewels. And that small particle of diamond doesn’t lose its name “the jewel diamond.” It can release the person from poverty.
So like that example, if you actualize in the mind the entire teachings of the training thought of enlightenment—what will be explained afterwards—that is without question. Even if you only actualize the meaning of one part of the scripture, it doesn’t lose the name “bodhisattva.”
Actualizing the meaning of even a part of scripture is like the gold ornament, that controls the Hinayana arhats who completed Hinayana path, who have achieved nirvana, namely the self-controller and the listener and announcer who are like the special gold ornament. They are completely controlled. Besides that it relieves from all the poverty of samsara. By having actualized the meaning of even one part of the scripture, it dispels all the samsaric suffering.
So I think I’ll stop here.
WHAT DHARMA IS
In order for the action of listening teaching to become Dharma, first of all the mind has to become Dharma. How to transform the mind into Dharma—whether the mind is Dharma or not depends on whether the mind is possessed by attachment seeking the pleasure of this life. So if the mind is possessed with the attachment seeking only the pleasure of this life, then mind is not Dharma.
Therefore it is necessary to transform the mind into Dharma by renouncing the attachment seeking only the pleasures of this life. Such as by remembering that I may die, it is more definite that I die in this year, in this month or in this week, more definite that I die than not dying, even today. So therefore what can benefit at the death time is only Dharma, nothing else can benefit. Your own body, material possession, even friends, surrounding people cannot benefit at the death time.
Then even if our action becomes Dharma by the action of the mind, body and speech becoming Dharma it is necessary to become the path to attain nirvana. It is not enough just to become Dharma, it is necessary to become path to the ultimate happiness, the path to liberation.
What hinders our Dharma becoming path to liberation is again by attachment in the samsaric perfections and happiness, by material enjoyment. Like practicing Dharma only for the purpose to be born as wealthy person, having perfect material enjoyment or to be born as king or to be born in the realm of the gods, such as the sura, asura beings in the future lives. That attachment seeking the samsaric perfection in material enjoyment, happiness like that disturbs one’s own Dharma from becoming the path to liberation. Therefore it is necessary in Dharma to become path to liberation. It is necessary to renounce, to not be possessed by attachment, seeking the samsaric perfections, material enjoyment and happiness.
That is not enough. Even if our Dharma becomes the path to nirvana, that’s not right, we cannot be satisfied with just that. There are numberless sentient beings who have been kind all the time to us, and as they are devoid of happiness. As they are constantly suffering, I must achieve enlightenment in order to enlighten all the kind sentient beings. Therefore even if our dharma becomes a path, it is necessary to become the path to enlightenment, to release all the sentient beings from suffering and lead them to enlightenment.
Think, “therefore I am going to listen to the profound oral teaching of training the thought of enlightenment to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all the sentient beings.”
This is the principle method for the fortunate ones to attain enlightenment of the fully knowing mind; this is the door to enter the Mahayana path, well expounded by great highly realized propagators Nagarjuna and Asanga. The profound teachings which contain the infinite knowledge of Dharma, it contains the essence of the infinite knowledge, that the great bodhisattva Atisha has and that the Dharma king of three worlds, the great Lama Tsongkhapa has. This contains all the essence of the 84,000 teachings shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha without missing. And all these are set up for the graduated practice of one person to achieve enlightenment. And this is the sole path through which all past, present and future buddhas have attained enlightenment. It is their heart practice. It has been their heart practice.
So brief outline all this, the thought training teaching.
THE FIVE DEGENERATIONS
Yesterday I talked about the explosion of the five degenerations. “Explosion” isn’t right. If the five degenerations exploded it is good! [GL] That is what should happen but it does not happen. That is what should be exploded, that’s what should not exist. I put it the wrong way; I put in completely the opposite. [RL] Here, the five degenerations come, but instead of “coming” I said “exploding.” [RL GL]
How strongly the five degenerations come is like strong water flood, incredibly strong water flood, so strong it destroys a whole city, it takes away all the buildings. All the buildings are destroyed, not having so much control. Like when the dam—you know, where you store water—is broken, when the wall is broken, the water is so strong it flows out and it destroys the whole city. Like that, this is the expression of how the five degenerations come. I think it is translated in the book Advice from a Spiritual Friend as flourishing—the five degenerations flourishing is transformed into the path to enlightenment. Correct? The five degeneration flourishing is transformed into the path to enlightenment. I think that should be correct.
And then one word yesterday: even a particle of diamond jewel doesn’t make it lose its name. For instance, if this bell is broken into pieces it wouldn’t hold the name, bell. It would lose the name, bell. Only if it is complete like this then it can receive the name, bell. But a diamond that is broken still exists as a diamond.
So now the sun, how the meaning of the basic scripture should be known as the sun. Whenever there is the sun, there is no place that a shadow can cover it, there is no time or place where the sun can be covered. While the rays of the sun are rising, there is no place the shadow can cover it. Likewise, it is without question, if you have actualized the complete oral teachings of the training of the thought of enlightenment, even if you have only actualized one tiny part of them, there is no place in the mind for the shadow, the darkness, delusions, the self-cherishing thought that arise from the ignorance grasping the I as truly existent.
So the sun is an example to the realization of bodhicitta, the realization of the thought training, showing the realization of bodhicitta cannot be disturbed by the delusions. When the bodhicitta is actualized in the mind there is no place in the mind for the delusions.
[Break in tape.]
It is necessary again to cultivate the pure motivation of bodhicitta. The oral teachings—the training the thought in enlightenment, the actions of the whole graduate path to enlightenment. In order to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all kind sentient beings.
I have counted all five degenerations, but when I was thinking it was similar to the Tibetan saying about Tibetan man counting donkeys. He was traveling to one country and he had many donkeys. So he was counting his donkeys, but one donkey was always missing; he never counted the donkey that he is riding on. [GL] One donkey was always missing [GL] He could never find it; he could never figure out what happened. So it’s similar to that example.
I was telling what happened before. I heard there were also dust rains. One time not so long ago, you might have heard, also in Russia there were incredible huge hailstones, like rock, dropping, many unusual thing happened, very inauspicious things. Also in many other countries.
MEDITATION ON DEATH
First to motivate. What has caused me, from beginningless previous lifetimes until now, to still not be free from samsara from the suffering realm? What is it that makes me waste my whole life, that doesn’t allow me to practice Dharma purely. It is the evil thought of the worldly dharma—the attachment seeking only the pleasure of this life.
So therefore in order to destroy this I am going to practice the meditation on impermanence and death in order to receive enlightenment for the benefit of all the kind sentient beings.
How to do the meditation, either here or in your own country at your home, is to bring the future death into the present, as if it is happening now. You can think it is happening now, like visualizing being in a hospital or a car accident. All of a sudden your breath, which was so strong, stops, like that—either that or all of a sudden you got some heavy disease or something like that. Then you think the shape of your body changes. Always think it is like this. The body is wrapped with white cloth, all the relatives come round and cry, and everybody is upset or something like that. They put the body in the box and take it away to the cemetery. Then the priest is saying prayers. Things like that. It is put in the box and flowers are placed on top of the box. Each month, each week, the parents come to give flowers. Things like that. The picture of the person is left on the box. You should think of your own picture left on the box, things like that. You know much better than I, so you meditate. [RL GL]
You make your own life. Meditate like this. Bring the future death into the present as if is really happening, like that. This is really very, extremely useful. It’s one of the most powerful meditations on impermanence of life and death, to realize the meditation on impermanence of life and death quickly, to control attachment quickly.
[Break in tape.]