Annihilating the Demon of the Self-Cherishing Mind
Anyone can do this practice. However, you cannot visualize yourself as the deity if you have not received either:
- the kriya tantra great initiation (wang) of Thousand-Armed Chenrezig,
- or a great initiation (wang) of performance tantra, yoga tantra, or highest yoga tantra followed by the subsequent permission (jenang) of Thousand-Armed Chenrezig,
- or a great initiation (wang) of action tantra lotus lineage or tathagata lineage followed by the subsequent permission (jenang) of Thousand-Armed Chenrezig,
Instead, you should visualize Thousand-Armed Chenrezig above your head.
This practice is based on the short text Eight Verses of Thought Transformation, which contains the entire technique for transforming the mind into relative bodhicitta (i.e., the wish to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings) and absolute bodhicitta (i.e., the wisdom realizing emptiness). It was composed by Langri Tangpa Dorje Sengge, a disciple of the virtuous friend, perfect in all knowledge, Kadampa Geshe Potowa Rinchen Sal, who in turn was a disciple of the holy lamp of the teachings, Lama Atisha. Of his guru Potowa’s eight heart sons, Langri Tangpa was the only one to receive the special instructions on exchanging oneself with others.
The practice of these teachings has three divisions: the preparation, the actual practice, and the conclusion.
Seated comfortably, generate a particularly virtuous motivation. Then, do a glance meditation on the lamrim teachings, from the beginning—correctly following the virtuous friend—up to the end. Or, with heartfelt feeling, contemplate as follows:
From beginningless rebirths up to now, I have experienced the general sufferings of saṃsara and the particular sufferings of the lower realms numberless times. There is no suffering that I have never experienced. When I think deeply about all this, I feel terribly upset and weep uncontrollably. Therefore, I must no longer allow myself to come under the control of the disturbing, unsubdued thoughts, which are the true causes that bring the result of true sufferings.
As long as I happily continue to follow the disturbing, unsubdued minds of the wrong concepts1 with neither fear nor doubt, there is no difference between me and a mindless, crazy person. If I continue to follow these wrong concepts, I will definitely have to experience the sufferings of saṃsara endlessly in future lives. When I think about this from the depths of my heart, and not just reciting the words, I am unable to eat by day or sleep by night, and it makes me vomit. It also breaks my heart.
However, now I have received the inner condition: a perfect human body endowed with the eight freedoms and ten richnesses, which gives me the ability to achieve all happiness and success. I have also met the outer conditions: a holy Mahayana virtuous friend, who is extremely difficult to find but can grant the state of omniscience in one second, and the teachings of the Buddha, the supreme medicine that dispels all the sufferings of transmigratory beings without exception.
If I continue to seek mere temporary happiness for myself and my own liberation from the bondage of the disturbing, unsubdued thoughts and karma, what difference is there between me and a foolish, dumb animal? Such an attitude would be extremely upsetting from both sides. From my own side, how shameless!
And from the side of others, how very ungenerous! How selfish and cruel! How dare I cherish myself and renounce others! Aren’t other sentient beings the precious ones from whom I receive all happiness and success? It is, therefore, not enough to merely ensure that I will not be reborn in the suffering lower realms, nor is it enough to simply seek my own freedom from saṃsara.
All sentient beings have been my mother; there is not a single one who has not been. Moreover, each one has been my mother numberless times and each time has been just as kind to me as my present mother. At this very moment, not only are these kind mother sentient beings experiencing great suffering, but they are also running constantly to create the causes for more. There is not even a second when they experience ultimate happiness. If a mother’s suffering is not alleviated by her own child, who else will do it?
Even though it is up to me alone to bear the burden of eradicating the suffering of all mother sentient beings, at the moment I am incapable of relieving the suffering of even one sentient being. Yet, if I achieve the holy body of a buddha, just one ray of its light would ripen the minds of countless sentient beings, leading them to the blissful state of peace.
Therefore, to free all mother sentient beings from suffering and lead them to the peerless happiness of enlightenment, I must attain buddhahood. This is not without causes and conditions; its principal cause is the two bodhicittas. Therefore, I am going to practice the profound oral teaching on transforming the mind into bodhicitta.
Visualize at the level of your forehead, at a distance of a body’s length in front of you, your own root guru manifesting as, and inseparable from, Thousand-Armed Chenrezig, Great Compassionate One, standing on a moon disc on top of a lotus.
Taking Refuge and Generating Bodhicitta
Sang gyä chhö dang tshog kyi chhog nam la
Jang chhub bar du dag ni kyab su chhi
Dag gi jin sog gyi päi tshog nam kyi
Dro la phän chhir sang gyä drub par shog (3x)
I take refuge until I am enlightened
In the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Supreme Assembly.
By my merits of generosity and so forth,
May I become a buddha to benefit transmigratory beings. (3x)
Phag chhog thug je chhen pöi ku chhag tshäl
Ngö sham yi trül chhö trin ma lü bül
Thog me nä sag dig tung tham chä shag
Kye phag ge wa nam la je yi rang
I prostrate to the holy body of Supreme Arya Great Compassionate One.
I present clouds of every type of offering, both actually arranged and mentally emanated.
I confess all my negative actions and downfalls collected from beginningless time.
I rejoice in the virtues of ordinary beings and aryas.
Khor wa ma tong bar du leg zhug nä
Dro la chhö kyi khor lo kor wa dang
Dag zhän ge nam jang chhub chhen por ngo
Please remain until the end of cyclic existence,
And turn the wheel of Dharma for transmigratory beings.
I dedicate my own and others’ virtues to great enlightenment.
Short Mandala Offering
Sa zhi pö kyi jug shing me tog tram
Ri rab ling zhi nyi dä gyän pa di
Sang gyä zhing du mig te ül wa yi
Dro kün nam dag zhing la chö par shog
This ground, anointed with perfume, strewn with flowers,
Adorned with Mount Meru, the four continents, the sun, and the moon,
I imagine as a buddha land and offer it.
May all transmigratory beings enjoy this pure land.
Päl dän la mäi ku tshe tän pa dang
Kha nyam yong la de kyi jung wa dang
Dag zhän ma lü tshog sag drib jang nä
Nyur du sang gyä thob par jin gyi lob
Please bless us that the lives of the glorious gurus be long,
That all beings equaling the extent of space be happy,
That I and others without exception collect merits and purify obscurations,
And that we quickly achieve buddhahood.
Precious Guru, please grant me all the realizations of the path from correctly following the virtuous friend up to the completion of training, the unified state of Vajradhara. Please bless my mind to become Dharma, Dharma to become the path, and the path to be without obstacles, that I may cease all wrong concepts and immediately generate the two precious bodhicittas.
IDAM GURU RATNA MANDALAKAM NIRYATAYAMI
Guru Chenrezig is extremely pleased by my request and, together with the moon disc and lotus, comes to the crown of my head.
The Actual Practice
With each of the eight verses, visualize that from the seed syllable HRIḤ at Chenrezig’s heart much blissful white nectar streams down into the crown of your head. It fills your whole body, purifying all your obscurations and bringing you all the realizations of the entire path to enlightenment, from correctly following the virtuous friend up to buddhahood. It also purifies the specific obscurations and grants the specific realizations related to the particular verse you are contemplating.
Eight Verses of Thought Transformation
1. Determined to obtain the greatest possible benefit
From all sentient beings,
Who are more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel,
I hold them most dear at all times.
The blissful white nectar purifies all obscurations, especially the self-cherishing thought that prevents you from holding others most dear, and brings all realizations, especially loving kindness, compassion, and bodhicitta, which holds others most dear.
2. Wherever I am and whoever I am with,
I always consider myself the lowest of all
And, from the depths of my heart,
Hold others dear and supreme.
The blissful white nectar purifies all obscurations, especially the self-cherishing thought that prevents you from considering yourself the lowest of all and from holding others dear and supreme, and brings all realizations, especially loving kindness, compassion, and bodhicitta, which considers yourself the lowest of all and holds others dear and supreme.
3. In all actions, I examine my mental continuum
And the minute a delusion arises,
Since it endangers myself and others,
I forcefully confront and avert it.
The blissful white nectar purifies all obscurations, especially the self-cherishing thought that prevents you from confronting and averting delusions the minute they arise, and brings all realizations, especially loving kindness, compassion, and bodhicitta as well as the wisdom realizing emptiness, which ceases all delusions.
4. Whenever I see sentient beings who are wicked in nature
And overwhelmed by negative actions and heavy suffering,
I hold such rare ones dear,
As if I had found a precious treasure.
The blissful white nectar purifies all obscurations, especially the self-cherishing thought that prevents you from holding wicked sentient beings dear, and brings all realizations, especially loving kindness, compassion, and bodhicitta, which holds them as dear as a precious treasure.
5. When, out of envy, others mistreat me
With abuse, insults, or the like,
I accept defeat
And offer the victory to them.
The blissful white nectar purifies all obscurations, especially the self-cherishing thought that prevents you from accepting defeat and offering the victory to others, and brings all realizations, especially loving kindness, compassion, and bodhicitta, which accepts defeat and offers the victory to others.
6. When someone whom I have benefited
And in whom I have great hopes
Gives me terrible harm,
I regard them as my virtuous friend.
The blissful white nectar purifies all obscurations, especially the self-cherishing thought that prevents you from seeing those who harm you as your holy virtuous friend, and brings all realizations, especially loving kindness, compassion, and bodhicitta, which enables you to achieve the perfection of patience and to see harmful beings as your holy virtuous friend.
7. In short, both directly and indirectly,
I offer every happiness and benefit to all my mothers.
I secretly take upon myself
All their harms and sufferings.
The blissful white nectar purifies all obscurations, especially the self-cherishing thought that prevents you from offering every happiness and benefit to all mother sentient beings and secretly taking upon yourself all their harmful actions and suffering, and brings all realizations, especially loving kindness, compassion, and bodhicitta, which offers every happiness and benefit to others and takes all their harmful actions and suffering upon yourself.
8. Also, I do not defile all these practices with the stains
Of the superstitions of the eight worldly concerns,
And by knowing all phenomena to be illusory,
Without trusting in them, I am freed from bondage.
The blissful white nectar purifies all obscurations, especially the self-cherishing thought that causes the eight worldly concerns and the ignorance that prevents you from perceiving all phenomena as illusory, and brings all realizations, especially the wisdom realizing emptiness, which perceives all phenomena as illusory and by which you are released from the bondage of delusion and karma.
Make the following request one-pointedly from the depths of your heart:
Great Compassionate One, please extend your holy hand and lead me and all other sentient beings to your Blissful Pure Realm after this life. Be our virtuous friend in all our lives and quickly lead us to buddhahood.
Think that Guru Chenrezig accepts your request and innumerable nectar beams flow into your body. All your negative karmas, obscurations, diseases, and spirit harms are instantly purified. Your body becomes as clear as crystal. Guru Chenrezig then melts into light and absorbs into you. Your body, speech, and mind become inseparably one with Guru Chenrezig’s holy body, holy speech, and holy mind.
You are in the form of Guru Chenrezig. Beams of light radiate from your body, each one with Guru Chenrezig on its tip. Guru Chenrezig comes to sit above the crown of each and every sentient being. Nectar beams flow down from each Guru Chenrezig’s heart, purifying all the negative karmas and obscurations of each sentient being. When each sentient being is completely purified, Guru Chenrezig dissolves into each one through their crown. Each sentient being becomes Chenrezig.
Concentrate on this visualization as you recite the mantra as many times as you can.
OM MANI PADME HUM
Then, dedicate the merits you have collected by doing this practice.
Due to all the past, present, and future merits collected by me and all the merits of the three times collected by the numberless buddhas and numberless sentient beings, may bodhicitta be generated in the hearts of all the sentient beings of the six realms, and especially in the hearts of everybody in this world, including all the students, benefactors, and volunteers in the FPMT organization. May it be generated in the hearts of all those who rely upon me, all those for whom I have promised to pray, and all those whose names have been given to me. May it be generated in my heart and in the hearts of all my family members, those who are living and those who have died. May the bodhicitta that has already been generated increase.
Whatever suffering transmigratory beings experience,
May it all ripen on me.
Whatever happiness and virtue I accumulate,
May it all ripen on others.
May I never be discouraged, even for a moment, from practicing the deeds of the bodhisattvas for the sake of others, by completely renouncing anything done for my own sake and by engaging in the holy actions of the kind founder, Guru SHakyamuni Buddha.
Due to all the past, present, and future merits collected by me and all the merits of the three times collected by the numberless buddhas and numberless sentient beings, which are completely empty of existing from their own side, may I, who am completely empty of existing from my own side, achieve the state of Great Compassionate One, which is completely empty of existing from its own side, and lead all sentient beings, who are completely empty of existing from their own side, to the state of Great Compassionate One, which is completely empty of existing from its own side, by myself alone, who am completely empty of existing from my own side.
Eight Verses of Thought Transformation was translated from the Tibetan and a purification by nectar beams added by Thubten Zopa, a beggar not having Dharma intoxicated by the demon of self-cherishing thought and possessing the great pride of being a Mahayanist. I have done it mainly to subdue my own mind, but also with the thought that it might help the Westerners of today, who are devoid of Dharma wisdom. There are many people whose minds are totally confused and whose lives are full of problems, with them experiencing hundreds of sufferings. What they want is peace, but what they are doing is throwing themselves over the precipice into the three lower realms.
I thought, therefore, that it would be beneficial if such people could at least see a short text such as this on the profound method of thought training—how to transform all undesired suffering into happiness and the path to enlightenment. So, I have put this text together and added a visualization of the merit field and a motivation according to the teachings of the highly accomplished, learned yogis. Precious bodhicitta teachings such as these are priceless; the benefits they bring could never be bought by even countless galaxies full of wish-fulfilling jewels.
Due to this merit, may all disease, famine, war, and all degenerations of sentient beings become completely nonexistent, and may the sprout of bodhicitta—benefiting others—quickly grow in the field of sentient beings’ minds and quickly reach fruition in the enlightenment of Great Compassionate One.
Kadampa Geshe Langri Tangpa’s Eight Verses of Thought Transformation (blo sbyong tshigs brgyad ma) was translated by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 1980, and subsequently amended at Land of Medicine Buddha, Soquel, USA, 2015, and Chag Tong Chen Tong Centre, Hobart, Australia, 2018.
This practice was originally dictated by Lama Zopa Rinpoche to Nicholas Ribush. Lama Zopa Rinpoche later augmented the original text at Kopan Monastery, Nepal. It was edited by Hermes Brandt and published in 1980 by Ven. Jampa Chökyi. Lightly edited by Ven. Constance Miller, 1997. The Taking Refuge and Generating Bodhicitta verse was added by Ven. Joan Nicell, FPMT Education Services, May 2020. Further editing by Ven. Joan Nicell and Ven. Ailsa Cameron, May 2020. Sanskrit terms transliterated by FPMT Education Services, December 2020.
1 Seeing that which is suffering as pleasure, that which is impermanent as permanent, that which is impure as pure, and that which is empty of true existence as having true existence. [Return to text]