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Thrangu Rinpoche - Lojong Mindtraining in Seven Points

Thrangu Rinpoche - Lojong Mindtraining in Seven Points

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03/23/2014

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Tibet was non-Buddhist until the eighth century when its King, Trisong Deutsen, asked
Padmasambhava to come to Tibet to introduce the Buddhist teachings there. It was
Padmasambhava, along with the Indian scholar Shantarakshita, who established Samye
Monastery in 779 C.E. To help in this endeavor, the Minister Thonmi Sambhota was sent to
India to develop a written script for the Tibetans. Thereafter, numerous Tibetans made
perilous journeys to India to bring back the dharma and translate it into Tibetan.
This text on mind training, called lojong in Tibetan, was brought to Tibet by Atisha in
the eleventh century. Atisha brought over 100 instructions to Tibet, this particular text being
compiled by one of his students who condensed it into the present form of seven points.
The Buddhism of Tibet was a combination of the Shravakayana, Mahayana, and
Vajrayana. The Shravakayana sometimes called the Hinayana was practiced in terms of
strict personal discipline and the fundamental meditation of Shamatha and Vipashyana.
The Mahayana was taught in terms of engaging in an extensive study of the emptiness
doctrine of the Middle Way (Skt. Madhyamaka) school and taking the Mahayana vow to
help all living beings reach liberation. Helping all beings was accomplished through the
practice of the six perfections (Skt. paramitas) (generosity, morality, patience,
perseverance, meditative stabilization, and wisdom). The Vajrayana was achieved through
yidam practices and the practice of examining mind directly, using Dzogchen or
Mahamudra meditation.

The study of texts on the Middle Way concerning emptiness took a minimum of a year
in the monastic college or shedra which, unlike our colleges, involved an eight to ten hour
daily study, six to seven days a week, with only a few weeks of vacation a year. The study
of the Middle Way was achieved by memorizing the root texts in the morning, then
receiving a commentary such as Thrangu Rinpoche has provided in this book in the late
morning, and then debating the points of the text in the afternoon. Sometimes these texts
were studied not just conceptually, but in conjunction with analytical meditation. At Rumtek
monastery in the Nalanda Shedra, for example, Khenpo Tsultrim Rinpoche would teach
emptiness in the morning, and in the afternoon would have the students face the outside
walls and go into a deep meditation while he would read passages from the sutras on
these topics.

Another method for actually practicing the Mahayana is Atisha’s mind training practice.
The purpose of this practice is to overcome the habitual tendency to center the world
around ourselves, and thus decrease our ego. The belief in “I” and in what we hold as
“mine” causes vast amounts of harm in the world. This habit of acting in terms of “self” and
“other” comes from placing ourselves over others in terms of our nation, our race, our
community and social class, right down to believing that we are somehow fundamentally
better than friends and even family members.
When asked whether he felt anger towards the Chinese for surrounding his camp with
machine guns when he was fleeing Tibet in 1959, opening fire on him and hundreds of
others, Thrangu Rinpoche replied “No,” because the soldiers were doing what they were
supposed to do—shoot at him—and he was doing what he was supposed to do—run for
his life.

To reverse this belief in holding our body and our ideas to be extremely important, we
must put others ahead of our own selfish, ego-clinging patterns. The Seven Points of Mind
Training constitute exactly such a practice, beginning the second we wake up and then
carrying the attitude on through-out the day as we eat, work, and socialize with others.
Practice ends at night when we examine ourselves to see if we have followed the mind
training principles. Finally, Thrangu Rinpoche has suggested that as we fall asleep we

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should do sending and taking practice.
Mind training is relevant for modern times because we do not need to go to an isolated
cave or retreat to engage in it; we can engage in it while doing all the thousands of other
things we do every day. This practice has also been condensed to a few dozen instructions
which are easy to memorize, and which are actually standards for living our daily life. They
tell us how to behave in ordinary circumstances and show us if our ego is increasing or
decreasing. In modern life, we do not usually have the time or patience to memorize long
texts, so this practice is perfectly adopted for the present day.
These teachings on the Seven Points of Mind Training were given on two different
occasions: in 1993 with Maruta Stern translating and also in 2001 in Maine with Erik
Kunsang translating. Since Rinpoche emphasized certain points in one teaching and other
points in others, we have combined the two.

Clark Johnson,

Ph.D.

10

Atisha

11

Chapter 1

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