A Commentary on Developing Deepest Bodhichitta (the Understanding of Voidness) in Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices

This is the printer-friendly version of: http: / / www.berzinarchives.com / web / en / archives / sutra / level3_lojong_material / specific_texts / 37_bodhisattva_practices / commentary_developing_deepest_bodhichitta.html (rGyal-sras lag-len so-bdun-ma) by Togmey-zangpo (Thogs-med bzang-po) His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama translated by George Dreyfus and edited by Alexander Berzin, 1978 revised by Alexander Berzin, August 2003 (22) A bodhisattva's practice is not to take to mind inherent features of objects taken and minds that take them, by realizing just how things are. No matter how things appear, they are from our own minds; and mind-itself is, from the beginning, parted from the extremes of mental fabrication. The Chittamatrins assert that everything that appears and exists, all phenomena, are of the nature of mind. Chandrakirti of the Madhyamaka school, however, asserts that everything that appears and exists is not inherently established as something by its own power. It is established as something merely by the power of how our conventional minds cognitively take it. This is conventional or superficial existence, which is therefore not ultimately true. If phenomena had an ultimate way of existing as something, inherently established in themselves, then the more we searched for this manner of existing with a mind analyzing deepest truth, the clearer it would become. But, in fact, the manner in which things appear to exist as something, inherently established in themselves, slowly fades away until no basis or foundation is found. This is not because phenomena do not exist at all, since then we would not derive any harm or benefit from them. As we do derive benefit and harm, phenomena do exist. However, we fail to find their apparent way of existing as something as a mode of existence inherently established from their own sides. Thus, it follows that phenomena do not exist as something in themselves, inherently established by their own power, but only established as something through the power of how the conventional mind cognitively takes them, which is through mental labeling. Therefore, although phenomena appear to truly and inherently exist as something, this mode of existence does not stand up to analysis. This proves that our usual way of cognizing things is deceptive and a delusion. As the Seventh Dalai Lama has said, "The objects passing through the mind of a sleeping person are but a dream. They are only appearances; there are no objects at their bases. They are merely mental appearances." If, at this moment, we were dreaming about being in Tibet, we know when we wake up that we were not actually in Tibet. Underlying our dream cognition of an appearance of Tibet, there was no actual Tibet standing at the basis, established as the place where we actually were. Similarly, ourselves, others, samsara, nirvana, all existence is only established by names and concepts. Its inherent existence, established at a basis from its own side, never existed, not

A Commentary on Developing Deepest Bodhichitta (the Understanding of Voidness) in Thirty-seven Bodhisa 1

A Commentary on Developing Deepest Bodhichitta (the Understanding of Voidness) in Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices

even an atom of it. When phenomena appear, they seem to exist inherently established as something at a basis from where they are appearing. In fact, however, they do not exist inherently established as something at some place we can point to. And yet, regarding sensory objects, everything that appears to beings like ourselves, drugged with the sleep of unawareness, seems to truly exist as something, inherently established on a basis. As the Seventh Dalai Lama continued, "Look at your drugged minds; see how they work." Yet, despite its being a deceptive appearance, this is the way in which phenomena seem to exist to beings like ourselves, deluded with the veil of unawareness over our six cognitive faculties. Whatever appears, whether large or small, whether one thing or many, seems to exist objectively, inherently established as something from its own side, and not just by the power of the names and concepts for it. Everything seems to exist inherently established as something outside us: "Look, there it is! Over there!" Nothing actually exists in that way. It is an impossible mode of existence and yet this is how it appears to us. As the Seventh Dalai Lama went on, "Thus, concerning 'me' or anything else, this manner of existence as something, established inherently in itself, which appears to the deceived mind, is the subtle object of nullification. To nullify it and eliminate it from our minds is most precious and rare." Therefore, everything that appears, pure or impure, exists conventionally established as something because of the mind. And, even mind itself, included in all existent phenomena, is not found as something, if we search examining its deepest truth. Mind exists as a continuum of moments of awareness. Awareness is always functioning, vividly. Yet, if we divide the continuum into its parts (its moments), and search, we cannot find the mind as something. The whole does not exist as something established separately from its parts, and a part cannot be the whole. The parts and the whole are something different. After breaking it down, and taking away the parts, the whole cannot survive as something. The whole exists as something seemingly in the parts, yet when we search, we cannot find it. We cannot say confidently, "Here it is." Therefore, the mind has been, without beginning, beyond the extremes of existing inherently established as something and totally not existing as anything [existing independently on its own as a blank nothing or totally not existing at all]. It is non-inherently existent [it is not existing inherently established as anything]. Thus, the Seventh Dalai Lama continued, "A basis (of samsaric and nirvanic existence) is always just an interpolation projected by our minds. Mind also, if analyzed, is without a true arising and without a true perishing. The nature of the how things actually exist is amazing." Therefore, everything that appears and exists, samsara and nirvana, is of the nature of mind and mind itself lacks a true arising and a true perishing. Moreover, the person possessing a mind also lacks a true arising and a true perishing. As one great master said, "I am a yogi of space, lacking an arising. Nothing truly exists. I am a great dealer in falsehoods, who sees all appearances, hears all sounds as a grand illusion. What is amazing is the unified pair of appearance and voidness (emptiness). I have found the certainty of undeceiving dependent arising."To this yogi dealer in falsehoods, all appearances and sounds seem to exist inherently established as something and yet, at the same time,

A Commentary on Developing Deepest Bodhichitta (the Understanding of Voidness) in Thirty-seven Bodhisa 2

A Commentary on Developing Deepest Bodhichitta (the Understanding of Voidness) in Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices

nothing exists inherently established as anything. If everything truly existed inherently established as something, there could never be any contradictions. But, for example, a tree in spring has beautiful foliage and blossoms, yet in the winter it is bare and ugly. If beauty existed inherently established in the tree, it should always remain there and never transform into ugliness. It is the same with people who sometimes seem beautiful and sometimes ugly. If their beauty existed inherently established in them, it could never change into ugliness. In addition, if our defiled minds existed inherently established as defiled, they could never be transformed one day into the completely purified, omniscient minds of Buddhas. However, what is defiled can become undefiled; what is ugly can become beautiful. This shows that nothing exists inherently established as what it appears to be. For a basis existing inherently established as something, changes based on cause and effect would be impossible. Yet, there is cause and effect, and there is good and bad. Therefore, these categories and qualities can only be applied based on non-inherently established existence. These categories and qualities can never be applied to bases inherently existing as something. The fact that contradictory categories and qualities can be applied to one and the same phenomenon prove that the phenomenon does not exist inherently established as something. Therefore, "what is amazing is the unified pair of appearance and voidness." Things manifestly appear in various ways, but their actual natures are that they are devoid of existing inherently established as what they appear to be. Therefore, they change according to circumstances. They appear in various ways to different minds and at different times, which means that their voidness of inherent existence does not negate their appearance and their appearance does not negate their voidness. Because the nature of phenomena is that they are devoid of inherent existence, they appear in various ways, and because they appear in various ways, they are devoid of inherent existence. My understanding of these points is not very good, but I am trying to improve. These are very difficult issues and we have to accustom our minds to them. Sometimes we need to meditate on voidness, sometimes on appearance, and do so in a balanced way. Hopefully, one day voidness and appearance will arise in our minds as supporting each other. "What is amazing is the unified pair," as the master called it whose name I cannot remember at the moment. What I want to convey is that if all phenomena existed inherently established as something by themselves, independently of anything else, they would always exist permanently as that. But, when we analyze matters correctly, we find that things do not exist at all in that impossible way. If definite certainty about that conclusion dawns in our minds, the deceptive appearance of their previously vivid way of seeming to exist suddenly collapses without support; it falls away. Previously, seeming to have strong support, it suddenly dissolves with nothing behind it. If we keep our minds gently dwelling on the collapse of this deceptive appearance, we will gradually be able to swear, from the depths of our hearts, to our certainty of an absolute absence of this impossible way of existing. If our power of concentration is not too strong, we cannot stay focused for long on this absence and our certainty about it, but even if only for a short moment, it is extremely beneficial. In that short moment, the previously vivid appearance of this deceptive way of existing collapses and just the nonimplicative nullification, the absolute absence of inherent existence is left. At that time, there is no chance for other appearances to dawn in our minds.

A Commentary on Developing Deepest Bodhichitta (the Understanding of Voidness) in Thirty-seven Bodhisa 3

We then understand that our usual way of cognizing all phenomena has been false and deluded. It appears to be beautiful ." As has been said. in order to stop strong attachment or hatred for things. "Like the cognitive sensors of the body. This is a new way of ridding ourselves of attachment. but to see everything without interpolation or exaggeration. Here. this absolute absence or voidness. clinging to it as inherently beautiful will not arise. we won't be deceived. attachment to it due to unawareness will not arise. for instance. it does stop too strong an attachment to it. and (thus) to rid ourselves of clinging and attachment. is called space-like deep awareness. "Not seeing is the supreme seeing. this does not mean that we reject all appearances and mentally deny them. Attachment is always backed by unawareness and grasping for inherent existence.A Commentary on Developing Deepest Bodhichitta (the Understanding of Voidness) in Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices "Ceasing to conceive of any appearance of a consciousness taking an object and an object taken. their actual way of existing. When we realize voidness. and having no other appearances manifest. conventionally and relatively. When we realize that their appearance is deceptive. when meeting with pleasing objects.but we don't see it as inherently beautiful. to keep our minds absorbed in this bare nullification. When we realize voidness. this does not stop us from seeing the conventional or relative attractiveness. if we have realized the actual nature of something first. when we encounter an attractive object. The aim of gaining the realization of voidness is to stop the interpolation of inherent existence that our grasping for inherent existence projects onto objects when our minds make objects appear." Therefore. and thereby to stop strong desire and attachment. So. after we arise from voidness meditation. as beautiful. (23) A bodhisattva's practice is through. When we see something attractive. We need to stop projecting this interpolation of things existing inherently established as something. but understand its actual abiding nature. If we know how to deal with something that appears to be other than it is. abide in this absence (voidness). "Any attachment or aversion is accompanied by disturbing unawareness. But. it becomes for us like a rainbow in summer. Thus. If we slowly lose this grasping of the object as inherently beautiful. A Commentary on Developing Deepest Bodhichitta (the Understanding of Voidness) in Thirty-seven Bodhisa 4 . and such meditation certainly is very beneficial.and. we get rid of it by realizing that the object lacks existence inherently established. The purpose of realizing voidness is to know the proper way of coping with existence. this destroys our attachment. the point is not to reject everything. I believe that must be the aim or purpose of voidness meditation. even though they appear beautifully like a summer's rainbow. Afterwards. unawareness is enclosed within us. it may be beautiful . it makes a great difference to our way of dealing with it. Consequently. In previous verses of these Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices. although an object appears to be beautiful. Illusion-like deep awareness is for dealing with conventional phenomena during subsequent attainment (post-meditation) periods. we see the actual abiding nature of all phenomena. we meditate on voidness. as we see that it lacks inherent existence as beautiful and is impermanent." Therefore." As Aryadeva has said in his Four Hundred Stanzas. not to regard them as truly existent. we got rid of attachment by realizing that the object of our attachment is impure. we know how to respond accordingly. All the disturbing emotions and attitudes that exist can be conquered only by defeating unawareness. With space-like deep awareness.

html Links 5 . The first method is a temporary solution. [See: Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama {1}. and if we can have strong certainty about and see clearly the actual nature of the object. If we realize the deceptive false nature of the object of our attachment.] (24) A bodhisattva's practice is.com / web / en / archives / sutra / level3_lojong_material / specific_texts / 37_bodhisattva_practices / short_commentary_thirty_seven_bodhi / short_commentary_37_bodhisattva_practices_01. at the time when meeting with adverse conditions. this helps us to stop our hatred. Therefore. this will greatly help to stop our attachment to it altogether. Links {1} http: / / www. for various sufferings are like the death of our child in a dream and to take (such) deceptive appearances to be true is a tiresome waste.A Commentary on Developing Deepest Bodhichitta (the Understanding of Voidness) in Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices If we practice both methods. it has a great effect. To approach an unpleasant circumstance in this way is the practice of a bodhisattva. It suppresses our attachment.berzinarchives. to see them as deceptive. but does not eradicate it. Hatred can arise from unpleasant circumstances or suffering. and see it as though it were only illusion. if we realize that such suffering lacks inherent existence.

A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices .

.....................1 Day One.............................................................................A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices Table of Contents A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices..........................11 Setting the Motivation.................................................................................................................................................................................................................................20 Developing a Bodhichitta Aim.................................................................25 Developing Deepest Bodhichitta........................................................................................................................31 i ...............................................................9 Day Two...............................................................................5 Buddhism Based on Reason and Practice .................................................................................11 Practical Advice to the Visitors from Tibet.................................11 Taking Advantage of Being in a Holy Place...............................................................................28 Conclusion...............................................7 ................................................................................17 Refraining from Destructive Behavior...............................30 Links.............................19 Working for Liberation ......................................................................................................................................................................................2 Bringing About Mental Happiness.....................................................................................................................................15 Safe Direction (Refuge)..................................................................8 The Promise to Compose .............................................................................1 Taming the Mind...............................................................................................................23 Two Critical Situations Requiring Dharma Practice...........................................24 Overcoming Hostility and Attachment.................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................12 The Circumstances Most Conducive for Taking Advantage of a Precious Human Life.......... The Initial Salutation...............................................................................................................13 Impermanence.............................................................................................................................3 The Four Noble Truths........ the Realization of Voidness .....................................6 Reaffirming a Mahayana Motivation.5 The Three Supreme Gems..........................................................................................................................................................................................7 The Text.....................................................................................12 The Precious Human Life...........................................................................................................7 The Outstanding Features of the Author of the Text.............................................................27 A Bodhisattva's Daily Practice...........17 Day Three.................................................................................................................17 Reaffirming Our Motivation and Review ....................21 Exchanging Self with Others........................14 The Importance of Having Proper Friends..........................................................................................22 Bodhisattva Behavior: Dealing with Harms..26 The Six Far-Reaching Attitudes..................1 Motivation......................................................................

The fully enlightened Buddha. The times at present are very difficult with many wars. Furthermore. Order directly from Paljor Publications {1}. fully enlightened Buddha demonstrated his enlightenment here in Bodh Gaya 2. we need to try to practice what we hear. I shall teach here in Bodh Gaya Thirty-Seven Bodhisattva Practices by Togmey-zangpo and The Three Principle Paths by Jey Tsongkhapa.com / web / x / nav / group. but for the lama or guru as well.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices This is the printer-friendly version of: http: / / www. as much as we can. and you have all come for the Dharma purpose of listening to teachings. Dharamsala. As we are in a very holy place. the Compassionate One. Nevertheless. such that he always has nonconceptual straightforward cognition of voidness and. famines. We cannot consider as Dharma simply praying to receive something. has a body with thirty-two major and eighty minor features and a faculty of speech with sixty enlightening characteristics. simultaneously. his mind is free from all disturbing emotions and attitudes and from all obscurations. March 2006 First edition published in His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. rather. The Dharma. have had precious opportunities to encounter the teachings and gurus. of all phenomena exactly as they are. 1983. Such a compassionate. but rather implementing what we say A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices 1 . however.html (rGyal-sras lag-len so-bdun-ma) by Togmey-zangpo (Thogs-med bzang-po) His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama translated and condensed by Alexander Berzin. Therefore. disasters and so on. 1983 revised second edition.html_854076554. even under such trying conditions. Day One Motivation Many people are here today from various different places. we have been born at such a time and place and. This is necessary not only for the listeners to the teachings.500 years ago and we are all in this very place now. Four Essential Buddhist Commentaries. we need to have a very widespread and extensive motivation and attitude. even Tibet. the positive force or merit built up here is much more powerful than elsewhere. is something we ourselves need personally to put into action.berzinarchives. But for this positive force to be most effective. concerning the development of a bodhichitta resolve and so forth. It is not just taking safe direction (refuge) by our mouths reciting some words. Therefore. India: Library of Tibetan Works & Archives. due to our previously built-up positive force.

For the lama. we can slowly improve. if we are trying to make a very wild and unruly person more peaceful and cultivated. the first grade. it needs to be the same. at our own levels. Thus. they do not know anything. Rather it means to change our attitudes and tame our own minds. and eventually through this gradual process they learn and become educated. The lama must not teach out of pride or in order to gain fame and respect. But they go through the various classes at school. In so doing. We will find that gradually we improve each year. No matter who we might be . But first it is necessary to know how to do this. Thus. we do it story by story. and especially with the Mahayana Dharma. We do it gradually without worrying about how long it will take. they are completely uneducated. respecting everyone here. The same is true with our minds. it will not be as effective and that will never do. then very slowly we will be able to resolve our problems and. This is the reason why we need to be followers of the Buddha not just by our mouths. As for setting our motivation. It will create more happiness. it is extremely beneficial and we can all build up much positive force. the happier we become. many years. Most critical for this is to set a proper motivation. eventually. Since the mind. At first. If we have an extensive and very positive one. The same is true when we build a house. we need to take keen interest in the teachings and involve ourselves with their combined study and practice. floor by floor. we can only succeed slowly and gradually over many. and slowly we will be able to improve it through stages as described in the "Lamrim" or "Graded Path. As the suffering we experience is due to our minds not being disciplined or tamed. while here in Bodh Gaya where we have the opportunity of meeting with the Dharma. all beings. we need to try to do this as best as we can. but needs to listen attentively and respectfully to receive the precious teachings of the Buddha. the Dalai Lama .A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices into our daily behavior. But if we practice without such a motivation. there is great benefit to be gained. this is what we need to remedy. We need to apply this same attitude when dealing with our minds. Taming the Mind To practice Dharma is not a process of simply changing clothes." Most of you know about this. his sole motivation needs to be to benefit others as much as he can. and just progress straightforwardly through the various stages involved until we complete the task. but rather by our practice. second and so on. status or the amount of wealth we have.I cannot be considered a Dharma person Motivation 2 . Dharma is something that the more we engage in. we can succeed if we set our minds to cleansing themselves. We can see a similar phenomenon with children.even myself. without condescendingly looking down upon any. or a wish to compete with others. it is important to try to build up as much positive force as possible. it is necessary to apply remedies to them and not be discouraged. For example. If both the lama and the disciples behave properly and carefully in this way. No matter what disturbing emotions and attitudes we have. but for the new people here I shall explain a little about some of its main points. nor out of envy. by nature. Although we have faults. also. Rather. But it will not come about all at once. This occurs as a result of our network of positive force (collection of merit) from the various constructive actions we perform. be rid of them forever. The audience also must not be arrogant. is not stained by these disturbing emotions and attitudes.

Even if we are rich. first we try to feed it. First. In our more usual pursuit of happiness. Therefore. In short. We progress through such stages. the stronger our suffering will be. If we are envious or jealous. clothing. superficial level. In fact. Even if we are very healthy and strong. the most important and crucial point is to tame our minds. we need both physical and mental happiness. we need to try to see that the root of this is the mind. we have to do it in stages suited to that particular beast. but only because of his or her actual mental and emotional condition. and the more suffering we have. however they also have numerous mental problems such as depression. if we have a headache. Therefore. Therefore. But the reason for being a human is not just that. what Taming the Mind 3 . But many stages are involved in eliminating unwanted suffering and obtaining desired happiness. we try to think in terms of benefiting ourselves for this coming year. we seek food. For instance. the happier we will be. If we do not use our minds and think. whether it be anger. if we need to think about love and compassion. since it rules us. are we happy or unhappy? We are unhappy. All of us want happiness and nobody wishes to suffer. the more unhappy we are. shelter and so forth for our bodies. if our minds are unhappy this will not be enough. does not wish to be rid of it. we find that wealthy people can still have a great deal of mental suffering. for instance. There is not one of us who. is our strongest disturbing emotion. It works both ways. If we are bitter and angry about Tibet. they want mental happiness above all and in addition to their physical pleasures. or for the next year. we will be unable to bring ourselves happiness. the more we act on them. then the angrier we become. no matter what disturbing emotions are our strongest. for instance. This demonstrates that although they have material comfort and wealth. we have to help ourselves by stages. the more we think about them. what we need to rid our minds of. Then eventually we increase our scope to think in terms of twenty years ahead and then maybe to try to gain a human rebirth for our next lifetime. And we can never say someone has such a mind simply because of the name he has or the clothes he wears. Likewise the same applies to us. If anger. it is very important to think ahead and not to do so just on a temporary. The weaker these are. the emphasis needs to be on bringing about happiness of the mind. We can see this very clearly in the West. As all of us want this happiness and wish to eliminate our sufferings.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices unless my mind is tamed. This counters our anger and brings about peace of mind. All of you here need to examine yourselves. Therefore. but to try to attain ultimate happiness. a good heart and kind thoughts bring us happiness. It is not something that happens all at once. we need to think about what we need to eliminate. and that wealth alone does not bring both. Thus. There are many people who have much money and physical comfort. Of these. for instance. jealousy or whatever. Even in trying to help or tame an animal and bring it some happiness. Thus. the mind is more important. For instance. now that we are human beings. Bringing About Mental Happiness But what brings about this happiness of mind? It comes through the channel of our thoughts. desire. unclear minds and various miserable states. it is very clear. mistreating it and so forth. hoping to gain happiness and not to have suffering on a more long-term basis. Therefore. we refrain from frightening it. we find a lot of people there taking drugs and medicine to try to improve this state. as an opponent. Isn't that so? This is true of both physical and mental pain. pride. the stronger our attachment and aversion are.

we will never be happy so long as we are jealous or envious. But even if they come up. our minds become more and more tamed and in this way we become happier. As for myself. for instance. we find that we are able to enjoy life more. very famous. Thus. we will not derive any happiness from them at all. as a bonus. the more unhappiness there is. If we are in a restaurant. the Dalai Lama here.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices happens? All of us must die in the end. when your disturbing emotions are weaker and you are doing something constructive here. for instance. are we happy like that? Is that a happy state of mind? It definitely is not. If you are very angry and become cross with your children. I think quite a bit about the drawbacks of the disturbing emotions and attitudes. No one can stay in the same condition forever: we cannot always remain young and youthful. the next best thing we find is that we no longer act them out. we will eventually lose. then. then you let the children play and everybody is very happy and peaceful. it certainly does not fill our stomachs! If we think of ourselves.it makes everybody unhappy. Thus slowly. we find that the opponents become stronger and stronger. we find that if detachment and tolerance are widely practiced. Your state of mind even affects your neighbors. they cry . we can understand this even more clearly. Do you understand? If we Bringing About Mental Happiness 4 . Therefore. then we become very happy. and also the advantages of not having any. therefore. If we think about our situation these days in Bodh Gaya. The same is true with pride. it is best if we never become angry at all. So if we spend our entire lives acting out our disturbing emotions. The more disturbing emotions there are. For instance. we need to try to not act them out. over a gradual process. the Tibetans. our food tastes better and everything goes very nicely. all the bad things that they bring me. Whatever we are proud of. what does this bring us? It brings us only unhappiness. we need to try never to have our disturbing emotions of anger. As we will never be able to satisfy completely our jealous desires. he can even go down in history. In a country. for instance. the less the disturbing emotions. then everyone shares in the happiness of that place. But what has such a person attained? He has merely attained his name's going down in history. for instance. so we will never be able to retain the aims of our envy. But if our minds are filled with disturbing emotions. friends. and children. In short. this will not bring us happiness. the more the happiness. you hit them. and are envious of the good meal that someone else is eating. We will not punch someone in the face. recitations or whatever. or call him or her a bad name. attachment and so forth arise. if you are very relaxed. he is dead. are you happy then? Think about it. This helps me very much in putting the emphasis in my own life on having less disturbing emotions. but should our tempers flare up. Even with the. whereas. pride as well is a very unhappy state of mind. As beginners. He has not become happy. we will not act it out. But even if they do. we find that if we have tamed our minds. families and for countries. even if we are doing meditations. if our minds are tamed and we have no disturbing emotions or attitudes. Therefore. are you happy at that moment? On the other hand. Such a person may become very powerful. or have any such crude reaction. doesn't it? But if you are not angry. Think of somebody whose main activity of life is to act out his attachments and aversions. Then. no matter how wealthy and powerful we become. as well. Consider a family situation. This holds true for individual people. we need always to try to think of how disadvantageous the disturbing emotions are. if you are in such a holy place and become angry with a beggar or angry at the difficult physical conditions. the best thing that can happen as a result of taming our minds is that disturbing emotions and attitudes will not arise at all. if we feel angry and envious of the Chinese.

Therefore. or causing them to stop forever. If we eliminate the disturbing emotions altogether. but these will not eliminate our old age and death. sickness. true stoppings and true pathway minds. As there are many stages in the process of ridding ourselves of disturbing emotions and attitudes. we wish for their true stopping. for instance. true sufferings and their true causes. what we need to do is to cause our disturbing emotions and attitudes to cease into the dharmadhatu or sphere of voidness. not ultimate cures. But these are only temporary aids. for eliminating each of these. through the work of farmers. we also work to attain more and more qualities. peace. Thus. For true sufferings. What is the root of this suffering? The root is an untamed mind. as are the karmic impulses that arise under the power of these disturbing emotions. since during the process of eliminating the various disturbing emotions and attitudes. this is a Dharma practice. Engaging in Dharma needs to be not just obeying our parents' words like an obedient child. are on the liberating or pure side.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices tame our minds. The result of this is then the attainment of a definite stopping. The Four Noble Truths There are Four Noble Truths: true sufferings. and to enact this. In short. we The Four Noble Truths 5 . Do you understand? The Three Supreme Gems Many factors are involved in eliminating suffering. and more specifically. Therefore. In short. if we attain a state of true stopping (cessation) or peace. their true causes. this is in fact the actual Dharma. cold and so forth and. we engage in Dharma practice because we wish to eliminate our own suffering and for that reason we follow the instructions of what a teacher tells us to do in order to tame our own minds. "the state beyond sorrow. This is known as the nirvana of a true stopping. we would rely on doctors and medicine. the disturbing emotions and attitudes are said to be true causes or true origins of suffering. Thus. it is the disturbing emotions and attitudes. there is true suffering. true stoppings and true pathway minds. Since we want to bring about a true stopping of that suffering such that it never arises again. and the second two. and afterwards he taught the Four Noble Truths. For instance. we need to see that the cause of this suffering is our having untamed minds. old age and so forth. it is disturbing emotions and karma that are true causes of suffering." and this brings us lasting happiness. or a state of nirvana. The Buddha said it is very important to be aware of suffering. If we are sick. it has a true cause. we can take medicine to make us strong. as all of us do not wish for any suffering and want only to eliminate it. More precisely. We can see then that the motivation for Dharma practice is not like. this process entails what is known as the true pathway minds of the Aryas or Noble Ones. we would rely on different types of methods or work. there are the sufferings of hunger. then it is not Dharma. are on the deluded or impure side. the minds that eliminate disturbing emotions and faults on the one side and attain good qualities on the other are known as true pathway minds. we can eliminate our hunger and cold. The first two then. For the suffering of sickness. we need to actualize true pathway minds. when a child listens to a parent and does what he is told simply because the parent has told him to do that. Rather. This is what the Buddha demonstrated here in Bodh Gaya by his example. but if we do not. we can think of the various types of unhappiness: of death. merchants and so forth.

we accept the words of the Buddha not on blind faith. but solely in our own. If we pray to this God. Therefore. in order to develop this Dharma Gem on our own mental continuums. Happiness comes from positive or constructive actions. Islam. This word religion has the connotation of a system in which a Creator God is accepted. But actually. If the treatment does not work. Doctors examine individual patients and then prescribe the medicine suited to each. the actual refuge or safe direction is in the Dharma. Thus. In short. Such people are known as the Sangha Gem. he gave the complete teachings. It is just a matter of us practicing what Buddha preached. Furthermore. we will eliminate our suffering and attain happiness. we have many logical proofs for phenomena such as rebirth and only after we have examined the issue can we accept them. then it is acceptable. and the Sangha community helps set the example. by the above definition. Buddha is like a teacher and not a creator God. If something is not in accord with reason and reality. nor. we need to try to eliminate them as much as possible. Therefore. that will never do. Many religions. we need to try to act in this way as much as we can. We must always base our beliefs on reasoning. we are atheists too. we accept them. For instance. Buddha is the one who shows the path of what is to be accepted and what is to be rejected. We can understand this from the example of medicine. and Buddhism is a religion.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices cannot obtain the ultimate elimination of the sufferings of birth. we accept Three Supreme Gems. only a fool would say that the fault lies with the science of medicine. the Dharma is the actual safe direction. say that they are atheists. by ordinary means. If they are reasonable. by eliminating the disturbing emotions and so forth from our own minds. for that matter. Buddhism Based on Reason and Practice In English. it is commonly said that Buddhism is atheistic. Judaism. "religion" is often used as a word for translating the Tibetan term for Dharma. however. even if some methods can bring us temporary relief. which is something we need to develop on our own mental continuums. It is not very complicated. In other words. the Buddha shows the safe direction to put in our lives. Unlike the religions that accept only one Jewel of Refuge. then we don't. not in God's. If something can be established by logic. and so forth. since unhappiness comes from negative destructive actions. There is no one single God or Jewel of Refuge that is going to give us happiness and eliminate our suffering. But this is not how Buddha explained. but only after we have examined them carefully. But if it is only based on blind faith. do not accept it. namely God. old age and death. Our fate lies in our own hands. accept a God who is the creator of happiness and suffering. we need helpers to provide examples and assist in this process. On the other hand. Buddha said that our suffering and happiness are not in God's hands. Therefore. A smart The Three Supreme Gems 6 . the Buddhists are religious. and if not. Christianity. such as some of the Hindu sects. and not really a religion. In addition. do not just say " I believe. The Chinese." The main point is to analyze by logic and reason. When Buddha spoke in the past. add to it or improve it. What Buddha taught then was the path of cause and effect. Our karma or behavior is what creates our happiness and suffering. then. sickness. There is no need to revise what he said. in Buddha's. Therefore. he will grant us happiness.

we need at least not to harm them. to do this properly. Likewise. Togmey-zangpo is one who comes to mind immediately as an example. we need to do so. for instance. As he wrote about these thirty-seven practices in order to help us all. we will see that the confusion does not lie in the sources themselves. which was two generations before Tsongkhapa. For this. this would never do. Whenever anyone came to listen to his teachings. does it? In the Mahayana teachings. the same is true with Buddhism There are no faults in the Tripitaka or Three Baskets. we need to try to examine these teachings over and again. and calm. As a child. the emphasis is that even if we cannot help others. he became a monk and studied with and relied on various lamas. and not because of the science of medicine itself.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices person will realize that the reason the medicine did not work for him is because of the medical practitioner. He practiced both sutra and tantra and became a very learned. now listen to The Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices as written here by the bodhisattva Togmey-zangpo. Tenzin-gyeltsen. we do accord our actions with them. as explained in the lam-rim graded path. This is the Buddhist message. Do you understand? Reaffirming a Mahayana Motivation The main practice. It never says anywhere that we need to become angry with anyone. In Hinayana. we need to try to examine ourselves in terms of these thirty-seven practices and see if. for instance. then certainly we need never to harm them. With such a motivation. mostly two specific teachers. if we try to think of a bodhisattva. then. Therefore. If we examine. the emphasis in both is on how to help and be of benefit to others. we need a correct motivation. Thus. we find teachings for individuals of the three different scopes of motivation. the texts of Buddha's direct teachings. realized practitioner. Eventually. We say we are Mahayana practitioners. In fact. but if we do not always examine the actual Mahayana practices. in fact. he would even become cross at people if they did not help others. is taming the mind. Our bodhichitta resolve is to work to attain enlightenment in order to be able to benefit all beings. The main point in mind in Mahayana is helping others. isn't it? Thus. from an early age. Therefore. what we need to do is to practice properly as is stated in these various sources. and if we cannot. The Text I shall now give just a short commentary on this text. we need to have a pure. The Outstanding Features of the Author of the Text Togmey-zangpo lived at the time of Buton Rinpoche. doesn't he? He was such type of great person. truly a special being. I have received its lineage from Kunu Lama Rinpoche. Buddha gave both Hinayana and Mahayana teachings. they would become very subdued. we need to listen to teachings and. He was a lama mostly trained in the Sakya tradition and. He was most famous for his development of bodhichitta and this he did mostly through the teachings on equalizing and exchanging self with others. was famous for being primarily interested in helping others. quiet. warm and kind heart. and he received this from the prior Dzogchen Rinpoche in Buddhism Based on Reason and Practice 7 . We need to try then to set a bodhichitta resolve as our motivation. We need to learn from this. it also says we need to try to ignore our own selfish purposes and work for the sake of the masses of others. If we can help others. Among them.

Thus. Skt. we need a network of positive force to achieve the Form Bodies of a Buddha and a network of deep awareness (collection of wisdom) to attain a Buddha's mind. building up positive force. the prostration is to him. the six perfections. Seeing that all phenomena have no coming or going. Bodhisattvacharya-avatara). The sources for these teachings are Shantideva's Engaging in Bodhisattva Behavior (sPyod-'jug. Obeisance to Lokeshvara. To the supreme gurus and the Guardian Avalokiteshvara who. I prostrate always respectfully. When we examine the conventional truth of things. namely Form Bodies and a Dharmakaya or Deep Awareness Body Encompassing Everything. The Initial Salutation This first verse presents the first to these two sections. As a result. the omniscient mind of a Buddha. to set the seeds and instincts for us to be able to meet with and study Sanskrit in the future. This is just a little background history and this copy. we need to have built up the causes that are in similar categories to the results. Mahayanasutra-alamkara). the author gives his name Lokeshvara in Sanskrit. Also. speech and mind. The prostration is to Avalokiteshvara as inseparable from the gurus and is made with the three gateways of body. referred to here as Lokeshvara. we are able to attain an enlightenment that has both a physical and a mental aspect. To attain these two. Maitreya's Filigree for the Mahayana Sutras (mDo-sde rgyan. 2. Obeisance is to Avalokiteshvara. However. What are these good qualities? The root of Mahayana is the bodhichitta aim. Make efforts singly for the benefit of wandering beings. the conclusion. we need to practice the six far-reaching attitudes. To accomplish these aims. through my three gateways. At the beginning. the promise to compose. This is a mind aimed at enlightenment with the intention to attain it and to do so in order to be able to benefit all limited beings. The basis for these is the two truths. The text is divided into three sections: 1. 3.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices the province of Kham. if we examine the deepest truth about them. Ratnamala). The reason for making such prostration is the good qualities of such an object of reverence. the initial salutation. Skt. the actual teachings. things do in fact come and go. in fact. and since Avalokiteshvara is its embodiment. and Nagarjuna's Precious Garland (Rin-chen ' phreng-ba. Lokeshvara is someone who sees that all phenomena have no coming or going. I brought with me from Lhasa. building up positive force is divided into two sections: 1. Skt. at the beginning. As the root of enlightenment is compassion. the initial salutation. 2. their coming and going are not established as truly and The Text 8 .

the sources of benefit and happiness. the verse refers to the Buddhas as the sources of benefit and happiness. going. Therefore. we too shall be able to obtain happiness. and therefore he is compassionately aimed at eliminating that suffering or making it go. Because everything dependently arises. Neither causes nor effects have inherent existence. Since causes have no inherent existence . abiding and so forth.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices inherently existent comings and goings. and from constructive actions as a cause. once he attained enlightenment. without either being missing. Do you understand? The Promise to Compose The next verse is the promise to compose. he sees that the suffering of all beings arises or comes from their disturbing emotions and attitudes.their effects must likewise be devoid of such an impossible way of existing. Thus. Specifically. Then. he sees that all phenomena arise from cause and effect. suffering arises as a result. things have no true coming. Buddha taught the various methods to do this and we ourselves need to practice in the same way as he did. As Nagarjuna has said. Have come about from (their) having actualized the hallowed Dharma. everything is devoid of inherent existence. Thus. because everything is devoid. and the object of prostration here sees that this is the case with all living beings. to make it go away. In other words. his compassion is therefore aimed at them solely for the purpose of helping to show them the way to eliminate their suffering. From disturbing emotions and attitudes as a cause. Buddha first developed a bodhichitta aim to reach enlightenment in order to benefit everyone. he sees everything as cause and effect. both the wisdom and method sides are indicated here since we need both together. then. Thus. the two sides of wisdom and method are praised here in regard to Lokeshvara. the phrase " Seeing that all phenomena have no coming or going" refers to voidness and the fact that the object of prostration here is someone who understands or sees voidness with straightforward nonconceptual cognition. his single aim has been to benefit all. Thus. The Initial Salutation 9 . the dependently arising nature of all phenomena is established as being noninherently existent. Thus. He tamed his own mind. Because he sees everything as void. I shall explain a bodhisattva's practice. For example. we can see these two sides. If we practice as he taught. And because everything is devoid of inherent existence. having realized that he needed to eliminate all his own disturbing emotions and attitudes to do so and that this is what everyone needs to do to be able to attain true happiness. Lokeshvara sees that everything is devoid of inherent existence and. there is such a thing as cause and effect. happiness arises as a result. everything dependently arises by a process of cause and effect. he has compassion for everyone to take them out of their suffering. since that depended on (their) having known what its practices are. From the salutary verse. Since the coming of suffering dependently arises from disturbing emotions and destructive actions. Moreover.they are devoid of inherent existence . they are established as depending on each other. Fully enlightened Buddhas.

he became enlightened. he became enlightened by relying on various causes. we say that I am sick. In America. or are clear about or aware of something. we do not say that our eye consciousness sees it. we can attain the same. Therefore. a shape. If our bodies become sick. Therefore. it is something like a clear space. practiced their teachings. is not a form. then. The implication of these expressions is either that I am a mind consciousness or that I am a body.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices The Buddha himself was not enlightened from the beginning. Its definition is just a mere clarity and awareness. He relied on his own gurus. Therefore. it is very important to eliminate the obscurations or veils that are over it causing us our various disturbing emotions and suffering. The Promise to Compose 10 . which arises simultaneously with the winds. we see doctors even prescribing meditation in order to improve people's health. Thus. based on that we say. A Buddha is not someone who is enlightened from the beginning. it follows that future ones do also. So "I" cannot be just a body. it is the case that I am a mind that is dependent on a body. which is just mere clarity and awareness unobscured. It is by such lines of reasoning that we establish or prove the existence of past lifetimes. is something that has this nature of mere clarity and awareness. Therefore. it needs. the latter type of mind is something we can definitely attain ourselves. if we examine closely. "Oh. But what about this "I" just being the mind? Let us look at the nature of the mind. When we know something. As this mere clarity and awareness that we have is something having continuity and which will go on in future lives. "I know that thing. as its immediate cause. In removing them. then. If we think about it. a very empty space in which all appearances have ceased and in which the awareness of anything can arise or dawn as a mere clarity and awareness within that clear space. Maybe. When we go to see a doctor." But it is very difficult to identify precisely what the mind is. in some famous hospitals. But. is the same. but that I myself do. our bodies are first formed in our mothers' wombs and they end when they decompose with our deaths. nor a color. we become able to reach the natural basis of consciousness. Yet when we see a body in the distance. This is what can become the omniscient mind of a Buddha. for instance. The "I. is not just his body. By the process of eliminating all his disturbing emotions and attitudes. It is not something physical that has any color or shape. We need to try to understand how we have both bodies and minds. But that person. the doctor says. For such a phenomenon to arise. for instance. we say. The mind. it is necessary for there to be a prior moment of mere clarity and awareness to act as a cause for the first moment of clarity and awareness at the instant of conception. and tamed his mind. if we do the same. drops and so on of the subtle body at the first moment of conception. something that exists in the same nature or in the same category as it itself does. he reached his attainment by practicing and having actualized the hallowed Dharma. a Fully Enlightened Being. And if past lives exist." however. "Is your body well?" but obviously we are not just our bodies. as the basis in our own minds and in that of an Enlightened Being. or in an omniscient mind. I see my friend" and we become very happy. He rid himself (abandoned) what is necessary to get rid of and attained what is necessary to attain. obviously there needs to be some relationship between the body and mind for them to give that type of non-physical prescription. When our eye consciousness sees something.

it is extremely precious to have the opportunity to follow the Buddha's teachings of compassion. Look at the many Westerners who are here among us. and then train ourselves in a path that suits us. Bodh Gaya. At such a time. old age. recite prayers. Also. when Day Two 11 . Thus. " That depended on their having known what its practices are". What we need to practice is renunciation. there is no way that money can buy freedom from death. For example. As being in such a place so conducive for constructive behavior and thought is really quite rare. see what our dispositions are. the greater the positive force we build up. and other basic problems. although selling goods is not forbidden. and of all the various traditions. It is necessary to put it into practice and actualize it once we know what the Dharma practices are. the sources of benefit and happiness. we need to try to build up as much positive force here as possible. and know quite a lot. " Fully enlightened Buddhas. we can see that this is a very precious and important opportunity to be in such a holy place as this. bodhichitta. we are at a special place here where the Buddha manifested his enlightenment and where many enlightened beings have been. do not be greedy or dishonest. So if we. They have come because of their sincere interest in Buddhism. proper motivation. have a strong. and if we pray hard. Here we become mindful of all the great acts. Although there is so much wealth in the world. This is a special characteristic of this holy spot. although the conditions there are so difficult. and voidness. then with much joyful perseverance and proper practice. Although it is all right to receive some profit from your sales. Day Two Taking Advantage of Being in a Holy Place As I explained yesterday. All of us here are very fortunate. have come about from their having actualized the hallowed Dharma". They meditate. we can build up much positive force also. it is not sufficient merely to know about the Dharma. Thus. I shall leave the text here for today. Sanggyay-yeshey came here long ago from Kham and became the abbot of its monastery. even more than elsewhere. you need to take full advantage of being in such a holy place now to gain much positive strength. Especially for those of you who have come here from Tibet. it is very important to follow spiritual methods. Seeing their examples. How can we ourselves do this? It says.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices Thus. for instance. cannot eliminate that mental suffering. Many others arrived also from all different lands and. do practice. The more constructive things we do here. then external circumstances. received many insights. Do you understand? Practical Advice to the Visitors from Tibet While you are here. Nagarjuna and his two spiritual sons. Since sufferings come from the side of the mind. you need to be honest. deeds and qualities of the Enlightened Beings. love and so on. have lived here in Bodh Gaya. it is very wonderful that you have this interest in Buddhism. simply because of our being in this special place. what our own tendencies and inclinations are. Have you understood everything? We need to practice as much as we can. the text says. such as wealth. due to the inspiration of this place. being here too. Their interest in Buddhism is due to their having thought about it with logic and reasoning. and many Tibetans as well. We need to examine ourselves very carefully and honestly. with such rampant delusions in the world and so much desire and hatred. they analyzed them first. In order to accept the Buddhist teachings.

Therefore. it is very beneficial. The actual discussion is divided into the three levels of motivation. or envy. it is excellent. Try to build up as much positive force as you can. Do you understand? As it says in Engaging in Bodhisattva Behavior. do things like this. think. warm and loving at heart are the real points. do not gossip or daydream. you may have to wait for hours. Also. it only leads to negative karmic force. It is The Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices by Togmey-zangpo and is divided into three parts: the beginning. So don't just dirty the place everywhere. nothing destroys positive force like anger. We need always to examine and correct our motivation. Recite the Seven-limb Prayer and think well of all its points. and the end. at a low elevation. Have a kind and warm heart. the actual discussion. Being constructive in our actions and being kind. the conditions are different. try never to lose your tempers or become angry with anyone. what we do and why we do it is important and crucial. but do so correctly. Tibet is a cold country. Keep your hands flat on the ground and have your palms facing downward. at this time when we have obtained The great ship (of a human rebirth) with respites and enrichments. now set a bodhichitta motivation to listen to these teachings. as explained in Lam-rim. it will make our lives much better. As is explained there. Setting the Motivation Being here in such a holy and special place. Say prayers. And don't throw paper all around on the ground and go to the toilet everywhere. but be as clean as possible. whereas here in India. day and night. We need to try to diminish the power of our disturbing emotions and attitudes as much as possible. So. won't it? So. This is very important. In order to free ourselves and others from the ocean Practical Advice to the Visitors from Tibet 12 . we need to try to have as enlightening a motive as possible. meditate and even if it is not with single-minded concentration. competition. and meditate unwaveringly. it is very good to make prostrations." First comes the initial scope motivation. either bent or outstretched. Try to tame and discipline your minds not to be crude or rough. The most important thing is to have a pure motivation. rejoice in the positive force of everyone here. we need to try as much as we can to emulate them. it sets very good instincts. The best thing to do is to develop an attitude of considering others more important and ourselves as unimportant.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices you circumambulate. Understand? And if we can build up together a little bit here. the "Graded Path. If we develop a kind heart and great motivation in such a place as this. This is the essence of Mahayana. Therefore. The Precious Human Life (1) A bodhisattva's practice is. Remaining ever mindful of Buddha's examples of developing a bodhichitta resolve. Offer candles. I realize that if you wait in line just to use the toilet. so you have to go elsewhere. try never to become angry. Be careful and be responsible. Instead of being envious of others' actions and achievements. If we engage in external Dharma actions out of pride. To listen. but be attentive and respectful. difficult to find. This is very good. we need to examine our minds and motivation for everything we do.

"What progress have I made in the last five years. The Precious Human Life 13 . It is just up to us to follow their examples. But people do not know how to practice it. Whatever we hear. in fact. and look at us here. The Circumstances Most Conducive for Taking Advantage of a Precious Human Life (2) A bodhisattva's practice is to leave our homelands. then this can encourage us. when we hear teachings or study them. following the example of the Buddha and carrying on his deeds. All of us are equal in wanting happiness and not any suffering. aversion. We need to practice in order to gain meditation experiences and stable realizations. in fact. eight respites and ten enriching factors. we need to build up the constructive causes for this now. If we act without attachment. A constructive or tamed mind is not something that we can buy in a store. Therefore. Many people in the world have a human birth. and so on. We need to have our practice of listening. We are very fortunate. Where attachment to the side of friends tosses us like water. we need immediately to put into practice. first there were the great Nyingma lamas.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices of uncontrollably recurring samsara. don't we? We are not deaf: we are not missing various faculties that would prevent us from hearing the teachings and so on. therefore. If we look at our human bodies. there are spiritual teachers available and present in the world. if we look more profoundly. our good fortune now must be from constructive causes we have previously enacted. The actual practice is to listen. We have. although we might think of them merely in terms of their being in the category or lineage of our parents. or anything like that. then afterward there were Atisha and the Kadam lineage. All of them underwent great difficulties and. These beneficial effects we are experiencing now have resulted from causes similar to them in the past. it will not be difficult to build up constructive causes for a precious human rebirth in the future. Milarepa and Gampopa of the Kagyu lineage. think. plant in a field or obtain from a bank. or naivety. we see that they are in the category of having respites and enrichments. Also. and Marpa. we need always to check our attitudes about them. and Dharma is what brings this about. the Sakya lamas. thinking. But. by exerting tremendous efforts. Respites means liberties or freedom to practice Dharma. It comes from the actual practice of taming our minds. Dharma is a system of methods to make an unpeaceful mind peaceful and an untamed one tamed. but if we realize that over five or ten years we can progress a little. In Tibet. we need to follow the examples of the great teachers of the past. and meditate on the teachings. We do have the freedom to come here and to practice Dharma. the last fifteen years in taming my mind?" If we can see that we have indeed made a little improvement. they became enlightened. we need to take as much advantage of the present opportunity as we can. However. We have all the conditions conducive for practice. Thus. and whatever is nonconducive is not here. to obtain such opportunities and such a working basis again in the future. but few have the independence and freedom to practice the Dharma. to have such a rare opportunity. as we rarely act in this way. Try to act as constructively as possible. and meditating never be separate from each other or have any of them missing. We need to examine ourselves and ask. Don't be proud. Never be discouraged or feel inadequate. the last ten. then we will not be discouraged over short periods of time. In other words.

By lacking distractions. This is no good. inherently existent country for which we could have attachment or for which we could have hatred of its enemies. then with just a slight change in their behavior all of a sudden we hate them. Thus. then. then automatically we turn to constructive activities more easily." as though there were a findable. But even if we do not or cannot. our certainty grows in the Dharma. and this without any attachment or aversion. And by clearing our awareness. To do this. we need the full force of having heard and thought about the teachings. Do not think. The Circumstances Most Conducive for Taking Advantage of aPrecious Human Life 14 . then things will go well in this life also. Best is to leave our homelands. But if. Attachment and aversion bring destructive behavior and create much negative force and suffering. "This is my country.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices Anger toward the side of enemies burns us like fire. our constructive practices naturally increase. and both come from unawareness (ignorance). it is most helpful to live in seclusion and quietude. The main point is to rid ourselves of attachment and aversion. this will not do. If there are people to whom we feel attracted and for whom we have attachment. And naivety so that we forget what's to be adopted and abandoned cloaks us in darkness. We need to turn away. But to be able to meditate in solitude. then even if they behave badly. Therefore. In which friends and relations a long time together must part their own ways. because it is impermanent. We need to rid ourselves of them. But if all our emphasis is on this life. instead. as it says in The Three Principal Aspects of the Paths. we need to avoid attachment or aversion because of it. we need to replace our attachment with an attitude of wishing for the benefit of others. our disturbing emotions and attitudes gradually become stymied. Impermanence (4) A bodhisattva's practice is to give up concern being totally with this lifetime. By having rid ourselves of detrimental objects. we need to turn from being only involved with the affairs of this life and work to improve our future ones. we need to think about impermanence. If we put our main emphasis on future lives. If we are away from those who disturb us and we do not have a head full of busy work. Most of us here have left our countries. we will still wish them to be happy. make new friends and then develop attachments and aversions there. (3) A bodhisattva's practice is to rely on seclusion where. from our obsessive concern with mainly this life. but there is nothing wonderful or extraordinary about that if we still have attachment and aversion. Even if we leave our countries and go to another. Thus. my family. Therefore. These two troublemakers are the chief among all our disturbing emotions and attitudes. and replace them with an attitude of wishing for the benefit of others. we have an attitude of love and compassion to help these persons. we have attained a precious human rebirth and now we need to use it properly and not lose this opportunity. it will not help our future lives at all.

the examples of good friends can influence us to do more. We can see what happened afterwards.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices Wealth and possessions gathered with effort must be left behind. look at yourselves. he has taken nothing along. The Importance of Having Proper Friends (5) A bodhisattva's practice is to rid ourselves of bad friends With whom. when he dies. Look at the great places of the past. we need to not have this be our total obsession. And our love and compassion turn to nil. When we die. our three poisonous emotions come to increase. we need good friends. those who haven't. did not accompany him. when we associate. As Gungtang Rinpoche explained. We need to devote maybe 30% of our time to this lifetime and 70% to the future. A hundred years from now it is certain that none of us here will be alive. These circumstances are past. Even such a great man as Mahatma Gandhi went alone. Impermanence 15 . Now only its ruins are left. the existence of past and future lifetimes is for certain. its guest house. he went alone. All his fame while alive did not help him at all. we all go alone. thus we shall experience the fruits of the actions we commit now. what we experience now will not . They are important because they influence us very much. Look at the customs and so forth of Tibet of the past. Nalanda. No matter how close we are with others. all of us have to eat solid meals. Our mental continuums of mere awareness and clarity will have gone on. The continuity of the mere "I" labeled on the subtle energy and consciousness goes on for sure. of course. they are impermanent and have finished. has to go alone. Look at us Tibetans. we all have to go alone. all of these things that have come from causes in past lifetimes. our prosperity. Even the Dalai Lama. If we look at world history. no one in the three realms of compulsive rebirth has lived forever. what we do now is crucial. Except for great beings who live on single-minded concentration. nothing helps. to do so. Even if we are in such difficult times. So. Even if our own listening to the teachings and thinking about them are quite meager. This helps to show us impermanence. Our actions of listening. our families and so on. Those who have built up positive force will experience happiness. Therefore. His wife. thinking. Jiang Qing. we have to plant food and do things for this lifetime. where great Atisha and others flourished. friends. But. what can we do later in another lifetime not as a human. He had to leave his staff. If we do not make some progress now while we are human. we are still human and when we die there is no certainty that we will be human again. obviously. and meditating come to decrease. External material possessions. We can see them in his memorial. his sandals. his round wire glasses behind. we have to eat. nor did his masses. we will all have to part and go our own ways. But. The main point is not to be totally involved with this life alone. When Mao Zedong died. Now. relatives. or better 50\50. will not. And our consciousness. We need to think then mostly of our future lives and. the guest.our wealth. not even the bodies we have received from our parents. must depart from our bodies.

if our gurus are not on the level of someone like Tilopa. and some other places where there is Mahayana.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices It is important then to have friends of the same dispositions as we have. they have the tantras. Naropa did so without hesitation. they have only the ethical discipline part and lack the Mahayana as well as the tantras. Of course. as was the case with Naropa and Tilopa. bad friends or misleading ones can harm us by their company. we can fully entrust ourselves to them and do whatever they say. The Importance of Having Proper Friends 16 . their studies and so forth. we need to put aside the person's title as a tulku and check his or her own personal qualifications. the fourth class. do we? The main point is for us beginners to have a firm basis or foundation in ethical self-discipline upon which we can build. Some places seem to have Mahayana with no basis of discipline and others even try to have Tantrayana with both of the other two missing. And this person needs to be each of us ourselves. We Tibetans have tulkus or incarnate lamas with famous names. We have a basis of ethical discipline. They have no qualifications. Money. do not make someone a lama. but only the first three classes: kriya. just stay away from their negative influence. But. although they might have a very large estate and a great deal of wealth. of course. We do not go out and jump off this stupa monument simply because some fool tells us to do that. but only that of the Chittamatra system or that of the Yogachara-Svatantrika system of Madhyamaka and not the Prasangika-Madhyamaka view. Therefore. But. we must not go off and do just anything that just anyone tells us to do. If we have positive-minded friends and keep the good company of gurus or spiritual mentors. Therefore. a big name and fame. Why? Because as it says in the verse. only then is he or she a guru or a lama. Then. In fact. and Sri Lanka. A healthy relation between disciples and their spiritual mentors is extremely crucial. but even if such a person is pleasing to our minds. we need a guru who suits us. Burma. If Tilopa told him to jump. If he or she is fully qualified. In Thailand. They have nothing of anuttarayoga tantra. therefore we need to dissociate ourselves from them. Korea. at the peak. we have the practice of tantra. otherwise it is meaningless. Such careful scrutiny is extremely important.the wish for them to be happy. and this is of all four of its classes. he or she needs to be fully qualified. on top of which we have the Mahayana practice of love and compassion. but they need to be fully qualified. our faults come to deplete And our good qualities come to expand like the waxing moon. entire path and practice incorporated into one person. we Tibetans are the only Buddhists who practice the entire path of the Buddha's teachings and this on the basis of one person practicing it all. Buddha emphasized it. (6) A bodhisattva's practice is to cherish more than our bodies Our hallowed spiritual mentors. for instance. But. charya and yoga. this means that we need still to have love for them . By entrusting ourselves. to whom. In Japan. many tulkus in fact are not lamas. they exert the best influence on us. however. Some places have a view of voidness. we need to check their actual qualifications. The way we Tibetans practice is excellent. If the gurus are fully qualified. It is only among us Tibetans that we have the full. as did Tsongkhapa.

we need to be mindful of the good qualities of the Three Gems. We take safe direction in our future resultant state of our attainment of a true stopping of all our suffering and our future attainment of enlightenment. following the Dharma holds us back from suffering. and "gyay" means to realize and achieve all good qualities. all of you please take a safe direction in life. we need to have a dread of suffering and the desire for relief. Dharma is like medicine. Buddha is like a doctor. we need to be confident in the ability of the objects showing us a safe direction to give us protection. The pathway minds that have nonconceptual straightforward cognition of voidness are true pathway minds leading to liberation and enlightenment. The true stopping of the fleeting stains from our minds. These two are the Dharma Gem. is a true stopping. The word for Buddha in Tibetan is Sanggyay (sangs-rgyas). We all dislike suffering. As Buddha has taught ways to eliminate the true cause of true suffering such that its true stopping will come about. which is the Sangha Gem. from the slightest discomfort upward. he is worthy of being an object of safe direction. In other words. the Dharma Gem refers to the noble truths of true stoppings and true pathway minds. We also take causal safe direction in that which is offered now by the Three Gems that will bring us to this state. The Sanskrit word "Dharma" means to hold. to eliminate all faults. We need a teacher of this process and this is the Buddha Gem. Its state of elimination and the methods to eliminate it forever are like the Dharma Gem. Actually. and when we do so. Therefore. have met with the complete teachings of Safe Direction (Refuge) 17 . plus. We have met with the teachings of such a Buddha and thus we need to take his safe direction in life. The Sangha Gem refers to the Aryas or Noble Ones. their dissolution into the pure sphere of voidness. We have fully endowed human bodies. and we wish liberation from it. Day Three Reaffirming Our Motivation and Review Look at all the people around you. these are the Three Gems of Safe Direction. or more precisely. By seeking protection from whom we are never deceived Since whom can worldly gods protect When they themselves are still bound in the prison of samsara? This brings us to taking safe direction or refuge.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices Safe Direction (Refuge) (7) A bodhisattva's practice is to take safe direction from the Supreme Gems. to hold someone back from what is nonconducive. all of us are equal in wanting happiness and no suffering. These act as the causes for putting a safe direction of refuge in our lives. and friends to help. Furthermore. whether they are close or distant. rich or poor. those who have nonconceptual straightforward cognition of voidness. "Sang" means to eliminate everything that is to be gotten rid of. and the Sangha are like nurses to help. the path of the cure and the state of being cured are like the true pathway minds and true stoppings. Thus. The best way to accomplish this is the practice of Dharma.

we need to turn from our obsession with this life and eventually turn from our obsession with future lives as well. The point is that the main one to whom we need to turn for inspiration and enlightening influence is Buddha Sakyamuni. We need to know the methods and then put them into practice. We cannot see the trapped beings of the joyless realms (the hells) or the clutching ghosts (hungry ghosts). In Japan. Bodhipathapradita) is the root source of this text. The full Dharma teachings are found in the hundred volumes of the Kangyur words of the Buddha and the two hundred volumes of the Tangyur commentaries by the Indian masters. Now listen to the continuation of the teachings on this text. we need initially to think about death and impermanence.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices ethical discipline. of what actions are to be dropped and which are to be adopted. We need to try to learn as much as we can of the Buddha's perfect teachings. we need to recognize our precious human bodies and think to take advantage of them. As we were saying yesterday. they are really excellent. attain all good qualities and reach enlightenment. Look at the monks in the monasteries of Thailand and Burma. In their temples. we need to try to memorize it and then recite it often. In Tibetan temples. Therefore. The person who teaches the path of how to avoid being reborn as an animal is the fully enlightened Buddha. Only these three offer a never-failing safe. and so forth. and tantra. Of course. we may have a picture of Buddha Sakyamuni. we need to develop a kind heart. and put it into practice. we need to develop kindness for them. This is the root of all happiness for ourselves and for others. Do not just say words like "May I develop a kind heart. As The Thirty-seven is short and easy to understand. and consider how we could easily be reborn as one of them. The Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices. sacrificed for their meat. His Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment (Skt. Skt. Lam-sgron. but there are also various exotic looking protectors and so forth. To do this. used cruelly in medical experiments. He taught the path of behavioral cause and effect. the Buddha. exploited for their labor. In some other religions. both superficially and ultimately. Although there is no fault in going to worldly gods for help as friends. protected. But in Buddhism. it is different. and that when we die we can be reborn in one of the three worse rebirth states. they have only representations of Buddha Sakyamuni and no one else. for they are without any faults and they offer a totally safe and sound direction in life. Often. there are pictures of just the main teachers and almost no representations of Sakyamuni Buddha. they feel killing animals is not much different from chopping down a tree. and have likewise met with well-qualified gurus. As it is certain that we will die and lose them. We see how they are abused. beaten. Mahayana. stable direction in life. Therefore. which brings us enlightenment and thus the ability to bring happiness to everyone. thinking of the meaning. it is improper to seek our ultimate refuge in them. but this is something different. or picking a vegetable. The basic point is to develop a warm and kind heart. First. we need to set a full Mahayana motivation to eliminate all our disturbing emotions and attitudes. The main lama who brought the full lam-rim graded stages of training the mind and cleansing our attitudes to Tibet was Atisha. We actually look at and take the sufferings of animals seriously. but we know about animals and their sufferings. there is the fact of the Buddha being inseparable from the gurus and appearing in many forms. Dharma and Sangha are the Three Jewels of Safe Direction. In Buddhism. people criticize us and say that we Reaffirming Our Motivation and Review 18 . It is the root of the bodhichitta resolve." What we need to do is actually to train and practice the stages to attain it. as much as we can.

Refraining from Destructive Behavior 19 . Like concerning the Chinese." Everybody feels exactly the same. We need to examine and criticize only ourselves. Spiti. they did this in Kinnaur. the people there take refuge in me. We need to be very careful about our own karma and about what we say and do. bad comes from it. An example for one of the body would be. the Dalai Lama. so we need to refrain ourselves as much as we can. So. people feel that there are actually only two Jewels of Safe Direction: the Buddha and the Dharma. and if it suits us. moreover. at least never criticize monks and nuns. and then sacrifice animals. Superficially. and if we do bad. Concerning the Sangha Gem. all beings. The monks are treated with great respect and are supported by the householders and given alms. by acting in this way. In plain language. We must not wish that bad things befall them. It is especially terrible to sacrifice animals. they still do that in some lands. and so forth. any horrible conditions that happen come from negative forces built up from past destructive actions. In Tibet for instance. we say. This is very bad. being a monastic is best. In the past. our crops fail. never do. which is taking the life of anything from a human down to an insect. because the Able Sage has declared That the extremely difficult to endure sufferings of the worse states of rebirth Are the results of negative actions. we sometimes have drought. Destructive behavior comes from our disturbing emotions and attitudes and. Saying the mantra of compassion "Om mani padme hum" and yet sacrificing. for instance. which brings us nothing but suffering. we need always to wish for others' happiness. invasions. it will not bring about good conditions. from small causes we can experience extensive results. the practice in Thailand and Burma also is excellent. Refraining from Destructive Behavior (8) A bodhisattva's practice is never to commit any negative actions. If we do not have any positive force built up from our past actions. or mind. But. All beings have an equal right to life and cherish their lives as much as we do. but we need to check our own dispositions. we can only wish them well. speech. All of these are due to our past destructive actions and our lack of positive force. and that the Sangha is unnecessary. Therefore. I hurt. and some places in Nepal. The effect follows in the same category as the cause. sometimes there are wars. we build up negative force. that will never. "Ouch. killing. But. good comes from it. enough on this point. Destructive actions can be of body. and even in certain districts in Tibet. It never fails and. What they experience will be the results of their own actions. This is excellent. In countries as well. Often. There is much danger in this. There is no need for everyone to be monks and nuns. The Sangha is very important for setting examples and for symbolizing the Buddha's teachings. be careful. They think that we can forget about them. It is very simple. if we do good. It is very negative to kill. then no matter what we do.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices Tibetans forget about the Buddha and just beat drums before pictures of protectors. If we prick our finger with a thorn. Even at the cost of our lives.

That always makes for a very uneasy mind. It just makes us unhappy. This is because they have no confidence. As the pleasures of the three planes of compulsive existence Are phenomena that perish in a mere instant. And this comes from causing divisiveness among others. from taking a life to distorted antagonistic thinking. Someone else has something nice. with conscious effort and joyful perseverance. always saying meaningless things. If we lie. for instance. When people live and work together. We need to try to bring other people together. Working for Liberation (9) A bodhisattva's practice is to take keen interest In the supreme never-changing state of liberation. to lie to protect someone's life is something else. Now come the teachings for when we have an intermediate or middling scope of motivation. or making up something that does not exist or which is untrue. and not seeing anything wrong in so doing. Next is lying. it brings only unhappiness. It usually does not hurt the other person. we need to try to lessen them as much as we can. Last is distorted antagonistic thinking: denying what exists or which is true. this is very destructive. Then there is covetous thinking. We sit in fear that somebody is going to find us out. they will not even share a bar of soap with each other. doesn't it? Next is divisive language. This too is extremely negative. and patience. they do not trust one another. If we are not careful. causing others to be unfriendly and apart. The actual practice is. Inappropriate sexual behavior is to have relations with another person's spouse. never use divisive language. Next is abusive language. we will walk right into a wall! Thinking with malice is next. it is a complete waste of time. most of the various discords and fights in royal families have come from sexual misconduct. are the ten destructive actions. When we look at the historical literature. but we need always to be honest. It is very destructive.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices Next is stealing. their harmony is based on mutual confidence and trust. Working for Liberation 20 . which we would like to have. We can never solve problems by holding a grudge. from killing. We need to realize their disadvantages and refrain from them. and we walk along directing all our attention at this object and wishing only to have it. lying and so forth. from seeing their drawbacks. like dew on the tips of grass. or with someone who has a relation with someone else. It hurts their feelings: it does not bring happiness at all. Even if we cannot refrain completely. When we look at the Chinese. but this is only at the discussion table. Gossip is chattering. This also is very negative. Of course. Therefore. It is very self-destructive to hold grudges and to wish others ill. We hear bad things about someone and then spread it. to restrain ourselves. it hurts only ourselves. This is what follows from taking safe direction. Outside. These ten. calling other people bad names like "beggar" and so forth. This is also very negative. love. they speak of everybody as being comrades. Problems can only be solved through compassion. so never harbor ill will.

and it is important at least to keep these. to attain liberation from it. We need to think about this. Developing a Bodhichitta Aim 21 . which we receive from karma and disturbing emotions and attitudes. The stains of unawareness over the mind are fleeting. it is a mistaken view to feel that they are natural parts of life. we need to try to free ourselves from these repeating syndromes. we can only create more suffering. uncontrollably recurring existence. there are the householder vows. They say that it is almost as if a person is not alive. so we need. the less will be our unawareness. yet conventionally. On the other hand. if he or she does not have such feelings. we cannot simultaneously have the other. Samsara. which are under the power of karma and disturbing emotions. With this discriminating awareness. For instance. in order not to have any mental wandering and so forth. it does not last forever. It is in this way that the discriminating awareness or wisdom of voidness acts as the opponent to unawareness. but this is a distorted view. if these were parts of the nature of the mind. We need discriminating awareness. how can we escape them? The source of suffering is our disturbing emotions and attitudes. the unawareness of grasping for inherent existence. we need the practice of the three higher trainings. that inherent existence does not exist at all. they can be removed. we see that anger can be quelled. yet if we are under the power of karma and disturbing emotions and have no independence. The unawareness of grasping for inherent existence and the understanding of the lack of inherent existence are both aimed at the same object. Developing a Bodhichitta Aim (10) A bodhisattva's practice is to develop a bodhichitta aim to liberate limitless beings. dependent arising is never false. to see the two truths: from the deepest point of view. it is like merely being on different floors of a burning building. Thus. These both come from unawareness (ignorance). the main ones of which are attachment and aversion. For this. We can fall to a worse rebirth at any time. the five lay vows. If our own aggregates themselves are in the nature of suffering. mixed with confusion. then just as is the case when we accept mere awareness and clarity as mind's nature. when we have one. by all means. Thus. namely the opposite view. Whatever worldly pleasures we have are not ultimate. these feelings of attachment and hostility need to be present all the time. Everywhere is suffering. and that it is the nature of the mind to have attachment and aversion. Therefore. we rid ourselves of attachment and aversion and thus gain liberation from suffering. we need the training in higher concentration as its base. If our suffering comes from our very own aggregate physical and mental faculties. But. But. This is the training in higher discriminating awareness. refers to the suffering aggregates. we need the training in higher ethical self-discipline. then the more familiar we are with the correct view. either as a monastic or as a householder. Although we have a precious human rebirth. Thus. then. Some people say that attachment and aversion or hostility are natural: they are parts of the nature of the mind. and by accustoming ourselves to it. They are merely superficial and only temporary. Next are the teachings for when we have an advanced scope of motivation.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices No matter where we are born in the three realms of compulsive existence. by cultivating the opponent for this. then where can we run from our aggregates that are tainted with confusion? Think about that. and to gain it. all is devoid of inherent existence.

without an exception. as is described in Engaging in Bodhisattva Behavior. There is no need to mention that. "chub" (chub). We say we are Mahayanists. Come from desiring our personal happiness. So who would see it as fair or reasonable to favor one person over everybody else? Bodhisattvas work and wish only for others' happiness. if our mothers. If we look around for ways to be helpful and if we develop a bodhichitta resolve. who have been kind to us From beginningless time. But if we work only for our own purposes and ignore others. Wherever we find ourselves. as widespread as space. We need to place ourselves on one side and all other beings on the other. wish for happiness and no suffering. and discouragement. on the side. Actually there are two "bodhis" or purified states and what is referred to here is not the lesser one of the Arhats. to benefit all. the same as we do. enlightenment. we will be a happier person. the only difference is that we are one and they are numberless. we need to follow the Mahayana training and practice. So we need to try to lessen our selfishness and increase our concern for others as much as we can and. but the higher one of a Buddha's enlightenment. the first syllable of the Tibetan for "bodhi" is "jang" (byang) which means to eliminate faults. which then encourages them to work even harder. Nagarjuna emphasized the same point in his Precious Garland. we will never be afraid where or in what conditions we might be reborn. but as Tsongkhapa has said. then automatically things will work out to benefit everyone. If we are working only for the purposes of others. we need to have a Mahayana personality in order to be considered a Mahayanist. are suffering. the happier they become. means to attain all good qualities.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices Because. To work only for the sake of others and ignore our own purposes is the way to attain Buddhahood. while the second. They are so numerous and. While a fully enlightened Buddha is born from the attitude of wishing others well. So as much as we can. we will find that. It is funny that it's like that. it is pathetic. We need to aim at limited beings in order to benefit them and to aim at enlightenment to be able to do that. Therefore. Do you understand? Now what is a bodhisattva? Similar to what I explained about the word Buddha. That is the bodhichitta resolve and this is what we need to develop. Thus. What can we do with (just) our own happiness? All limited beings. "Sattva" means one who has his or her mind aimed at this attainment of the higher purified state of bodhi. but besides that. we will work there for the sake of helping others. Because (all) our sufferings. all we obtain is unhappiness. dissatisfaction. Exchanging Self with Others 22 . by so doing. We all wish happiness and not suffering. while on the path they do not become unhappy. they achieve enlightenment. not to mention unfair. if we ignore them and think only of our purposes. we need to work for the sake of others. we need two aims both together. of course. The harder they work for others and the more they ignore themselves. How do we do that? Exchanging Self with Others (11) A bodhisattva's practice is to purely exchange our personal happiness for the suffering of others.

Then. and constructive actions of the three times. But. Someone were to chop off our heads. but even further. consequently. then this so-called thief already owns our former possessions. we need to exchange our attitudes and. we need to wish only for others' happiness and ignore ourselves.the side of the selfish person or that of all these pathetic beings. He has taken them now because in fact they already are his. To speak in return about his good qualities. to attain enlightenment. Even if someone under the power of great desire Steals or causes others to steal all our wealth. If someone steals from us. numberless beings all wanting happiness.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices How does all suffering come from wishing only our own happiness? Such a self-centered wish leads us to commit many destructive actions in order to accomplish our selfish aims and. there is the danger of becoming angry. To help us do this. there is a very good and useful visualization. we need to engage in bodhisattva behavior. who equally deserve happiness? Such practice as this and others mentioned in Engaging in Bodhisattva Behavior are very beneficial. "Who is more important. Now we have developed a bodhichitta resolve. visualize infinite. our bodies and constructive actions of the three times. To do this. comes from helping others. or which we think he has stolen from us. Therefore. When others abuse or say bad things about us. but only speak kindly of them. we need to have compassion toward them and accept on ourselves all harms from others. this selfish person here or all the others?" Think which side we would favor and which we would want to join . on the other hand. However. To accept on ourselves his negative consequences. we need to stop saying anything bad in return. Therefore. namely taking on others' suffering and giving them our happiness. On the left. billion worlds All kinds of unpleasant things about us. Even if while we haven't the slightest fault ourselves. selfish and wishing only our own happiness. instead of wishing for our own personal happiness and ignoring others' suffering. we train in the practice known as "taking and giving" (tonglen). Bodhisattva Behavior: Dealing with Harms (12) A bodhisattva's practice is. if we are practicing to attain enlightenment and are giving away everything to others. Even if someone were to publicize throughout the thousand. we need to dedicate to him not only these possessions that he has taken. To dedicate to him our bodies. We need to visualize ourselves in our ordinary forms on the right. with an attitude of love. million. Buddhahood. as Shantideva explained in Bodhisattva Behavior: Dealing with Harms 23 . through the power of compassion. If others harm us. we experience suffering. Never say nasty things back. resources. we need to stand back in our minds as a witness and judge. (14) A bodhisattva's practice is. (13) A bodhisattva's practice is.

(17) A bodhisattva's practice is. we could not develop patience. To bow to him respectfully. we need to cultivate patience and endure difficult situations. Like a mother toward her child stricken with an illness. no matter how bad he is. Therefore. Even if we are destitute in livelihood Two Critical Situations Requiring Dharma Practice 24 . they are in fact our teachers. an enemy or someone who hates us is very important as this teacher.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices Engaging in Bodhisattva Behavior. Two Critical Situations Requiring Dharma Practice (18) A bodhisattva's practice is. Since we need a teacher to help train us in patience. we need someone annoying toward whom to develop a tolerant attitude. We cannot develop patience with our minds aimed at our gurus or at a Buddha. distinguishing that (he's our) spiritual teacher. to have special affection for him. Even if an individual. we need to thank them for making us aware of our shortcomings and show them great respect. if we had no enemies. even if a person Whom we've taken care of. (16) A bodhisattva's practice is. Thus. aren't they? If we are practicing Mahayana. Even if someone exposes our faults or says foul words (about us) In the midst of a gathering of many wandering beings. our equal or inferior. The same is true when others try to compete with us. If we think more about it. we need to act as taught in the methods for cleansing our attitudes (training the mind). Were to treat (us) insultingly out of the power of his arrogance. This is the way we need to view all beings. Were to regard us as his enemy. If others disgrace us or point out our faults. As it says in Engaging in Bodhisattva Behavior. enemies are extremely important. Thus. How can we really practice Mahayana without enemies? In short. enemies or people who are very annoying and difficult are extremely important and precious. I try to develop patience with him or her. To receive him on the crown of our heads respectfully. We need to develop patience. For instance. If a child is naughty when he is ill. many challenging situations. I think about myself. like a guru. to exchange our attitudes concerning self and others. Even if others humiliate or embarrass us in front of others. his mother would still love him. cherishing him like our own child. if I am practicing sincerely. we need many trials and tribulations. If someone writes in the newspaper or calls the Dalai Lama a weak refugee and so on. (15) A bodhisattva's practice is. We need an enemy at whom to aim it.

Or have obtained (riches) comparable to the fortune of Vaishravana (the Guardian of Wealth). Bowed to with their heads by many wandering beings. we will wish to take on the sickness and suffering of others. in return. If we are highly esteemed and everything goes well for us. by seeing that worldly prosperity has no essence. the negative forces and sufferings of all wandering beings and not be discouraged. Never to be conceited. due to past causes. Then even if we have subdued an external enemy. In fact. we will become happy that we are sick. Peace and happiness will come only if we develop love and compassion. To accept on ourselves. There are two very critical situations for Dharma practice. if we wish peace and happiness. As this blocks our practice. we need to train in the martial arts of love and compassion to overcome hatred. (21) A bodhisattva's practice is immediately to abandon Any objects that cause our clinging and attachment to increase. if we haven't subdued the enemy which is our own hostility. (19) A bodhisattva's practice is. Then we become discouraged. Or sick with terrible diseases. Overcoming Hostility and Attachment (20) A bodhisattva's practice is to tame our mental continuums With the armed forces of love and compassion. more will come. the other potentially dangerous situation. we can see that it all came about because of anger and hatred. This is the other extreme. for instance. we find the Soviet Union pitted against the West as enemies. But. If war comes again in the future.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices and always insulted by people. There is no enemy worse than anger. For objects of desire are like salt water: The more we have indulged (in them. like for instance the situation of World War II. If we look at the world. the Western nations and Russia were allies and although they won the war. If we are very sick. we can become very proud about that. lazy and arrogant. it will occur once more because of anger and hatred. even if we are sweetly praised. One is when. that did not conquer their own hostility! As they are now still left with this poison. we are in very difficult straits. Then we become proud and arrogant. At that time. Therefore. we need to see that such worldly good fortune has no essence at all. then if we practice exchanging self with others and also taking and giving. Because. The other is when we are extremely comfortable and rich. this can never come about without the elimination of these negative attitudes. We need to be careful in both cases. or afflicted by ghosts. poor and so on. Overcoming Hostility and Attachment 25 .

is free of the extremes of inherent existence. if we are attached to that nice feeling. Thus. we need to see everything as deceptive appearances and not be depressed by difficult conditions. Rather. so that we will have no desire to scratch at all. For various sufferings are like the death of our child in a dream And to take (such) deceptive appearances to be true is a tiresome waste. If we understand this. And (thus) to rid ourselves of clinging and attachment. It gets sore. At the time when meeting with adverse conditions." this means that they are the play of our minds in the sense that the karma accumulated through our minds brings about all appearances. it feels nice. to see them as deceptive. Although things appear beautifully like a rainbow. then the more we scratch. And mind-itself is. nonimplicative nullification (nonaffirming negation) that is voidness . No matter what we are attracted to. (23) A bodhisattva's practice is. (24) A bodhisattva's practice is. we are never satisfied with it. from the beginning. they are from our own minds. The best thing is to cure the rash from its root. the Realization of Voidness 26 . If we scratch it. from the beginning. When it says here that appearances are "from our own minds. we need to see that they are devoid of inherent existence and not be attached. we never have enough. but do not exist at all from the viewpoint of deepest truth]. we will simply place our minds in total absorption on the pure. When meeting with pleasing objects. then we will not take to mind "this" is the consciousness that understands voidness and "that" is the object of this consciousness. as is described in The Precious Garland. it just makes it worse. but that is not necessarily so. These are the teachings on developing conventional and deepest bodhichitta. not to regard them as truly existent.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices our) thirst (for them) increases (in turn). No matter how things appear. starts to bleed. Developing Deepest Bodhichitta. like when we have a rash.the absolute absence of all impossible ways of existing. This is the practice outlined here. Think of an example: for instance. by realizing just how things are. Even though they appear beautifully. This seems to be an expression of the Svatantrika view [that inherent features exist conventionally. It is like drinking salt water: we are never quenched. Next Developing Deepest Bodhichitta. like a summer's rainbow. parted from the extremes of mental fabrication. namely voidness. and is a mess. becomes infected. But. the Realization of Voidness (22) A bodhisattva's practice is not to take to mind Inherent features of objects taken and minds that take them. The mind itself.

The Six Far-Reaching Attitudes 27 . have such perseverance That they would turn from a fire that has broken out on their heads. We need much patience. Since we can see that even shravakas and pratyekabuddhas.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices is the practice of the six far-reaching attitudes (the six perfections). (28) A bodhisattva's practice is to exert joyful perseverance. the source of good qualities for the purposes of all wandering beings. those who do harm. if those who would wish enlightenment must give away even their bodies. for a bodhisattva wishing for a wealth of positive force. Without hostility or repulsion toward anyone. Without it. our enemies. This refers to exerting joyful perseverance with zestful vigor for constructive behavior. This builds up and strengthens our network of positive force. are as precious as gems. For a bodhisattva wishing to build up the positive force to be able to attain enlightenment. If the Hinayana practitioners can work so hard to attain their goals for themselves. then we as Mahayanists working for the sake of all need to work even harder. Because. if we can't fulfill our own purposes without ethical discipline. This is because with them. Most important is to have ethical self-discipline. (26) A bodhisattva's practice is To safeguard ethical self-discipline without worldly intents. The wish to fulfill the purposes of others is a joke. Because. we can practice patience. All who cause harm are equal to treasures of gems. [See: Commentary on Developing Deepest Bodhichitta in Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama {2}. which will bring about our attainment of enlightenment. how can we help anyone? (27) A bodhisattva's practice is to build up as a habit patience.] The Six Far-Reaching Attitudes (25) A bodhisattva's practice is to give generously Without hope for anything in return and something karmic to ripen. Because. especially the discipline of refraining from destructive actions. What need to mention external possessions? This is the practice of far-reaching generosity. Who would accomplish only their own purposes.

inseparable shamatha and vipashyana. We need the wisdom side as well. and the action itself . We talk about the faults of others who are bodhisattvas. the object. We need to stop looking at others with the idea of trying to pick or find faults in them. the agent. Especially as Mahayana practitioners. This refers to the far-reaching attitude of mental stability (concentration) in the sutra context. because as it says here. if under the power of disturbing emotions and attitudes. Because without discriminating awareness.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices (29) A bodhisattva's practice is to build up as a habit A mental stability that purely surpasses the four formless (absorptions).namely. We never know who others might be or what their attainment is. By realizing that an exceptionally perceptive state of mind. Next concerns a bodhisattva's daily practice. calm abiding) to hold it.are all devoid of inherent existence. We ourselves will degenerate. to realize an exceptionally perceptive state of mind of vipashyana (special insight). Then we will have the joined pair. if we do not examine our self-deception ourselves. A Bodhisattva's Daily Practice (31) A bodhisattva's practice is continually to examine our self-deception and then rid ourselves of it. It's possible that with a Dharmic (external) form We can commit something non-Dharmic. it is quite possible externally to appear to be proper but in fact not to be proper at all. (30) A bodhisattva's practice is to build up as a habit The discriminating awareness that's together with methods and which has no conceptions about the three circles. not of faulting A Bodhisattva's Daily Practice 28 . fully endowed with a stilled and settled state. we need to cultivate inseparable method and wisdom. Thus. namely the first five far-reaching attitudes alone. Thus. we need to have thoughts only of helping and benefiting others. the five far-reaching attitudes Cannot bring about the attainment of complete enlightenment. Because. (32) A bodhisattva's practice is not to speak about the faults of a person who has entered Mahayana. we need to have attained beforehand a stilled and settled state of shamatha (mental quiescence. we need always to check our own disturbing emotions and attitudes each day. In other words. We need the discriminating awareness to see that the three circles of any constructive action based on these far-reaching attitudes . We cannot attain enlightenment with only the method side. Because. Can totally vanquish the disturbing emotions and attitudes.

We inevitably become entangled in complicated situations of arguments. a bodhisattva's practice is (to work) to fulfill the purposes of others By continually possessing mindfulness and alertness to know. relatives. But here. (35) A bodhisattva's practice is to have the servicemen of mindfulness and alertness hold the opponent weapons And forcefully to destroy disturbing emotions and attitudes. when we are habituated to disturbing emotions and attitudes. (36) In short. Then. The root of anger is attachment to our own side. with the discriminating awareness Of the complete purity of the three circles. we need immediately to apply the various opponents to any disturbing emotions and attitudes that might be present. the anger itself is stressed. otherwise. we could easily get lost. and so forth. It is difficult for opponents to make them retreat.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices them. As soon as attachment or aversion arises. disputes. For instance. As it says in Engaging in Bodhisattva Behavior. Because harsh words disturb others' minds And cause our bodhisattva ways of behavior to decline. if we were on a caravan and reached the northern plateau of Tibet . we need to not allow our minds to go just anywhere. disturb others. with mindfulness. we need to avoid attachment to such places. We would choose the correct path very carefully. To dedicate for enlightenment the constructive forces A Bodhisattva's Daily Practice 29 . Such harsh sounding words destroy our positive force. as soon as they first arise. In the same way. and meditating will decline. We will quarrel with each other and our activities of listening. under the power of (wanting) gain and respect. we need immediately to employ mindfulness and alertness to counter them. and so on. There is much danger if we always stay in the homes of patrons. thinking. especially when it leads to abusive language. like attachment and so forth. (37) A bodhisattva's practice is. Because. we need continually to examine our minds and see their condition. Because. (34) A bodhisattva's practice is to rid ourselves of harsh language Displeasing to the minds of others. and cause harm. Therefore. No matter where or what course of behavior we're following. (33) A bodhisattva's practice is to rid ourselves of attachment To homes of relatives and friends and homes of patrons. How is the condition of our minds. we would be very mindful and alert not to go just anywhere.

Then he ends with the final dedication. Thus. The author has taken these teachings from various sources and condensed them into these thirty-seven practices.A Short Commentary on Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices realized by efforts like these. and the likes. the last bodhisattva practice mentioned here is to dedicate to enlightenment and the benefit of others the positive force of all these actions. Through supreme deepest and conventional bodhichittas. Because my intelligence is feeble and my education meager. Who never abides in the extremes of compulsive samsaric existence or nirvanic complacency. But. since it is difficult for someone dull-witted like myself To fathom the depth of the great waves of bodhisattva behavior. because I've relied on the sutras and the words of the hallowed ones. For the purposes of those who wish to train in the bodhisattva path. the conclusion. Conclusion Having followed the words of the hallowed beings And the meaning of what has been declared in the sutras. This concludes Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices by Togmey-zangpo. Become equals to the Guardian Avalokiteshvara. They may not be in poetic meter that would please the erudite. the author apologizes if he has committed any faults. thirty and seven. Next. Next. In order to eliminate the sufferings of limitless wandering beings. By the constructive force coming from this. This completes the actual body of the text. I request the hallowed ones to be patient with my mass of faults. I have arranged (these) practices of bodhisattvas. Such as contradictions. Nevertheless. Conclusion 30 . and treatises. I think that (these) bodhisattva practices are not deceived. lack of connection. tantras. is the third part of the outline. may all wandering beings.

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