The Great Chariot

by Longchenpa | 268,580 words

A Commentary on Great Perfection: The Nature of Mind, Easer of Weariness In Sanskrit the title is ‘Mahāsandhi-cittā-visranta-vṛtti-mahāratha-nāma’. In Tibetan ‘rDzogs pa chen po sems nyid ngal gso’i shing rta chen po shes bya ba ’...

Part 6 - The three aspects that are always to be trained in to take advantage of the opportunity

a. The brief teaching

After arousing bodhicitta, there should be a stage of serious training in it. This is how to take advantage of the opportunity.

Having germinated these seedlings of the two bodhicittas
Within the good soil that is the mind of sanity,
Now we should try hard to increase their purity.

By arousing the luminous mind of bodhicitta repeatedly, things become purer. As for maras and strayings which we have not been able to cut. The Sutra of the Ten dharmas (chos bcu pa’i mdo) says:

The precious jewel by nature
Is a source of blazing light;
But when we accept and reject,
Its beauty is torn in two.

So, even having the gotra,
The seeking of bodhicitta
Must be free of dual extremes
Lest maras rise in experience.

After the sprout of this attitude has arisen, grasp it without deterioration. Purify defilements and strive only in means of increasing goodness. These are established chiefly by the discipline of guarding the supreme attitude. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

Thus, as for this attitude of bodhicitta,
We should hold to it and try to guard it well.
Aside from this discipline that guards the mind of enlightenment
What use is there for the many other disciplines?

Also it says there:

Those who have the wish to guard this discipline
Should keep and guard the mind, using their fullest attention.
If we have not trained in the discipline of mind,
We shall not be able to guard and keep that discipline.

By letting the elephant of mind run free,
It will produce the harm of the Unremitting Hell.
No mad elephant, that is unrestrained like that,
Could ever do the kind of harm that this will do.

If the elephant of mind is tightly tied,
On every side by the rope of constant mindfulness,
We shall be in a state that is without all fear
And everything that is good will come into our hands.

b. The extensive explanation of exchanging self and other and so forth,

Here is the extensive explanation of how bodhicitta is grasped, purified, and increased:

I shall take in all the suffering of sentient beings.
May my happiness become that of these beings.
May we never be separate, until we are enlightened.
Let us practice such sending and taking[1] in our thoughts.

Let us meditate on the four immeasurables,
Which are cultivated in the case of aspiration,
Abandoning what does not accord, let us guard those wishes.

That which is cultivated in the case of entering,
Is said to be the practice of the six perfections.
Try to abandon whatever does not accord with them.

Resting in the nature of aspiring and entering is said to be grasping the mind of enlightenment. Because what does not accord with this is abandoned, our effort is purified.

Alternating the exchange of our own happiness with the suffering of others is called “cultivating the attitude of bodhicitta.” Thus, we can live with a great deal joy and happiness, and, while we always have happiness alone, we also bear the burden of sentient beings, and equalize self and other. That self and other should be exchanged is the collective instruction of the sutras. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

Without discouragement let me gather the supports,
And making a great effort, let me master myself.
Bringing self and other into equality,
Let me, therefore, make the exchange of self and other.

Here as the first topic, when the immensity of the task of benefiting sentient beings and the immensity of realizing enlightenment is heard, without discouragement that thinks, “How could I do that?” just try to do it. This is the fundamental point. Moreover, think, “When lower sentient beings attain the human body, if I work hard from now on, they will be established in enlightenment.” If these lower ones,

look at the teachings of attaining enlightenment and think that it is difficult, the Bodhicharyavatara says:

If I should say, “How could I be enlightened?”
Discouraged, I will never accomplish it.
That is the reason why the Tathagata,
The one who teaches truly, taught this truth.

Gnats and flies on meat and honey bees
Likewise mosquitoes and other worms and insects
Even these, with great enough force of effort,
Will gain enlightenment, so hard to gain.

Then one like me with the gotra and human birth,
Recognizing benefit and harm,
If I keep to the bodhisattva’s conduct,
Why should I not attain enlightenment?

The Sutra Requested by Laksang (lag bzang gis zhus pa’i mdo) says:

Laksang, Moreover, a bodhisattva should train in this way, thinking, “If even those who have become lions, tigers, dogs, jackals, vultures, cranes, crows, owls, worms, bees, and carrion flies will attain enlightenment, those like me who have become human beings, because of such a life, why should I not equally make an effort to attain enlightenment?”

Laksang, moreover a bodhisattva should train in this way, thinking, “If a hundred people or a thousand have realized and attained buddhahood, why should I too not realize and attain it?”

The Sutra Designed as a Jewel Chest says:

Then the power of Avalokiteshvara arose from Singha Ling. In the country Destructible Realm in the great city “Place of Excrement and Urine,” from a place where there were a hundred thousand kinds of insects, at that time, an emanation arisen from the power of Avalokiteshvara arose in the form of the sound of those insects, saying, “I prostrate to the Buddha.”

These insects afterwards remembered “I prostrate to the Buddha.” Having conquered the twenty-peaked mountain of the view of a transitory collection,[2] all these together became a bodhisattva named Fragrant Perfume, who was born in the world-realm of Sukhavati.

There are two ways in which we should make an effort to liberate the limitless sentient beings who have been our fathers and mothers. Even if we have made no effort at all in regard to the suffering of further dwelling in samsara, when we accomplish enlightenment, it all will be conquered. Since we have not previously accomplished that, there is samsara. Since now that is so, and there is samsara, we must try to work with it. If we will not bear any suffering of fatigue for others, we will certainly bear limitless suffering which is hard to bear in the womb. Therefore, we should be without discouragement. Regarding this, the Precious Garland says:

For the benefit of measureless sentient beings,
With a desire for measureless enlightenment,
We produce a merit that is without all measure.

From this state of immeasurable enlightenment,
By the accumulation of the four immeasurables,
We shall not be obstructed and kept off far away.
If we do this, our attainment will be changeless,

There will be what is designated “limitless merit,”
And there will be what is designated “limitless wisdom.”
Thus all our sufferings of body and of mind
Will be very quickly made to be cleared away.

With bodies of the lower realms due to evil deeds,
Sufferings arise of hunger, thirst, and such.
Do not perform evil deeds, and then, because of merit,
In other lives such bodies as these will not exist

As for the mental pain that is due to stupidity,
Arising from fear and craving, due to desire and so forth,
By having attained the wisdom that does not depend on these,
This suffering will be very quickly left behind.

By such suffering of body and of mind,
If we are untouched and are utterly unwounded,
When we have reached the end of our time within the world,
How will we be led by the world into feeling sadness?

Even when sufferings are for a very short time,
They are hard to bear, let alone when they are long.
If we are happy because there was no suffering,
Over a limitless time what harm is there going to be?

If we do not have any physical suffering,
How, then, could there be any mental suffering?
It is because of our compassion in the world,
That we shall remain here, staying a very long time.

Because of thinking like that, we will not be discouraged,
By the consideration that buddhahood is far off.
Then let us bring about exhaustion of defilement,
And for the sake of virtue let us always strive.

We may think, “How can we bear to remain for a long time within samsara for the benefit of sentient beings?” That is not how it is. Since bodhicitta exists, we are happy. Since in that sense there is no suffering, we can bear it. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

By merit the body will be in a state of happiness.
And when, because of knowledge, the mind is also happy,
Though they remain in samsara to benefit sentient beings,
How will those who have compassion then be sad?

As for this, because of the power of bodhicitta,
The power of former evil deeds is quite exhausted.
We will thus accumulate an ocean of merit.
This is taught to be better than the shravakas.

Therefore, mounted on the horse of bodhicitta,
Which clears away all weariness and desperation,
Let us ride on from happiness to happiness.
Knowing bodhicitta, who can then despair?

All sentient beings have the nature of illusion, a painting or space. Since appearance is primordially unborn, in truth nothing needs to be done. Rejoice! The Friendly Letter says:

As for mind it should be understood
Like images made with water, earth, and stone.

The Jewel Heap Sutra says:

For example, though the space of the sky has been there for more kalpas than there are grains of sand in the river Ganges, it has no sadness or depression. The space of the sky is not born, destroyed, burned up, or separated.

Why so? Because the space of the sky is not a real thing. Similarly, for the bodhisattva who knows that all dharmas are not real things, the attitudes of sadness, weariness, and depression will not be produced.

In terms of that approach, we need not be concerned with establishing enlightenment and performing benefits for others. However, thinking in terms of another approach to these matters that also arises according to the oral instructions of the Mahayana, there are thirteen reasons why we need to establish benefits. What are these?

1 All sentient beings are equal in having been our fathers and mothers again and again. As, at that time, by their kindness there was only benefit, we should return their kindness and benefit sentient beings. The Noble Sutra of Complete Nirvana (‘phags pa yongs su mya ngan las ‘das pa’i mdo) says:

If this great earth were made into a lump merely the size of a pea, and if I counted the single sentient beings who have not been my father and mother, though this great earth was exhausted, the count of a even single sentient being who has not been my father and mother would not be exhausted.

2 We have never repaid the sentient beings who have benefited us, and therefore we shall be overwhelmed by this burden of repayment. To clear it away, we had better benefit those sentient beings.

The Scripture on Discernment says:

Plains and mountains and oceans,
These are not my burden;
Unacknowledged actions,
That is my great burden.

That is the idea.

3 If sentient beings were happy and well-off, though indeed we would not need to benefit them, since they formerly did evil deeds for our sake, now they are oppressed by the sufferings of samsara and the lower realms. In order to pay them back, we should clear away their faults and benefit those sentient beings.

4 Sentient beings, as one, wish for happiness and do not wish for suffering; but, because the means of doing this is obscured for them, they are tormented by suffering alone. In order to eliminate this, we should benefit those sentient beings.

5 Though immeasurable sentient beings were led by the former buddhas of the past, they were not uplifted, and those buddhas were unable to tame them. If these are not led by us, the gotra of the Mahayana family will be broken. Sentient beings are without refuge or protector, and so we should benefit them.

6 By the force of I and ego-grasping, these beings are being blown about by the wind of the kleshas. Since they have gone wrong, we should try to tame them. Therefore, to speak an aspiration, we must do what will benefit others.

7 Though all dharmas are empty and egoless, these sentient beings who are like people in a dream, but do not realize this, should inspire our compassion. If they are not guided, compassion in particular will be killed, so for this reason also we should benefit them.

8 Because we have aroused bodhicitta in order to benefit sentient beings, if we do not benefit them, our precepts will be broken, and therefore we should benefit them.

9 As we wander here in samsara, since we have given rise to kleshas of resentment and so forth toward sentient beings; now, even if the object of establishing personal enlightenment becomes more attractive than sentient beings, still we should benefit them. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

Many of the ones who have rejoiced in these
Thus went very far in reaching the other shore.[3]

10 By having really performed benefit for others, the power of benefit for oneself is also established, and therefore, we should benefit them. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

What truly establishes self-benefit is also this itself.

11 If we benefit sentient beings, the buddhas will be pleased, and for that reason too we should perform benefits. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

Except for sentient beings having been made to rejoice,
There is no other way to please the victorious ones.

12 Though bodhicitta may be aroused, if benefit is not established for sentient beings, we will fall into the state of shravakas and pratyekabuddhas, and therefore also we should benefit sentient beings.

13 In the absolute, from the state in which there is no conception of oneself or of sentient beings, relative illusion-like benefit of sentient beings is without difficulty, and therefore the benefit of sentient beings should be established.

In brief, while even one sentient has not been liberated from samsara, remaining in samsara, we should perform benefits. Day and night without sadness and weariness, if we try for ten hundred million kalpas, and know that within the continuum of one sentient being a feeling of happiness will arise for one instant, we should try to do that with great force of mind. The Mahayanasutralankara says:

The buddha sons rely on making supreme exertion.
When they completely ripen the host of sentient beings,
In order that one other mind may be rendered happy,
In ten thousand million kalpas they will not be sad.

That is how benefits should be performed. The spiritual warrior’s supporting troops[4] are of four kinds. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

Devotion,[5] steadiness, joy, and letting go.

First, the troops of devotion. Since we are devoted to the beneficial qualities of bodhicitta, happiness is established and unhappiness is rejected. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

Devotion is produced by fear of suffering
And thinking of the beneficial qualities.

Second, the troops of steadiness. If we do not arouse bodhicitta, we are just letting it go. Having aroused it, by sending it forth, even when we think, “This will be bad,” persist and don’t lose it. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

Then with the liturgy of Vajra Victory Banner
Undertaking that, we should meditate with pride.

First examine the situation’s possibilities,
Seeing whether it ought to be undertaken or not.
It is better not to undertake it at all
Than, having once begun, that we should then turn back.

Third, the troops of letting go. Sometimes, with lesser precepts and some non-harming of sentient beings, rely on making them into equanimity. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

Because of fear or the chaos of festivals,
If we cannot do it, then do as seems best.[6]

Fourth, the troops of joy. By enjoying benefiting sentient beings and practicing the discipline, we enter into it with rejoicing. The Letter to a Student says:

Cutting off heads for the benefit of other people
Is like revealing an opening lotus’s joyful eye.[7]
As a white parasol shading the earth for its benefit,
We should regard the sharp sword that has a whetted edge.

We should devote ourselves to the good. Since it is the cause of the celestial realms and liberation, that should always be done. The Bodhicharyavatara says: 591.6

In the spacious fragrant coolness in the heart of a lotus,
Made resplendent by the pleasant food of the Conqueror’s teachings,
My excellent body rises from the lotus, as the Sage’s light makes it blossom,
Remaining before the Tathagata, because of goodness I become his child.

Also it says there:

Wherever they may go,
There, by the merit of that,
They will be truly offered
The worship of fruition.

In terms of our viewpoint regarding sentient beings, since of all sentient beings there is none that has not been our father, mother, and relative, we should benefit them. By being a field establishing enlightenment, in those terms they benefit us; and since buddhahood produces joy, from that viewpoint too benefit is established. The same text says:

Sentient beings, as well as the Victorious Ones,
Alike make buddhadharma be established in us.
So why do we not have respect for sentient beings
In the way we do for the Victorious Ones?

Also it says there:

In order to bring rejoicing to the tathagatas,
From now on, may I serve the world with true discipline.

The ordinary approach to meditating on self and other as equal was already explained in equality meditation. As for the extraordinary approach, first we produce perception of someone like an enemy as our mother, see the meditation as a happy occasion for ourselves, and, if ultimate good is established, rejoice. Because these are without distinction, meditate thinking,

“How may I establish this person’s benefit?” Then from one sentient being, we should meditate up to those as limitless as space.

As for exchanging self and other, whatever happiness and merit we have from training in that, all that we completely give away thinking, “By this merit incidentally may beings attain the higher realms, and ultimately may they attain buddhahood. May I be covered with the suffering of their bad karma exchanged for that. Having received that, by its ripening within my being, may I experience many sufferings in the lower realms for their benefit.”

From the depths of the bone core of the heart, having trained the mind in such an exchange with one sentient being, go on to them all. By that, powerful evil deeds from beginningless time will be purified. Therefore, much karma of experiencing the lower realms and so forth will be exhausted, and much happiness will be attained. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

My happiness and the sufferings of others,
If these situations are not exchanged,
The state of buddhahood will not be reached,
And in samsara I will have no joy.

Regarding this some say:

All dharmas are alike in being conditions of this.
In consummate aspiration they are consecrated.

Saying that is not right. This is because we would always be falling into samsara.

Also when something bad has been done, since we are aiming at enlightenment, if we so dedicate it, since there is dedication to this special aim, it would then be good. In saying this words of Mara have indeed been produced, but nevertheless such an answer needs an explanation. If we are supposed to aspire literally to later remaining within extremes and wandering in samsara for the sake of others, then it follows that even Mañjushri would be wandering there. His prayer says:

For the sake of every sentient being
May I later remain within extremes.

In fact, when we exchange self and other, there is no exchange of anything real with sentient beings. Even when there is, it is very easy to tolerate, since there is also such immense merit. Since the mentally exchanged sentient beings and oneself are both one’s own mind, the suffering of others does not ripen within us, and our own happiness does not go forth to anyone else. Thus, it is taught that no karmic effect is actually transferred. The Hundred Actions says:

What is done by oneself is not transferred to others.
The karma of others likewise will not be ours.
If the share collected by us were to be effective,
Beings would be obscured by karmic darkness.

Since evil deeds are not virtuous roots, it is not suitable to dedicate them as a cause. Other than the lower realms and suffering, they are causes of nothing else.

The Lung says:

These virtuous roots are dedicated to unsurpassable enlightenment.

That, on the contrary “The roots of evil deeds are dedicated to unsurpassable enlightenment,” is not taught anywhere at all. Virtuous causes are what is dedicated by aspiration, and though this is done, unsuitable causes are not also dedicated, any more than space is dedicated to enlightenment. Therefore, don’t think like that. This should not even be heard, and still less should anyone proclaim a view that accords with it. As purifying and augmenting will be explained below, they are not elaborated here.

c. How one should rely on mindfulness and awareness

In this way, day and night:

Always mindful, ever-aware, and very careful,
Abandoning evil, create an ocean of virtuous dharmas.

Thus, according to those three points, the chief of disciplines is guarding our own minds from the assembly of kleshas, and the mind must be guarded with mindfulness, awareness, and care.

Here, by being mindful of the beneficial qualities of these three and the disadvantages of their degeneration, they will not decline. Moreover, by remembering one’s own essence, these should not be allowed to degenerate. Like the string of a tensed bow, their being just so is very important. Why? If mindfulness and awareness degenerate, goodness degenerates, and what is bad easily arises in an instant.

The Bodhicharyavatara says:

The bandits of non-awareness follow after
Degeneration of our mindfulness;
Even though merits may be fully gathered,
As if they were snatched away by thieves and robbers,
We will have to go to the lower realms.

As for the kleshas, that pack of thieves and robbers,
They are seeking their chance to get to us.
When they have found that chance, they ravish virtue.
Even lives of the higher realms are conquered.

Therefore, let us hold to mindfulness
And never let it to go into decline.
When it has gone, there are harms of the lower realms.
So thinking, keep close track of mindfulness.

The mind must be guarded with completely pure consciousness of discipline, its beneficial qualities, the disadvantages of its degeneration, the faults and virtues of samsara and nirvana, and so forth. For example, ancient generations of the world by being aware of the many good and bad natures, put aside bad actions and entered into good ones. So likewise they entered into Dharma. By being aware of all virtuous aspects day and night, they actually established them. Within their three gates they examined virtue and non-virtue as they arose, and reckoned up the little pebbles of these. Putting aside non-virtue and entering into virtue, they guarded awareness. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

The situation of the mind and body
Ought to be examined over and over.
This, to tell the present subject briefly,
Is the criterion of guarding awareness.

Thus mindfulness and awareness are what is chiefly guarded. The same text says:

As for those of you who want to guard the mind,
Guard your mindfulness and likewise your awareness.
Try to do so even if you lose your life.
I join my palms and pray to you that you will do so.

Also guard the mind by being careful. With self-control, there is the self-respect of not producing the kleshas. Having once had to be ashamed before others, we become conscientious about guarding against non-virtue. These two have the essence of care, and it is by that care that we guard against the kleshas.

Moreover, by being careful there are elimination of the kleshas and the virtuous activities of liberation. The Compendium of Abhidharma (mngon pa kun las btus pa) says:

What is care? Having tried to live with non-passion, non-aggression, and non-ignorance, now when we meditate on virtuous dharmas, and guard the mind against all defiled dharmas, we possess the karma that completes all perfect qualities and fully establishes them.

If care exists, all goodness and virtue will be established. If it does not exist, they will not. It is also taught to be the root of all the dharmas of buddhahood. The Friendly Letter says:

Care is the place of amrita, but with carelessness,
It is taught that we achieve the place of death.
Therefore, in order that virtuous dharmas may increase,
We should always be devoted to careful action.

The Samadhiraja Sutra says:

Generosity, discipline, and likewise patience and so on,
As many virtuous dharmas as anyone may mention,
The root of all of these different virtues is being careful.

The Sutra Requested by Jewel-Crown (gtsug na rin po ches zhus pa'i mdo) says:

What is care? Just that is the establisher of virtuous dharmas. By the care of the bodhisattvas, the essence of enlightenment is made beautiful. Care is the root of the dharmas on the side of enlightenment. It is the place of the dharmas that establish wisdom. It is what accumulates good dharmas and what individually grasps them. Formerly heard dharmas do not go to waste. dharmas that should be gathered are gathered. dharmas of obscuration are not gathered.

If mindfulness, awareness, and care are not accomplished, what we have formerly heard degenerates. Though mere faith, hearing, and effort may exist, they are covered over as if we had fallen into mud. Then, since they are impure, there is no liberation from samsara and the lower realms. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

For those who have a mind without awareness,
Hearing, contemplating, and meditating
Will be like water in a leaky vase.
They will not remain in memory.

Even in those who have heard many things,
Faith and any genuine perseverance
Will just be soiled like falling in the mud,
When there is the error of non-awareness.

On all occasions examine your own mind. If you have to enter into any distractions, whatever there is on the side of good and accords with that, with its retinue, energetically devote yourself to its proliferation. Also devote yourself to the non-increase of what is bad. When the good alone exists, dhyana and so forth enter into absolute goodness, producing equanimity without remainder. Whenever and wherever something needs to be produced, until it is completed, do not also undertake many other things. This is because they will be hindrances to establishing that.

Thus, at the time of generosity, even if there is excellent discipline, except for merely not transgressing it, effort in discipline is rested in equanimity, and we must put our effort into generosity. At such times, allowing and restraining by knowing how to distinguish higher and lower is important. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

So taught at the times of generosity,
Is letting discipline rest in equanimity.

Whatever is the intention, act on that.
Do not think of anything other than that.

By always thinking of that very thing,
It will be accomplished in a little while.

In that way all that is good will be produced.
Otherwise neither one will be accomplished.

Tsanaka says:

If with the former unfinished, we start to practice another,
We will be exhausted, and neither will be produced.
If we do not keep one foot set steadily,
Lifting the other will be a cause of falling down.

The Bodhicharyavatara says:

Do not lose the great for the sake of the small.
Chiefly think of the benefit of others.

The Compendium of Instructions (bslab btus), Shantideva’s commentary says:

A medicinal tree must always be kept alive. If it is alive, it will be associated with benefit for others. Just so, this body should be kept and not given up, until we attain the bhumis of the noble ones.

The Bodhicharyavatara says:

Because of impure notions of compassion,
The body should not be lightly given up.

In such cases, some small virtue may be accomplished, but if former great virtue is lost, the lesser will also be left behind. As the virtues of the perfections are trained in and gathered, they become progressively more and more exalted. As the higher are produced, the lower are made into equanimity. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

The perfections of generosity and so forth
Have conduct that grows more and more exalted.

The Jewel Heap Sutra says:

Though some person with a joyful mind
Gives generously for even a hundred years,
One who keeps pure discipline for a day
Is much nobler than that other person.

Guarding by knowing the proper occasion is important. Moreover, the details of daily Dharma practice and details of eating food and so forth, and actions of conduct should be briefly told. First, on arising, rise after remembering the three jewels and bodhicitta. If we have done evil deeds even in dreams, they should be confessed right away. If there was goodness, that alone should be rejoiced in. This is because both day and night habitual patterns of mind are the same. The Middle Length Prajñaparamita says:

Shariputra, if we meditate daily on the perfection of prajña, it will increase. By meditating in dreams, it will also increase. This is because daytime and dream are without distinction.

Then, with the previously taught liturgy, take the vow of arousing bodhicitta. The aspects of day and night should not deteriorate at all, so that they will be enhanced and increased. Then, whether or not there is a desire for food, remembering the three jewels, offer one of the four parts. Put one aside to be given to those who may unexpectedly arrive.

Offer one pinch and so forth as a torma. One part is eaten by ourselves. Also one part may be given to the three jewels, one to the Dharma protectors, one to ourselves, and one to bhuta spirits who are able to receive the leftovers. The Compendium of Action (spyod bsdus) says:

Food should be divided in four parts.
The first is offered as pure food for the gods.
One part goes to the guardian protectors.
Very large tormas are to be presented.
Remaining from our personal food and drink,
The leftovers are given to the bhutas.

According to what is taught in the vinaya of the holy Dharma, of three parts the first is offered to the three jewels, the second left for any monks, bhramans or kshatriyas who may happen to come by, and the third enjoyed.

When eating, eat with the attitude that food is unclean, the attitude of sadness, and the attitude that we are benefiting a city of the family of worms. Think that for a little while we need to live in this great ship while we cross to the essence, enlightenment. However, do not eat with any attitude that increases desire and greed.

Also of the four parts of the body, one is empty, two are food, and one is drink. The Eight Aspects (yan lag brgyad pa) says:

Two parts are food that is eaten.
One part is said to be drink.
One part is of wind and so forth.
Those complete the four parts.

Or also according to the body arising from the basis of food, there are three parts, two of which are food and drink, and one of which is empty. If there is starvation, a host of worms will harm us, illnesses will certainly arise, and we will not be able to undertake actions. If we are very full, many illnesses will arise in consequence, and it is said that there are faults of samadhi becoming unworkable and so forth. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

We should eat no more than what is sufficient.

That is how we should eat. Then the subsequent impermanent mind establishes the dedication of food. As explained in the scriptures:

May the patron king and
The host of other beings,
Also living in cities
Always gain happiness.

Then if we are going somewhere, looking ahead just a yoke’s distance to examine the path for living beings, our minds will not be deceived. The Prajñaparamitasañcayagatha says:

Look for just a yoke’s distance, and in going the mind will not be confused. Also look with eyes cast down, and if someone comes, say with a smile, “It is good.” At dangerous times look in all directions.

The Bodhicharyavatara says:

As for looking around in useless distraction,
That is an action that should not be done.
Keeping mind always fixed in a definite way,
We should always keep the eyes cast down.

However, simply for the sake of comfort,
Sometimes we may look to the directions.
If someone then appears before the eyes.
We may look at them and bid them welcome.

To watch for dangers on the path and so on,
Look again and again to the four directions.
For comfort, having turned the head around,
It is acceptable to look behind us.

Having examined both before and behind,
We should proceed and either come or go.
Thus on all occasions we should act
Having knowledge of what is to be done.

Then, sitting under trees and so forth, do what is good to do, meditating, reading, and so forth. Sometimes, if we want to listen to the Dharma, we should see noble persons. Never speak haughtily and roughly. We should speak as is taught in the Moon Lamp:

Before a great being like you,
How could I be confident?
You are one with great prajña.

That and so forth is how we should speak. If someone wants to hear the Dharma, it is said that we should examine whether they are a vessel. If great things are explained to those of small mind, they will abandon Dharma and go to the lower realms. The Prajñaparamitasañcayagatha says:

Those of small mind, when they hear, will abandon this.
Having abandoned, they will be without refuge.
They will go to the Unremitting Hell.

Similarly, small things should not be told to great people. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

Those who are suitable vessels of the vastest Dharma
Should not be joined to teachings meant for lesser beings.

A man[8] explaining the Dharma to a woman alone without a companion goes against pure conduct, and both will be objects of slander. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

… Nor to a woman without a man being there.

The White Lotus says:

At any time when the wise
Explain the Dharma to women,
They never go alone,
Nor should they stay and banter.

Moreover the path of conduct should not be explained to those who do not respect it and so forth. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

Do not explain the Dharma to those with no respect.
To those who wrap the head, like people who are sick,[9]
Who carry a sword or staff, or have a parasol,
Or anyone who wears a hat upon the head.

Then in a spacious place ornamented with lion thrones and so forth, without personal desire for respect, veneration, and so forth, explain the Dharma with an attitude of benefiting others. The White Lotus says:

In a clean and pleasant place, on a spacious seat,
Excellently arranged and carefully-spread,
Well painted with the finest excellent colors,
Be well-dressed, wearing a good clean Dharma robe,

But always without the least desire for these.
In eating and drinking any food and drink,
We have no wish for them, our clothes or seat,
Our robes, or medicines for curing sickness.

Not receiving anything from our retinue.
Skillful regarding others, may we always
Establish ourselves and beings in buddhahood
And think of the Dharma we teach to help the world

As the total requisite of our happiness.

That is how it should be done. Whatever sorts of persons we meet, and whatever they say, kill pride. Without disrespect, but with a smile, give the teachings in pleasant speech. The Moon Lamp says:

Smiling like the waxing moon and gentle,
To the older generation and the younger,
We should always speak with sincerity,
And be without pride in anything that is done.

The pleasant conversation of the world
Speak only in a timely proper way.
A variety of distracting words of chatter
Because of the danger, we should never speak.

Pleasant speech and praise may be used when without loss for ourselves they make the minds of others happy. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

All of those we hear who may have spoken well,
We should tell them so and say to them, “Well said!
If we see persons performing meritorious actions,
Praising them creates supreme and excellent joy.

In private, good qualities should be spoken of;
And when they are spoken of, we should repeat that later.
If someone talks about our own good qualities,
Think the subject is the good in general.

All our undertakings are so that we can be happy.
Yet happiness is rare, for even those who can pay.305
In view of that, let us be happy at finding joy
In any virtuous deeds that may be done by others.

Nothing will be lost by acting in this way,
And we shall have great happiness in lives to come;
But faults will yield unhappiness and suffering,
And in lives to come we shall also have great pain.

When speaking, we should be relevant and to the point.
Keep the meaning clear and speak with pleasing speech.
We should leave behind both passion and aggression,
Speaking gently in a balanced, moderate tone.

By this rejoicing, excellent ones are seen as teachers, intermediate ones as companions, and lesser ones as retinue. Older persons are seen as our fathers and mothers, and those who are younger as our children. Those of the same age are seen as brothers and sisters and so forth, and by that all are made devoted. The Sutra of the Ten Dharmas (chos bcu’i mdo) says:

By body, speech and mind being free of receiving bad objects, perception is produced of the preceptor as teacher. Perception is produced of the preceptor as master. In behaving purely to older, middle, and younger generations, they are purely perceived, and devoted reverence is produced in them.

The Jataka Tales says:

Holy ones need not be avoided by anyone.
Attend these excellent friends with a very humble manner.
If we are near, a particle of their excellent virtues,
Even without any practice to get it, will be shared.

Hidden transgressions and subtle improprieties are not to be performed. The same text says:

As for evil deeds that may be done unseen,
As with poisonous food, how could one be happy?
By the gods and the purified eyes of accomplished yogins
That these will not be seen is quite impossible.

Thinking how the freedoms and favors are so difficult to obtain and how the arising of a buddha is difficult and so forth, be conscientious. The Sutra Requested by Guarder of the Horizon (yul ’khor skyong gyis zhus pa’i mdo) says:

A buddha, a great sage who benefits the world,
Only arises once in a thousand million kalpas,
Now that they have gained the holy freedoms and favors,
Those who want liberation must give up carelessness.

This body, to guard the Dharma, should be guarded from sickness and döns. Thinking of it as a ship, do not reject its food, clothing, and so forth. We should not torture ourselves with useless mortifications and ascetic practices. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

Even as a mere support of coming and going,
The body should be thought of as being like a ship;
But to establish benefits for sentient beings,
This body must become a wish-fulfilling body.

The Four Hundred says:

Though this body indeed may be seen as an enemy,
Even though that is so, it ought to be taken care of.
By having discipline, it may live for quite a long time.
From that a great amount of merit can be attained.

Also turn the mind to impermanence and the attitude that aspires to enlightenment. The Expression of the Realization of the Seven Maidens (gzhon nu ma bdun gyi rtogs pa brjod pa) says:

Bodily life that is changeable and is discarded
Is similar to a drop of dew upon the grass.
If we are long accustomed to not depending on it,
We will always attain the state of mahasukha.

Life is also guarded because it bestows wealth. For the sake of the great dharmas of arousing bodhicitta and so forth, life must be guarded, and we must not be bereft of it. The Sutra of Instructions to the King says:

By me the bestower of wealth, the body, is guarded.
Bestowing wealth and the body, life is guarded.
Bestowing wealth and body, as well as life,
The giver of all, the Dharma is to be guarded.

The mind should be examined. By eliminating any faults that are seen, the kleshas will not become firmly entrenched. The Request of Brahma says:

If we completely know the faults of mind,
The faults of mind will not be stabilized.
If mindfulness is good within the mind,
We will attain the place of faultless peace.

Moreover, a tooth stick, spit, excrement and so forth should be disposed of in a solitary place not frequented by people, where it will inconspicuous. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

Personal refuse, such as tooth cleaning sticks and spit,
Should not be thrown away where they will be visible.
It is gross for persons to urinate and so forth
In water or on good land that is used by other people.

The vinaya also teaches that defiled things should not be thrown away in usable water and so forth. Also at mealtimes, the Bodhicharyavatara says:

We should never eat with a mouth that is full of food,
Noisily, or while talking, or with an open mouth.

Wherever we are, and particularly with the guru or among many people, indecorous bodily behavior, sleeping, lying down, stretching the soles of the feet forward, rubbing the hands together, and so forth, should not be done. Be straightforward. Do everything with grace. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

Do not stretch the soles of the feet toward other people,
And do not rub the hands together in their presence.

We should never travel lying in a bed,
Nor be alone with women who are committed to others.
Having seen and asked the conduct the world approves,
We should abandon anything that will be offensive.

Sloppy worship, joking about the view, flirting, and all such unpacified aspects of body, speech, and mind should, above all, be completely controlled and tamed. The Flower Garland of Vinaya (’dul bya met tog phreng rgyud) says:

Songs, and dances, and jingling ornaments,
Any seeing or having to do with them,
As well as the evil of direct transgression,
Cause straying from the life of discipline.

So doing necessarily leaves one far from enlightenment. The Sutra Requested by Guarder of the Horizon says:

Uncontrolled, and wildly arrogant;
Disrespectful and proud, with much desire;
With rigid kleshas and overcome by them,
Such people are far from supreme enlightenment.

Those who do not tame themselves cannot tame others, so first of all we should make ourselves peaceful and tamed. The Praise of Limitless Good Qualities (yon tan mtha’ yas par bstod pa) says:

Some, while they have not tamed themselves, speak the words of noble enlightened beings. Acting in contradiction to their own words, they are unable to tame others.

When you have realized this, subsequently placing all beings in your heart, try a little to tame what is untamed in yourself.

The Jewel Heap Sutra says:

Those who have not crossed cannot bring others across.
Those who are not free can never liberate others.
Those who are blind can never show the path to others.
Those who are liberated can liberate other beings.
Those with eyes can show the path to those who are blind.

The Ten Dharmas (chos bcu pa) says:

I am making an effort so that all sentient beings may cross over, making an effort so that all sentient beings may be liberated, making an effort so that all sentient beings may enter into peace and gentleness. Since by not taming, pacifying, and guarding myself, I will not have the good fortune of doing that, I must be pacified, tamed, and guarded.

Similarly, if by others’ response to being benefited harm arises for myself, let it be a cause of good karma and enlightenment. Among all people, be like one who endures sadness and weariness from others by producing a very humble attitude or outcast-like perception. Be gentle, but do what needs to be done. Remembering all that is said, be heedful and conscientious. Disparaging others and behavior due to desire and aversion should not occur even in dreams. Daily in the morning, noon, afternoon, and night, and again late at night, at midnight, and early in the morning, perform the threefold accumulation of prostrations, confession of evil deeds, and dedication of merit. Train chanting the Three Accumulations,[10] and confessing falling away from enlightenment. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

Three times in the day and also three at night
Chant The Sutra of the Three Accumulations.

Moreover in all actions and behavior we should spend our time in virtue alone. The Mahayanasutralankara says:

As, in the activities of the buddha sons,
They entered into the various realms of the senses,
Just so, with words that accord with my family,
What they formerly did for beings I shall also do.

That is the idea. It is taught extensively in the Completely Pure Realization of the Flower Garland of Buddhahood (sangs rgyas phal po che’i spyod yul yongs su dag pa):

When bodhisattvas enter into a house, they arouse bodhicitta, thinking “May all these sentient beings attain the city of liberation.” Similarly, when they go to sleep, they attain the dharmakaya of the buddhas. When they dream, they realize that all dharmas are like a dream. When they awake from sleep, they awaken from ignorance. When they arise, they attain the bodies of buddhahood.

When they put on clothes, they put on the clothing of modestly and decency. When they put on a belt, they are connected to virtuous roots.

When they sit on a seat, they attain the vajra seat. When they lean on a back-support they are attaining the bodhi tree.

When they kindle a fire, the fuel of the kleshas is burned. When it burns, the fire of wisdom blazes.

When they move, they go to attain the amrita of wisdom. When they eat food, they attain the food of samadhi. When they go forth, they are liberated from the city of samsara. When they descend stairs, they are entering samsara to benefit sentient beings. When they open a door, they open the gates to the city of liberation. When they shut a door, they shut the gates of the lower realms. When they set out on a path they tread the path of the noble ones. When they go upwards, they bring all sentient beings into the happiness of the celestial realms. When they descend, they cut the continuity of the three lower realms.

When they meet sentient beings, they meet buddhas. When they step forward, they go to benefit sentient beings. When they lift one of them, they are bringing that being out of samsara.

When they see persons who possesses ornaments, those persons will attain the major and minor marks. When they see persons without ornaments, they will possess the virtues of purity.

When they see a full vessel, it is filled with buddha qualities. If they see an empty one, faults are emptied.

When they see people rejoicing, they will rejoice in the Dharma. When they see them sad, they will be sad about conditioned things. When they see happy sentient beings, they will attain the happiness of buddhahood. When they see sufferings, all sufferings of sentient beings will be pacified. When they see sickness, there will be liberation from sickness.

When they see kindness returned, the kindness of all the buddhas and bodhisattvas is returned. When they see it is not acknowledged, wrong views are not acknowledged as kindness.

When they see disputes, all disputes of opponents are eliminated. When they see praise, all the buddhas and bodhisattvas are praised. When they see discussions of Dharma, the confidence of the buddhas is attained.

When they see a bodily form, they see all the buddhas without obscuration. When they see a stupa, they become a stupa for all sentient beings.

When they see merchants, they will attain the seven noble riches.[11] When they see homage, they arouse bodhicitta, thinking, “May the world with its gods attain the non- manifestation of the center at the crown of the head.

Moreover, for all who are uselessly distracted, with sadness and fickleness of mind, doodling in the sand, babbling inanities, thinking discursive thoughts and so on, when such distractions arise, until they are abandoned by mindfulness and awareness, may all their actions of body and speech and the thoughts of mind be caused to become Dharma. When they go to sleep at night, lying on the right side, may they sleep with their heads in a northerly direction. Remembering death and recollecting the three jewels, may they sleep resting their minds in dharmata like the sky. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

As the Lord slept when he passed into nirvana,
So should we sleep also, in the desired direction.

Day and night aspire to the activities of the excellent noble ones, or sing the meditation songs of the masters, the Seventy Aspirations and so forth, performing them before statues, stupas, and so forth. Here, as to what is taught by the “Twenty Verses,” The Precious Garland says:

1 To the Buddha, the holy Dharma, and the Sangha,
And also to the assembly of the bodhisattvas,
Always paying homage and going to them for refuge,
Let us prostrate to those who are worthy of veneration.

2 We should bring evil deeds to a state of total extinction,
Completely accomplishing all that is meritorious.
As for the merits of the host of sentient beings,
We should rejoice in any merits that they have.

3 Having bowed our heads and joined our palms together,
So that they will turn the wheel of holy Dharma,
And so that they will remain with beings in this world,
We therefore make supplication to the perfect buddhas.

4 By the merits of having performed this liturgy,
By all that is performed or not performed by us,
As a result, may sentient beings without exception
Possess the unsurpassable attitude, bodhicitta.

5 May all sentient beings have perfect spotless powers,
Their lives transcending any lack the excellent freedoms.
May they have autonomy over all their actions,
And may they also have good livelihood.

6 May all embodied beings abiding in the three realms
Have jewels in their hands as a sign of ultimate wealth.
May all their requisites be utterly limitless,
And in samsara may they be inexhaustible.

7 Always having everything that is indispensable,
May they become supreme and turn into excellent beings.
May embodied beings have all the required knowledge
And the ability needed to do what must be done.

8 May they have excellent color and excellent healthy bodies.
May they be exalted and brilliant in their presence.
Beautiful to behold and free from every sickness,
May they be possessors of tremendous power of life.

9 May they all be capable in the ways of upaya,
Free from any kind of fear of suffering.
May they be diligent in regard to the three jewels,
And so possess the great wealth that is the Buddha and Dharma.

10 May they be joyfully kind and very compassionate,
Resting all the kleshas in equanimity,
Adorned with generosity and discipline,
As well as patience, exertion, meditation, and prajña.

11 May they completely perfect all the accumulations.
May they be illumined with the major and minor marks
As well as the ten bhumis, which are beyond conception;
May they attain the various powers and masteries.

12 May we too be adorned with these good qualities,
And also all the other ones that there may be.
And also be liberated from all our various faults
Like the very best of sentient beings Maitreya.

13 May we attain to complete perfection of all the virtues
That constitute the hope of every sentient being.
Thus may we always have the power to clear away
The suffering of all embodied sentient beings.

14 In all the various worlds, whatever beings there are
Who have become discouraged because they are afraid,
May those beings who even so much as hear our names,
By their having done so, become completely fearless.

15 May beings by seeing us and by remembering us,
And even by their having only heard our names,
Be sure of the natural state that is free from all disturbance,
And so attain complete and perfect enlightenment.

16 And in all succeeding generations of beings
May they come to gain the five-fold higher perceptions.
And always, for all the sentient beings there may be,
May there continue to be such benefits as these.

17 Whatever beings may exist within the world.
Desiring the performance of any evil deeds,
Even so, may all of them be free from harm,
Reversing their evil actions once and forevermore.

18 May the physical elements, earth, water, fire and air,
Like a field that is filled with wholesome medical herbs,
Or like a forest of trees that grows in the wilderness,
Ceaselessly provide for people’s natural needs.

19 Though the lives of beings are as if impoverished,
May I be even more impoverished than they.
May their evil deeds all ripen in myself.
May all my share of happiness ripen in those beings.

20 As long as there are any sentient beings at all
That are not liberated, wherever they may be,
For that long, for their sake, even if I attain
The unsurpassable state of enlightenment, may I stay.

Saying this three times, three times a day brings inconceivable merits. The Bodhicharyavatara says

Therefore, in the presence of a representation
Or otherwise, as it may be appropriate,
Say these twenty verses from the Precious Garland
Three times every day and three times every night.


If the merits of saying these words were given form,
As for being more numerous than the sands of the Ganges,
Even the realm of the world could not contain them all.
This is what was taught by the Buddha Bhagavat.

Moreover, as the sutras and the Bodhisattvapitaka say, devote both day and night to training.

Why? The dreamlike freedoms and favors are only there for an instant. They are impermanent like a bubble in water. If we do not set out on the path while we have them, we cannot do so later.

Footnotes and references:


“Alternate sending and taking...”, omitted for metrical reasons.


As a self.


This is from verse VI.119 from the chapter on the perfection of patience. The first half of the verse says, “Therefore, the Sage has said that sentient beings are a field and victorious ones are also a buddha field.” Field here means a situation in

which progress can be made toward enlightenment.


Shantideva says dpung. Longchenpa explains this as dpung tshogs: troops. Ie. it is a metaphor of battling evil.


grel chen substitutes ‘dun pa “aspiration.


V.42 There “It” refers to “not losing the effort of samadhi for even an instant,” in the previous verse. The verse continues, “Thus at the time of generosity it is taught that discipline should be sent into equanimity.


Cutting the bud so that a lotus can bloom


And most importantly a monk.


With a turban.


The Triskandha Sutra, tr. in ed. Bereford Mahayana Purification Practices, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives Dharamsala, 1978.


‘phags pa’i nor bdun - the seven noble riches/ faith, discipline, generosity, learning, decorum, modesty, and knowledge, knowledge/ intelligence.

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