Thursday, June 16, 2016

How Opinion and Thought Contaminate the Mind

Some people debate maliciously others honestly but the wise are
silent stand back from arguments keep the mind open.
How can you ever free the mind of its opinions if you let
desire lead you and do exactly as you like?

You're bound  by your own habits can speak only what you know.
If you credit anything based on rational thought or fantasy you're not clear.
They're part of the conditioned world.
The benefit they give is shaky built on sand.
To overcome habitual points of view is hard.

You investigate them all abandon some and choose a special one.
You argue to defend  a point of view  but if you're free  of set beliefs -
no need!
You've nothing to deny  or to assert  quite purified  right now  of worldly views.

The wise have no such view about what is or what is not.
They know both thought and pride are meaningless.
Nothing defines them.
The wise see your failings if you blow your own trumpet  skite about yourvirtue and awareness but they acknowledge your virtue if you're calm don't bragare selfless and unworldly.

 The Way Things Really Are: a Translation of Book IV of the Sutta Nipata   


Fear comes from embracing violence. Looking at people quarrelling I became agitated. Seeing people floundering, like fish floundering,when hauled out of water, seeing them opposing others, made fear and consternation arise in me! The world was without safety anywhere,in all quarters conflict tossed about. Yet I wanted to find a safe peaceful dwelling-place for myself, I could not... Dissatisfied,seeing opposition itself, I realized that the barb is here within,hard to see, not out there in the world, but in here nestling deep in the mind. Injured by this barb, one runs in all directions. Having pulled that barb out, one neither runs, nor stands still... That relief requires purifying training: One should be truthful, and neither mischievous, nor deceiving, rid of gossip! One should overcome lethargy and laziness, be fully aware, and not negligent. One should not bestow affection upon any external form, and give up all pride over any internal form. Neither longing back for the past, nor liking any new, one will not grieve, when something is vanishing. One should give up whatever fascination attaching to any given object. Greed is like a great flood. Desire is like the current. Sense objects are like the shifting tides. Sense pleasure is like vast stretches of deep entrapping mud, which is very hard to cross over.. Not deviating from the Dhamma, crossing by that truth, the sage, a recluse, comes to stand safe on high ground. Having given up everything, he is calmed!

Sutta-Nipāta 935-946 Edited excerpt.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Concluding Verses

Concluding Verses of the 37 Bodhisattva practises

For those who want to train on the
Bodhisattva path
I have written “The 37 Practices of the
Following what has been said by excellent ones
On the meaning of sutras, tantras and treatises.

The purpose of composing the 37 practices was to inspire one
to pursue the practices of the bodhisattva path by drawing from
the teachings and advice of the Buddha’s own words, as well as
the commentaries and instructions of the great realized masters
and mahasiddhas.

Though not poetically pleasing to scholars
Owing to my poor intelligence and lack of learning
I have relied on the Sutras and words of the excellent
So I think these Bodhisattva practices are without error.
The composer Togmay Sangpo asserts himself to be lacking in
learning and refined language. However, he explains the basis of his
work and highlights that those who have cultivated in these ways
have attained great realizations and is thus an unmistaken path.

The composer Togmay Sangpo asserts himself to be lacking in
learning and refined language. However, he explains the basis of his
work and highlights that those who have cultivated in these ways
have attained great realizations and is thus an unmistaken path.

However, as the great deeds of Bodhisattvas
Are hard to fathom for one of my poor intelligence
I beg the excellent to forgive all faults
Such as contradictions and non-sequiturs.

This verse is the sign of the composer’s great humility, declaring
the bodhisttvas practices to be difficult to carry out for one such
as he. Nevertheless, he describes these profound practices,
though extremely difficult, have great benefits of purification,
accumulation of merit and nourish the inspiration to serve
sentient beings including leading them to enlightenment.

Through the virtues from this,
may all living beings
Gain the ultimate and conventional
altruistic intention
And thereby become like the Protector Chenresig
Who dwells in neither extreme –
not in the world nor in peace!

This is the final dedication that all merits from teaching and
practicing these 37 practices be the cause for the realization of
conventional and ultimate bodhicitta in all living beings, as well
as prevent practitioners from seeking to remain in the peace
of nirvana for one’s own benefit but instead, strive to liberate
all sentient beings and bring them to the state of Chenresig (or
Avalokitesvara/Kuan Yin).

Comments by Geshe Tenzin Zopa 


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Practice 37 is about dedicating all merits towards the enlightenment of all living beings

Verse 37 of the 37 Bodhisattva practises

To remove the sufferings of limitless beings
Understanding the purity of the three spheres
Dedicate the virtue from making such effort
to enlightenment
This is the practice of the Bodhisattvas

Geshe Tenzin Zopa said:

Practice 37 is about dedicating all merits towards the
enlightenment of all living beings.

Whatever form of bodhisattva conduct we engage in, we must
dedicate for it to be the complete cause to eradicate all sufferings
of numberless beings and to liberate them and bring them to
the state of full enlightenment.

When raising dedications, one should take care to dedicate
with the mind of bodhicitta (taking on the responsibility to
bring all beings to enlightenment by oneself alone) and a
mind of wisdom meditating on emptiness i.e. thinking that the
words of dedication, the person making the dedication and the
recipient of the dedication are all empty of inherent existence.
In so doing, even if a moment of anger arises subsequently, it
will not destroy the merits derived from the virtuous conduct.
Otherwise, even we gather a store of merits, if we allow anger
to arise, that anger can eradicate all past virtues that were not
“sealed’ with the emptiness-dedication. Such is the potency and
destructive nature of anger.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Practice 36 is harnessing mindfulness and introspection for the welfare of all living beings

Verse 36 of the 37 Bodhisattva practises

In brief, whatever you are doing
Ask yourself, “What is the state of my mind?”
With constant mindfulness and mental alertness
Accomplish other’s good
This is the practice of the Bodhisattvas

Geshe Tenzin Zopa said:

Practice 36 is harnessing mindfulness and introspection for the
welfare of all living beings.

This verse speaks of the urgency to attain stable mindfulness
and introspection. Without these two, all other practices of
the Bodhisattva cannot be actualized. Everything we do – from
the simple act of walking to the act of meditation, all require
mindfulness and introspection. Otherwise, we could hurt
ourselves! Similarly, to be able to effectively help living beings,
one requires this potent partnership.

In the practice of the 3 high trainings of morality, concentration
and wisdom, success in these is dependent on mindfulness and
introspection. Without them, ego constantly threatens to undo
the rope that binds the delusion-mind to Dharma.
Some people are fond of collecting chakras and hanging them
up everywhere for protection. If we do not guard our mind by
mindfulness and introspection, one will never be protected.

The danger of over-reliance on chakras is that one starts to get
mentally lazy; one believes that the charkas will do all the work
for us. They do not. If we do not abide by the law of karma through
our being mindful of all our actions, despite all the chakras that
one might have, one will still be faced with disappointment and

One might assert that some Sutras state that if one recites a
particular sutra, one need not do any other practice. Such
verses are premised on the assumption that one understands
that guarding one’s mind is the basic building block. Reading
a sutra, whilst simultaneously letting one’s mind go wild is not
going to bring any benefit to oneself nor others. This is obvious.

Therefore, of course, if one has mindfulness and then recites the
sutra, it will indeed be pure Dharma practice. The moment you
tame your delusions, negative karma will no longer arise. The
moment you do not have negative karma, who is going to harm
you? Who will be able to harm you? No one. On the other hand,
even if one’s entire house is surrounded by chakras, if one keeps
on committing negative karma, one will continue experiencing
the suffering results. If you can guard your mind, you can purify
you karma.

The introspection is the mind which is able to differentiate
between virtue and non virtuous conduct. For example, if
one performs Tara Puja solely for the purposes of this life,
introspection will point out that “Doing this puja is a virtue but
as you are doing it for this-life’s purposes only, it is not Dharma.
Since it is virtue, there will be some happy results but it will not
be ultimate lasting happiness”. Or if you are doing a Tara Puja
just because of you want to win the court case (one where you
are in the wrong), introspection will tell mindfulness, “This is
totally the 8 worldly concerns and thus absolutely wrong. Make
sure you close the door to delusions”. The mental conversations
between mindfulness and introspection are always interesting.
Mindfulness and introspection should be conjoined with
the bodhicitta to benefit others. What an extraordinary and
meaningful life one will have then.


Monday, February 15, 2016

Practice 35 advises applying antidotes to disturbing emotions

Verse 35 of the 37 Bodhisattva practises

Habitual disturbing emotions are hard to stop
through counter actions
Armed with antidotes, the guards of mindfulness
and mental alertness
Destroy disturbing emotions like attachment at
once, as soon as they arise
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas

Geshe Tenzin Zopa said:

Practice 35 advises applying antidotes to disturbing emotions.

Disturbing emotions arise due to delusions being active.
Cultivating the 6 Perfections is one of the most effective methods
to overcome disturbing emotions. There are four headings
when studying the 6 Perfections: The first one is engaging into
the practice of 6 Perfections itself; the second one is engaging
into the practice of the skilful means of nurturing disciples; the
third one is engaging in the practice of eradicating delusions; the
fourth one is the practice of accumulating merits.

The application of antidotes should be done in a precise manner.
If attachment is the problem, one should apply the antidote to
attachment (namely seeing the unattractive aspects of the object
of attachment) rather than apply the antidote of patience (which is
targeted at a different delusion, namely anger). Or if jealousy arises,
one should apply the antidote of rejoicing, rather than practice
generosity which is the antidote to the delusion of miserliness.
Bodhisattvas are quick to recognize the arising of delusions and
move to apply the appropriate antidote at the very moment the
delusion arises. This is to prevent the mind from being habituated
with a delusion. The longer we allow a delusion to take root, the
deeper and longer it stays there.

Therefore, how should one go about training one’s mind in
applying antidotes? Firstly, one needs to develop mindfulness
and introspection. Mindfulness is awareness and introspection
checks the quality of mindfulness, like a guard at the door of
mental awareness. When a delusion comes to the door of the
mind , mindfulness might detect it but it is introspection which
alerts mindfulness to close the door tighter. Mindfulness alone
sometimes does not succeed in keeping delusions out because
delusions like attachment are very slippery. Anger may be more
obvious but ignorance is also very tricky to catch. Delusions
are sometimes subtle and manifest as a happy experience
e.g. enjoying praise, which gives room for attachment, pride
and ignorance to flourish. Introspection is a stronger warrior
through its ability to see through subtle delusions and raise the
red flag of caution – so in the case of oneself receiving pride,
introspection will have a dialogue with mindfulness, saying “This
praise is feeding pride and attachment. It will hurt you in the end.
Mindfulness, make sure you do not let pride and attachment
come in. Kick them out”. That is how one should guard against
delusions gaining a foothold in our mind.

Introspection acts like a CCTV security camera - even there is no
one around, it “sees” what is happening. The computer which
houses introspection is mindfulness, so when introspection
sees something is approaching, it will report to mindfulness. In
this way, both mindfulness and introspection are necessary in
detecting and acting against any approaching delusion.

The entire purpose of the 37 practices of bodhisattva, as is the
entire purpose of the Lojong (mind-training) teachings is to
guard our mind against delusions, the source of all suffering.
We therefore, need to encourage ourselves in the cultivation of
mindfulness and introspection. We do this through understanding
and logic and habituating our minds through meditation. If we
allow delusion to enter our mental continuum, it will pollute the
clarity of our mind resulting in an experience of distortion and
suffering. And this in turn causes us to repeatedly get reborn
into samsara to experience suffering again and again. For this
reason, we have no choice but to guard our mind in order to be
free from delusion, the disturbed mind and achieve the state of
peerless happiness. This is a very practical approach to life.
I used to dread watching the TV news because there is always
bad news, hurtful, painful accounts of sufferings everywhere.

However, through the kindness of these teachings on mindfulness
and introspection, I now watch the news. I allow myself to see
all that the news presents and instead of feeling sad, I feel
inspired to do more of others. One should not allow oneself
to become sad due to others situation or hurt due to others’
actions because if you become a victim of theirs, it intensifies
their negative karma.

The main purpose of Dharma is to challenge and overcome
delusions. The best time to train in the antidotes is when our
minds are not disturbed nor overwhelmed by delusions. It would
be difficult to start practicing when one mind is in a very agitated
state. When our minds are relatively “quiet” or in a neutral state,
we can start habituating our mind the faults of delusions and
the advantages of applying the antidotes. This way when the
delusion arises, we have had some practice and experience in
utilising the antidotes to subdue the delusions. Reading Dharma
books is also helpful in the battle against delusions. Reading is
like an analytical meditation. It will plant imprints of whatever
we read. And if whilst reading, one is able to draw the meaning
into one’s heart, it is much more effective. In this way, when
delusion strikes, it will be easier to awaken one’s recollection
and application of the antidote.

Dromtoenpa advised that if any teaching does not strike at
delusions to bring them down, it is not Dharma. Thus, when we
are setting up a beautiful altar, we need to be very mindful. If
we perform the altar arrangement as a decoration, it is already
influenced by the delusion of attachment to beauty, hence that
action of arranging the altar is not Dharma. Or if whilst practicing
great compassion, one feels superior in being able to deliver
help, that is not Dharma. The sign of having practiced Dharma is
a subdued mind, a humble mind.

You can look at HH Dalai Lama or Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche,
if you bow this much to them, they bow much lower than you.
If you express one word of praise to them they will express two
words of praise to you. If you say they are Buddha, they would
say that you are the earlier Buddha. For us ordinary people, if
someone paid homage to us as a Bodhisattva, we would probably
say, “Yes, so what do you want from me?” (Laughter).

One should observe oneself and check whether our delusions
are operatinge or not. When anger or any delusion becomes
dominant and more aggressive, likewise, mindfulness and
introspection must be more robust. Therefore, we first need to
recognize the object to be negated e.g. for attachment, we need
to understand what is meant by attachment – how it arises, its
faults, its antidotes and the benefits of eliminating attachment.
Likewise, we need to know all the various types of delusions and
their corresponding antidotes in order to start training in them
to conquer delusions to the root.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Practice 34 is never express harsh words

Verse 34 of the 37 Bodhisattva practises

Harsh words disturb the minds of others
And the cause deterioration in a
Bodhisattva’s conduct
Therefore give up harsh words
Which are unpleasant to others
This is the practice of the bodhisattvas

Geshe Tenzin Zopa said:

Practice 34 is never express harsh words. Even though one’s
mind at the start of the conversation was based on bodhicitta
and wisdom, the moment harsh words come from your mouth,
it marks the collapse of bodhicitta.
During Dr Jimpa’s recent session, he expressed the view
that as long as harsh words are used, no matter if used with
compassionate motivation, it is still negative. Hence we should
guard our speech carefully. However, it is not just a simple
matter of not using scolding words. Sarcastic words or sweet
words designed to cause hurt, come under the category of harsh
words as well.

In Western cultures, teachers are not allowed to beat nor scold
the children and need to apply the softest method to deal
with them or else face police action, right? The Bodhisattva
practice seems to be more inclined towards Western culture!
But of course, one needs to apply wisdom too e.g if the child is
frequently doing wrong and harming others, the child has to be
firmly taught not to do that. For a start, we should avoid any use
of harsh words and instead, find alternative ways to deal with a
difficult child.

I am certain that Kuan Yin Pusa never expressed harsh words
but yet was able to liberate numberless beings under critical and
wild conditions. However, no wonder Kuan Yin’s head cracked
into 11 parts before being re-assembled by Guru Amitabha.
In the process of our practice, we definitely will cry many
times, sometimes with good reason as we feel we have failed
but remember always that we cannot give up. This is where
having Dharma friends helps. If one is surrounded by those who
discourage you from practice and encourage distraction, it will
be very difficult to sustain your journey on the Path. Your basic
Buddha nature like a like a clear sunny sky. Sometimes, there
are storm clouds – it does not mean that the sun is no longer
there; it is just that the clarity has been temporarily overcast by
clouds. Likewise, our fundamental nature is clarity but delusions
are like the clouds which interrupt the clarity. Hence we need
practice and virtuous friends help us to keep up the practice to
clear off the clouds and restore a clear, happy, sunny mind. We
need to be cautious about negative friends and foster virtuous

I have observed on several occasions during puja that some
attendees seemed lost as to which page of the puja text is being
peformed and when someone shows that person the correct
page, that person gets upset! Perhaps that person’s ego was
hurt by the thought, “I know how to turn the page”. In any case,
when we offer help, wisdom is required. If your help is rejected,
there is no need to get angry. If someone gets upset with you,
back off and go enjoy pizza! (Laughter). Although offering help
is virtuous, wisdom requires us to be mindful about whether
the person is ready to receive your help. Otherwise, it might be
better to leave them alone for the time being.

For example, you may want a visitor to be comfortable and thus
offer him a cushion. But he insists on sitting on the hard floor.
You cannot insist that he sits on the cushion. There is the danger
that he would regard you as a pushy person and be discouraged
to return to a centre of pushy people. Be skilful and observant.
That is a bodhisattva practice.

Harsh words include unskillful speech. Let us say you have a
friend whom you always joke with. A family member of this
friend then passes away and when he calls you, you continue to
talk in a joking way about the death or say something casual like
“Don’t worry, be happy”. This will not do. Although the phrase
itself is not unpleasant but under the circumstances, it comes
under the category of harsh speech. We need to be very careful
with this.