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
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.