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.