Eight Verses of Training the Mind, Vienna, Austria

Transcript of the teaching video:

Thank you. I'd like to express my gratitude to these ladies for presenting this wonderful performance of "Tibetans", a song related to the three regions of Tibet (known as the Land of Snow) and for giving us a very auspicious start to this teaching. Thank you. 

Exactly as stated in the song, Tibet: The Land of Snow is not a place devoid of jewels. Typically, for anyone seeking happiness and looking to avoid suffering, a jewel symbolizes the fulfillment of all their needs. When we think of a jewel, we imagine something endowed with benefits, something that brings us happiness and joy and holds great value. 

2,500 years ago, our great teacher Buddha brought us the precious Dharma of realization and the Dharma of scriptures. All his teachings encompass the law of dependent origination, which is a profound science based on truth. Later, when this teaching reached the Land of Snow: Tibet, it was embraced by doctrine holders without differentiating any lineages, especially His Holiness, who is like the Buddha of all three times. His Holiness embodies the qualities of Buddha himself with unsurpassable love, unsurpassable knowledge and unsurpassable capabilities. In the past or the future, for such an incredible holy being to arrive in our world, is very difficult. His Holiness and the masters are indeed the wish-fulfilling jewels for the 21st century. They have provided teachings for us to listen to, contemplate and practice through exposition, debate and composition of Dharma's extremely precious explanations. They have imparted excellent teachings of the ground, the path and the fruition, helping us to either uphold the doctrine or further develop the teachings. Owing them great gratitude it is clearly true, as expressed in the song, that the Land of Snow is not devoid of jewels. 

I would like to express my own gratitude once again. Indeed, we Tibetans have a very precious culture: the Dharma and the pith instructions of the lamas. We have shared them with the world regardless of ethnicity or religion. This world is akin to home for each of us and Dharma can only bring benefit to it, with its unmistaken view, unmistaken conduct and the Dharma of nonviolence. From Dharma we learn exceptional wisdom and compassion, which the Snow Land has preserved for the world without any distinction. This shared treasure – Dharma – is what the world needs in the 21st century. 

On the one hand, the world's development of outer material capability has reached new heights. On the other hand, the world has entered a terrible time where many disastrous events have occurred and it seems impossible or very difficult to save ourselves from these disasters. We have come to understand that the pursuit of external materials falls short of fulfilling all our desires. The science of the mind, or mental health, is much needed and extremely important. Suffering can be divided into physical suffering and mental suffering, with the two being mutually dependent. The science of the mind provides methods that can lead us toward world peace. It can bring genuine peace through practical application, beginning with the individual and expanding to families, nations and ultimately, the world. Alongside material science we can cultivate exceptional wisdom and compassion, in conjunction with the science of the mind. These are priceless things and with our efforts they can bring about not only temporary happiness but also ultimate happiness to all of us and others, illuminating peace in our prayers. 

Today, our topic regards Geshe Langri Thangpa’s Eight Verses of Training the Mind. These eight verses demonstrate the union of wisdom and compassion, illustrating how to integrate them into our daily lives to benefit both body and mind. That's what we'll delve into today. 

To attain the highest Buddhahood, we need to exert ourselves with the practice, starting with taking refuge and generating bodhichitta, which will become the cause of enlightenment. Let's begin then with the refuge verse here. 

(Refuge verse) 

“In the Buddha, the Dharma and the Supreme Assembly

I take refuge until I attain enlightenment. 

Through the merit of practicing generosity and so on, 

May I attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all beings.” 

Generating great motivation is very important. When we take refuge, we Buddhists seek refuge in the three jewels. In this world there are many whom we call jewels or the precious and sublime ones. Numerous incredible manifestations of bodhisattvas have appeared in the world. They are replete with love, compassion and kindness and do no harm to other beings. They embody the practice of a kind heart and an honest mindset. Kindness and honesty align with the teachings of our sublime ones, whereas engaging in harmful actions goes against their teachings. If we indulge in negativity or try to harm others, we will suffer from it. Cultivating a kind and honest mindset will bring us happiness. 

Regardless of your beliefs, whether it be the three jewels, a single jewel or many jewels; regardless of your religions, gurus and all the ones with whom you have spiritual or dharmic connections, what truly matters is recognizing these jewels as teachers who guide us toward bodhicitta and the correct view, helping us to expand our minds and cultivate vastness within. 

If we become entangled in labels such as 'I’m Christian', 'I’m Buddhist' or 'I am such and such', we risk becoming narrow-minded. Even as Buddhists, fixating on specific lineages such as identifying yourself only as Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu or Gelug, results in a huge loss. Such thinking only fuels our attachments and aversion. What we truly need is a kind heart and an honest mindset. None of us desires suffering, yet suffering arises from negativities such as untruthful and negative thoughts. Conversely, the happiness we seek stems from a kind, open heart and an honest mindset. Whether on a personal or universal level, honesty and kindness are among the most precious of requirements. They are truthful and can lead us towards peace. Above all, cultivating a vast, truthful and open mind is paramount. 

First Verse: "By thinking of all sentient beings as more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel for accomplishing the highest aim, I will always hold them dear."

This statement carries profound significance, akin to an oral instruction. In essence, the verse embodies the most exceptional wisdom and compassion. It's akin to receiving oral instructions from the author, who emanates from a pristine and uncontrived nature of the mind, completely honest and pure. Initially, comprehending his words from such a pristine level might prove challenging due to our strong attachments. As sentient beings we might question, "What use can this have for me?" However, the truth remains that only when we perceive the nature of the mind, only when we possess unmistaken view and conduct, will we grasp the preciousness of sentient beings. 

In essence, this verse encapsulates exceptional wisdom and compassion. It's akin to an oral instruction from the author, making it quite challenging for someone like me to delve into it. However, today I'm here to share my insights with you, with very pure intention. 

The mind behind this verse embodies the truthful, uncontrived nature of the mind – completely pure. It may be challenging for us to immediately accept these words emanating from such a pristine level, as we are deeply accustomed to strong attachments and aversion. For instance, when contemplating “all sentient beings as more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel”, we might wonder, "What use can this be for me?" However, the truth unfolds when we perceive them through the lens of the nature of the mind with unmistaken view and conduct. Only then do we comprehend the profound preciousness of sentient beings. 

This exceptional wisdom is inherent within all of us. We simply don’t know yet how to utilize it. Due to our unawareness of this innate wisdom our minds become inundated with afflictions like anger and attachment, mindsets which typically govern our daily lives. 

Here, understanding natural phenomena is important. Take sunlight, for example. When the sun shines it illuminates everywhere without differentiation. It does not have preferences, so it does not leave some spots dark and some bright. It brings light to the world equally. Similarly, when greenery grows it grows everywhere, resulting in air flowing everywhere so that we can all use it and enjoy it. The way nature is, it comes without attachment and aversion. Conversely, our mind clings to attachments and aversion. By harnessing the true nature of our minds we can bring about only benefits and happiness for all. Hence, recognizing the importance of understanding the nature of the mind is essential. 

An enlightened mind has great capacity to bear responsibilities, as demonstrated in the verse, “By thinking of all sentient beings ...”. This encompasses all sentient beings, not just some. It does not advocate protecting only one's own family. It extends to all sentient beings of the three times. How precious is this wisdom and how vast is this mind!  

A jewel usually refers to something valuable. In the verse, “ … as more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel”,  a wish-fulfilling jewel is not ordinary. It fulfills all wishes. It is wish-fulfilling because it aids in achieving great meaning, thereby “accomplishing the highest aim”, fostering immense courage, compassion and the capacity to bear substantial responsibilities (whether temporary or ultimate). Consequently, it holds profound significance and is exceedingly precious. 

The final sentence in this verse – “I will hold them dear” –  

emphasizes the imperative of cherishing all sentient beings. This notion is straightforward. Our very existence and sustenance relies on the kindness others. Every aspect of our physical needs, from food and clothing to shelter and reputation, stems from interdependence. Even the formation of our bodies originates from our parents, whose bodies in turn are derived from their ancestors, extending into an infinite lineage. This interconnectedness underscores the relevance, preciousness and inherent connection we share with all sentient beings. 

Frequently, we mistakenly think that the education we acquire, the abilities we possess or the wealth we own are all derived from ourselves and ourselves alone. We grasp at ourselves as having a true, independent and intrinsic existence. Such a base fuels attachments and aversion. We scrutinize others with a fault-finding eye while neglecting our own shortcomings. This confusion blinds us to the kindness of sentient beings, leading to an inability to repay their immense benevolence. This is how we are mistaken.  

The realization of our highest aspirations hinges on our fellow parent-like sentient beings. They are precious for numerous reasons. I am just one individual among countless others who, like me, seek happiness and wish to avoid suffering. Recognizing this, those who shoulder responsibilities for all sentient beings are ones with integrity and are deemed immensely capable and important. Such individuals will find happiness. They are endowed with wisdom, compassion, pure intention and patience. 

Understanding the preciousness of sentient beings through a gradual learning process enables the development of an honest mindset, rooted in truth. When we navigate the world, whether by car or plane, every road, bridge and resource we utilize comes from the kindness of sentient beings. The food we consume, the garments we wear, the hospitals we go to when we are ill and the accommodations we seek, all rely on the contributions of sentient beings. Even our very bodies are a product of our parents. Likewise, the education we receive is imparted by our teachers.  

Reflecting on the notion of ‘you’, you will find that the so-called ‘you’ does not exist in the same way that you grasp as an independent sole existence. Rather, ‘you’ abide through encounter, reliance and dependence. Our existence comes from the interdependence of many causes and conditions. That is the reason why we need to repay the kindness of precious sentient beings. When we are ungrateful (because we lack the understanding of their benevolence) we go around creating enemies we are angry at, where none truly exist.  

In fact, where is the outer enemy? There is not an enemy of intrinsic existence! These outer adversaries are harbored by our three poisons, the afflictions of our mistaken mind. Because of these afflictions we often grasp something in the nature of suffering as happiness, leading to increased attachment and aversion. We grasp something that is in the nature of impurity as pure, fostering further attachment and aversion. We misperceive something that is in the nature of impermanence as permanent and something that lacks inherent self as having an inherent self. 

To attain genuine happiness we must cultivate exceptional wisdom and expand our minds. This wisdom enables us to develop profound compassion, starting with those in our immediate surroundings. Recognizing the shared experience of suffering and rebirth in samsara prompts compassion for all beings. The self-arisen wisdom inherent in sentient beings transcends suffering, offering boundless potential for happiness and fulfillment. Pursuing this path leads to limitless joy and contentment, making it one of the most valuable endeavors we can undertake. Ultimately, the application of wisdom lies in the training and refinement of the mind. 

Grasping at a false self generates the majority of our attachments and aversions. These attachments and aversions entangle us in mistaken perceptions of enemies, close ones or irrelevant beings. We become trapped in narrow-mindedness and perpetual cycles of suffering. Even when we possess the factors leading to pleasure or samsaric perfections, we often fail to recognize that the essence of all such samsaric perfections is inherently transient, in the nature of suffering.  

In the long run, these pursuits do not yield genuine happiness. To attain genuine happiness, we must cultivate exceptional wisdom and expand our minds. This wisdom enables us to develop exceptional compassion. To people who suffer we will have great compassion, starting with those in our immediate surroundings, our partners or our families. We won't go about our lives like these little animals, just looking to fulfil the most basic needs.  

With a vast mind we will come to understand the kindness of all beings. Like me, they are subject to the cycle of samsara due to their misconceptions. Hence, we can naturally foster compassion for them. This compassion arises from recognizing its causes. In turn, we can nurture compassion through acknowledging its positive effects. Here, mistaken and untamed minds become the objects of our compassion. Identifying such mistaken and untamed minds is therefore crucial.  

Every sentient being possesses the unmistaken nature of the mind. This self-arisen wisdom is precious because it transcends suffering. Given that the nature of our mind is free from suffering, why not pursue it? If we strive for such a pursuit, our minds will naturally become vast and open. We will experience limitless happiness, joy and enjoyment. That is one of the most priceless endeavors we could undertake. On the one hand, unlimited sufferings stem from mistaken minds. On the other hand, unlimited happiness arises from minds that are kind and honest. The practice of wisdom therefore involves training and taming the mind.  

Second Verse: "Whenever I am in the company of others, I will regard myself as the lowest among all, and from the depth of my heart cherish others as supreme."

The concept of ‘regarding oneself as the lowest among all’, irrespective of time or the nature of one's actions, requires careful contemplation. Typically, we are so ingrained in our self-grasping that we might misinterpret such a message. In essence, while we seek happiness we constantly end up experiencing suffering. How does this happen? It stems from self-grasping and ignorance. To tame our self-grasping mind, placing all sentient beings above us and holding ourselves as the lowest among all, can make a significant difference. As mentioned, every facet of our life relies on the kindness of sentient beings. Therefore, they are precious.  

A vast and open mind is essential to truly enhance one's happiness. This requires placing all beings above ourselves. When we see ourselves as the lowest among all we should apprehend the essence of such an object and then pose the question: Who is the apprehender? Who is apprehended? Interdependently, the existence of sentient beings is merely a designation. 

Failing to regard ourselves as the lowest among all will lead to faults such as intensified attachment, pride, anger, aversion, ill-will, covetousness and jealousy (among others). Such a mindset will result in faults for both ourselves and others, leading to significant losses. 

Regardless of our capabilities, intelligence or accomplishments, they all originate from the kindness of others. Therefore, it's important to regard yourself as the lowest among all. By adopting this perspective you naturally foster many friendships wherever you go.  

Conversely, perceiving ourselves as important and proud, even with extensive knowledge and samsaric perfections, only leads to loss and never to benefit. No matter what one owns, stay humble and harmonious with all. When you extend love to all, you reap benefits. Others will not be jealous of you, but rather love and trust you. This is reality. 

Third Verse: “In my every action, I will watch my mind, and the moment destructive emotions arise, I will confront them strongly and avert them. Since they will hurt both me and others.”

The essence of the second and third verses revolves around the way to open our wisdom. When we unlock our wisdom we pave the way for the development of positive qualities like exceptional compassion, patience, meditative concentration, love and so forth. Usually, we find ourselves susceptible to external circumstances. For example, when we encounter unfavorable conditions, or when we are faced with adversity or challenging situations, we tend to very easily lose our good qualities such as patience, compassion and wisdom. Not only do we lose these positive qualities, but our attachment and aversion intensify very strongly and easily, leading us to become cocooned by our narrow-mindedness. Therefore, through cultivating our wisdom we gain insight into appropriate conduct. This is rooted in loving-kindness when interacting with others.  

Often, when alone, we tend to focus on the faults of others while overlooking our own negative behavior. In fact, we frequently scrutinize others as if our eyes can only look at them, unable to turn back and examine ourselves. When we only look at each other’s negative behavior, our afflictions surface immediately. We have a strong habit of easily succumbing to negative emotions, such as aversion, attachment, arrogance and so on. These tendencies are deeply ingrained within us, needing no guidance from parents or teachers. Our habits effortlessly evoke emotions like anger, jealousy, competitiveness and so forth, adding to our unhappiness and often causing trouble for ourselves and others. 

It is therefore crucial to contemplate how to deal with these negative emotions when they surface. We must acknowledge the fact that these negativities are mistaken mindsets. Recognizing that the true nature of our mind is unmistaken will lead us to the understanding that these negative emotions arise due to various conditions; conditions involving others and conditions concerning ourselves. That is, there are conditions from others that trigger our negative emotions. On top of that, there's a condition about ourselves – namely our discursive thoughts. Both of these conditions give rise to mistaken thoughts. Hence the line in the text, “In my every action I will watch my mind. The moment destructive emotions arise I will confront them strongly and avert them since they will hurt both me and others.” 

Whether in society or within our own families, when falsely accused for example, our attachment, aversion and ignorance can surge forcefully. When such situations arise we find ourselves grappling with endless suffering, prompting the need to apply wisdom. We all seek happiness and want to avoid suffering. Whether happiness or suffering arises, things do not exist with an independent intrinsic nature. They come about from the interdependence of causes and conditions. Having realized things do not exist with an independent intrinsic nature, it is crucial to employ methods that foster kindness, honesty and wisdom. Recognizing the absence of independent nature in all existence will allow us to foster compassion for those who exacerbate our challenges.  

To the person who has rage towards you, you will think of how the true nature of their mind is untainted by such anger and rage, even though they are engulfed by this emotion now. Such rage is merely an adventitious occurrence, stemming from discursive thoughts and ignorance, which have caused unhappiness for themselves and others. Based on this understanding we can elicit our compassion for them. This is how we should utilize wisdom. This is how wisdom fosters truthfulness within us. Through employing proper methods we can cultivate patience and compassion, thereby revealing our innate wisdom. Failure to confront and avert harmful actions leads to numerous faults. With bad apprehension we will make many mistakes, which in turn gets us into more trouble and suffering. However, when we utilize wisdom and comprehensively discern all aspects, clear and subtle, we can counter and thwart any destructive emotions with forceful means. 

Fourth Verse: "Whenever I see ill-natured things or those overwhelmed by intense negativity or suffering, I will cherish them as something rare, as though I found a priceless treasure."

Because of our mistaken mind, we end up having very bad attachments. When we see someone that we don't like or somebody who offends us in a terrible way, we end up being very angry at that person. Sometimes, throughout our life, we hold a grudge and become uncomfortable towards that person. It is how we might see others, as well as how others might see us. When we adopt that kind of mindset, everything about that person seems bad. There is nothing about that person that is not bad. However, if we know how to utilize wisdom, things will turn out differently. Without using wisdom we will be bombarded and bound by all these negativities to ourselves and others in our daily lives. We will be caught up in jealousy, competitiveness, mistaken views and ill will, which is the exact opposite of wisdom. Of course, that is a type of intelligence but it is mixed with a lot of afflictions. It is not that we are faultless, but we need to know the way to open our wisdom. If we open our wisdom we will be able to replace anger with true compassion, kindness and patience. 

When we face a person who brings us suffering we need to understand that even if he or she does not seek our suffering, that he or she is directly under the control of confusion, attachment, aversion, unhappiness and so on. Whatever they are grasping at or are strongly attached to is working directly against the happiness they seek. When falsely accused for example, reacting in the typical manner will only result in pointless quarrels and lead to making wrong decisions, leaving everyone unhappy. Do not quarrel! Instead, open your mind and apply wisdom. The nature of any phenomenon lacks the slightest bit of the darkness you presently apprehend it with. Regardless of the severity of someone's actions or words, compassion naturally emerges from deep within. Compassion arises because you lack such intense negativities that these people are strongly attached to. They are confused. Having a real understanding of their confusion will allow you to give rise to unbearable compassion. This is how utilizing wisdom can lead to the generation of compassion. 

We can apply this to our families. Typically, we engage in fights within our family quite easily because we all harbor bad views which we immediately grasp onto as something concrete and solid. However, in those circumstances, if we know how to utilize wisdom, it is an opportune moment to apply the four immeasurables: “May they have happiness and its causes. May they be free from suffering and its causes. May they not be separated from the great happiness devoid of suffering. May they dwell in equanimity, free from attachment and aversion.” By remembering to do so, we can really take things to the next level; practicing bodhicitta, engaging in the conduct of bodhisattvas and practicing the six perfections. Without a ‘troublemaker’, we will not be able to practice the perfection of patience. As it is said, “Always strive to diminish self-cherishing”. There are reasons for this regardless of the mistreatment we may have encountered.  

We need wisdom to tackle our grasping or the attachment to our suffering. Usually, we have very strong self-grasping. We grasp at the intrinsic existence of the object or grasp at the mind that perceives the object. This grasping onto suffering leads to more suffering. When we use our wisdom we will come to the understanding that the object, or the mind that perceives the object, has no intrinsic existence. This type of wisdom will help us eradicate self-grasping. We will understand that all this apprehension, clinging, truthfulness, goodness and badness held onto by our self-grasping ignorance, is not only limited but also puts us under the control of discursive thoughts.  

We need to know that which creates our suffering. We can then use wisdom to understand that the object of our grasping does not exist in the same way we grasp or perceive it, or in the same way as our mistaken feelings. These mistaken perceptions or feelings always turn into suffering. Having utilised our wisdom, we will come to perceive that the object's existence does not abide as we grasp it. Understanding that things arise in reliance on various causes and conditions, our wisdom then expands. 

Having widened our wisdom, we will come to understand that all phenomena exist in the mode of dependent origination, devoid of even the slightest inherent nature. When facing our grasping at intrinsic nature or our adamant, hardheaded clinging, we can question ourselves about where this grasping arises. Is it at the object or our mind that perceives the object? If we search, we will find nothing. We will quickly realize that our confusion or self-grasping is untrue. Simply investigate. It's easy to understand. 

The ‘very bad’ person you see – from head to toe – where is the badness of that person? From the front to the back, where can you pinpoint that badness? I'm not saying that these things, the sufferings or the badness, do not exist. Their existence appears from encounters, reliance and relations of many conditions. When these conditions are met today that bad person becomes bad, however tomorrow their mind might not be so confused and they might turn into a good person. Then that bad person doesn't exist anymore, do they? 

Fifth Verse: "When out of envy, others mistreat me with abuse, insults, or the like, I shall accept defeat and offer the victory to others."

This jealousy is something very serious. So in our daily life, in the 21st century, it is really necessary that we think about this. If we don’t, that would be a big mistake.

In general there are many different occurrences of jealousy. For example, there's jealousy in competition between countries, between family members, between different sizes of companies. There are all kinds of different types of situations when there's jealousy and competitiveness occurring. Whenever this competitive mind comes about, it is very important for us to see its shortcomings.

No matter how great our conducive circumstances and excellences are right now, no matter how many great things we have, if we are under the power of jealousy then the only thing that can happen to us is suffering. Any pleasures that we might find through form, sound, smell, taste, touch - however great they may be - if we are under the sway of jealousy there's nothing else that can come other than suffering. When we come under the power of jealousy, it will rob us of our happiness.

So, if we live our lives under the influence of jealousy and competitiveness, then no matter how much economic wealth we have or other excellences we might possess, the only thing they can bring about is suffering. There is nothing else. Every outer or inner excellence that we might possess, any pleasures, they will only bring suffering. For if our mind is consumed by jealousy and competitiveness, then forget about rejoicing in others' happiness. It will only bring problems to ourselves and to others. For example, if there's jealousy or competitiveness between countries, that will bring problems. If it exists between family members, nothing but problems will come. Thus, if we follow after these pleasures or excellences of form, sound, smell, taste and touch, these might be pleasurable to our coarse faculties, but they can only bring about suffering if we are consumed by jealousy and competitiveness. We will end up living our lives scared, depressed, always feeling down. All these different types of sufferings will be brought about by this mind state.

This jealousy doesn't come about without any causes and conditions either. It doesn't just come about haphazardly. We have wisdom now but because this wisdom is mixed with afflictions, with afflictive emotions, these things come about. The root of this suffering is ignorance, because our wisdom right now is not yet opened up. We remain under the power of ignorance. The ignorance that doesn't see things as they really are. We are consumed by a fixation, grasping at true existence and because of that we cannot obtain happiness.

This verse tells us to accept defeat and give the victory to others. If we don't use wisdom how can we ever bring about peace and happiness for all sentient beings? Isn't that what we want? All sentient beings want to be happy and do not want to suffer. They want to live in a pleasant environment, needing food and clothing and on top of that beings need to get along with one another. When others obtain these things, instead of being jealous wouldn't it be more logical to think how great it is because I also need them? If they have more than me, how wonderful it is for everyone to have these things. We can rejoice in others' successes and pleasures. If others are jealous of us, what does it matter? It doesn't hurt me; it's nothing but words or thoughts they have. When others blame us or mistreat us we can give them the victory and wish all happiness to all sentient beings, without holding any grudge. Thinking this way, with a mind of selflessness, not distinguishing positive from negative, not grasping onto those concepts, remembering the kindness of all sentient beings, we give the victory to others.

This world is all of our home, our only home. Taking care of the environment and living in a pleasurable environment is our responsibility. If we only think about our own happiness and suffering, isn't that odd? All sentient beings are the same in wanting happiness and not wanting suffering. We have to look after each other, whether in politics, between countries or in terms of religion. If on the basis of jealousy and competitiveness we make a strong distinction between “you” and “me”, that jealousy between people, countries or religions is very scary. It causes incredible suffering for the world. In this twenty first century there are different wars and disasters, all caused by jealousy and competitiveness. If someone improves we should think - “how wonderful!” Religion should not involve jealousy either. No religion teaches jealousy. If gurus or spiritual teachers act through competitiveness, jealousy or wrong views, their practice has nothing to do with religion. Only thinking about “my students, my beneficiaries, my center” and so forth, speaking about religion but not actually practicing it, is a great disservice to the peace and happiness of the world. Therefore, we all have a great responsibility.

Peace and happiness of the world - it is the responsibility that belongs to all of us. So, we are responsible for our own happiness, responsible for the happiness of our family and so forth. If you want happiness then there is no place for jealousy. Instead of jealousy we should be rejoicing. You can give space for rejoicing, for seeing the qualities and positive aspects and that will bring about feelings of happiness and pleasure. This will be of merit to the world, of happiness to the world if that comes about. Resultingly, there will be no obstacles, there will be no difficulties for the world and people will help each other mutually. There will be trust between people.

All of the things that are going well for us, all of the conducive circumstances, whether we have them in great measure, or whether others have them in great measure, these actually come about dependent on many other things as well. So, there's a great auspiciousness in that and there's a great dependent arising in the fortune that they have and that we have. In that way we can think how vast and how precious our mind becomes.

Sixth Verse: "When someone whom I have benefited and in whom I have great hopes gives me terrible harm, I shall regard that person as my holy Guru."

Well, these words are extremely precious. When we talk about someone whom we've benefited a lot, which could be between countries that have benefited each other a lot or between friends, partners, within the family and so on, there can always occur this situation where you have benefited someone else and yet all they bring to you is harm and suffering. Appearances can arise that disturb us, right? This happens to us.

Even our kind parents (or once kind parents), though they have been so extremely kind in raising their kids, or our kind teachers who have brought about all the qualities in their students and also the gurus who have taught us what to abandon and what to adopt; sometimes they're not seen as precious. Instead of remembering their kindness we don't see their preciousness. When this happens to us it is important not to dislike them but to see them as our Gurus, as our teachers. And why is that? It's because we are not helping, we are not doing these things, we're not benefiting others for our own purpose. This is not talking or acting from the side of wisdom. If our wisdom is diluted by our afflictions, then if we benefit someone else our aim would be to get something, to get something for ourselves, to wish that something good will happen to us by helping. This is not how it is if we talk from the side of benefiting people with wisdom. With wisdom, however much someone harms us it won’t change the stability of our mind. We will not dislike them, we will not hold a grudge towards them. Here, the practice is really to see that person as our Lama, to see them as our teacher, because the fact is these beings are under the influence of their afflictions. When they harm us in such a strong way we can think, "Poor thing, they're completely under the influence of their afflictions." Thus, we can see these situations as great opportunities to develop our mind.

Seeing this difficult person as your holy Lama is very, very crucial. What shortcoming is there if we don't know how to do this practice? The flaw here, for example, is that when we have a child in this life we give them great education and give them opportunities for jobs. As parents we really take care of our children and hold them as so important. In the same way, their teachers will really take care of them as their students. In turn, within working environments we will try to benefit them and have great hopes and great wishes for something positive in return, right? So, whether it is between parents and their children, among friends, between countries, within families, when we have such great hopes for receiving something from the other in return, it stands that if they hurt us we get really depressed. We kind of ‘lose it’ a little bit. We get really scared. We have this feeling of being lost. Then, when we generate competitiveness, pride, ill will, wrong views and we don't know how to open up our wisdom, that will bring about great suffering. Our bodily elements will be disturbed. We will lose trust in others and we will even lose trust in ourselves. In the worst of cases, we might even commit suicide. We will lose all hope and we will lose all trust in other people. We feel we have no one that we can put our trust in. Holding on strongly to our own concepts, this becomes very scary.

On the other side, if we know how to see our enemies or these beings as our precious teachers and as our gurus, if we understand the difference between the way things appear and the way things really are, we can open up our wisdom and obtain perfect wisdom. From there, we can understand karma and cause and effect. We will understand the connection between sentient beings throughout the three times. We will find this realization in our mind - that cause and effect is in fact undeceiving if we can think about it in that way. If we can think about it over the span of the three times, then attachment and aversion will not be generated within our mind. We will see that actually this person becomes a support for patience, they become a support for wisdom, for joyous effort. They become a support for generating renunciation. Actually, they become a support or base for all of these precious qualities to arise in our minds. So, if we can see it in that way, then our minds will become more honest and vast, our minds will become kind and we will find a kind heart. These are the benefits of seeing this person as our guru.

Thus, if we know how to use our wisdom we can eventually come to see the causes and conditions that precede our suffering. This brings about a very special power, a very special potential for natural wisdom to arise. Then, once we know how to use our naturally kind and honest mind, when we meet a condition that is unfavorable to us (basically if we get into trouble), then we can change that situation into happiness, into bliss. What an amazing potential!

Seventh Verse: "In short, both directly and indirectly do I offer every happiness and benefit to all my mothers. I shall secretly take upon myself all their harmful actions and suffering."

This verse talks about any action that we do, any activity that we engage in, that we should offer all of our happiness and benefit to all these limitless sentient beings of the three times. Here, directly through our body, speech and mind, or indirectly in any way, we offer all of our benefit and happiness to all sentient beings. The second part of the verse tells us how sentient beings then become the object of the practice called Tonglen, giving and taking.

This is not saying that we should just give any and every object that we possess to others and leave ourselves empty-handed. This is not really what it talks about. By doing that, we ourselves are left with nothing. We have to think about that a little bit on the deeper level.

For example, if we talk about the objects that we have directly, our objects of the senses, of form, sound, smell, taste and touch, here it is not necessarily only talking about giving those objects. What we're talking about here is using the primordial wisdom in any action that we do. From the moment that we get up in the morning we should think that all sentient beings are just like me in wanting happiness and not wanting suffering. Therefore, today any action that I do I'm going to do for the benefit of all sentient beings and to attain the correct view and correct conduct. If we were to give rise to that kind heart, that would be the greatest gift that we can give to sentient beings. It would be vast like the sky.

What is the greatest gift that we can give? It is great compassion, right? It is love and kindness. When this loving kindness and great compassion is embraced by wisdom, then whether we talk about giving it to our children, to our family, to our direct environment, to our country, to all six types of beings, then this will come from a very honest mind. Here, in order to bring about a kind mind, we need an honest mind. But what does that mean to have an honest mind? It means to have a mind that is embraced by perfect wisdom. Right now, of course, we do have some kindness. In truth however, whatever kindness we do have, whatever patience, whatever generosity, however much we give rise to the mind of altruism and passion, these minds right now are still quite limited. They are bound by grasping. Only when we fully embrace wisdom will we be liberated from that grasping. Then, equipped with that wisdom, our patience and our compassion will become absolutely unlimited. There will be no limit to them. Whatever inner or outer problems that we might be faced with, based on the acquisition of that wisdom, we can take these problems on the path and they will appear as a support. Taking problems that arise on the path and seeing the appearance of problems as a support, we can abide in peace. How wonderful! This is so important!

However we consider it, wisdom and compassion are extremely valuable. So here, in this verse, the last line is, "I shall secretly take upon myself all their harmful actions and suffering." This talks about taking on the suffering of others as an object to our Tonglen practice, our giving and taking practice. This is something that we have to think about a lot, because in general to take on other peoples’ suffering is something that is very difficult. However, for someone who has the direct realization of emptiness it is possible to actually directly take on the suffering of others, especially if there is a connection in terms of karma and prayers.

If we ordinary beings try to take on other peoples’ suffering, there is a direct benefit to us. It touches our mind deeply, even though there may not be a direct possibility of actually taking on the suffering of others. This thought has great potential for our mind, giving us courage and strength of heart. When we are sick, we can bear it more easily. We will feel less fear. We can think, "May all the suffering of all sentient beings come onto me and may all my karmic debts be completely cleared." This expands the mind and accumulates great merit. Therefore, this practice is very valuable. Based on the practice of Tonglen, the loving, kind and honest mind is strengthened.

If we were to think about what the shortcomings are of not doing this type of practice, of not using the qualities of the practice, then the fault would be that our minds will become depressed. We will become very fearful. It will be more difficult to bear sicknesses. We will come under the influence of competitiveness, jealousy and so on. All kinds of suffering will be brought about.

Eighth Verse: “Undefiled by the stains of the superstitions of the eight worldly concerns, may I, by perceiving all phenomena as illusory, be released from the bondage of attachment.”

This is really important for us too, right? Here, what we need to think about are all of the worldly concerns. For example, strong liking at times when people praise us and strongly disliking when other people rebuke us, or liking positive things and disliking negative things and so on. Another is working in order to increase our own reputation, our own name. This is not an honest mind, this is not a kind mind. This is like putting on a show of being someone who is kind and honest. It’s just someone showing the appearance of a person who is nice or talking in a very nice way and thereby deceiving other people, acting just so that other people see us as a good person. All of these eight worldly concerns are to be abandoned. If we can see all these things as illusory then we will be freed from all grasping. This is incredibly important!

So, how come they are to be perceived as illusory like? Because they are all in the nature of being dependent, in the nature of interdependence. These superstitions are the root of our suffering, because they are under the influence of grasping, craving or desire for this life and to other lives. All suffering of all the three times comes from that. In order to remove this grasping and craving, we need to see things as illusory, we need to see that they are not truly established. Things are not actually like the way we grasp them. That is why it is said that it is important to understand emptiness.

In short, if we are to practice Dharma we need the mind of renunciation, bodhicitta and the pure view. Whether we are Buddhist or not, if we have these minds, then we will have happiness. If we don't have the mind of renunciation, then it will be very difficult to practice pure Dharma. For us, people who live in the West, we generally don't have that many problems when it comes to getting enough food or getting enough clothing. Generally speaking we might not have to face very strong illnesses and so then there's a danger of the mind kind of getting distracted, tasting the pleasures and walking away with them.

Then, when we abide in a kind of equanimous state of mind, we don't understand that this is in the nature of change and we easily ‘lose it’, not realizing that it too is always changing from moment to moment. This very body has to undergo the suffering of birth, old age, sickness and death. Therefore, we have to give rise to the mind of renunciation. We have to give rise to renunciation when it comes to depending on a Lama and also when it comes to religious traditions. We see that all six types of beings actually do experience all different types of sufferings. Based on that, we can give rise to renunciation. Only then is there is a real way to obtain liberation and omniscience. If we just chase after temporary pleasurable feelings and pleasurable circumstances, this would be a great loss. If we would just work for that in this life, what a great loss that is. Based then on generating this renunciation, the method to give rise to bodhicitta is explained.

In order to give rise to this mind of renunciation, we do have to have a sense of that there's something to obtain for us, for our mind. If there is liberation, if this liberation exists, then where and how does it exist? In order to give rise to uncontrived renunciation we have to understand the benefits of liberation. So, when we think about it, the temporary pleasures that we might now experience of form, sound, smell and all of these objects, they are all in the nature of impermanence. They are all in the nature of change. However you put it, in the end they are all temporary. So, we need something to put our trust in. We need a place that we can trust and that place is Liberation. This liberation is liberation from all of our suffering. If we have that objective in mind then we will give rise to the wish for really wanting to obtain liberation. We will generate a mind that wants to get liberated, because whatever feelings that we now have of suffering or happiness or even neutral feelings, they are quite coarse in a way. In terms of more subtle happiness, realizing the nature of the mind, eradicating all suffering from the root and so on, if we want real happiness - ultimate happiness - then we need to have the objective of liberation in mind.

For most of us in this world, food, clothing and fame or reputation is what we like. We like these excellence of samsara very much. This is what we want. So, if we think in terms of a time span of one week or even just one day and spend time chasing these things, then there is a sort of result of a pleasurable feeling, right? If we get a certain amount of money or we gain a certain reputation, there is pleasure there. There's pleasure in that. But this is not enough, is it? It cannot give us all the happiness that we really desire, because it is in the nature of suffering, it is in the nature of change. When it meets conditions, it will turn into suffering and it will change.

What we need then is a limitless type of happiness. This will come about once we know the real nature of the mind. So, let’s look at the last two sentences: "By perceiving all phenomena as illusory, may I be released from the bondage of attachment." Seeing things as illusion-like will give way for us to not have such a strong mind that grasps at true existence. We will not grasp at things as having Self-nature. It is because of this grasping that we are currently bound, right? This is what brings about suffering, is the root cause of our suffering. So, whatever it is, inner phenomena like the mind or the outer phenomena like material things, all of these are in fact in the nature of suchness, the nature of emptiness. Realizing that, our grasping mind will fade.

We all like to hear about emptiness and bodhicitta. We know these things are very precious. However, when we hear words like emptiness and bodhicitta we have to know that there is a distinction between conventional and ultimate. ‘Ultimate’ here talks about the view of emptiness, the pure view, which really means perfect wisdom. This doesn't mean just empty, void and nothingness. It's not just the fact then when we search and search and search, we don't find anything. It is not that ‘not finding anything’, it's not that ‘nothingness’. That is falling into the extreme of nihilism.

The emptiness we're talking about here refers to perfect wisdom. Our normal conventions of good and bad or negative and positive - we have to understand that these are conventional reality. These are relative considerations. Here, when it comes to the ‘ultimate’ we're talking about natural suchness, which is emptiness. The mind that sees that is the pure view.

When we think about emptiness we shouldn't just think about it in some kind of random way. We need to consider the preciousness of this difficult and tough subject. Emptiness is what can remove the root of all suffering. It is what we need to develop perfect wisdom. The root of our suffering is the mind of ignorance. It is our coarse, grasping mind. It is the mind that doesn't understand the way phenomena actually are and how they exist. Further, not only does this ignorance not see the way things really are, it instead creates conceptual exaggerations of the way things exist, which greatly deludes us. That is why sentient beings are not liberated and will continue to suffer and why they will go round and round in the wheel of samsara. So, it is a mistaken mind and it is a mind that sees things as having inherent existence. It sees things as having inherent nature, whereas actually they do not have inherent nature. They are dependently originated. All of our happiness has concordant cause and conditions and all of our suffering, too, has concordant causes and conditions. They do not come about without causes and conditions.

When we talk about the base, when we talk about the Two Truths, they should be understood as conventional truth/relative truth and ultimate truth. Conventional truth here refers to our normal perception of any outer and inner phenomena: form, sound, smell, taste, touch and whether they exist or they do not exist is this mind that recognizes these phenomena. When it comes to ultimate truth it is the abiding nature of this phenomenon, it is the mind that knows how things really are. It is the wisdom nature of phenomena - emptiness. This natural state is always present. So, if we are mistaken about this nature then we will keep going around and around in suffering. This verse actually tells us not to be mistaken about the way things really are - that emptiness should be understood as perfect wisdom. From there, perfect compassion arises. The mind of loving-kindness should be embraced by the view of suchness, because it is through the union of emptiness and compassion that we can actually obtain liberation and omniscience. All of our practice of the six perfections and the four immeasurable thoughts and so forth should be based in this wisdom. From that union of perfect wisdom and perfect compassion we can engage in the conduct of the Bodhisattva and the practice of secret mantra. When this happens, impure conventional reality will appear as pure. The basis of this liberation is realizing the way things really are. It is the realization, out of great compassion and love, which thinks - “May all sentient beings obtain the state of Buddhahood” and then shows them the way, through omniscience.

To be released from the bondage of self-grasping is the wisdom that realizes selflessness. The mind that is liberated from self-cherishing and instead thinks about cherishing others is the mind of enlightenment or bodhicitta. So, it is through this perfect view and perfect conduct that we obtain the most trustworthy protection or refuge. This is our greatest wealth, our greatest value, something that will be there all the time in our daily lives and in everything that we experience, temporarily and ultimately. It is the practice of perfect wisdom and perfect compassion that is limitless. It is a limitless wealth.