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Eight Verses for Training the Mind: the Bodhisattva Ideal and the Bodhicitta – Talk 1
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Eight Verses for Training the Mind: the Bodhisattva Ideal and the Bodhicitta – Talk 1

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Given by Sona at Manchester Buddhist Centre on 29 September 2006

Given by Sona at Manchester Buddhist Centre on 29 September 2006

Published in Spiritual , Education
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Transcript

  • 1. Eight Verses for Training the Mind
    • By Kadampa Geshe Langritangpa
  • 2. The Bodhicitta
    • made up of two words
      • bodhi - enlightenment
      • citta- usually translated as mind or heart
    • bodhicitta - mind or heart set on Enlightenment
    • Sangharakshita’s definition is
      • ‘ will to Enlightenment’
  • 3. Bodhicitta is mysterious
      • Wish-fulfilling gem– gives everything one can desire
      • Wish-fulfilling tree – incredible tree that when touched causes everything good to come your way, or a tree that bears fruit constantly and never decays
      • The great fire that destroys the cosmos at end of the aeon – so the Bodhicitta destroys and purifies all defilements
  • 4. Bodhicitta as metaphor and image
      • The full-moon – calming the heat of passions, so cools & calms all suffering and pain
      • The Great Hero – someone you can rely on and who protects you
      • Alchemy – the quicksilver that transforms base metals into gold; the bodhicitta transmutes our ordinary form into something like a Buddha
      • Blind man who finds a priceless-jewel in a refuse heap
  • 5. Bodhicitta has to be developed
    • Does not occur by chance
    • Arises out of intensive and continuous practice
    • Not just meditation practice, but whole life dedicated to the Dharma
    • Shantideva in Bodhicaryavatara says
    • “ it is like fresh butter churned from the milk of the true Dharma”
  • 6. Bodhicitta is extraordinary
    • The arising of the Bodhicitta is extraordinary. Extraordinary that it should happen at all
    • Great teachers are astonished, utterly astonished finding this incredible and mysterious thing called Bodhicitta
  • 7. Qualities of the Bodhicitta
    • Atisha gives one of the most succinct descriptions of the bodhicitta
    • sunyatakarunagabha sunyata – karuna – garbha
    • sunyata = emptiness
    • karuna = compassion
    • garbha = essence, also seed, womb, the special or precious part of a thing
  • 8. Essence of emptiness compassion
    • sunyatakarunagabha can be translated as something like “the essence of emptiness-compassion” or “the seed or womb of emptiness-compassion”
    • Emptiness and compassion could be described as awareness and friendliness
    • Bodhicitta often spoken of as the altruistic dimension of spiritual life
  • 9. Not ordinary ‘goodness’
    • Bodhicitta is the compassion, the love, the generosity of the bodhisattva and is the expression of the deepest insight into the selflessness of all phenomena
  • 10. More qualities of bodhicitta
    • Bodhicitta is something that flows
    • Atisha speaks of the paramitas as the ever-flowing generosity , the ever-flowing morality , the ever-flowing vigour , etc.
    • This gives us the picture of the bodhicitta as something that is flowing through all your activities
    • Sangharakshita describes as a similar idea in an early poem: “The Unseen Flower”
  • 11. “ The Unseen Flower” Compassion is far more than emotion. It is something that springs Up in the emptiness which is when you yourself are not there, So that you do not know anything about it. (If they knew it, it would not be compassion); But they can only smell The scent of the Unseen Flower That blooms in the Heart of the Void
  • 12. Bodhicitta arises in community
    • Sangharakshita said that he thought the bodhicitta more likely to arise in a community involved in a shared project
    • Community is the sangha or the gana i.e. family of the Bodhisattva ( gana = a number of, or a company, etc.)
    • Something that animates a community
    • So not your personal possession
    • Better to think of it as a current or a spiritual force that we open up to
  • 13. Bodhicitta like a Vajra
    • because it cuts through all self-seeking,
    • it only wants to participate in helping others remove suffering and the maturing and ripening of beings
    • needs daily practice to arise
    • The Eight Verses for Training the Mind give us a means to practice, to open up to the bodhicitta
    • Eight Verses originating from the teaching of Atisha
  • 14. Atisha (982-1054 CE)
    • Atisha a great practitioner of bodhicitta
    • Famous for taking the Dharma to Tibet
    • Inspired great tradition of the Kadmapas – ‘the school of the preceptors’
    • Kadmapas famous for teachers who were able to take the essence of the sutras, tantras, commentaries, etc. and put them in a concise and pithy form just right for the disciple
  • 15. Bodhicitta in the heart
    • Atisha’s teacher in Sumatra was ‘Serlingpa’ also known as Dharmakirti. Atisha spent many years in Indonesia studying with Dharmakirti
    • Whenever the two met, Dharmakirti asked Atisha “ is the bodhicitta blended with your heart?”
  • 16. Atisha’s Mind Training - Lojong
    • Atisha’s teaching transmitted orally
    • Geshe Langritangpa (1054 – 1123) - disciple of a disciple of Atisha - writes the Eight Verses
    • Geshe Kachawa writes commentary on Eight Verses which becomes the ‘Seven Point Mind Training’
    • Langritangpa – name means ‘dark-faced’. Only smiled 3 times. But very compassionate and loving teacher. Said he could never smile because he is contemplating the suffering of living beings
  • 17. Atisha’s Mind Training - Lojong
    • 8 verses to be memorised & constantly put into practise
    • Forms the training principle of purifying the heart – transforming the ordinary heart into the bodhi heart
    • Important to enter into the mind of the bodhisattva to get some idea what it’s like to have a purely selfless mind (Sangharakshita)
  • 18. Eight Verses of Mind Training Verses 1 & 2
    • May I always cherish all beings
    • With the resolve to accomplish for them
    • The highest good that is more precious
    • Than any wish-fulfilling jewel.
    • Whenever I am in the company of others,
    • May I regard myself as inferior to all,
    • And from the depths of my heart
    • Cherish others as supreme.
  • 19. Eight Verses of Mind Training Verses 3 & 4
    • In all my actions may I watch my mind,
    • And as soon as disturbing emotions arise,
    • May I forcefully stop them at once,
    • Since they hurt both me and others.
    • When I see ill-natured people,
    • Overwhelmed by wrong deeds and pain,
    • May I cherish them as something rare,
    • As though I had found a treasure-trove.
  • 20. Eight Verses of Mind Training Verses 5 & 6
    • When someone out of envy does me wrong,
    • By insulting me and the like,
    • May I accept defeat,
    • And offer victory to them.
    • Even if someone whom I have helped
    • And in whom I have placed my hopes
    • Does great wrong by harming me,
    • May I see them as an excellent spiritual friend.
  • 21. Eight Verses of Mind Training Verses 7 & 8
    • In brief, directly or indirectly,
    • May I give all help and joy to my mothers,
    • And may I take all their harm and pain
    • Secretly upon myself.
    • May none of this ever be sullied
    • By thoughts of the eight worldly concerns.
    • May I see all things as illusions
    • And, without attachment, gain freedom from bondage.
  • 22. Verse One
    • Verse evokes the basic attitude “ cherish all beings”
    • cherish is a beautiful word (not sure what the Tibetan is)
    May I always cherish all beings With the resolve to accomplish for them The highest good that is more precious Than any wish-fulfilling jewel
  • 23. Cherish all beings
    • Cherish comes from the Latin/French root meaning ヤ caring ユ (French cher ; Latin cārus )
    • The word brings in aspects such as really looking after someone well
    • Paying attention to specific needs
    • The importance of small acts of kindness
    • It can start with the people around us
  • 24. Cherish all beings
    • But we start with ourselves - recognise we are self-cherishing
    • We then aspire to cherish others
    • Cherishing all beings is a completion of self-cherishing
    • As in metta bhavana start with ourselves, then include others
    • Need to cherish ourselves as well as others.
  • 25. Dangers of Stopping at Self-cherishing
    • Self-cherishing is one of the ‘sahaja’ klesas, meaning innate, fundamental klesas. They are the very basis of our being and give us our predispositions. They are:
      • atma-moha – ignorance
      • atma-drsti – self view
      • atma-mana – pride, conceit
      • atma-sneya – love of self
      • These klesas are morally neutral because do not prevent acting skilfully
      • but they obscure what is true, what is real.
      • This first verses deals with atma-sneya – love of self or self-cherishing
  • 26. Cherishing others more precious than any wish-fulfilling jewel
    • What do people wish for?
    • All seek their own benefit
      • All acts based on this, whether skilful or unskilful
      • Do what we do – believing it is the best thing for us
      • Our deepest desires may be unconscious, and we are unconsciously trying to fulfil them
      • Look at people’s actions to see what they really need
  • 27. Bodhisattva -knows others needs
    • Everyone is avoiding pain and seeking happiness (in one form or another)
      • Often in life this is expressed in phrases like “I want to be happy
      • I want to avoid pain
      • I want to live
      • I don’t want to die
      • I want to be protected
      • I don’t want to be fearful and insecure”
    • Could say that samara is seeking our happiness, but not knowing where it lies
  • 28. To cherish is to know
    • To cherish others we need to know what their deepest needs and interests are
    • Need to learn to see others from this perspective
    • If we were granted a number of wishes wouldn’t we just squander them away
  • 29. To cherish is to know - cont.
    • Often if we get what we wish for we find it doesn’t give us fulfilment
    • We often don’t know what’s in our best interest and what’s good for us
    • To cherish means to know, care and give full attention to the needs of others
  • 30. “ The highest good ”
    • to cherish others leads to a commitment to accomplish the highest good
    • But what motivates us?
    • Buddha first motivated to alleviate suffering
    • But suffering is not just physical & psychological – it is also sankaradukkha
    • Pain of un-fulfilment; absence of meaning; not giving expression to deepest spiritual potential
    • the Buddha seed
    • Cherishing means seeing the beauty, energy, spiritual vitality in others
  • 31. Buddha’s compassion
    • is more in relationship to spiritual potential
      • Simile of the lotuses growing up in muddy water
      • Buddha sees being in various stages of development
      • He sees extraordinary potential all around him
      • This causes him to feel compassion
      • Maybe compassion not quite the right word
      • Anukampa – ‘to shake, tremble with’ perhaps gives a better meaning
    • The bodhisattva like the Buddha sees beings & desires to bring forth their true potential
      • The removal of suffering is a kind of by-product
  • 32. “ Wish fulfilling jewel”
    • the chintamani
    • A strong image – pervades many myths
    • Maybe says something about us & our deeper potential
    • In Buddhism what you wish for you become
    • Making an aspiration is important
    • Highest good is Enlightenment
    • Enlightenment fulfils all our needs!
    • The bodhisattva relates to the expressed needs and desires
  • 33. How to develop cherishing
    • Cultivate empathy by reflecting on sameness of all
    • Try to identify with humanity, the human needs that lie behind everything, even behind acts seemingly so inhuman
    • Develop a kind regard for the interests of others to cherish them
    • Key is in understanding your own humanity
    • We too do acts that harm thinking it will benefit us
    • Need to practise the reflections of the first verse constantly, moment-by-moment, day-by day
  • 34. Conclusion
    • “ May I always cherish all beings
    • With the resolve to accomplish for them
    • The highest good that is more precious
    • Than any wish-fulfilling jewel”