Perfect Human Rebirth and Bodhicitta (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)
The following are excerpts from teachings given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche on Geshe Langri Tangpa's Eight Verses of Thought Transformation at Manjushri Institute, Cumbria, England in 1979. Rinpoche began the series with introductory lam-rim talks.
You can listen to more teachings from Rinpoche on the Eight Verses from 2003 here.
You can also read Rinpoche's commentary on each verse within his commentary on the Everflowing Nectar of Bodhicitta text.
- The Benefits of Thought Transformation
- The Precious Human Rebirth; Bodhicitta Motivation
- Bodhicitta Motivation, continued
- Making the Precious Human Rebirth Meaningful
The Benefits of Thought Transformation
In order to make the meditation practices to be successful and the teachings that we are going to hear, to become effective, to become beneficial for the mind, to stop all the hindrances of the practice of Dharma, all the hindrances of revealing the teachings. So for those reasons, so at the beginning before the discourse we're going to do a short meditation practice with the prayer. And also, some recitation of mantra. So those who are able to, those who have an idea, who have received teachings before on these meditation practices and those who know the visualization can follow the visualization. And those who haven't received initiation for this, who don't know about the different meditation practices which are contained in the prayers, you can just concentrate on the sound of the prayer or the mantra, concentrate on the sound of the mantra. Even if you are able to concentrate on the sound of the mantra, even that has great meaning, great purpose.
[Recitation of preliminary prayers]
Make the request from the depth of heart to Compassionate Buddha Avalokiteshvara, "Please grant me empowerment to transform my mind in Dharma and Dharma to become path and to never occur any hindrances to the path."
And also make the request, "Please grant me the empowerment, the blessing, to generate quickly the loving, compassionate thought, bodhicitta, which is the heart of all the Buddhadharma. Which is generated in the mind of the holy beings, the three time Buddhas, bodhisattvas and in the minds also of the direct and indirect gurus."
And also make a request from the heart to Avalokiteshvara, "Please grant me empowerment to always utilize whatever life, my life changes, experience happiness or suffering, whatever life I experience, may I be able to always utilize in the path to enlightenment. And to never separate away, even for a second, to never separate away from the practice of the two bodhicittas, even for a second."
Idam guru... [Preliminary prayers, recitation of manis]
First I would like to say thank you very much that you came here to study Buddhadharma, to practice meditation. I'm happy to meet all of you. I myself am very limited in the knowledge of Dharma. My understanding of Dharma, Dharma is like this earth, my understanding of Dharma is like the atom, an atom of this earth. Like that. No experience at all, no one single experience of meditation, no practice. So therefore, I don't, there's no hope that my talking can benefit to you. There's no hope. But the teachings, the little teachings that I have heard from my gurus, those gurus from whom I heard little teachings, they are well experienced. They have infinite knowledge of Dharma. Perfect experience of the path besides having perfect, infallible understanding of the whole path to enlightenment. The little teachings which I heard from them are pure teachings, without any mistake. By practicing, which gives the result, which makes possible to reach oneself to the goal where one wants to approach. So I'll try, what little teaching I have heard from them, I'll try to explain as correct as possible. So this time the main subject of the teaching, the Mahayana Thought Training of the Eight Verses. This time I have witness to finish the subject. However, the Mahayana thought training, generally all the teachings, tantra, sutra, explained by Buddha, all the 84,000 teachings explained by Buddha, all the teachings which contain Buddha's psychology, Buddha's method to free the sentient beings gradually from different levels, from the different types of suffering. And to lead, gradually, in the different levels of happiness, then to the highest blissful state, the state of omniscient mind, enlightenment. And all of the 84,000 teachings shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, all those are psychology, teaching which contains, all those teachings are Buddha's psychology, method.
Then, Mahayana thought training, this is the most profound Buddhist psychology. It is the essence among the 84,000 teachings shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha.
If one practices, if one doesn't practice, even if one has understanding, if one does not practice, then of course it is the same as the patients who has hundreds of stores of medicines, who has shops, who has hundreds of shops full of medicines, but the patient himself never takes. Himself, the owner of these shops, hundreds of shops of medicines, chemist, the owner himself because he never take, he never uses medicines that he has in his shops, so you know, how much disease he has, how much it is painful, how much medicine he has in his shop, it doesn't benefit, doesn't recover his disease. Like that, how much understanding of the teachings a person has, such as the Mahayana thought training teachings, if the person, as long as the person doesn't practice, doesn't put it in action, doesn't practice, even though he, how much understanding he has, it doesn't solve his problems, it doesn't benefit to his mind.
However, the thought training teaching, if it is practiced, no doubt whether it works or not. There is no need doubt. It's just a matter, it's just a question of whether the person practices or not. Whether he puts it in action or not. It's just a matter of that. There's no question, there's no doubt whether it benefits the mind or not by practicing that thought training. Whether it benefits or not. There's no need doubt. Except if the person does not practice. Only that. Except that. So the Mahayana thought training practice that is a very profound Buddhist psychological method or technique to transform all the sufferings, all the undesirable things, in happiness. To transform all the sufferings, all the physical, mental problems, to transform into happiness. All the undesirable things to make desirable. So by transforming all the undesirable things into desirable, that way the peace comes in the mind of the person.
And normally our life changes up and down all the time. When the life is what we call happy, when the life's happy, which we believe, that time when you call, "I'm happy." If one carefully checks up, if one carefully examines by thinking inside, whether the mind is really in peace, whether it's really relaxed at that time, there's no peace. Again, even at that time, the mind is confused. When we think we are happy, that time the attachment arises, those unsubdued mind arises, so the mind is confused. Mind is not really relaxed. There's no real peace in the mind. Feeling ?tightness, attachment, things like that. Even during those, the life that we call happy.
Then of course, no question, no need to know about how the mind is confused when the life changes from happiness to suffering. When one become rich, again there's no peace in the mind, another problem, the mind becomes confused. Of course again there's a problem. When one becomes higher, again there's no peace in the mind. Life's not really happy. Even if one has a higher rank, position. Again in the mind there's much problems. By rising those various unsubdued mind, attachment, pride, those things. When it changes from higher to lower, when you fall down from high to low, your life, again, aggression, much depression. Then when there's reputation, when one has reputation, is there really peace in the mind? No, there's no peace. Mind clings so much to the reputation. There is worry to lose the reputation. Like this, you see, actually, even when you have a good reputation, there's no peace in the mind. Actually the mind is confused. When it changes, to the bad reputation, when you receive bad reputation, criticism, of course the mind is confused, unhappy to hear, having undesirable thought, the undesirable thought arises, hatred arises.
Then, when there's sickness, there's no peace in the mind. There's no happiness in the life. Of course, when death occurs, that time, this is the greatest hindrance of the life, the greatest problem of this life is death. So of course, in those other lives, during the life, if one cannot keep mind in peace, in happiness, during the life when one meets different conditions, when one has miserable conditions during the life, difficult to have peace in mind, to have relaxation. So when the death comes, much more difficult to have peace in the mind at that time.
So the purpose of thought training, the purpose of practicing Mahayana thought training, to transform whatever your life, whatever, one's life changes happiness, suffering, rich, poor, high, low, bad reputation, good reputation, sickness, when you have admiration, when you have criticism, when one is sick, when one is experiencing death - whatever conditions changes, to not let rise the unsubdued mind, which doesn't allow to have peace in the mind, which makes the life unhappy, which brings all the worries and fears.
And the Mahayana thought training practice, it transforms, even the unsubdued mind, anger, ignorance, attachment, pride, those unsubdued minds which makes, which cause unhappy, uncomfortable for the body and mind, the Mahayana thought training practice, it transforms even these unsubdued minds it transforms in the path to happiness. Instead the unsubdued mind rising becomes the cause of suffering, it transforms, the Mahayana thought training practice transforms those unsubdued minds in the path, in the method, in the path to happiness, in the path to enlightenment. It's very profound, the Mahayana thought training practice. So profound, incredibly effective, beneficial for the mind, if one practices.
Then all the miserable conditions the thought training practice transforms, all those miserable conditions become cause to practice Dharma. Inspire oneself to practice Dharma, to accumulate virtue, the cause of happiness. All the hindrances of life, all the hindrances of meditation, of practicing Dharma, by practicing Mahayana thought training, all those hindrances of meditation, of Dharma practice, all those become helpers, beneficial conditions to practice Dharma. Beneficial conditions, to quickly generate the bodhicitta, to quickly generate the steps of the path to enlightenment. All those hindrances become beneficial conditions, helpers to quickly free oneself, from the suffering, from the problems.
If one practices Mahayana thought training one cannot find any enemy. One cannot find any dislikable, undesirable person. One cannot find. One has no enemy. Cannot find any enemy. That person doesn't have any enemy. Even the whole people in this world, they attack him, criticize him, attack him, badly treat him. Even if all sentient beings, they rise up as enemies against him, but for him, there's not one single enemy. Person who practice Mahayana thought training, for him there is not one single enemy. For him, all the people, all the sentient beings who rise as enemy, against him, who give harm to him, for him, all those become virtuous teachers.
All those become guru. All those become spiritual friend. To quickly generate the path to enlightenment, for him, for that practitioner, he sees, specially those enemies who dislike, who badly treat, who criticize, who kill him, who give harm, he sees specially those sentient beings as best friends, guru, the actual guru, the best friend, the spiritual friend who gives enlightenment in the hand, who gives the whole path to enlightenment and the result, enlightenment. Cause the path and the result enlightenment completely in the hand, giving in his hand, like a friend giving a cake in your hand. The best friend, real teacher, the virtuous friend. So when he see this, when he sees in this way the enemies, the only thought is: What can I do? What can I do for him? Only the thought to help. What can I do to obtain happiness for him, to free him from suffering? What rises is the thought of kindness, the kindness of that person, kindness of that enemy rises. Instead of rising thought to harm to that enemy, rises for that practitioner what comes, what thought rises, the thought remembering the kindness of that person, the enemy. So instead of harming, what the practitioner retaliates, instead of harming, the retaliation is to help. He harms but the practitioner helps. The practitioner of the Mahayana thought training. That's what he does, because of the practice of Mahayana thought training...
In such this degenerated time, if one does not practice Mahayana thought training, if one does not depend on this practice, it is extremely difficult to practice Dharma, and even if one tries to practice Dharma, it is very difficult to continue. It is very difficult to accomplish the practice of Dharma. Because of the five degenerations, the degeneration of the unsubdued mind, the degeneration of the view, the degeneration of the sentient being, the degeneration of time and the degeneration of life.
The unsubdued mind, the degeneration of the unsubdued mind, the mind of the sentient beings in the present, in these times, much more gross than the, than before, 100,000 or a million years back, the sentient beings in this world, their unsubdued mind. Extremely, the present living sentient beings, their unsubdued mind, extremely gross, than those, 100,000, millions back, those times, the unsubdued minds of the human beings living on this earth. Therefore very difficult to control, difficult to rise peace in the mind. Difficult to practice Dharma, difficult to practice meditation.
Then because of degeneration of the delusions, then the degeneration of the view happened. For the sentient beings, this time, difficult to understand cause and effect, karma, the view. The view of the worldly beings, karma. Very difficult to understand the cause and effect. From non-virtue, the result of suffering rising, from virtue, the result happiness rising. All of those, however, the cause and effect is difficult to understand, difficult to have faith. The degeneration of view happened because of the degeneration of the unsubdued mind being extremely gross. Also very difficult to understand absolute nature, the right view. The absolute nature of the mind, very difficult to understand, very difficult to realize. Even though it is explained, very difficult to understand. Like that. The degeneration of view.
Then the degeneration of life. Before, the original human beings who lived on this earth, the very first human beings, they could live 84,000 years. They could live. In the past times, human beings could live that long. Then it has been getting shorter, shorter shorter, shorter. So nowadays, very small number of people who live over a hundred years. Mostly, kind of sixty, seventy, like that. However, degeneration of life, how this has happened, getting shorter and shorter like this, that happened because of the degeneration of the unsubdued mind. The mind, the unsubdued mind, the delusions have been becoming grosser, stronger and stronger. This is the result. Effect or result.
Then, degeneration of time. Nowadays, the whole world is in danger, in atomic danger, in danger to be destroyed within an hour, even within one hour. Which wasn't the case before, in the past times. The whole world can be destroyed in such a short time, which wasn't such a danger before. Then having more and more famines, so many thousands and thousands of people, dying, starvation, flood, things like that, earthquake, many millions of people dying, like that. Degeneration of time. More and more of this happening again it is the result of the degeneration of the unsubdued mind. Also, disease, which hasn't been in history before, which hasn't been the doctors' experience. New diseases coming nowadays. Things like that, because the unsubdued mind became more and more gross. Because of that cause, the new disease, the present well-educated doctors, even they can't recognize it, can't tell what it is. Difficult to explain. Things like that.
In the teachings, it is explained like this, what will happen in the future, such as these degenerate time, that the doctors cold not recognize, many new disease coming. One great yogi called Padmasambhava, he was explaining in his teaching and also explained during those times, what one can do. When it is such degenerate time the doctors cannot recognize, cannot tell, by examining the nerves, the veins, the urination, by checking they can't tell, everything completely opposite. Not normal what they can judge and discriminate. Then during those times what one can do, how one can help the patients. There are methods explained, in order to recognize the different disease, how to treat, the medicines.
Then, degeneration of sentient beings. The unsubdued mind is extremely gross. So solid. Even the teaching is given to subdue the mind, to pacify the unsubdued mind, even the method, the teaching is revealed, extremely difficult to subdue, to pacify the mind of these present sentient beings. If wrong teaching is given, very easy to understand, extremely easy to believe, to have faith if the wrong teaching is given, if the wrong path is shown, very easy to rise faith in it, one doesn't even think about checking. Even doubt does not rise - how it is? By following this path, that one can achieve ultimate happiness - has it been anybody's experience or not? Whether this path really leads oneself to the ultimate happiness or not. Even the question doesn't arise. Then easily, without doubt, easily believing. However, if the right teaching is shown, very difficult to understand, very difficult to have faith. Incredible number who follow the wrong path. Incredible number, the sentient beings. Who follow the right path, is so little number, who practice right, who practice the right teaching, who follow the right path, so little number. So that's the degeneration of the sentient beings.
All these degenerations came from, caused by the degeneration of the unsubdued mind. Therefore, at this time, there's so many, even who do not practice Dharma, in the life, the times being happy is very little, times experiencing a problem is much more. And even one who does not practice Dharma. Times that he experiences problems is so much, times that he is happy, is very little. If it is counted. However, then, so in such degenerate times, without practicing Mahayana thought training, if one doesn't understand such as this profound method or doesn't practice, even one who practice Dharma, even one who doesn't practice Dharma, difficult to always keep the mind in peace, always to have happy life. Very difficult. So actually, Mahayana thought training practice is something that, this psychological method is not only that you need only for the Dharma, for a person who practices meditation, who only practice Dharma, it's not, and it is no use for people who do not practice Dharma. They don't need. Its not like that. It's something that even those who don't practice meditation, who doesn't practice Dharma, who is not involved in spiritual things, it is something, the thought training is something that even they have to understand and practice. Since the person who doesn't have faith in the spiritual path, who doesn't practice, since they do not wish suffering, unhappiness, since they wish happiness, since they do not wish problems, to experience problems, without depending on such methods there's no way to keep the life always happy.