02 Apr 2016
Alan continues on the topic of the four immeasurables, now turning to the third one, Empathetic Joy. He explains that each of the four immeasurables serves as an antidote when another of the four immeasurables goes astray. First, loving-kindness turns into an antibody to empathetic joy, in case the latter becomes hedonic fixation. Alan adds that hedonia never turns well, it is all about acquiring, whereas loving kindness is all about a vision, a vision of what would truly makes us happy. Second, compassion becomes an antidote when equanimity goes aloof. This happens for example, when we see all the suffering surrounding us and we become dispirited. So, compassion is the antidote for the apathy of cold indifference. Third, empathetic joy is the antidote when compassion goes astray and falls into despair. We may think: “I’m so ordinary, what can I do?” Alan traces a parallel of one’s achieving shamatha, as it may look so out of our reach at first. But then, if we only achieve stage two, it is already worth it. He explains that is not about turning low self esteem into high self esteem, we should instead see that there is a lot to take satisfaction and reflect upon the good things we brought to the world. Alan then recalls Tsong Khapa, which says that the easiest way for us to accrue merit is to rejoice in our own virtue. We can then extend this to other people’s virtue, for example that of the Dalai Lama and other great beings who brought so much goodness to the world.
Meditation is on Empathetic Joy.
After meditation, Alan returns to the text (page 26 of Naked Awareness) and gives comment on the “Generation of the Mahayana Aspiration”. He elaborates on the first two of the twenty-two stages of bodhicitta and the importance of having a sane mind, achieved by way of shamatha, as a basis for that. He finishes expanding on the three types of bodhicitta, that differ on whether one achieves liberation before liberating others, together with all sentient beings or after all sentient beings have achieved awakening – the highest one.
Meditation starts at 23:47
Please contribute to make these, and future podcasts freely available.
[Alan’s voice] Oh Alan’s breathing, whoopee. [laughter] Maybe I can make it not quite in the line of my nostrils. [laughter]
Olaso. So this afternoon you know what to expect, we’ll be turning to the third of the four immeasurables, empathetic joy, the Tibetan is simply gowa or in sanskrit Mudita, which simply means delight. Delight, joy. But I think it might be helpful just momentarily to take a couple of steps back because within this grid, this matrix of the four immeasurables and how they interrelate, and I’m thinking especially of Budhagosa’s analysis of the near enemies, the far enemies, the proximate cause, signs of failure, signs of success. It’s really quite brilliant. I mean I think it’s first rate genius. But I’m not going to go into that elaborate explanation, it would take too long for time being, but simply the manner in which each of the four immeasurables serves as a natural antibody or remedy for one of the others when it goes astray, when it falls into its false facsimile. And so I think this is very very worth reviewing and it might even be new to some of you, especially people listening by podcast. So let’s just go back briefly to the first of the four measurables, loving kindness. Clearly a virtue, I think your understanding of it is clear. But then among the four immeasurables, which of these goes astray? And for which of those that go astray is loving-kindness the suitable remedy, the good friend? And it is in fact - empathetic joy. When it goes astray, it goes astray in a way that we’re all I think very familiar with and that is just call it hedonic fixation. It’s just, dharma’s all very well but I’m just so busy right now and I’m focused on career, I’m focused on relationship, I’m focused on getting over my health issues, I’m focused on paying my bills, I’m focused on hedonia. I’m getting by and it’s tough, this is a tough role to get by in for many many people, and dharma just gets to be kind of a luxury item that gets postponed when times are smoother and easier, you know And this happens I think probably to all of all us on occasion and for some people it doesn’t happen, it is where they’re living because there is no vision, there is no vision of eudaimonia. They don’t know what the word means. They don’t know the corresponding term in their own language.
[02:49] There is no vision. And when I really think of, you know I follow the media pretty closely, BBC and some of the major American media and so on. And you know, there’s just basically no reference to eudaimonia at all. I mean, it’s pretty much not there. It’s all about hedonia. And hedonia is not something that’s stupid or vulgar, it’s helping people in poverty, it’s about you know, creating peace where there’s war and so forth. It’s not trivial. But it’s just that it’s so limited. It’s just so limited. It’s addressing all the political problems, environmental, economic, social, moral, legal and so forth problems, and then there’s no vision. There’s no vision in popular media. I’m not saying there’s no vision in modernity, there is. Christianity if you know where to look has tremendous vision and so do other wisdom tradition. But it’s not out there where you can see it and it’s not in academia, I’ve had a lot of academia, I have a PhD. So I sought it out of course, in religious studies but by in large in academia there’s no vision. Not even in religious studies, by and large, unless you really seek it out. So it’s hedonia across the boards and that’s the current of humanity but especially now, especially now, I think perhaps more so than in any recorded history that I know of. It’s just visionless, you know, visionless. And the working assumption through the media, academia, the scientific community, is when you’re dead, you’re dead, game over, you know, that’s it. And that’s pretty much the vision that’s out there and not even being questioned, as if you’re if you’re not a religious believer, you know one of those people who is kind of soft headed, don’t think very clearly, and caught up in wishful thinking, if you’re realistic, just face the facts when you’re dead you’re dead, you’re finished, game over. And there’s just no vision there. And so it’s very easy to understand why people might encounter some authentic dharma and then just fade, I mean blade by blade, fade out and just go right back to complete fixation, almost like self hypnosis. And what’s the antidote for that?
Because there’s one thing you can be sure of insofar as the life is completely focused on hedonic, it ends badly. I mean it always does, it never turns out well, if it’s all about hedonia. For a very simple reason - whatever you acquire, hedonia is all about acquiring, getting reputation, getting success, getting enjoyment, getting, getting, getting and of course it always turns out losing everything you’ve gotten. Whether you got a little bit or you got a lot, in the end game, it’s, you lose everything. So it kind of doesn’t matter what you had because you lose all of it anyway, it never turns out well. And so the antidote to that is just don’t think about it, you know. So it’s very very, it’s immensely sad, it’s immensely sad. And yet right here in front of us and it’s not just Buddhism, I mean there are wisdom traditions all over the world, the east and west, ancient and modern where it’s there, but it’s not getting covered, it doesn’t get the microphone. [06:02]
So coming right back to loving kindness, when we do find ourselves whether for a morning or for a year or for you know, for years on end, just going with the flow, of it’s all about hedonia, where there’s no vision, there’s just no vision except for oh, more of this should be good. More of the good part, more acquisition, more fame, more power, more pleasure, more entertainment, better vacations, nicer car, nicer, nicer, nicer that’s the vision. It’s the vision of stupor, it’s the vision of unintelligence because the scientific evidence is so totally clear. That just getting more of the same does not make one happier. I mean it’s unequivocally established as a scientific fact, and before then for centuries and centuries it was known by sages east and west. So we’re coming back again not to ramble too much, but loving kindness is all about vision. It’s all about vision. It’s not just me, you, you know may we will all be well and happy and may we all have lots of hedonia, because that’ll never happen. So again I’m not going, I’m not going to go in a direction of aspiring for something that simply can’t happen. You’re born, you’re going to get sick, you’re going to get aged and then you’re going to die, and whatever you acquire you’re going to lose. So that’s kind of a given, now have a nice day. In the midst of that where is there any vision of happiness? And there is an incredibly rich vision of happiness, and I’ve known so many of, really accomplished dharma practitioners, for whom you can see this is not hypothetical, this is not some abstract belief, this is real. And I’ve known such people, I’ve known them for years and they’re embodying what I’m talking about right now. So then you know, if I keep my eyes open this is perfectly clear. So antidote for that, it’s right there in loving kindness and loving kindness is about vision and I think there’s not a bad strategy in that fourfold vision quest. When we’re just focused on getting by, on success, on just the mundane, stepping back and simply asking the simple question - what would make you truly happy? You know, what would make you truly happy? Do you really think this is going to work out, if you have this much money, or this much fame, this much success, this much acquisition, this type of a marriage, this type, is that really going to do it? But for the long term that’s going to turn out well? You really think so? You know, get vision. And the fourfold vision quest I think, you know, it really brings to mind the possibility of vision.
[08:29] So there’s the first one, loving kindness. So there’s this antidote for empathetic joy where it just focuses on the good life, hedonically. Then compassion, now briefly stated, cultivation of compassion, the cultivation this is an antidote an antibody for equanimity when it falls into aloof indifference. Where one may become especially it’s easy here in the 21st century to be so overwhelmed by the amount of information, and like by the way of the media, which I’m checking everyday and just feeling this is like a tsunami of bad news and it’s so large and there’s so many people and there’s many forces here that it’s just all about delusion, greed, hostility and so forth, and here I am. And here’s one of the big themes of modern astronomy and evolutionary biology and so forth, and that is just how bloody insignificant we are. I mean they really hammer it in. We’re so insignificant you know, as a species, as a planet, and then oh you’re only one of seven billion, boy that makes you miniscule, you’re vanishingly insignificant, I can hardly see you, you know and that’s about ourselves. And so all of that can be very dispiriting and just can easily give rise to the sense of oh what the hell, I don’t care anymore. I can’t do anything about it anyway, so what the hell. And just go into cold indifference and say, not my problem, not my problem. I’m just going to try to get by myself, have a good time, I’m going to be dead soon anyway. And that’s kind of bleak, you know.
[10:08] And compassion, we turn our attention right back to the world, right back to ourselves, right back to those around us, and we say - well you can think whatever you like but suffering is about as real as it gets. Suffering and the causes of suffering. Blink all you like, but boy open your eyes again and that’s right there. And people really are suffering, really suffering. Perpetuating the suffering, not because they want to, because they don’t know any better, you know. And just reflect on that and still the heart just starts to move, it starts to beat again you know. And you start to care again. So compassion moves one out of that kind of myopic, aloof, lethargic, visionless apathy of cold indifference. It really does, it really does. When we reflect upon our own suffering, times we’ve really really got beaten up, by physical or mental suffering and we know how it really catches the attention, then when we see those around us, many many many are experiencing that right now. If you attend, I mean for the moment, what we attend to is reality. And if we do attend to those who are really suffering, it takes a person who’s really seriously damaged mentally, to be able to attend closely and still not care. That’s a rare individual. I think most of us we really find we have to care, have to care. And so then now we go to today’s topic, very rich one and it’s kind of like the easily overlooked one.
[11:44] Loving kindness you can’t overlook that. Everybody loves, the Beatles love love, everybody loves love you know and compassion it’s everywhere we all know the word, it’s a wonderful word in English. And equanimity that is the unconditioned quality, that’s unconditional love, unconditional, that gets good billing, good billing, that gets you know, that gets highlighted. But the third one not so much, and yet I think it is important as all the rest. This joy, empathetic joy and that for which it serves as the antidote. Because again, because of the times, this 21st century where we live, it really strikes me that this empathetic joy is especially important, it’s always been, it’s always been important but in our world it strikes me as being especially important, because it is the antidote when compassion goes astray, and it falls into despair, into despair. Just grief, despair, but despair I think is the best word and that is - one attends to the suffering of others and then just, one attends and it does become real, and then it becomes so real that it’s just overwhelming, and then it’s right back to the same old same old - what can a person like me, I’m not a bodhisattva, I’m not an arya bodhisattva, I’m not a vidyadhara, I’m not a saint, I’m not a sage, I’m just really so ordinary. And then here’s this world and what can a person like me do? Nothing. And just fall into despair, despondency and a loss of hope and once again a loss of vision. And empathetic joy comes in, and that’s the remedy. It’s the remedy. It’s very easy for any of us, certainly myself included to think in black-and-white terms. Like can I achieve shamatha or not? That’s a yes or no, right, yes or no. And yet when we fall into that, when we’ve kind of that notion - yes or no, is it worth, that is it’s worth doing if I can achieve it, if I can’t - well then heck the hell with it. You know like that.
[13:45] But shamatha is not like that and that is what the nine stages are for. All right, okay, maybe shamatha maybe difficult, maybe you can’t achieve it, maybe you’ll die tomorrow. Then you probably won’t achieve it. But how about stage two, you know, you break it down. You say well stage two, that’s better than stage one. That’s getting a bit of continuity, you know, sanity all in a stretch, five seconds, ten seconds, cool, you know. And so you break it down, you say well okay I just don’t know. I don’t know whether I’ll live long enough, I don’t know whether the circumstances come together, I don’t know how much inspiration and momentum and merit I have. Do I know, can I achieve shamatha in this lifetime? Don’t know. I don’t know. But is that a direction worth going in? Yeah. Yeah absolutely, yes unequivocally, without any kind of doubt whatsoever. That that’s the direction to go to and not just walk around in circles or go backwards. But similarly when it comes to the larger picture we look at the tremendous needs of the world in so many different ways. And again this theme. because we are so unprecedentedly overwhelmed by the bad news and the and the travails of the modern world. It’s very easy to think, well, a person like myself, namely this one like me, I can’t really do much. I can’t really do anything. I mean it’s just so overwhelming it’s like looking at a thirty foot tsunami wave coming in and you know, what are you going to do about that? Well, duck you know. What can I do? Nothing. But it’s a lack of vision, once again it’s a lack of vision. And that as you step out the door if you see another person, can you just attend to that person with affection? That actually is very nice to do that. People like it. Have you noticed? When you attend to them with affection, just warmth, kindness. You know how, it feels nice doesn’t it. It’s something good. It feels good to do it, to extend it, it’s lovely to be a recipient. To know, to show another person an act of kindness even the smallest thing. To see another person in need in some way and to be able to fulfill that need. It’s not yes or no. It’s not, can I solve the world’s problems or not. It’s where I live, can I have a helpful influence? Can I bring some warmth, some wisdom, some kindness to the world and maybe I could bring it to myself first, you know. So this is where empathetic joy comes in. It’s the glass half-full rather than half-empty. And I don’t mean to trivialize it, because it’s not trivial at all.
[16:25] But this empathetic joy, again I’m going to do something that you don’t find in the Buddha sutras because I don’t think it was such a big issue until modern times, this whole issue of low self-esteem and all that business. You don’t even have those terms in Buddhism or in Tibetan and so forth. But it is such a big deal nowadays. That even though it sounds a bit ironic, or kind of like, how do you say, doesn’t even work linguistically to speak of empathetic joy toward yourself. What does that mean? Wait a minute, you are one person, how can you feel empathy for yourself? I’ll tell you how. I will tell you exactly how you can feel empathy for yourself. In the same way you can feel contempt for yourself. How many people are there there, when you feel contempt for yourself? Is there one of you or two of you? I think there must be two, because the person who is feeling contempt for you, is a little bit higher than you. Yeah? This guy Alan Wallace, such a schmuck, at least I’m not as much of a schmuck as he is. You know there’s already a bit of internal bifurcation, of looking down on the person you’ve objectified as yourself and finding this person wanting, deficient, kind of a disappointment. But from whose perspective? Your perspective which is a bit elevated. So we already do that, we already bifurcate our very sense of identity. In narcissism there is this - congratulation that I’m such a superior person, I’m so exceptional, if only people knew how exceptional I really am. And there’s this self congratulation like you know you’re a cheerleader for yourself. There’s a bifurcation internally. It’s already there and so we do that, but if we do this in these afflictive ways, these kind of neurotic ways, then we may as well say okay if we’re going to do that well, let’s do something healthy about it. But what’s interesting here, because this is not a step towards narcissism to try to overcome low self-esteem. That’s you know just remedying one affliction with another affliction. High self-esteem, low self-esteem which is worse? Really, you know, I don’t see either one of them as being helpful. Why don’t you just take self out of the equation? And in our lives as we tend to those occasions where we brought something good to the world, whether we’ve gone for a weekend retreat, and it was meaningful. We had a good motivation, we spend it meaningfully, we dedicated merit and it was a weekend, you look back on that, that was a good weekend. And it’s not oh, look at me, like Tarzan pounding his chest. It’s kind of like, that was a good weekend, you know. Or an act of kindness here, or doing something else there, something meaningful, something good, and something making a contribution. Even it was primarily making a contribution to purifying, refining your own mind. That’s also very meaningful.
[19:04] So these little things - a weekend retreat, going on an eight week retreat, going to receive teachings, giving some teachings. A number of you are teachers in your own right, and in various ways, teaching yoga, teaching language, and so forth and so on. There’s a lot to take satisfaction in, and to focus on that without even the whiff or even a fragment of narcissism, self-congratulation, me, me, me. It’s not me, me, me. It’s it, it, it. Taking delight in what we brought to the world and where there are things to take delight in, yeah. And then we see whoa, actually I’m not a total waste, I’m not a waste of space or of air and I brought something good to the world. And so to reflect upon one’s own successes, one’s virtues, the goodness one has brought to the world, and take delight in that. Tsongkhapa says, the great Tsongkhapa, says well among the various ways to increase your merit, to increase this kind of spiritual charge, momentum, inspiration, energy that that propels you along the path - merit, the easiest way. Do you remember Glenn. The easiest way to accrue merit?
Alan: What’s that?
Alan: Actually, no that’s harder. This is easier.
Glenn: Rejoicing in your own merit.
Alan: Rejoicing in your own merit. Rejoicing in your own, and that’s the easiest way. I want easiest you know. Show me the easiest first then I’ll get to the more challenging things later. But I want the easiest. And just looking back on your own virtues, what the goodness, the virtues, whatever good you brought to the world. And just taking delight in that, it shouldn’t be too hard. And that’s the easiest way. And then of course, then you can extend that outwards to others. And say well, let’s say the Dalai Lama, has he done anything good in the world? Yeah, maybe something to take satisfaction in, to rejoice in and so forth. And then he’s not alone, happily.
There are other many noble people in the Buddhist tradition, in other religious traditions, outside of religious traditions, where you just look at them and say - boy you’re like a lighthouse in the middle of a very dark storm in high seas and there you are just shedding your light. And there are so many people like that, through history and in the modern world, right now, and they’re easily overlooked, they don’t get in the headlines too much. We hear about the mother who kills her children, we hear about the one more corrupt politician we hear about another this and another that. And the most ridiculous thing that this guy who thinks he wants to be president has said today. We hear about that I mean it’s like keep the microphone next to his mouth so we can hear the next idiotic thing he says, and then make sure everybody knows about it. [laughter] The fascination for this I find is utterly astonishing. I mean, maybe I should just start making all the incredibly stupid comments that I have and I’ll get a microphone. I have my microphone, I try to use it well. But there it is, you know, to take delight. That it’s not only idiocy, not only greed and stupidity, and shortsightedness and hostility and flat out delusional meanness. There’s so much good out there, and it’s easy to overlook in our world. It’s easily overlooked because that’s not what makes its way into the media. When you want to know the news that happened today look on that front page and see how much good news there is. Good luck with that. And it’s not that it isn’t there but apparently that doesn’t sell newspapers or get you to go on their website and so forth. They found that out, it actually doesn’t sell and that’s why it’s not there. I mean they’ll put anything there that sells because they are money making businesses. They are for profit businesses and they’re going to put on their website or on their newspaper that which will get more readers to read and then look at their advertisements or buy subscriptions and so forth. And apparently good news doesn’t sell very well, I guess it’s boring. But then it gives us a very skewed, a very biased, a very highly edited vision of reality, that’s not realistic.
[22:59] So we come back to the meditation. Let’s do so. Let’s go to empathetic joy. Let’s sit down and enjoy ourselves.
[23:47] Meditation bell rings three times
In a spirit of empathetic joy, of taking delight in our opportunities, our leisure, our good fortune. Whether today here in Tuscany, or wherever you may be listening by podcast, whether it’s tomorrow, Sunday or sometime afterwards. Wherever you are, listening to this teaching, this podcast, this means you have leisure, you’re not needing to spend this minute, this hour, this hour and a half, just trying to survive. You have the leisure, you have the opportunity, and I would say the teachings are sound. I’m simply passing on the words of the Buddha and other great enlightened beings. So I have confidence, the dharma here is authentic dharma. So to take delight, take satisfaction, to appreciate, and even to revel in having 24 minutes to do nothing other than to cultivate our hearts and minds in a very meaningful way, that can give rise to short-term and long-term benefits all the way to perfect enlightenment itself. That’s something to savor and never take for granted. In the spirit of appreciation, settle your body speech and mind in their natural states.
[26:54] And then I invite you to direct your awareness inwards, in upon your own life, and we’ve all been here at least for a few decades. The years have gone by, and so in terms of the course of life that has brought us to this present moment let’s look back upon that path, that trajectory from childhood on, through adolescence, through adulthood, as you reflect upon your own narrative, your own life history. What you’ve done in solitude, what you’ve done in a relationship to others around you, the world at large. Do you see anything in which to accept, in which to take satisfaction, to rejoice in your own good fortune that has come your way, to take delight in that, and what you have brought to the world already.
Maybe not earth shattering, maybe not world transforming, but it in your in your location, in your immediate environment, attend to the goodness you’ve brought to the world, through your own inner cultivation of your heart and mind your way of life, your understanding, on the goodness you brought to others. Attend to those memories, take satisfaction, delight. This is what brings your life meaning makes your life meaningful to others.
[29:36] You may conjoin this with the breath, with the light as you’ve done before as you breathe out, just breathe out this light of appreciation, of delight. It could be also mixed with gratitude, that you’ve had this opportunity and you have been blessed in so many ways.
[30:39] And breathe out the light of appreciation, of gladness. With the awareness that a meaningful life is not something that may happen to you in the future, in many ways your life has already been meaningful. It’s what brought you here, not out of a vacuum. There was a momentum there. And as you reflect upon your successes, reflect upon the goodness, the virtues, you brought to the world, as you reflect upon how deeply entwined your own life is with those around you, and reflect upon in this very personal way, the kindnesses that have been shown to you, by your parents, your friends, your teachers as you were growing up. Reflect upon those over the course of your life, who have enriched your life, nurtured you, sustained you, upheld you with their kindness. And as you take delight in their virtues, this is again permeated with a sense of gratitude, without them, without the kindness of others, where would any of us be.
[36:12] And then direct your awareness outwards, selectively, as in any shamatha practice, attending to the joys of others and their successes, wherever it is wholesome, including hedonic well being. Attending to those many individuals, sometimes governments, businesses, communities, organizations, that are committed to helping enhance the hedonic well being of those in need, food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, so much goodwill and so many good deeds, so much benefit offered and received. Let this light of appreciation, permeated with gratitude, flow out in all directions, to those with pure motivation who are trying to help to make this a better world.
[38:35] And to all those in various ways and to various degrees, those who embody the dharma, whether yogis and yoginis living in solitude, purifying, refining, developing their minds. Whether those teaching dharma, creating institutions, supporting institutions, those many many people throughout the world, who seek to practice and support the flourishing of dharma, the vision of eudaimonia, the vision of the path of awakening itself. And who inspire, who guide, who support and nurture us all as we seek a more meaningful life. Attend to them closely, and then breathe out the light of your appreciation, your delight, your gratitude.
[43:28] As we come to the closing minutes of this session for those of us here in Tuscany, we’ve gone global, now let’s go local again. Such a precious opportunity we have here, and so many people who have contributed. Behind the scenes organizing this, but those people we see day to day, the people cooking the food, purchasing the food, growing the food. Maintaining the grounds, there to be of help whenever they can, so much kindness here. From the local community of this dharma center, the surrounding community that supports them. None of this would be possible without them, without their kindness. And there is a blessing in practicing in community, as we’ve all introduced ourselves to each other, it’s quite clear that we share a lot in common. Common aspirations, common dedication to practice, common motivation. A spiritual family. The teachings themselves passed on from generation to generation right down to the present from such noble and sublime sources. Rejoice in the kindness of others, the virtues of others. And those listening by podcast, you too do not exist in isolation, there have to be people around you that make it possible for you to practice. To have times of leisure, times of quiet. Times to focus in on your own practice and then manifest it in the world around you when you step off your cushion and out into the rest of the world. There is a principle in buddha-dharma that, as we follow the path, half the kindness we receive, half the kindness, is from the enlightened ones, the objects of refuge, the sangha, the buddhas, the enlightened ones over history. And half the kindness we receive, in the dependence upon which we practice, is from our fellow sentient beings, without whom practice would be impossible. So take delight in it all. The guidance and blessings we receive from the three jewels, from the lineage of gurus. The kindness and support we receive from our fellow sentient beings. We are living in an ocean of blessings, attend to it, it becomes real. And take delight in it.
[47:49] Meditation ends bell rings three times
[48:24] [Inaudible conversation]
[48:43] So let’s return to the text, this chapter on refuge and bodhicitta. We’ve covered refuge and now we venture more deeply into Karma Chagme Rinpoche’s very dense synopsis of bodhicitta. So I think we left off, unless I’m mistaken, on the last line in larger font. So here it is necessary to strive to generate the Mahayana aspiration. Am I correct? I think that’s it. Yep. So we pick up on the top of page 27 in the larger font excuse me, [clears throat]. So, Regarding the generation of the Mahayana aspiration, there are divisions in terms of its essence, its characteristics, its causes and conditions, and its numerous levels. So it’s good to bring a rich understanding to this and not just have it as a sound byte. You know a liturgy, just something to recite periodically. This brings richness to it, a theoretical texture and broader context for the cultivation, cultivation and practice of bodhichitta. So, First there is the division between the Mahayana relative and I’m just going to use my current translation, I’m just going back to the Sanskrit. So, First there is the division between the Mahayana relative bodhichitta and [the] ultimate bodhichitta. The Sutra on Unraveling the [Enlightened View], Tibetan term for [? gumba] much better translated as enlightened view. states: There are two types, There are two kinds of bodhichitta: the ultimate bodhichitta and the relative bodhichitta. Okay good, so what are they? The characteristic of the Mahayana relative bodhicitta is an awareness focused on achieving perfect enlightenment for the sake of others.
[50:44] Just to elaborate very, very briefly here. And that is there is a very clear causal sequence here in terms of how does it arise. And it arises from outwards to inwards. What doesn’t happen, which easily we can fall into this, it’s not something terrible but it’s just different, is reflecting on the qualities of perfect enlightenment of buddhahood and then thinking boy I would like that, that would be fantastic, I would really like that. Yeah I want to achieve that and oh yeah everybody else oh yeah I hope that helps. I hope that helps you know. That’s not it, that’s not it. It’s actually looking outwards, it’s assuming frankly that there is already some basis in this very authentic and profound sravakayana. It’s not there as just something to ridicule, that’s absurd. It’s already rooted in an awareness of suffering, one’s own suffering, the suffering of others, rooted in an awareness of, what are the causes of suffering? What is the path? And so forth. I mean the stronger you’re rootedness in the sravakayana of really with insight, the four noble truths, and so on, then the stronger can be when it goes into full flowering, can be your Mahayana aspiration of bodhichitta. And so the actual generation of bodhichitta occurs first by looking outwards. And that’s where most of reality is after all. And just seeing just how much suffering there is in the world, not only oneself of course, but one has fathomed that, it really assumes you’ve got some deep insight into the first noble truth and the second noble truth and then you go like supernova, that is you expand that and it’s just kind of like this overwhelming sense of now the magnitude of suffering is so much more than my own. And seeing that it’s not hopeless. That every sentient being does have buddha nature and then thinking how could I be of greatest benefit even with no dharma at all, if I didn’t do anything more I can still be of some benefit. I think we should start there.
[52:43] And not think - I can’t do anything but if I become really good Buddhist then I can do something. We already can. We can give directions to a person who is lost, we can pick somebody up, if a child falls down we can help, I mean there’s something we can do. Hedonically at least we’re already not incompetent, incapable. And then the question comes how could it become more, more effective in alleviating the suffering of others, and more and more and then we just shoot right to the top. Oh I could be of greatest possible benefit if I was completely awakened. Then I better do that, I better do that, because this is the meaning of life, this is what it’s all about. And so therefore in order to, but the highlight is in order to be of benefit to sentient beings, now through a process of elimination, there can be a lot of other good things, become a doctor, an accountant, a farmer, a midwife, and so forth. These are all good but when you look at all of them, becoming a bodhisattva, becoming an arhat, there’s just still something that’s on top of the, on top of everything else, and that’s become a buddha. So that’s where that inspiration comes from. So very simply put as he says it’s an awareness focused on achieving perfect enlightenment for the sake of others.
[54:02] The Ornament For Higher Realization, the Abhisamayalamkara, states: [that] The generated aspiration is for genuine, perfect enlightenment for the sake of others. So there it is, quite definitive. Many causes and conditions are taught, but in brief they are: faith in the jinas and jinaputras, the Buddhas and bodhisattvas, the conquerors and the conquerors children, bodhisattvas. And that is having the confidence, the faith, these are not just fictions, they’re not just stories, or you know blind faith, or whatever. These are actual beings who have been in this world and have been tremendous blessing to the world and having faith in that, confidence in that, inspired appreciation for that. So there’s one, that’s becoming a bodhisattva, becoming a buddha, actually is a possibility, because it’s already been done. And so having faith in that, otherwise bodhichitta would never arise and then having a compassionate mind that would be really, maha karuna. That would be the one, that would be the immediate catalyst and then interestingly, this isn’t very predictable, when you say the causes you don’t know quite what’s coming unless you’re already a very good scholar. But the first one makes really good sense, having faith in the bodhisattva way of life and then those who follow that path and those who come to the culmination of the path, and then be inspired to follow that path out of compassion and not just for your own sake. But then the third one’s interesting and of course it’s so practical. And the third cause and condition is being cared for by a spiritual friend. It’s going to be hard to do this, just by reading books, even really good books. And so coming under the compassionate care, the guidance of a spiritual friend, a kalyanamitra, a guru and so forth.
[55:45] Then that will pretty well do it. That will be enough, because that spiritual friend or friends of course, can guide you from step to step along the path all the way to its culmination. It is said: Its root is asserted to be compassion which entails the constant thought to be of benefit. And then, The Jewel Meteor Spell Sutra states: By having faith in the Jina and the Dharma of the Jina, faith in the way of life of the bodhisattvas, and faith in supreme enlightenment, the mind of supreme beings arises. It’s quite clear. And then go a little bit technical. I’m not going to go hyper technical here but this is interesting. And when I first learned about it, I was actually quite inspired. And that is there are twenty two divisions. Okay now you learn about this in the Abhisamayalamkara, which is very extensively, very widely studied by especially monastic scholars in all schools of Tibetan Buddhism, especially the gelugpa, but others as well that’s for sure. And so, There are twenty two divisions, ranging from the earthlike bodhichitta, to the cloudlike bodhichitta. You can check out the end note at your leisure, endnote 29, but these are mapping or placing the grid of these sequential stages of evolution, or development, development of bodhichitta from deeper and deeper and deeper levels from the beginning of the Mahayana path of accumulation all the way up to its culmination in twenty one phases and those twenty two phases are mapped on to the five paths. The path of accumulation, of preparation, the path of seeing, path of training, or meditation and then the path of no more training. So there are twenty two.
[57:29] It starts with earth like bodhichitta, ends with cloud like bodhicitta. And again, The Ornament for Higher Realization states: Earth, gold, moon… there are twenty-two kinds. So it was Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey that first introduced me to this when he was teaching this text in the library back in about 1973. It was 73. And this was my first introduction to the five paths and the way he taught it because here’s a man who is just embodying what he teaches. Those of you, I believe there’s one person here who knows. You look where’s the difference between how he manifests in the world and what he’s teaching and I couldn’t see any difference. It was just there you know, and it had been there for a long time. I edited, I did not translate, but I edited the first teachings on lam rim back in 71 and it became a book that’s come through like seven, seven editions by now. The Tibetan Tradition of Mental Development, that’s what they called it. And then when it was all done, then someone maybe, I think it was the director of the library, [?59:37 Tibetan] said Alan, it would be nice to have a little biography of Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey at the beginning, would you be willing to, write that up? I said sure. So I sat down with him and he told me his life story, condensed version. And on that occasion, this is, I think this is not irrelevant. Because this is not just a bunch of scholars talking about books, you know. So here was Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey, and I’ve really never met a teacher who embodies greater enthusiasm and love for dharma than he did. And I’ve met a lot of really wonderful teachers. But oh his was, it was like he was just in love with the dharma, and it was just joy was there, you know, and I’ve known him for years, translated for him on a number of occasions.
[59:18] He was telling me his life story, he was, he fled Tibet, when they were just fleeing for their lives, and he had two of his close disciples with him, and they headed north as I recall. No, they headed south and then they found the way was blocked because there were soldiers that would machine gun them down. And so they had to flee north just trying to get around them and then they fled north, just the opposite direction they wanted to go, just to get away from, you know, the firing squad. And then eventually they circled around and came south again, and then at night they found themselves surrounded, surrounded by machine guns, the PLA, People’s Liberation Army. And so it looked like, and by this time Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey was a natural leader, some people just have that and he did. And so at this time I think there was something like maybe 800 monks, lay people, that just gathered around somebody in a time of complete panic and despair and terror, and they’re just looking to somehow get away from this hell realm that Tibet had been turned into. And so there he was surrounded by hundreds of people. And so it was at night and there were many men with him, and these are, a lot of these are kampas, they’re armed, they’re not just going to lie down and get you know let their families be shot. So a firefight broke out, not by the monks, by and large, they were not not fighting, but so Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey was in the midst of all that and he saw what was happening. So he called his two closest disciples to him and, this he told me, and he said he just called them to me and he said, all right, because there’s just no way they’re not going to be shooting anybody, they’re monks. And so he said okay, he just called them together and he said okay we’re about to die. So just before you die, I want you to be focusing on the Chinese and just focus on them with compassion and let that be your last thought. Okay. No separation, between the teacher and his teaching. And they escaped, and I was one of the many beneficiaries of his having escaped and being able to turn the wheel of dharma.
[1:01:21] So he taught this, he taught these twenty two stages, but what caught my attention and has caught my attention ever since, is twenty two stages, I basically didn’t think about any of them beyond about the first two, [laughs] because the other ones are so over the horizon there’re , it’s like kind of looking up at Mt Everest and my neck will only go up to about 100 metres above my head and beyond that I can’t even see anything. It’s so theoretical, so abstract that I can’t frankly even imagine it. But the beginning ones, the base of the mountain, earthlike bodhichitta, earthlike bodhichitta, goldlike bodhichitta I got really interested in that you know, because that’s down to the base of the mountain. And so I was really interested in that and wanted to know okay how do you get earthlike bodhichitta? It’s called earth like because it supports all of the other stages of development. Okay it’s the secret. And then it’s called gold like, the second one, because you can do all kinds of things with gold but one thing you can’t do, is make it become non gold. In terms of old alchemy I mean, maybe you can drop an atom bomb on it, maybe, but back then no, if it’s gold it stays gold. And the point of that is that the second phase of bodhichitta, the gold-like bodhichitta, never reverts. You’ll never lose it. From now until you’re a buddha, whether that’s one lifetime, or three countless eons, you’re going to have gold-like bodhichitta forever. That’s pretty cool. That caught my attention, that really caught my attention.
[1:02:45] So I was very keen to learn, well how do you develop earthlike bodhichitta? Where’s the first step? If I can get to the first step, the second step then all the other ones I can be considered about later. But I’m not going to be worrying about them, if I can’t even find the first step, and he made it totally clear. Sure you develop the first [step]. You get to that gold-like bodhichitta by cultivating bodhichitta in whatever way it works, because there are many ways of cultivating it and you cultivate and you cultivate it until it becomes spontaneous, until it just starts running. Here’s maybe a really crude analogy but it’s good enough for me. And that is you get into a car and remember the cars when they had keys, you turn the ignition. [laughter] Remember those? [Alan makes a sound of an engine turning] You know, kind of an old car, maybe it’s cold, a cold winter day and you turn it, it goes [makes a dead engine sound] and then [car turns over humming] That’s bodhichitta. [laughter] Where you don’t keep on needing to crank it and crank it and crank it, you’ve cranked it enough, that then it catches. And then it goes, and then you stop cranking the key, then just pht, then you’re ready to go. But it’s now uncontrived motor turning over. And you don’t need to keep on pushing it and cranking it and so forth.
[1:04:05] So, not bad, not bad. And so how does that, how do you develop that? Well you develop that, but of course in order to get the mind to the point that it really can be turning over and the wheel of dharma and bodhichitta can be turning over and self perpetuating. Then he added quite early on, it was in his tradition at Sera Jey monastic college, that to develop bodhichitta to that extent, then you have to have shamatha. You have to have a really quite a well tuned mind. A very well tuned mind. Free of the five obscurations, a really healthy mind as a basis for developing a sublime mind. They call it the jewel mind, the jewel of minds. Well you have to have a really healthy mind, you can’t, it would be hard to see how you could go from straight neurosis to bodhichitta. You know there should be a buffer zone in between. And that would be shamatha. But then the gold-like, that’s the one I was really interested in because then the first one, the earthlike Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey told us, this is like 1973 or so, what is that 42 years ago, 43 years ago? He said the first one, if that’s all you’ve achieved, you’d become a bodhisattva. You are now a bodhisattva, right. Great, but you could become an un-bodhisattva. You could fall back, you could lose your bodhichitta. It could happen. And we’ve seen things in human history where the villainy of human beings against human beings is so inconceivable that your mind just goes into meltdown. And I don’t need to give an example, we have many. Unfortunately we have many. Or you just wonder, how is it even conceivable? That we could do that to each other. How could we, how could we? And if one encountered that kind of up close and personal, one might think, I think there is no hope. There is no hope for you. No hope. You have no interest in dharma, you’re adamantly fixated on anti dharma. It’s like a doctor saying this patient is hopeless. There’s no, I can’t give any treatment, there’s nothing I can do, and it’s not because I’m incapable. No the dharma is very capable, but this is an incurable, incurable patient. And then say, well then I won’t give you any more treatment. At least I can give treatment to myself. I know one person here who really wants to practice dharma, and then you can fall back into, ok then. Sorry world but you’re just not ready for dharma and I’m going to find, I know one person who is and I’m going to follow him and I’m getting out of here, I’m getting out of here. And you could, it could happen.
[1:06:40] So then you could be a bodhisattva and then an un-bodhisattva, it could happen. So how could you? What needs to be done? How could you so fortify? There’s a nice word, or another word is - seal. How could you seal your bodhichitta? Fortify it? So that no matter what happens, no matter what evil you perceive, you encounter, and so forth, you’ll never lose heart, you’ll never fall back, and it’s actually the answer makes really good sense to me.
[01:07:04] Your, this jewel heart, this jewel mind of bodhichitta, needs the armor of wisdom. It needs the protection of wisdom. Insight, deep insight, into core truths of reality. Such as, just for starters, it’s a really good start, insight into impermanence, into dukkha and non-self. And the final one also, the final one that nonself issue, it’s about personal identitylessness, personal, not necessarily the emptiness of all phenomena, that’s bigger, but this is a good place to start. But if you perceive a villain, a villain, an individual, a group, whoever they are, we don’t need to give an example, we have so many to choose from. But you see a real villain, where there’s just such profound evil there, that it almost makes you pass out. Then you look through that and you see - it’s not the person, it’s the mental affliction. It’s not the person who is evil, not from the core, not from the side of the individual. You can give any name you like, but it is not that person from his or her own side who is evil. It is that person massively dominated by mental afflictions that makes this person’s mind evil, this person’s behaviour evil and so forth. But there is no person who is evil at the core. It doesn’t matter what they’ve done. There is no such person. And so the identitylessness of evil people that they are not evil in their core, they are temporarily, massively under the domination of delusion, grieving, hostility, maybe a myriad of other mental afflictions but they are the first victims, they are the first victims, they are the first victims, of all the harm they bring to the world.
[01:08:59] And then rather than giving up, then you just feel these people are the most worthy of compassion. They are the first victims and if they’re bringing massive evil into the world, what’s going to be the karma of that, for them? Other people they kill, they just kill them once. Whether it’s machine guns, whether it’s gas chambers, whether it’s torching people, whether it’s poisoning them, whether they’re nuking them and so forth. You kill other people, you only kill them once, you know, I mean only once. Whereas the karma from that, almost defies the imagination. So who is going to suffer more, the person who perpetrated that suffering, or those recipients? The recipients you get it once, you get it in the teeth, you’re dead you’re finished, they can’t touch you anymore, you’re off in the bardo, they can’t find you. You’re off. You’re free now. You’re off, you’re off the hook of whatever individual, regime, or government, or institution it is that’s perpetrating such evil. But the person who is never off the hook is the person who perpetrated it, and so it’s just more compassion.
[01:10:06] So even when you encounter the most staggering evil in the world, it just is more fuel for your compassion, which means now your Bodhichitta is irreversible. If you see goodness, it just makes you happy and your Bodhichitta just blazes up. If you see Samsara, it blazes up. You see evil, it blazes up, it just kind of blazes, it’s nurtured by everything. The whole of samsara supports and nurtures your bodhichitta. Well then you’re, then you’re on cruise control. That is, it’s going to continue. You will not fall back now. But it needs wisdom for that. And then you ask which wisdom? And in fact it’s right there, the four applications of mindfulness. That’s it. Cultivate bodhichitta and then if you want to stabilise it, fortify it, give it the armour, give it the protection, so that it never falls back, you need shamatha to make it that level of Bodhichitta and you need the four applications of mindfulness to stabilize it to the point of irreversibility and achieve the medium stage of the Mahayana path of accumulation.
[01:11:12] So I heard that, I said ok, I’ve got my agenda, I have my marching orders. Shamatha and everything that’s needed to cultivate and to realise shamatha, bodhichitta itself, the crown jewel, and then the four applications of mindfulness to fortify it. I figured okay I’ve got, that’s enough for now that’s what I thought. That’s enough, that will keep me busy for a while, and then all the other teachings, and we are exposed to many Yamantaka, Vajrayogini, Vajrasattva, eventually Six Yogas of Naropa and Kalachakra. But where are all of those if you don’t have shamatha, you don’t have bodhicitta, you don’t even have basic insight? Where are those? They’re clouds. I just don’t see how any of those constitute a path. I just don’t see it. I just don’t see it. And I’m not, I think, you know, the old timers likely, you know I’m not denigrating anything here, I’m not putting down anything. As the old saying in Tibetan goes, there are many profound practices but not many profound practitioners. Anybody can get an empowerment, go to the right place at the right time, pay your fee or maybe pay no fee, you can get the empowerments, Guhyasamāja, Kalachakra, Hevajra and so forth and so on, that’s not hard. You can get teachings that’s not hard, I mean they’re there. These Lamas are so generous, but are you a capable practitioner that can actually take those practices and turn them into a path?
[01:12:28] No shamatha, no bodhichitta, no insight? Three year retreat, knock yourself out. Do two or three three year retreats but if you don’t have shamatha, genuine bodhicitta and realisation of emptiness, what’s the point of doing them again and again and again? I don’t really get it. It’s not that I don’t get doing three year retreats, but is the basis there? Is the basis there? Have you put in the time to really develop the shamatha and really cultivate bodhichitta that it’s not a liturgy, and really meditate deeply to cultivate insight? This foundational insight into the reality where we live. If that’s there, then fantastic. Only rejoicing. If it’s not, it looks like we’re being swept away by the inertia of tradition, and what gets lost in the shuffle is the very notion of the path and that’s what he’s highlighting here. This is the path. So earth, gold, moon moon corresponds to the great stage of the Mahayana path of accumulation, and this is the crescent moon, the crescent moon, that you know it’s just going to get bigger and bigger and bigger, fuller and fuller. So there it is, and that’s just the first three! I looked and I said, well that’s enough for me. The first three, Mahayana path of accumulation - ok that one! Preparation, my understanding is vague, my understanding of the path of seeing? Vaguer. Path of meditation? Really vague. Enlightenment? A little bit of understanding,conceptual.
[01:14:12] So, Alternatively there are three kinds of the bodhichitta of conducting oneself with appreciation, the first one, it’s [01:14:20 ?in Tibetan], appreciation is a very close translation. the bodhichitta of pure extraordinary resolve, this is the [?Tibetan 1:14:25] the extraordinary resolve to free all sentient beings from suffering and to bring each one to a stage of liberation. That’s the extraordinary resolve that’s the technical term, [?Tibetan]. And then the bodhichitta of maturation, or fruition. Maturation has to be [?01:14:43 in Tibetan] must be, which eliminate obscurations. So these three modes eliminate obscurations. Again, The Ornament of the Sutras the Sutra Alamkara states, Three levels of the generated aspiration are asserted: appreciation, the pure extraordinary resolve, and the maturation. They eliminate obscurations. And so then, Among the twenty two divisions discussed in the Ornament For Higher Realisation, the earth-like, gold-like and moon-like bodhicitta are the states for us beginners. That’s Mahayana path of accumulation.
[01:15:21] I so like that this text and the preceding one especially, these are completely practice texts, these are not study texts that people sit down you know in monastic colleges and they study study study the great treatises. This isn’t one of the greater treatises, this is a meditation manual. And I love that, that in the midst of the meditation manual, he’s citing these great treatises. The great classics, these are classics that he’s citing. But he’s citing them not for egghead scholars but for people who are really intent on practice. I’m an egghead scholar by the way so I’m not deprecating such people. I understand them, I’m one of them. So, The Ornament for Higher Realization states that the three of the mentioned types of bodhichitta are brought forth by appreciation and they occur at the stage of beginners. Mahayana beginners within the five paths, the path of accumulation and read at your leisure, Gyatrul Rinpoche’s very helpful glossing or clarification of appreciation that one precedes in these early phases of bodhichitta not out of simply out of blind faith belief or I don’t know conformity and so forth, but on the contrary as you’re cultivating bodhichitta you see through your own experience, the benefits of cultivating the sublime mind, and that appreciation through your own experience inspires you, motivates you further, and that’s what carries you through. So the word appreciation is very rich and it entails insight [and] understanding through your own experience.
[1:16:57] We continue a little more, this is, this just inspired me no end when I first learned about it and it hasn’t stopped. So now we have a couple more classics. This is really classic. This is Indian Mahayana Buddhism. So we have these different modes of bodhichitta. The shepherd like and we’ll see the other two, they’re coming whether [or not]. So, The best bodhichitta is the shepherd-like bodhicitta; with which one resolves not to attain enlightenment until oneself not to achieve one’s own enlightenment, one’s own perfect buddhahood,until all sentient beings have been brought to that state. And so imagine that. You know with this, the Buddhist worldview is actually no smaller than the view of modern cosmology, where just to run some numbers, we’re one planet within the milky way, which has on the order of about 400 billion stars, 300-400-500 billion you know in that ballpark. We have one star out of, let’s take the average out of 400 billion, that’s one galaxy. And there are roughly 100 billion galaxies. They estimate 100 billion galaxies.
[1:18:03] That’s a pretty big world right? Pretty large. And scientists now that they’ve discovered exoplanets, planets around other stars, they’re estimating, these are informed guesses, that there’s probably on the average about one planet for every star, with roughly hundred billion to a trillion stars per galaxy. One hundred billion small galaxies, a trillion big galaxies, we’re somewhere in between, mediocre as usual. [laughter] That for these, okay so it’s 100 billion times 100 billion to a trillion, that’s how many stars, okay. That’s a lot of zeros, it probably winds up being an awful lot of sentient beings, the chances are. They’re guessing there in modern cosmology and Buddhism says yeah you’re right, these are good numbers to knock around and yes a lot of those planets are inhabited and so when they say all sentient beings they actually mean all of them and not just on our planet, our galaxy and so forth. They actually mean all of them. So this kind of just makes your mind like somebody put a hand grenade inside your head and just blows your mind all over the place. Like are you kidding me? And here it is, I mean this is the noblest, the most awesome bodhichitta to look out on the world of all sentient beings and to do so with the mind boggling, it’s kind of, the Tibetan word is [?semchuk], the power of your heart, the power of your heart, the strength of your hearts [?1:19:34 Tibetan]. To say I care so much about all of the sentient beings that I’ll see that every single one of them is brought to enlightenment before I step over and achieve perfect enlightenment. And it’s called shepherd-like for a very good reason and that is the good shepherd, we have this coming up in Christianity, the good shepherd in Buddhism. The Good Shepherd. The good shepherd at the end of the day bringing the flock back to the fold, getting them all bedded down, protected, and then once the flock is all bedded down, then the shepherd goes in and eats his porridge or whatever he gets for dinner. But he takes care of the flock first and if there’s any stragglers he goes out and gets them and only when all of the flock are taken care of then he goes and he says - I’ve done what I needed to do and now I can go in and have my dinner. That’s classic, it’s like in a parable and that’s the vision here and they say, This is the bodhichitta of Avalokitesvara, that’s the most noble. Then we have the helmsman, the second one the helmsman-like bodhicitta, the helmsman, the navigator, the metaphor here is very transparent. Again if this is setting out on a voyage and which the passengers are all sentient beings and the bodhisattva is the helmsman, the Navigator, and it’s a Navigator’s job to get them all the cross the ocean of samsara to the further shore to liberation, to awakening, but of course they’re all going to get there at the same time. The Navigator doesn’t come afterwards, that would be silly, but nor does he jump overboard and try to swim faster than ship that would be also silly, they all get there together.
[1:21:13] So that’s the second type of bodhicitta, The helmsman-like bodhichitta is middling, and with it one resolves to attain buddhahood or spiritual awakening oneself together with all sentient beings. Let’s all go together, I’ll bring you all over together. And then, The least is the king-like bodhicitta. And this occurs when you, Consider, Since all sentient beings without exception have been my mother and father, they’re all kin, they’re all family, I must fulfill their needs, but I cannot do so now. I mean I’m so limited, I’m so limited therefore I must in order to take care of all my family then I have to transcend my current limitations. And Therefore, I resolve first to attain buddhahood myself, then without needing to apply effort, once you’ve achieved enlightenment then all your activities are effortless, spontaneous. then without needing to apply effort, I shall serve the needs of all sentient beings by means of effortless, spontaneous, enlightened activities until samsara is empty. So those are the three types of bodhicitta. And he said this is important. So I learned about that a long time ago, never forgot it actually. Many things, most of this stuff I learned, I’ve forgotten. Can’t remember anymore there was too much. But this one I’ve never forgotten. Everything you’ve just read I’ve never forgotten, it’s like 43 years earlier, I’ve never forgotten this one. Those three modes of bodhicitta.
[1:22:44] It’s interesting that he calls this is the best, this is the medium, this is the inferior. I think he is speaking to us beginners as he speaks as if he’s one of us. Beginners just setting out on the path, Karma Chagme. For us beginners we have this powerfully ingrained tendency of me first, it’s called self centeredness, self centeredness. The sense that well if there’s something good out there, let me have it. I’ll get there first. Me first, basically me first, everybody else second. And it happens in business, it happens in education, it happens in science. There’s grant money out there. Who’s going to get it? Look out. We’re coming for it, you know It’s competitive, fiercely competitive. And it’s pretty much everywhere, in sports, in business, in football, I mean just everywhere. You know, me first, me first, me first. One country, me first. We have the greatest country. We have the best country. Me first. We’re showing how great we are because we’re pushing everybody else aside. That we can get all the good stuff first. And so it’s not east or west. It’s not religious, non religious. That happens in religion as well. We’ve seen it throughout all of history, that’s why religion has such a bad reputation. People doing the most grotesque things in the [name] of religion. Because they’re sure their religion is best. And so it’s everywhere. It’s such a deep and it manifests everywhere. I mean there’s just no walk of life where it doesn’t crop up because it’s such a deeply ingrained tendency. And so when we come to Mahayana and we hear about perfect enlightenment, then the first thought is bound to be - me first, I want to get it. Look out, okay, give me the fastest teaching. Give me the Rolls Royce, what is it Dzogchen? Kalachakra, [? unintelligible 1:24:33] what is it, what’s the highest? Six yogas, I want those now. Make it snappy, how much do I have to pay? How many three year retreats do I need to do? Come on, how much? What’s the best lama, what’s the best lama? I want the best one, you know, it’s natural. It’s natural. I’m not speaking sarcastically, it’s very natural. But of course it’s completely antithetical to the whole bodhisattva way of life. Which is just the opposite. Where we cherish all other sentient beings more than ourselves. And so he’s saying the best one for us beginners is to so completely torpedo the sense of me first, that we’re saying everybody else first. That’s pretty drastic.
[1:25:14] Everybody else first. And that is - I will bring everybody else to enlightenment and when everybody is taken care of, everybody is brought to perfect enlightenment, then I’ll step over the threshold. That’s really a massive head on collision to self centeredness. If one can rise to that, that’s pretty awesome. But of course wisdom has to come into play. And here’s how it does and that is, as the way I was taught it, I was first introduced to this, but then when you consider, imagine you actually bring forth that aspiration, you’re willing to postpone your enlightenment until all sentient beings are buddhas, that’s awesome. But then you consider is that practical? And that is, I’m saying I want to lead people from the first bodhisattva bhumi to the second bodhisattva bhumi to the tenth bodhisattva bhumi but I’m going to get them all there without having achieved that myself. I’m going to get them to the tenth bodhisattva bhumi and then to buddhahood without having been there myself. How does that work out exactly? And maybe it’s a good heart, but maybe that’s not so practical. Maybe at the very least I could take one step back and say well let’s all get there together. That means I’m really still willing to postpone my own enlightenment for all those terrible evil doers in the world and so forth and so on. I’m going to bring us all, I’m not leaving anybody behind. But so no child, no sentient being left behind, but we’ll all get there together. But I’ll be there with you because otherwise how can you be really a guide, like a wagon train in the old west. How can you lead a caravan of wagons across to the Pacific ocean if you’re not in the wagon train? If you can just send them on ahead, not a very practical strategy. The wagon master is with them right, all the way, all the way to the Pacific coast along the Oregon Trail and so on. And so this is actually more practical, be in the wagon train, be on the ship and be there every step of the way, that’s more practical. But then as we see in this king-like bodhicitta but really how practical is that? After all when you achieve buddhahood it’s not like infinite retirement. It’s not like you put back your heels and say oh, it’s nice to be a buddha, I never do anything anymore. It’s kind of like now you have a whole new job description, you have to be a buddha forever because there’s nothing else to be, but the very nature of buddhahood is not just resting in dharmakaya, it’s manifesting inconceivably and limitlessly in sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya. And that is in fact the most effective way to bring all sentient beings to enlightenment. Because with your wisdom you see what each individual sentient being needs and you have the full compassion and the full power of your buddha mind, implement that, so in terms of sheer practicality it actually makes a lot more sense, not out of selfishness but out of sheer principle of efficiency or efficacy, it would actually be most effective, most compassionate, to get there yourself. It’s like there being a plague, a plague. When I read Camus’ Plague, a long time ago, it kind of made an impression on me because it really struck me like the whole world has a plague, a plague of delusion, craving, hostility. And if you yourself have the plague and everybody around you has the plague and you feel this enormous compassion for all of them, maybe the best thing to do would be to heal yourself first and know how you did it, and then go out and heal every single one, but not try to heal them while you’re completely you know, blasted by the plague yourself.
[1:29:03] So that’s where those three come, it just, it gives I think, gives rise to very very rich food for thought. And that’s a good place to pause. But the three types of bodhichitta, I don’t know what an impression this made on your mind, but I know when I first learned about it and these early stages of bodhichitta I know it’s made a lasting impression because I remember this like I was taught yesterday. It’s very powerful. So let’s just pause, and at the end of the day which we aren’t there yet, but when the end of the day, comes and it comes time for dedicating merit, to dedicate the merit of your days activities in which you can rejoice at your leisure, but it’s time to dedicate, it would be very good to dedicate to the cultivation of such bodhichitta where it’s not arisen and that it may develop and develop and develop, where it has arisen all the way through the twenty two. This is like putting an investment, like investing, you have something good here, something called merit, goodness, spiritual energy, call it whatever you like.
It’s punya in sanskrit. But you have something really good, some kind of capital, some capital, something you can, you can use in various ways. That can give you a rise to all kinds of good things but it’s like, like placing that capital in a vault where it will never be stolen, it will never vanish, it will never erode, or fall away. And it’s said by dedicating your bodhichitta, dedicating your merit to bodhicitta, to enlightenment of all sentient beings, that protects it. It’ll be there, it’s your deep investment and it’ll be there until you’re enlightened. Sound’s like a good idea. Olaso. So enjoy your evening.
Transcribed by KrissKringle Sprinkle
Revised by Cheri Langston
Final edition Rafael Carlos Giusti