B. Alan Wallace, 04 Oct 2012

In the Mahayana, equanimity is a sense of evenness or equality between self and other. In order to practice guru yoga where there is non-duality between your own mind and the guru’s mind, pure vision for both self and guru is needed.
Meditation. Equanimity from verses 90-119 in Ch. 8 of the Bodhicaryavatara. Since everyone experiences suffering and happiness, I must protect others from suffering just as I protect myself. My suffering does not affect another, and another’s suffering does not affect me. Just as my suffering is difficult for me due to clinging, so is another’s suffering for him/her. Suffering has no owner. All suffering is equally ahorrent. Therefore, I must eliminate suffering in myself and others just because it’s suffering. But how about the suffering associated with compassion? Compared to the suffering in the world, this suffering is small and must be endured for one’s own and others’ sake through habituation.

Meditation starts at 5:13

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In the Mahayana, equanimity is a sense of evenness or equality between self and other. In order to practice guru yoga where there is non-duality between your own mind and the guru’s mind, pure vision for both self and guru is needed.

Alan’s comments:

So yesterday we turned our attention to the cultivation of equanimity in the sense of imperturbability or just an emotional balance, a calm, a cool evenness of mind that doesn’t fluctuate in an exaggerated or unhealthy way emotionally, or of course in terms of craving and hostility. And today we’ll turn to the other sides, the other aspects or face or facet of equanimity, same term is used but with very different meaning, same term upecha in Sanskrit or tang nyom in Tibetan and that is – this evenness, this sense of evenness, evenness in terms of prioritization of evaluation, a sense of evenness between self and other as a direct antidote here as one embarks on the Bodhisattva Way of Live, cultivating bodhichitta the very first step, and in fact the first discursive meditation I was ever taught by Geshe Rabten he said: almost all your problems rise from having an uneven attitude towards others, so develop evenness, start now. I am still working on it.

So the “tang nyom”, as the foundation, the evenness, the quality itself and others, the foundation for developing bodhichitta which is the foundation for everything that follows, Vajrayana, Mahayana Dozgchen and so forth, so that’s where we’ll turn our attention today.

Now a number of you who have been trained in Vajrayana then you are very well aware of the enormous importance of authentic guru yoga, I’ve addressed this a little bit in the past but you’re aware also that the core of that practice is really having a sense, as much you possible can, a sense of the non-duality of your own mind with that of your guru’s mind. So once again it becomes quite obvious - if you’re still reifying your own mind as being a little grungy garbage pit, and that’s my mind whereas the guru’s mind is pure and celestial and now I want to merge the two minds, does anything strike you as a bit odd there? Like - please let the garbage dump of my mind merge with the pure land of your mind and don’t mind all the trash that I bring to yours? It doesn’t really make any sense, does it? So this is why the pure vision really has to be equal. And you’re not practicing Vajrayana guru if you are still reifying yourself as a cruddy little sentient being with a crappy mind, you have to un-reify that.

So there it is, when practiced authentically then practice is enormously transformative and profound, profound because it is profoundly transformative.

So I thought this morning I’d like to invite, since I definitely don’t want you to merge your mind with mine, I mean I don’t that that would be a great service on my part, I already have so many problems and I have his problems too. I want to protect you from my mind. But so since that’s not really a very reasonable option I thought I would invite in a guest, a special guest star as they say in the entertainment industry, a person with whom you might be very happy to merge your mind with his.

So the guest lecture this morning, the guest meditative guide will be Shantideva. I am inviting him here in person and what I’ll be doing is reading

verses 90 through 119, meditation chapter from - A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life, it is his meditation, he’s inviting us to join him in his own meditation, laying the foundation to bodhichitta. Please find a comfortable position.


As always let’s begin by settling the body, speech and mind in its natural state, make our own minds suitable vessels, to hold and be transformed by the teachings on equanimity, the evenness, the equality of self and others.

And let’s now let Shantideva guide us in this practice, so clearly he speaks from his own experience. So we will begin with verse 90.

90. One should first earnestly meditate on the equality of oneself and others in this way - all equally experience suffering and happiness, and I must protect them as I do myself.

91. Just as the body, which has many parts owing to its divisions into arms and so forth should be protected as a whole, so should this entire world, which is differentiated and yet has the nature of the same suffering and happiness.

92. Although my suffering does not cause pain in others bodies, nevertheless that suffering is mine and is difficult to bear because of my attachment to myself.

Or an alternative translation - even though my agony does not hurt anyone else’s body, that suffering of mine is unbearable because I cling to as mine, as my own.

93. Likewise, although I myself do not feel the suffering of another person, that suffering belongs to that person and is difficult for him to bear because of his attachment to himself.

94. I should eliminate the suffering of others because it is suffering, just like my own suffering. I should take care of others because they are sentient beings, just as I am a sentient being.

95. When happiness is equally dear to others and myself, then what is so special about me that I strive after happiness for myself alone?

96. When fear and suffering are equally abhorrent to others and myself, then what is so especial about me that I protect myself but not others?

97. If I do not protect them because I am not afflicted by their suffering, why do I protect my body from the suffering of a future body, which is not my pain?

Or a variation of translation - then why do I guard myself, or guard against future suffering when it does not harm me now?

A tiny commentary - how other is other? If we draw a strong line between ourselves and others then shouldn’t we draw an equally strong line between ourselves now and ourselves in the future let alone future lives? The demarcation between self and other in space and time is merely a convention with no inherent existence of its own.

Regarding the sense of our own personal identity in the future, Shantideva continues.

98. The assumption that “it is the same me even then” is false; because it is one person who has died and quite another who is born.

99. If one thinks that suffering that belongs to someone else is to be warded off by that person himself, then why does the hand protect the foot when the pain of the foot does not belong to the hand?

100. If one argues that even though it is inappropriate, it happens because of grasping onto a self, our response is - with all one’s might, one should avoid that which is inappropriate, whether it belongs to oneself or to another. [In other words avoid reification, avoid this dualistic grasping or delusional grasping wherever it may crop up].

101. The continuum of consciousness like a series, and the aggregation of constituents like an army and the like, are unreal [which is to say non- inherently existent, they are unreal]. Since one who experiences suffering does not exist, to whom will that suffering belong?

Of course he is referring once again to inherent existence, since one who experiences suffering does not exist, to whom will that suffering belong?

102. All sufferings are without an owner, because they are not different. They should be warded off simply because they are suffering. Why is any restriction made in this case?

103. Why should suffering be prevented? Because everyone agrees, if it must be warded off, then all of it must be warded off and if not, then this goes for oneself as it does for everyone else.

Shantideva raises the qualm:

104. [Qualm:] Much suffering comes from compassion, so why should one force it to arise?

A brief commentary - When we profoundly care about others then it seems that the magnitude of our own suffering increases, why go there? And his response -

[Response:] After seeing the suffering of the world, how can this suffering from compassion be considered great?

105. If the suffering of many disappears because of the suffering of one, then a compassionate person should induce that suffering for his own sake and for the sake of others.

106 Therefore, Supushpa-chandra, although knowing the king’s animosity, did not avoid his own suffering as a sacrifice for many people in misery.

107. Thus, those whose mind-streams are cultivated in meditation and who equally, accept the suffering of others, dive into the Avici hell like swans into a pool of lotuses.

108. They become oceans of joy when sentient beings are liberated. Have they not found fulfillment? What is the use of sterile liberation? [which is to say liberation for yourself alone.]

109. Thus, although working for the benefit of others, there is neither conceit nor dismay; and on account of the thirst for the single goal of benefiting others, there is no desire for the result of the maturation of one’s own karma.

110. Therefore, to the extent that I protect myself from disparagement, so shall I generate a spirit of protection and a spirit of compassion toward others.

111. Due to the habituation, there is a sense that “I” exists in the drops of blood and semen that belong to others, [of course namely one’s parents] even though the being in question does not exist.

Even though that is, there is no inherently existent self here.

112. Why do I not also consider another’s body as myself in the same way, since the otherness of my own body is not difficult to determine?

Short commentary –If there is nothing in our own body that is inherently I or mine, but rather simply comes through habituation of identifying with our own body, then why not extend this to the bodies of others in exactly the same way. Neither the others body nor our own body is intrinsically mine or intrinsically other.

113. Acknowledging one-self as fault-ridden and others as oceans of virtue, one should contemplate renouncing one’s own self-identity and accepting others.

Or varying in translation - having recognized oneself as faulty and others as oceans of virtues one should practice discarding self-grasping and accepting others.

114. Just as the hands and the like are cherished because they are members of the body, why are embodied beings not cherished in the same way, for they are members of the world?

115. Just as the notion of a self with regard to one’s own body, which has no personal existence, is due to habituation, will the identity of one’s self with others not arise out of habituation in the same way?

116. Although working for the benefit of others in this way, there is neither conceit nor dismay. Even upon feeding oneself, expectation of reward does not arise.

117. Therefore, just as you wish to protect yourself from pain, grief and the like, so may you cultivate a spirit of protection and a spirit of compassion toward the world.

118. Therefore the protector Avalokita empowered his own name to remove even one’s fear arising from timidity in front of an audience.

119. One should not turn away from difficulty, since owing to the power of habituation, one may have no pleasure in the absence of something that one previously feared to hear mentioned.

Now simply let your awareness rest in its own space and be still.

Transcribed by Rafael Carlos Giusti

Revised by Cheri Langston.

Final edition by Rafael Carlos Giusti

Posted by Alma Ayon


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