B. Alan Wallace, 08 Aug 2015

Alan begins by commenting on the common theme of all sentient beings in Buddhism. In Buddhism, we hear about all sentient beings, not only the humankind. The concept is so vast, that it may become vague. So Alan once asked about this issue more than 40 years ago to his abbot back then, Gen Losang Gyatso, who replied that practically speaking, all sentient beings mean everyone you encounter in your mind and through your senses. Then Alan mentions that when it comes to cultivating compassion, our practice will be imbued with the sense of who we are. The sense of who we are is usually the sense of being a human being. In that respect, Alan suggests to do an internal extreme makeover, and he recalls the story from the Pali canon in which there was once a gorgeous young woman who suddenly died, and the Buddha asked the monks, captured by the beautiful appearance, to go and see the decaying body in the charnel ground, and the monks saw in just a few days how that body was not attractive anymore. This has nothing to do with misogyny. It often happens that people are dehumanised by being looked at as objects of craving and attachment. Empty out the sense of being a sentient being: we created it, clean it out. Imagine your body being like a rainbow, empty, luminous, pure, with your mind inseparable from Guru Rinpoche, and from that state it will be much easier to generate compassion.

The meditation is on tong-len.

After meditation, Alan comments on the 7-point mind training by Atisha: in terms of sequence, he does something unusual as opposed to the Lam-rim. In fact, after a preamble, he starts directly with ultimate bodhicitta. He encourages us to adopt one of the expressions in the 7-point mind training, “View phenomena like a dream”, and to enrich mindfulness with this insight. In fact, the report from those that realised emptiness when they are out of meditation, is that phenomena appear like a dream. Sustain the insight that appearances arise like a dream. Alan also comments on another point there, which is: “In between sessions, act as an illusory being.” Appearing, but empty of inherent existence. Alan finally invites us to throw out our reified sense of identity, sweep it out before you invite in Padmasambhava or Avalokiteshvara.

The meditation starts at 19:27

Course notes, other episodes and resources for this retreat are available here

The text for this retreat can be purchased via the SBI Store.

Finally, Please contribute to help us afford the audio equipment we rent to make these, and future podcasts freely available.

Download (MP3 / 40 MB)


This lecture does not have a text transcript. Please contact us if you’d like to volunteer to assist our transcription team.


Ask questions about this lecture on the Buddhism Stack Exchange or the Students of Alan Wallace Facebook Group. Please include this lecture’s URL when you post.