You are in the archive Please visit our new homepage

The Berzin Archives

The Buddhist Archives of Dr. Alexander Berzin

Switch to the Text Version of this page. Jump to main navigation.

Explanation of Eight-Verse Attitude-Training

Alexander Berzin
Berlin, Germany, May 2005

Session Two: Being Humble; Verses Two and Three

Unedited Transcript
Listen to the audio version of this page (0:35 hours)

Yesterday we started our discussion of the Eight-Verse Attitude-Training by Langri-tangpa, and we discussed the first verse:

(1) May I always cherish all limited beings
By considering how far superior they are
To wish-granting gems
For actualizing the supreme aim.

And this was the discussion of how, by practicing with others – developing compassion for them, and patience with them, and so on – that this is the only way really to be able to reach enlightenment, which is the supreme aim mentioned here, because our whole motive for reaching enlightenment, which gives the strength to our understanding of voidness to cut through both sets of obscurations, is the wish to benefit others. And the only reason for reaching enlightenment is to be able to benefit others, and so this is why others are so extremely important, more important than a wish-granting gem, which can give us worldly type of things. As Shantideva says in chapter six, verses a hundred thirty-two, hundred thirty-three:

(132) Should even such a king be pleased (with me),
It’s impossible that he could bestow Buddhahood,
Which is what I’d be brought to attain
By having made limited beings be pleased.

(133) (Leave aside) seeing that the future attainment of Buddhahood
Arises from making limited beings be pleased,
Don’t you see that, at least in this life, great prosperity,
Fame, and happiness come?

One thirty-four:

(134) (Moreover), with beauty and so on, freedom from sickness, and fame,
Someone with patience, while still in samsara,
Gains extremely long life and the abundant pleasures
Of a universal chakra king.

In other words, we will not only gain this supreme aim, but we will get all the various facilities, like prosperity, being well known, happy and freedom from sickness, and so on. Not that we want to have these in order to be happy, but the more of these things we have, the greater an influence we can have on others. If we have prosperity, then we can travel everywhere, we can help others materially. If we’re well known, then people will be open and receptive to us, and will come to us. Otherwise, they never hear of us, so how can we really be able to help them, except by prayers? So all these things come from the positive force that’s built up by helping others.

So then verse two,

(2) Whenever I come into anyone’s company,
May I regard myself less than everyone else.
And, from the depths of my heart, value others
More highly than I do myself.

So, this follows from the first verse. There are two way of understanding the verse, and two ways of interpreting it, or translating it. Basically, when we think of the advantages of helping others, and the disadvantages of just thinking of ourselves – in other words, the advantages of cherishing others as opposed to the disadvantages of cherishing oneself – then we will naturally think less of ourselves, in terms of accomplishing just what would make us happy, and we would value others more highly. In other words, we will cherish and work for others more highly, realizing that not only the supreme aim of reaching enlightenment can be fulfilled that way, but even these ordinary aims are achieved as well. So that’s one way of understanding the verse.

The other way of understanding this is, “Whenever I come into anyone’s company, may I regard myself as the lowest of all, and from the depth of my heart value others as higher than myself.” If we take that very literally, in a Western psychological context, it could be just reinforcing low self-esteem, but that’s not what is intended here. What’s intended here, with this way of translating and understanding the verse, is developing humility, overcoming arrogance.

So, when we are with others, if we are thinking just of ourselves and cherish ourselves, then of course we just think in terms of our own point of view. What would be of benefit to me? What do I want? And so on. We tend to talk just about ourselves, for example, as well, and think of our comfort; whereas here, what it’s saying is that that of course leads to all sorts of problems, suffering.“I wanted it to be like this and then it didn’t work out like that,” and so we get all upset, because the other person wanted something else, and so on; whereas if we cherish others, and think of others as being more important than ourselves in this respect, then we don’t get so upset.

Of course, we need to have a balance between taking care of our own needs and others’ needs. But if we think in terms of numbers, then certainly – as His Holiness always points out – others are almost infinite in number and we’re only one. And so if you look to see what would be fair, then obviously working for others is far more important than just working for our own selfish aims. I think you have to differentiate between our personal selfish aims and the aim of working to improve ourselves, and so on, and have the facilities to be able to help others more. It’s not a selfish aim. I think you need to differentiate the two.

So, as Geshe Chaykawa said in the Seven-Point Lojong, “Put all the blame on one thing,” which is self-cherishing. And that actually is very, very helpful when we’re feeling upset, disturbed in some way or another. It doesn’t have to only be with situations with other people. Even when we’re by ourselves, put the blame on one thing, in other words look and see, “Why am I so upset?” and it’s because of self-cherishing. “I wanted it to be like this and it wasn’t” – it’s usually why we’re so upset.

Then, of course, you can start to apply many opponents to that, not just the opponent of thinking of the voidness of the self, of me, but also thinking,“Isn’t this totally unrealistic? That I expect everything always to work out the way that I want it to. That’s absurd. What do I expect from samsara?” So one has to work on that self-cherishing. So, it’s very, very helpful, when we’re upset, don’t just stay in it and feel worse and worse and worse.

Shantideva explains this very nicely in chapter eight, the mental stability chapter, from verses one twenty-six to one thirty:

(126) Paining others for my own self-aims,
I’ll be tormented in joyless realms and the like;
But paining myself for the aims of others,
I’ll acquire all glories.

(127) Through the wish for just myself to advance
Come the worse rebirth states, low status and stupidity;
But transferring that very (wish) to others
Brings the better rebirth states, honor, (and intelligence).

(128) Ordering others around for my own self-aims,
I’ll experience being a servant and worse;
But ordering myself around for the aims of others,
I’ll experience being a lord and better.

(129) All whosoever who are happy in the world
Are (so) through the wish for the happiness of others;
While all whosoever who are miserable in the world
Are (so) through the wish for the happiness of themselves.

(130) But what need is there to elaborate more?
Just look at the difference between the two;
An infantile person acting for his own self-aims
And Sage (Buddha) acting for the aims of others.

So, Shantideva says it really very very clearly – the disadvantages of cherishing ourselves and the advantages of cherishing others. So, when we try to do this in meditation, like for instance we’re having a problem, and something didn’t work out in our lives, and we’re really very upset and unhappy about this. And so we identify, “OK, that’s because I’m just thinking of it from my point of view, and I wanted it like this and I didn’t get it. Poor me.” Then we think, “What is the result of thinking like that? It just makes me more and more miserable, and it just puts me figuratively in a hell-type state of mind, and disables me from helping others, and so on, because I’m so upset; whereas if I think of the other, and the other person, let’s say from their point of view, and try to understand what was their way of thinking, and so on, and if I think in terms of the larger scope of others in general, then it’s inappropriate to just think of my own point of view. If I think in terms of others, that will broaden my mind, make me happier, I can understand, and so on.”

OK, so you hear that, and there’s all sort of other teachings of methods that we can use for overcoming this type of self-destructing attitudes. Now, the problem is, when you meditate on it, what happens? And what happens is that, “Intellectually I understand this, but emotionally I’m having a lot of difficulty accepting this, I’m still upset.” And if you examine the whole process, what it is, is that “I don’t want to accept that others’ point of view is more important than my own,” and that “If I think in terms of that, I won’t be so upset.” We don’t want to accept that. “But I still wanted it this way!” and “Poor me!” That still comes there, still comes up. And even though we might be able to act in such a way that we don’t say something nasty to the other person, and outwardly we’re forgiving – inwardly we’re still upset.

And I think the way to handle this is to think of the analogy of a horse, a wild horse, or a dog, or something like that. You tie the horse up in a pen with a fence and the horse goes crazy, it doesn’t want to settle down; or the dog as well, you tie the dog to a post, and the dog is barking and trying to get away, and so on. That’s what our minds are like. When we try to stay focused on the benefits of cherishing others and thinking of others, and that it really is a losing battle to think just of myself – we don’t want to accept that, and we feel very uncomfortable. It’s like we’re the dog trying to get away from the mindfulness, what’s holding us to the post of this thought.

The only way to start to actually feel it on an emotional level, not just the intellectual understanding, is to just force ourselves to stay there. And the longer that you stay with this thought, eventually the ego-powered mind gives up and relaxes. And it’s when you relax with the understanding, that then you start to begin to actually feel it. At least from my own experience, I find that that’s the only way that we can break through this barrier between intellectual and emotional understanding. It’s all a matter of how much you relax with the understanding.

So, the images of animals as an absurd conclusion is a method that Tibetans employ quite a lot. And I find it quite helpful here to think of our minds and emotions being like the dog that’s tied up, and that is constantly running out, and then it’s getting caught on a rope and barking and so on, that, “I don’t want to accept this thing that I intellectually understand. I’m still upset.” And if we view ourselves like that, then it’s easier to say, “But I don’t want to be like this dog,” and to quiet down, and relax.

Because we’re constantly making objections. “But!” you know, and all of this. We see it in class. We say something, which is quite radical in terms of a Buddhist attitude, shocking, out of the ordinary, and then people object and object and object, and, “No, I can’t do this,” and “It’s too difficult” and so on. That’s the dog barking, being on the chain. It’s true that we need to examine things critically – that’s something else. But we’re talking about after we examined it critically, and we still don’t want to accept it. Then it’s a matter of relaxing. And that’s very much the teachings that you have in shamata, a stilled and settled state of mind – quiet the mental agitation.

So let’s take a few minutes to examine ourselves, some sort of problem that we might be having. Try to see that it’s coming from the self-cherishing, and see if we can actually accept that, and quiet down. And think more of cherishing others; the other is more important, as it says here. Value others more highly than I do myself, their point of view. And see if you can quiet down with that. I mean to just do it for a couple of minutes. Obviously it is not going to be so effective, but this is something really to work on in meditation. Especially when we’re upset about something that’s happened in our life, whether it’s big or small.


OK. So when we try to develop a stilled and settled state of mind – it’s shamata, or shiney in Tibetan – there are many, many different objects on which we can focus, not just our breath, or a Buddha image. And most of the topics that are explained in the long list of the objects for focus are various types of understandings to oppose our disturbing emotions, and so it’s very good to practice the stilled and settled mind with them.

And when one thinks about it, then I think that the reason why, when you quiet down, you can start to emotionally accept these understandings is – as we work in the sensitivity training as well – that if you can quiet down sufficiently, then, when you get to the nature of the mind, the various good qualities are all there, present. It’s just a matter of quieting down enough to get in contact with the basic quality of warmth, and understanding, and acceptance, and openness, and so on. And these, I think, are the qualities of what we in the West would call an “emotional understanding” of something, when we actually can accept it. I think that’s how it would work. I mean how it does work, I should say.

So, in order to cherish others more highly than ourselves, or when we think in terms of “We’re only one and others are many,” then one of the ways of doing this is to focus on Buddha-nature. Buddha-nature and others, and they are many, many more than just we are.

So Shantideva says in his patience chapter, chapter six, verse a hundred and eighteen:

(118) Since a share giving rise to a Buddha’s
Foremost Dharma (attainments) exists in limited beings,

It’s referring to Buddha-nature

It’s fitting that limited beings be honored,
In accordance with this very share.

There are more of them, so you honor them more. And then, verse one twenty-six in the same chapter, six:

(126) There is no doubt that Those with a Compassion Self-Nature
Have taken all wandering beings (to be the same) as themselves.
The very nature they have seen as the essential nature of limited beings
Is those Guardians’ self-nature, so why don’t I show (them the same) respect?

So the conclusion of that, chapter eight, a hundred and thirteen:

(113) (So,) having understood the faultiness of (cherishing) myself
And the oceans of advantages of (cherishing) others,
I shall meditate on discarding my way
Of taking a “me,” and extend it to others.

In other words, don’t just think in terms of “me,” and “I’m only going to take care of ‘me’” in terms of this limited self, but extend it – with this understanding of the equality of everybody – to others and take care of them as well.

We find a similar sentiment in Dharmarakshita’s Mahayana lojong, The Wheel of Sharp Weapons, in verse eight and the beginning of verse nine:

(8) All of our sufferings derive from our habits
Of selfish delusions we heed and act out.
As all of us share in this tragic misfortune,
Which stems from our narrow and self-centered ways,
We must take all our sufferings and the miseries of others
And smother our wishes of selfish concern.

(9) Should the impulse arise now to seek our own pleasure,
We must turn it aside to please others instead;

And this also gets into the second interpretation of the verse, which is consider ourselves the lowest of all and the others as higher – this is understood as being a servant of others and serving them. And so Shantideva says in the third chapter, verse eighteen:

(18) May I be…
…a servant for every embodied being who would want a servant.

And so, there’s a lot of that, I don’t have all of the quotes here, but how I’m going to use this body to serve others and to help others, Shantideva says that quite a lot as well. And so in this sense, see ourselves as the lowest and the others as supreme.

It’s not so easy to view oneself as a servant of humanity and the servant of all beings, that “I’m going to use all my talents, my body, and so on, to help others,” but this of course is what we do when we make these offerings. Remember, we were making the offerings of concentration, in which we offered all our practices and so on to help others. And in doing this, we need to be extremely humble. And so Atisha in The Bodhisattva Garland of Gems, verse three:

(3) Let me make my own failings be known
And seek not mistakes in others.
So, let me keep my own good qualities hidden
And make the good qualities of others be known.

In other words, think less of ourselves. If we have faults, let that be known, don’t hide it. Don’t speak about the faults of others, and keep our own good qualities hidden in a humble way, and speak more of the good qualities of others.

In verse six, Atisha says:

(6) Let me overcome rage and pride
And come to have an attitude of humility.

And then verse fourteen:

(14) While still acting always negatively and parted from joy,
When a feeling of superiority arises about anything,
Let me cut off my pride and remember
My sublime teacher’s guideline instructions.

So when we’re feeling very proud about things, and want to work only for ourselves, then remember the guideline instructions, how samsara goes up and down – we go from a higher position to a lower position, and back again – and the teachings on death and impermanence. And so these help us to overcome our pride and arrogance, which is very often behind the self-cherishing, and allows us to have the humility to be able to serve the world.

So, just one last quote for this verse. Langri-tangpa himself, the author of this text says: “Whenever I read a Mahayana scripture I have a strong realization that all the faults described are my own and all the good qualities are others.”

That’s a very, very good piece of advice. Because often we think the other way around, don’t we? We read about faults and disturbing emotions and things, we say, “Ah, this friend of mine and that friend of mine has them.” He says, think of them all in terms of myself, how I have these faults. And when it talks about good qualities, rather than thinking in terms of “Oh, I’m so great; I have this and that,” think of the good qualities of others – our teachers and others that we know. And this helps us very much to overcome the self-cherishing and to cherish others more than we do ourselves. That finishes this verse.

I forgot which Kadampa Geshe said it, but he said when we study the Dharma, don’t have the mirror of the Dharma facing out; have the mirror of the Dharma facing in, to look at ourselves in terms of the shortcomings and the mistakes and so on, not just face it out, look in. But again, not to just reaffirm our low self-esteem, but to give us some realistic idea of what we need to work on. So it always has to be tempered by the understanding of Buddha-nature, especially for us Westerners.

So, verse three:

(3) Whatever I am doing, may I check the flow of my mind,
And the moment that conceptions or disturbing emotions arise,
Since they debilitate myself and others,
May I confront and avert them with forceful means.

So we saw the disadvantages of self-cherishing and the advantages of cherishing others, and we’re going to try to value others more highly than ourselves. And what prevents us from doing that, of course, are the disturbing emotions. And so here what is said is that we need to check always our minds, with alertness and so on, because these disturbing emotions, when they come, they “debilitate myself and others.” In other words, they hurt myself, they hurt others, they incapacitate me from being able to help others. And so I have to use “forceful means” to overcome them.

And this type of thought is echoed throughout the various texts, Shantideva and so on, that this is based on and which follow from this. So Shantideva says this very nicely, and this is very important point, that we really have to identify and view these disturbing emotions as our enemies. And that’s not very easy to do, because we’re so very familiar with them. Especially when it has to do with attachment or craving or desire, we think that that’s what’s going to make us happy after all.

So Shantideva says in the fourth chapter, verses twenty-eight to thirty-one:

(28) Although enemies, such as anger and craving,
Have neither legs nor arms,
Are neither brave nor wise,
How is it that they’ve made me like their slave?

(29) For while squatting in my mind,
At their pleasure, they gleefully cause me harm.
To be patient and not become angry with them
Is an inappropriate, pathetic place for patience.

(30) Even if all the gods and anti-gods
Were to rise up against me as enemies,
They couldn’t drag and feed me into the fires
(Of a joyless realm) of unrelenting pain.

(31) But those strong mighty enemies, my disturbing emotions,
Can, in a moment, hurl me into them, which,
When met, will cause not even the ashes
Of the King of Mountains to remain.

Shantideva says a little later in the chapter, verses forty-one to forty-two:

(41) When I promised to liberate from their disturbing emotions
Wandering beings in the ten directions
As far as the ends of space,
I myself was not freed yet from disturbing emotions.

(42) And didn’t even realize the extent of my (being under their control);
Wasn’t it crazy to have spoken (like that)?
But, as this is so, I shall never withdraw
From destroying my disturbing emotions.

And so, that’s something that we really need to work on, to really see that that’s my enemy, my disturbing emotions, and if I’m going to try to help others, and exchange my attitudes toward self and others, and give up the self-cherishing and cherish others – I have to destroy my disturbing emotions, because that’s what prevents me from being able to do this. And they are the ones that cause me all my suffering.

So what we need to do is constantly “check the flow of my mind,” Langri-tangpa writes. This is, as we were saying, to check with alertness and bring the mind back and back again to these more beneficial attitudes. So Shantideva says this quite a lot, and I think it’s helpful to see all the supporting verses for this, and how it’s been developed more. So, Shantideva starts in chapter five, verse a hundred and eight:

(108) The defining feature of safe-guarding with alertness
Is but this in brief:
Examining, over and again,
The condition of my body and mind.

So that’s what we are continuingly needing to do, is check what’s going on. And then, chapter five, verse forty and forty-one:

(40) With the utmost effort, I shall check
That the rutting elephant of my mind
Has not been let loose from how it’s been tied
To the great pillar of my Dharma intent.

(41) Never letting go, for even an instant,
The duty of my absorbed concentration,
I shall check one by one, like that, (each moment of) mind,
(To see,) “What’s my mind engaging in?

Always this introspection to see what’s going on.

And then, chapter five, verse twenty-seven:

(27) The thieves (that come in) from their lack of alertness
Go on, after plundering their mindfulness,
(To take,) as well, the positive force they’ve built up,
So that they go to a worse rebirth state, as if robbed by thieves.

(28) This pack of thieves, the disturbing emotions,
Searches for a chance (to break in);
And, having found the chance, steals what’s constructive,
Destroying the life of a better rebirth state.

And then verse fifty-four of chapter five:

(54) Having examined my mind in this way
For fully disturbing emotions and pointless endeavors,
Being courageous, I shall hold it firmly
With opponent forces, at those times.

So these last verses, almost are the same as Langri-tangpa’s verse.

I mean I hope you’re getting the idea that it’s, of course, very, very good to read through, over and again, all of Shantideva’s text – very good practice to read one chapter a day as part of our daily practice. But to have it in brief, one can also read or recite these eight verses, because it encapsulates a great deal of the essence of what Shantideva teaches.

Atisha, in his Bodhisattva Garland of Gems, says very much the same. Verse two, he says:

(2) Let me always safeguard the gateway of my senses
With mindfulness, alertness, and care.
So, let me check repeatedly the flow of my mind,
Three times each day and each night.

So not only three times, that’s just sort of symbolic, but always watch what’s going on in our minds. And then a very famous verse from that text, verse twenty-eight:

(28) When in the midst of many,
Let me keep a check on my speech;
When remaining alone,
Let me keep a check on my mind.

And Togmey-zangpo, in Thirty-Seven Bodhisattva Practices, also speaks similarly. Verse thirty-one:

(31) A bodhisattva’s practice is continually
to examine our own mistakes and rid ourselves of them,
Because if we do not examine our mistakes,
It’s possible that with a Dharmic (external) form
We can commit something non-Dharmic.

In other words, externally we are doing something that looks like Dharma – like helping somebody, or doing some practice, or something like that – whereas actually in our minds, because of the disturbing emotions, it’s a very non-Dharmic act. We’re helping them so that they’ll like us, or we’ll get something in return; we’re practicing meditation or some puja, or something like that, for completely neurotic reasons. So we need to constantly examine ourselves for mistakes.

Verse thirty-five:

(35) A bodhisattva’s practice is to have the servicemen, (like in the army),
of mindfulness and alertness hold the opponent weapons
And forcefully to destroy disturbing emotions and attitudes
like attachment and so forth, as soon as they first arise,
Because when we are habituated to disturbing emotions and attitudes,
It is difficult for opponents to reverse them.

And so, that’s the whole point here. When we practice concentration meditation, to gain shamata – a stilled and settled mind – the thing is to recognize more and more quickly when our mind has come under the influence of some wandering, or some disturbing emotion – it’s what Shantideva says as well – and to catch ourselves quickly. Because the more we let it go, without stopping it, then we become very, very habituated to it, and we really get into it, and then it’s really difficult to reverse it. If we can catch it quickly enough with alertness, then it’s much easier to stop it.

And so verse thirty-six, Togmey-zangpo says:

(36) In short, a bodhisattva’s practice is (to work) for the sake of others
By continually possessing mindfulness and alertness to know,
No matter what activities we are doing,
What is the condition of our minds.

That’s how we work for others – not just the external forms, but by keeping a check on what’s going on in our minds as we are helping, and is it with love and compassion, or is it attachment, or is it a pride, or what is it? And Langri-tangpa said here in the verse, when these disturbing emotions come up, we have to confront them, which means face them “and avert them,” turn them back, “with forceful means.”

And Shantideva also spoke very strongly about how we have to smash these disturbing emotions and be very forceful with it, and merciless. And so he wrote in chapter eight, verses a hundred sixty-eight to one seventy-two:

(168) But even when being instructed like that,
If you don’t act in that way, O mind,
Then since all wrongs depend on you,
It’s exactly you whom I shall knock down.

(169) That time before was different,
When I was being ruined by you.
But (now) I see you; so where can you go?
I’m going to knock all the arrogance out of you.

(170) Throw away, now, any hope,
“I still have my own self-interest.”
I’ve sold you to others, so don’t think of your weariness;
I’ve offered your energies (to them).

(171) If, because of not caring,
I don’t hand you over to limited beings,
Then, for sure, you’ll hand me over
To the guards of the joyless realms.

(172) I’ve been handed over, like that,
Many times by you and long tormented;
But now, recalling those grudges,
I shall smash you, you creature of self-interest.

I love Shantideva.

So, when Langri-tangpa says we’re going to use “forceful means,” this is referring to things like what Shantideva describes so well – Nagarjuna did as well – to overcome attachment and desire for the body of others, to see them as skeletons, to see what’s inside their stomachs, what’s inside their bowels – all these really gory verses that Shantideva has. Put food in their mouth and it turns into vomit and diarrhea, and this sort of things. These are very forceful, heavy, strong means, and these are the type of means that are referred to here. Of course, the strongest means is voidness. But when they speak in general about forceful means, it’s these provisional means that one uses, in terms of thinking of ugliness and dirtiness and so on for attachment; or all these strong methods that Shantideva describes in the patience chapter for anger – the whole long list of those that we’ve had; or for arrogance, thinking there’s always these others who know much more than I do, or who are better looking than I am, or richer than I am – there’s always someone more. Similarly, if we have low self-esteem, there’s also somebody worse than we are. We’re not the worst in the world, so we don’t need to be proud of being the worst.

These are the forceful means that are referred to here, and those are things that we try first. Then, once it is gotten a little bit the force down, the strength down of these disturbing emotions, then if we have enough familiarity, we can of course apply voidness. So a “two-punch method.”

So, let’s take a few minutes to examine ourselves, to see how seriously do we actually take our disturbing emotions? How much do we actually examine ourselves in different situations? When we are alone, when we’re with people, and so on. Do I really take it seriously that these are my enemies, these are the things that cause me all my problems? And how willing are we to actually apply opponent forces? And if we’re not very willing, then looking at the disadvantages, as they are described extensively in all these texts, try to make the decision that, “I am going to try to apply opponent forces.” Otherwise it’s hopeless. Maybe we will apply them when we’re sitting in meditation, but what about real life?

And even if we do apply various opponent forces, it’s important to examine, “Why do I apply them? What’s my motivation for applying them? Is it because I want to be good?” That very often can be a motivation among Western people. We want to be “good”; we want to be “good practitioners,” “good Buddhists,” we want to please the teacher, we want to please the Buddhas, and so on, for a pat on the head or whatever. It’s as Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey used to say, “You get a pat on the head, and then what? Wag our tails? And then what?”

Or is it the case that we’re doing it out of a sense of duty? So we have to examine why are we applying these opponents? Is it just out of a force of habit? “It’s in the law of Dharma, it’s written, so I have to do this.” Or are we really motivated by seeing that this really is my enemy? This is what causes me all my suffering, and prevents me from helping others, and causes me actually to hurt others. That’s the important point, because, as I say, even if we do start to apply opponents, we could be doing it for quite a non-Dharmic reason. As Togmey-zangpo said, we can be engaged externally in what looks like Dharma activities, but internally actually it’s not a Dharmic activity at all.

It goes back to the four noble truths – how seriously do we take them? And not just in theory, but personally. “I want to overcome my anger so that you will like me.” It’s not a very Dharmic reason. “I’ll overcome my attachment to you so that you won’t run away and you’ll stay with me.” Very common, as you get further into Dharma.

So let’s examine ourselves for a few minutes before we break for lunch.