We’ve been speaking about the bodhisattva vows, and we have taken a look at their role on the Buddhist path. We’ve seen that in order to take them, we need to have already developed ourselves along the Buddhist way through the various stages of the lam-rim, the graded stages of pathway minds. We need to have trained ourselves to develop bodhichitta, and with the development of bodhichitta, we first have the aspiring state of merely wishing to attain enlightenment for the benefit of others; the pledged part is when we pledge to never give this up. We’ve seen the trainings that go together with this pledged state. Then, very briefly, we looked at how we take the bodhisattva vows and the nature of a vow.
We also started the discussion about the bodhisattva vows themselves, and we covered the first three vows. The first was to refrain from praising ourselves and/or belittling others. That means either doing both or doing one or the other by itself. We saw that what was stipulated here is that the person to whom we speak such words is someone in an inferior position to us. Our motivation, in terms of praising ourselves, would be desire and greed for receiving something from that person – so either receiving material profit or praise or love or respect. The motivation for belittling the other would be jealousy of that person. What we say can either be true or false; it doesn’t matter.
There’s a secondary bodhisattva vow that is similar to this (refraining from praising ourselves and/or belittling others), but here the motivation is different. In this case, it would be pride; we’re very proud of ourselves and very haughty – putting on airs, in other words. “I’m so wonderful.” This would be the motivation for praising ourselves, rather than wanting to get something from the other person. The motivation for belittling someone is anger (we just don’t like them), rather than being jealous of them.
We can see that the first one, the one that is a root vow, is about praising ourselves because we want to get something from the other person that we praise ourselves to. That’s really exploiting the other person, not really trying to help them, but wanting to get something from them. This is much more damaging to our bodhisattva behavior than just praising ourselves because we are so proud and arrogant. Also, there’s belittling the other person because we’re jealous of the other person – again, that has to do with being jealous because we want to get something that this other person has for ourselves, like a lot of followers. Again, it’s damaging with respect to other people, those that we possibly could help. Whereas belittling somebody simply because we don’t like them or we’re angry with them doesn’t really involve other people that we’re trying to help. We can see why one would be a root bodhisattva vow and the other would be a secondary one. What is more important is damaging our way of helping others.
The second vow was to refrain from not sharing the Dharma teachings, our wealth or possessions, or our time. Here, the motivation was attachment and miserliness, which means we want to keep things all to ourselves. That’s very damaging to our ability to help others. Whereas there’s a secondary bodhisattva vow that is quite similar, which is called “not giving the Dharma to those who wish to learn it.” There the motivation is not that we want to keep it all to ourselves, but it is “I’m angry or I don’t like this other person, so I don’t want to teach them.” It could be out of spite – they did something that we didn’t like and so we’re going to be nasty back to them, or we’re jealous that if we teach this other person then they will develop more and become more famous than us. It could also be out of laziness or indifference: We just don’t care. Vows to not teach or share the Dharma out of those motivations are because of our own disturbing emotions; whereas, if we don’t teach because we want to keep the teachings to ourselves, that’s out of selfishness. Not doing it out of selfishness, keeping it all for ourselves, is most against bodhisattva behavior of giving to others.
The third vow was to refrain from not listening to others’ apologies or striking or hitting them, and the motivation for either of these actions would primarily be anger. This vow refers to the actual occasion when we’re yelling at or hitting somebody, and either that person begs, “Please forgive me. Please stop,” or somebody else begs on their behalf, and we don’t stop. There’s a secondary vow which is to refuse others’ apologies, and that refers to afterward: when we are holding a grudge toward the other person, and they beg for forgiveness or apologize later. The first one is heavier, as a root bodhisattva vow, because when we’re angry and we’re actually hurting the other person, then, of course, at that time we have to stop. Later, we’re just holding a grudge; we are not actually hurting the person physically or abusing them verbally at that time, so it’s secondary; it’s less strong, less heavy. In other words, in the first situation, we’re actually hurting the other person, in the second situation, we’re probably just ignoring them.
(4) Discarding the Mahayana Teachings and Propounding Made-up Ones
The fourth bodhisattva vow is to refrain from discarding the Mahayana teachings and propounding made-up ones. Here, we are rejecting the correct Mahayana teachings for bodhisattvas, and we make up something false that resembles the Mahayana teachings and we claim that these are the authentic teachings of Buddhism. This is not just in terms of ourselves – we’re making up some false understanding that we don’t really know because we don’t know what it is. However, we know what the correct teachings are, but we throw them out because we don’t like them; we make up something else that is more comfortable to us. It’s not just keeping this to ourselves, but we teach this to others in order to get them to follow us as their teacher. Then, it’s breaking this bodhisattva vow.
For example, we want to be a very popular guru among people with a very liberal attitude toward sex, so we discard the Buddhist teachings about inappropriate sexual behavior which lists all sorts of commonly practiced sexual activities that most people would not be so happy to give up, and we teach instead that the proper bodhisattva behavior toward sex is just not to hurt anybody by what you do. However, we know what the correct teachings are, but we think, “Well, if I teach that, everybody’s going to leave; nobody is going to accept Buddhism, so I’ll teach a much watered-down version, and say that’s really what Buddha meant” – in order to get more people to follow us. The basis of Buddhist ethics is to show us various types of behavior to avoid because they’re motivated by very strong disturbing emotions. In the case of sexual behavior, it’s usually by very strong lust and desire. The basis of sexual ethics in Buddhism is all oriented toward helping us to diminish acting out thoughts of lust and desire. It’s very different from our Western humanitarian liberal view, which is ethics based on not causing harm to others.
Making up teachings like that and claiming that they are what the Buddha was actually teaching, and then teaching it to others so that they will follow us, is really deceiving others. It’s not giving them the authentic, real Dharma. Now, if we teach, make a difference, as I do, between “Dharma-Lite” and “The Real Thing” Dharma. Be perfectly clear that Dharma-Lite is not The Real Thing but is an easier level to practice in terms of this lifetime, with thoughts only to benefit this lifetime. Then to teach, as a first step along the way to Buddhist ethics, about not hurting anybody by our sexual behavior – as long as we don’t say that this is the teaching of Buddha, that this is what Buddhism is all about – is fine. Because, of course, Buddhism and Buddha would agree: don’t hurt others by our sexual behavior. However, that isn’t the only point of the Mahayana – well, here it’s not just Mahayana – it’s the general Buddhist teachings. Buddhist teachings are intended to lead others to liberation and enlightenment and, for that, one has to overcome lust and longing desire.
(5) Taking Offerings Intended for the Triple Gem
The fifth bodhisattva vow is to refrain from taking offerings intended for the Triple Gem (the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha). This means to either steal or embezzle, which means to use for our own profit, either personally or getting somebody else to do it for us. It’s anything that’s offered or belongs to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and then we consider it to be ours. If someone makes an offering to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, for instance, to a Buddhist center, or toward making a statue, printing Dharma books or translating them, or for feeding a group of monks or nuns, and we take that money or offering for ourselves, that is inappropriate. That’s transgressing this vow. In this context, Sangha refers to any group of four or more monks or nuns. We’re not referring here to the Arya Sangha.
Of course, if we are working on translating or publishing Dharma texts, then if an offering is given and it is used for our salary, that’s something else because we’re actually working to further the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha – if it is a standard procedure that we’re getting paid for our work. Here, we’re talking about when we’re not specifically involved in Buddhist work and we just take offerings and donations for ourselves.
Why is this a root bodhisattva vow? Because when offerings are made to further the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, this is to further make Buddhist teachings available for helping others to reach liberation and enlightenment, which as a bodhisattva, we are trying to make these methods available. This doesn’t mean to be a missionary, but to make these methods available to help others. We are preventing that by stealing. That’s the fifth bodhisattva vow.
(6) Forsaking the Holy Dharma
The sixth vow is to avoid forsaking the holy Dharma. Here, we “repudiate” the Dharma, which means to not just deny it, but to angrily try to refute it; we repudiate or, by voicing our opinion, we cause others to repudiate it What is it that we’re talking about here? What is it that we’re repudiating? It’s that the textual teachings of either the shravaka, pratyekabuddha – those are the two divisions of Hinayana or the Mahayana vehicles – that any of these teachings are Buddha’s words. We’re trying to disprove that these were the words of the Buddha. Here, we deny and argue very strongly that either all of the texts of one of these classes, either Hinayana or Mahayana, are the teachings of the Buddha – either all of them or just some of these texts. The point is that all the various texts, the various vehicles, that were taught by Buddha are intended to help people to achieve either liberation or enlightenment – not just people, all beings. By saying they were not taught by Buddha, then we are saying, this isn’t Buddhist, and so we are discouraging others to follow certain teachings that might be very beneficial and suited for them.
We have to look at this a little bit more carefully because if we look at it from a so-called scientific Buddhalogical, historical point of view, on the basis of the language of various texts and so on, then scholars trained in Western methodology would argue that many texts, like Mahayana and tantra, just on the basis of language, were written much later than the time of the Buddha. So, they couldn’t possibly have been taught by the historical Buddha. However, the point is that none of the teachings were written down at the time of the Buddha and all of them were passed on orally, which implies that people had phenomenal memories at that time and could memorize all the various teachings of the Buddha – not necessarily one person memorizing them all – and that from generation to generation, it was passed on and memorized.
Actually, this is not so far-fetched or preposterous if we think about the modern custom in Tibetan monasteries. It’s not so unbelievable because in the monasteries now, each division of a monastery – I’m thinking of the main Gelugpa monasteries – is responsible for a certain tantra text and its rituals and so on. All the monks are required to memorize all the texts of that particular set of texts, so if we take all the Buddha’s teachings and each small division of each monastery is responsible for one sutra or another, then it’s quite believable that we could have had an oral transmission of all the Buddha’s teachings that way, without anything having been written down. Even now, Tibetan monastics memorize thousands of pages of texts, because they start memorizing when they are small children around the age of seven or eight and the human brain is most capable of memorizing and retaining for the rest of our life things that we learn at such a small age.
According to the tradition, the Hinayana texts were recited more openly than Mahayana, and even the Mahayana texts were more open than the tantra texts; nevertheless, they were all transmitted orally like this. When the texts were finally written down, then one of Buddha’s injunctions as well was to give the teachings in all different languages, so put it in one’s own language. There is no contradiction in the fact that the language in which the text first appeared would be the language of a particular historical period when it appeared. Some texts were written down in Pali, some texts were (eventually, when they were written down) in Sanskrit, and some were written down in a later style of Sanskrit. This is consistent with the methodology that Buddha himself recommended, so that doesn’t necessarily prove that the text didn’t come from Buddha.
Shantideva himself gave a very excellent refutation here toward those who would argue that the Hinayana texts are valid or authentic but not the Mahayana. He said that any reason that we use to disprove or try to disprove that the Mahayana texts are authentic words of the Buddha, we could use that same argument to try to prove that our texts, the Hinayana texts, are not the authentic words of the Buddha, because they also relied on oral tradition and were not written down until centuries later. Likewise, any argument that we use to prove that our texts are the authentic words of the Buddha, we can use the same arguments to prove that the Mahayana texts are the texts of the Buddha. This is obviously a very valid line of reasoning. Also, if we analyze what it means for a text to have been taught by Buddha, then we have to look at what type of being is the Buddha in the Hinayana texts. Who is teaching them? What kind of being is the Buddha in the Mahayana texts that is teaching the Mahayana vehicle? What kind of Buddha is the Buddha in the tantra texts that is teaching the tantra vehicle? These reveal three very different descriptions of a Buddha.
The kind of Buddha that is giving the Hinayana teachings is the Buddha that is described in the Hinayana texts. Then, in the Mahayana sutra, there’s another description of the Buddha. There is even a third one in tantra. These are three very different pictures of what a Buddha is. The Buddha who is teaching the Hinayana scriptures is the historical Buddha who became enlightened in that lifetime as Shakyamuni Buddha, and after he passed away, in parinirvana, that was the end of him, the end of his mental continuum. When we say the Mahayana sutra and the Mahayana tantra were taught by Buddha, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they were taught by the historical Buddha – or a view of Buddha that is limited to merely the historical Buddha, to be more accurate.
The Buddha who’s teaching the Mahayana sutras is somebody who not only manifested as the historical Buddha but became enlightened eons ago and can manifest in millions of different emanations at all times, throughout eternity, with all sorts of Nirmanakaya and Sambhoghakaya forms, teaching in Buddha-fields, and all this sort of stuff. The Buddha in Mahayana is not just limited to the historical Shakyamuni Buddha. We have to apply dependent arising here to see that the teacher of the Mahayana sutras is the Buddha described in the Mahayana sutras, so there’s no contradiction here in terms of Buddha teaching Mahayana, even if it was Buddha appearing at a different time. In any case, we have in the sutras (in Mahayana, I’m not quite sure if it’s in Hinayana sutras), Buddha inspiring others to give the teachings, and Buddha is present, like in the Heart Sutra; this just confirms, in the end, that these are the authentic teachings.
There are many different types of teachings that are included as the words of the Buddha. It doesn’t mean that the Buddha himself had to have spoken them. If we look at the description of Buddha in the tantra texts, we have an even broader description of who and what Buddha is. Further, we have Buddha as Vajradhara or Samantabhadra, the primordial purity of the subtlest level of consciousness in everybody’s mind, and so on. Basically, there is no contradiction that Buddha Vajradhara is going to reveal teachings, in pure visions and all sorts of things, to others who write it down, and we get the tantras. There’s no contradiction that somebody can get from pure Dharmakaya level of Buddha – the clarity of the subtlest mind, and so on – the revealed teachings, either in a pure vision or in some other way, because this is the way that the tantras originate. Vajradhara told it to somebody in some way and then they wrote it down, usually in a pure land.
We have a description in some of the tantras that at the same time as Buddha was teaching the Prajnaparamita Sutras on Vulture’s Peak, simultaneously Buddha appeared at the Dhanyakataka Stupa in South India as Heruka Chakrasamvara, with four faces, and from each of his four faces, he taught a different class of tantra simultaneously. This is the Buddha that is teaching tantra, which is quite different from the historical Shakyamuni Buddha, and so what kind of Buddha taught each of these classes of Buddhist teachings – Hinayana, Mahayana sutra and Mahayana tantra – has to be relative to the description of the Buddha given in each of these texts.
In order to say in a fair way who is the Buddha that taught a particular text, it has to be dependent on the description of Buddha in that text itself. It’s not fair to consider Buddha as truly existent – by his own power, as one thing – historical Buddha and teaching all the different vehicles. The way in which one conceives of Buddha has to be dependent on the description in the text of the Buddha who is teaching it. We have the broadest understanding and depiction of Buddha in the tantras, and they include within that description of Buddha, the Mahayana sutra description of the Buddha; within the Mahayana sutra description of a Buddha, it would include the historical Buddha because Buddha manifested as that as well. When we say that Mahayana is a vast vehicle, it is also vast in terms of its description of a Buddha, much vaster than the description of a Buddha we would find in the Hinayana texts.
Now someone asked how do we know that a teaching that somebody claims they got in a pure vision is an authentic teaching that was revealed to them by Vajradhara, Samantabhadra or whoever? For that, the guidelines are given quite clearly. The teaching in a pure vision or a terma (gter-ma) revealed text, a buried text, has to be consistent with the main points of the Buddhist teachings, not contradictory to them. For example, in terms of the major themes of Buddha: refuge, renunciation, bodhichitta, and liberation, enlightenment, as well as the basic teachings: bodhichitta, four noble truths, all conditioned phenomena are impermanent, and suffering. The teaching in a pure vision has to be consistent with these.
Of course, it can have slightly different philosophical interpretations of different points, but the main themes are consistent; well-qualified yogis and practitioners can attain the realizations and attainments that are described in those texts by means of following the methods described in them. It is validated as an authentic teaching of the Buddha in terms of inference. If it has all the major themes, then one infers that it is a teaching of the Buddha, and by valid straightforward cognition of those who practice it and gained realizations that are described in it. These are the criteria.
There’s a secondary bodhisattva vow that is similar, which is called “forsaking Mahayana,” and here we accept that Mahayana teachings are the authentic teachings of Buddha, the secondary vow. Unlike the root vow, we accept that Mahayana teachings are the words of the Buddha, but we criticize certain aspects that we don’t like. This is referring specifically to all these extensive deeds of Buddha described in Mahayana texts, like Buddha can multiply into countless different forms simultaneously and be everywhere at the same time. Further, that Buddha can understand all languages, and when Buddha speaks everybody understands it in their own language. We say, “This is ridiculous. I like the Mahayana, I like the whole concept of bodhichitta and love and compassion but, excuse me, this is too much.” We criticize that or criticize the profound teachings of voidness, thinking they are too complicated, and wonder, who needs that? That’s the secondary vow.
We could criticize the teachings in one of four different ways. The first is that their content is inferior, in other words, they’re talking complete nonsense that Buddha can multiply into so many different forms. Inferior means not good, stupid. Like Milarepa being able to shrink and go into the tip of a yak’s horn. “This is ridiculous,” we would say. “This is an inferior teaching, not for sophisticated people, maybe for nomads or something like that.” Very arrogant. The second is that their manner of expression is inferior – meaning bad or low quality. We say that this is bad writing or the way that it’s written makes no sense. The third is to say that the author is inferior. There are many commentaries and things like that. It’s saying, well, this author was no good. The fourth is that their use is inferior, that this is of no benefit to anyone. To say that Milarepa walked into the tip of a yak’s horn, this is of no use to anyone. This is the secondary bodhisattva vow; we promise not to do this.
It’s actually quite common to break that one, to have this attitude that certain aspects of the teachings are ridiculous, and we just want to ignore them. We just want the nice pieces of the teachings, and those that we don’t really like, for example, about the hells or sexual ethics, we ignore. The Tibetans have a saying: “Don’t be like an old man with no teeth trying to eat, only eating the boiled potatoes and spitting out the meat.” In other words, only taking the things that are easy to chew, and spitting out the things that are difficult to chew.
(7) Disrobing Monastics or Committing Such Acts as Stealing Their Robes
In the seventh bodhisattva vow, what we want to do is avoid disrobing monastics, such as stealing their robes. Here we do something damaging to one, two, or three Buddhist monks or nuns. Remember, we had taking offerings from the Triple Gem? That was for four monastics or more. Here it’s one, two, or three. It doesn’t matter whether they have degenerated their morality or not, if they don’t wear their robes properly, or stuff like that. Further, it doesn’t matter whether they do a lot of study and practice or not. In any case, what this vow is referring to is ill-will, for example, we don’t like them, we get angry with them, we hit them or verbally abuse them out of anger or confiscate their goods.
A modern example would be confiscating or stealing the radio from our monastic neighbor living next door because their radio is disturbing our meditation. We smash the radio or steal it from them. If a monk or a nun has broken one of the four major vows, then they are no longer a monk or a nun, and they are expelled from the monastery. We’re not talking about that case. However, if they haven’t broken one of their four major vows, but we just don’t like them or they are difficult to get along with and so on, breaking this vow would involve kicking them out, taking their robes away from them, or saying they can no longer be there. Obviously, the point being that we respect the monastic Sangha, and we try to help those who have at least made a step in the right direction of becoming a monk or a nun, even if they’re not following this discipline very well.
(8) Committing Any of the Five Heinous Crimes
The eighth bodhisattva vow is to avoid committing any of the five heinous crimes. It’s not a very good translation, “heinous crimes,” but these are very strong destructive actions that, without interruption, one immediately upon dying would go to a terrible rebirth. These are the strongest negative actions. They are killing our father, our mother, an arhat (a liberated being), and with bad intentions, drawing blood from a Buddha. We’re not talking about a Buddha giving a blood donation or something like that. We’re talking about trying to hurt the Buddha. The fifth crime is causing a split in the Sangha monastic community.
We need to understand what causing a split or a schism in the Sangha actually means. It doesn’t mean breaking off from our Dharma center and starting another Dharma center, that’s not the point. It is not referring to just stipulating further rules of discipline for monks or nuns, but it’s about doing this with ill-will. For instance, we form another monastic group out of the Buddhist Sangha, and we are very negative toward the Buddha’s monastic group and are very negative toward the Buddha and the Buddhist Sangha.
There is an historical example of this happening. There are the thirteen practices – the Sanskrit and Pali word is “dhutanga,” which means branches of observed or followed practice – it’s on the basis of following these thirteen that we have, for instance, the forest tradition in Thailand. Some of these are practiced by those who are in three-year retreats in the Tibetan tradition. These practices were first proposed by Devadatta, the cousin of Buddha, who was so negative toward Buddha. Forming a tradition that follows these thirteen is not causing a schism in the Dharma. It’s when we do that and say the Buddha’s Sangha is no good and do it with anger and malice toward the Buddha’s Sangha, that’s a schism.
What are these thirteen? (1) The first of these is to wear robes patched from rags (sewn together just out of rags) – we’re talking about monks and nuns. (2) Wearing only three robes, so no sweaters or anything like that. (3) Going for alms, in other words, begging for our food and never accepting an invitation to a meal; in other words, we just go around with our bowl, but we don’t accept an invitation to go inside to sit down and have a meal. (4) The fourth is not skipping any house when we go around begging for alms. Sometimes there can be houses that don’t give nice food or they yell, are very nasty or stuff like that, and we might say, “Well, I’m not going to stop at that house today.” (5) The fifth is eating at one sitting whatever alms we receive. In other words, we don’t put some away to eat later or save it, for example, putting it in a plastic container in our refrigerator, so that we can have it tomorrow in case we don’t get enough later. (6) The sixth is eating only from our alms bowl and (7) The seventh is refusing extra food after we have started to eat unless we have an enormous alms bowl, that sort of limits the amount that we’re going to eat. (8) The eighth is living only in forests or jungles. (9) The ninth is living under trees. (10) The tenth is living in the open air, not in a house or a shelter. (11) The eleventh is staying mostly in charnel grounds. Charnel grounds are the type of cemetery where they either burn the bodies or they chop them up and feed them to the dogs and the vultures. This is much stronger teaching of death and impermanence, to be in that sort of place rather than in a cemetery, which is a nice clean park with flowers, bushes, trees and benches, and it only has gravestones which are artistically done. (12) The twelfth is being satisfied with whatever place to stay that we find while continuing to wander from place to place. We don’t just stay in one place, like a nice tree that we find to live under. We move from place to place. (13) The thirteenth is sleeping in a sitting position or in a meditation posture, never sleeping lying down – this is the one that we have in the three-year retreat.
Actually, Serkong Rinpoche told me that in the Lower Tantric College where he was in Tibet, that they had to sleep in the sitting position in the large temple hall, with all of the monks sitting directly next to each other in a crowd. So that when the bell rang for them to wake up, all they did was open their eyes and start their prayers and meditation. He said that the monks used to sleep leaning on each other, resting their head on their neighbor. This is, obviously, an unbelievably difficult discipline. If we’re sitting up and we don’t have a wall to lean on or something like that, naturally we’re going to fall over; there wasn’t any room, so they would lean on each other.
To follow this type of discipline in the forest tradition – I don’t know if they follow it absolutely strictly, but as a special division within the monastic Sangha, that’s not the problem. The problem is thinking, “Argh, those other monks are no good.” That is causing a split or a schism in the Sangha.
(9) Holding a Distorted, Antagonistic Outlook
Then the ninth is holding a distorted, antagonistic outlook. This is not only denying what is true and what is of value. For example, the laws of karma, safe direction in life, so refuge (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha), rebirth, liberation, enlightenment, being kind and helping others. It’s not only denying that these are either true or of value and benefit, but we are also antagonistic toward these teachings, and we want to and argue and prove that these are no good. It’s a very closed-minded ignorant state of mind in which we’re very stubborn and we want to repudiate, try to argue and disprove something which is true or of value. The object of this has to be something that exists or is true, and we must fully believe that our own denial of it is correct, and we have to actually want to fight against the correct view.
This motivation has to include – Tsongkhapa elaborates on distorted, antagonistic thinking –five other disturbing attitudes. We’re referring here to a way of thinking; it doesn’t mean that we have to actually go to court over something, but we’re planning and thinking about it. The first is blindness from not knowing how some phenomenon, such as rebirth, works or exists. We just don’t know. We’re blind. We don’t accept that something is true.
The second is contentiousness, which means a perverse sense of enjoying being negative. “I like to fight. It’s great fun to argue against you. It doesn’t matter what you say.” There are people like that; that’s an attitude, isn’t it? There are people who just like being negative, and like arguing against anything that we say, aren’t there? They like to give other people a hard time.
The third one is being thoroughly imbued, completely convinced of our distortion of what’s true or reality from having decisively analyzed some phenomenon but with incorrect consideration. We’re completely convinced that – based on our incorrect analysis – our view is correct, and we stubbornly hold onto it.
The fourth is with a complete meanness, that’s having a nasty attitude, being nasty, because we say that there’s no point in charity, in helping others, in any spiritual practice and so on.
The fifth is having a headstrong attitude and trying to refute others’ beliefs: We want to get the better of them without feeling the least bit of shame about being antagonistic. “I want to beat you in this discussion.” We’re having a discussion. You say that it is of benefit to help others, and I have this distorted attitude and say, “I don’t care what you say, but I’m going to argue with you, and I want to beat you in the debate; in fact, I take great delight in destroying your beliefs. I’m not in the least bit ashamed of the fact that I’m trying to destroy your belief in something positive, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, in fact, I think it’s great fun.” That’s distorted, antagonistic thinking. When we usually hear this translated as “wrong view,” please understand that it’s much more complex than just having an incorrect understanding of something. This is from all points of view a heavy negative action.
(10) Destroying Places Such as Towns
The tenth vow is destroying places such as a town. This is basically damaging the environment of a city, a town, countryside, or throwing a bomb and destroying it. Basically, it’s making some place harmful or difficult or unhealthy for humans or animals to live in. Obviously, we want to provide for the welfare of others, not destroy the places where they live. We want to provide houses. We want to give everything to others. We don’t want to destroy where they live.