Overcoming Disturbing Emotions and Helping Others

Chapters 5 to 8

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Five: Indicating the Behavior of Bodhisattvas

(1) There are no actions of the Buddhas that are not causes (for benefiting others). Even their breath is issued only for the sake of (acting as a) medicine for limited beings.

(2) Just as the word “Lord of Death” produces terror for all the world; likewise, this word “Omniscient One” produces terror indeed for the Lord of Death.

(3) The Able Sage (Buddha) possesses (the foresight to know when) to act and not to act, what to teach and not to teach. Therefore, what reason is there to say that the Omniscient One is not omniscient?

(4) Because you cannot see (any action), such as going and so forth, (becoming) positive and so on except through the thought (that motivates it), therefore the mind is established as crucial for all karma.

(5) For bodhisattvas, then, constructive (actions) and even (normally) destructive ones become constructive and good through their intentions. Why? Because these (actions) are controlled (in accordance) with their minds.

(6) The positive force of a bodhisattva’s first (generating a deepest bodhichitta) mind is more especially distinguished than that which (would be required) for all the limited beings on the earth to become universal chakra-emperors.

(7) And (the positive force of) someone who disciplines and causes (others) to develop bodhichitta is said to be chosen as more supreme than that from erecting a stupa with the nature of precious gems and as high as the universe.

(8) A spiritual mentor who wishes to benefit a disciple needs to show deference to his (inclinations and needs). Because he knows not (how) to benefit himself, (a disciple) is called “one who’s to be taught.”

(9) Just as a doctor doesn’t fight with a (patient) seized by demons and rage; likewise, a sage sees the disturbing emotions as the enemy, not the person who’s possessed with these emotions.

(10) Whatever (teachings) anyone has preference for, he should be (taught to) act (in accord with) these first. By no means is (someone a) vessel for (the profound) sacred teachings if they would cause him (spiritually) to decline (if he were taught them prematurely).

(11) Just as a mother would be more especially concerned and loving toward a child afflicted with a sickness; likewise, the loving affection of bodhisattvas for those not nice is especially (great).

(12) Appearing as the disciples of some and as the spiritual mentors of others, those who know skilful means use various methods to bring insight to those not understanding (voidness).

(13) Just as it’s rare for a physician, who has become proficient, not to be able to treat some sickness, likewise it is exceedingly rare for a bodhisattva, after he’s gained his powers, not to be able to tame someone.

(14) If a bodhisattva were not to encourage some people to be objects (for his enlightening influence), he’d be causing them to go to worse rebirth states and thus would become an object of abuse for others with intelligence.

(15) And how could any (beginner bodhisattva), who (because of jealousy) did not accept that it’s good to be compassionate and kind to others oppressed (by disturbing emotions), later on, give with generosity and kindness (even his body) to these protectorless ones?

(16) In order to benefit (all) wandering beings, (bodhisattvas) remain for as long as the universe. If those who would remain apart (from having respect for them) bring ruination (upon themselves), what’ll be for those who hate them from the bottom of their hearts?

(17) Those (bodhisattvas) who have even the five extrasensory abilities for (helping) all beings (will assume even) inferior forms, like those of lowly (animals, in order to help others. Such are) their extremely difficult actions (to benefit others).

(18) The Thusly Gone (Buddhas) have said that the (amount of) positive force built up (by these bodhisattvas) over extremely long periods of time through (such) methods (to benefit others) at all times is not even an object an omniscient mind knows.

(19) (Oncoming) death, the Dharma teachings and (causes for) further lives (helpful for others) – (all these) are indicated by the (single) word “giving.” Therefore, every time bodhisattvas hear the word “giving” (it gives them great joy).

(20) To give in order to receive (something back, however), thinking great (enjoyment) will come about in this (lifetime) as the result from generous giving, is just like selling and so forth, and is despised (by the hallowed ones).

(21) (How can you say that those bodhisattvas) who have previously built up negative karmic force cannot (eliminate) its possession (through their positive deeds)? There’s no such thing as these (bodhisattvas) having constructive karma and yet not being able to fulfill (the purposes of others).

(22) Those (arya bodhisattvas) whose minds have great waves (of exceptional resolve), even (while remaining) in this (samsaric existence) are not harmed (by it). Therefore, for them, there’s no difference (whether they’re) in (compulsive samsaric) existence or in a nirvana state of release. (They’re unaffected by the disadvantages of either).

(23) (Arya bodhisattvas) are able to take birth (as they wish) from having control over their minds at all times. For what reason, then, should they not become the lords of all the world, (able to help everyone)?

(24) Great outstanding (results come) from outstanding (causes). Certain (examples of this) can be seen even in this world. Therefore, understand that from the force of an inconceivable (buildup of positive force), there certainly will be (the omniscience of Buddhahood).

(25) Just as the stupid generate fear for the extremely profound teachings (of voidness), the cowardly generate fear for the extremely amazing teachings (concerning bodhisattva behavior).

Six: Indicating Methods for Ridding Yourself of Disturbing Emotions

(1) Since pleasurable things cause desire to increase and painful things cause anger to expand, why are pleasurable things not included as ascetic practices and why are painful things included as (these) practices?

(2) The activity of desire is to gather (things); the activity of anger is to dispute; and the activity of naivety is like wind for all the elements (such as fire) – it causes (the other disturbing emotions) to flare up.

(3) Not meeting with (what you cherish), you have suffering due to desire. From not having the force (to overcome enemies), you have suffering due to anger. From not fully understanding (reality), you have naivety. (Being overpowered) by those (three poisonous emotions), you don’t comprehend those (sufferings they cause you as suffering).

(4) Just as you see that (people) do not simultaneously meet with phlegm and bile; likewise, you see that (people) do not simultaneously meet with desire and anger (toward the same object).

(5) (A spiritual mentor) should use (disciples with) attachment as servants. Why? Because not to be deferential (with them) is a medicine for their (attachment). But for those with anger, he should treat them as lords, because the medicine for their (anger) is (showing them) deference.

(6) First (in the morning), there comes (the) total naivety (of dullness). Intermediately (during the daytime), there comes anger (and annoyance with work). Lastly (at night), desire arises. Thus the day has these three stages.

(7) Although desire is not a friend, it (appears) like a friend. Therefore shouldn’t you fear it? Since it has no benefits, shouldn’t people especially rid themselves of this (seeming) friend?

(8) Desire arises from causes (namely, the habit of familiarity) and desire arises from circumstances (namely, meeting with an object of desire). For the desire that arises from circumstances, it’s easier to establish (the opponents), but that’s not the case with the other sort.

(9) When anger is firm, it definitely (harms oneself and others). Destructive, it brings about great faults. By knowing the characteristics of all these types (of disturbing emotions), you’ll be able to bring such emotions to an end.

(10) Just as the cognitive power of the body (pervades the whole) body, naivety abides in all (disturbing emotions). Therefore, by destroying naivety, all disturbing emotions will be destroyed.

(11) When (it’s the case that things) come about by dependently arising, (they cannot be truly existent). Seeing (this), naivety will not arise. Therefore, you should make all efforts (in this, since) only this topic shall be related in this (text).

(12) The characteristics of always liking to dance and so on, giving and receiving (presents), and keeping (fastidiously) clean and the like appear in people having desire.

(13) The Buddhas have said that those with desire should in all ways give up having excellent, good food, clothing and shelter, and should always abide in the vicinity of their spiritual mentors.

(14) To become angry with someone you have no ability (to affect) only makes your face ugly. And not to have love for someone you have the ability (to help) – this is said to be vile.

(15) Unpleasant sounds (of abuse) are said to put an end to your previously built up negative karmic debts. (It’s only) those bewildered, by nature, (about cause and effect) and who aren’t upright, who do not accept (them as) a purification.

(16) And even unpleasant (words of abuse) that you hear, by their essential nature, do you no harm. Therefore, as (the harm) comes from your own prejudiced thoughts, it’s the vain who think that it comes from others.

(17) Just as it says (in worldly texts) that you should punish someone who abuses (you); likewise, then why shouldn’t you reward (this same person) if he says something pleasant (to you)?

(18) Even if no one has spoken of your rebuke-worthy (faults, they are obvious to everyone. Therefore) if others should come to know of them, it’s improper to become angry with the one who’s spoken (of them). As (this is the case), is there need to mention (not becoming angry with) those who speak (accusing you) falsely?

(19) (After all), unpleasant (words of abuse) from your inferiors do not give rise to anything serious. Therefore, treat unpleasant (words) from inferiors as something petty and insignificant (coming from a child) to someone above him.

(20) Since (retaliating) has not even the slightest benefit (in reversing) harm already done by others, it’s only an extension of my (self-)clinging to show you respect (O mind,) who becomes angry for no benefit.

(21) If, with patience, you can attain great positive force, without effort, then who would be foolish enough to prevent this (by becoming angry)?

(22) You especially don’t generate so-called “anger” toward those more powerful (than yourself). So, how could you possibly be respected for your anger (directed) at smashing those who are weaker?

(23) Patience toward an object for anger gives rise to meditation (on love) for him. If you think to discard this basis for all good qualities (because of fearing the opinions of others), you’re but a fool.

(24) Who can put an end to being slighted (even) if you go to your next life? Therefore, since (if you retaliate, you build up) negative karmic debts for yourself, you should think that (being patient with) abuse is better.

(25) (In short,) any (yogi) having the understanding that, in actuality, consciousness (is devoid of a truly existing) abiding and so on will have no place in his intelligent (mind) for disturbing emotions to reside.

Seven: Indicating Methods for Ridding Yourself of Craving for Pleasurable Objects That People Enjoy

(1) This ocean of suffering has no end at all. Childish one, why do you not generate fear at being immersed in it?

(2) Your youth (of the present) has come behind (your old age of the past) and will come once again ahead (of it, just after death). Even if (you’re proud of your youth, thinking) it’ll last, yet, in this world, (youth, old age, and death) are like competitors in a race (vying to come) first.

(3) Since, in compulsive samsara, you don’t have (the power to guarantee) another (better) rebirth as you wish, what intelligent person would not have fear, being under the power of something else, (namely, karmic impulses and disturbing emotions)?

(4) There’ll be no end in the future (to your recurring samsaric rebirths, if you make no effort now) – indeed, in all lives (you’ve remained) an ordinary being – so, make your life (be not meaningless) like that. Don’t become the same as you’ve been in the past.

(5) The occurrence of a (proper) listener, (teachings) to be listened to, and one to explain them is extremely rare to find. Therefore, in short, though recurring samsara won’t be endless (if these conditions come together), it’ll have no end (if they’re not).

(6) Most people are not pure, but are fully inclined toward the direction (of destructive behavior). Therefore most ordinary people will definitely go to worse rebirth states.

(7) (The suffering of) people on (this) earth, (which is) the ripening of their negative karmic debts, is seen to vie only (with that of the joyless hell realms). Therefore, compulsive samsaric existence appears the same as a slaughtering ground to the hallowed (aryas).

(8) If you become mad from your mind not remaining (under your control), what wise person would consider as not mad someone still living a compulsive samsaric existence?

(9) When you try to turn away from the suffering of (excessive) walking and so on (by sitting down and so forth, the pleasure of relief) is seen (eventually) to decline. Therefore, those with intelligence should enhance their minds to exhaust all their (throwing) karma.

(10) When a first cause of even one result (such as the mind) does not appear, at such a time, at seeing the extensive (results) of even a single (negative action), in whom would the fear (of recurring samsaric existence) not arise?

(11) There’s no certainty that all (worldly karmic) fruits (such as prosperity) will come about. And since even if they do come about, they will come to an end, why destroy yourself for their sake?

(12) (Worldly) actions, done with effort, once they are done, will disintegrate without any effort. As this (naturally) happens, won’t you ever distance yourself from attachment to (worldly) actions?

(13) There’s no happiness to be had (in the consciousness) of the past (since it’s already ceased), nor is there in that of the future (for it hasn’t yet occurred). It’s (the same) with that of the present too, since it will come to pass. Therefore, for what reason do you (make all this effort) in karmic actions (for worldly pleasure)?

(14) The wise generate fear even for higher status (states of rebirth) the same as (they do) for the joyless hell realms. It’s rare for them not to generate fear for any situation anywhere in compulsive samsaric existence.

(15) If even childish beings come to understand the sufferings of recurring samsara in all situations, (as the aryas do, who realize voidness), at that very moment, their minds (as ordinary beings) will simultaneously cease for sure.

(16) Limited beings with arrogance aren’t rare, and, as those with arrogance have no compassion, it’s therefore said that it’s extremely hard for them to go from brighter to brighter (rebirth states).

(17) When you turn your mind (from pleasurable objects) in this (life) (because of wishing for higher rebirth), it’s well known that (in future lives) you’ll still be focused on them. As this is a distorted Dharma (practice), for what reason should this be accepted as correct?

(18) (After all), when you have luxurious objects as the result of positive karmic force, you must protect them from (being stolen by) others. So, how can anyone who must always guard (his wealth) from (being ruined even by) other (factors, such as the elements), ever become his own (master)?

(19) Although you may follow as a Dharma (practice) any kind of worldly social custom (such as a marriage ceremony), yet, (customs change and) because of that, although) worldly (customs) may seem stronger than Dharma ones, (don’t be lured).

(20) Although (pleasurable) objects may come to your mind’s (enjoyment as a result) of constructive acts; nevertheless, as even those objects are considered badly (by those wishing liberation), what need (for them) for those who would accomplish (something constructive)? Anyone who gives up (these sources of distraction, really) becomes virtuous.

(21) Anyone who (due to his having control of his mind) has no need for (worldly) power and authority, for him, Dharma practices (to gain such power) become meaningless. Anyone who has interest in worldly power and authority is called but a fool among the people.

(22) If you crave and desire (to practice) the Dharma from seeing fruits (of prosperity coming from it) in the future; well, if you, who are so desirous, could see (the worse rebirths that are awaiting) at the end of this future (prosperous life), how could you do (this) and not be afraid?

(23) Doing positive actions for a reward is in all ways the same as (being attached to) a salary. How could anyone who accepts that any constructive actions (done like that are also only causes for further samsara) ever commit destructive acts?

(24) But those who see wandering beings to be like illusory people, similar to (creations from) a collection of mechanical devises, go to a hallowed, extremely radiant state of the supreme achievement (enlightenment).

(25) (Therefore) for those who, (seeing reality,) find no joy whatsoever in any (pleasurable) object of recurring samsara, joy in any situation in it is something totally inappropriate.

Eight: Training Disciples

(1) Just as dissimilar people will not stay close friends for long (when their attachment is gone); likewise, desire will not stay for a long time in those who realize the faults of all (things).

(2) Some have attachment for a certain (object or person); some have repulsion for that very same (thing); and some are insensitive toward it. Therefore, an object of desire is not (truly existent as such).

(3) There are no such things as (truly) existent desire and so forth without conceptual thought (incorrectly considering them to be so). Who among those with intelligence would hold (both the existence of) things being fully established (by their own self-natures) and (their existence being established by merely) the concepts (for them)?

(4) There’s no such thing as any (male) being (inherently) bound together with any (female). If you were (truly existently) bound together to someone else, it would be illogical for you ever to become separated.

(5) Those with little positive force won’t even entertain doubts about this teaching (on voidness). But merely by entertaining doubts (about it), your compulsive existence will become threadbare.

(6) Anyone who has no respect for the teachings (of voidness), which the Able Sage (Buddha) has said (once realized will bring) an increase (of your positive force) up to liberation, clearly has no intelligence.

(7) (You might say,) “I shall pass beyond sorrow (with nirvana),” but, without seeing void (phenomena) to be devoid (of true existence), the Thusly Gone (Buddha) has said that you cannot pass beyond sorrow with a distorted view.

(8) It’s from (the Buddha’s scriptures), from which the teachings derive on the (samsaric) world, that (you get) the discussions about (how you) enter (it because of unawareness); and it’s from (the Buddha’s scriptures), from which the explications of deepest (voidness) derive, that (you get) the discussions about (how to) turn away (from it).

(9) If you are brought to generate fear by thinking, “(If things were devoid of true existence) everything would be (totally) nonexistent, and so what is the use (to make effort to gain liberation)?” Well, if actions (actually) had truly established existence, (realization of) this teaching (of voidness) could not bring the action about of reversing (samsara).

(10) If you have attachment to your own position (of voidness) and dislike for the other position (of truly estabished existence), you’ll be unable to pass beyond sorrow (to nirvana. This is because) peace will not come to those who act with (grasping for a truly existent) duality (of what’s to be accepted and what’s to be rejected).

(11) (When you realize) that there are no (truly existent actions) to do, you pass beyond sorrow (into nirvana), but by doing (actions you think are truly existent), you become reborn (in samsara) over and again. Therefore, as it’s no tax to your mind, the state beyond sorrow is easy to attain, which is not the case with the other alternative.

(12) How can anyone who has no disgust with this (samsaric existence) have respect for (the state of) peace? Like from their homes, renouncing themselves from this compulsive existence (they imagine to be pleasant) will indeed be difficult (for them) to do.

(13) It can be seen that some (people), overwhelmed with suffering, wish to kill themselves. But because of their naivety at such times, it ends up that they don’t pass to a topmost pure state (beyond sorrow).

(14) (Buddha) spoke about generosity for those of least (capacity), he spoke about ethical discipline for those who are middling and, for those who are of supreme (capacity), he spoke about (voidness, the method) to pacify (all suffering). Therefore, always (aspire to) make yourself supreme.

(15) First, you turn away from demeritorious (actions); intermediately, you turn away from (grasping at a gross) “self”; and, finally, you turn away from all views (of true existence). Anyone who knows (these stages for leading a disciple) is wise.

(16) (Buddha) has explained that anyone who’s the seer of (the voidness of) one phenomenon, that (person) is the seer of (the voidness of) everything. That which is the voidness of one (thing) is, by nature, (the same as) the voidness of all (things).

(17) The Thusly Gone (Buddhas) spoke about (generating) attachment to (constructive) Dharma practices to those desiring higher rebirth. But if this very (attachment to constructive practice) will spoil (the chances) of those who would wish for liberation, what need to mention the other (alternative – attachment to destructive ones)?

(18) Those who wish (to bring about) positive force (in others) don’t teach (them) voidness every time. Wouldn’t medicine prescribed at the wrong occasion become a poison?

(19) Just as barbarians will be unable to comprehend (teachings in) languages other (than their own); likewise, worldly ones will be unable to comprehend (voidness) without (first) understanding (the conventional truth) about the world.

(20) (Buddha) indeed taught (true) existence, non-(true) existence, both (true) existence and non-(true) existence, and neither of the two. In accordance with the sickness, can’t anything be called a medicine?

(21) If you (fully) see the pure (view of voidness, you go) to a supreme abode (of liberation), and if you see it a little, (you go) to an excellent rebirth state. Therefore, those who are wise should always enhance their intelligence to reflect on the inner (void) nature (of all things).

(22) Having realized the facts of reality, even if you do not achieve a (nirvana) state beyond sorrow in this (lifetime), it is certain that you’ll achieve it with no effort in your next rebirth, just like (what happens with the type of) karma (that ripens in your next life).

(23) It’s extremely rare for all actions to bring about (their results) as intended. Yet, it’s not that in these (teachings) there can be no nirvana release. (It’s just that) meeting (the conducive conditions) and thus liberation are difficult to find.

(24) By hearing that the body has no good qualities, desire and attachment (for one) will not remain long. (Thus) by this very pathway of mind (of meditating on dependent arising) won’t (your disturbing emotions) all be depleted?

(25) Just as you can see the end of a seed (when it gets burned), although (the line it has come from) has no beginning; likewise, (when you’ve eliminated unawareness,) rebirth will indeed never happen (again), because its causes will not be complete.

Read a summary by Dr. Berzin of this text.