Path of Transformation

Eight Verses of Mind Training, Session Two


Khenpo Gyaltsen continued his teaching on Geshe Langri Thangpa’s Eight Verses of Training the Mind. He began by asking us to give rise to the vast motivation that thinks “I myself will bring limitless sentients within the six realms to buddhahood”. With this motivation, we listen to the teachings.
Khenpo first summarizes the previous teaching on the first four verses of the text. The first verse describes the necessity of cherishing others more than oneself as a way to abandon self-cherishing. There is no truly existing self, but we cling to this feeling and this is confusion or delusion. This delusion causes suffering to arise.
Khenpo posed the question in the previous teaching—”If I don’t exist, who experiences karma?” There is indeed no essential self. If we investigate, we cannot find this self. While the self does not truly exist, the individual who experiences karma is a mere imputation or a label based on the five aggregates. We can recollect the collection of parts being imputed as a chariot; it is the same situation for an individual. As long as we have not realized this directly, there is still clinging to a self. And it is that self-clinging that experiences karma. Once one achieves the first bhumi, with a direct realization of emptiness, there will be no more experience of karma.
Khenpo gives the example of the imputed ideas of “far” and “near” or “long” and “short”. These ideas depend or rely on a comparison to something else. Farness, nearness, longness and shortness do not truly exist. We can think of many similar labels. The self is the same; it only exists as an imputation. We must reflect on this until we understand this point.
The fourth verse discusses “ill-natured beings”. If we are in the company of such people, the instruction is that we must not give rise to anger. People like this present us with an opportunity to practice patience. These days it is common for people to act pleased when an evil person dies. But this is not the way we should think about the suffering of people who appear to be evil These types of people are suffering and we should meet them with compassion. Indeed, the more afflicted and negative people are, we should give rise to greater compassion. Otherwise, we tend to give rise to anger and because of that we damage or lose our bodhisattva vows.
The master Nagarjuna explained that the Buddha sees the true enemy to be the afflictions. The enemy is not the person who has afflictions. The problem is not with the person; the problem is that the person suffers from afflictions. If a person causes you harm he is not the enemy. Instead, the enemy is that person’s afflictions.

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