Seuraa meitä

Chungpo Gyalton Rinpoche: The 37 practices of a Bodhisattva (II)

Helsinki 23.6.2007 afternoon

I think a rough idea of how to listen to a teaching, what Buddhism says exactly, roughly we did go through this morning, so this afternoon we'll start off with the text. Today and tomorrow morning, hopefully we can cover up a little from the text.

The 37 practices of a Bodhisattva has been put down by Gyalse Thogme Zangpo, his name is Gyalse Thogme Zangpo. So it's not just put down by someone who's just good at talking or good at writing. It's put down by one enlightened being. Through his experience he made the 37 points of a Bodhisattva to practice, so that through practicing these points you can achieve what he has achieved, that's enlightenment. It is very precise, it is not much, it talks the very basic, and it is very profound, very helpful. It was very helpful for me, so I thought I will share it with you also.

So this particular text was very helpful for me also. As you know, I lived the same life as all you for many years, then during that time, I'm not sure when, but at certain point I had the opportunity to go through this text, and it really gave me something to think about, so it really greatly helped me in my outlook, and then of course, when I came back I had the opportunity to receive this particular teaching from many great masters. From His Holiness Karmapa I received this, from Most Venerable Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche I received this. From quite a few teachers I received this teaching, so I have a very good lineage, and with that blessing of lineage I'm teaching you. I'm not teaching just by saying I'm realized or something, through that I cannot teach you, I myself am here, same as you, but I know I have a very good lineage, so the teaching whatever I've been able to understand I thought I will share with you, I thought that way it will be more beneficial for both, that is why I chose this particular text.

Now a little bit about the author, Gyalse Thogme Zangpo. It's important to know the background, what kind of a great master he was, what kind of an enlightened being he was. If you know that, then you develop great respect towards him, and through that if you practice this, you have more motivation. For that purpose I tell you a brief background. I haven't really seen any written history, but through word-to-word information I've got some kind of background about him, and that I'm telling you. In writing, I don't know, it might be somewhere but I don't know, the 37 practice books I have gone through, and none of them had the history about the author, so I don't know.

He had a very difficult childhood, lots of sufferings. When he was just born, his mother died, when he was just born, maybe as soon as he was born, his mother died. Or maybe after few months, I'm not sure, in two or three months time his mother died. Then after that, only his father was there. And his father looked after him, but he also died in a very short time span, not many years, just in a short span his father also died. So he didn't have any immediate family. Then his grandmother started looking after him but soon his grandmother also died. So all his family was dying; he was having this kind of an obstacle. So he had a very difficult life as a child, and then of course later on, he was looked after, his uncle took the responsibility to look after him.

Then his uncle made him a monk in a monastery called E-monastery in central Tibet. Just for a background, his parents, his family, they used to follow the Sakya lineage, so he was made a monk in a Sakya monastery called E-monastery. Of course this is just for a historical point of view, otherwise he's no Sakya, he's no Nyingma, he's everyone's, so there's no question, there's no thing as Nyingma, Sakya, this thing, but just as a history, as a family which lineage they followed was Sakya, so he was in a monastery called E.

Then, in that monastery he underwent his formal training, and of course he was different from everyone else, there was great improvement in him, and then he became a very highly realized being. He was very highly realized, so everyone used to really look up to him, and he was a great master there in the monastery.

In the courtyard of the monastery there used to be a beggar. Normally beggars are very poor, that's why they beg, and they don't have many things to eat or things to wear. So he was very dirty and smelly. As you know, we notice when that kind of people come to the shop, the shopkeeper drives them away. When they come near you, you are kind of trying to avoid such people. That is how people are. In the same way, in the monastery some of the monks and people who used to come to the monastery did not like him. Because of his smell, maybe because of his looks, they used to be very angry with him being there, so they always shouted at him, scolded him etc. But Gyalse Thogme Zangpo, he was different. He was very realized being, so he was compassionate, and he used to give food, his own food, he hided it and then brought it and gave it to this person. He used to be really nice to this person. In front of others he could not give, because others didn't want him there, but quietly he used to give it, so this is how compassionate he was.

One day when he was doing this, when he went to take food for the beggar he did not find him there, he wasn't there where he used to be. So then he started looking everywhere for him. For a long time he couldn't find, and finally he found this beggar right in the corner where no one would go, dark place, under something, he was hiding there. Gyalse Thogme Zangpo asked him, why are you hiding here? Why aren't you in your normal place, why are you running away from everyone?

And so, the beggar replied to him that he was sick. Because he was very dirty, he had only one cloth to wear, so every time, day and night, he went without changing clothes, and then he had got lots of fleas. In Tibet you wear sheepskin, you wear that coat because it is very cold there, so he had a sheepskin and it was with fleas. And he got infected with that, a lot of fleas were biting him and all that, so later he got some sickness from the fleas, I think. After he caught the sickness, people were scared of him and shouted at him. First of all people did not like him, and now being a sick person, people didn't want him there, and they said: "We will get that sickness," and this and that, so that's why he was kind of scared, and he ran away from everyone, and therefore he was hiding there. That's what he told him.

So on hearing this Gyalse Thogme Zangpo developed great compassion for this person. He was a very famous teacher there, he was very respected by everyone, and his students I guess had offered him a sheepskin jacket, a new one, so at once he brought that sheepskin jacket and gave it to the beggar to wear, so that he could change He took the old sheepskin from the beggar and was about to throw it away, but suddenly he realized that if he throws it away, then the fleas in there would die, they would have nothing to feed on, so out in the cold they would die, and how could he do that? So instead, he wore that sheepskin himself, so that they could feed on his blood.

As a result he caught the sickness himself, and his health was degenerating, he was getting more and more sick. He had lots of students and they requested him to stop doing that, because they wanted him to be in good health. "Please not to do that, leave this jacket." I guess the students didn't want to wear it, but they asked him not to wear it either. Of course he did not listen, he said let me die, it's nothing, I'm ready to die, as long as these beings don't die, so he was ready to give up his life, that kind of a compassionate being he was.

He said everything is impermanent. It doesn't matter, everyone has to die, and at least he is getting an opportunity to practice in this life, so how could he waste that opportunity to practice. He took it as a practice. And of course, because everything is impermanent, all the fleas had to die, so they died one day, and then he recovered from his sickness.

And even when those fleas died, he did not just throw them away, but he collected their dead bodies and then he made them into holy tsa-tsa. It is for dead people, after they are cremated, then their bones are grinded into small pieces and mixed with clay for example, and out of it a stupa is made and blessed. That kind of thing he did for those fleas also, even for those fleas he did all that, and he had prayers done. That kind of a person he was, with such compassion. And he wrote this text, so I think if we go through such a text then his great blessing is also there, through that all beings will benefit.

As I said, all practice has a beginning, the main body and the conclusion. So even in this, it has the same. The first part includes the accumulation of merit. For that purpose he does offering of praises, in this case to his guru and to his yidam, his deity, which is Avalokiteshvara. For them there are praises through words and then various other offerings. Then he takes a commitment to write this kind of a text to benefit all beings, so he's taken a commitment, that's the first part.

Why do one need accumulation of merit? One reason is, so that while composing such a text there would not be any obstacles, and he would be able to finish the text. Second, these are certain patterns that great masters used to follow while doing anything, while practicing, while composing, they followed this pattern. When we see a certain text with these kind of patterns then we know that it is a genuine text, it comes with a proper lineage. For these purposes it follows a certain pattern.

And the commitment also shows that great masters, when they do something, they make sure to complete their commitment, that's why they do not start something and leave something in the middle. So if they cannot do, they never start. But once they do something, they use to complete it, so they take commitment for that purpose also.

And the main practice is of course the main body, it comprises the main practice, whatever the 37 practices that he's showing here are, it comprises of these things.

And the conclusion part, as I told you this morning, the conclusion part is dedicating of your merit, in this case merit of practicing this practice, the merit of writing this practice, the merit of reading and contemplating on this practice, so all that merit, dedicating that merit to all beings to attain enlightenment.

This is the pattern. Now the first part, the accumulation of merit, the praises to your guru and your deity. I will read it in Tibetan and in English also and then explain, and we can do the lung also.

So it says: "Dzal-se lag-le so-dy ma / Na-mo Lo-ke-shva-ra-ja / Gang-gi chö-kyn dro-ong me-zig-tsjang / dro-wei dön-la cig-tu tsön-dse-pa / la-ma chog-dang tsjen-re-zig gön-la / tag-tu go-sum gy-pe tsja-tsal-lo". "Na-mo Lo-ke-shva-ra-ja, you see that all phenomena neither come nor go, still you strive solely for the benefit of beings, supreme guru and protector Chenrezig, to you I continually bow and, bow with body, speech and mind." So now, na-mo Lo-ke-shva-ra-ja, so what does this mean? Namo means something like calling out, or in Tibetan we say tashi delek, "hi" sort of thing, so it's calling out, that kind of thing, namo, Lo, lok in Indian language means people, others, so beings. And then shva-ra-ja, e-shva-ra-ja means actually protector, lord. So namo Lo is referring to Chenrezig, who's the embodiment of his guru, Chenrezig, as one, so he's referring to both of them. Namo the protector of all beings, namo Lokeshvaraja means that.

Gang-gi means you. You Chenrezig who is the embodiment of guru, his guru, who's the embodiment of Chenrezig, and all the buddhas and bodhisattvas, so you. You see that all phenomena neither come nor go, so he says you, Chenrezig, my lama, you are a realized being, you are an enlightened being, so you see all, state of everything, as it is. You are not ignorant, you are above the level of presumptions, you are above the level of all phenomena, you understand that all things neither come nor go. Coming, going, this, that, taller, shorter, good, bad, all this is actually non-existent, all this is something that is there relatively, because we have made it, we have said that this is tall, we have said that this is short, we have said that this is good, we have said that this is bad. So everything, we have made it. They see that. They see the true nature of what it is. This is what it means.

It means they see the true nature of limitless, it is not one, it is selflessness, we say dag me pa, dag means I, so they see non-existence of I, all this is just made by ourselves. [We are talking about] those who see that.

It says still you strive solely for the benefit of beings. They're above of the level of coming back, taking rebirth without their own wish, out of control taking birth, they are above that. Yet they're still there, your lama is still there with you as how you are, your lama is there. So why, why? Because there is so much compassion for all beings like us who suffer in this samsara. They've got so much compassion that they have taken the responsibility to come back to help all of us. They are enlightened beings, there's no need for them to come here like us, but yet they are here to help us, so to those compassionate ones.

You who know phenomena neither come nor go, still you're here, you strive solely to benefit all beings, supreme you, supreme guru, protector Chenrezig, to you I continually bow with body, speech and mind. So I continually bow, why? Because of such quality, with seeing their compassion, through that you develop great respect, because they're here solely for you, who's in samsara. They have taken such a big responsibility to save you from this samsara, and that's why they are here. For that you develop great respect, and through this respect you bow to them with your body, mind and speech. Not just respect them because you are asked to respect them, not just respect them for no purpose, not just respect them because you are a Buddhist, but respect them by understanding this, by understanding the quality of them. So through that kind of respect, then your faith becomes confident, you have pure faith. Through that kind of faith you respect them. Now mind, body and speech: because everything that you do is related to that, that's why you show respect with your mind, body and speech.

The best way to respect them through mind, body and speech is through body, doing positive actions, like helping people, using your body for good purposes, this kind of actions, that's the best way to benefit them. Then prostrations are for good purpose. And using your speech in reciting mantras, reciting practices, and then of course using good language, using good language to greet people, all this is also good, it is positive thing. When you go out on the street, you greet someone who you don't know, they will greet you back, they will be happy, so this is a positive action, so this is something good. Same way with the mind, through living a pure life with a pure mind, not cheating people. Not having bad views such as negative actions have positive result, positive actions have negative results, these kinds of views you avoid. Living a truthful life, this is positive way of thinking. So this is the best way of offering your thought. Mind, body and speech, you can offer through that because your lama teaches you to do all that, virtuous actions to take up, non-virtuous actions to give up, and when you are able to do that, then that is the best way of offering.

So just by doing prostrations, reciting mantras, buttering up your lama, it's not the way, that's not the way to bow with your mind, body and speech to the lama, the way how you do it is through your action. If you think in your mind you prostrate so that people will say that you are a great practitioner, with that kind of thought if you practice and prostrate, it's of no use, your thought is contaminated with that thought, so it's of no use. It's better not to do, than do such a thing. Same way, you may chant a lot of mantra, but if you chant mantra so that you gain some power to harm others, that is a wrong view. So it's no use doing that. These these kinds of things are not the proper way of bowing through your body, mind and speech. These things you should avoid.

Now the next is the commitment part. "Phen-dei dzjung-ne dsog-pei sang-dze-nam / dam-chö drub-le dzjung-te de jang ni / de ji lag-len tshe-la rag-le-pe / dzjal-se nam-tsji lag-len tshe-par tsja." The perfect Buddhas, sources of happiness arise from accomplishing the genuine dharma, since that is, since that in turn depends on knowing how to practice, the practice of a bodhisattva shall be explained, that is taking a commitment. So it says phen-dei. Phen-dei means happiness, benefit, happiness, so there are two kinds of benefit or happiness. For example, one is this life, happiness in this life. It said de, de means this life, so happiness in this life, and one is happiness for future lives, so there are two kinds of happiness.

Happiness in this life means for example good health, financially having a comfortable life. Whatever you want, getting that. So those kinds of things are happiness in this life, they're temporary, though, everything is subject to change, as I explained in the morning, but still, that is happiness in this life, little, little happiness in this life, temporarily it is happiness.

Happiness in the future lives means forever, you can achieve that happiness only by overcoming suffering totally. That means understanding the nature of everything. When you understand that, then you are above the level of suffering, which means the ultimate happiness, that means liberation, liberation is the ultimate happiness. So this is the happiness of the future lives.

From where does this arise, how do we get this happiness? Who teaches you about how to be free from suffering, who? All this the Buddha has taught, he's the source of all this happiness. He has shown us the exact path through which if we practice, we can achieve this, so he's the source through which we achieve this happiness.

The second line says: "dam-chö drub-le dzjung-te de jang ni", which means even that source through which we get happiness wasn't that from the beginning. Even that source had to practice the path, to reach it in order to have ultimate happiness. He wasn't just born enlightened by fluke. Through practicing the path of dharma, then it reached what it reached, realized what it realized. Even the source had to go through dharma practice to understand that.

Even we can become like that, it does not happen just like that, but by practicing. That is why Gyalse Thogme Zangpo has taken the commitment to show the way through which, if we practice, we can reach the same goal. That's the commitment he has taken.

Now we come to the first practice. This shows the preciousness of the human life, how precious it is. If you don't understand this, how precious this life is, then you don't take it seriously, you don't understand the quality of this life, and how much you can achieve in this life. So in order to understand that you have to understand what are the qualities of this life. Therefore we are first shown the quality of this life.

So it says: "Dal-dzjor dru-chen nje-ka thob-dy-dir / da shen khor-wei tsö-le dral-tsjei tsjir / nji dang tsen-du jel-wa me-par-ni / njen-sem gom-pa dzjal-se lag-len-jin". "Now that you have obtained the precious human body, the great boat so difficult to find, in order to free yourself and others from the ocean of samsara, to listen, reflect and meditate with diligence day and night is the practice of a bodhisattva." It says now that you have obtained the precious human body – not every human body is precious. In order to be considered precious human body, there have to be certain points. For example you have to enjoy eight liberties or eight freedoms and then there are ten assets.

What are the ten assets and what are the eight freedoms that we enjoy? The eight freedoms are, number one: we are not born in the hell realm. Beings in the hell realm suffer immensely. For example, there is suffering of extreme cold, there's suffering of extreme heat, that kind of sufferings in the hell realm. Even the structure of the body of those the beings in the hell realm, their sense organs, their skin, everything is very sensitive. Many times more sensitive than our skin, so you can imagine how sensitive they are, like a baby. Baby's skin compared to our skin is very sensitive.

We are not that sensitive, but yet when summer comes, we have air conditioning. When winter comes, we have solar heating and all that. So how much is the change of temperature? Not much, maybe forty degrees, it's too hot for us. Thirty-one, thirty-two is too hot for us. Winter time, ten, five degree is too cold for us, so even that much, it's too much for us, we complain with this kind of condition already.

So imagine the beings in the hell realm, the extreme heat suffering, how it is, it's countless times hotter than how we experience our fire. For example, the fire that is made by the sandalwood is I think nine times more hotter than the normal fire that we have, made of other stuff. Now that sandalwood fire and the fire which I think surrounds the Earth, it says which surrounds the Earth, it could be in one of the atmospheres, I don't know, but I think at some level of the atmosphere there is extremely hot atmosphere. That's maybe my presumption, but that kind of heat is again many times more than the sandalwood fire. And then at the end of the kalpa (kalpa means at the end of a certain time), because everything is impermanent, this whole world will be burnt. Everything will come to an end, the world will be destroyed that way, we say, so during that kind of fire, which destroys this world, that heat is again many times more than the heat of the fire that surrounds the Earth right now. Compared to that the heat in the hell realm is many times stronger. So imagine now how hot it is, how much heat there is, where do you have the freedom of thinking of anything, thinking of dharma, where do you have the freedom? You are constantly suffering.

When we have winter here we need so many clothes to wear, with just one layer of clothes it's too cold for us to live here. So imagine there, you don't have any clothes, and it is that cold, but because of your previous karma you have to freeze there. This is how it is there, how much suffering they have, we don't have that kind of suffering here, so when will they think of dharma while suffering so much. There are many kinds of sufferings in the hell realm, eighteen of them, but I don't think we can finish all, so anyway, this is the kind of suffering that they have.

Second is the suffering in the preta realm, or the hungry ghost realm. The size of the stomachs of the beings in this realm is as big as a mountain. Maybe bigger. And the limbs, the arms and legs of these beings are like dry straws. Straws are very delicate, if you press them they break to pieces. Their limbs are not very hard.

And the pipe through which food goes, the neck, it is as small as the hole in your sowing needle, through which you pass the thread. So it is that small, the hole through which the food goes. Imagine filling that big stomach with that small hole. How are you going to pass the food through?

Our stomach is so small, people say our stomach is elastic. It becomes big and it becomes small, so if you don't eat for a long time, it becomes small, after some time you stop feeling hungry. If you all the time eat a lot, then your stomach grows in size, so that way you always feel hungry. If you eat less, maybe for few days you will feel hungry, but after some time you will stop feeling hungry because the size reduces. Even with that size we have so much suffering. When we don't get food in time, we become angry, there is a saying that a hungry man is an angry man.

Back at home, when I needed something from my father, I used to wait for a very good meal. After he ate a very good meal, if you asked him the answer was positive, he always granted you what you asked. But if you asked before the food, or the food was not in time, the answer would be negative. So that's why I waited for a hearty meal and then asked him, that was a trick I used to use, and it worked. Even a small stomach, if it is not filled in time, we get angry, we have suffering.

So now imagine those beings in that realm, with that size of a stomach and not being full, how much suffering they have? First of all, it's very difficult to find that much food to fill that stomach. Even if they found the food, then to pass it through the small hole, they have so much suffering. How much can pass through that? Not much, so to find enough food, to pass it through that hole, so much suffering is there.

Even if they are able to find the food and fill their stomach, [if you compare] the size of the stomach to the sensitivity of the legs that they have, the legs break into pieces, they cannot carry the weight. Through that, how much suffering do they have, again.

It's always, constantly suffering, all the time suffering. So what freedom do they have? They have no freedom to think of the dharma. But we are not like that, we have freedom.

The third is the animal realm. I guess this will be more practical for all of us, because we see animals, so we think that is the true thing. Anyway, they have also lots of suffering. Number one, they suffer from being slave to someone else. For example, this time when I was in Austria we went to see a museum, where all the crowns and king's belongings are kept, I think it was a museum, and outside the museum there were lots of horse chariots. The horses were all decked up. From outside we think the horses look very nice but they are suffering so much, they are slaves to us, humans.

And all day they have to carry people, on top of that they have to carry the master also, and the money they make out of the whole hard work, suffering the whole day, how much do they get? Out of the whole thing, I don't know whether ten percent goes in their food, the rest the master takes. And what suffering did the master do? He sat all day on top of that horse, beating the horse, so that is it, the horse does so much, it is a slave, so much suffering, and it doesn't even have the right to enjoy its own hard work, so where do they have freedom?

Then another suffering that they have is suffering of being attacked by each other. For example you can see this when you watch the National Geographic or Discovery channel. The smaller animal is being eaten by a bigger animal. That bigger animal is being eaten by even a bigger animal. So where do they have freedom? They are always suffering, they are always scared of who's going to attack them next, and they're never a moment in peace, so this is one kind of suffering.

When birds come to your window side, their head constantly turning up and down, jumping up and down, you say oh, very beautiful, the bird is dancing, but the bird is suffering, it's looking around if anyone is going to harm it, ready to fly, ready to do something to protect, always scared of that kind of attacks. So what freedom do they have? They are always suffering.

Then again another example with pets is that we have, we have dogs as pets. Of course we do the best for them, but if you think about it, where do they have freedom, they don't have the choice of going where they want, they are not free, they have to stay in our compound, they have to be where we want them to be, so what freedom do they have?

Sometimes you see a dog nicely sitting in the sun, sunbathing, and then suddenly the master calls from inside, so he has to go, the master may be calling him with love, but for him it's an order. When he is being called, he has to go, so what freedom does he enjoy? I'm sure he would rather stay sunbathing, but when he's being called he just has to go.

And animals don't have this thing we have called intelligence. To a certain level, maybe, but more than that, they don't enjoy it like us. For example, some time back in Sherab Ling, some Tibetan youth, they formed an organization, and then they went around doing a documentary on killing of animals. In Tibet, in places where people kill animals for meat, they were showing how the yaks are chased in line, and one person or few persons stay there with a sharp knife, and as they come, they just chop off their neck. Not even fully, they just cut half-slit and then they let them lie there, and they are still not dead but breathing, in pain, and then all blood comes out from the neck. After all the blood is pumped out from their neck through the breath, then slowly, slowly they die. This kind of death they experience.

And yet the other animals, the other yaks are just around there, busy eating grass. They are next in line, but they don't realize that. If we were in that state, human beings, we would try to make our best plan to escape from this place, we would do all sorts of things possible, but they don't have that intelligence. Out there they are still trying to eat, they don't know that they are going to be killed next. So what freedom do they have? We have the freedom of reasoning and all that. So this is one freedom that we enjoy but they don't.

Now fourth one, it says barbarian. Normally we call barbarian people who don't know anything, who don't know what is good, who don't know what is bad, who kill each other, etc. So that kind of thing we call barbarian, they don't have the sense of understanding, realizing what is what. So we are not born as one of them.

But barbarian again it doesn't only mean people dressed maybe in leaves, carrying knives etc. Even in very developed countries people who look like normal to us, can be barbarian. I'll give you an example.

My guru, Tai Situpa, gave me this example. Once when he traveled in one of the places in the west, I'm not sure where, he was in a car, and then suddenly he saw a big truck in front of him. And the truck was filled with cows for slaughter. The cows were on their knees and their knees were broken, and then stacked one on top of one another. So he asked his driver, why did they do that.

The driver told him that their knees were broken because they become shorter. So in that way more can fit into the truck, so you don't have to waste money on another truck, that is why they are put that way. And then their jaws were screwed from down here to up, they were like locked. They said that was a scientific method. I think they go a long distance in the truck, so there's no food there, so if they are sick, they lose weight. This way there's no way to throw up, they must chew it and take it in. So they don't lose their weight while they are being taken for slaughter for meat. This is a scientific method, so-called, they say, but where is the science, this is a very barbaric act, and those people are barbarians. That is how it is, but we are not born like that. Maybe they don't understand what is good and what is bad. No one introduced them to such kind of a thing. They are like that, but we are not like that. If you were like that, we wouldn't be here today, but we are not like that, so we experience that freedom.

Now the fifth freedom. For example, in the god realm the gods enjoy more [than us]. They have many years of life, and they are very happy. All the time there whatever they want they have, whatever they want to do they can do, that kind of things, they enjoy much happiness, which is, of course, relative, not permanent.

As they have special powers, to a certain extent they can see the future. As a result, everything is bound to come to an end. They have to die one day. Gods have many years of life and they enjoy throughout, they don't experience any suffering during that time, but a week before they die they come to know that they are going to die. Higher gods will tell them, and they themselves also come to know that they are going to die. Their physical features, their body and skin starts wrinkling, they have bad smell, odor from their body. They experience these kinds of unpleasant things. And of course the surrounding other gods, they don't experience this, because still they are enjoying in their full state. The ones who are suffering, who know that they are going to die, they have great suffering from that because they are not used to that. They have never contemplated on suffering, and they don't understand the word suffering, so suddenly when they have to suffer, it is a little too much, it is too much for them to accept.

I'll give you one example. This is a true thing, true example. There's a Tibetan lady, she's my my mother's sister's husband's sister. She got married to an American man, a very, very rich man. Of course I haven't met him, but I have heard this story, I've met the lady and her child. They're so rich that they have their own plane, they go from state to state having dinners, this kind of people, and they have a house in America's most wanted place, Beverly Hills. They have a beautiful mansion there with a swimming pool and everything. This kind of life they used to lead, they used to have great fun there, and I've met them during that time. They are from Nepal, the wife's family, so when I used to go there I met them there. They have a small daughter, and she used to go to the schools where rich people go, not normal people's schools. Some differences are there, I don't know what differences but it seems that not many people can go to these schools.

So the daughter used to go to that kind of school, they used to have that kind of life, where it was at that standard. So of course, the money was hereditary money, through his father, through the family he had all this money, so he didn't have to work, and he didn't work. Not that he didn't have to work, but he didn't work. He loved gambling, so they used to enjoy life like that, going from state to state very often, going for dinners with their friends, taking their own plane and doing all these things. But money had to finish one day, so money finished. And because he gambled, he put his house also on, when he didn't have money, he also put his house on bet and everything and he lost his house also.

Everything was lost in one lifetime and then they were worse than a normal person, didn't have anything, and of course they couldn't afford any more that kind of school, the daughter had to go to a normal school where education is free. She had so much suffering now because first of all, you have to mix with people who you are not used to, therefore she was in a lot of suffering. But of course she was quite young so it wasn't that bad. And the husband, all his friends, he had to leave this kind of people. He didn't have money, so he couldn't go out with them. He was shy to show his face in front of them, so what he did, he locked himself up in the house, the whole day, whole night, and then he became crazy.

The wife, of course she wasn't that bad, so she did something small, she started some small business and they're managing to survive right now but he's mad, he's gone crazy. So much wealth that we may have, that changes. Imagine in the god's realm how much suffering you would have. In the god's realm this joy, this what we call happiness, is nothing for them, it's very small, they enjoy immensely. Compared to this, for them, this is nothing, so they enjoy so much, yet they have to die one day, and when they come to know that, how much suffering there is for them. So their suffering is I think beyond – we cannot describe that kind of suffering.

So we don't have that, and we enjoy that freedom here. They don't enjoy that freedom, because when they are well, when they are healthy, when everything is there, they are so happy that they never hear the word "suffering". By the time the death comes, they can do nothing, because it is too late. They never think about suffering, they never know about suffering, and when they learn to know about it, it is already too late, they are suffering immensely. So they don't have the freedom we have. This is one.

The sixth is wrong view, having a view which is like this: if you do a positive action, the consequences will be negative, if you do a negative action, the result will be positive. This kind of thought, thinking that there's no such thing as rebirth, there's no past life, there's no future life, and all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, great masters, all of them are crooks. It comes generally just like that, these kind of thoughts, so people who have this kind of thinking, it is due to their previous karma that they have such kind of thoughts. They don't have the freedom of practicing the Dharma or thinking of the Dharma because their view is wrong already. So we are not like that, if we were like that, we wouldn't be here today. You wouldn't be here listening to the Dharma, you wouldn't be here seeing what the Dharma says, so we are not like that, we don't have that kind of suffering, we are free from that. So that is one freedom that we enjoy.

The seventh is living in a time when there is no Buddha. Physically maybe he's not here just now, relatively speaking, but through his Dharma he's still here, through your guru, who's the embodiment of Buddha, in that way he's still here, so we have the opportunity to follow the path of Buddha and reach the realization of Buddha. If Buddha had not been there, we would not have that opportunity, we wouldn't know what to practice, how to practice. We wouldn't know what suffering is, even if we knew what is suffering, we wouldn't know what is the root cause of suffering, and how to overcome that cause of suffering, but that's not the case, so we enjoy that freedom. So this is one freedom that we enjoy.

The eighth one I think it means mentally unstable. Of course in earlier times I think they used it to refer even to people who could not see, who could not hear, because if you could not hear then you would not hear the Dharma. If you could not see, then you could not see the scripts through which you can study, so maybe because of these reasons they said this kind of thing. But now with advancement, you can get things which can make you hear, you can get eye-sight, you can get it operated, there are so many things, so I guess not so much of these. But mentally unsound, if you are mentally unsound what can you do, you cannot do anything about that, so they don't enjoy the freedom of understanding the Dharma. But we are not mentally unsound, that is why we are here, trying to understand what it says. So, mentally unsound is one thing that we don't suffer, we are free from that, that is the eighth freedom, the eighth and the last freedom.

There are ten assets or advantages that we also enjoy, ten advantages out of which five are individual advantages, which means they are in us, and five circumstantial advantages, that come through outer circumstances. So total ten advantages.

First are the five individual advantages that we ourselves have. In English it's written like born a human, that is one, in a central place, that's number two, with all one's faculties, that's number three, number four is without a conflicting lifestyle, number five is with faith in the Dharma. The great enlightened being Nagarjuna, he said this, in Tibetan [?], which means, as we discussed, now born as a human, how many qualities do we have, we have the quality of intelligence. With that we can test things, we can examine things, and through the examination we develop confidence. Using all these, we have so much qualities, whereas an animal doesn't have these qualities. I don't know how true it is, but a long time back animals like dogs, they listened to certain commands, so maybe they are intelligent. I saw once on BBC, I don't know how true it is, but I did see, they said that animals don't really understand the words we are saying, but through action they pick up what they are supposed to do, and when they do that once or twice, when we accept that, so they feel, they think… it is just that a repetitive action, they don't understand what it really means. I don't know how true that is, on BBC they said that. Anyway, we enjoy lots of qualities, and that is because we are born as humans, so this is number one, which we enjoy ourselves.

Then second is, born in a central place. There are two kinds of places. One is geographically described as a central place. Bodhgaya becomes the central place, because Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodhgaya. From there the Buddha's realization [spread], then he taught all of us how to attain enlightenment, so that becomes geographically a central place. But then the second thing is, all places where Buddha's Dharma is present, become central places. That means all the places where Dharma prevails. For example, maybe Buddha himself has not come, relatively physically, if you speak in relative terms, he might have not come to, supposing, this place, Finland. But his Dharma is here, so this is also a central place, because people can practice the Dharma, because they can hear the Dharma here, so this becomes a central place. In this way ultimately Buddha is everywhere, but relatively, you cannot say that. Central place means the Dharma is there. So we enjoy that, we are in a central place. We can listen to the Dharma, we know how to practice the Dharma. There are places where his teachings are not heard in this world also. In this world, some places where there are no these kind of teachings, some don't even believe in anything, these kind of places are there, so those are not central places. But like this one here, these are all central places, so that is what central place means. So second, we enjoy that. We are born in a central place.

And the third one is, again the same, something we enjoy ourselves is mental stableness. That is something which we have in us; it's not something that's put into us from outside. And our organs are functioning okay, so through that we have health to practice the Dharma. This is the third.

The fourth one, it says born with a conflicting lifestyle. That means, for example let's say if you are born in a family where from hereditary they do negative actions, then there's no choice, you are born into that kind of a thing, you don't think of such thing as negative, throughout your life you do those kind of negative actions. Of course one can change, but for example let's say a matador, where he kill bulls, he considers killing bulls as an art. So the more he kills, the more skillful he kills, the prouder he becomes, the greater he becomes. And there is a family name that they have also, some of them, when so the father is a great matador, the son also has to become one. From childhood he trains killing lots of bulls, he's proud of that name and then he doesn't see that the bull is suffering. He is killing the bull, but he doesn't see the consequences. So you are born into that kind of an environment, a negative environment, that's a conflicting lifestyle. We don't have that kind of lifestyle, we know negative actions have negative results, positive actions have positive results, and we want to be free from suffering. We know how to free ourselves from suffering, so we are practicing the Dharma. This is one thing that we enjoy.

Then another example. When I was in school we had to research on aids awareness and all that. So we did a research on that and I was in Calcutta, a state in India. A group of us were doing research in I think it is considered one of the biggest red light area in the world. They have lots of prostitutes there. We found that the children being born into such kind of family, they have no choice but to follow that kind of life, because they are not allowed to go out anywhere, they are not allowed to choose their own life. I don't know, there are some walls or barriers that they have to cross, barriers of different people who guard them, so they are born into that, they have no choice, and there's nothing that they can do. So we are not that, we are not born into such an environment, so this is one freedom that we enjoy, one asset that we have, our own asset. Because of our previous countless accumulation of merit we enjoy this. They don't have that, they have no freedom.

The fifth, the last of the advantages that we enjoy individually ourselves, is that we have faith in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. We have faith in Buddha, we don't think he's talking rubbish, we don't think he's lying. We have this faith in him and through the faith you are practicing here. This again we enjoy ourselves. There are people who say Buddha did these things for his own purpose, for worldly purposes, there are people who say a lot of things like that, but we are not that kind of people. We see the quality in him, so through the quality we see in him, we have great faith in him, that's why we want to practice his teaching so that we can attain the realization he attained. This is the faith which we have, which is our individual advantage that we enjoy. This is the fifth.

The five circumstantial, outer advantages that we enjoy are, in English it says number one, a Buddha has appeared, and number two he has preached the Dharma. Number three, his teachings still exist, and number four, it can be followed, and number five, there are those who are kind-hearted towards others. These are the five. For example, for the first one, Buddha has come, Buddha has appeared over two thousand, almost three thousand years back [in history]. Buddha Sakyamuni was there, he was born into a king's family. He had the choice of ruling a big country, enjoying himself, but he did not do that, he sacrificed everything in order to understand the truth of suffering, in order to be liberated from all suffering. So he worked for that and ultimately he attained enlightenment in Bodhgaya. If he hadn't done that, we wouldn't know what enlightenment is, we wouldn't know how to practice it, but Buddha did come and showed us how to do it. So Buddha has come, that is one advantage that we enjoy from outside. So this is one, the number one.

Now Buddha has come, but if he did not teach the Dharma, if he just came and reached enlightenment without teaching, then it will not benefit us. For us to be liberated we need to know the root cause of suffering in order to eliminate the suffering. So now, who taught how to eliminate that root cause of suffering? Buddha showed the Dharma in order to do that. Through practicing the Dharma we can be free of suffering and be liberated. That's why just coming is not enough, Buddha has to teach, and he taught the Dharma which benefited us, we have the Dharma, so that is one advantage that we enjoy.

As soon as he attained enlightenment he taught the Dharma, he spoke about the Dharma, but then people didn't understand, so Buddha said: "I have found the great thing, not something that is made up, but something that is the true nature of everything, I've understood this, I've found this. It is such a profound thing, but when I want to share it with others, no one understands that. So what's the use, instead I will go back." And he went back for meditation himself. He did that for about I think forty-nine days, and then on the forty-ninth day, then the Brahma and Indra, the two gods, they came and requested Buddha to turn the wheel of Dharma. "Please turn the wheel of Dharma, everyone needs it," so they requested him. With their request Buddha agreed and then he turned the Dharma Wheel. As a symbol they offered a wheel, chackra, and they offered a conch shell, which turns to right, so this is why we consider that very holy, the chackra and the turning of the wheel of Dharma. And the conch shell makes sound, so it spreads the Dharma. After that the Buddha turned the Wheel of Dharma. So now we know how to practice, we enjoy this. It's the second.

Now Buddha has appeared, he taught the Dharma a little over two thousand five hundred years back, but if the lineage was not preserved today, if the lineage wasn't here today, then what use would it be? We wouldn't know how to practice, it would be history, we would be saying here "once Buddha came, he taught something, I don't know what he taught but he taught something, for happiness of people he taught something, but I don't know what it is". We would be in that state, but that's not the case, we have the lineage, unbroken lineage preserved here, exactly what Buddha has said, we still have it here. Through following this teaching of the Buddha, which has been preserved here today, we can still achieve what he has achieved, so the lineage is unbroken, the teachings are still there, present. So this is the third circumstantial advantage that we enjoy.

Because the lineage is still there, because of our previous accumulation of merits, through that we are here practicing the Dharma, we see the advantage of practicing the Dharma, and that's why we are here today. So this is the fourth advantage.

Now the fifth is this. Buddha came, taught, the Dharma is there, and we want to learn, to follow the Dharma, but if there was no one to teach us, the great masters weren't there today, those who have preserve this lineage, if they weren't there to teach us, then how would we know how to practice? We wouldn't know how to practice, we might want to learn but we wouldn't know how to practice. We might read books, but books, words are just there, one word people can take for hundred meanings, you can make all kinds of meanings, you can make your own assumptions, so this way you would not know how to practice, but that's not the case, the great masters, great enlightened beings, through their compassion they are still here, they are here taking rebirth with us into this impure world, and then teaching us the Dharma. So their great love and compassion is there. To have them is the fifth advantage that we enjoy, circumstantial advantage, the fifth and the last.

Now we have seen so many qualities that we have in this human life, all these qualities other beings don't enjoy. This makes it a precious human life. Even if one point is missing from there, it is not a precious human life, but if all these eighteen points are there, if you examine yourself, and all these eighteen points are there, it is a precious human life that we have been able to obtain. Through countless lifetimes of accumulation of merit we have been able to achieve this precious human life. It is not easy to achieve this, and today we have achieved this, it is capable of enlightenment, it is capable of understanding a limitless thing. It is so precious, how could we not make use of this, how could we just waste this life? This life is also nothing but a short span, impermanent, we will lose this life one day, so before you lose it, why not make full use of it? To know the preciousness of this human life is very important.

Buddha gave an example which shows how difficult it is to obtain this precious human life. Let's say in the ocean there is a yoke, the thing which they use for farming, plowing land, so this yoke is there in the ocean, flowing from north to south, east to west. And at the bottom of the ocean there's one turtle, a turtle which comes up on the surface of the ocean maybe once in five hundred years. The chances of the turtle's neck entering the hole of the yoke, how much is it? I think you could say it is almost nil, but not nil because it could happen, so in that large, big ocean the chances are very little, very, very little. But it is possible, and that chance is much more than obtaining a precious human life. So the Buddha has said that obtaining this precious human life is more difficult than the chance of that turtle's neck entering into that yoke. So this life is very precious, and we have obtained it, but not just like that, not unknowingly, we have accumulated great merit to attain this, so this is why it is so important, it is so precious, how could you just waste it? That is why he said it is very important to understand how precious this human life is.

So now you see the preciousness of this human life. But that does not mean that you are very great by having this, it does not mean you should think in that way, that is ego. If you think you are superior to others, it develops problems. If you think like that, if you have ego, that kind of thought, then it's not a precious human life anymore, because you don't have the qualities again, you don't have qualities of reasoning and all that. So making the proper use of this human life, if you practice the Dharma, then you can attain liberation in one lifetime.

That's why it says dal-dzjor dru-chen nje-ka thob-dy-dir, it means, now we have been able to achieve this precious human life, which is given as an example of a boat, it is like a boat. What does a boat do? It takes people from one shore to the other, so it carries people through to cross the river, a sea or anything. That is given in an example, one side is samsara, the other side is liberation. This precious human life acts as a boat to liberate you and the passengers, the beings from one shore, which is the suffering, to the ultimate happiness, the other shore. So it helps you, it acts as a boat, you have this precious human life as that.

And it says da-shen khor-wei tsö-le dral-tsjei tsjir, so now, since you have this boat, using this boat to free other beings and yourself from this suffering of samsara, for that purpose, without any difference, in the day and night, working, listening to the Dharma, then studying or contemplating on the Dharma and then practicing it, so through these three methods, and then attaining realization for all beings is the practice of a Bodhisattva, it's the number one practice of a Bodhisattva.

The last line shows that you have to be mindful. When do you have to be mindful? The third line shows it, all the time, without difference in the day and night, during the day and even in the night. Why day and night? Daytime, normally what we do? We are awake, we do all the work, we are always aware in the sense we are busy in the day, whereas night we don't do anything, we consider that doing-nothing-time, so we are relaxed or we're not doing anything. But there should not be that difference in your practice, in your mindfulness. You should always be mindful, you should always practice whether it's daytime or night time, there should be no difference in practice, you should practice all the time, it means that. You might think, daytime, okay I can practice, I am awake I can practice. Night time, how do I practice, I'm sleeping, you might think that, but you can practice in the night also.

Supposing you practice Chenrezig practice, Avalokiteshvara practice, so before you go to sleep first you develop the Bodhicitta, wanting to free all beings from suffering. Through developing this true compassion and Bodhicitta you practice, you visualize the deity Avalokiteshvara, as I said, not holding on to it but by realizing that this is a method. Knowing that you practice, and then, while practicing that if you sleep, then it becomes a meaningful sleep. So this is also practice, it's a kind of meditative practice. This becomes a practice for you, it does not become a sleep without being mindful. So it's not just going there and just putting your head down, your mind stops working, not like that, it becomes mindful sleep. This is how you can practice even while sleeping.

And again I'll give you another example from day to day life. We have to eat all the time, so we eat all the time. Now, normally we eat without thinking, just a natural thing, we just eat, so it is eating, not being mindful. How you become mindful while eating is like this. You know the quality of this precious human life, so in order to have this precious human life as healthy as possible, as effective as possible you need nutrition to preserve this body. You eat food because you want to preserve this precious human life, through preserving this precious human life you can attain the realization of the Buddha. Through that realization you can help countless sentient beings. So for the purpose of beings you want to maintain this precious human life. If you eat food with that kind of Bodhicitta, with that kind of motivation, then it becomes also a practice. Food and eating becomes a practice. This way you should not, how do you say, live to eat, you should eat to live, because if you live to eat then you'll become unhealthy. You should eat to live because you know how precious this human life is, so you need to live, that's why you eat. That kind of eating is mindful eating.

In the same way anything you do, all actions, all thoughts, all speech, you can be mindful in this way. Be mindful and you will know how to be mindful. Like long time back, great practitioners in Tibet, what they used to do is they used to carry two bags of black stones and white stones. From the morning, when they woke up, till night's sleep they used to always be mindful, always check themselves. The minute they thought of something negative or did something negative they used to put a black stone in the bag. The minute they thought of something positive or did a positive action, they used to put a white stone in the bag, this way they used to do.

First when you start off always the black stones are more than the white stones at the end of the day, but slowly, slowly that way examining yourself, correcting yourself, then slowly, slowly one comes to a point when the white stones are more than the black stones, and eventually one eliminates the black stones. So this is how you do, this is what mindfulness is, always seeing inward what's inside you, not only the outside to others, but inside yourself, checking yourself inside. So this is more important, always checking your actions, this is mindfulness.

So we end here today, if you go through too much [of the text] then your thoughts will be negative, then you will be impatient and this will not be proper way of listening to the Dharma, so I think it is better to stop here and we will meet tomorrow.

Let's dedicate our merit that we have accumulated in our countless lifetimes and this lifetime and in the coming lifetimes and especially today by listening to the Dharma teaching, by contemplating on it, practicing on it. The merit that we are going to accumulate, we dedicate it to all sentient beings so that may they attain enlightenment.

Transcription: Eeva Andersson