Eight Verses on Thought Transformation by Geshé Langri Tangba

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Geshé Langri Tangba
Geshé Langri Tangba

Eight Verses on Thought Transformation by Geshé Langri Tangba
I shall now read and explain briefly one of the most important texts on thought transformation, Lojong
Tsigyema (Eight Verses on Thought Transformation).

It was composed by Geshé Langri Tangba, who was a very unusual bodhisattva. I myself read it daily and received the transmission of the commentary from Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche.

(i)
With a determination to accomplish
the highest welfare for all sentient beings,
Who surpass even a wish-granting jewel,
I will learn to hold them supremely dear.

One is requesting: May I be able to view them as a
precious jewel because they are the object on whose
account I can achieve omniscience; so, may I be able
to hold them dear.

(ii)
Whenever I associate with others, I will learn
to think of myself as the lowest among all,
And respectfully hold others as being supreme,
From the depth of my heart.

“Respectfully hold others as being supreme” means
not regarding them as some object of pity that you look
down on, but rather taking them as higher objects.
Take, for example, insects: They are inferior to ourselves
because they do not know the proper things to adopt
and discard – whereas we do know because we see the
destructive nature of the defilements. Such is the case,
but we can look at the facts from another viewpoint as
well. Although we are aware of the destructive nature
of the defilements, we nevertheless let ourselves be
under their influence, and in that sense we are inferior
to insects.

(iii)
In all actions, I will learn to search into my own mind,
And as soon as an afflictive emotion arises,
Endangering myself and others,
I will firmly face and avert it.

When one is engaged in a practice of this kind, the only
thing which causes obstacles is the defilements within
one’s own mental continuum; on the other hand, spirits
and so forth do not cause any obstacles. So, you should
not have an attitude of idleness and passivity towards
the inner enemy; but rather, you should be alert and
forthcoming, countering the defilements immediately.

(iv)
I will cherish beings of bad nature,
And those oppressed by strong negativities and sufferings,
As if I had found a precious treasure
Very difficult to find.

These lines emphasise the transformation of those
thoughts focused on sentient beings who have very
strong negativities; generally speaking, it is more difficult
to have compassion towards persons afflicted by
sufferings and so forth, when they have a very bad
nature and personality. Actually, such people should
be regarded as the most supreme objects of one’s
compassion. Your attitude, when you encounter such
persons, should be as though you had found a treasure.

(v)
When others, out of jealousy, treat me badly
With abuse, slander and so on,
I will learn to take all loss
And offer the victory to them.

Generally speaking, if others have done you wrong
without any justification, it is – in worldly terms – lawful
to retaliate; but the practitioner of thought transformation
techniques should always give the victory to others.

(vi)
When one whom I have benefited with great hope
Unreasonably hurts me very badly,
I will learn to view that person
As an excellent spiritual guide.

Then, regarding sentient beings for whom you have
done a lot, normally you expect them to repay your
kindness and thus you place hope in them. But instead,
you should think: If such a person harms me instead of
repaying my kindness, may I not retaliate against him,
but rather reflect upon his kindness and be able to see
him as a special guide.

(vii)
In short, I will learn to offer to everyone without exception
All help and happiness directly and indirectly,
And secretly take upon myself
All the harms and suffering of my mothers.

It says, “In short, may I be able to offer all the good
qualities that I have to all the sentient beings,” – this is
the practice of giving – and, “May I be able secretly to
take all their harms and sufferings of this and future
lifetimes.” This refers to the process of inhalation and
exhalation.

Up to here, the verses have dealt with the practice of the
conventional bodhicitta. The techniques for cultivating
the conventional bodhicitta should not be influenced by
attitudes such as: If I undertake the practice of giving
and taking I will have better health, and so forth, which
would indicate the influence of worldly considerations.
You should not have the attitude: If I do such a practice
people will respect me and regard me as a good
practitioner. In short, your practice of these techniques
should not be influenced by any worldly motives.

(viii)
I will learn to keep all these practices
Undefiled by the stains of the eight worldly conceptions,
And, by understanding all phenomena to be like illusions,
I will be released from the bondage of attachment.

These lines speak about the practice of ultimate
bodhicitta. When we talk of the antidotes to the eight
worldly attitudes, there are many levels. The actual
antidote for overcoming the influence of such worldly
attitudes is to understand the non-inherent nature of
phenomena. All phenomena are not inherently existent
– they are like illusions. Although they appear as truly
existent they have no reality. “Having understood their
relative nature, may I be freed from the binding knot of
the self-grasping attitude.”

You should read Lojong Tsigyema every day to enhance your practice of the bodhisattva ideal.
from THE UNION OF BLISS AND EMPTINESS
His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama