Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche


Conscientiousness – Bag-yöd


Instructions on Chapter 4 of the Bodhicharyavatara by Shantideva



I am very happy to be here and to see everyone, and I am very happy that we will look at the fourth chapter, entitled Bag-yöd, of the Bodhicharyavatara, "The Way of the Bodhisattva," together. Before we begin, though, I will recite the Lineage Prayer of the Dagpo Kagyu in Tibetan and ask you to generate the attitude of Bodhcitta.


The Way of the Bodhisattva was composed by the great master Shantideva, who was an excellent person and who presented extraordinary teachings. There is a story behind the composition of The Way of the Bodhisattva that I wish to share with you.


Shantideva was residing at the glorious Nalanda University in India, and he was always practising alone and by himself. For others, it looked like he was lazy, because it seemed like he wasn’t doing anything at all. So all of the other scholars and learned monks living in the monastery called him Buksuku, which means "the lazy monk who hangs around and doesn’t know anything." They all felt that it wasn’t proper for him to stay at the monastery, because those living there should either be practising diligently or studying the texts so that they would become learned, but just to hang around, be lazy, and do nothing did not accord with the rules. They wondered how to mob him so that he would leave the monastery.They decided to set up a teaching situation in which he would have to teach the Dharma. They were convinced that he would fail and then they would have a reason to force him to leave. They carried out their plans and invited a huge crowd to attend the meeting. They announced to everyone, "Today Buksuku is going to teach, but can he?”


They set up a high throne for the event. While Shantideva got up to sit down, the audience thought, "Oh, he is really playing the big-shot. What is this going to be like?" Shantideva asked them, "Do you want me to teach something that has already been taught or something new?" Thinking it would be more humiliating for him, the assembled group unanimously requested, "Oh no, you give some teachings that we have not heard before.” So, Shantideva remained seated on the throne and offered the teachings that have been handed down to us in the Bodhicharyavatara. He presented these instructions in the form of verses and perfectly, without even hesitating a moment and without ever faltering in speech. When he reached the ninth chapter, which is the very famous section on prajna, “transcendent wisdom-awareness” - that describes the very meaning of what is and what is not, what exists and what does not exist - he levitated up into the sky, disappeared out of the sight of the assembly, and from space his voice could be heard bestowing the teachings on the ninth chapter of The Way of the Bodhisattva.


Under these remarkable circumstances, Shantideva began with the first chapter and spoke about the benefits and excellence of the aspiration to attain awakening, Bodhicitta, “the aspiration for enlightenment” for the welfare of all beings. In the second and third chapters he taught about the vow of a Bodhisattva through confessing and the ways to keep the vow of Bodhicitta through commitment. Those are the first three chapters that he taught and that deal with the importance of Bodhicitta and the relevance of the altruistic attitude. And the reason why this topic is extremely important is because in general, in this existence and on earth, we all live together and share in mutual concerns. We should therefore make the time we spend together good, happy, and beneficial. But when we act out on our feelings of anger, pride, jealousy, hatred, and so on, then we hurt each other. Having a harmful and malicious attitude towards each other brings on all kinds of suffering - it causes others to suffer and backfires on the one who perpetuates hostile feelings, and then both the victim and the perpetrator suffer. How can one avoid such a situation, such suffering? By developing a good attitude, a positive and helpful attitude, and a noble attitude towards others. If you have that motivation and intention, then you have the altruistic mind to help others and actually can. We have to try to have a good attitude towards all living beings and help as best as we can. So, the most important thing is to have a positive and altruistic attitude towards others.


The altruistic attitude is very good, but it is not enough by itself. Two qualities of Bodhicitta are needed so that it is effective. The first is called "focusing on others with compassion," thinking of all sentient beings and excluding no one, having the attitude of gentleness and helpfulness, thinking of others’ benefit, thinking of others’ welfare first of all. So, that is the first quality of Bodhicitta - awareness of others.


The second characteristic or quality of Bodhicitta that is needed is “discriminating awareness” or prajna. Although compassion for all others is extremely important, by itself it cannot actually be beneficial without the skill of discriminating awareness-wisdom, i.e., there is no reliable good if the motivation lacks the ability to act it out appropriately and wisely. So Bodhicitta needs to include what is also called "the wisdom of enlightenment,” “the wisdom of perfect Buddhahood." When compassion is embraced by discriminating awareness-wisdom, one is actually empowered with the ability and means to bring about wholesome results. Compassion combined with discriminating awareness-wisdom means being able to lead others to a state of perfect and complete happiness, which is the ultimate state of enlightenment. That is the real way to benefit beings. Without the wisdom of discriminating awareness, there isn’t that ability to bring lasting and reliable happiness. Those are the two constituents of Bodhicitta, the awakened attitude.


So firstly, one gives rise to the thought of enlightenment, the thought of benefiting all beings and therefore do have the good motivation and intention. But that in itself is not enough, because then it is necessary to carry out that intention; it is not enough just to wish to do well. In order to help and enhance that sincere motivation, Shantideva presented the teachings on the vow of a Bodhisattva, on making the promise and integrating it in one’s life fully. Taking the vow of a Bodhisattva is promising, "Just as I wish and give rise to the wish to help all beings, now I vow to do so. Until all beings are established in complete awakening, not being lazy, I promise to exert myself as much as possible until that goal is accomplished." Turning that conviction into a commitment establishes the motivation firmly in one’s life.


Some people may think that it is difficult to spontaneously wish to benefit all beings or, even though they may have the wish, they are reluctant to take the vow, to establish the benevolent motivation as a commitment in their lives. We have the practice called "mind training,” lo-jong in Tibetan, which is the practice of refining our attitude through specific visualization techniques and in which we focus on the breath. Focusing on the out-breath we think that we are giving away all our happiness and good karma to all beings without exception, and focusing on the in-breath we think that we are taking in all the suffering and pain of all beings. By doing this practice, we prepare ourselves to receive the teachings on “giving and taking,” tong-leng in Tibetan. By practicing tong-leng, we gradually develop a sense of giving rise to excellent Bodhicitta; the practice also enables us to gladly take the vows and make the commitment to sincerely work for the benefit of others. Lo-jong mind training is the practice of developing the attitude and motivation of Bodhicitta, while tong-leng intensifies the wish to take the vows. One traditionally takes the vows with a spiritual master in a formal ceremony. It is also okay to do it oneself. In that case, one visualizes that all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions and three times are present and one takes the vow in front of them. The third chapter of The Way of the Bodhisattva offers the specific liturgy for taking the vow of a Bodhisattva.


Then Shantideva presented the way to keep the vows once one has taken them, how to protect and not break them, which is carried out through what is called "the two joys," one’s own joy and the joy of others. One first concentrates one’s mind on the fact of being so fortunate to even take the Bodhisattva vows, which is rejoicing in one’s own great and good fortune and merit. Secondly, one concentrates one’s mind on others and sees that up and until now they have had no refuge, they have experienced no relief from their suffering and pain, but now they are taking the Bodhisattva vows too and they resolve together with us, "I will be able to help beings." In this way, they are rejoicing and one is happy that it will eventually happen. So those are the two meditations or joyful contemplations.


Is it sufficient just to make the Bodhisattva promise? No, it is not in itself enough to make this commitment. Is it a great fortune to take these vows? Yes, one is very fortunate and lucky, but that in itself is not enough. Having given rise to the aspiration in the beginning, having made the vow in the middle, one still needs to make sure that it doesn’t diminish or is lost, that it doesn’t slacken but grows more and more. In order to increase the promise, one has to continuously develop and work with it, which not only benefits oneself greatly. If the commitment isn’t increased and doesn’t include all beings, it won’t help. Just taking the vows, just generating the thought won’t help sentient beings. One has to actually keep working at it so that one can actually help others. So the two aspects are called "to maintain” and “to enhance or increase it."


How does one maintain and increase the Bodhisattva commitment? What can one do so that the motivation does not decrease, does not weaken in any way, rather increases further and grows more and more? This is the topic of the fourth chapter, which has the title, "Conscientiousness" or "Carefulness", almost like attention, i.e., paying attention to and being very conscious about the commitment – bag-yöd in Tibetan. The fourth chapter on conscientiousness is divided into three sections: The first section is entitled, "That which is to be accomplished" and deals with the actual training to benefit oneself, to be able to accomplish and achieve the pure motivation. The verse on training what is to be accomplished reads,


The children of the Conqueror who thus

Have firmly grasped this Bodhicitta

Should never turn aside from it

But always strive to keep its disciplines.


Child of the Buddha (i.e., “children of the Conqueror”) is interpreted as a child of a king, someone who will eventually become a king. Child of the Buddha means that one will eventually become a Buddha who can truly benefit beings, which is what one has promised to do. If one has given rise to Bodhicitta and taken the vows, one is a child of the Buddha, since one has promised to become a Buddha in order to benefit others. Once one has become a child of the Buddha, what does one need to do? One never relaxes or turns away from that commitment, one never gives in to distractions nor transgresses training, rather one diligently strives to carefully maintain and not transgress the commitment.


Now, it can happen that one makes the commitment and takes the vows seriously, later doubting one’s steps and thinking, "Oh, I didn’t really consider it very carefully. Maybe I made a mistake and I am just not going to keep it, because I didn’t think about all the angles." That can happen - sometimes it does occur. It shouldn’t happen in terms of the Bodhicitta thought, though, because all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the past have contemplated it, have seen how important it is, and did identify it as the most important aspect of spiritual development. One can rely on their investigations and needn’t think that one hasn’t investigated well enough. Furthermore, one really did make the right decision and had the right attitude of examining it; otherwise one wouldn’t have taken it. The initial thought was correct. If one examines and thinks about it now, one will see that it was the very best decision. Examine it and study the instructions on the vow. That is how to surmount doubtful thoughts like, "Well, maybe it’s like other decisions I have made in the past and I made a mistake." The Bodhicitta commitment is not a bad decision and is not like others one made in life and regrets afterwards. Therefore, one doesn’t really need to wonder or doubt once one has taken it. However, just in case this happens, then think about it from the following perspective.


Once you have taken the vow and fall away from it, then it is very harmful. For example, if you feed a stray dog that comes through your door one day, it will probably return the next day. You continue feeding the dog on the third day and the following days but one day decide, "Well, I’m not going to feed that dog anymore." The suffering and disappointment you are inflicting on the poor animal is tremendous, because the dog is expecting to be fed, is hungry, and becomes disappointed and sad if you stop. You impose so much physical harm on that dog that is stuck in the habit of receiving your help, because you basically promised to feed him every day. It’s like that with the vow of a Bodhisattva: If you take the vow and make the commitment to help all sentient beings, if you promise to protect them from suffering and pain, to bring them permanent happiness - regardless if only one, two, a hundred, or thousands of beings, everybody, all sentient beings - you promised to bring permanent happiness to all of them. Imagine how disappointed they are going to be if you turn away!


It is extremely beneficial to give rise to the aspiration, to take the vow, and to keep it. One must maintain it and not let it weaken, because it is a great flaw to let it go. One might think, "Okay, I made the aspiration, I made the promise, and sometimes it weakens a little, but I can always renew it. The vow of Bodhicitta is quite powerful, it has so much power, and so it is okay to restore it again later. Let it laps and I will restore it again later." Such an attitude is not okay and certainly not nice. Why? Because it is going to entail a very long process; one is never going to be able to fulfil one’s aspiration if one falters, because one will always be wobbling between fixing it, breaking it, fixing it, and breaking it again. So, one certainly needs to continue through with it.


That was the first subject of having conscientiousness, which is the thought, "I really must do this. I will accomplish it. Until it’s finished, until the end, I will continue exerting effort." One takes the vow, intent upon accomplishing it. That’s the first subject.


The second point of chapter four speaks about being conscientious of the vow by thinking of the special opportunity of having the body that is the support of Bodhicitta. We are really very, very luck, very fortunate to have a human birth, a human life, and we should therefore really work to fulfil its potential, which is Bodhicitta, and to go through with it. If we can’t do that, maybe we won’t be so lucky the next time. In which way are we lucky? In three ways: First of all to have a human life is very fortunate, but just to have a human life is not enough in itself, because a lot of people can be born as humans and nothing particularly good happens. Not only is it fortunate to be born as humans to fulfil its potential, but also Buddhas have to have appeared within the aeon of this life. Furthermore, a Buddha needs to have taught the Dharma, which also must be available. Without the teachings, it would be impossible to lead a meaningful life. A third quality that is needed is having faith and confidence in the teachings. Being born as a human being and not as an animal, the teachings being available, of what use is that if one has no confidence in them? Many people in the world are not in the least interested in the teachings, are disinterested in progressing along a spiritual path, and many are actually hostile towards the instructions that could show them the way to freedom from suffering and pain and to reliable means to be of service to others; they are not even inspired to become involved with a spiritual practice and sail along with life, which is not making use of the precious human birth. So, a Buddha needs to have appeared, the teachings need to be available, and one needs to feel inspired to take advantage of the precious teachings. Those are the three necessary prerequisites to advance towards Buddhahood. And these three conditions must come together. It is very, very rare for them to come together. One condition isn’t enough, two aren’t enough - all three have to prevail. Only when all three conditions are present, only then is it possible to accomplish both one’s own benefit as well as that of others. This is very, very rare. Now is the time. Thinking, "Well, maybe it will happen again in the future" is not good, because it need not necessarily be the case. It is very, very rare. So now is the time to take full advantage of those three conditions. Based upon having this body, this situation now, making the most of it – that’s very important.


One must exert oneself knowingly and apply oneself with diligence. Being diligent slowly and casually doesn’t work. One has to really do one’s best, because now is the time, now is the chance - today one is not sick, today one has the capabilities, today one is nourished. One never knows what will happen tomorrow, next week, or next year, because nothing is ever certain. So, please apply yourself now, while you have the three precious supports.


That’s why it is so important to have conscientiousness, carefulness, and to pay attention, not relaxing, not getting slack about it. If one doesn’t practice Dharma, if one doesn’t develop and mature spiritually, then after death, one won’t get the chance again to take the human form. If born as a cat, or dog, or animal, one won’t know how to give rise to Bodhicitta, one won’t be able to practice virtue, one won’t be able to practice meditation, one won’t be able to recite mantras and prayers, one won’t be able to develop Bodhicitta. What will one be able to do? What will one be able to know as a cat or dog? One will know how to steal, how to kill, what aggression is, what pride is, what jealousy is, all those things – that’s what one will be doing and that’s what one will experience. So it is better to do good now, to practice Dharma, to uphold the Bodhisattva vow, and to stay conscientious and attentive. That’s the second point of the verse, being conscientious with regard to one’s precious human birth. So those first two parts, especially the first part that is on what to practice and accomplish, is described in greater detail in the text, but that was the core of the teachings. There is also more detail on being conscientious by contemplating the precious opportunity of having a human birth in the book.


The third point in this chapter deals with developing conscientiousness and attention by contemplating what is to be abandoned and relinquished, which is not to react with emotions.


Called klesha in Sanskrit, one’s own actions that are based on emotions, such as anger, hatred, passion, desire, pride, and jealousy, are one’s real enemies. One reflects, "I am like a servant to those emotions. When I am angry, then I just do what anger dictates. If it’s jealousy, I am a servant to that emotion. I am a prey to my own neurotic emotions.” How is this? Normally, one follows a great leader or hero. Those emotions and the ensuring actions aren’t heroic; they aren’t courageous, clever, or smart. They aren’t anything one would actually decide to follow and yet one goes on just doing whatever the emotions dictate. Not only that, the emotions only cause suffering and pain. It is important to ask oneself, “Why am I following after them?" Just think about it and decide, “These enemies just have to go.”


Contemplate about this and ask yourself: "Why is it that, although these afflictive emotions cause so much damage and harm, I am so patient with them? It’s like I am meditating on patience. I think that forbearance is my big virtue and yet I am so patient with the emotions. This is meaningless patience. This is a meaningless confirmation of patience. It is bad for me. It is wrong patience. Why be patient with something so harmful? If I can’t be really patient and develop patience for a human worldly enemy, who will be able to handle a slight fault?” A human being can’t cause rebirth in hell, can’t be an enemy, but one’s emotions have that power to really cause pain and suffering at the worst time. So, it is very important not to be patient and nourish neurotic emotions. Please contemplate in this way.


Not only that. If one thinks about this, a human enemy, a regular enemy can be one’s enemy and cause trouble for maybe a year or two to five years, to ten years, but these reactive emotions aren’t like that. These reactive emotions have been with one since beginningless time, have been one’s enemies up and until the present time, and they will be one’s enemies until enlightenment. They are long-term enemies.


Not only that. As to a human enemy, maybe one has some disagreement or disharmony with others for a while, but after a while one can talk about it a little bit, maybe give some gifts, or apologize. One can make friends with human enemies; one can reverse animosity and explain the story, that one made a mistake, and so on. Slowly one can change that situation of having an enemy in the human realm and become friends. But this doesn’t happen with reactive emotions. The more one tries to befriend reactive emotions, the worse they become. One can’t make friends with neurotic emotions.


As long as one lives with neurotic emotions, one is not happy. One will never be happy living with neurotic emotions. One definitely has to exert oneself, pay attention, and be conscientious about overcoming and eliminating destructive emotions. So, that was the third part, which is to develop conscientiousness by thinking about the neurotic emotions.


Those three subjects - conscientiousness with regard to what is to be accomplished, conscientiousness with regard to thinking about the precious human birth, and conscientiousness with regard to thinking about that which is to be eliminated (the neurotic emotions) – make up the entire fourth chapter of The Way of the Bodhisattva. The third point is very detailed and discusses much more than I explained, but this is an outline. In the future, you can read the root text and commentaries on it to find out all the details.


In this way, we are very lucky indeed to have a human life, whatever form that human life has, whether it is as a woman, as a man, being well or sick, wealthy or poor, whatever. We are very lucky, very fortunate. The best thing is to give life a meaning by exerting oneself as much as possible in a spiritual discipline. That is the greatest, the very best thing. Even if one can’t spend a lot of energy and time, just to sometimes practice and not to let it diminish is very, very good. The most important and crucial thing is kindness, some kind of positive attitude, and good and noble thoughts. That is certainly the one thing that will benefit oneself and others.


So, even when you are not feeling well, are sick, or depressed, it is normal to think that your life is meaningless and to feel despair, but it is not the case; it is in fact not true. Human life is very important and has great meaning, whether you are happy and well or not, because there is no such thing as never being unhappy, there is no human situation of never feeling despair. So it is natural to feel bad and suffer sometimes, but still to change the recognition of the value of life, to be really in harmony with the teachings, with the teachings of the Dharma, then you can bring more meaning to your life.


We are especially lucky in the West, because 50 or 100 years ago they had not even heard of the Buddha or the Dharma; Westerners didn’t know that the Buddha had spoken and presented these teachings. Now there is this extraordinary condition and possibility. In my case, it is almost like pride, because in Tibet everyone is a Buddhist, fathers and mothers, everyone has faith in the Dharma. Westerners have really examined and looked at it; they have investigated the teachings and have come to the conclusion that they are reliable. That’s the kind of confidence that is very strong, steadfast, and firm. This is very, very lucky, so as much as you can, applying the Dharma is very good.


That was a very brief explanation of the fourth chapter of Bodhicharyavatara, “The Way of the Bodhisattva.” If you have any questions, please ask.



Questions & Answers


Question: I am a bit confused about how to work with compassion towards enemies, because if emotions are not to be relied upon, why should we worry about the emotions of our enemies?

Translator: In other words, we wouldn’t worry about making them angry, because it is not something definite. Can you rephrase your question?

Student: I got the sense that for ourselves emotions are not to be paid attention to and yet we should pay attention to the emotions of others.

Thrangu Rinpoche: That’s simple. We recognize our own reactive emotions as our enemies. For the human enemy, we develop compassion. Why? Because that human being doesn’t recognize his or her own enemy, their own reactive emotions being the enemy. So they are confused because of not recognizing who their enemy is. They think that we are the enemies, so they are completely confused. We should have compassion for them, because they haven’t recognized their true enemies.


Question: Rinpoche, could you speak about the relationship between maitri and the kleshas ? I think I am confused. It was very clear that we should be aggressive towards them, so what is maitri in relation to the kleshas ? That’s confusing.

Thrangu Rinpoche: Maitri is love, so do you mean love to yourself?

Student: Yes.

Rinpoche: Well, no, it’s not like that. You have to think about this carefully. If you are reacting to the emotion of anger, for example, if you are your anger, that’s you, and you need to be kind towards yourself. It’s not like that. Yesterday you were maybe angry and today you aren’t. If it is something that comes and goes, it is not actually part of the constituents of yourself - it is other than yourself. If it is other, then it has nothing to do with the true self and with compassion. It’s not that you would not be loving yourself by regarding your emotions as your enemies.


Question: My enemies are also very intelligent. Obviously, they must have access to the same thing as my wisdom has. I’d like to find out how to get there a little bit quicker? It seems like when I examine my aggression, there is also a lot of intelligence and a lot of forethought and connections that I hadn’t fully processed. Somehow it seems like you might be over-cut through these emotions by recognizing these qualities of what is being communicated more clearly from the first or other side.

Translator: So if you recognize what the negative emotions are communicating, it would be without wisdom?

Student: Not exactly. As I said, it seems they are rather intelligent. So there must be some kind of ignorance in my ordinary mind from seeing that intelligence when getting hurt.

Rinpoche: Well, there’s not really agreement there that neurotic emotions are wisdom. What happens is that if adverse circumstances and conditions arise, the neurotic emotions arise and you are under their power - you completely go over to those emotions, have no control or freedom yourself. For instance, anger arises all of a sudden, very quickly, and without even thinking one acts upon it and almost always the actions are harmful, painful, mistaken, or wrong, causing more problems. Negative circumstances cause you to act in a way that is bad or wrong. Then we don’t say that it is intelligence or wisdom - we don’t call that wise. The problem is not recognizing what is going on and therefore having no control over the situation. So, we don’t really say that neurotic emotions have wisdom.

Student: No, but when examined, there is some kind of intelligence there.

Translator: Can you give an example?

Student: Yes, like a mother getting angry with her child when it plays with fire on the gas stove. Her first reaction is to be angry, but behind that anger is wisdom.

Rinpoche: Actually, we wouldn’t call that anger or hatred. I mean, it appears as anger, but the real thing behind it is love, kindness, and affection for the child, to protect the child. In that case, yes, there is a lot of wisdom in that action, but it’s not anger.

Student: With access to skilful means, I am sure the mother would like to learn to say that or be with the child without having to go to the extreme emotion?

Rinpoche: If it were the destructive emotion of anger or hatred, then the mother would be happy if the child burned in the fire and then she wouldn’t get angry.


Student: It seems that the antidote for reactive anger of defensiveness is patience. If so, what is a good way to cope with it?

Translator: The best antidote for anger?

Student: Yes, patience and how to cope with it?

Rinpoche: There are quite a few instructions on the antidotes for anger. In this book, Shantideva gives exclusively one antidote, which is conscientiousness, by saying, "Pay attention and be careful." But there are many other antidotes given for different situations. There is one of developing remorse about one’s anger. It is the antidote of remorse, in which case you think, "This is bad. I shouldn’t be angry. Anger is bad." Then there is the antidote, in which case you extend or delay an angry reaction. Usually one’s anger and reactions are instantaneous, but you can kind of put space into that so that it doesn’t take place. Then there is shamata meditation and gaining mental control, calming the mind and gaining some control; then you can basically suppress anger because you have the mental control and don’t react. There is also insight meditation and seeing that all neurotic emotions are in essence empty and have no essential essence. So, there is a great deal of instruction on that, but Shantideva wanted to teach you conscientiousness and carefulness.


Question: A teacher I had once said that especially in regard to anger that you have to be a little bit careful to be 100 % negative, because we live in a human world and humans are equipped with this apparatus. It is a form of protection, just as a cat will growl, "Wraaaarrrrr." Some of the other questions also give me the impression that there is a lot more going on here. It’s a question of degree, it’s a question of duration, and it’s a question of intent. If you were Jesus Christ, you wouldn’t have to worry about this, because great compassion would knock them over, but for us ordinary folks here, it strikes me that it’s a one-sided instruction.

Translator: So, your point is that it is natural to have it?

Student: No, if you don’t go around harming with anger all day and nobody annoys you to go "Wraaaaarrrr," then that’s over. I have trouble seeing that if you are not hanging on to it and they are not hanging on to it, everybody agrees on what happens, then what is the problem?

Rinpoche: It is important to distinguish what anger and hatred actually are. Often what appears to be anger is not really anger, you know, like the mother and child; it may look and feel like anger and hatred, but in fact it isn’t true. Sometimes what appears to be an act of anger can actually be useful. There is a well-known story of Buddha in his previous life as a captain of a boat of merchants sailing to a place called "Jewel Island" because of all the jewels. The 100 merchants were going off to get them. One really evil person on the ship wanted to kill all the others and slowly made a hole in the boat so that it would sink. The captain knew that this is what was going on and thought, "This is not good, because 100 merchants will die. Also, this person who is planning to kill them will have the negative karma and will suffer a great deal as a result." So, the captain thought it would be a better idea to hit the fellow on the head, to kill him in order to save the 100 merchants, and in order to save the evil soul from carrying out his negative actions. So, that’s what happened. It looks like this is a very violent act, but in fact it was compassion. And it was carried out by the Buddha in a former life. For instance, in some Tantras there are wrathful Dharma protectors and they look really ferocious. But is that hatred? Is that aggression? No. It’s actually compassion, a face of compassion.


Thank you.





May the life of the Glorious Lama remain steadfast and firm.

May peace and happiness fully arise for beings as limitless (in number) as space (is vast in its extent).

Having accumulated merit and purified negativities, may I and all living beings without exception

swiftly establish the levels and grounds of Buddhahood.





May virtue increase!

Translated from Tibetan by Peter Roberts, transcribed by Gaby Hollmann in 2001, edited for “Teachings in English” in the website of the Karma Lekshey Ling Institute in Dec. 2007. Photo of Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche courtesy of Katrin Weller from Stuttgart.



©Karma Lekshey Ling Institute