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Introduction to the Pledged Bodhichitta Actions for Training and the Root Bodhisattva Vows

Alexander Berzin
Moscow, Russia, October 2009

Session Five: Vows Four to Ten

Unedited Transcript
Listen to the audio version of this page (0:42 hours)

We’ve been speaking about the bodhisattva vows and we have taken a look at their role on the Buddhist path. We’ve seen that in order to take them, we need to have developed ourselves already along the Buddhist way through the various stages of the lam-rim, the graded stages of pathway minds, before this. We need to have trained ourselves to develop bodhichitta. And with the development of bodhichitta, have first the aspiring state with which we merely wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of others, which has the merely wishing part; and the pledged part with which we pledge never to give this up. And we’ve seen the trainings that go together with that pledged state. And then we looked at how we take the bodhisattva vows, very briefly, and what is the nature of a vow.

And then we started the discussion of the bodhisattva vows themselves, and we covered the first three. The first was praising ourselves and/or belittling others. That means either doing both, or doing one or the other by itself. And we saw that what was stipulated here is that the person to whom we speak such words is someone in an inferior position to us. And our motivation, in terms of praising ourselves, would be desire and greed for receiving something from that person in an inferior position – so either receiving material profit or praise or love or respect. And the motivation for belittling the other would be jealousy – we’re jealous of that person. And what we say can either be true or false; it doesn’t matter.

And there’s a secondary bodhisattva vow that is similar to this (praising ourselves and/or belittling others), but there the motivation is different. In this case it would be pride: we’re very proud of ourselves and very haughty – putting on airs, in other words. “I’m so wonderful,” like that, and then praising ourselves. So that would be the motivation for praising ourselves, rather than wanting to get something from the people that we praise ourselves to. And the motivation for belittling someone is anger (we just don’t like them), rather than jealousy of them.

And so we can see that the first one, the one that is a root vow, the first motivation, that if we are praising ourselves because we want to get something from the person that we praise ourselves to, that’s really exploiting the other person, not really trying to help them, but to get something from them. So that’s much more damaging to our bodhisattva behavior than just praising ourselves because we are so proud and arrogant. And also belittling the other person because we’re jealous of the other person – again, that has to do with we’re jealous because we want to get for ourselves something that this other person has, like a lot of followers. So again it’s damaging with respect to other people, people that we possibly could help. Whereas belittling somebody simply because we don’t like them or we’re angry with them doesn’t really involve other people that we’re trying to help. And so we can see why one would be a root bodhisattva vow and the other would be a secondary one. What is more important is damaging our way of helping others.

The second one was not sharing the Dharma teachings, or our wealth or possessions, or time. And here the motivation was attachment and miserliness, which means we want to keep it all to ourselves. So that’s very damaging to our ability to help others. Whereas there’s a secondary bodhisattva vow which is quite similar, which is called “not giving the Dharma to those who wish to learn it.” And there the motivation is not that we want to keep it all to ourselves, but it is “I’m angry or I don’t like this other person, so I don’t want to teach them”; or out of spite – they did something that I didn’t like and so I’m going to be nasty back to them; or we’re jealous that if I teach this other person then they will develop more and become more famous than me; or it could be out of laziness, or out of indifference: I just don’t care. So vows to not teach or share the Dharma out of those motivations is basically because of our own disturbing emotions; whereas if we don’t teach because we want to keep it to ourselves, that’s out of selfishness. And so not doing it out of selfishness, keeping it all for ourselves, is what is most against bodhisattva behavior of giving to others.

Then the third one was not listening to others’ apologies or striking them, hitting them, and the motivation for either of these would be, primarily, anger. And it refers to the actual occasion when we’re yelling or hitting somebody, and either that person begs, “Please forgive me. Please stop,” or somebody else begs on their behalf, and we don’t do it, we don’t stop. Whereas there’s a secondary vow which is to refuse others’ apologies, and that’s referring to afterwards: when we are holding a grudge toward the other person and they beg for forgiveness, or apologize, later. And the first one is more heavy, as a root bodhisattva vow, because when we’re angry and we’re actually hurting the other person, then of course at that time we have to stop. Later, we’re just holding a grudge; we are not actually hurting the person physically or abusing them verbally at that time, so it’s secondary, it’s less strong, less heavy. In other words, in the first situation we’re actually hurting the other person, in the second situation we’re probably just ignoring them.

Okay. The fourth bodhisattva vow is to avoid discarding the Mahayana teachings and propounding made up ones. And here we are rejecting the correct Mahayana teachings for bodhisattvas, so that’s something, and we make up something false that resembles the Mahayana teachings and we claim that these are the authentic teachings of Buddhism. And this is not just in terms of ourselves – we’re making up some false understanding that we don’t really know, because we don’t know what it is – but it has to do with: we know what the correct teachings are, and we throw that out because I don’t like it, and we make up something else which is more comfortable to us. And it’s not just keeping this to ourselves, but we teach this to others in order to get them to follow us as their teacher. Then it’s breaking this bodhisattva vow.

An example: We want to be a very popular guru among people with a very liberal attitude toward sex, so we discard the Buddhist teachings about inappropriate sexual behavior which lists all sorts of commonly practiced sexual activities that most people would not be so happy to give up, and we teach instead that the proper bodhisattva behavior toward sex is just not to hurt anybody by what you do. And we do that in order – I mean, we know what the correct teachings are, but we think, “Well, if I teach that, everybody’s going to leave, nobody is going to accept Buddhism, so I’ll teach a much watered-down version, and say that’s really what Buddha meant” – in order to get more people to follow me. The basis of Buddhist ethics is to show us various types of behavior to avoid because they’re motivated by very strong disturbing emotions. In the case of sexual behavior, usually by very, very strong lust and desire. So the basis of sexual ethics in Buddhism is all oriented toward helping us to diminish acting out thoughts of lust and desire. And so it’s very different from our Western humanitarian liberal view, which is ethics based on not causing harm to others.

So making up teachings like that and claiming that this is what the Buddha actually is teaching, and teaching it to others so that they will follow us, is really deceiving others. It’s not giving them the authentic, real Dharma. Now, if you teach, make a difference, as I do, between “Dharma-Lite” and “The Real Thing” Dharma. And be perfectly clear that Dharma-Lite is not The Real Thing, but is an easier level to practice just in terms of this lifetime, with thoughts only to benefit this lifetime. Then to teach, as a first step along the way to Buddhist ethics, not hurting anybody by our sexual behavior – as long as we don’t say that this is the teaching of Buddha, that this is what Buddhism is all about – this is fine. Because, of course, Buddhism and Buddha would agree: don’t hurt others by your sexual behavior. But that isn’t the only point of the Mahayana – well here it’s not just Mahayana – the general Buddhist teachings. Buddhist teachings are intended to lead others to liberation and enlightenment and, for that, one has to overcome lust and longing desire.

The fifth bodhisattva vow is taking offerings intended for the Triple Gem (for the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha), and this is something that we vow to avoid. And this means to either steal or embezzle – which means to use it for our own profit, either personally, or getting somebody else to do it for us – anything that’s offered or belongs to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, and then to consider it to be ours. So if someone makes an offering to Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, for instance to a Buddhist center, or to making a statue, or to printing Dharma books or translating them, or for feeding a group of monks or nuns, and we take that money or offering for ourselves, that is inappropriate. That’s transgressing this vow. In this context, Sangha refers to any group of four or more monks or nuns. We’re not referring here to the arya Sangha.

Now of course if we are working, let’s say we’re working on translating or publishing Dharma texts, then if an offering is given and it is used for our salary, that’s something else because we’re actually working to further the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha – if it is a standard procedure that we’re getting paid for our work. But here we’re talking about when we’re not involved specifically in Buddhist work and we just take offerings and donations for ourselves.

And why is this a root bodhisattva vow? Because when offerings are made to further the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, this is to further make Buddhist teachings available for helping others to reach liberation and enlightenment, which as a bodhisattva this is what we’re trying to do, is to make these methods available. That doesn’t mean to be a missionary, but to make these methods available to help others. And we are preventing that by stealing. Okay, that’s the fifth bodhisattva vow.

The sixth vow is to avoid forsaking the holy Dharma. And this is referring to, we repudiate – “repudiate” means to not just deny, but to angrily try to refute something – so we repudiate or, by voicing our opinion, we cause others to repudiate. And what is it that we’re talking about here? What is it that we’re repudiating? It’s that the textual teachings of either the shravaka, pratyekabuddha – those are the two divisions of Hinayana – or the Mahayana vehicles, that any of these teachings are Buddha’s words. So we’re trying to disprove that these were the words of the Buddha. So here we are denying and going to argue very strongly that either all of the texts of one of these classes, either Hinayana or Mahayana, are the teachings of the Buddha – either all of them or just some of these texts. The point is that all the various texts, all the various vehicles, that were taught by Buddha are intended to help people to achieve either liberation or enlightenment – not just people, all beings – and by saying they were not taught by Buddha, then we are saying, well, this isn’t Buddhist, and so we are discouraging others to follow certain teachings that might be very beneficial and suited for them.

Now we have to look at this a little bit more carefully, because if we look at it from a so-called scientific Buddhalogical, historical point of view, on the basis of the language of various texts and so on, then scholars trained in Western methodology would argue that many texts, like Mahayana and tantra, just on the basis of language, were written much, much later than the time of the Buddha. So they couldn’t possibly have been taught by the historical Buddha. But the point is that none of the teachings were written down at the time of the Buddha and all of them were passed on orally, which implies that people had phenomenal memories at that time and could memorize all the various teachings of the Buddha – not necessarily one person memorizing them all – and that from generation to generation it was passed on and memorized.

Actually this is not so far-fetched or preposterous if you think about the modern custom in Tibetan monasteries. It’s not so unbelievable, because in the monasteries now, each division of a monastery – I’m thinking of the main Gelugpa monasteries – is responsible for a certain tantra text and its rituals and so on. And so all the monks are required to memorize all the texts of that particular set of texts, so if you take all the Buddha’s teachings and you have each small division of each monastery be responsible for one sutra or another, then it’s quite believable that you could have had an oral transmission of all the Buddha’s teachings that way, without anything having been written down. Even now, Tibetan monastics memorize thousands of pages of texts, because they start memorizing when they are small children around the age of seven or eight and the human brain is most capable of memorizing and retaining for the rest of your life things that you learn at such a small age.

So, according to the tradition, the Hinayana texts were recited more openly than Mahayana, and the Mahayana even was more open than the tantra texts; but nevertheless they were all transmitted orally like this. And when the texts were finally written down, then one of Buddha’s injunctions as well was to give the teachings in all different languages, so put it in your own language. So there is no contradiction in the fact that the language in which the text first appeared would be the language of a particular historical period when it appeared. And so some texts were written down in Pali, some texts were (eventually, when they were written down) in Sanskrit, some were written down in a later style of Sanskrit. And this is consistent with the methodology that Buddha himself recommended, so that doesn’t necessarily prove that the text didn’t come from Buddha.

And Shantideva himself gave a very excellent refutation here toward those who would argue that the Hinayana texts are valid or authentic but not the Mahayana. He said that any reason that you use to disprove or try to disprove that the Mahayana texts are authentic words of the Buddha, I could use that same argument to try to prove that your texts, the Hinayana texts, are not the authentic words of the Buddha, because also it relied on oral tradition and was not written down until centuries later. And, likewise, any argument that you use to prove that your texts are the authentic words of the Buddha, I can use the same arguments to prove that the Mahayana texts are the texts of the Buddha. So this is obviously a very valid line of reasoning. Also, if we analyze what it means for a text to have been taught by Buddha, then we have to look at what type of being is the Buddha in the Hinayana texts. Who is teaching them? What kind of being is the Buddha who in the Mahayana texts is teaching the Mahayana texts? And what kind of Buddha is the Buddha in the tantra texts that is teaching the tantra vehicle? And these reveal three very, very different descriptions of a Buddha.

And so the Buddha who is giving a teaching, the Hinayana teaching, is described in the Hinayana teaching what kind of Buddha it is. And in the Mahayana sutra there’s another description of – who the Buddha is, who’s teaching. And yet a third one in tantra. And these are three very different pictures of what a Buddha is. So the Buddha who is teaching the Hinayana scriptures is the historical Buddha who became enlightened in that lifetime as Shakyamuni Buddha, and after he passed away, in parinirvana, that was the end of him, the end of his mental continuum. And so when we say Mahayana sutra and Mahayana tantra were taught by Buddha, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was taught by the historical Buddha – or a view of Buddha that limits Buddha to merely the historical Buddha, to be more accurate.

The Buddha who’s teaching the Mahayana sutras is somebody who not only manifested as the historical Buddha, but became enlightened eons ago and can manifest in millions of different emanations at all times, throughout eternity, with all sorts of Nirmanakaya forms and Sambhoghakaya forms, and teaching in Buddha-fields, and all this sort of stuff. The Buddha in Mahayana is not just limited to the historical Shakyamuni Buddha. So you have to apply dependent arising here to see that the teacher of the Mahayana sutras is the Buddha described in the Mahayana sutras, and so there’s no contradiction here in terms of Buddha teaching Mahayana, even if it was Buddha appearing at a different time. In any case, we have in the sutras (Mahayana, I’m not quite sure if it’s in Hinayana sutras), Buddha inspiring others to give the teachings, and Buddha is present, like in the Heart Sutra, and then just confirms at the end that these are the authentic teachings.

There are many different types of teachings that are included as the words of the Buddha. It doesn’t mean that the Buddha himself had to have spoken them. And if we look at the description of Buddha in the tantra texts, then we have an even broader description of who and what Buddha is. Then we have Buddha as Vajradhara or Samantabhadra, the primordial purity of the subtlest level of consciousness in everybody’s mind, and so on. And so there is no contradiction that Buddha Vajradhara is going to reveal teachings, in pure visions and all sorts of things, to others who write it down, and you get the tantras. There’s no contradiction that somebody can get from pure Dharmakaya level of Buddha – the clarity of the subtlest mind, and so on – that someone gets revealed teachings, either in a pure vision or in some other way, because this is the way that the tantras originate. Vajradhara told it to somebody in some way and then they wrote it down, in a pure land, usually.

We have a description in some of the tantras that at the same time as Buddha was teaching the Prajnaparamita Sutras on Vulture’s Peak, simultaneously Buddha appeared at the Dhanyakataka Stupa in South India as Heruka Chakrasamvara, with four faces, and from each face of his four faces he taught a different class of tantra simultaneously. So this is the Buddha that is teaching tantra, that’s quite different from the historical Shakyamuni Buddha. And so it is all dependent. What kind of Buddha taught each of these classes of Buddhist teachings – Hinayana, Mahayana sutra and Mahayana tantra – has to be relative to the description of the Buddha given in each of these texts.

In order to say in a fair way who is the Buddha that taught a text, it has to be dependent on the description of Buddha in that text itself. It’s not fair to consider Buddha as a truly existent – by his own power, as one thing – historical Buddha and teaching all the different vehicles. The way in which one conceives of Buddha has to be dependent on the description in the text of the Buddha who is teaching it. So we have the most broad understanding and depiction of Buddha in the tantras; and it includes within that description of Buddha in the tantras, the Mahayana sutra description of the Buddha; and within the Mahayana sutra description of a Buddha, it would include the historical Buddha because Buddha manifested as that as well. And so when we say that Mahayana is a vast vehicle, it is also vast in terms of its description of a Buddha, much vaster than the description of a Buddha we would find in the Hinayana texts.

Now someone asked how do we know that a teaching that somebody claims they got in a pure vision is an authentic teaching that was revealed to them by Vajradhara, Samantabhadra or whoever? For that, the guidelines are given quite clearly. The teaching in a pure vision or a terma (gter-ma) revealed text, a buried text, have to be consistent with the main points of Buddhist teachings, not contradictory to it. In terms of refuge, and renunciation, and bodhichitta, and liberation, enlightenment – you know, these major themes of Buddha. Bodhichitta, four noble truths, all conditioned phenomena are impermanent, and suffering – the basic teachings. It has to be consistent with that.

And of course it can have slightly different philosophical interpretations of different points, but the main themes are consistent; and well-qualified yogis and practitioners can attain the realizations and attainments that are described in that texts by means of following the methods described in those texts. So it is validated as an authentic teaching of the Buddha in terms of inference. If it has all the major themes, then one infers that it is a teaching of the Buddha, and by valid straightforward cognition of those who practice it and gained realizations that are described in it. So those are the criteria.

Any further questions on this?

There’s a secondary bodhisattva vow that is similar, which is called “forsaking Mahayana,” and here we accept that Mahayana are the authentic teachings of Buddha, the secondary vow. We, unlike the root vow, we accept that Mahayana teachings are the words of the Buddha, but we criticize certain aspects that we don’t like. And that’s referring specifically to all these extensive deeds of Buddha described in Mahayana texts, like Buddha can multiply into countless different forms simultaneously and be everywhere at the same time; and Buddha can understand all languages; and when Buddha speaks everybody understands it in their own language. And we say, “This is ridiculous. I like the Mahayana, I like the whole concept of bodhichitta and love and compassion but, excuse me, this is too much.” So if we criticize that, or criticize the profound teachings of voidness – you know, this is too complicated, who needs that? – this type of thing, that’s this secondary vow.

And we could criticize it in one of four different ways. The first is that their content is inferior, in other words they’re talking complete nonsense that Buddha can multiply into so many different forms. Inferior means just not good, stupid. Like Milarepa being able to shrink and go into the tip of a yak’s horn. “This is ridiculous,” we would say. “This is an inferior teaching, not for sophisticated people, maybe for nomads or something like that.” Very arrogant. And the second is that their manner of expression is inferior – inferior means bad quality, low quality. Saying that this is bad writing, the way that it’s written makes no sense. And then the third one is that the author is inferior. So there are many commentaries and things like that. It’s saying, well, this author was no good. And the fourth one is that their use is inferior, that this is of no benefit to anyone. To say that Milarepa walked into the tip of a yak’s horn, this is of no use to anyone. So this a secondary bodhisattva vow; we promise not to do this.

That’s actually quite common, to break that one, to have this attitude that certain aspects of the teachings are ridiculous and we just want to ignore them. We just want the nice pieces of the teachings, and those that we don’t really like, like about the hells or sexual ethics, we ignore. The Tibetans have a saying: “Don’t be like an old man with no teeth trying to eat, only eating the boiled potatoes and spitting out the meat.” In other words, only taking the things that are easy to chew, and the things that are difficult to chew, we spit out.

Then the next one, the seventh bodhisattva vow, what we want to do is to avoid disrobing monastics, such as stealing their robes. Here we do something damaging to one, two, or three Buddhist monks or nuns. Remember we had taking offerings for the Triple Gem? That was for four monastics or more. Here it’s one, two, or three. It doesn’t matter whether they have degenerated their morality or not – you know, they don’t wear their robes properly, or stuff like that – and it doesn’t matter whether they do a lot of study and practice or not. In any case, what it’s referring to here is because of ill-will, we don’t like them, we’re angry with them, that we hit them or verbally abuse them out of anger or confiscate their goods.

A modern example would be confiscating or stealing the radio from our monastic neighbor living next door because their radio is disturbing our meditation. So we smash the radio or steal it from them. If a monk or a nun has broken one of the four major vows, then they are no longer a monk or a nun, and they are expelled from the monastery. We’re not talking about that case. But if they haven’t broken one of these, their four major vows, but we just don’t like them or they are difficult to get along with, and so on – to kick them out or take their robes away from them and say you can no longer be here – this is breaking this vow. So obviously the point being that we respect the monastic Sangha, and we try to help those who have at least made a step in the right direction of becoming a monk or a nun, even if they’re not following this discipline very well.

The eighth bodhisattva vow is to avoid committing any of the five heinous crimes. It’s not a very good translation, “heinous crimes,” but these are very strong destructive actions that, without interruption, one immediately upon dying would go to a terrible rebirth. So these are the strongest negative actions. So this is killing our father, killing our mother, killing an arhat (that’s a liberated being), and with bad intentions drawing blood from a Buddha. We’re not talking about a Buddha giving a blood donation or something like that. We’re talking about trying to hurt the Buddha. And the fifth one is causing a split in the Sangha monastic community.

We need to understand what causing a split or a schism in the Sangha actually means. It doesn’t mean breaking off from our Dharma center and starting another Dharma center, that’s not the point. And it is not referring to just stipulating further rules of discipline for monks or nuns. But it refers to doing this with ill-will. That you form another monastic group out of the Buddhist Sangha and you are very, very negative toward the Buddha’s monastic group and are very negative toward the Buddha, the Buddhist Sangha. Because we do have an example of a more strict form of monastic practice within Buddhism. There are the thirteen – the Sanskrit and Pali word is “dhutanga,” which means branches of observed or followed practice. And it’s on the basis of following these thirteen that we have, for instance, the forest tradition in Thailand. And some of these are practiced by those who are in three-year retreats in the Tibetan tradition. And these were first proposed by Devadatta, the cousin of Buddha, who was so negative toward Buddha. So forming a tradition that follows these thirteen is not causing a schism in the Dharma. It’s when you do that and say the Buddha’s Sangha is no good and do it with anger and malice toward the Buddha’s Sangha, that’s a schism.

So what are these thirteen? (1) The first of these thirteen is to wear – we’re talking about monks and nuns – wearing robes patched from rags (sewn together just out of rags). (2) Wearing only three robes, so no sweaters or anything like that. (3) Going for alms, in other words begging for your food and never accepting an invitation to a meal; in other words, you just go around with your bowl, but you don’t accept an invitation to go inside and sit down and have a meal. (4) The fourth one is not skipping any house when we go around begging for alms. Sometimes there can be houses that they don’t give you nice food or they yell at you or they’re very nasty or stuff like that, and we might say, “Well, I’m not going to stop at that house today.” (5) The fifth one is eating at one sitting whatever alms we receive. In other words you don’t put some away to eat later or save it, put it in a plastic container in your refrigerator, so that you can have it tomorrow in case you don’t get enough. (6) The next one is eating only from your alms bowl and (7) refusing extra food after you have started to eat. So unless we have an enormous, enormous alms bowl, that sort of limits the amount that we’re going to eat. (8) The next one is living only in forests or jungles. (9) Living under trees is the next one. (10) The next one is living in the open air, not in a house or a shelter. (11) The next one is staying mostly in charnel grounds. Charnel grounds are the type of cemetery where they either burn the bodies or they chop them up and feed them to the dogs and the vultures. So this is much stronger teaching of death and impermanence, to be in that sort of place rather than in a cemetery which is a nice clean park with flowers and bushes and trees and benches and only grave stones which are artistically done. (12) The next one is being satisfied with whatever place to stay that we find while continuing to wander from place to place. So we don’t just stay in one place, like a nice tree that we find to live under. We move from place to place. (13) And then the last one is – this is the one that we have in the three-year retreat – sleeping in a sitting position, never sleeping lying down. Sleeping in the meditation posture.

Actually, Serkong Rinpoche told me that in the Lower Tantric College where he was in Tibet, that they had to sleep in the sitting position like this in the large temple hall, all of the monks sitting directly next to each other in this crowd. So that when the bell rang for them to wake up, that all they did was open their eyes and then start their prayers, meditation. And he said that the monks used to sleep leaning on each other, resting their head on their neighbor. So, obviously, unbelievably difficult discipline. If you’re sitting up and you don’t have a wall to lean on or something like that, naturally you’re going to fall over; well there wasn’t any room, so they would lean on each other.

To follow this type of discipline as you have in the forest tradition – I don’t know if they follow it absolutely strictly, all of this – but as a special division within the monastic Sangha, that’s not the problem. The problem is, you know, “Arrgh, those other monks are no good and…” Like that. Okay, so that is causing a split or a schism in the Sangha.

Then the next one is holding a distorted antagonistic outlook. This is not only denying what is true and what is of value. Like the laws of karma, safe direction in life, so refuge (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha), rebirth, liberation, enlightenment, being kind to others, helping others. It’s not only denying that this is either true or this is of value and of benefit, but we are antagonistic toward it and we want to prove that this is (and argue that this is) no good. So it’s a very closed-minded ignorant state of mind in which we’re very stubborn and we want to repudiate, try to argue and disprove something which is true or of value. So the object of this has to be something that exists or is true, and we must fully believe that our own denial of it is correct, and we have to actually want to fight against the correct view.

And this has to include – Tsongkhapa elaborates on distorted antagonistic thinking – that the motivation has to include five other disturbing attitudes. We’re referring here to a way of thinking; it doesn’t mean that we have to actually go out and go to court over something, but we’re planning it, thinking it. First is blindness from not knowing how some noble phenomenon exists or is the case. We just don’t know. We’re blind. We don’t accept that something is true. Second one is contentiousness. That means a perverse sense of enjoying being negative. “I like to fight. It’s great fun to argue against you. It doesn’t matter what you say.” There are people like that; that’s an attitude, isn’t it? There are people who just like being negative, and like arguing against anything that you say, aren’t there? They like to give other people a hard time. Then the third one is being thoroughly imbued – so completely convinced of our distortion – of what’s true or reality from having decisively analyzed some phenomenon but with incorrect consideration. So we’re completely convinced that – based on our incorrect analysis – that our view is correct and we stubbornly hold onto it. And then the fourth one is with a complete meanness, that’s being just a nasty attitude, being nasty, because we say that there’s no point in charity, there’s no point in helping others, there’s no point in any spiritual practice or anything like that. And then the fifth one is a headstrong attitude of: we want to get the better of others without feeling the least bit of shame about being antagonistic and trying to refute their beliefs. “I want to beat you in this discussion.” We’re having a discussion. You say that it is of benefit to help others, and I say that – I have this distorted attitude – and I say, “I don’t care what you say, but I’m going to argue with you and I want to beat you in the debate, in fact I take great delight in destroying your beliefs. And I’m not in the least bit ashamed of the fact that I’m trying to destroy your belief in something positive, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, in fact I think it’s great fun.” That’s distorted antagonistic thinking. So when you usually hear this translated as “wrong view,” please understand that it’s much more complex than just having an incorrect understanding of something. This is from all points of view very, very heavy negative action.

Then the next one, the tenth vow, is destroying places such as a town. This is basically damaging the environment of a city, a town, countryside, or throwing a bomb and destroying it. But basically making some place harmful or difficult or unhealthy for humans or animals to live in it. We obviously want to provide for the welfare of others, not destroy the places where they live. We want to provide houses. We want to give everything to others. We don’t want to destroy where they live.

I think we’re ready to take our break for lunch, so we’ll stop here. We’ve covered the first ten of the eighteen bodhisattva vows and we’ll cover the rest after lunch.

Thank you.