A Short Commentary on
Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices
by Togmey-zangpo (Thogs-med bzang-po)
His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama
translated and condensed by Alexander Berzin, 1983
revised second edition, March 2006
First edition published in
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Four Essential Buddhist Commentaries.
Dharamsala, India: Library of Tibetan Works & Archives, 1983.
Order directly from Paljor Publications.
Day One: Introduction
Many people are here today from various different places, even Tibet, and you have all come for the Dharma purpose of listening to teachings. Therefore, concerning the development of a bodhichitta resolve and so forth, I shall teach here in Bodh Gaya Thirty-Seven Bodhisattva Practices by Togmey-zangpo and The Three Principle Paths by Jey Tsongkhapa. As we are in a very holy place, the positive force or merit built up here is much more powerful than elsewhere. But for this positive force to be most effective, we need to have a very widespread and extensive motivation and attitude. This is necessary not only for the listeners to the teachings, but for the lama or guru as well.
The fully enlightened Buddha, the Compassionate One, has a body with thirty-two major and eighty minor features and a faculty of speech with sixty enlightening characteristics. Furthermore, his mind is free from all disturbing emotions and attitudes and from all obscurations, such that he always has nonconceptual straightforward cognition of voidness and, simultaneously, of all phenomena exactly as they are. Such a compassionate, fully enlightened Buddha demonstrated his enlightenment here in Bodh Gaya 2,500 years ago and we are all in this very place now.
The times at present are very difficult with many wars, famines, disasters and so on. Nevertheless, due to our previously built-up positive force, we have been born at such a time and place and, even under such trying conditions, have had precious opportunities to encounter the teachings and gurus. Therefore, as much as we can, we need to try to practice what we hear.
We cannot consider as Dharma simply praying to receive something, however. The Dharma, rather, is something we ourselves need personally to put into action. It is not just taking safe direction (refuge) by our mouths reciting some words, but rather implementing what we say into our daily behavior. Thus, we need to take keen interest in the teachings and involve ourselves with their combined study and practice. But first it is necessary to know how to do this.
Dharma is something that the more we engage in, the happier we become. This occurs as a result of our network of positive force (collection of merit) from the various constructive actions we perform. This is the reason why we need to be followers of the Buddha not just by our mouths, but rather by our practice. It will create more happiness. Thus, while here in Bodh Gaya where we have the opportunity of meeting with the Dharma, and especially with the Mahayana Dharma, it is important to try to build up as much positive force as possible. Most critical for this is to set a proper motivation. If we have an extensive and very positive one, there is great benefit to be gained. But if we practice without such a motivation, it will not be as effective and that will never do.
For the lama, also, it needs to be the same. The lama must not teach out of pride or in order to gain fame and respect, nor out of envy, or a wish to compete with others. Rather, his sole motivation needs to be to benefit others as much as he can, respecting everyone here, all beings, without condescendingly looking down upon any. The audience also must not be arrogant, but needs to listen attentively and respectfully to receive the precious teachings of the Buddha. If both the lama and the disciples behave properly and carefully in this way, it is extremely beneficial and we can all build up much positive force.
No matter what disturbing emotions and attitudes we have, it is necessary to apply remedies to them and not be discouraged. In so doing, then very slowly we will be able to resolve our problems and, eventually, be rid of them forever. We will find that gradually we improve each year. Since the mind, by nature, is not stained by these disturbing emotions and attitudes, we can succeed if we set our minds to cleansing themselves. As the suffering we experience is due to our minds not being disciplined or tamed, this is what we need to remedy. But it will not come about all at once.
For example, if we are trying to make a very wild and unruly person more peaceful and cultivated, we can only succeed slowly and gradually over many, many years. The same is true with our minds. Although we have faults, we can slowly improve. We can see a similar phenomenon with children. At first, they do not know anything; they are completely uneducated. But they go through the various classes at school, the first grade, second and so on, and eventually through this gradual process they learn and become educated. The same is true when we build a house, we do it storey by storey, floor by floor. We do it gradually without worrying about how long it will take, and just progress straightforwardly through the various stages involved until we complete the task. We need to apply this same attitude when dealing with our minds.
As for setting our motivation, we need to try to do this as best as we can, at our own levels, and slowly we will be able to improve it through stages as described in the lam-rim or “Graded Path.” Most of you know about this, but for the new people here I shall explain a little about some of its main points.
To practice Dharma is not a process of simply changing clothes, status or the amount of wealth we have. Rather it means to change our attitudes and tame our own minds. No matter who we might be – even myself, the Dalai Lama – I cannot be considered a Dharma person unless my mind is tamed. And we can never say someone has such a mind simply because of the name he has or the clothes he wears; but only because of his or her actual mental and emotional condition. Therefore, the most important and crucial point is to tame our minds.
All of you here need to examine yourselves. All of us want happiness and nobody wishes to suffer. There is not one of us who, if we have a headache, does not wish to be rid of it. Isn’t that so? This is true of both physical and mental pain. But many stages are involved in eliminating unwanted suffering and obtaining desired happiness. It is not something that happens all at once. Even in trying to help or tame an animal and bring it some happiness, we have to do it in stages suited to that particular beast. For instance, first we try to feed it, we refrain from frightening it, mistreating it and so forth. Likewise the same applies to us, we have to help ourselves by stages.
First, we try to think in terms of benefiting ourselves for this coming year, or for the next year. Then eventually we increase our scope to think in terms of twenty years ahead and then maybe to try to gain a human rebirth for our next lifetime, hoping to gain happiness and not to have suffering on a more long-term basis. We progress through such stages. Therefore, now that we are human beings, it is very important to think ahead and not to do so just on a temporary, superficial level, but to try to attain ultimate happiness.
In our more usual pursuit of happiness, we seek food, clothing, shelter and so forth for our bodies. But the reason for being a human is not just that. Even if we are rich, we find that wealthy people can still have a great deal of mental suffering. We can see this very clearly in the West. There are many people who have much money and physical comfort, however they also have numerous mental problems such as depression, unclear minds and various miserable states. In fact, we find a lot of people there taking drugs and medicine to try to improve this state. This demonstrates that although they have material comfort and wealth, they want mental happiness above all and in addition to their physical pleasures, and that wealth alone does not bring both. Even if we are very healthy and strong, if our minds are unhappy this will not be enough. Therefore, we need both physical and mental happiness. Of these, the mind is more important, since it rules us. Therefore, the emphasis needs to be on bringing about happiness of the mind.
But what brings about this happiness of mind? It comes through the channel of our thoughts. If we do not use our minds and think, we will be unable to bring ourselves happiness. It works both ways. For instance, no matter what disturbing emotions are our strongest, whether it be anger, desire, pride, jealousy or whatever, the more we think about them, the more we act on them, and the more suffering we have. If anger, for instance, is our strongest disturbing emotion, then the angrier we become, the more unhappy we are.
If we are bitter and angry about Tibet, for instance, are we happy or unhappy? We are unhappy, it is very clear. Therefore, as an opponent, if we need to think about love and compassion. This counters our anger and brings about peace of mind. Thus, a good heart and kind thoughts bring us happiness. As all of us want this happiness and wish to eliminate our sufferings, we need to try to see that the root of this is the mind.
In short, the stronger our attachment and aversion are, the stronger our suffering will be. The weaker these are, the happier we will be. Thus, we need to think about what we need to eliminate, what we need to rid our minds of. If we are envious or jealous, for instance, what happens? All of us must die in the end, so we will never be able to retain the aims of our envy. As we will never be able to satisfy completely our jealous desires, we will never be happy so long as we are jealous or envious. The same is true with pride. No one can stay in the same condition forever: we cannot always remain young and youthful. Whatever we are proud of, we will eventually lose. Thus, pride as well is a very unhappy state of mind. If we are in a restaurant, for instance, and are envious of the good meal that someone else is eating, what does this bring us? It brings us only unhappiness; it certainly does not fill our stomachs!
If we think of ourselves, the Tibetans, if we feel angry and envious of the Chinese, are we happy like that? Is that a happy state of mind? It definitely is not. Think of somebody whose main activity of life is to act out his attachments and aversions. Such a person may become very powerful, very famous; he can even go down in history. But what has such a person attained? He has merely attained his name’s going down in history. He has not become happy; he is dead. So if we spend our entire lives acting out our disturbing emotions, no matter how wealthy and powerful we become, this will not bring us happiness.
If we think about our situation these days in Bodh Gaya, for instance, we can understand this even more clearly. Even with the, the Dalai Lama here, if you are in such a holy place and become angry with a beggar or angry at the difficult physical conditions, are you happy at that moment? On the other hand, when your disturbing emotions are weaker and you are doing something constructive here, are you happy then? Think about it.
Your state of mind even affects your neighbors, friends, and children. Consider a family situation, for instance. If you are very angry and become cross with your children; you hit them, they cry – it makes everybody unhappy, doesn’t it? But if you are not angry, if you are very relaxed, then you let the children play and everybody is very happy and peaceful. In a country, as well, we find that if detachment and tolerance are widely practiced, then everyone shares in the happiness of that place. This holds true for individual people, families and for countries. The more disturbing emotions there are, the more unhappiness there is; whereas, the less the disturbing emotions, the more the happiness.
As for myself, I think quite a bit about the drawbacks of the disturbing emotions and attitudes, all the bad things that they bring me, and also the advantages of not having any. This helps me very much in putting the emphasis in my own life on having less disturbing emotions. Then, as a bonus, we find that we are able to enjoy life more; our food tastes better and everything goes very nicely. But if our minds are filled with disturbing emotions, then, even if we are doing meditations, recitations or whatever, we will not derive any happiness from them at all. Therefore, we need always to try to think of how disadvantageous the disturbing emotions are.
In short, if our minds are tamed and we have no disturbing emotions or attitudes, then we become very happy. Therefore, the best thing that can happen as a result of taming our minds is that disturbing emotions and attitudes will not arise at all. But even if they come up, the next best thing we find is that we no longer act them out. For instance, it is best if we never become angry at all; but should our tempers flare up, we find that if we have tamed our minds, we will not act it out. We will not punch someone in the face, for instance, or call him or her a bad name, or have any such crude reaction.
Thus slowly, over a gradual process, we find that the opponents become stronger and stronger, our minds become more and more tamed and in this way we become happier. As beginners, therefore, we need to try never to have our disturbing emotions of anger, attachment and so forth arise. But even if they do, we need to try to not act them out. Do you understand? If we tame our minds, this is a Dharma practice, but if we do not, then it is not Dharma. If we eliminate the disturbing emotions altogether, if we attain a state of true stopping (cessation) or peace, this is in fact the actual Dharma.
There are Four Noble Truths: true sufferings, their true causes, true stoppings and true pathway minds. For true sufferings, we can think of the various types of unhappiness: of death, sickness, old age and so forth. The Buddha said it is very important to be aware of suffering. What is the root of this suffering? The root is an untamed mind, and more specifically, it is the disturbing emotions and attitudes. Therefore, the disturbing emotions and attitudes are said to be true causes or true origins of suffering, as are the karmic impulses that arise under the power of these disturbing emotions. Thus, it is disturbing emotions and karma that are true causes of suffering. Therefore, as all of us do not wish for any suffering and want only to eliminate it, we need to see that the cause of this suffering is our having untamed minds.
Since we want to bring about a true stopping of that suffering such that it never arises again, what we need to do is to cause our disturbing emotions and attitudes to cease into the dharmadhatu or sphere of voidness. This is known as the nirvana of a true stopping.
As there are many stages in the process of ridding ourselves of disturbing emotions and attitudes, or causing them to stop forever, this process entails what is known as the true pathway minds of the Aryas or Noble Ones. More precisely, since during the process of eliminating the various disturbing emotions and attitudes, we also work to attain more and more qualities, the minds that eliminate disturbing emotions and faults on the one side and attain good qualities on the other are known as true pathway minds.
In short, there is true suffering; it has a true cause; we wish for their true stopping; and to enact this, we need to actualize true pathway minds. The result of this is then the attainment of a definite stopping, peace, or a state of nirvana, “the state beyond sorrow,” and this brings us lasting happiness. This is what the Buddha demonstrated here in Bodh Gaya by his example, and afterwards he taught the Four Noble Truths. The first two then, true sufferings and their true causes, are on the deluded or impure side, and the second two, true stoppings and true pathway minds, are on the liberating or pure side.
We can see then that the motivation for Dharma practice is not like, for instance, when a child listens to a parent and does what he is told simply because the parent has told him to do that. Engaging in Dharma needs to be not just obeying our parents’ words like an obedient child. Rather, we engage in Dharma practice because we wish to eliminate our own suffering and for that reason we follow the instructions of what a teacher tells us to do in order to tame our own minds. Do you understand?
Many factors are involved in eliminating suffering. For instance, there are the sufferings of hunger, cold and so forth and, for eliminating each of these, we would rely on different types of methods or work. Thus, through the work of farmers, merchants and so forth, we can eliminate our hunger and cold. For the suffering of sickness, we would rely on doctors and medicine. But these are only temporary aids, not ultimate cures. If we are sick, we can take medicine to make us strong, but these will not eliminate our old age and death. In short, we cannot obtain the ultimate elimination of the sufferings of birth, sickness, old age and death, by ordinary means, even if some methods can bring us temporary relief.
Many religions, such as some of the Hindu sects, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and so forth, accept a God who is the creator of happiness and suffering. If we pray to this God, he will grant us happiness. But this is not how Buddha explained. Buddha said that our suffering and happiness are not in God’s hands, but solely in our own.
Unlike the religions that accept only one Jewel of Refuge, namely God, we accept Three Supreme Gems. Buddha is the one who shows the path of what is to be accepted and what is to be rejected. Therefore, Buddha is like a teacher and not a creator God. Our karma or behavior is what creates our happiness and suffering. Happiness comes from positive or constructive actions. Therefore, we need to try to act in this way as much as we can. On the other hand, since unhappiness comes from negative destructive actions, we need to try to eliminate them as much as possible.
What Buddha taught then was the path of cause and effect. Our fate lies in our own hands, not in God’s, nor, for that matter, in Buddha’s. Thus, the actual refuge or safe direction is in the Dharma, which is something we need to develop on our own mental continuums. In other words, by eliminating the disturbing emotions and so forth from our own minds, we will eliminate our suffering and attain happiness.
In addition, in order to develop this Dharma Gem on our own mental continuums, we need helpers to provide examples and assist in this process. Such people are known as the Sangha Gem.
In short, then, the Buddha shows the safe direction to put in our lives; the Dharma is the actual safe direction; and the Sangha community helps set the example. There is no one single God or Jewel of Refuge that is going to give us happiness and eliminate our suffering.
In English, “religion” is often used as a word for translating the Tibetan term for Dharma. This word religion has the connotation of a system in which a Creator God is accepted. Therefore, it is commonly said that Buddhism is atheistic, and not really a religion. The Chinese, however, say that they are atheists, the Buddhists are religious, and Buddhism is a religion. But actually, by the above definition, we are atheists too.
Furthermore, we accept the words of the Buddha not on blind faith, but only after we have examined them carefully. If they are reasonable, we accept them, and if not, then we don’t. For instance, we have many logical proofs for phenomena such as rebirth and only after we have examined the issue can we accept them. If something can be established by logic, then it is acceptable. But if it is only based on blind faith; that will never do. Therefore, do not just say “ I believe.” The main point is to analyze by logic and reason. If something is not in accord with reason and reality, do not accept it. We must always base our beliefs on reasoning.
When Buddha spoke in the past, he gave the complete teachings. There is no need to revise what he said, add to it or improve it. It is just a matter of us practicing what Buddha preached. It is not very complicated. We can understand this from the example of medicine. Doctors examine individual patients and then prescribe the medicine suited to each. If the treatment does not work, only a fool would say that the fault lies with the science of medicine. A smart person will realize that the reason the medicine did not work for him is because of the medical practitioner, and not because of the science of medicine itself. Likewise, the same is true with Buddhism There are no faults in the Tripitaka or Three Baskets, the texts of Buddha’s direct teachings. If we examine, we will see that the confusion does not lie in the sources themselves. Therefore, what we need to do is to practice properly as is stated in these various sources. Do you understand?
The main practice, then, is taming the mind. For this, we need to listen to teachings and, to do this properly, we need a correct motivation. Buddha gave both Hinayana and Mahayana teachings. The main point in mind in Mahayana is helping others. In Hinayana, the emphasis is that even if we cannot help others, we need at least not to harm them. Thus, the emphasis in both is on how to help and be of benefit to others. We need to learn from this. If we can help others, we need to do so, and if we cannot, then certainly we need never to harm them. It never says anywhere that we need to become angry with anyone, does it?
In the Mahayana teachings, it also says we need to try to ignore our own selfish purposes and work for the sake of the masses of others. This is the Buddhist message, isn’t it? Thus, we need to have a pure, warm and kind heart. We need to try then to set a bodhichitta resolve as our motivation. Our bodhichitta resolve is to work to attain enlightenment in order to be able to benefit all beings. With such a motivation, now listen to The Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices as written here by the bodhisattva Togmey-zangpo.
Togmey-zangpo lived at the time of Buton Rinpoche, which was two generations before Tsongkhapa. He was a lama mostly trained in the Sakya tradition and, from an early age, was famous for being primarily interested in helping others. As a child, for instance, he would even become cross at people if they did not help others. Eventually, he became a monk and studied with and relied on various lamas, mostly two specific teachers. He practiced both sutra and tantra and became a very learned, realized practitioner.
He was most famous for his development of bodhichitta and this he did mostly through the teachings on equalizing and exchanging self with others. In fact, if we try to think of a bodhisattva, Togmey-zangpo is one who comes to mind immediately as an example, doesn’t he? He was such type of great person, truly a special being. Whenever anyone came to listen to his teachings, for instance, they would become very subdued, quiet, and calm.
As he wrote about these thirty-seven practices in order to help us all, we need to try to examine these teachings over and again. We say we are Mahayana practitioners, but if we do not always examine the actual Mahayana practices, this would never do. Therefore, we need to try to examine ourselves in terms of these thirty-seven practices and see if, in fact, we do accord our actions with them. Among them, we find teachings for individuals of the three different scopes of motivation, as explained in the lam-rim graded path.
I shall now give just a short commentary on this text. I have received its lineage from Kunu Lama Rinpoche, Tenzin-gyeltsen, and he received this from the prior Dzogchen Rinpoche in the province of Kham. This is just a little background history and this copy, in fact, I brought with me from Lhasa.
The sources for these teachings are Shantideva’s Engaging in Bodhisattva Behavior (sPyod-‘jug, Skt. Bodhisattvacharya-avatara), Maitreya’s Filigree for the Mahayana Sutras (mDo-sde rgyan, Skt. Mahayanasutra-alamkara), and Nagarjuna’s Precious Garland (Rin-chen ‘ phreng-ba, Skt. Ratnamala).
The text is divided into three sections:
at the beginning, building up positive force,
the actual teachings,
At the beginning, building up positive force is divided into two sections:
the initial salutation,
the promise to compose.
This first verse presents the first to these two sections, the initial salutation.
Obeisance to Lokeshvara.
I prostrate always respectfully,
through my three gateways,
To the supreme gurus
and the Guardian Avalokiteshvara who,
Seeing that all phenomena have no coming or going,
Make efforts singly for the benefit of wandering beings.
Obeisance is to Avalokiteshvara, referred to here as Lokeshvara. As the root of enlightenment is compassion, and since Avalokiteshvara is its embodiment, the prostration is to him. Also, to set the seeds and instincts for us to be able to meet with and study Sanskrit in the future, the author gives his name Lokeshvara in Sanskrit. The prostration is to Avalokiteshvara as inseparable from the gurus and is made with the three gateways of body, speech and mind. The reason for making such prostration is the good qualities of such an object of reverence.
What are these good qualities? The root of Mahayana is the bodhichitta aim. This is a mind aimed at enlightenment with the intention to attain it and to do so in order to be able to benefit all limited beings. To accomplish these aims, we need to practice the six far-reaching attitudes, the six perfections. As a result, we are able to attain an enlightenment that has both a physical and a mental aspect, namely Form Bodies and a Dharmakaya or Deep Awareness Body Encompassing Everything, the omniscient mind of a Buddha. To attain these two, we need to have built up the causes that are in similar categories to the results. Thus, we need a network of positive force to achieve the Form Bodies of a Buddha and a network of deep awareness (collection of wisdom) to attain a Buddha’s mind. The basis for these is the two truths.
Lokeshvara is someone who sees that all phenomena have no coming or going. When we examine the conventional truth of things, things do in fact come and go. However, if we examine the deepest truth about them, their coming and going are not established as truly and inherently existent comings and goings. For example, there is such a thing as cause and effect. Since causes have no inherent existence – they are devoid of inherent existence – their effects must likewise be devoid of such an impossible way of existing. Neither causes nor effects have inherent existence; they are established as depending on each other. In other words, the dependently arising nature of all phenomena is established as being noninherently existent.
As Nagarjuna has said, things have no true coming, going, abiding and so forth. Thus, the phrase " Seeing that all phenomena have no coming or going" refers to voidness and the fact that the object of prostration here is someone who understands or sees voidness with straightforward nonconceptual cognition. Because everything dependently arises, everything is devoid of inherent existence. And because everything is devoid of inherent existence, everything dependently arises by a process of cause and effect.
From disturbing emotions and attitudes as a cause, suffering arises as a result, and from constructive actions as a cause, happiness arises as a result. Since the coming of suffering dependently arises from disturbing emotions and destructive actions, and the object of prostration here sees that this is the case with all living beings, his compassion is therefore aimed at them solely for the purpose of helping to show them the way to eliminate their suffering, to make it go away. Thus, both the wisdom and method sides are indicated here since we need both together, without either being missing.
From the salutary verse, then, we can see these two sides. Lokeshvara sees that everything is devoid of inherent existence and, because everything is devoid, he sees that all phenomena arise from cause and effect. Specifically, he sees that the suffering of all beings arises or comes from their disturbing emotions and attitudes, and therefore he is compassionately aimed at eliminating that suffering or making it go. Thus, the two sides of wisdom and method are praised here in regard to Lokeshvara. Because he sees everything as void, he sees everything as cause and effect. Thus, he has compassion for everyone to take them out of their suffering. Do you understand?
The next verse is the promise to compose.
Fully enlightened Buddhas,
the sources of benefit and happiness,
Have come about from (their)
having actualized the hallowed Dharma.
Moreover, since that depended on (their)
having known what its practices are,
I shall explain a bodhisattva’s practice.
Buddha first developed a bodhichitta aim to reach enlightenment in order to benefit everyone. Then, once he attained enlightenment, his single aim has been to benefit all. He tamed his own mind, having realized that he needed to eliminate all his own disturbing emotions and attitudes to do so and that this is what everyone needs to do to be able to attain true happiness. Thus, Buddha taught the various methods to do this and we ourselves need to practice in the same way as he did. If we practice as he taught, we too shall be able to obtain happiness. Therefore, the verse refers to the Buddhas as the sources of benefit and happiness.
The Buddha himself was not enlightened from the beginning. He relied on his own gurus, practiced their teachings, and tamed his mind. By the process of eliminating all his disturbing emotions and attitudes, he became enlightened. Therefore, he reached his attainment by practicing and having actualized the hallowed Dharma.
We need to try to understand how we have both bodies and minds. When our eye consciousness sees something, for instance, we do not say that our eye consciousness sees it, but that I myself do. If our bodies become sick, we say that I am sick. The implication of these expressions is either that I am a mind consciousness or that I am a body. But, our bodies are first formed in our mothers’ wombs and they end when they decompose with our deaths. So “I” cannot be just a body.
Maybe, then, it is the case that I am a mind that is dependent on a body. The “I,” however, is not a form, a shape, nor a color. Yet when we see a body in the distance, based on that we say, “Oh, I see my friend” and we become very happy. But that person, if we examine closely, is not just his body. When we go to see a doctor, for instance, the doctor says, “Is your body well?” but obviously we are not just our bodies. In America, in some famous hospitals, we see doctors even prescribing meditation in order to improve people’s health. Thus, obviously there needs to be some relationship between the body and mind for them to give that type of non-physical prescription.
But what about this “I” just being the mind? Let us look at the nature of the mind. When we know something, or are clear about or aware of something, we say, “I know that thing.” But it is very difficult to identify precisely what the mind is. Its definition is just a mere clarity and awareness. It is not something physical that has any color or shape. If we think about it, it is something like a clear space, a very empty space in which all appearances have ceased and in which the awareness of anything can arise or dawn as a mere clarity and awareness within that clear space.
The mind, then, which arises simultaneously with the winds, drops and so on of the subtle body at the first moment of conception, is something that has this nature of mere clarity and awareness. For such a phenomenon to arise, it needs, as its immediate cause, something that exists in the same nature or in the same category as it itself does. Therefore, it is necessary for there to be a prior moment of mere clarity and awareness to act as a cause for the first moment of clarity and awareness at the instant of conception. It is by such lines of reasoning that we establish or prove the existence of past lifetimes. And if past lives exist, it follows that future ones do also.
As this mere clarity and awareness that we have is something having continuity and which will go on in future lives, it is very important to eliminate the obscurations or veils that are over it causing us our various disturbing emotions and suffering. In removing them, we become able to reach the natural basis of consciousness, which is just mere clarity and awareness unobscured. This is what can become the omniscient mind of a Buddha, a Fully Enlightened Being. Therefore, as the basis in our own minds and in that of an Enlightened Being, or in an omniscient mind, is the same, the latter type of mind is something we can definitely attain ourselves. A Buddha is not someone who is enlightened from the beginning; he became enlightened by relying on various causes. He rid himself (abandoned) what is necessary to get rid of and attained what is necessary to attain. Therefore, if we do the same, we can attain the same.
Thus, the text says, " Fully enlightened Buddhas, the sources of benefit and happiness, have come about from their having actualized the hallowed Dharma". How can we ourselves do this? It says, " That depended on their having known what its practices are". Thus, it is not sufficient merely to know about the Dharma. It is necessary to put it into practice and actualize it once we know what the Dharma practices are.
I shall leave the text here for today. Have you understood everything? We need to practice as much as we can. What we need to practice is renunciation, bodhichitta, and voidness. We need to examine ourselves very carefully and honestly, see what our dispositions are, what our own tendencies and inclinations are, and then train ourselves in a path that suits us.
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