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Explanation of A Bodhisattva's Garland of Gems

Alexander Berzin
Berlin, Germany, November 2004

Session Seven: Verses Seventeen through Twenty-eight

Unedited Transcript
Listen to the audio version of this page (0:42 hours)
(17) Let me step up to living in a sequestered place,
Outside the limits (of any town),
And, like the corpse of a dead game animal,
Hide myself in solitude and live without attachments.

This is very similar to what Shantideva explains in the eighth chapter, that if we want to improve ourselves – that’s what it means to step up – and really develop ourselves, that it’s best to go live in a quiet sequestered place outside of the limits of any town – this is what the word “monastery” [dgon-pa] means in Tibetan, a place that is quiet and outside of the towns – and be like the corpse of a dead animal. That means, Shantideva explains, if we’re already counted as dead, then there’ll be no mourners to interrupt us and making a big scene around us when we’re dying and so on.

[See: Engaging in Bodhisattva Behavior, Chapter 8.]

We’ll be able to practice properly to help with our future lives and, hiding ourselves away in solitude, live without any attachments. Now, of course, not all of us can do that, and His Holiness often says that only a very small percentage of people will feel inclined to be able to go live in solitude and devote their life to meditation, that for most of us it’s better to stay in society and to be involved as much as we’re capable of with helping others. But sometimes it’s helpful to go into a type of retreat for a little while, to stay in a quiet place and either meditate, or work on writing Dharma things, or whatever we want to do. That will be possible.

But when we think of the great masters of the past, and some of the present as well, who have lived like this, then it gives us great inspiration. Especially for beginners, a fairly quiet situation is better; there is less distraction. And don’t have overly romantic ideas of India and Nepal, they’re not quiet places – the Land of Sound – and Tibetan monasteries are extremely noisy. Everybody does their practices out loud. And even if we’re in a quiet place by ourselves, of course we can have a tremendously large amount of noise in our heads. Also this isn’t a guarantee, that if externally it’s quiet, that internally it will be quiet. But if externally it’s quiet, it helps for many people.

(18a) (There,) let me always be stable with my Buddha-figure.
There – that’s referring to in solitude, in a quiet, sequestered place.

So here is another hint of tantra practice that Atisha is introducing here. And in order to gain stability – he says, “Let me always be stable” – what we need for gaining stability is to have a daily meditation practice, whatever that daily meditation practice might be. Especially when we’re living a very busy life and we’re doing so many things, then it is so helpful to have one steady practice every day. No matter what craziness is going on in our lives, we have this stable mental state, this stable place that we have everyday. It gives us a sense of continuity and that is very important for stability.

And if we work with a Buddha-figure, as in tantra, what we’re doing is abandoning our old self-image of a busy life and adopting a self-image – on the basis of the understanding of voidness, and bodhichitta, of course, and renunciation – a self-image of a Buddha-figure that embodies the various qualities of a Buddha that we’re striving to achieve. And so when we go off to a quiet place, it’s very important to dissociate, as Shantideva says, both our body and our minds, not just our body of going into a sequestered place, but also the associations and the attachments and so on with the self-image of the place that we’ve left. That’s why working with a Buddha-figure is very helpful for replacing that samsaric self-image with one which is more “nirvanic” – if we can use that word – and doesn’t have all the old associations, the negative associations, negative in the sense of disturbing emotions.

(18b) And whenever a feeling of laziness or exhaustion arises,
Let me enumerate my own shortcomings

Obviously, when we’re meditating – as I’ve often said, samsara, until we become an arhat, continues to go up and down, that’s the nature of samsara – sometimes we’re going to feel like meditating, sometimes we won’t; sometimes it’ll go well, sometimes it won’t; sometimes we feel lazy and exhausted, other times we don’t. And the important thing is to just continue anyway, regard it like an illusion, as is stated in an earlier verse. Don’t make a big deal out of it, you just continue.

To help us to go past that laziness and exhaustion, Atisha says, “enumerate our own shortcomings,” in other words, remind ourselves that this laziness and exhaustion is a shortcoming; it’s something that is an obstacle, something that I want to overcome. And so we remind ourselves of our motivation, that we’re meditating in order to overcome these kind of things, like laziness, and discouragement, and exhaustion, and self-pity, and all these other things, or attachment, if our mind is completely distracted with attachment, or anger, or whatever it is.

If we remind ourselves of, “Hey, that’s exactly why I’m sitting here; that’s exactly why I want to meditate is because I feel lazy and I don’t want to do anything constructive,” then it reaffirms our motivation and it gives us strength to push on. And it’s part of the perseverance – we accept that samsara is going to go up and down, we accept that difficulty, we don’t have any illusions about it – you push forward and you have effort.

Once we have reminded ourselves of our motivation to overcome these shortcomings, then:

(18c) And remind myself or the essential points
of taming behavior.

That’s referring to ethical discipline, discipline to correct our faults. And what’s explained here is that we need to recognize our own faults when they arise, our own shortcomings when they arise, and then correct them ourselves, remember to correct them. And that’s what we often refer to as “the inner guru.” We don’t need an external guru to correct us, like a policeman, or a Mommy, or a Daddy, but we recognize ourselves when we’re acting in a way that is not what we’re striving to achieve, not something constructive.

And then just correct it, don’t go here and there, just do it, as my mother would say, “straight up and down.” Just do it. It’s like, if you’re going to take a shower and the water is a bit cold, well just do it, just get into the water. Either take a shower or don’t take a shower, rather than standing there with the water, and a little bit your foot here and, “Oh, I’m not going to go in,” and then it taking forever. If you’re going to do it, just do it.

(19) But if I happen to see others,
Let me speak calmly, gently, and sincerely,
Rid myself of any frowns or closed-off expressions,
And always keep a smile.

This is again very reminiscent of Shantideva’s text. Although we’re living in seclusion and practicing, we’re going to undoubtedly meet people. And any interactions that we have, then it’s important to keep calm and gentle. If we’re stable in our practice, we will be calm, and it puts others at ease.

But, as I think I’ve related before, after my first few years of staying in India, I went back to America and I was spending some time with my sister. And my sister’s remark was, “You’re so calm, I could vomit,” that I was just like a zombie, staying calm all the time and not really showing any emotional excitement or things like that – my sister is a very emotional woman – so being calm and gentle, it doesn’t mean that we have no expression on our faces and we’re just like a walking zombie. We need to have facial expression and respond and react.

Particularly in terms of our facial expression, it says to rid ourselves of frowns or closed-off expressions, where especially we’re either conceited of “How wonderful I’m following a spiritual life,” and then looking down on the other, disapproving with a frown on the face, “Oh, you’re involved in business?” Or samsaric type of things, “You still drink beer?” “You still drink wine?” And this very disapproving look, belittling others.

So we need to always keep a smile, but that doesn’t mean a smile like in an advertisement with the big teeth showing so it’s just totally false, but rather we need to, as Atisha says here, be sincere, speak from our hearts, not be pretentious, not put on airs, not be disapproving, or anything like that. As His Holiness always says, it’s just a joy to meet another human being, human to human.

In the sensitivity training, one aspect is to try to observe our facial expression, and if we’re there with absolutely no facial expression, or there’s a frown on our face, the forehead is wrinkled, or the mouth is wrinkled, or the muscles on the face are somehow tense, to try to pay attention to that, to be alert to that. And when we notice that, to relax the muscles on the face, relax the body expression. This is very important, as often we find that automatically our face gets into some sort of frown, or some sort of disapproval expression and it communicates. We don’t see it, but the other person sees it.

On the other hand, it could go to the other extreme that it’s too much. We say something and the other person overreacts with their facial expression and it makes you feel really very uncomfortable, “This person is more upset about what I said than I am.”

(20) And when I’m continually seeing others,
Let me not be miserly, but take joy in giving,
And rid myself of all envy.

Sometimes we’re living with other people, whether it’s in a retreat type of situation of like-minded people, or we’re living with others that are doing something else. So when we’re continually seeing them, then it’s important not to be miserly with our possessions, “This is mine, you can’t use it,” “This is my food in the refrigerator,” and “This is my chair” – it sounds like The Three Little Bears – “This is my chair, somebody’s been sitting in my chair,” “Somebody’s been sleeping in my bed,” this type of thing. That causes a tremendous amount of uneasiness in the relations of people living together.

But take joy in giving, in sharing with others. And also rid ourselves of envy, which means that “I’m envious of your possessions, so I want to use all of yours, because they’re better than mine,” this type of thing. Now, this of course is not a very easy thing to put into practice, because very often there are other people who exploit us and always use our things, rather than their own things and so on, and this requires a great deal of patience.

It’s really very interesting when you think about it. When there are people that you really, really like and really feel close with, then we’re willing to share everything with them. And we’re not upset, even if they use our toothbrush. Whereas there are other people that we don’t feel so close to, and we don’t even want to sit at the same table with them, share our table with them. So a lot is going to depend on equalizing our attitude toward others.

And when we do have to set a certain amount of limits, then we try to do this based on what’s constructive and what’s destructive. You don’t share your computer with a baby who is going to break it, or share it with somebody who’s irresponsible, who’s likewise going to break it. But within the bounds of what’s not going to be destructive, then it’s important to share. As I say, it’s not easy really to do it in living practice. But take joy in giving, that’s the key.

It makes us happy to share, and we know what that feels like, because most of us have experienced that with somebody that we really love and feel very close to. We’re just so happy that we can give them something, and that they accept it, and it’s useful. So we try to extend that. In this type of way – not being miserly, not being envious of what the other people have, and being happy in terms of giving and so on – in this way we’re very friendly.

But, as Geshe Dhargyey quoted this saying that the Tibetans always have, we have to be very strong and stubborn as a bull in keeping to our practice, and we don’t go beyond the boundaries of that. If somebody wants all our time and so on, so that we can’t do our daily practice, or these type of things – they want to use our offering bowls as an ashtray, this type of thing, you don’t share it like that. So we have to be stubborn in terms of our practice.

The Tibetan expression that they use is, “Don’t give the rope through the ring in your nose to somebody else, but keep it in your own hand.” A bull has a ring through the nose, and then there’s a rope that goes through the ring, and the bull has to go – or the water buffalo has to go – wherever somebody leads it. So the expression is, “Don’t give that rope into somebody else’s hand. but hold that in your own hand.” In other words, “You be the master of what you’re doing.” In connection with that, it says:

(21) In order to safeguard the minds of others,
Let me rid myself of all contention
And always have patient tolerance.

We try to please others, to make them happy, not contradict them. That’s what contention means, to contradict somebody and always argue. Tsongkhapa said it very nicely, he said, “If you agree with the other person, that ends the argument.”

You just agree, “I agree with you, I’m not arguing with you,” and then it’s finished. Again, it depends on what the issue is; but in general, especially if the other person is not going to listen to your position and is totally closed-minded, even if they’re saying something totally outrageous, you just say, “Yeah, yeah.” I mean, there’s no point in arguing.

This goes back to the line – it comes originally from the Jewel Garland [Rin-chen ‘phreng-ba, Skt. Ratnavali] of Nagarjuna – “to accept the defeat on oneself and give the victory to others,” and this is one of the central lines in this Eight-Verse Lojong, or Attitude-Training. A very, very important and helpful piece of advice, accept the defeat on yourself, “OK, I’m wrong, you’re right.” What difference does it make? You don’t always have to get in the last word. This is the point of in the previous verse.

But there are certain limits. If the person is going to do something destructive, then you have to set the limit, “Let’s go out and shoot kangaroos,” you set the limit. “No,” you don’t agree to that. If they say, “The sky is green,” and you say, “No, it’s blue,” then what’s the point of arguing? Who cares? This is relevant especially when there are a lot of political arguments or religious arguments, that the other side is absolutely not going to listen, then what’s the point? Then it becomes idle chatter to just go on and on and on and on, and so you just say, “OK,” and finished, “Let’s talk about something else.”

Especially when somebody criticizes us, or points out some mistakes, or faults that we have, we say “thank you.” “Thank you for pointing that out,” whether it’s true or it’s not true, there’s no point in getting defensive. And often it is true what they’re saying; and especially if they’re pointing it out to hurt you, or to be aggressive, or things like that, if your reply is, “Thank you for pointing that out,” it absolutely dissolves all the antagonism. It’s the end of the argument.

But don’t just say it without examining to see whether or not what they’re saying is true. Obviously we need to examine these things, we use discrimination. If somebody says, “You took my pen,” and we didn’t take the pen, you don’t just say “Thank you,” because then they say, “Well, give it back,” and we don’t have it. So we’re talking about, “You are greedy,” or “You are...” If somebody accuses us like that, “I’m sorry, thank you for pointing it out. I’ll work on it.” Don’t get defensive.

(22a) Let me not be fawning, nor fickle in friendship,
But rather always stay faithful.

This is important in a friendship. Sometimes in English we talk about “fair weather friends” that are only friendly when things are going nicely and you’re in good situation; but when you’re in trouble and it’s not terribly pleasant to be with you, then they dump you, they leave you. So especially when other people say bad things or make mistakes, have hurt us and things like that, still it’s important to wish them to be happy. So we shouldn’t be – fawning means to just flatter them and like that – all over them when they’re nice, but then leave them when they’re not nice.

And fickle in friendship means that we abandon friends and go on to the next one. It’s like making a new conquest, especially when sexuality is involved there. All of this shows that we’re not stable in our conviction of friendship, or not sincere in our friendship. So in that sense we need to remain faithful, in good weather and bad weather, when they act nicely or when they make mistakes.

(22b) Let me rid myself of insulting others,
And keep a respectful manner.

Some people are like this, that they only are friendly or try to befriend people who are rich and powerful, that you can get something from them. And if you find out that you can’t get anything from them – recommendations, or money, or opportunities, or sex, or whatever it is – then you drop them and insult them and look down at others, “I’m not going to be friendly with you, because I can’t get anything from you.”

Here it is always thinking in terms of a caste system. So don’t classify people into castes, “I can only be friendly with somebody of my own caste; somebody who’s my own age, or somebody who’s my own social class,” or whatever it might be, but keep a respectful manner toward everyone. Anybody could be our close friend.

When others come to us and exploit us, they just want to get something from us, and then after that, when they no longer find us useful, they go away – first of all, if we’re practicing as a bodhisattva, if they come to us, then we’re happy that they come, that we can help them. And if they go away, that’s their loss, “That’s their loss and it’s sad that they no longer are open to my help.”

This is especially true when one is a teacher. This is a big problem that many Western Dharma teachers face, that a lot of people come and then they are students of theirs for a while, and then they leave and they don’t come back anymore. A lot of teachers can get very upset about that, “Why don’t they come anymore?” “What happened?” “Did I do something wrong or what happened?” And then you have to think in terms of, “Well, it’s their loss; this is available, and if they don’t come, that’s on the basis of their karma. If they only wanted to use me, well, that’s their shortcoming. I’m available to help them whether they want to exploit me or not.”

Now, in terms of exploitation, you give what’s appropriate. You don’t over-give what is going to be harmful to them or harmful to you. You don’t let them be a complete drain on you; you set the limits.

As Ringu Tulku was saying very nicely, so many people might ask you for things and we can’t fulfill all of them, we can’t multiply ourselves into a million forms at the same time. But to the best of your ability, you at least give them something, a little something, so that you’re not totally rejecting them.

And when you say you can’t do something, there is this lovely line from Miss Manners – Miss Manners is an American newspaper’s etiquette queen that you ask questions to – and Miss Manners, “Miss Good Manners” says that in such situations you just say, “I’m so sorry.” You don’t give an excuse; you don’t give a reason why you can’t help. You just say, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I won’t be able to do that.” Don’t explain. If you explain, they’ll give you an argument about it, then you have to get defensive – “I’m so sorry.” Great guru, Miss Manners.

(22c) Then, when imparting guideline instructions to others,
Let me have compassion and a mind to help.

If we give advice to others and teachings – it doesn’t have to be in a formal way – we do it not for money or fame, or not for, “I want the other person to like me,” or “I want them to become dependent on me,” which is even heavier – it’ll be more sincere if we avoid that.

Then as for how do we actually choose what type of Dharma practice to follow:

(23) Let me never deny the Dharma and,
Setting my intention on whichever ones I fervently admire,
Let me make effort to split my days and nights
(Passing) through the gateways of the ten Dharma acts.

We need to realize that Buddha taught many, many different methods, many different practices, and not deny any of them and say, “This is not the teaching of the Buddha,” and “This is not helpful,” and “This is an improper thing to practice.” So we’re open to accepting everything.

Within the whole spectrum of Buddhist practice, then whatever it is that I really admire, that suits me, that I feel some sort of connection with – whether it is Tibetan style, or Theravada style, or Zen style; within Tibetan, whether it’s this tradition, or that tradition, whether it’s Guru Rinpoche, or Tsongkhapa – whatever it is, what difference does it make? It doesn’t make any difference. They’re all equally able to bring us to liberation and enlightenment.

We need to find, what is it that suits us best? What is it that we can look up to? And this word fervently admire is also the word that means “to have a firm conviction,” “This is what suits me,” and not going to be influenced by, “Well, it’s not so popular,” or “My friends aren’t into it,” these sort of things, that we really are confident of what suits us best, and then put our hearts into that.

And split my days and nights in terms of these ten Dharma acts. That doesn’t mean that every day we have to do all ten, but “days and nights,” it just means our time, and so we try to devote our time to this particular type of practice that suits us very well. And what sort of things can we do in terms of that practice? There’s ten Dharma acts.

(1) Copying scriptures. That doesn’t mean just photocopy them, but in olden times it meant to write out the scriptures. And something like that can be very helpful, typing out teachings or whatever, copying scriptures that concern the type of practice that we’re interested in. (2) Making offerings to the Three Gems. Well, that’s good for anything, but also offerings in terms of, “May I be able to practice it,” and so on.

(3) Giving to the poor and sick. This is also general, that we would do in any case in terms of Mahayana practice. (4) Listening to teachings. Teachings about what it is that we really have strong admiration for and conviction in. (5) Reading scriptures about these particular teachings. (6) Taking to heart the essence of the teachings through meditating. Meditate, do the type of practice that’s involved with that particular teaching or that particular style.

(7) Explain the teachings. If we are able to explain it, if we’re able to share with others, discuss with others as well about this type of teaching that they’re doing as well, we do that. (8) Reciting sutras. That’s also very inspiring, reciting the texts that deal with this topic, whether it’s pujas, whether it’s praises, whether it’s sutras, or whatever, reciting them out loud, particularly with a group of people. (9) Thinking about the meaning of the texts that deal with this topic, thinking about it all during the day, whenever the opportunity arises and (10) meditating single-pointedly on the meaning of the teachings, try to really focus on them.

This is how we would spend our time in terms of a particular type of teaching that we feel attracted to within Buddhism and do that without denying the other types of teachings that Buddha gave, putting them down. So there are many things that can be included, like transcribing teachings, writing up your teachings, making them available to others, all of that – the Dharma acts. The best way to familiarize ourselves with the teachings is after a class to write it up.

(24a) Let me dedicate to great peerless enlightenment
As many constructive acts as I’ve amassed
throughout the three times,
And extend out to limited beings my positive force.

When we do positive acts, if we don’t dedicate it to enlightenment, then it’s just going to build up positive karma to improve our samsaric situation. So it’s important to actually dedicate it to enlightenment – what we’ve done in the past, what we’re doing now, what we’re going to do in the future – and extend it out to others, not just “my own enlightenment,” but “everybody’s enlightenment.”

And whatever positive force we have, share it with others. If we have learned something and so we’ve gained from that positive force, and we have connections in let’s say India, we know how to go about getting conditions to study there and so on, make that available to others. That’s sharing our positive force, sharing the good fortune that we’ve had with others, so that they can likewise benefit from it.

And in order to build up this positive force,

(24b) So, let me always offer the great prayer
Of the seven-part practice.

Which is what Shantideva also emphasizes. The seven-part practice is – we did in the beginning here – of (1) prostration, (2) offerings, (3) openly admitting the negative things we’ve done and applying opponents, and (4) rejoicing in positive qualities, (5) requesting the teachings, (6) requesting the teachers not to go away, and (7) the dedication.

[See: Seven-Limb Prayer. See also: Preliminaries for Meditation or Study: The Seven-Limb Practice.]

(25a) Doing like that, let me complete my two networks
of positive force and deep awareness,
And deplete my two obscurations as well.

In doing this type of practice – the seven-part practice, and further meditation, through the ten Dharmic acts, and so on – we build up these two networks. We strengthen them, positive force and deep awareness, or merit and wisdom. In the process we also deplete, get rid of, the two obscurations, those preventing liberation, and those preventing enlightenment,

(25b) Thus, making my attainment of a human body meaningful,
Let me attain a peerless enlightenment.

Then, in verse twenty-six, Atisha mentions the seven arya gems, the seven gems that bring us to an arya state – somebody with straight forward cognition of voidness – and these are that he mentioned earlier:

(26) The gem of belief in fact, the gem of ethical self-discipline,
The gem of generosity, the gem of listening,
The gems of care for how my actions reflect on others
and of moral self-dignity,
And the gem of discriminating awareness make seven.

(27a) These sacred gems
Are the seven gems that will never deplete,

They’ll never run out. When we talk about a gem, we shouldn’t just think of a jewel, but like a treasure that we build up more and more. So, the stronger our conviction in the facts – in terms of the Dharma and the Dharma teachings, that we understand them and realize that they are true, that’s (1) the gem of belief in fact and then (2) ethical self-discipline, to restrain more and more from doing negative things, the discipline to engage in positive, constructive things like meditating, and the discipline to actually help others. This builds up more and more, like a treasure.

(3) The gem of generosity, to give others material things, to give them our time and energy and so on, to give them teachings and advice, to give them protection from fear – that means not only saving them if they’re drowning in the swimming pool, but also to give them the protection that they have nothing to fear from us in terms of our wanting to get something from them, or rejecting them, or ignoring them. They don’t have to be afraid of that, so we have equanimity, we give them our equanimity. And also giving them our love, the wish for them to be happy. This we can build up more and more, extend out to more and more people in a more wide-ranging way.

(4) The gem of listening. The more teachings that we hear, that we study – which obviously we need to think about and meditate upon – the more that we have of that and we actually remember it, that becomes a great treasure.

Then (5) the gems of care for how my actions reflect on others and (6) of moral self-dignity. These are the two factors, so two gems, that are very, very much the basis for ethical self-discipline. These are the ones that are always present in terms of a constructive state of mind. First of all we have moral self-dignity, “I have such respect for myself, or for my Buddha-nature and so on, that I wouldn’t act like an idiot, I wouldn’t act destructively,” this self-esteem.

Very often when people have no self-esteem, when it’s robbed of them – often that happens in regional conflicts around the world – you rob people of their self-esteem and then they don’t care what they do, become suicide bombers or whatever. They have no self-respect. There’s no feeling of self-worth, so you might as well be a suicide bomber. If we have this feeling of self-worth – this is this “moral self-dignity” – then we restrain from acting negatively, “I’m not going to lower myself into acting in this way.”

And then the care for how my actions reflect on others, “I have so much respect for my parents, for my friends, for my religion, for my gender, for my country...” whatever it might be, “that if I act negatively, what are people going to think of my family?” “What are they are going to think of Buddhism? I’m supposed to be a Buddhist practitioner,” “What are they going to think of people who come from my country?” And so on. That is a basis for ethical discipline, and these things can grow stronger and stronger.

And then (7) the gem of discriminating awareness, to be able to discriminate, not only between how things exist and how they don’t exist, but to discriminate between what’s helpful and what’s harmful, what’s beneficial and what’s destructive, what’s a good use of time, what’s a waste of time.

These are the seven gems that will never deplete. They’re never going to run out, can’t be stolen, and

(27b) They must not be mentioned to quasi-humans.

These are referring to ghosts, harmful ghosts that can cause interference. Basically what this is saying is that one shouldn’t go around and boast, “Oh, I’ve studied so much,” and “Oh, I have so much discipline,” or, “Oh, I have so much faith,” or all these sort of things, because that just invites interference. We keep them respectfully without boasting or bragging. You don’t have to wear them around your neck like jewelry to impress somebody. You just have them, internally.

Then the final verse is undoubtedly the most famous verse from the text, which is very often quoted:

(28) When in the midst of many,
Let me keep a check on my speech;
When remaining alone,
Let me keep a check on my mind.

This is a most wonderful, wonderful piece of advice. What is it that we have to watch out for, and observe and correct, if it’s going in a destructive way? When we’re with others, it’s our speech: are we saying something stupid, or are we saying something that’s going to hurt the feelings of the other? Are we saying something that’s false? Are we just boasting? Are we bragging? Are we complaining? What are we doing? So, we keep a watch on our speech, and correct it, or hold our mouths if we’re about to say something really stupid.

And when we’re by ourselves, the same thing with our minds, what we’re thinking, what we’re feeling, not just limit it to what we’re discursively thinking, but what mood I’m in, what emotions are arising, keep a watch on that. And when we notice something that is destructive, something that’s disturbing, then try to apply the opponents. This is the best advice. It sums up the whole path. As I say, this is a very famous line.

That concludes A Bodhisattva’s Garland of Gems by Atisha. The tradition is to then read again the beginning lines as an auspicious sign that we’re going to study this again.

So, it begins:

I make prostration to great compassion.
I make prostration to the sublime teachers.
I make prostration to the Buddha-figures,
Those in whom to have belief.

(1) Let me rid myself of all indecisive wavering
And cherish being wholeheartedly earnest in my practice.
So, let me rid myself fully of being sleepy, foggy minded, and lazy,
And always make effort with joyful perseverance.

I’m really very, very delighted to have had this opportunity to share these teachings and this explanation from Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey that came from many years ago – 1973 was when I received these teachings. But fortunately I took notes, and if you’ve taken notes, then likewise, thirty years from now, you can explain it to other people, to future generations. Very precious teachings, very, very helpful.

It’s a bit late and everybody is sleepy, including myself, so maybe we just end with a dedication. We think, whatever positive force has come from this, may this truly act as a cause for reaching enlightenment, for everybody to reach enlightenment, for the benefit of us all.

Thank you very much.