His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teaching—a beautiful and accessible presentation of the time-honored path to enlightenment —is one of the world’s great spiritual treasures.
Awakening the Mind, Lightening the Heart is His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s gentle and profoundly eloquent instruction for developing the basis of the spiritual path: a compassionate motive.’
With extraordinary grace and insight, His Holiness shows how the Tibetan Buddhist teachings on compassion can be practiced in our daily lives through simple meditations that directly relate to past and present relationsips. This illuminating and highly accessible guide offers techniques for deepening and heightening compassion in our lives and the world around us.
The teachings on mind training set forth here by His Holiness the Dalai Lama are based on a text composed in the early fifteenth century by Horton Nam-kha Pel, a disciple of the great scholar and adept Tsong-kha-pa (1357-1419). This text called Rays of the Sun is a commentary on an earlier poem entitled the Seven Point Mind Training, whose lines are quoted throughout the book. This book is reproduced in its entirety at the end of the book. By the early part of the present century Rays of the Sun had become somewhat rare and obscure. After the Dalai Lamas senior tutor, Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, had heard it explained, it became once of his favorite works because the book combines, in a way that is succinct and easy to understand and put into daily practice, the qualities of the mind training and stages of the path traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Ling Rinpoche arranged for the ‘Tibetan text to be reprinted and distributed, and he taught it himself. Subsequently, the Dalai Lama has taught it on many occasions, at Dharamsala where he lives, in the reestablished monasteries in South India, and at Bodh Gaya, where the Buddha attained enlightenment. Thus its popularity has been much revived.
His Holiness’s teachings presented here were translated and edited by the following team: the Venerable Geshe Lobsang Jordhen, a graduate of the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, Dharamsala, who since 1989 has been religious assistant and personal translator to His Holiness the Dalai Lama; Lubsang Chophel Gangchenpa, who also trained at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics and has worked as a Buddhist translator first at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Dharamsala, and later, for over a decade, in Australia; and Jeremy Russell, who, with over twelve years’ experience working with the Tibetan community in Dharamsala, is editor of Cho-Yang, the Voice of Tibetan Religion and Culture, published by the Religious Affairs Department of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile.
The Buddha offered many different teachings, corresponding to the different interests and dispositions of those who came to hear him teach. Yet all of his teachings outline methods through which we can purify’ the mind and achieve the hilly awakened state of enlightenment. Among the different sets of instructions, there is a tradition called mind training or thought transformation. This is a special technique devised to develop what we call the awakening mind, the aspiration to achieve enlightenment for the sake of helping others-This technique was transmitted to Tibet by the Indian master Atisha, who taught it to his Tibetan disciples. The first Dalai Lama received the transmission from Horton Nam-kha Pel, and from him the transmission came down to my own root guru, the late Kyabje Ling Rinpoche (1903-1983), from whom I received it.
Its techniques embody the essence of the Buddha’s teachings: the cultivation of the awakening mind. I rejoice at the opportunity to impact this tradition, as I follow its practice myself. Although I do not claim to have all the qualifications necessary for giving such instructions, I have great admiration and devotion for them. I rejoice that this precious instruction, transmitted from the Buddha, has actually come down to a person like me in this degenerate age when the teachings of the Buddha have almost become extinct. ‘Whether I am giving this teaching or you are listening to or reading it, we are not engaging in an act of competition. We are not doing it for personal gain. If this teaching is given out of a pure wish to help others, there is no danger of our state of mind deteriorating; it can only be improved.
We can achieve enlightenment only through the practice of meditation; without it there is no way we can transform our minds. The whole purpose of reading or listening to Buddhist teachings is to enable us to undertake the practice properly. Therefore, we should try our best to put what we understand into practice. At this juncture we have obtained this precious life as free and fortunate human beings, able to engage in this practice. We should seize the opportunity. Although it is important to take care of out livelihood, we should not be obsessed by that alone. We should also think of our future, for life after death is something we know little about and our fate is unpredictable. If there is a life after death, then it is very important to think about it and prepare for it. At this point, when we have obtained all the conditions necessary for practicing the Dharma, the teachings of the Buddha, we should concentrate all our efforts on doing so and make our lives meaningful thereby.
We can do this by engaging in a path that results in favorable rebirths in the future and ultimately leads to enlightenment. The ultimate aspiration is toward achieving the fully awakened state of Buddhahood, because even a favorable rebirth in the future is not very secure. Reflecting on the general and specific faults of the entire cycle of existence, this vicious circle of birth and death, will lead us to aspire for liberation from suffering. In addition, we should be concerned, not for ourselves alone, but also for the welfare of all others.
The special technique for transforming the mind is contained in a poem called the “Seven Point Mind Training,” which is elaborated on here in a work called The Rays of the Sun by Horton Nam-kha Pet. What we mean by mind, thought, or consciousness is a very complex topic. It is worthwhile analyzing what is meant by consciousness or mind, especially within the context of Buddhist teachings, because according to the Buddha’s teachings there is no creator god; all phenomena have arisen in dependence on their own causes and conditions. We have to analyze what those causes are.
Just as the heat of fire is not created by someone else, for it is the nature of fire to be hot, and just as it is the nature of water to be wet, so there is a something called consciousness or mind, on the basis of which we have feelings of pleasure and pain. In general, if we do not know the nature of a particular substance, we will not be able to transform or make use of it. If we do not understand a country’s climatic conditions, we will not be able to judge the right time for planting flowers. Similarly, in order to bring about transformation in the mind, it is important first to identify what mind or consciousness is. Then we have to see how the mind is transformed.
Whether or nor you accept the existence of something called mind or consciousness, it is clear that everyone experiences pleasure and pain and that everyone seeks happiness and shuns suffering. This happiness that we seek and desire comes about because of the mind. Therefore, we must identity& the nature of the mind and the process by which we can train and transform it. In fact, a transformation of the mind can be brought about only by the mind, So we need to examine whether there is a state in which we can be totally free of all the negative aspects of the mind and what the actual process is for reaching such a state of freedom.
Pain, pleasure, and suffering are dependent on their own causes and conditions. Therefore, it is important to identif3r the negative aspects of the mind, which give rise to suffering, and try to overcome them. Similarly, we can improve the positive aspects of the mind, which bring about happiness.
Mind training means a technique or a process by which we can transform or purify the mind. All the major world religions, especially Buddhism, have techniques for transforming the mind. But here a unique method has been devised to train our wild and deluded minds. The reason the text is called The Rays of the Sun is that it outlines a technique through which we can dispel the darkness of ignorance within out minds. This darkness of the mind refers to our misconception of self and our self-centered, selfish attitudes, the negative aspects of the mind. Just as the sun’s rays dispel darkness, this instruction dispels the darkness of ignorance.
At the beginning of his work, the author, Horton Nam-kha Pel, who was a disciple of Tsong-khapa, pays homage to him as a sublime master, invoking his compassion. The words sublime master refer to Tsong-kha-pas great qualities, his having abandoned attachment to the temporal pleasures of the world and his achievement of the highest realizations.
In verses following the homage to Tsong-kha-pa, the author makes salutations to the Buddha, the author of the technique for training the mind, to the Buddha of the future, Maitreya, and to the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, Manjushri. The masters of the mind training tradition in Tibet, the Kadam teachers, are also mentioned. The author pays respect to the Buddha by elaborating his qualities, describing how he is the one who, motivated by strong compassion and love for sentient beings, practiced the six perfections and the four factors for ripening the minds of others, with the purpose of releasing them from suffering and leading them to liberation and the hilly awakened mind.
Here, reflecting on how a navigator conveys a ship’s passengers to their destination, the author notes how the Buddha, piloting the ship of love and the awakening mind, leads sentient beings toward enlightenment. He too was once an ordinary being like ourselves, but due to the force of his compassion, he trained in the path and was able to transform his mind and achieve final enlightenment. It was compassion that motivated him to achieve such a state, it was compassion that perfected his achievement of enlightenment, and it was compassion that induced him to teach others according to their different interests and dispositions.
This is why the awakening mind is the root of all happiness and peace in the entire universe. In the long run it is the foundation for achieving the state of full enlightenment, but even from day to day, the more we are able to develop an altruistic attitude, the happier we will feel and the better the atmosphere we will create around us. On the other hand, if our emotions fluctuate wildly and we are easily subject to hatred and jealousy, from the very start of the day we will not even be able to enjoy our breakfast and our friends will avoid us. So unstable emotions not only disturb our own state of mind, they also disturb the minds of others. Such uneasy feelings cannot be blamed on someone else, for they are the result of one’s own state of mind. This is why an altruistic attitude brings a great sense of happiness and peace of mind.
The greater our peace of mind, the more peaceful the atmosphere around us. On the other hand, fear and distrust arise due to a selfish attitude and other negative mental states. A selfish attitude creates fear and insecurity, which in turn create distrust. So even for the people who have no special faith, it is important to have a peaceful mind. When the qualities of the Buddha are discussed, the awakening mind and compassion are always foremost among them.
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