Notes from Venerable Chodron's Talk
This practice of the Kadampa masters, quite valuable as a way of overcoming the eight worldly concerns, are divided into three groups: the four trusting acceptances, the three vajra convictions, and the mature attitudes towards being expelled, finding, and attaining.
The Four Trusting Acceptances
- "As our innermost outlook on life, being willing to accept the Dharma with total trust."
- We reflect that we've received a precious human life, that death is certain and the time of death is uncertain, and that our body, possessions, and wealth don't benefit us at the time of death.
- Therefore, we accept the Dharma and commit ourselves to practicing it.
- "As our innermost attitude towards following the Dharma, being willing to accept with total trust, even becoming a beggar."
- We have a lot of fear when we start to practice the Dharma; we're afraid that if we really commit to Dharma practice, we're going to give up chasing money, things, security, etc.
- When this fear comes up, we need to accept that we're even willing to become a beggar if that's necessary.
- Even though this is a very difficult attitude to cultivate, just trying to do so gets us working to let go of the eight worldly concerns.
- "As our innermost attitude towards becoming a beggar, being willing to accept with total trust, even having to die."
- We may think, "I'm OK with being a beggar, but I don't want to die because of being poor."
- We can recall that we've died many times before in cyclic existence; it's nothing new. But how many times have we died in order to practice the Dharma?
- At least this is doing something worthwhile with your life. So you get to the point where you say, "OK, even if I'm poor, I'm willing to die because that's how meaningful the Dharma practice is in my life."
- We realize it's better to have the Dharma and die than to live a little longer without the Dharma and have temporary riches.
- "As our innermost attitude towards death, being willing to accept with total trust even having to die friendless and alone in an empty place, in an empty cave, in a deserted place."
- This brings up the fear of dying alone instead of surrounded by friends and relatives, dying without recognition for our sacrifice, etc.
- We can get past this fear by realizing that even if we have our friends and relatives with us, it won't keep us from dying, from suffering, from going to the lower realms, etc.
- We can even say, "This way, I'll die with the Dharma in my mind instead of being distracted by wailing friends and relatives. I'll be able to focus on my practice. So it's OK if I die alone."
- We also give up caring about what happens to our body after we die, what kind of obituary or funeral we have, what people will say, etc.
So thinking about these four trusting acceptances leads us to say, "If my Dharma practice leads to poverty, OK. If it leads to death, OK. If it leads to dying alone, OK. All that stuff is meaningless. I'm going to be able to make my own mind happy through practicing the Dharma." Thinking about these four helps us face a lot of the fears we have and a lot of the attachment to the eight worldly concerns; it helps free our minds.
The Three Vajra Convictions
These are also called the three diamond convictions or the three abandonments.
- "Sending the uncatchable diamond ahead of you."
- Deciding to practice the Dharma typically brings about a change in lifestyle.
- We may simplify our lives, cut out certain social activities, etc.
- Friends and relatives may try to catch us and bring us back to our old way of life.
- Sending the uncatchable diamond ahead of us means we have to be uncatchable, and not get dragged back to a life that involves a lot of attachment, aversion, and distraction.
- "Laying the unabashable diamond behind us."
- This means to abandon thinking about what others think about us, abandon wanting to please others' worldly aspirations.
- Don't give up your practice or principles to please others.
- Don't use others' expectations as an excuse not to practice.
- "Keep your wisdom diamond by your side."
- This means to carry on our practice continuously and conscientiously without getting caught up in useless concerns, i.e., the eight worldly concerns.
- It also means abandoning the self-criticizing mind of discouragement.
The Mature Attitudes Towards Being Expelled, Finding, and Attaining
- "Being willing to be expelled from the ranks of (so-called) normal people."
- We're OK if it happens that we're expelled from the ranks of normal people because we don't share their limited values.
- Sometimes friends and family don't understand our practice of the Dharma and we get expelled from our social or family groups.
- Some people (even some Buddhists) may criticize us. We have to be willing to bear this without doubting our practice or the Buddha's teachings.
- First we ask, "Is what they criticize me for true?"
- If we look with wisdom and find the criticism to be untrue, then we're OK because we know the truth for ourselves.
- "Being willing to be regarded among the ranks of dogs."
- This means, even if we have to face hardship in our practice, we're willing to go through that hardship.
- This could mean being poor, enduring discomfort to travel to a teaching, being regarded poorly by others, etc.
- It means being a real practitioner instead of just looking good.
- "Being completely involved in attaining the divine rank of a Buddha."
- This refers to our complete commitment to Dharma practice in order to progress towards enlightenment (Buddhahood).
- This includes the attitude of being willing to go through hardship, discomfort, criticism, etc.
- When we have doubts or look back and think we were more comfortable before we turned to the Dharma, we need to check up and examine if that's true. (It's not; why did we turn to the Dharma in the first place?)
Notes from Geshe Sonam Rinchen's Book
The Kadampa masters advised us to cultivate ten jewel-like attitudes.
Four Kinds of Entrustment
- Entrust yourself completely to the teachings.
- Consider the preciousness of your human life, its rarity, and how meaningful it is because of your potential.
- Consider how brief life is, how uncertain the time of death is, and how at that time, your possessions, friends, body, etc. cannot save you. Nothing but the teachings is of any use.
- So accumulating wealth, property, and supporters is quite meaningless, and in following such desires, we often perform many misdeeds with future consequences.
- You entrust yourself to the teachings by putting them at the heart of everything you think and do, by constantly trying to be positive and kind-hearted, and by expressing this in action.
- Entrust yourself to poverty in your practice of the teachings.
- You don't have to live in poverty, but if necessary, be ready to do so by overcoming attachment to pleasurable sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations.
- You can't reconcile a thirst for the best of everything with true practice.
- You may fear that putting the teachings at your life's center may cause you someday to lack even the basic needs of life. But if you entrust yourself to poverty and devote your energy to practice, you will never lack what you need.
- Entrust yourself even to death from hunger or cold with the resolve never to stop practicing.
- You may fear that you may even die of starvation. Recall that you've died many times in the past, but never for the sake of the teachings.
- At least this is worthwhile.
- It is better to die poor without having done the misdeeds that people often do for the sake of wealth.
- Entrust yourself even to die alone in a cave without being afraid or distressed.
- Be immutably invulnerable to objections.
- Don't let others deflect you from your purpose.
- Hold firmly to your resolution to practice.
- Maintain an immutable lack of embarrassment.
- You may be criticized or derided by others.
- Trying to live in accordance with your relatives' wishes can be a hindrance to pure practice.
- You can reject others' values without rejecting them or giving up your love and compassion for them.
- Consort with immutable wisdom.
- Be steadfast; never transgress the promises you have made.
- Devote yourself entirely and single-mindedly to your practice.
- You place yourself outside the accepted norms of society and others may shun you.
- Like a stray dog, you will have to bear whatever hardships you face in obtaining food and shelter without complaint and without letting it shake your resolve to practice.
- As a result of such resolute practice, you will attain the divine state of enlightenment, just as the Buddha did.
Contemplating these ten jewels of the Kadampa tradition will make you courageous and help you turn away from all worldly concerns.
- Many great practitioners did not live in poverty, but their practice was pure because they gave up worldly concerns.
- When you gain insight into your precious human life and its transience, your practice is purified until you feel no craving for worldly wealth and status.