Some "Nuggets" from the Teachings on Verses 3 and 4

There is so much to think about in the teachings regarding verses 3 and 4 of The Three Principal Aspects of the Path. When I tried juxtaposing various statements (some favorite nuggets) from different parts of the commentaries, I got an interesting mosaic/summary:

Authentic Practice

Concern for this life prevents our practice from being authentic.

  • The motivation has to be to escape from cyclic existence (renunciation) and to become enlightened for others' sake (bodhicitta).
  • Real practice depends on our thoughts and intentions.

To make the most out of the teachings and develop an authentic practice:

  • Listen and study the teachings well.
  • Think about what you've learned until your understanding is clear.
  • Then familiarize yourself with it until it begins to influence how you think and feel. This will affect how you speak and act.
  • When your physical, verbal, and mental actions begin to accord with the Buddha's teachings, you will experience happiness and become a trustworthy example to others.

Renunciation and Purpose

With renunciation, we have set our life's purpose as something beyond "my happiness now."

  • Even if we have developed some renunciation, we need to check and ask ourselves what most of our thoughts during the day concern. Is it how to get out of samsara, or is it how to get some pleasure in samsara?
  • The pleasure from Dharma practice comes from renouncing the pleasure of cyclic existence because we see that pleasure as small and inadequate.

Some "Gotchas"

  • As long as we're subject to the eight worldly concerns—pleasure & pain, gain & loss, good reputation & bad reputation, and praise & blame—these considerations will influence our feelings and actions.
  • As long as we crave and grasp, our practice won't be genuine.

Working to End Attachment

How do we end craving and grasping?

  • Create the motivation to do what is constructive and turn our minds towards the teachings.
  • Work at decreasing our desires and cultivating contentment.

Atisha's Advice—A Nice Summary

The gist of Atisha's advice to his students was to let go of attachment (renunciation) and be kind-hearted (cultivate love, compassion, and bodhicitta).

The Diagram

Important Points from Verses 3-4 of The Three Principal Aspects of the Path

Related Diagrams