A Commentary on the Eight Verses for Training the Mind (Lo Jong) by
the Bodhisattva Lang-ri Thang-ba,
together with root verses by Chekawa Yeshi Dorje

Translated by William Magee



With the determination to accomplish the highest welfare for all sentient beings, who surpass even a wish fulfilling gem, may I learn to hold them dear!

    In general, with respect to the practice of viewing all sentient beings as wish fulfilling gems, sentient beings and wish fulfilling gems act similarly as subjects [in the following analogy]: When a wish fulfilling gem [or sentient being] falls into the mud [of cyclic existence], it is unable to extract itself from the mud.  However, at the time of the full moon, it is cleansed by the good odor [of the practice of Dharma].  Then, just as all the needs of this world system necessarily arise, [the wish fulfilling gem symbolizing a sentient being's awakening mind] is raised to the peak of the victory banner.
    When sentient beings cycle through existence they acquire various unskillful propensities, are unable to release themselves from their own cycling, and are unable to clear away their suffering and the sources [of suffering].  However, if we assist them, all temporary and final virtues arise.  If there were no sentient beings, where would we find even temporary happiness?  Also our final bliss and cessation [of suffering] depends on sentient beings.  For, in dependence upon just these sentient beings we are able to attain the sublime state of Buddhahood.


Whenever I associate with someone, may I think myself the lowest among all and hold others supreme in the depths of my heart!

    Wherever one stays, whoever one befriends, whatever one's situation, practice viewing oneself as low and being respectful to others from the depths of ones heart.
    Friends higher than ourselves are [for instance] lamas.  [Two] monks [see each other] as equal.  Lower are beggars, and so forth.
    Having imagined oneself as lower from the point of view of situation, caste, mental force, and faults, one thinks, "It is unsuitable to be proud of my caste, [situation, intelligence, etc.].  All these are bad castes, akin to the butchers' caste".
    Moreover, [if one] takes pride in ones body, [think:] "It is not suitable [to be proud of my body since] it does not have the golden hued beauty [of a Buddha's body] and cannot aid beings".  Also, through the power of imagination, all [of our bodies come to be seen] as ugly.
    If we take pride in the intelligence of our mind, [reflect that] we do not even know one of the five sciences [of grammer, epistomology, art, philosophy, and medicine], and even the little we have heard of these is flawed so that we do not have actual knowledge of them.  Also, with respect to our superficial actions, although we might claim, "I act virtuously", since our minds are generating the three poisons, there is now not even an example of our not doing badly.  Also, since most of the activities of our body and speech are impure, in the next life we will find it hard to achieve high status, let alone nirvana!  Shantideva's bodhisattvacaryavatara says:

Such actions of mine
Will not achieve the body of a human.
If I do not achieve the body of a human,
There will be only evil, no virtue.

    One should reflect thusly: "Considering all my faults, what could be lower than myself?"  One might well answer: "Only the subterranean waters."  Practice cutting through pride by respecting others.  Observe their actual good qualities, and think thusly: "Considering that I have such a faulty nature, I am greatly astonished at seeing that others have such good qualities.  For instance, their caste, beauty, wealth, their devotions to Dharma, and their practice of the six perfections."
    Furthermore, with respect to those who do not actually possess such good qualities, we should reflect: "From amongst all [the manifold qualities of others] I really don't know what good qualities they possess."  For example, the oral tradition relates the tale of an ugly Arhat [whose good qualities were not appherent].
    When real results—not mere words—arise from this practice from the depths of ones heart, Chenrezig speaks thusly: "Well done, my child!"
    Regarding this, just as water flows downhill to the ocean, a person without pride in his or her continuum generates the supramundane qualities.  The sdud pa (Compendium of Sutra) says:

Abide in activities which give solace to all beings.

    Moreover, the purpose of the sde snod gsum is to destroy this pride.  If one has pride, even in this life one cannot get along with others, and in the future, through the force of ones misdeeds, obscurations, and pride, one will go to the lower realms.  Should one achieve the human form, one will be blind, helpless, miserable, and ugly.  Bad predispositions will thicken.  Fierce afflictions will produce all negative situations.  Due to these weights, one will be unable to achieve final enlightenment, for a proud Bodhisattva is far from enlightenment.
    Furthermore, our not passing beyond sorrow, misery, and all suffering arises from the conception: "I am great".  Since all the temporary happiness of this world, as well all the bliss of nirvana, arises from sentient beings, seeing sentient beings as having excellent qualities cuts through pride.
    The third abandons such actions through not following after the afflictive emotions:


In all actions may I search into my mind, and as soon as an afflictive emotion arises, endangering myself and others, may I firmly face and avert it!

    Reflect thusly: "I must train in instantly averting afflictive emotions as soon as they arise during all activities of my continuum.  I will [be able to] abandon them as soon as they arise if I am always mindful of the arising or non arising of afflictive emotions such as desires, neurotic fixations, etc., whether I am walking, sitting, reposing, or sleeping."  Also, the thought that very small desires are acceptable needs to be abandoned.  Act as if these [small desires as] were similar to a thief entering our parents home [who must instantly be ejected].  If we accustom ourselves [to desire] we will not [easily] become pure.  Should desires increase in our continuum, all other afflictive emotions—anger, and so forth—will greatly increase.  A sutra says:

Just as persons who, desiring sleep, come to have slothful personalities, which then become yet more slothful, so it is that persons with great desires or even a longing for beer acquire these types of personalities.

    All lesser beings must necessarily experience the great weight and great suffering which are produced from their fierce afflictive emotions.  However, if one abandons the afflictive emotions, one's evil propensities become thinner.  Previous evil propensities also become thin.  Exalted individuals do not develope any but the most subtle propensities.  The subtle fruitions of these are necessarily experienced, and by viewing the afflictive emotions as the enemy, the power of the antidote is generated.  Shantideva states:

Kill me, burn me in the flames,
Or cut the head [of my evil] nature.
I will not pay respect to the enemy    
The many aspects of the afflictive emotions.

    The above verse indicates that a worldly enemy is not able to have harmed us from the very beginning of time, but the afflictive emotions have harmed us since the beginning of time.  Our worldly enemies are not like that, for they do not last from the beginning to the end of time, as do our other enemies [i.e., the afflictive emotions], but are unable to last a long time.
    If one befriends a worldly enemy he will not harm one and will help one instead, but if one acts thus toward the afflictive emotions they grow more powerful.  If one continually befriends worldly enemies, they will all help and comfort one.  If one befriends the afflictive emotions they harm one with suffering.
    The worldly enemy can merely harm our bodies, lives, and enjoyments, whereas the afflictive emotions produce endless suffering in cyclic existence.  Should all the gods and demi gods rise up as enemies against one, they would be unable to place us in the deepest fires of hell. Wherever I meet with those enemies possessing powerful afflictions [i.e., the afflictive emotions], even on Mount Meru, without exception may I cast these aside one by one!
    Abandon the afflictive emotions in this way by seeing them as the enemy.  When the worldly enemy departs, he may return later to do more harm.  However, once the afflictive emotions are abandoned, they cannot be generated again later.  This is like burning the seeds.  The methods of abandoning them are: (1) by action, (2) by meditation and (3) by correct view [of emptiness].  Since these [three methods] have small antidotal powers at first, when the afflictive emotions arise it is difficult to reverse them.  A meditation which abandons by actions is said [to require] an antidote for each afflictive emotion.  Meditations of any of the beings of the three capacities are suitable since they are verging toward an antidote for all the afflictive emotions [i.e., the awakening mind].
    The measure of an improving mind is that there is no need to abandon the afflictions, since there are no objects of the afflictions due to the fact that one has gained appropriate knowledge of them.  This is because one abandons the afflictive emotions by observing the afflictions with wisdom.
    Fourthly, the training in cherishing those of very bad nature and those pressed by fierce sins and suffering as being [like precious treasures which are] extremely hard to find.


When I see beings of bad nature, pressed by fierce sins and sufferings, may I cherish them as if I had found a precious treasure, difficult to find!

    With respect to this, a being of bad nature refers to one who has not accumulated merit and who cannot control the arising of the afflictions.  For instance, there was a person to whom Prince Asanga gave a meal of cooked meat and vegatables.  After burning his mouth on the meal, this person threw the meal, along with the pot, and began cursing angrily.
    Sins refers to the five heinous crimes, the degeneration of vows, utter selfishness, and so forth.  Those pressed by fierce sufferings are lepers, those with terrible illnesses, and so forth.  Because such people are difficult even to look at, others hold them to be enemies after sending them away.  [Upon encountering such persons] the first thing to do is to offer them the following advice: "Do not act like that.  Rather, have compassion for those who live with suffering, for those taken away by the king of hangmen.  Similarly, when one observes those with faulty ethics, seeing that they cannot gain rebirth to the higher realms, one ought to shed tears."
    If those [beings pressed by sins and sufferings] do not listen [to this advice], change them through giving food and money.  If this does not help them, after reflecting [on the two attempts to give help, some people think:] "He is unhelpable.  I will stop before I become evil." [i.e., if I continue trying to help, I may lose my temper].  Turning with mouth and nose covered [in self protection], such persons flee from all those pressed by their sufferings.
    [Rather than acting in this fashion, reflect:] "If I act thusly, in the future I may become like that".  Rather, meditate that one is helping such persons by giving them food and medicines, etc.  It is also suitable [to meditate upon] taking whatever sufferings beings have to ripen within ones own continuum.  This is mind training.
    Training in holding sinful beings as [being a treasure which is] difficult to find means that, for example, because it is difficult to find a wish fulfilling gem, such are not thrown out but are held on to, and, just as one cherishes these, such [sinful] persons are refered to as difficult to find, for one generates compassion in dependence on these, and one also generates the awakening mind in dependence on these.  Therefore, such as these are difficult for us to find, and are the objects of observation that produce the paths of the Great Vehicle.
    If one asks why, it is because Superiors and highly developed worldly persons are unable to help one to generate compassion and to increase the awakening mind.  They cannot assist one in attaining Buddhahood. Just this awakening mind is the opportunity not taken by those who have not realized Buddhahood.
    The fifth is about accepting the blame for problems whenever the bad fault of slandering me, and so forth, occurs.


When others out of jealousy treat me unreasonably, with abuse, slander, and so on, I will learn to take all loss and offer the victory to them.

    When any type of deserved or undeserved slander, prompted by jealousy, and so forth, and unpleasant verbal abuse [comes to one], do not lose patience.  Keep a peaceful mind.  Further, when problems arise, do not say "It is his fault, not mine!"  Accept the blame, as did Geshe Lang ri thang pa.  [Reflect:] "Whoever created this mess, it includes me!  I have [a hand in it] also."  The reason for this is that we must endeavor toward generosity and the various modes of ethical behavior, for the sake of purifying our many misdeeds and completing the accumulations [of merit and wisdom].
    Therefore, when one shows kindness to slanderers, even if one does not deserve the abuse and slander, it is said to be necessary for purifying our misdeeds when problems arise.  Taking all blame on ourselves prevents our evil karma from arising.
    Geshe Lang ri thang pa speaks of a person from the Valley of Phan who sometimes gave a little butter cake to the Lamas, and at other times slandered them for no reason.  The Lamas regarded him with great kindness.  This cleansed their misdeeds and helped their accumulation of the two collections.  They claimed that his slanderous talk was great. Shantideva's bodhisattvacaryavatara (Entering the Deeds of Bodhisattvas) says:

Therefore, since patience can be generated
In dependence upon a very hate filled mind
And because it is the cause of patience,
Make offerings to it as if it was the most excellent doctrine!

    More correct even than this statement is that ethics and patience lead to great merit, and to the end of misdeeds such as anger.  Therefore it is said that the hardest practice is patience.  [Learn] the patience that is keeping still no matter what happens.
    Sixthly: the patience that accepts suffering.  When those whom I have benefitted with great hope deceive me, I should attribute to such persons an attitude of great kindness, and consider such persons as virtuous spiritual guides.


When one, whom I have benefited with great hope, unreasonably hurts me very badly, may I view him as my supreme Lama!

    Speaking of hope, there was a person with a hopeful nature who went to visit She rab bar chan.  He went, thinking, "since I am a friend as close as a relative to him, he will give me a welcoming banquet."  [But there was no banquet.  Therefore] he took the gift he was bringing [to She rab bar chan], and hid it under the bed.
    Is this the practice of love and compassion or not, and from these actions will sufferings or nothing but happiness ripen in oneself?  [Reflect,] 'May nothing but happiness ripen for myself!', and so forth. Here it is clear whether this is lying [behavior] or not.  This [type of analysis] is not open to criticisms, since one can calculate which [actions] will keep lower karma from accumulating for oneself. [Reflect,] "Previously I have hurt sentient beings in this way, and this is the reason that they are hurting me [now]."  From calming the mind through thinking, "I accept [all blame]", we will be happy ourselves.  By not boasting [about the help one gives to others], others may also become happy.  [Reflect, "this will be] my karma".  Arya Superiors (those on the bodhisattva path of seeing and path of meditation) who have abandoned misdeeds are established as being unable to be harmed by anyone.
    May I protect others from suffering the hellish pit by [repeating the following meditation]: "The reverses I receive from others are my own bad karma, and when others are besmirched because of harming me, they will go to the lower realms in dependence on me.  I answer to this. Having been goaded by my karma, others harm me.  May I therefore not act in that way."  Or one might pray: "When others criticize me or hurt me or find it suitable similarly to spread slander, may they all be blessed with enlightenment!"
    Or one might reflect: "When harm is returned for help, practice answering with great compassion.  The finest beings answer evil with good.  With an attitude of great kindness, [practice viewing wicked persons] as virtuous spiritual guides, since punishment from these kind and virtuous spiritual guides is a gift like a commentary on meditation.
    [Reflect:] "The great kindness which is the basis of the path of liberation has not been practiced by me.  Without practicing it, I will not make progress on the path.  After these [wicked persons] give me [the opportunity to practice kindness] my misdeeds will be cleansed. Therefore they teach me with great kindness the path to liberation. After completing the accumulations [of merit and wisdom] with their help, those who are like textbooks on meditation and are undistinguishable from virtuous spiritual guides, just these [will sing] the Song of Happiness:

Enemies are those who have not yet become beloved friends.
Those who see the objects of their afflictions as their Lamas,  
Abide in happiness.

    If one generates an attitude in accordance with these statements, then since one is purified, even though others are not, one is able to enter the path of enlightenment.  This is like, for example, not finding a clean person from Ser-ling.  An example would be a man who became a hero, since no one could make him unhappy or cause him suffering, even if they aroused the appearance in his mind without their being external objects of gods, men, and ghosts raising up as his enemies.
    Seventh, in brief, directly and indirectly, may I give all the best help and happiness to our old mothers, and may I, respectfully from the depths of my heart, take their harm and suffering.


In short may I, directly and indirectly, give all help and happiness without exception, and may I respectfully, from the depths of my heart, take upon myself all harm and suffering of our mothers.

    The brief indication is a compendium of previous indications. "Respecfully" means by way of remembering the kindness of our mothers. "From the depths of my heart" means this is not just words, that I should practice taking and giving from the depths of my heart.
    "Directly" means giving my comforts—food, medicines and so forth—and taking [upon myself] the origins of the suffering of sentient beings. This will be the cause of attaining high status in later lives, and the cause of attaining definite goodness.  Persons who cannot directly take [the suffering from others] may take it indirectly through meditation on giving and taking and by prayers dedicating the happiness of this life [to others].  Shantideva's bodhisattvacaryavatara says:

May my happiness cleanse others of their suffering.
"When I do not practice pure Bodhisattva behavior
I cannot become Buddhafied.

    I express this from the bottom of my heart by saying, "In cyclic existence there is no happiness".
    Eight: Since it is possible for evil to harm all these [practices], may I be undefiled by even slight conceptuality in this life, and may I train in the awareness seeing all phenomena as like illusions and have no attachment to any phenomena whatsoever.


May all these practices remain undefiled by the stains of the eight worldly conceptions; may I—by perceiving all phenomena as like illusions—be released from the bondage of attachment.

    This is the antidotal method.  When I have hope that phenomena are pure, etc., this is mixed with conceptuality.  When I act in my own interests with the eight worldly conceptions, I am lost in desiring phenomena. After realizing these as illusory, may I try to keep these practices by reflecting that since [all phenomena] have been abandoned primordially, and are not established as existing as they appear, how can these things which are empty in this way be gained or lost?  Whatever assistance we might give—and whatever is given to us, ie., the comfort or suffering which is our karma, and which we might like or dislike—all these phenomena are like space, and I am also like that.

    Request all.  Make prayers, also.  Make requests with mandala offerings to the Lama and the Triple Gem.  Ask for the blessings of the Lama, the Buddhas of the three times, and all the Bodhisattvas.  Thank them, also.  I pray to the ten wrathful Protectors and their ten Consorts, and to the powerful and capable Wisdom Dakinis (Sky-goers; female deities).  May I generate the meaning of these Eight Verses in myself.  I pray to have all the sufferings and sources of suffering of all being ripen in me.  May the fruits of enlightenment allow me to ripen all these [fruits] in all sentient beings.  The above statements can be applied and developed with the Four Noble Truths.
    No matter what other virtuous practices besides these one is doing, afterwards make the prayer of these Eight Verses.  By so doing, one establishes the seeds of enlightenment.  I should be establishing the roots of such virtue every moment of the year and month.  In the future one will meet with one's Lama through such virtue, as well as with ones friends.  Think and pray in this way.
    This Commentary on the Eight Verses of the Bodhisattva Lang ri thang ba, and the root commentary by Chekawa Yeshi Dorje, is the profound oral instruction in Training the Mind.
    May I generate this in my continuum.