Eight Verses for Training the Mind – The Eight Verses of Thought Transformation – Eight-Verse Attitude Training by Gesce Langri Tangpa
- Determined to obtain the greatest possible benefit from all sentient beings, who are more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel, I shall hold them most dear at all times.2. When in the company of others, I shall always consider myself the lowest of all, and from the depths of my heart hold others dear and supreme.3. Vigilant, the moment a delusion appears in my mind, endangering myself and others, I shall confront and avert it without delay.4. Whenever I see beings who are wicked in nature and overwhelmed by violent negative actions and suffering, I shall hold such rare ones dear, as if I had found a precious treasure.
5. When, out of envy, others mistreat me with abuse, insults, or the like, I shall accept defeat and offer the victory to others.
6. When someone whom I have benefited and in whom I have great hopes gives me terrible harm, I shall regard that person as my holy guru.
7. In short, both directly and indirectly, do I offer every happiness and benefit to all my mothers. I shall secretly take upon myself all their harmful actions and suffering.
8. Undefiled by the stains of the superstitions of the eight worldly concerns, may I, by perceiving all phenomena as illusory, be released from the bondage of attachment.
This mind training (lo-jong) root text was composed by Kadampa Geshe Langri Tangpa (1054–1123). The verses were translated by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at Kopan Monastery, 1980, and lightly edited by Ven.Constance Miller, 1997.
See also The Everflowing Nectar of Bodhicitta, a practice by Lama Zopa Rinpoche that combines the eight verses with the Thousand-arm Chenrezig practice, and his Commentary on The Everflowing Nectar of Bodhicitta, taught at the Eighth Kopan Course in 1975.
Also refer to the Commentary on the Eight Verses of Thought Transformation by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. http://www.lamayeshe.com/index.php?sect=article&id=733
Eight-Verse Attitude Training by Langri Tangpa
1. May I always cherish all limited beings
By considering how far superior they are
To wish-granting gems
For actualizing the supreme aim.
2. Whenever I come into anyone’s company,
May I regard myself less than everyone else
And, from the depths of my heart, value others
More highly than I do myself.
3. Whatever I am doing, may I check the flow of my mind,
And the moment that conceptions or disturbing emotions arise,
Since they debilitate myself and others, May I confront and avert them with forceful means.
4. Whenever I see beings instinctively cruel,
Overpowered by negativities and serious problems,
May I cherish them as difficult to find
As discovering a treasure of gems.
5. When others, out of envy, treat me unfairly
With scolding, insults, and more,
May I accept the loss upon myself
And offer the victory to others.
6. Even if someone whom I have helped
And from whom I harbor great expectations
Were to harm me completely unfairly,
May I view him or her as a hallowed teacher.
7. In short, may I offer to all my mothers,
both actually and indirectly,
Whatever will benefit and bring them joy;
And may I hiddenly accept on myself
All my mothers’ troubles and woes.
8. Through a mind untarnished by stains of conceptions
Concerning eight passing things, throughout all of this,
And that knows all phenomena as an illusion,
May I break free from my bondage, without any clinging.
Translated by Alexander Berzin, revised February 2004. Font http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/sutra/level3_lojong_material/specific_texts/eight_verse_attitude_training/8_cleansing_att.html
Langri Tangpa was born in central Tibet in the eleventh century. His actual name was Dorje Senge, but he became known as Langri Tangpa after Lang Tang, the area in which he lived. He was a disciple of Geshe Potowa, who was one of the principal disciples of the Indian Buddhist Master Atisha, the founder of Kadampa Buddhism in Tibet.
Eight Verses for Training the Mind
Composed by the Buddhist Master Langri Tangpa (1054-1123), Eight Verses for Training the Mind is a highly-revered text from the Mahayana Lojong (mind training) tradition. These instructions offer essential practices for cultivating the awakening mind of compassion, wisdom, and love. This eight-verse lojong enshrines the very heart of Dharma, revealing the true essence of the Mahayana path to liberation.
As we practice these lojong teachings in daily life, we train the mind to embrace reality in a completely wholesome, wise, and compassionate way. These excellent practices help us purify our negativity and awaken the heart by giving us a way to transform adversity and hardship into a direct opportunity for spiritual growth. In this way, rather than perceiving difficult people or adverse circumstances in our lives as an obstacle, tragedy, or punishment, we now meet these experiences with deep compassion, wisdom, and skill, using them as the actual path to enlightenment.
By way of these treasured practices we eliminate our competitive, selfish, and reactive nature, as well as our false and exaggerated concepts of self (also called self-grasping and self-cherishing). It is important to understand that the greed, jealousy, anger, pride, selfishness, and attachment, which cause us so much suffering, are actually misperceptions of reality, not inherent conditions of our mind. Therefore, these precious lojong practices can purify our misperceptions and delusions completely, revealing the natural radiance, clarity, wisdom, and compassion of our true nature.
With the heartfelt desire and determination to attain enlightenment
for the welfare of all living beings, who are more precious than a
wish-fulfilling jewel for accomplishing the supreme goal,
may I always cherish them and hold them dear.
Verse I – Cherishing and caring for others is the source of all happiness. Cherishing ourselves over others is the source of all suffering and negative conditions in this world. Therefore, our determination to attain enlightenment should always be motivated by our heartfelt desire to serve the welfare of all living beings. The attainment of enlightenment is the supreme goal. Our enlightenment comes from the cultivation of bodhichitta (the awakening mind of love, compassion, and wisdom). Bodhichitta arises from our deepest compassion. To develop this compassion and reach the supreme goal, we need others. In this way, all living beings are the principle source for our spiritual development and for accomplishing the supreme goal of enlightenment. In addition, at some time each of us has been, and will be, a source of great kindness and benefit for one another. The immense kindness of all living beings is integral to our own human existence. Considering this, we can understand how living beings are even more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel and that we should always cherish them and hold them dear.
Whenever I am with others
may I think of myself as the lowest of all
and from the very depths of my heart
may I respectfully hold others as supreme.
Verse 2 – This verse calls us to train the mind in proper humility, eliminating our habitual arrogance and pride by ‘thinking of ourselves as the lowest of all.’ This is certainly not suggesting we belittle ourselves; we should have self-esteem and self-confidence. Rather, a practice is being offered for taming our exaggerated sense of self-importance and for cultivating true humility and respect for others. The afflictions of arrogance, superiority, pride, and competitiveness create disharmony among people and prevent us from learning and evolving. Therefore, by respectfully holding others as supreme, we become more humble, gentle, and open. This naturally brings harmony and compassion into our relationships and helps us to achieve great qualities, virtues, and spiritual realizations.
In all actions, may I closely examine my state of mind,
and the moment a disturbing emotion or negative attitude arises,
since this may cause harm to myself and others,
may I firmly face and avert it.
Verse 3 – This verse calls for the sincere practice of mindfulness, closely examining our state of mind throughout all our actions. Through this practice of mindfulness, the teachings encourage us to firmly face and avert any disturbing emotions or negative attitudes the very moment they arise. The reason for this is that our delusions, disturbing emotions, and negative attitudes can provoke us to think, speak, or act in nonvirtuous ways which may cause harm to ourselves and others. This behavior brings karmic consequences and perpetuates our delusion and suffering. Therefore, throughout the day, while working, driving, walking, studying, talking with others, and so forth, we should closely examine our state of mind and heart. By training our mind in this skillful way, we will be able to firmly face and avert disturbing emotions and negative attitudes as they arise and before they develop any further momentum or power.
Whenever I meet people of unpleasant character
or those overwhelmed by negativity, pain or suffering,
may I cherish and care for them as if I had found
a rare and precious treasure difficult to find.
Verse 4 – When we encounter unpleasant people, or those overwhelmed by negativity, pain, or suffering, we often prefer to ignore or avoid them rather than cherish and care for them. We may consider ourselves to be more important or more evolved than such beings, and we usually turn from them, as we do not want to be bothered, hurt, or contaminated by their condition. This verse suggests reversing our usual self-cherishing attitude by learning to cherish and care for such people, being joyful and grateful as if we had found a rare and precious treasure. To overcome the delusion and egoism of our self-cherishing, we view this encounter as an opportunity to serve and bring happiness to others, rather than a nuisance to be avoided. In this way, our self-cherishing mind diminishes and our compassion deepens so as to embrace all living beings without exception.
Whenever others, because of their jealousy,
treat me badly with abuse, insult, slander, or in other unjust ways,
may I accept this defeat myself and offer the victory to others.
Verse 5 – Learning to accept loss and defeat for ourselves and offering gain and victory to others is the very foundation of the bodhisattva practice. Although it may appear, at the worldly level, that we suffer loss by way of this practice, ultimately the practitioner receives the greatest benefits of spiritual wealth and virtue. In learning to accept harsh or unjust treatment, we should not allow ourselves to react with anger, behave in the same nonvirtuous ways in return, or to abandon others because of their actions toward us. This is the essence of accepting defeat and offering the victory, and the accomplishment of supreme patience and kindness. By accepting defeat and offering the victory to others, with the pure motivation of heartfelt compassion, we destroy the ignorance of our self-cherishing at its very roots.
When someone whom I have benefited or in whom I have placed
great trust and hope, harms me or treats me in hurtful ways without reason,
May I see that person as my precious teacher.
Verse 6 – When we are kind to people, helping them, giving them our trust and hope, we naturally expect to be treated kindly in return. When people repay our kindness and trust by harming us or treating us in hurtful ways, we often react with anger, hurt, or disappointment. After such an experience, we may find it difficult to give them our love and respect. This type of ordinary love is conditional and impure. As practitioners, we want to embrace a situation such as this with skillful wisdom, compassion, and unconditional love. Therefore, it is essential that we have a way to transform these difficult experiences into the actual path to enlightenment. To accomplish this, we learn to see a person who harms us or treats us in hurtful ways, as our precious teacher. This person becomes our precious teacher because of the priceless dharma lessons we receive. Through their kindness, we also receive the ripening and purification of our own negative karma, which is the inevitable result of our having done a similar thing to someone in the past. In this way, we can see how even our worst enemies can be our greatest benefactors and precious teachers.
In brief, may I offer both directly and indirectly all help,
happiness and benefit to all beings, my mothers, and may I secretly
take upon myself all of their harmful actions, pain and suffering.
Verse 7 – This verse refers to the essence of Tong-len practice (Giving and Taking). We are to offer, directly and indirectly, our help, happiness, benefit, skills, and resources in loving service to all beings who certainly, at some time in the past, have been our own mothers. In Tong-Ien practice, with strong compassion, we visualize taking on the obstacles, problems, illnesses, and suffering of others. We then visualize giving them all of our happiness, comfort, love, virtue, prosperity, and great insights. In this verse the word ‘secretly’ suggests this particular practice of compassion may not be suitable or may be too difficult for beginning practitioners. It also means that this practice should be done discreetly, and not openly displayed or spoken about so as to gain praise or recognition.
May I keep all of these practices undefiled by stains of the eight worldly concerns
(gain/loss, pleasure/pain, praise/blame, fame/dishonor), and by recognizing
the emptiness and illusory nature of all existing things, may I be liberated
from the bondage of attachment and mistaken views of reality.
Verse 8 – It is essential that our spiritual practice not be defiled or stained by the eight worldly concerns. For example, engaging in these practices hoping to be recognized or praised as an excellent dharma practitioner is not the right motivation. Nor should we practice with expectations of gaining something special or pleasurable for ourselves. Our motivation for practice must not become polluted or obscured by worldly concerns and attachment. The right motivation is to act exclusively and compassionately for the benefit of other beings. Our mind training practice must also be unified with our direct perception of ultimate truth—emptiness. As we gain realization of ultimate truth, we understand the empty, illusory, and impermanent nature of all existing things. With this realization, grasping or clinging to external appearances, or being deceived by them, diminishes, and we gain liberation from the bondage of attachment and mistaken views of reality.