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 What it Means to be Lucky

Selflessness And Compassion
Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche,
Translated by Ari Goldfield
Excerpted from the transcript of "A Commentary On What It Means To Be Lucky" (Vancouver 1998)
Originally published in Bodhi Issue 3
3 of 4 | 1, 2, 3, 4 |

Sixth verse of Lucky :

    Knowing samsara's cause is belief in 'I'
    You know its remedy to be selflessness
    So if you apply scripture and reasoning
    To gain certainty that there is no self
    And if you meditate on selflessness, you're so fortunate–
    This is what it means to be lucky.

Why is it that if we meditate on selflessness we are so fortunate? The cause of going around in the cycle of existence, the cause of all kleshas, of all mental afflictions, of performing any kind of non-virtuous, negative action, in short the root cause of any type of difficulty we could ever experience, is clinging to "I," the belief that there is a truly existent self where there really isn't one.  The antidote for believing in this self, where there really is no self, is to meditate on selflessness. Therefore, to meditate on selflessness is what it means to be fortunate, what it means to be lucky. 

Seventh verse of Lucky:

    All beings have been your father and mother
    Knowing this you train your mind in love and compassion
    This makes you stop worrying so much
    About your own comfort and happiness
    When you give rise to supreme bodhicitta–
    This is what it means to be lucky.

Bodhicitta, or the awakening mind, is called the mind turned towards supreme enlightenment.  It is the highest thought we can have. In order to give rise to it, we must first develop the attitude that all beings have been our father, our mother, our close, close family relations, our best friend, and that all beings are like that.  By thinking in that way, we are able to develop loving-kindness and compassion for others, and not only for a few others, but for all sentient beings.  We are able to develop great loving-kindness and great compassion.  Loving-kindness means that we want all other beings to be happy and to have the causes of happiness always present within them.  Compassion means that we want sentient beings to be completely free from suffering, and to always be free from the causes of any suffering.  By training our minds in this loving-kindness and compassion, we give up the notion or the quest to make ourselves happy.  We stop thinking so much about our own happiness, our own comfort, because we are concerned with others. Through the combination of all of these ways we give rise to relative bodhicitta, which means that we develop the thought, "I want to attain enlightenment for the benefit of others. That's the reason I am on this path."  When a person gives rise to that type of attitude, he is called a male bodhisattva if he is a man and a female bodhisattva if she is a woman. So it doesn't matter what you are, you are a bodhisattva if you give rise to that attitude.  And if you do that, then that is what it means to be lucky. 

The meditation on selflessness is taught before explaining relative bodhicitta because meditation on selflessness is a meditation common to both the foundational vehicle, or the vehicle of the sravakas and the pratyekabuddhas, and also to the great vehicle of the Mahayana.  So it is common to both the Hinayana and the Mahayana, whereas the meditation on relative bodhicitta is found only in the Mahayana. It is a unique, extraordinary teaching of the Mahayana. That's why, in Rinpoche's song, that teaching  follows the foundational teaching on selflessness.

Next: Emptiness And Appearance
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