The 8 Verses
for Transforming the Mind
From a teaching given by Lama Shenpen on Paros in December 2000.
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     We will start from today and for 8 days a text which has been composed about a 100 years before, by a teacher called Geshe Langri Tangpa; and the name of it is the 8 verses of the mind transformation, or transforming the mind.

     One time the Dalai lama was giving a teaching to non-Buddhist people, but more generally, and he was asking them the question about what was appealing them into Buddhism, what was calling them into Buddhism. And most of the people say that what seems clear for them was Compassion, this attitude to take care of others, to do not bring in front our own selfish motivation, but instead to have a specific attention to help others.
So those 8 verses are about that. How to train the mind, how to tame the mind in order that we can slowly, gradually, become less and less selfish, less and less self centered.
     We could say that what we call Compassion in Tibetan Buddhism is not what is commonlly call compassion outside. It refers to a specific type of engagement which is without limit in the time, and without limit in the effort that we want, that we wish to give for the sake of the others. The proper term for Compassion in Tibetan Buddhism is awakening mind, and this Awakening Mind, just the word by itself holds this very deep concept of opening our mind completely to the others. Not only to human beings, but to all sentient beings, to animal, spirits, ghosts, to whoever needs any kind of help, to whoever is experiencing suffering and need someone as a guide to get free from that suffering.
That is a broader definition of that extremely altruistic motivation, commonly translated as Compassion.

     Each day we will start by reading the verse, trying to get an idea of its meaning, and then meditate on it in order to get the essence of it. What does mean meditate on it? In that case it's more a kind of analytical meditation in the sense that you will not keep your mind on an object, but you will turn your mind again and again and try to understand exactly what it means and to have also a specific attention about how to apply it in your daily life. So probably you can review some situations, some scene, recently or not, in which you have lost your temper, in which the anger has been the first emotion to come out, and how you should have dealt with that situation instead of getting angry. How it could have been different if you would have been able to control your mind, to hold your mind a little bit.
     Often in Tibetan Buddhism the mind is compared to a wild elephant. And it is said that a wild untamed mind is far more dangerous than a wild elephant. A wild elephant may destroy houses, villages, but it's far more easy to tame such animal than to tame our mind.
Not only because in this life we did not have the opportunity to learn maybe truly how to tame it, and we haven't been educated since young on that path. But also because since life and life and life we get exactly the opposite habits, we get the habit to let it free, to let it un-ruled. We get the habit to let the mind do exactly what it wants. And to give us its orders. So sometimes we would like to do something else, but we end up to do what our ego wants for its own satisfaction.
Slowly by slowly we have to reorganize our way of thinking, not letting the negative emotions and disturbed mental factors to arise as quick, but instead to think about what is the best way to react, what is the proper way to deal with such situation in order at least to do not harm people. Because that is the first step. If we are not yet ready to help the others by any mean, then the first step is surely not to harm them. It's to learn how to stop our mouth, our actions, when we reach the point where for any selfish reasons we will act in a way that can harm others. That is important to do, to think about.

1rst verse
With the thought of attaining enlightenment
For the welfare of all beings,
Who are more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel,
I will constantly practice holding them dear.

2nd verse
Whenever I am with others
I will practice seeing myself as the lowest of all,
And from the very depth of my heart
I will respectfully hold others as supreme.

3rd verse
May I examine my mind in all actions
And as soon as a negative thought occurs,
Since it endangers myself and others
May I firmly face and avert it.

4th verse
When I see beings of negative disposition
Or those oppressed by negativity or pain,
May I, as if finding a treasure, consider them precious,
For they are rarely met.

5th verse
Whenever others, due to their jealousy,
Revile and treat me in others unjust ways,
May I accept this defeat myself,
And offer the victory to others.

6th verse
When someone whom I have helped
Or in whom I have placed great hope
Harms me with great injustice,
May I see that one as a sacred friend.

7th verse
In short may I offer both directly and indirectly,
All joy and benefit to all beings, my mothers,
And may I myself
Secretly take on all of their hurts and suffering.

8th verse
May they not be defiled by the concepts
Of the eight mundane concerns,
And aware that all things are illusory,
May them, ungrasping, be free from bondage.

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