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LDC Basic Dharma Program

Subject 3 : Mahayana Mind Training
Text : Dharmaraksita's

The Wheel Of Sharp Weapons

Commentary by the Venerable Sam-lo Geshe Kelsang Session 4/2001
Translated by Ven. Thubten Dechen and Ven. Ngawang Jangchup 24th June, 2001

Verse 19:

When the things we require for daily consumption
And use, fall apart or are wasted or spoilt,
This is the wheel of sharp weapons returning
Full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Till now we have been careless with others’ possessions;
Hereafter let’s give them whatever they need.

Although it is mentioned ‘things we required for daily consumption’, we should also include things which we treasured very much or like very much. When they fall apart, spoilt, stolen, burned, etc, it is due to us having stolen or not taking care of others possessions and thereby spoiling their things. The practice now is to give them what they need and to help them get what they need; to practice giving.

Verse 20:

When our minds are unclear and our hearts are unhappy,
We are bored doing virtue but excited by vice,
This is the wheel of sharp weapons returning
Full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Till now we have led others to acts of non-virtue;
Hereafter let’s never provide the conditions
That rouse them to follow their negative traits.

There is a slight difference in the first line according to the Tibetan translation. The Tibetan translation is ‘our minds are unhappy and our hearts are unclear’.

There are two conditions in which our minds become unhappy. The first is when we heard unpleasant sound or when others criticise us and these cause our minds to be unhappy. The other condition is when our minds just experience unhappiness without any reason.

‘Our hearts become unclear’ means not understanding Dharma or sometimes, when we study we could not comprehend and this makes it very difficult to study. It also means when we try to meditate, the image is unclear.

The second line refers to favouring non-virtue and dislike virtuous actions. This is due to us having caused others to do non-virtuous deeds. Another way of explaining is due to our misconduct leading to others’ criticism of us. In case of the latter, the action is two-fold. Having created the negative action (misconduct) and having caused others to criticise (negative action). These are what we should abandon.

The practice now is to conduct ourselves well so that we would not lead others into negative actions. For example when monks and nuns do not hold their precepts well, not doing their prayers and other duties which they are supposed to do and when others realised these, they start to criticise and thereby creating negative actions. Therefore, the monks and nuns should conduct themselves well so that there will be no criticism on them (leading to others creating negative actions).

Verse 21:

When our minds are disturbed and we feel great frustration
That things never happen the way that we wish,
This is the wheel of sharp weapons returning
Full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Till now we have caused interfering disturbance
When others were focused on virtuous acts;
Hereafter let’s stop causing such interruption.

It can be explained, as when monks and nuns neglect their practice, their minds will feel unhappy. Also when their parents come to know about them not practising, they would feel unhappy, their minds are disturbed in this way. However, if the monks and nuns practice well, they will bring benefit to sentient beings in general as well as causing the minds of their parents to be happy.

Another example would be, when we are in businesses which make lots of money we feel extremely happy. But when our businesses suffer and we loss the money or when thieves broke into our office and stole all our possessions, our minds are disturbed. We feel great frustration.

“Till now we have caused interfering disturbance When others were focused on virtuous acts;”

These two lines refers to us not studying Dharma, not meditating, not doing our prayers when we are supposed to, instead, we focus on worldly activities. When others are trying to do virtuous deeds, to mediate, study Dharma, etc, we discourage them and we encourage them to do worldly things. We have thus discouraged others from virtue and urged them on non-virtue. So now, we should stop doing all these.

For example, there are two good friends. One is very poor but is always busy doing his prayers and other practices. The other, who is very rich, felt sorry for his friend’s poverty and suggests to him to postpone his practice and to work for him so as to improve his living conditions. If his poor friend listens to him, gave up his practice to work for him, the rich friend would have created negative karma. Although his suggestion is out of kindness or good intention, because he had distracted the poor man from his practice, he thus created negative karma.

Another example is two good friends - one saying to the other to postpone his practice and accompany him in some social activities. Although he might have suggested out of good intention, he would still be creating negative karma because he has distracted his friend from practicing Dharma.

Therefore, the criterion here is having distracted others from their practice, whether the underlying intention (harmful or good) is immaterial.

Thus when others are focus on their practice, we should admire them and rejoice as well as to encourage them on their practice.

Verse 22:

When nothing we do ever pleases our Gurus,
This is the wheel of sharp weapons returning
Full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Till now with our Gurus we have feigned pious manners,
But out of their presence have reverted to sin.
Hereafter let’s try to be less hypocritical
And take all the teachings sincerely to heart.

Such circumstances need not occur all the time, it can happen at times. Sometimes, although we are very hardworking and listen to our Guru’s advise but still our Guru is not please with us. We should understand that it is due to our past action, of having pretended to practice hard and heed all advices from our Guru when he was present but as soon as he was not around, we started to create all the non-virtues.

Another situation would be pretending to practice very hard and adhering to all advices from our Guru with the intention to show off to others such that they would be taken by our actions and praise us. Once we are away from the public eye, our minds turn negative and we do all the negative actions. An analogy would be that of a cat or a bird. In our presence, the cat and the bird appear to be very tame and sweet but once we are not watching, the cat will prey on the mouse and the bird will prick on the worms.

There are people who mediate, do prayers, etc with the intention to obtain praise, offerings, etc from others. In this way, the mind and the action is inconsistent. This is what we should abandon. Whatever we think and do must be consistent. If we cannot benefit others, at least we do not harm them. Also, it is very important that whatever we practice externally, we also take care of our mind at the same time. Outwardly we perform virtuous deeds; inwardly our minds should also be engaged in virtuous thoughts.

I would like to request Geshe-la to explain further on “careless with others’ possessions” in verse 19.

This phrase means that we are careless with others’ necessity. This includes not taking care, destroying, stealing and spoiling etc. We only take care of our own things, and could not be bothered with others’ possessions.

I would like to confirm my understanding on the difference between verse 20 and 21. Verse 20 refers to us creating the condition or persuading others into non-virtue while verse 21 refers to interrupting others’ virtuous actions or distracting them from virtuous actions. Both of which resulted in us having unclear and disturbed minds subsequently. Is my understanding correct?

Yes. You have understood correctly. To repeat the explanation on the last two lines of verse 20. We should conduct ourselves properly so that we would not create the condition for others to create negative karma when they criticise our misdeeds. We should abandon non-virtuous actions so that we do not create negative karma and also not create the condition for others to create negative karma.

Can Gen-la give more examples on how did we lead others on non-virtuous actions?

If we were to steal and others found out, they would accuse us and get angry with us. In this way, our negative karma is twofold - the negative karma of stealing and the negative karma of leading others to non-virtue (generate anger). Although what they said is true, that we have stolen, as it came from negative mind, it is considered a downfall, negative karma.

Also, if monks or nuns stole and others criticised, the negative karma committed by those who criticised is double because of the object of criticism.

Does persuading others to join us in non-virtuous actions included in ‘leading others to non-virtue’?

Yes, because if you did not suggest, they would not join in.

For example if somebody wants to do a Nyung-nay retreat but I persuade him to help me with Centre’s work instead. Would I be ‘distracting others from virtue’?

It depends. We have to weigh the benefit of both actions. If he gives up a more beneficial deed for the less, then there will be a downfall.

If I want to meditate on the teaching of wisdom but someone asks me to help out in a charity food fair and I agreed. Has that person committed a downfall?

If meditating on the teaching of wisdom can really help to develop your mind and you go to the food fair instead, then there is a little downfall. However, if the meditation does not affect your mind much whereas helping out at the food fair is meritorious then there is no downfall. In addition, if you have developed your mind on the understanding of selflessness and that meditation becomes very important to you, then there is a downfall for the person who cause you to give up meditation and help at the food fair.

Verse 23:

When others find fault with whatever we are doing
And people seem eager to blame only us,
This is the wheel of sharp weapons returning
Full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Till now we have been shameless, not caring about others,
We have thought that our deeds did not matter at all
Hereafter let’s stop our offensive behaviour.

‘When others find fault with us….’ means even though we are doing good deeds but are blamed by others. They find fault with us and speak against us even though we have done nothing wrong. Again, this does not mean all the time, some times things happen to us in this way.

Next, we are going to explain a little bit on ‘shame’. There are two aspects. The first is a sense of shame within us that stops us from doing wrong. We feel shameful of non-virtuous deeds and thus refrain from doing them. The second is the fear of our wrongful deeds being discovered by others and cause us shame when they criticise us and thus we refrain from doing those actions.

If we have a sense of shame and avoid actions which would lead to shame, our parents would be pleased with us. However if we lack a sense of shame, we are shameless with our negative deeds, we would bring shame to our family, friends, teachers, etc. Also, if we are shameless, it also means that we do not care about the feelings of our family, friends and teachers, we simply do what we like without concern for their feelings or comments. On the contrary, if we are concern with the feelings of others, that they would be happy with our virtuous deeds and unhappy should our deeds be non-virtuous. Due to this concern, we refrain from wrongs. In this way, we care about them.

Are there general causes and specific causes for others to find fault with us although we have not done anything wrong?

There are many possibilities or causes to the result. In the text we only cite one cause. There can be many other causes.

Relating to verse 23, could Gen-la give some advices on how should we respond in such circumstances? For example I was helping in an area which is not within my scope and I got blamed for whatever happened. Naturally I got angry because I was just being helpful and I got the blame!

In situation like this, we should be patience. If we get angry and utter harsh words, we would cause two parties to be unhappy. We should recollect the drawbacks of anger and avoid getting upset. The only way is to be patience because we cannot control when others would find fault with us. Also, we can reflect on this verse we have just learned that it could be due to our past actions, that we have found faults with others when they have not done anything wrong. In this way, we could perhaps subdue our anger. If we are able to say ‘sorry’ to the other party that will be the best however it is difficult to apologise directly to another person so we can contemplate the teachings in our own mind and take care of ourselves (mind). The practice now is to give up any negative actions that will upset others.


Note on authentication

Jacqueline Lam prepared and edited the original typescript from the tape recording. Pek Chee Hen checked and re-edited the typescript based on his notes.

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