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Guarding the Mind with Introspection are teachings given by the Venerable Geshe Doga during the 2006 Easter course at Tara Institute, Melbourne, Australia. Venerable Geshe Doga gave a commentary on the 5th chapter of the Introduction to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life by Shantideva during the course. It explains the practice of guarding one’s actions with introspection. Translated by Ven. Fedor Stracke and republished by Happy Monks Publication in 2014.

You can download the PDF of this publication here.

Below is an excerpt from Guarding the Mind With Introspection

INTRODUCTION

Please sit yourself comfortably in a good posture. You need to follow the three steps of having a good motivation, listening well and taking the meaning to heart. Therefore, please initially generate a good motivation for listening to the teachings, then listen attentively to what is being said and take the meaning of what has been said to heart.

This teaching is a commentary on the fifth chapter of The Introduction to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life by the great bodhisattva Shantideva, which is called Guarding with Introspection. Shantideva was a special person who had generated bodhicitta. This means that continuously, day and night, he wished others to be happy and free from suffering. He wished to benefit them and was always concerned with not harming them.

Even if one cannot be like Shantideva immediately, one should aspire to become like him gradually over time. Say to yourself: ‘I am starting today with training in the attitude that is concerned with the welfare of others. I am going to train in wishing others to be happy and free from suffering’.

The fifth chapter of The Introduction to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life explains how to practise the higher training of morality with mindfulness and introspection. This explanation comes in two parts: Presenting the main body of the text and presenting the name of the text. The initial main outline, presenting the main body of  the text, has four points:

  • Guarding the mind as a method for guarding the trainings;
  • Relying on mindfulness and introspection as methods for guarding the mind;
  • The way of training in the practices with mindfulness and introspection;
  • Other features of the training that make it perfect.

The sequence of these outlines eliminates doubts with regard to the sequence of practice. One has to guard one’s training to progress along the path. To guard one’s training one has to guard the mind. This leads to the question, ‘How do I guard my mind?’, which is answered in the next outline that says that mindfulness and introspection are the methods for guarding the mind. After that, it explains how actually to protect the mind with mindfulness and introspection. Then come other features of the training that complement it and make it perfect.

PRESENTING THE MAIN BODY OF THE TEXT

GUARDING THE MIND AS A METHOD FOR GUARDING THE BODHISATTVA TRAININGS BRIEF PRESENTATION

Those wishing to protect the trainings      [1]
Protect the mind after focusing it strongly.
If one does not protect this mind
It is impossible for the trainings to be protected.

One definition of morality is: the mind of control; another is: the thought to abandon non-virtue. Protecting one’s training of morality is protecting the different sets of vows. It is not enough to just take vows, such as the vows of individual liberation, bodhisattva vows and tantric vows; they also need to be kept and the method for keeping the vows is to guard one’s mind. How does one guard one’s mind? One guards it with mindfulness and introspection.

Bodhisattvas, who wish to protect their trainings, protect their mind from wandering off to external objects after having focused it strongly internally. Without this, it will be impossible for them to practise the bodhisattva trainings.

Even though it explains here how to guard the mind with mindfulness and introspection in relation to the bodhisattva trainings, one needs to relate what one learns to one’s own practice. For example, everybody wants to develop qualities. We have made it our life’s work to develop qualities such as love and compassion,and to lessen faults such as anger. So why is it difficult to generate love and compassion, and, having generated these, why is it difficult to maintain and increase them? The answer is that the mind is not looked after properly with mindfulness and introspection.

First one needs to generate qualities and then these qualities need to be guarded so that they can abide and increase. If one allows one’s mind to fall under the control of anger, competitiveness, jealousy or pride then one’s qualities degenerate and one is not able to keep the continuity of one’s practices - one loses one’s love and compassion for others. Therefore, in the context of love and compassion it is important that we protect the mind with mindfulness and introspection.

One can observe a direct relationship between one’s happiness and the presence of love and compassion. If one has love and compassion then the mind is happy. But if the mind falls under the control of anger and one loses one’s love and compassion, then the happiness that one experienced is lost. Similarly, if the mind falls under the control of jealousy, competitiveness or pride, then the happiness that one previously experienced because of one’s love and compassion is lost. One can observe that a person under the control of negative emotions is constantly unhappy with everything. This is a very important lesson to understand.

If one treats animals such as cats and dogs well, they reply in kind by showing affection, which in turn makes one feel happy. One can see how much happier one will be if one treats other humans with love and compassion and one’s affection and kindness is returned by them. It is definitely possible to generate love and compassion for another person, even an enemy.

If one can cultivate love and compassion for the period of this life and prevent them from degenerating then one will receive very great benefit. For example, as we said, if one treats others with love and compassion one will be well-liked by them, which then generates joy and happiness. There are different ways in which one becomes happy through love and compassion, and by recognising their great worth one should generate a mind that values them.

Teachings on the seven points of the cause and effect instruction and tong-len
The essence of the Buddha's 84,000 teachings is bodhicitta: the awakening mind that aspires toward enlightenment, in order to have the perfect ability to free all beings from suffering and lead them to peerless happiness. On his two visits to Singapore in 1997, Venerable Lama Ribur Rinpoche taught extensively on how to generate that precious mind of enlightenment. Rinpoche also gave insightful teachings on lojong (thought transformation), the practice that enables us to transform problems into the causes for enlightenment.

How to Generate Bodhicitta is available as an ebook from online vendors; see links on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive website.

CHAPTERS
How to Generate Bodhicitta
Preface and Short Biography
The Seven-Point Cause and Effect Instruction
Exchanging Oneself and Others

Preface

In 1997 the students of Amitabha Buddhist Centre were blessed to receive teachings from the great master Ribur Rinpoche. Rinpoche visited us twice and stayed for a total of three and a half months, during which time he taught lamrim and lojong (thought transformation). This small booklet is extracted from Rinpoche's teachings.

A Brief Biography

Ribur Rinpoche was born in Kham, Eastern Tibet, in 1923. He was recognized at the age of five as the sixth incarnation of Lama Kunga Osel, a great scholar and teacher who spent the last twelve years of his life in strict solitary retreat. All five of the previous incarnations were principal teachers at Ribur Monastery in Kham.

When Ribur Rinpoche was fourteen he entered Sera monastery, one of the great Gelug monastic universities in Lhasa, to begin intensive studies in Buddhist philosophy, which culminated in his receiving the Geshe degree at the age of 25. During his stay at Sera Monastery Rinpoche also attended many teachings and initiations given by his root guru, Pabonka Rinpoche, the greatest Gelug lama of the time. After receiving his Geshe degree, Rinpoche returned to Kham where he spent many years doing retreat in a small hut he had built in the forest. But after the Chinese Communist invasion in 1950, the situation in Kham became increasingly dangerous, and in 1955 he was advised by one of his gurus, Trijang Rinpoche, to return to Lhasa, where he continued to take teachings and do retreats.

But Lhasa itself soon became unsafe. From 1959 (the year of the Tibetan people's uprising) to 1976, Rinpoche experienced numerous hardships and difficulties such as imprisonment and physical abuse, and being a helpless observer of the terrible destruction of the Cultural Revolution. However, during this time he was able to keep his mind peaceful and even happy by practicing the teachings he had learned. As Rinpoche described his experiences, "I didn't really experience the slightest difficulty during those adverse conditions. This was due to the kindness of Lama Dorje Chang [Pabongka Rinpoche]. From him I had somehow learned some mental training, and in those difficult times, my mind was immediately able to recognize the nature of cyclic existence, the nature of afflictive emotions, and the nature of karma and so forth. So my mind was really at ease."

Following the Cultural Revolution Rinpoche worked with the Panchen Lama to restore many of the lost spiritual treasures of Tibet as they could. His main accomplishment was recovering the two most precious statues of Shakyamuni Buddha: the Jowo Chenpo and the Ramo Chenpo. These two statues, originally brought to Tibet by the Chinese and Nepalese wives of King Songsten Gampo (ca 617-698), were taken to Beijing during the Cultural Revolution and kept in various warehouses along with thousands of other statues for 17 years, until Rinpoche found them and returned them to their respective temples in Lhasa.

In 1987 Rinpoche left Tibet and traveled to Dharamsala, India, to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Since then he has lived at Namgyal Monastery in Dharamsala, where, at the request of His Holiness, he wrote a number of biographies of great lamas and an extensive religious history of Tibet. Rinpoche has also visited and taught in several foreign countries - Australia, New Zealand, America, and around Europe. His warmth, humor, profound wisdom and practical, down-to-earth teachings have endeared him to many students around the world.

Background of the Teachings

More that 2,500 years ago, Shakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment and then proceeded to teach the path to enlightenment so that others could follow. His teachings have been kept alive to the present day through the great kindness and efforts of an unbroken lineage of practitioners who learned them from their masters, put them into practice, then passed them onto followers. In Tibet, the essential points of Buddha's teachings were formulated into a system known as the lamrim, or stages on the path to enlightenment, which explains all the steps or practices one needs to follow in order to attain enlightenment.

The lamrim consists of three main stages or levels, according to three different reasons or motivations for practicing Dharma. The first level, known as the "small scope," starts from taking an interest in one's future lives. This comes about when we realize that this present life could end at any time, and that after death, we will be reborn in an unfortunate state (as an animal, hungry ghost or hell being), and to achieve a fortunate state (as a deva, titan or human being), by taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and by living our lives in accordance with karma, the law of evolutionary actions and their results.

The second or "intermediate scope" involves developing the aspiration to become free once and for all from the cycle of death and rebirth. Within this scope, one focuses on the Four Noble Truths: the sufferings of cyclic existence, the causes of suffering (delusions and karma), the state of freedom from all suffering (nirvana), and the means to achieve it by practicing the three higher trainings of ethics, concentration and wisdom.

The third level, the "great scope," involves opening one's heart to consider the situation of all beings. Realizing that all beings experience suffering that they don't want and they fail to find the peace and happiness that they wish for, one develops the aspiration to attain full enlightenment in order to help everyone reach that perfect state as well. That altruistic aspiration is bodhicitta.

This booklet contains extracts of Ribur Rinpoche's precious teachings on how to develop bodhicitta, and how to practice thought transformation through which we become less self-centered and more concerned for others.

Numerous people contributed to this work. Rinpoche's teachings were beautifully translated into English by Fabrizio Pallotti. Several ABC students kindly transcribed the tapes, and I edited the transcript with assistance from Doris Low and Rise Koben.

Any errors in the text are entirely the fault of the editor.

Sangye Khadro
October 1998

On two visits to Singapore in 1997, Venerable Lama Ribur Rinpoche taught extensively on how to generate that precious mind of enlightenment.
The essence of the Buddha's 84,000 teachings is bodhicitta: the awakening mind that aspires toward enlightenment, in order to have the perfect ability to free all beings from suffering and lead them to peerless happiness. On his two visits to Singapore in 1997, Venerable Lama Ribur Rinpoche taught extensively on how to generate that precious mind of enlightenment. Rinpoche also gave insightful teachings on lojong (thought transformation), the practice that enables us to transform problems into the causes for enlightenment.

How to Generate Bodhicitta is available as an ebook from online vendors; see links on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive website. This book has also been translated into Vietnamese, as well as a Quick Return Prayer for Ribur Rinpoche composed by Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

Published in 2012 for free distribution by Amitabha Buddhist Centre, Singapore. Published as an ebook in 2014 in partnership with Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.

On his two visits to Singapore in 1997, Venerable Lama Ribur Rinpoche taught extensively on how to generate bodhicitta: the awakening mind aspiring towards enlightenment so as to have perfect ability to free all beings from suffering and lead them to peerless happiness. Using scriptural understanding and his personal experience, Rinpoche also gave teachings on lojong (thought transformation) which enables us to transform the inevitable problems of life into the causes for enlightenment.

Ribur Rinpoche was born in Tibet in 1923 and spent many years teaching all over the world before returning to India where he passed away in 2006. His warmth, humour and profound wisdom have endeared him to many students around the world.

CHAPTERS
How to Generate Bodhicitta
Preface and Short Biography
The Seven-Point Cause and Effect Instruction
Exchanging Oneself and Others