Advice from Atisha’s Heart
When Venerable Atisha came to Tibet he first went to Ngari, where he remained for two years giving many teachings to the disciples of Jangchub Ö.
After two years had passed he decided to return to India, and Jangchub Ö requested him to give one last teaching before he left.
Atisha replied that he had already given them all the advice they needed, but Jangchub Ö persisted in his request and so Atisha accepted and gave the following advice.
Friends, since you already have great knowledge and clear understanding, whereas I am of no importance and have little wisdom, it is not suitable for you to request advice from me. However because you dear friends, whom I cherish from my heart, have requested me, I shall give you this essential advice from my inferior and childish mind.
Friends, until you attain enlightenment the Spiritual Teacher is indispensable, therefore rely upon the holy Spiritual Guide.
Until you realize ultimate truth, listening is indispensable, therefore listen to the instructions of the Spiritual Guide.
Since you cannot become a Buddha merely by understanding Dharma, practice earnestly with understanding.
Avoid places that disturb your mind, and always remain where your virtues increase.
Until you attain stable realizations, worldly amusements are harmful, therefore abide in a place where there are no such distractions.
Avoid friends who cause you to increase delusions, and rely upon those who increase your virtue. This you should take to heart.
Since there is never a time when worldly activities come to an end, limit your activities.
Dedicate your virtues throughout the day and the night, and always watch your mind.
Because you have received advice, whenever you are not meditating always practice in accordance with what your Spiritual Guide says.
If you practice with great devotion, results will arise immediately, without your having to wait for a long time.
If from your heart you practice in accordance with Dharma, both food and resources will come naturally to hand.
Friends, the things you desire give no more satisfaction than drinking sea water, therefore practice contentment.
Avoid all haughty, conceited, proud, and arrogant minds, and remain peaceful and subdued.
Avoid activities that are said to be meritorious, but which in fact are obstacles to Dharma.
Profit and respect are nooses of the maras, so brush them aside like stones on the path.
Words of praise and fame serve only to beguile us, therefore blow them away as you would blow your nose.
Since the happiness, pleasure, and friends you gather in this life last only for a moment, put them all behind you.
Since future lives last for a very long time, gather up riches to provide for the future.
You will have to depart leaving everything behind, so do not be attached to anything.
Generate compassion for lowly beings, and especially avoid despising or humiliating them.
Have no hatred for enemies, and no attachment for friends.
Do not be jealous of others’ good qualities, but out of admiration adopt them yourself.
Do not look for faults in others, but look for faults in yourself, and purge them like bad blood.
Do not contemplate your own good qualities, but contemplate the good qualities of others, and respect everyone as a servant would.
See all living beings as your father or mother, and love them as if you were their child.
Always keep a smiling face and a loving mind, and speak truthfully without malice.
If you talk too much with little meaning you will make mistakes, therefore speak in moderation, only when necessary.
If you engage in many meaningless activities your virtuous activities will degenerate, therefore stop activities that are not spiritual.
It is completely meaningless to put effort into activities that have no essence.
If the things you desire do not come it is due to karma created long ago, therefore keep a happy and relaxed mind.
Beware, offending a holy being is worse than dying, therefore be honest and straightforward.
Since all the happiness and suffering of this life arise from previous actions, do not blame others.
All happiness comes from the blessings of your Spiritual Guide, therefore always repay his kindness.
Since you cannot tame the minds of others until you have tamed your own, begin by taming your own mind.
Since you will definitely have to depart without the wealth you have accumulated, do not accumulate negativity for the sake of wealth.
Distracting enjoyments have no essence, therefore sincerely practice giving.
Always keep pure moral discipline for it leads to beauty in this life and happiness hereafter.
Since hatred is rife in these impure times, don the armor of patience, free from anger.
You remain in samsara through the power of laziness, therefore ignite the fire of the effort of application.
Since this human life is wasted by indulging in distractions, now is the time to practice concentration.
Being under the influence of wrong views you do not realize the ultimate nature of things, therefore investigate correct meanings.
Friends, there is no happiness in this swamp of samsara, so move to the firm ground of liberation.
Meditate according to the advice of your Spiritual Guide and dry up the river of samsaric suffering.
You should consider this well because it is not just words from the mouth, but sincere advice from the heart.
If you practice like this you will delight me, and you will bring happiness to yourself and others.
I who am ignorant request you to take this advice to heart.
This is the advice that the holy being Venerable Atisha gave to Venerable Jang Chub Ö.
The Three Principal Aspects of the Path
A CONDENSED LAMRIM BY JE TSONGKHAPA
Homage to the venerable Spiritual Guide
I shall explain to the best of my ability
The essential meaning of all the Conqueror’s teachings,
The path praised by the holy Bodhisattvas,
And the gateway for fortunate ones seeking liberation.
You who are not attached to the joys of samsara,
But strive to make your freedom and endowment meaningful,
O Fortunate Ones who apply your minds to the path that pleases the Conquerors,
Please listen with a clear mind.
Without pure renunciation there is no way to pacify
Attachment to the pleasures of samsara;
And since living beings are tightly bound by desire for samsara,
Begin by seeking renunciation.
Freedom and endowment are difficult to find, and there is no time to waste.
By acquainting your mind with this, overcome attachment to this life;
And by repeatedly contemplating actions and effects and the sufferings of samsara,
Overcome attachment to future lives.
When, through contemplating in this way, the desire for the pleasures of samsara
Does not arise, even for a moment,
But a mind longing for liberation arises throughout the day and the night,
At that time, renunciation is generated.
However, if this renunciation is not maintained
By completely pure bodhichitta,
It will not be a cause of the perfect happiness of unsurpassed enlightenment;
Therefore, the wise generate a supreme bodhichitta.
Swept along by the currents of the four powerful rivers,
Tightly bound by the chains of karma, so hard to release,
Ensnared within the iron net of self-grasping,
Completely enveloped by the pitch-black darkness of ignorance,
Taking rebirth after rebirth in boundless samsara,
And unceasingly tormented by the three sufferings
Through contemplating the state of your mothers in conditions such as these,
Generate a supreme mind of bodhichitta.
But, even though you may be acquainted with renunciation and bodhichitta,
If you do not possess the wisdom realizing the way things are,
You will not be able to cut the root of samsara;
Therefore strive in the means for realizing dependent relationship.
Whoever negates the conceived object of self-grasping
Yet sees the infallibility of cause and effect
Of all phenomena in samsara and nirvana,
Has entered the path that pleases the Buddhas.
Dependent-related appearance is infallible
And emptiness is inexpressible;
For as long as the meaning of these two appear to be separate,
You have not yet realized Buddha’s intention.
When they arise as one, not alternating but simultaneous,
From merely seeing infallible dependent relationship,
Comes certain knowledge that destroys all grasping at objects.
At that time the analysis of view is complete.
Moreover, when the extreme of existence is dispelled by appearance,
And the extreme of non-existence is dispelled by emptiness,
And you know how emptiness is perceived as cause and effect,
You will not be captivated by extreme views.
When, in this way, you have correctly realized the essential points
Of the three principal aspects of the path,
Dear One, withdraw into solitude, generate strong effort,
And quickly accomplish the final goal.
Eight Verses of Training the Mind
Eight Verses of Training the Mind by Geshe Langri Tangpa
With the intention to attain
The ultimate, supreme goal
That surpasses even the wish-granting jewel,
May I constantly cherish all living beings.
Whenever I associate with others,
May I view myself as the lowest of all
And with a perfect intention,
May I cherish others as supreme.
Examining my mental continuum throughout all my actions,
As soon as a delusion develops
Whereby I or others would act inappropriately,
May I firmly face it and avert it.
Whenever I see unfortunate beings
Oppressed by evil and violent suffering,
May I cherish them as if I had found
A rare and precious treasure
Even if someone I have helped
And of whom I had great hopes
Nevertheless harms me without any reason,
May I see him as my holy Spiritual Guide.
When others out of jealousy
Harm me or insult me,
May I take defeat upon myself
And offer them the victory.
In short, may I directly and indirectly
Offer help and happiness to all my mothers,
And secretly take upon myself
All their harm and suffering.
Furthermore, through all these method practices,
Together with a mind undefiled by stains of conceptions of the eight extremes
And that sees all phenomena as illusory,
May I be released from the bondage of mistaken appearance and conception.
A full explanation of these verses can be found in
Geshe Kelsang’s book Eight Steps to Happiness