The Jewel Ornament of Liberation

The following article is from the Spring, 1998 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

The Wish-fulfilling Gem of the Noble Teachings

by Dharma Lord Gampopa, translated by Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche, fore, by the Dalai Lama, edited by Ani K. Trinlay Cliodron. 520 pp., glossary, study guide, bibliography, notes, 6 x 9 #JEORLI $19.95

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The Jewel Ornament of Liberation is a master work of Tibetan Buddhism. For more than eight centuries, this text has provided a complete foundation for Buddhist study and practicebeginning with how to enter the path, and continuing through to the achievement of Buddhahood. It includes teachings on Buddha-nature, finding the spiritual master, impermanence, karma, the cultivation of bodhicitta, the development of the six perfections, the ten bodhisattva bhumis, Buddhahood, and the activities of the Buddha.

Anyone who knows the Jewel Ornament well can say that they really understand Buddhism.Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen

Gampopa (1074-1153 C.E.) was fully accomplished in the teachings and practice of Buddhism. He was the principal student of Milarepa and his teachings were clear like the sun. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation is the most significant of his many texts. Gampopa said, For anyone who wishes to see me, studying this [book] is the same as meeting me.

Venerable Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen was born in Tsari, Tibet. After escaping from Chinese-controlled Tibet, he received his Acharya degree at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies at Varanasi, Indiaa nine-year program. He then studied for years with highly realized masters of the different lineages. He did the traditional three-year retreat during which time he studied the Fivefold Profound Path of Mahamudra, the Six Yogas of Naropa and other teachings. In 1982, he came to the USA and established the Tibetan Meditation Center, now located in Frederick, Maryland. Since then he has devoted himself to establishing and teaching at various centers, writing and translating many texts.

Other books by Khenpo: Prayer Hags, Garland of Mahamudra Practices, In Search of the Stainless Ambrosia, The Great Kagyu Masters.

Following is an excerpt from The Jewel Ornament of Liberation titled Training in Aspiration Bodhicitta.

XII. Training. After cultivating bodhicitta, there are two types of training:

A. training in aspiration bodhicitta, and

B. in action bodhicitta.

A. Training in Aspiration Bodhicitta. The summary:

Not forsaking sentient beings from one's heart,

Recollecting the beneficial effects of that mind,

Gathering the two accumulations,

Practicing the enlightened mind repeatedly, and

Accepting the four virtues and rejecting the four nonvirtues

These five comprise the training in aspiration bodhicitta.

The first one is the method for not losing bodhicitta. The second one is the method by which bodhicitta does not weaken. The third one is the method for increasing the strength of bodhicitta. The fourth one is the method for deepening bodhicitta. The fifth one is the method for not forgetting bodhicitta.

1. Not Forsaking Sentient Beings from One's Heart. First, the training in not forsaking sentient beings from one's heart is the method for not losing bodhicitta. The Naga King Anavalapta-Requested Sutra says:

A bodhisattva who possesses one quality holds all the excellent qualities of the Buddhas. What is that one quality? A mind which does not forsake anyone from one's heart.

Suppose someone acts unfavorably toward you, and you adopt an attitude of distance from that person and have no concern for them. Even if there were a chance to help that person in the future, you would refuse to do it. Even if a time came to protect that person from harm, you would refuse to do it. That is called forsaking sentient beings.

Furthermore, what is meant by forsaking sentient beings? Does it mean all sentient beings or just one? Even Hearers or Solitary Realizers will not forsake all sentient beings, neither will the hawk and wolf. Therefore. if one forsakes even one being and does not apply the antidote within a session,1 then bodhicitta is lost. It is completely unreasonable to forsake sentient beings from your heart while being called a bodhisattva and maintaining other training. For example, this is like killing one's only child and then accumulating wealth on his behalf.

Of course one will not give up this attitude toward those beings who are benefitting oneself, but there is a danger of giving it up regarding those who harm you. To them especially, one should cultivate compassion and make efforts to bring them benefit and happiness. This is the tradition of the Noble Ones. It is said:

When harm has been done in return for good deeds,

Even then it is to be answered by great compassion.

The excellent beings of this world

Return a good deed for an evil one.

2. Recollecting the Beneficial Effects of Bodhicitta. Second, the training in recollecting the beneficial effects of bodhicitta is the method by which bodhicitta cannot weaken. The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment says:

The quality of cultivating
The mind of aspiration
Was explained by Maitreya

In the Planting the Noble Stalk Sutra.

Thus it. says, and so forth.

In that sutra, the beneficial effects of bodhicitta are illustrated through about 230 similes. All these beneficial effects are abbreviated as four categories. Thus: O one of noble family! Bodhicitta is like the seed of all the Buddhas' qualities, and it dispels all poverty like Vaisravana, and so forth refer to the beneficial effects for oneself.

It fully protects all migrators like a shelter, and it supports all sentient beings so it is like ground, and so forth refer to its beneficial effects for others.

Because it is victorious over all the enemies of afflicting emotions, it is like a spear, and it completely cuts the tree of suffering like an axe, and so forth refer to its beneficial effect of cutting off all the unfavorable conditions.

It accomplishes all aspirations like the noble vase,and it accomplishes all wishes like the precious, wish-granting jewel, and so forth refer to its beneficial effect of establishing all the favorable conditions.

In this way when one recollects all these virtues, one will cherish this precious bodhicitta highly. In this way when one practices, one sustains this mind without weakening. Therefore, one should persistently recollect all these beneficial effects; at least, one should recollect them once every session.

3. Gathering the Two Accumulations. Third, the training in gathering the two accumulations is the method for increasing the strength of bodhicitla. The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment says:

The accumulation of merit and wisdom

Is the nature of the cause of perfection. And so forth.

The accumulation of merit refers to the ten virtuous activities, the four methods of gathering, and so forth, as related to skillful methods. The accumulation of primordial wisdom refers to these practices realized as being fully free from the three spheres and so forth, as relates to the perfect wisdom. In this way, gathering the two accumulations establishes the power of bodhicitta in one's mind. Therefore, persistently gather the two accumulations; even by reciting one short mantra one can gather the two accumulations, so this should be done at least once each session. The Speech to an Assembly says:

Today, how should I accumulate

Merit and wisdom?

How can I benefit sentient beings?

Bodhisattvas constantly contemplate in this way.

4. Practicing the Enlightened Mind. Fourth, practicing the enlightened mind repeatedly is the method for deepening bodhicitta. The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment says:

After developing aspiration bodhicitta,

One should make a great effort to deepen it.

In this, there are three topics: practicing the mind of the cause of enlightenment, practicing the mind of actual enlightenment, and practicing the mind of the action of enlightenment. Practicing these three deepens bodhicitta.

For the first, persistently develop loving-kindness and compassion toward all beings at least once each session.

The practice of actual enlighten ment is the desire to obtain enlightenment for the benefit of sentient beings. Contemplate this three times in the daytime and three times at night. Use the detailed ceremony for cultivation of bodhicitta or at least repeat the following once each session:

I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharaia, and the Sangha until I achieve enlightenment. By the merit of generosity and other good deeds, may I attain enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.

There are two subdivisions in the mind of the action of enlightenment: practicing the attitude of benefitting others and practicing purification of one's own mind. First, cultivate the mind to dedicate and give your body, wealt h, and all the virtues of the three times for others' benefit and happiness. Second, practice purifying your own mind. Always watch your moral ethics and abstain from evil deeds and afflictive emotions.

5. Rejection of the Four Unwholesome Deeds and Acceptance of the Four Wholesome Deeds. Fifth, training in rejection of the four unwholesome deeds and acceptance of the four wholesome deeds is the method of not forgetting bodhicitta. The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment says:

One should fully protect the training as it is explained

In older to recollect this bodhicitta even in other lifetimes.

Where is this training explained? The Kashyapa-Requested Sutra says:

The four unwholesome deeds are stated. Kashyapa, the bodhi-sattva who possesses four qualities will forget bodhicitta. What are these four? These are: and so forth. Abbreviated, these are: deceiving the lama and those wort hy of worship; causing remorse in others when remorse is not appropriate; through aversion, saying improper words about a bodhisattva who has cultivated bodhicitta; and behaving deceitfully toward sentient beings.

The four wholesome deeds are also explained this way:

Kashyapa, the bodhisattva who possesses four qualities will remember bodhicitta immediat ely upon birth in all other lifetimes until he obtains the heart of enlightenment. Which are these four? These are: and so forth. Abbreviated, these are: not telling lies consciously even at the risk of one's own life; generally establishing all sentient beings in virtue, particularly in the virtues of the Mahayana; seeing bodhisattvas who have cultivated bodhicitta as Buddhas and proclaiming their qualities in all the ten directions; and sincerely maintaining the altruistic attitude toward all sentient beings.

Explanation of the first unwholesome deed. When one deceives the spiritual master, abbot, master, or one worthy of offerings by telling a lie with an insincere mind, your bodhicitta is lost if the antidote is not applied within a session whether they are aware of the lie or not, whether they are pleased or not, whether it is big or not, or whether they are deceived or not. The first wholesome deed is its antidote. Desist from consciously telling lies, even at the risk of your life.

Explanation of the second unwholesome deed. When someone performs virtuous deeds and you intend to make them regret it, your bodhicitta is lost if the antidote is not applied within a session whether they actually feel remorse or not. The second wholesome deed is its antidote. Establish all sentient beings in virtue, particularly in the virtues of the Mahayana. (Note: Chen-ngawa and Chayulwa specified virtuous Mahayana actions. Gyayondak said either Mahayana or Hinayana actions. Take, for example, the practice of generosity. The way of giving is virtuous, but if you get hungry tomorrow and have to go begging and so forth this can cause regret.)

Explanation of the third unwholesome deed. When, with hatred, you use improper words with a person who has cultivated bodhicitta, bodhicitta is lost if the antidote is not applied within a session whether you expressed ordinary faults or faults of the Dhanna, whether directly or indirectly, whether specific or not, whether gently or harshly, whether they heard it or not, or whether they were pleased or not. The third wholesome deed is its antidote. See bodhisattvas who have cultivated bodhicitta as Buddhas and make efforts to proclaim their virtues in all the ten directions.

Explanation of the fourth unwholesome deed. When, with deceit, you commit fraud toward any sentient being, bodhicitta is lost if the antidote is not applied within a session whether he was aware of it or not or whether it caused harm or not. The fourth wholesome deed is its antidote. Maintain the altruistic attitude toward all sentient beings and wish to benefit others without considering your own profit. ä_æ

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