Eight Stanzas for Training the Mind

A Thought From His Holiness The Dalai Lama:

Photograph by Oscar Fernández featured in our Dalai Lama 2017 wall calendar.

Photograph by Oscar Fernández featured in our Dalai Lama 2017 wall calendar.

No matter whom I meet and where I go, I always give the advice to be altruistic, to have a good heart. From the time when I began to think until now, I have been cultivating this attitude of altruism. This is the essence of religion; this is the essence of the Buddhist teaching.

We should take this good heart, this altruism, as the very basis and internal structure of our practice and direct whatever virtuous activities we do toward its increase higher and higher. We should suffuse our minds with it thoroughly and use words or writings as means of reminding ourselves of the practice. Such words are the Eight Stanzas for Training the Mind, written by the Ga-dam-ba Ge-shay Lang-ritang- ba (1054 – 1123); they are very powerful even when practiced only at the level of enthusiastic interest.

I recite these verses every day and, when I meet with difficult circumstances, reflect on their meaning. It helps me .… If this helps your mind, practice it. If it does not help, there is no debate; just leave it. The dharma, or doctrine, is not for the sake of debate. These teachings were spoken by the great masters in order to help, not for people to quarrel with each other. Were I as a Buddhist to quarrel with a person of some other religion, then I think, if the Buddha were here today, he would scold me. The doctrine is to be brought into our own mental continuum for the sake of taming it.

In conclusion, my request, my appeal, is that you try as much as you can to develop compassion, love, and respect for others, share others’ suffering, have more concern for others’ welfare, and become less selfish. Whether you believe in God or not, in Buddha or not, does not matter. The important thing is to have a good heart, a warm heart, in daily life. This is the principle of life.

Eight Stanzas for Training the Mind

    1. With a determination to accomplish
      The highest welfare for all sentient beings
      Who surpass even a wish-granting jewel
      I will learn to hold them supremely dear.
    2. Whenever I associate with others I will learn
      To think of myself as the lowest among all
      And respectfully hold others to be supreme
      From the very depths of my heart.
    3. In all actions I will learn to search into my mind
      And as soon as an afflictive emotion arises
      Endangering myself and others
      Will firmly face and avert it.
    4. I will learn to cherish beings of ill nature
      And those oppressed by strong sins and suffering
      As if I had found a precious
      Treasure very difficult to find.
    5. When others out of jealousy treat me badly
      With abuse, slander, and so on,
      I will learn to take all loss
      And offer victory to them.
    6. When one whom I have benefited with great hope
      Unreasonably hurts me very badly,
      I will learn to view that person
      As an excellent spiritual guide.
    7. In short, I will learn to offer to everyone without exception
      All help and happiness directly and indirectly
      And respectfully take upon myself
      All harm and suffering of my mothers.
    8. I will learn to keep all these practices
      Undefiled by the stains of the eight worldly conceptions
      And by understanding all phenomena as like illusions
      Be released from the bondage of attachment.

All text from materials published by the Snow Lion imprint of Shambhala Publications and featured in our Dalai Lama wall calendar.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai LamaHis Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is both the head of state and the spiritual leader of Tibet, although he describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk. He was born in 1935 and, at the age of two, was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama. In 1959, with the Chinese suppression of the Tibetan national uprising in Lhasa, His Holiness was forced into exile. Since then, he has been living in Dharamsala in northern India, the seat of the Tibetan political administration in exile.

In 1989 His Holiness was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent struggle for the liberation of Tibet. He is the first Nobel Laureate to be recognized for his concern for global environmental issues. He has received many awards, honorary doctorates, and other accolades in recognition of his message of peace, nonviolence, interreligious understanding, universal responsibility, and compassion. He is also the author of more than 70 books. For more information, please visit his website.

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