This is the fourth, and final, part of ‘Eight Verses of Thought Transformation.’ In this blog, I discuss verses 7 and 8.
7. In short, I will offer directly and indirectly
Every benefit and happiness to all beings.
I will practice quietly taking upon myself
All their harmful actions and sufferings.
We offer compassion and happiness directly to others by saying and doing things that affect them positively. This can be through charity work, helping some elderly person with their shopping, taking care of a sick person or simply smiling at a stranger.
We offer compassion and happiness indirectly by doing the taking and giving meditation. This is referring to Tonglen, the taking and giving meditation practice. We do this practice quietly, without informing anyone. This keeps us humble and means we are doing the practice selflessly.
We think about how others are suffering, either mentally or physically, and we breath their suffering in. We can breathe in their pain, disturbing emotions, anger, aggression, loneliness, attachment, guilt and so on. We then breath out our heartfelt compassion to them.
This is just a mental exercise and we are not actually taking on their pain and suffering. What we are doing is using their suffering and its causes to destroy our own self-grasping and self-centeredness, in other words our ego, which is the cause of our own suffering.
This meditation opens our heart, gives us compassion, empathy and liberates our mind.
8. Without these practices being defiled by the stains of the eight worldly concerns.
By perceiving all phenomena as illusory,
I will practice without grasping to release all beings
From the bondage of the disturbing untrained mind.
‘Without these practices being defiled by the stains of the eight worldly concerns’ means not doing the practices mentioned in the previous seven hoping that you will get a good reputation, be approved of or even praised.
It is important that we do not carry out any of these verses with the eight worldly concerns lurking in our mind.
The eight worldly concerns, which seek the happiness of only this life, are:
1. attachment to material possessions and money
2. praise and approval
3. good reputation
4. pleasures of the six senses
5. aversion to losing material possessions and money
6. receiving blame or disapproval
7. having a bad reputation
8. having unpleasant experiences.
‘By perceiving all phenomena as illusory’ means we have to meditate on their emptiness. When we arise from that meditation we recognise the appearance of true existence as a false appearance. While people and phenomena appear to truly exist, they ultimately do not. Their appearance is deceptive or like an illusion.
During meditation we need to look closely at an object, such as a car, and mentally take it apart. Once all the pieces are laying on the ground around you, ask yourself, ‘Where is the car?’ You can no longer find it, it is just a heap of different parts. So, car is a mere label for something containing all the parts. There is no inherently existing car. We can do this with a person as well. The person does not inherently exist, they are just the coming together of many different parts.
By seeing things as illusionlike, we can practice without any grasping at an inherently existent ‘I’ or ‘mine,’ and we stop grasping at inherently existent phenomena as well. By doing this, we free ourselves from the suffering brought on by attachment, because we understand that ultimately there is nothing to get attached to.
We cannot change people if they do not want to change, but we can lead by example, hoping others will eventually follow. If we embody the eight verses of thought transformation we can inspire and encourage others. This is how we can free them from the bondage of an untrained mind. However, to do that, we must practice these verses sincerely and continuously in order to integrate them with our mind.
This brings us to the end of the commentary on the Eight Verses of Thought Transformation. Remember, you need to meditate on these verses and then implement them into your life. If you just meditate on them and do not implement them, they just become an intellectual exercise and that will not help you transform your thoughts or change your life.
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