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Jewel Ornament of Liberation Chapter 10 - Training in an Enlightened Attitude

by Sangharakshita


Sangharakshita in Seminar

Chapter Ten of "The Jewel Ornament of Liberation"

"The Training in an Enlightened Attitude"

[Taken from "The Jewel Ornament of Liberation" by Gampopa
- translated and annotated by Herbert V.Guenther. Published by Rider, London 1959]

Date: January 1980
Those Present: - The Venerable Sangharakshita (S:) Karola Adamczyk, [London - later ordained as Ratnamegha], Anne Murphy, [London],
Annie Norman, [Croydon - later ordained as Ashokashri], Ulla Brown, [London - later ordained as Vajrapushpa - easily confused by the
transcriber as Suzannah as both come from Finland - apologies to both!], Anjali, Srimala, Christabel, [Norwich], Sridevi, Dhammadinnā,
Suzannah [Helsinki - easily confused by the transcriber as Ulla as both come from Finland - apologies to both!], Anne McMillan [Later
ordained as Pārami].

Sangharakshita: Well, all right then, round we go.
"After an enlightened attitude has been formed, training starts in [A] aspiration and [B] perseverance. The following is a guide to the first type:
Five tasks complete the training in aspiration:
Not to exclude beings from our thoughts;
To be mindful of the usefulness of this attitude;
To accumulate the prerequisites;
Ever and again to purify this attitude and
To accept and reject the four positive and negative
qualities respectively."

S: Mm. That is just a summary. So let's just go on and we'll deal with each one as we come to it in detail. So the first is....
"The first is the method of not violating an enlightened attitude; the second is the means by which that attitude does not deteriorate; the third is
the method for strengthening it, the fourth for spreading and deepening it, while the fifth is the means by which it is not forgotten."

S: Yes. So the text now deals with each of these in detail, so we'll to on to the first of these.
"1. The method of not violating an enlightened attitude, which is called the training in thinking of sentient beings, is mentioned in the
'Ma.dros.pas zus.pa'i mdo. [Anavataptanagarajapariprcchasutra]
'When a Bodhisattva possesses one virtue, he has all the most excellent Buddha qualities. Which one? The attitude which does not exclude
sentient beings from his thoughts.'
"So to exclude sentient beings implies adopting an attitude of determining not to think of a person who has wronged one, and even after cooling
down not to help or harm him when the opportunity occurs.
Should you ask whether we can speak of excluding from our thoughts all sentient beings or only one, the answer is that except for Sravakas and
Pratyekabuddhas not even eagles or jackals can do it. Therefore, by excluding only one sentient being from our thoughts, if it is not remedied
within one hour, the enlightened attitude is violated. To call ourselves Bodhisattvas while so excluding sentient beings and following another
discipline is altogether unreasonable. It is like killing your only child and preserving his things. Therefore, since sentient beings are useful to us,
how can we ever allow an enlightened attitude to be violated by excluding them from our thoughts? Since such an attitude may be violated by
harming others, we must all the more develop compassion and establish the happiness and welfare of beings. This, indeed, is the nature of
saintly people. As has been recorded:
When harm has been done in return for a good deed,
Even then it has to be answered by Great Compassion.
The best men in the human world
Return a good deed for an evil one."

S: Mm. Anyway the crucial sentence here is "Therefore, by excluding only one sentient being from our thoughts, if it is not remedied within
one hour, the enlightened attitude is violated." The "Enlightened Attitude" by the way, is Guenther's own translation for Bodhichitta - "the will
to", or as it's more usually rendered, "thought of enlightenment". It's that which really makes you a Bodhisattva, the "Enlightened Attitude", as
he calls it. So, what does one mean by "excluding a sentient being from our thoughts"? Does it mean literally excluding him from our thoughts,
or does it mean something else?

Ulla: ...not including..

S: Not including in what way, or in what respect?

Voices: ...in your mettā.

S: In your mettā, yes. - You say, "I'm not going to help that one, I'm going to help everybody else, but I'm not going to help him, or I'm not going
to help her."

Voice: ...like rejection, because there's an emotional [reason?]

S: Yes, it is definitely rejection, exclusion, you will not be a Bodhisattva so far as that person is concerned.

Dhammadinnā: Therefore you're not a Bodhisattva.

S: Therefore you're not a Bodhisattva. It's not that if you want to be Bodhisattva, well...it's all right to exclude quite a large number of people,
providing you are devoting yourself to a considerable number of people - well that is being a Bodhisattva. No! If you consciously exclude any
one individual, any one sentient being, from the scope of your compassion, or your Bodhisattva activity, you are not the Bodhisattva unless you
remedy it within one hour. That's quite a thought, in a way, isn't it?

Voices: Mm. Yes.

S: You cannot tolerate any violation of that enlightened attitude. This is quite difficult in a way, because you may be quite tempted if someone is
very difficult or fractious, to think, well I'm just not going to have anything to do with that person, I'm just going to give up trying so far as they
are concerned. They're outside my scope, you know, exclude them. You reject them. That is not the Bodhisattva attitude. You may feel, of
course, for the time being, that person's attitude is such that I'm unable to do anything, but nonetheless you remain willing to do something as
soon as the opportunity offers. But if you dismiss that person, so to speak, then your enlightened attitude is violated if you don't change it within
an hour. They give you an hour's grace [laughter] since after all, human nature is a bit weak. You might get irritated, you might just say, you
know, out of anger, "I'll just have nothing to do with you any more", but an hour is long enough to get over
that, surely, and to say...

Voice: Is this once the Bodhichitta has really arisen?

S: Well, this raises this quite important question of "really arisen". One could say that that is in a way the test... if you can consciously think
about anybody in that way, well, the Bodhichitta didn't really arise in the first place, or it did not arise with sufficient strength.

Dhammadinnā: Is that why there is an irreversible point with a Bodhisattva? That it arises, but it's slightly...

S: ...it cannot after that ever be violated. Yes. But that is quite an advanced stage. Until then one has to be very careful as in the corresponding
context of "stream-entry". I mean, it is quite easy to get so annoyed with people that you just want to dismiss them. Of course you might feel
like that towards a great number of people. But it points out, "Should you ask whether we can speak of excluding from our thoughts all sentient
beings or only one, the answer is that except for Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas not even eagles or jackals can do it." What do you think is

meant by that? It's a bit obscure, but it seems to mean that it's possible for an Arahant or Pratyekabuddha to exclude from his thoughts - this is,
of course, the Mahayana conception of the Arahant or the Pratyekabuddha - it is possible for him to exclude from his thoughts, totally, all
sentient beings, because he is, supposedly, only concerned with his own enlightenment. Apart from those exceptions, even eagles and jackals
can not do it. Even they have got some care for other sentient beings, at least their own young. You see what I mean?

Voices: Mm. Yes..

S: That seems to be the meaning of the passage.

Dhammadinnā: It's like a natural human tendency. The potential is there.

S: Yes, to have some concern for others. I really think that the sort of standard Mahayana conception of the Arahant is of only theoretical
significance. ...

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