CHAPTER 5 * Vigilant Introspection.



Those who wish to keep the trainings must with perfect self-possession guard their minds. Without this guard upon the mind, the trainings cannot be preserved.


Wandering where it will, the elephant of mind, will bring us down to torment in the hell of Unrelenting Pain. No worldly beast, however wild and crazed, could bring upon us such calamities.


If, with mindfulness’ rope, the elephant of mind is tethered all around, our fears will come to nothing, every virtue drop into our hands.


Tigers, lions, elephants, and bears, snakes and every hostile foe, those who guard the prisoners in hell, ghosts and ghouls and every evil wraith,




By simple binding of this mind alone, all these things are likewise bound. By simple taming of this mind alone, all these things are likewise tamed.


For all anxiety and fear, and pain in boundless quantity, their source and wellspring is the ind itself, as He who spoke the truth declared.


The hellish instruments to torture living beings -- who invented them for such intent? Who has forged this burning iron ground; whence have all these demon-women sprung?


All are but the offspring of the sinful mind, this the mighty Sage has said, throughout the triple world therefore there is n greater bane than mind itself.


If transcendent giving is to dissipate the poverty of beings, in what way -- since the poor are always with us -- have former Buddhas practiced it?


Transcendent giving, so the teachings say, consists in the intention to bestow on every being all one owns, together with the fruits of such a gift. It is indeed a matter of the mind itself.


Where could beings, fishes, and the rest, be placed to keep them safe from being killed? Deciding to refrain from every harmful act is said to be transcendent discipline.



Harmful beings are everywhere like space itself. Impossible it is that all should be suppressed. But let this angry mind alone be overthrown, and it’s as though all foes had been subdued.


To cover all the earth with sheets of leather -- where could such amounts of skin be found? But with the leather soles of just my shoes it is as though I cover all the earth!


And thus the outer course of things I myself cannot restrain. But let me just restrain my mind, and what is left to be restrained?


A clear intent can fructify and bring us birth in such as Brahma’s realm. The acts of body and of speech are less -- they do not generate a like result.


Recitations and austerities, long though they may prove to be, if practiced with distracted mind, are futile, so the Knower of Reality has said.


All those who fail to understand the secret of the mind, the greatest of all things. Although they wish for joy and sorrow’s end, will wander to no purpose, uselessly.


Therefore I will take in hand and well protect this mind of mine. What use to me are many disciplines, if I can’t guard and discipline my mind?




When in wild, unruly crowds, I’m careful and attentive of my wounds; likewise, when in evil company, this wound, my mind, I’ll instantly protect.


For if I carefully protect my wounds because I fear the pain of minor injuries, why should I not protect the wound that is my mind, for fear of being crushed beneath the cliffs of hell?


If this is how I act and live, then even in the midst of evil folk, or even with fair women, all is well. My steady keeping of the vows will not decline.


My property, my honor -- all can freely go, my body and my livelihood as well. And even other virtues may decline, but never will I let my mind regress.


All you who would protect your minds, maintain our mindfulness and introspection; guard them both, at cost of life and limb, I join my hands, beseeching you.


 Those disabled by ill health are helpless, powerless to act. The mind, when likewise cramped by ignorance, is impotent and cannot do its work.


For those who have no introspection, though they hear the teachings, ponder them, or meditate, like water seeping from a leaking jar, their learning will not settle in their memories.





Many are endowed with joyful diligence. They’re learned also and imbued with faith, but through the fault of lacking introspection, they will not escape the stain of sin and downfall.


Lack of introspection is a thief; it slinks behind when mindfulness abates. And all the merit we have gathered in it steals; and down we go to lower realms.


Defilements are a bank of robbers looking for their chance to injure us. They steal our virtue, when their moment comes, and batter out the lives of happy destinies.


Therefore from the gateway of my mind my mindfulness shall not have leave to stray. And if it wanders, it shall be recalled by thoughts of anguish in the lower worlds.


Through fear, and by the counsels of their abbots, and staying ever in their teacher’s company -- in those endowed with fortune and devotion mindfulness is cultivate easily.


“The Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas both possess unclouded vision, seeing everything all lies open to their gaze, and likewise I am always in their presence.”


One who has such thoughts as these will gain devotion and a sense of fear and shame. For such a one, the memory of Buddha rises frequently before the mind.





When mindfulness is stationed as a sentinel, a guard upon the threshold of the mind, introspection will be likewise there, returning when forgotten or dispersed.


If at the outset, when I check my mind, I find that it is tainted with some fault, I shall be still and self possessed, unmoving like a piece of wood.


I shall never vacantly, allow my gaze to wander all around, but rather with a focused mind will always go with eyes cast down.


But that I may relax my gaze, I’ll sometimes raise my eyes look around. And if there are some people standing in my sight, I’ll look at them and greet them with a friendly word.


And yet, to spy the dangers on the road, I’ll scrutinize the four directions one by one. And when I stop to rest, I’ll turn around and look behind me, back along my way.


I will survey the land, in front, behind, and carry on or else retrace my steps. In every time and place therefore I’ll know my needs and act accordingly.


“My body shall remain like this.” Embarking thus upon a given course, from time to time I’ll verify inquiring how my body is disposed.





This rampant elephant, my mind, once tied to that great post, reflection on the Teachings, must now be watched with all my strength that it might never slip away.


Those who strive to master concentration should never for an instant be distracted. They should always watch their minds, inquiring, “Where is now my mind engaged?”


When this become impossible, in case of danger or festivity, I’ll act as it seems best, for it is taught that rules of discipline may be relaxed in times of generosity.


When something has been planned and started on, attention should not drift to other things. With thoughts fixed on the chosen target, that and that alone should be pursued.


Behaving in this way, all tasks are well performed, and nothing is achieved by doing otherwise. If thus we act, the secondary defilement, lack of introspection, will not grow.


And if you find yourself engaged in different kinds of pointless conversation and curious sights the like of which abound -- be rid of all delight and taste for them.


And if you find you’re grubbing in the soil, or pulling up the grass or tracing idle patterns on the ground, remembering the precepts of the Blissful One, in fear, restrain yourself at once.



And when you feel the wish to move about, or even to express yourself in speech, first examine what is in your mind. For steadfast ones should act correctly.


When the urge arises in your mind to feelings of desire or angry hate, do not act! Be silent, do not speak! And like a log of wood be sure to stay.


And when your mind is wild or filled with mockery, or filled with pride and haughty arrogance, or when you would expose another’s secret guilt, to bring up only dissensions or to act deceitfully.


Or when you want to fish for praise, or criticize and spoil another’s name, or use harsh language, sparring for a fight, it’s then that like a log you should remain.


And when you yearn for wealth, attention, fame, a circle of retainers serving you, and when you look for honors, recognition, it’s then that like a log you should remain.


And when you are inclined to overlook another’s need and want to get the best thing for yourself, and when you feel the urge to speak, it’s then that like a log you should remain.


Impatience, indolence, faintheartedness, and likewise arrogance and careless speech, attachment to your side -- when these arise, it’s then that like a log you should remain.


Examine thus yourself from every side. Take note of your defilements and your pointless efforts. For thus the heroes on the Bodhisattva path seize firmly on such faults with proper remedies.


With perfect and unyielding faith, with steadfastness respect, and courtesy, with conscientiousness and awe, work calmly for the happiness of others.


Let us not be downcast by the warring wants of childish persons quarreling, their thoughts are bred from conflict and emotion. Let us understand and treat them lovingly.


When acting irreproachable, for our sake or the sake of others, let us always bear in mind the thought that we are self-less, lie an apparition.


This supreme freedom of a human life, so long awaited, now at last attained! Reflecting always thus, maintain your mind as steady as Sumeru, king of mountains.



If, O mind, you will not be aggrieved, when vultures with their love of flesh are tugging at this body all around, why are you so besotted with it now?


Why, O mind, do you protect this body, taking it to be your own? You and it are each a separate entity; how ever can it be of use to you?





Why, O foolish mind, don’t you appropriate a clean from carved in wood? How is it fit to guard an unclean engine for the making of impurity?


First, with mind’s imagination, shed the covering of skin, and with the blade of wisdom, strip the flesh from off the bony frame.


And when you have divided all the bones, and searched right down amid the very marrow, you yourself should ask the question: Where is the essential core?


If, persisting in the search, you see no underlying essence, why do you protect with such desire the body that you now possess?


Its filth you cannot eat, O mind; its blood likewise is not for you to drink; its innards, too, unsuitable to suck -- this body, what then will you make of it?


And yet it may indeed be kept as food to feed the vulture and the fox. The value of this human form lies only in the use you make of it.


Whatever you may do to guard and keep it, what will you do when the ruthless Lord of Death will seize and throw it to the dogs and birds?





If servants who cannot be set to work are not rewarded with supplies and clothing, why do you sustain with such great pains this body, which, though nourished, will abandon you?


So pay this body due remuneration, and then be sure to make it work for you. But do not lavish everything, on what will not bring perfect benefit.


Regard your body as a vessel, a simple boat for going here and there. Make of it a thing that answers every wish to bring about the benefit of beings.


Be the master of yourself and have an ever-smiling countenance. Rid yourself of scowling, wrathful frowns, and be a true and honest friend to all.


Do not, acting inconsiderately, move chairs and furniture so noisily around. Likewise do not open doors with violence. Take pleasure in the practice of humility.


Herons, cats, and burglars achieve what they intend by going silently and unobserved. Such is the constant practice of a sage.


When useful admonitions come unsought from those with skill in counseling their fellows, welcome them with humble gratitude, and always strive to learn from everyone.




Praise all whose speech is worthy, say, “Your words are excellent!” And when you notice others acting well, encourage them in terms of warm approval.


Extol their qualities discreetly; when they’re praised by others, praise them too. But when the qualities they praise are yours, reflect upon their skill in recognizing qualities.


The goal of every act is happiness itself. Though, even with great wealth, it’s rarely found. So take your pleasure in the excellence of others. Let them be a heartfelt joy to you


By acting thus, in this life you’ll lose nothing; in future lives, great bliss will come to you. Wrongdoing brings not joy but pain, and in the future dreadful torment.


Speak coherently, appropriately, clear in meaning, pleasantly, rid yourself of craving and aversion; speak gently with moderation.


When you look at others think that it will be through them that you will come to Buddhahood. So look on them with frank and loving hearts.


Always fired by highest aspiration. Laboring to implement the antidotes, you will reap great virtues in the field of excellence and in the fields of benefits and sorrow.




Acting thus with faith and understanding, you should always undertake good works. And in whatever actions you perform, you should not be dependent on another.


The perfections, giving and the rest, progress in sequence, growing in importance. The great should never be abandoned for the less, and others’ good should be regarded as supreme.


Therefore understand this well, and always labor for the benefit of beings. The Compassionate One farsightedly permits, to this end, even what has been proscribed.


Eat only what is needful; share with those who have embraced the discipline, with those who are defenseless or have fallen into evil states. Give everything except the three robes of religion.


The body, used to practice sacred teachings, should not be harmed in meaningless pursuits. By acting thus the wishes of all beings will swiftly and completely be attained.


They should not give up their bodies whose compassionate thoughts are not yet pure, but et them be surrendered when, both now and in their futures lives, great benefit is thereby gained.


Do not teach the Dharma to the disrespectful: to those who, though not sick, wrap cloths around their heads, to those who carry weapons, staffs, or parasols, to those who are with covered heads.




To those upon the lower paths do not explain the vast and deep, nor tutor women unaccompanied by men. And every Dharma, high or low, expound with equal reverence.


Those suited to the teachings of great scope should not be introduced to lesser paths. The rules of conduct you should not neglect nor lead astray with talk of sutras and of mantras.


When you spit and throw away your tooth sticks, you should cover them. And it is wrong to foul with urine and with other filth the fields and water fit for public use.


When eating, do not gobble noisily, nor stuff and cram your gaping mouth And do not sit with legs outstretched, nor coarsely rub your hands together.


Do not travel, sit, or stay alone with women of another house. And all that you have seen, or have been told, to be a cause of scandal -- that you should avoid.


Not rudely pointing with your finger, but rather with a reverent gesture showing with the whole right hand outstretched -- this is how to indicate the road.


Do not wave your arms with uncouth gestures. Express yourself instead with unobtrusive signs, with gentle sounds and finger snaps. For acting otherwise is impolite excess.





Lie down to sleep in the preferred direction in the posture of the Buddha when he passed into nirvana. And first with vigilance decide that you’ll be quick to rise again.


The actions of the Bodhisattva are unbounded, so the Teachings say. Of these, until the goal is won, embrace the practices that purify your mind.


Reciting thrice by day and thrice by night, “The Sutra in Three Sections,” relying on the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas, purify the rest of your transgressions.


Wherever and whenever and whatever you are doing, for your sake or the sake of others, implement with diligence the teachings given for that situation.


There is indeed no field of knowledge that the Buddhas’ offspring should not learn. For those who are well-versed in all these ways, there is no action destitute of merit.


Directly, then, or indirectly, do nothing that is not for others’ sake. And solely for their welfare dedicate your every action to the gaining of enlightenment.


Never, at the cost of life or limb, forsake your virtuous friend, your teacher, learned in the doctrine of the Mahayana, Supreme in Bodhisattva discipline.




Learn how to attend upon your guru as described in Shri Sambhava’s life. This and other teachings of the Buddha you should understand by reading in the sutras.


Indeed within these sutras all the practices are found; therefore read and study them. “The Sutra of the Essence of the Sky” is the text that should be studied first.


All that must be practiced constantly is clearly and extensively explained within the “Digest of All Disciplines,” so this is something you should read repeatedly.


From time to time, for sake of brevity, consult the “Digest of the Sutras,” and those two works peruse with diligence that noble Nagarjuna has composed.


Whatever in these works is not proscribed be sure to undertake and implement. And what you find enjoined there, perfectly fulfill, and so protect the minds of worldly beings.


Examining again and yet again the state and actions of your body and your mind -- this alone defines in brief the maintenance of watchful introspection.


But all this must be acted out in truth, for what is to be gained by mouthing syllables? What invalid was ever helped by merely reading in the doctor’s treatises?