CHAPTER 7 * Diligence.



Thus with patience I will strive with diligence, for in such diligence enlightenment is found. If no wind blows, then nothing stirs, and neither is there merit without diligence.


Diligence means joy in virtuous ways. Its contraries have been defined as laziness, an inclination for unwholesomeness, defeatism and self-contempt.


A taste for idle pleasure and a craving for repose and sleep, no qualms about the sorrows of samsara: laziness indeed is born fr these.


Snared by the trapper of defiled emotion, enmeshed and taken in the toils of birth, again you’ve strayed into the maw of Death. What is it? Have you still not understood?




Don’t you see how, one by one, death has come for all your kind? And yet you slumber on so soundly, like a buffalo beside its butcher.


All the paths of fight are blocked, the Lord of Death now has you in his sights. How can you take such pleasure in your food, and how can you delight to rest and sleep?


Death will swoop on you so swiftly. Gather merit til that moment comes! For even if you then throw off your indolence, what will you do when there is no more time?


“This I have not done, and this I’m only starting. And this -- Im only halfway through . . .” Then is the sudden coming of the Lord of Death, and oh, the though “Alas, I’m finished!”


You’ll look upon the faces of your hopeless friends, their tear stained cheeks, their red and swollen eyes (for such will be the depths of their distress), and then you’ll see the heralds of the Deadly Lord.


The memory of former sins will torture you, the screams and din of hell break on your ears. With very terror you will foul yourself. What will you do in such delirium?


If, like a living fish that twists and writhes, you are so terrified while still alive, what need to speak of pain unbearable in hells created by past evil deeds?




How can you remain at east like this when you have done the deeds that lead to contact on your tender baby flesh of boiling liquids in the hell of Extreme Heat?


So testy and thin-skinned, you want results without endeavor -- many are the troubles now in store for you! though in the grip of death, you are behaving like a god, and suffering, alas, will beat you down!


So take advantage of this human boat. Free yourself from sorrow’s mighty stream! This vessel will be later hard to find. The time that you have now, you fool, is not for sleep!


You turn your back upon the Sacred Doctrine, supreme joy and boundless source of bliss. Why delight in mere excitement, in distractions that will cause you misery?


Do not be downcast, but marshal all your powers; make an effort; be the master of yourself! Practice the equality of self and other; practice the exchange of self and other.


“Oh, but how could I become enlightened?” Don’t excuse yourself with such despondency! The Buddha, who declares the truth, has truly spoken and proclaimed,


That if they bring forth strength of perseverance, even bees and flies and gnats and grubs will gain supreme enlightenment so hard to find.





And if, by birth and lineage of human kind, I’m able to distinguish good from ill and do not leave aside the Bodhisattiva deeds, why should I not attain the state of Buddhahood?


“That I must give away my life and limbs alarms and frightens me” -- if so you say, your terror is misplaced. Confused, you fail to see what’s hard and what is easy.


For myriads of ages, measureless, uncounted, your body has been cut, impaled, burned, torn -- for times past numbering! Yet none of this has brought you Buddhahood.


The hardships suffered on the path to Buddhahood are limited in their extent and likened to the pain of an incision made to cure the harms of inward ills.


And all our doctors cure disease by means of bitter remedies. Likewise, to destroy a vast amount of pain, we should be patient with our little hurts.


And yet the Supreme Healer does not use, like them, these common remedies. With ways of extreme tenderness he soothes away intense and boundless suffering.


Our guide instructs us to begin by giving vegetable greens or other little things, that later, step-by-step, the habit once acquired, we may be able to donate our very flesh.




For when we truly feels our bodies are no different from the given herbs, what hardship can there b in giving up, relinquishing, our very flesh?


Sin has been abandoned, thus there is no pain; through having wisdom there is no more sorrow. For so it is that mind and body both are injured by false views and sinfulness.


Merit is the true cause of the body’s ease, while happiness of mind is had through understanding. What can sadden those who have compassion, who remain within samsara for the sake of beings?


For through their power of bodhichitta, former sins are totally consumed, and merit, ocean-vast, is gathered in, it’s therefore said that they excel the Shravakas.


Mounted on the horse of bodhichitta, which puts to flight all mournful weariness, what lucid person could be in despair proceeding in this way from joy to joy?


The forces that secure the good of beings, are aspiration, steadfastness, relinquishment, and joy. Aspiration grows through fear of suffering and contemplation of the benefits to be attained.


Therefore leaving everything that is adverse to it, I’ll labor to increase my diligence, through aspiration and self-confidence, relinquishment and joy, by strength of earnest application and exertion of control.


The boundless evils of myself and others -- I must bring them all to nothing, even though a single of these ills may make unnumbered ages to exhaust!


And if I find within myself no sign that faults are even starting to be cleansed, why does my heart not burst asunder, destined as I am for boundless pain?


Good qualities for my and others’ sake, through they be many, I must now accomplish, even though each of them I must endeavor for unnumbered ages.


Acquaintance I have never gained with even part of such great qualities. It is indeed amazing that I render meaningless this life that somehow I have gained.


Offerings to the Buddhas I have never made; no feasts were ever held through my donations; no works have I accomplished for the Teachings; the wishes of the poor I left unsatisfied.


I have not saved the frightened from their fear; the wretched I have not consoled. My mother’s pain, her womb’s discomfort: these alone are my accomplishments.


My failure to aspire to Dharma now and in the past has brought me to my present dereliction. Who therefore would spurn such aspiration?




Aspiration, so the Sage asserted, is the root of every kind of virtue. Aspiration’s root in turn is constant meditation on the fruits of action.


The body’s pains, anxieties of mind, and all our fears of various kinds, to be deprived of what we want -- such is the harvest of our sinful deeds.


But if my acts are good, sincerely intended, then no matter where I turn my steps, the merit gained will honor me with its resulting benefits.


But if my acts are good, sincerely intended, then no matter where I turn my steps, the merit gained will honor me with its resulting benefits.


But if my acts are good, sincerely intended, then no matter where I turn my steps, the merit gained will honor me with its resulting benefits.


But if, through seeking happiness, my deeds are wrong, no matter where I turn my steps, the knives of misery will cut me down, the wage and retribution of a sinful like.


Through virtue I will rest within the cool heart of a fragrant spreading lotus, with splendor nurtured by the sweet words of the Conqueror, then from the lotus opened in the Sage’s light, in supreme form I will arise to dwell, the blissful Buddha’s heir, in presence of Victorious Ones.


Or else as wages of my many sins, my skin completely flayed, I shall be utterly brought low by creatures of the Lord of Death, who on my body pour a liquid bronze all melted in the dreadful blaze. And pierced by burning swords and knives, my flesh dismembered in a hundred parts will fall upon the white-hot iron ground.





Therefore I will aspire and tend to virtue, and steep myself in it with great devotion. And with the method stated n the Vajradhvaja, I will train in confident assurance.


Let me first consider my reserves -- to start or not to start accordingly. It might be better not to start, but once begun, I should not then withdraw.


For if I do such things, the pattern will return in later lives, and sin and pain will grow. And other actions will be left undone or ease will bear a meager fruit.


Action, the afflictions, and ability: three things to which my pride should be directed. “I will do this, I myself, alone!” These words define my pride of action.


Overpowered by their minds’ afflictions, worldly folk are helpless to secure their happiness. Compared with those who wander, I am able! This therefore shall be my task.


When others give themselves to low behavior, what shall be my stance in their regard? In any case, I’ll not be arrogant; my best way is to give up such conceit.


When they find a dying serpent, even crows behave like soaring eagles. Therefore if I’m weak and feeble-hearted, even little faults will strike and injure me.





But if, depressed, I give up trying, how can I gain freedom from my abject state? But if I stand my ground with proud resolve, it will be hard for even great faults to attack me.


Therefore with a steadfast heart I’ll get the better of my weaknesses. But if my failing get the upper hand, my wish to overcome the triple world is laughable indeed.


“I will be victor over all, and nothing shall prevail and bring me down!” The offspring of the Lion, the Conqueror, should constantly abide in this self-confidence.


Those whom arrogance destroys are thus defiled; they lack self-confidence. Those who have true confidence escape the foe, while others fall into the power of an evil pride.


When arrogance inflates the mind, it draws it down to states of misery -- or ruins happiness, should human birth be gained. Thus one is born a slave, dependent for one’s sustenance.


Or feebleminded, ugly, without strength, the butt and laughingstock of everyone. These “ascetics” puffed up with conceit! If these you call the proud, then tell me who are wretched?


Those who uphold pride to vanquish pride, the enemy, are truly proud, victorious, and brave. And they who stem the increase of that evil pride. Perfect, according to their wish, the fruit of victory for beings.




 When I am beleaguered by defilements, I will stand and face them in a thousand ways. I’ll not surrender to the host of the afflictions but like a lion I will stand amid a crowds of foxes.


However great may be their peril, people will by reflex guard their eyes. And likewise I, whatever dangers come, must not fall down beneath defilement’s power.


Better for me to be burned to death, and better to be killed, my head cut off! At no time will I bow and scrape before that foe of mine, defiled emotion.


Thus in every time and place I will not wander from the wholesome path.


Like those who take great pleasure in their games, whatever task the bodhisattvas do, let them devote themselves without reserve, with joyfulness that never knows satiety.


People labor hard to gain contentment though success is very far from sure. But how can they be happy if they do not do these deeds that are the source of joy to them?


And since they never have enough of pleasure, honey on the razor’s edge, how could they have enough of merit, fruits of which are happiness and peace?


The elephant, tormented by the noonday sun, will dive into the waters of a lake, and likewise I must plunge into my work that I might bring it to completion.





If impaired by weakness or fatigue, I’ll lay the work aside, the better to resume. And I will leave the task when it’s complete, all avid for the work that’s next to come.


As seasoned fighters face the swords of enemies upon the battle line, I’ll lightly dodge the weapons of defilement, and strike my enemy upon the quick.


If, in the fray, the soldier drops his sword, in fright, he swiftly takes it up again. So likewise, if the arm of mindfulness is lost, in fear of hell, I’ll quickly get it back!


Just as poison fills the body, borne on the current of the blood, likewise evil, when it finds its chance, will spread and permeate the mind.


I will be like a frightened man, a brimming oil-jar in his hand, and menaced by a swordsman saying, “spill one drop and you shall die!” This is how practitioners should hold themselves.


Just as a man would swiftly stand if in his lap a serpent were to glide, if sleep and lethargy beat me, I will speedily repulse them.


Every time, then, that I fail, I will reprove and chide myself, thinking long that by whatever means such faults in future shall no more occur.




At all times and in any situation, how can I make mindfulness my constant habit? Thinking thus I will desire to meet with teachers and fulfill the proper tasks.


By all means, then, before I start some work, that I might have the strength sufficient to the task, I will recall the teachings upon carefulness and lightly rise to what is to be done.


Just as flaxen threads waft to and fro, impelled by every breath of wind, so all I do will be achieved, controlled by movements of a joyful heart.