Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Advice from Atisha’s heart

Venerable Lord Atisha
This is precious advice from Atisha (AD 982-1054), the great 11th century Indian Buddhist saint, and the author of Lamp for the Path, the first text on Lamrim (the stages of the path to enlightenment). He came to Tibet, and his arrival there led to the re-establishment of Buddhism in Tibet. 

It is thus known as "Advice from Atisha's heart":  

How wonderful! Since you already have great knowledge and clear understanding, whereas I am of no importance and have little wisdom, it is not suitable for you to request advice from me. However because you dear friends, whom I cherish from my heart, have requested me, I shall give you this essential advice from my inferior and childish mind.

Friends, until you attain enlightenment, the spiritual teacher is indispensible, therefore rely upon the holy spiritual guide.

Until you realize ultimate truth, listening is indispensible therefore listen to the instructions of the spiritual guide.

Since you cannot become a Buddha merely by understanding Dharma, practise earnestly with understanding.

Avoid places that disturb your mind, and always remain where your virtues increase.

Until you attain stable realizations, worldly amusements are harmful, therefore abide in a place where there are no such distractions.

Avoid friends who cause you to increase your delusions, and rely upon those who increase your virtue. This you should take to heart.

Since there is never a time when worldly activities come to an end, limit your activities.

Dedicate your virtues throughout the day and the night, and always watch your mind.

Because you have received advice, whenever you are not meditating, always practise in accordance with what your spiritual guide says.

If you practise with great devotion, results will immediately, without your having to wait a long time.

If from your heart you practise in accordance with Dharma, both food and resources will naturally come to hand.

Friends, the things you desire give no more satisfaction than drinking sea water, therefore practise contentment.

Avoid all haughty, conceited, proud and arrogant minds, and remain peaceful and subdued.
Avoid all activities that are said to be meritous, but which in fact are obstacles to Dharma.

Profit and respect are nooses of the maras, so brush them aside like stones on the path.

Words of praise and fame only serve to beguile us, therefore blow them away as you would blow your nose.

Since the happiness, pleasure, and friends you gather in this life only for a moment, put them all behind you.

Since future lives last for a very long time, gather up riches to provide for the future.

You will have to depart leaving everything behind, so do not be attached to anything.

Generate compassion for lowly beings, and especially avoid despising or humiliating them.

Have no hatred for enemies, and no attachment for friends.

Do not be jealous of others' good qualities, but out of admiration adopt them yourself.

Do not look for faults in others, but look for faults in yourself and purge them like bad blood.

Do not contemplate your own good qualities, but contemplate the good qualities of others, and respect everyone as a servant would.

See all living beings as your father or mother, and love them as if you were their child.

Always keep a smiling face and a loving mind, and speak truthfully without malice.

If you talk too much with little meaning, you will make mistakes therefore speak in moderation and only when necessary.

If you engage in many meaningless activities, your virtuous activities will degenerate, therefore stop activities that are not spiritual.

It is completely meaningless to put effort into activities that have no essence.

If the things you desire do not come, it is due to karma created long ago, therefore keep a happy and relaxed mind.

Beware, offending a holy being is worse then dying, therefore be honest and straight forward.

Since all the happiness comes from the blessing of the spiritual guide, therefore always repay his kindness.

Since you cannot tame the minds of others until you have tamed your own, begin by taming your own mind.

Since you will definitely have to depart without the wealth you have accumulated, do not accumulate negativity for the sake of wealth.

Distracting enjoyments have no essence, therefore sincerely practise giving.

Always keep pure morale discipline for it leads to beauty in this life and the hereafter.

Since hatred is rife in these impure times, don the armour of patience free from anger.

You remain in samsara through the power of laziness; therefore ignite the fire of effort and application.

Since this human life is wasted by indulging in distractions, now is the time to practise concentration.

Being under the influence of wrong views, you do not realize the ultimate nature of things therefore investigate correct meanings.

Friends, there is no happiness in this swamp of samsara, so move to the firm ground of liberation.

Meditate according to the advice of your spiritual guide and dry up the river of samsaric suffering.

You should consider this well because it is not just words from the mouth, but sincere advice from the heart.

If you practise like this, you will delight me, and you will bring happiness to your self and others.

I who am ignorant request you to take this advice to heart.

Atisha (11th century Tibetan Buddhist master)

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