Thirty Pieces of Heart Advice
Photo by David Christensen
Thirty Pieces of Heart Advice
by Longchen Rabjam (1308—1363)
From his great clouds of prayers arising through wisdom, which permeates the dimension of reality completely, and through the sunrays of compassion, amṛta falls down unceasingly onto the field of students, ripening the offshoots of the three kāyas. I bow down at the feet of the lama, who protects as the embodiment of the Three Jewels.
Though I entered the sacred lineage of accomplishment through the power of my prayers, due to my lack of effort my life has turned out meaningless and is now vanishing. I had wanted to act in an honest manner, but now I am in despair and have seen many like me. Out of renunciation I composed these thirty pieces of heart advice.
Kyeho! Drawing a large following by employing a variety of methods
Although we accumulate the right facilities to establish a monastery,
This will become a field of dispute causing attachment.
‘To remain alone’ is my heart advice.
Performing village rites, like taming demons of dead children and the living,
Peddling our qualities as merchandise amidst the people
Out of attachment to food and wealth, we get carried away by the demons of the mind.
‘To tame one’s own mind’ is my heart advice.
By gathering donations from the poor as if imposing taxes,
We can erect large statues and distribute offerings on a vast scale.
But even though this is to support virtuous goals, we instigate others to commit negative actions.
‘To keep one’s mind virtuous’ is my heart advice.
Teaching others Dharma out of a desire for greatness and
Maintaining a retinue of important and humble people through skilled methods—
A mind involved with this is the source of pride.
‘To have few aspirations’ is my heart advice.
Were we to offer a hundred valuable things accumulated through wrong livelihood,
Based on conducting business, taking interest, deception and so on.
We might attempt to be virtuous, but instead give rise to the eight worldly dharmas.
‘To meditate on renunciation’ is my heart advice.
Through taking on responsibility, bearing witness, enforcing the law and so on,
We reconcile people in their disputes, thinking this benefits them,
But still, aversion and attachment arise.
‘To be without hope and fear’ is my heart advice.
To have subordinates, wealth, a retinue, good fortune and
Fame spreading through the whole world –
At the time of death all this is of no benefit.
‘To be diligent in one’s practice’ is my heart advice.
Even though caretakers, attendants, people in charge and cooks
Constitute the lifeblood of a monastery,
Entertaining dualistic perception is the cause for strife.
‘To give up such chores’ is my heart advice.
To carry whatever we think necessary to the cave,
Statues, offerings, texts, cooking utensils and the like,
All hastily gathered together, leads to suffering and dispute.
‘To be frugal’ is my heart advice.
Pointing out faults to a short-tempered retinue
In these degenerate times, even with the wish to benefit,
Gives rise to negative states of mind.
‘To speak peacefully’ is my heart advice.
Giving advice with a wish to benefit and without self-interest,
Or lovingly pointing out someone’s hidden faults,
We might be honest, but still it creates heartache.
‘To speak pleasantly’ is my heart advice.
When we support our own side and refute the other,
We might think this is the way to propagate the teachings during debate,
But instead it will give rise to negative states of mind.
‘To stop talking’ is my heart advice.
Through being partial towards our lama, lineage and practice,
We believe we are upholding them.
But to praise our own side whilst disparaging others is the source of attachment and aversion.
‘To give all this up’ is my heart advice.
After differentiating and examining the teachings we have studied,
We find faults in the teachings of others and might believe this to be wisdom.
But through this we accrue negative deeds.
‘To train in pure view’ is my heart advice.
Speaking about blank emptiness and disregarding cause and effect,
Thinking that non-action is the ultimate,
We give up the two kinds of accumulation, leading to the deterioration of our practice.
‘To practice unifying both’ is my heart advice.
We let the innermost essence descend for the sake (of practicing) the third (empowerment),
Thinking we enhance our practice by relying on a consort.
Yet many have been deceived by such contaminated ways.
‘To practice the path of liberation’ is my heart advice.
To bestow empowerments upon improper people,
And to distribute sacred substances among the ordinary
Is the basis for slander and the deterioration of samaya.
‘To start in the proper way’ is my heart advice.
To be naked and so on in the middle of ordinary people,
We might think of such eccentric behaviour as part of higher asceticism,
But it is a reason for worldly beings to lose faith in what is pure.
‘To act with mindfulness’ is my heart advice.
Aspiring to be someone superior where we reside,
Even if we act purely and are learned,
Is the cause to fall from the highest point to the lowest.
‘To be neither too tight nor too loose’ is my heart advice.
In villages, monasteries, caves and such places—
Wherever we might stay—let us not look for close friendship,
But with whomever we become acquainted, be neither too intimate nor too hostile.
‘To remain self-reliant’ is my heart advice.
In order to receive provisions from the faithful,
We might pay respect in a hypocritical way
To attract attention, but that will only fetter us.
‘To act regarding everything as equal’ is my heart advice.
There are many texts on craft, astrology and medicine,
All sources for understanding the methods of interdependence,
Yet to know too many things ruins one’s meditation.
‘To limit the objects of knowledge’ is my heart advice.
To replicate the arrangements of the home,
When venturing into solitude
Is to waste one’s life in a meaningless manner.
‘To give up too many activities’ is my heart advice.
There might be excellent qualities in striving
For learnedness and purity,
But whatever we are attached to will only bind the mind stream.
‘To be without bias’ is my advice from the heart.
Summoning hail and thunderbolts and the like, producing black magic spells and protecting oneself,
We might believe these are activities to subdue those who are hardest to tame,
But this will only inflame their minds and lead us to the lower realms.
‘To take a humble place’ is my heart advice.
To amass a multitude of profound texts
Such as scriptures, commentaries and oral instructions,
Without practicing them, will be of no benefit at the time of death.
‘To watch your mind’ is my heart advice.
When we accomplish remaining one-pointedly, we can gain insights and understanding,
But to write spiritual texts and songs of realization about them,
Even though they are signs of experience, will give rise to conceptualization.
‘To maintain a non-conceptual frame of mind’ is my heart advice.
When conceptual thoughts arise, the direct view is crucial;
Having examined the mind, to settle it is crucial;
Even as there is nothing to meditate on, to meditate is crucial.
‘To remain undistracted’ is my heart advice.
Dwelling in the state of emptiness, acting according to (the law of) cause and effect;
Realizing non-action, keeping the three vows;
Without focus, exert yourself in benefitting beings through compassion.
‘To engage in the two accumulations indivisibly’ is my heart advice.
If we have listened to many learned masters and received deep instructions,
Have studied a few sūtras and tantras,
Without ever applying them—‘Oh how pitiful!’—we are just fooling ourselves.
For myself and others like me, I have explained these thirty pieces of heart advice. Through composing this, with a mind of renunciation, may all beings be freed from cyclic existence and reach the pure realms. May I emulate the conduct of the victors of the three times, their heirs and the great rishis, so that I may become their foremost heir.
Motivated by a slight sense of renunciation, I, Tsultrim Lodrö, composed these thirty pieces of heart advice. May all be auspicious!
| Translated by Daniela Hartmann and edited by Judith Amtzis, Jacqueline Bourbon and Monsieur "Fifi" Greywhiskers.