37 practices: verses 20 and 21

20. To conquer my own aggression / How to use objects of hatred on the path

If I don’t tame my inner enemy, / the poison of aggression, anger, hate,

Then outer enemies just multiply / no matter how, to vanquish them, I fight.

To tame my own mind with an army of / the forces of compassion, kindness, love:

This is the way a bodhisattva trains.

verse 20 audio above

21. To abandon attachment right away / How to use objects of desire on the path

Sense plea-sures and de-sire are like salt wa-ter: / The more I drink them in, the more I crave.

There-fore, the mo-ment that at-tach-ment stirs / To drop it right a-way with-out a pause:

This is the way a bodhisattva trains.

verse 21 audio above

Verses 20 and 21 are the final practices of bodhisattva boot camp, where we have learned how to bring specific situations that challenge our bodhicitta directly onto the path of practice. We’re going to study these two verses as a pair, because they are two sides of the same coin: how to tame our mind in the face of feeling anger and feeling desire. They are also a bridge to the next set of verses. You may recognize aggression/anger and attachment/desire as two of the three root mental poisons. The third, and most primal, poison — ignorance, aka obliviousness to our true nature — is the topic of verses 22-24, on cultivating ultimate bodhicitta.

Silent pop quiz /contemplation: What is the most basic principle of mind training, i.e., of bodhicitta, in two words? How does it apply to verses 20 and 21?

Hint: I’ve shared this principle several times as expressed by Lama Karma Samten of New Zealand, who taught mind training at PTC in 2016. The answer is here, in the first post on verse 11.

More to come, as we resume class Thursday after a break for the flu.

Related posts on taming our emotions:

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Some Buddhist Ways to Work with Emotional Overwhelm

The index of the study guide and recordings of the classes are here.

Next practice: Verse 22: to transcend dualistic appearances

Complete list of verses to date: “37 practices translation” at top of screen, or click on link

The complete study guide: click here (see “about the 37 practices study guide” at top of page for orientation if needed)