Monthly Archives: November 2017

37 practices: verse 15

15. To repay humiliation with respect / how to use disparagement on the path

If someone tells a crowd my hidden faults / And speaks of me with undisguised contempt,

To see them as my spiritual friend / And bow to them sincerely with respect:

This is the way a bodhisattva trains.

verse 15 audio

Contemplation: Think of a time when this happened to you. In contrast to practices 12, 13, and 14, in this case, you are being blamed for something you actually did and/or faults you actually have. Your tormentor is just making public what you had hoped to keep hidden. How did you respond? How do you feel about it now?

Taking it to the next level, is there some behavioral pattern or shameful deed in your past (or present) that no one knows about and that you would be humiliated to acknowledge? What would you do if someone called you out for it — or posted about it on social media? Would you reflexively deny it, if you thought you could get away with it? If you deny it, what then? What would happen if you owned up to it? Would you be able to respond in the way Togme Zangpo advises? How might you increase the odds that you could respond this way were it to happen in the future?

And if no one ever knows about it but you, is there a way to deal with it constructively and diminish the karmic repercussions now through your practice? What specific practices are available for this?

Silent pop quiz: Which of the eight worldly concerns are at play in this verse? Can you name all eight? If not, Row your boat, Clementine!

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Orientation for newcomers

Welcome to the study guide for the Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva, one of the core texts of the Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Though it was written by a 14th-century Tibetan monk, Togme Zangpo, we still study it centuries later and halfway across the world because it continues to speak directly to our experience.

If you’d like to explore the study guide, I recommend starting here with the brief orientation. This website is in blog format so there’s no table of contents per se, but it’s easy to navigate once you get going.

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37 practices: verse 14

14. To repay slander with love / how to use disgrace on the path

If someone slanders me and spreads the word, / Maligning me throughout the universe,

To pay them back I fill my heart with love, / Extolling their good traits and character:

This is the way a bodhisattva trains.

verse 14 audio (click where the “play” button should be)

Once again, as in verses 12 and 13, Dilgo Khyentse begins his commentary by reminding us of the law of karma. “If someone defames and disgraces you, that is simply the result of having criticized and dishonored others in the past, especially bodhisattvas. Instead of feeling angry with such people you should feel grateful to them for giving you the opportunity to purify your past misdeeds.” This is a go-to remedy for the impulse to anger and retaliation when any kind of adversity strikes.

This verse corresponds to the worldly concern of fame versus disgrace. As long as we care what others think of us, we will be sensitive about our reputation and reflexively defend ourselves. Dilgo Khyentse tells two stories of practitioners who, rather than defend themselves publicly, took blame for negative actions they didn’t commit. In both cases the situation was eventually resolved, though we may not be able to count on that; the practitioners remained calm and matter of fact without knowing the outcome.

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